Buhari and Southeast: Where Is The Love?
Our Denial Vs Our Reality
No matter how hard the likes of Rochas Okorocha try to make us see the opposite, we know majority of the people resident in the South-East are not fans of the president.
No exaggerated number of decampee politicians from PDP to APC in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo state will suddenly make APC the party to beat in that region.
Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. Most Nigerians are tribalists.
Buhari winning the 2015 presidential election “without” the Igbos’ support brought a painful realization that you can be president of Nigeria by getting bloc votes from the north and partial support from the southwest.
To make matters worse, he seems not to be bothered about what they feel about him or his government, even though he is embarking on major projects in the region.
No one likes to be ignored, even if they don’t deserve attention. More so, in the case of governance, the people do not have to deserve attention, it is an equal right.
So, we are back to talks of marginalization, 18 years into uninterrupted democracy and back to the agitation for Biafra, 50 years after the country slipped into a bloody civil war.
2015 to 2019
For few Nigerians, we know all of this is about the pains of 2015 and the plans for 2019.
As for the Igbos, the Igbo National Council (INC) has given us an idea of what most of them would be rooting for even if political affiliations are making the leaders seal their lips.
This came just after President Buhari announced his plan to visit the southeast in November.
The INC wants the position of the Vice President, currently occupied by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (South West) to be given to an Igbo man if President Muhammdu Buhari wants the support of the South East in the next election.
The INC President, Chilos Godsent, said under the All Progressives Congress (APC) the region has been deliberately marginalized.
“The Igbo National Council INC has long x-rayed the performances of PMB and the fulfillment of their campaign promises to the Southeast region.
“The INC is of the view that the PMB-led federal government has abysmally failed the Southeast due to marginalization of the zone by the government.
“Consequently, INC’s condition for the South East to support PMB for second term is that APC should zone its Vice President ticket to South East.”
Very Valid Demand, Right?
But then, let us be fair to the man, Buhari.
He tried to be elected President of Nigeria four times until he finally succeeded in 2015. Out of those four attempts, he had an Igbo running mate twice.
As a matter of fact, Igbo men were his first two preferred options with which he failed until he saw the light in Bourdillon, Lagos and strategies changed.
In 2003, Muhammadu Buhari contested for the presidency with Chuba Okadigbo as his running mate on the platform of ANPP.
All Southeast states overwhelmingly voted PDP’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar that year and they won. Buhari got 32.19% of the votes overall.
In 2007, Buhari was back again with another Igbo running mate but this time he chose Ume Ezeoke, but again, PDP’s Umar Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan ticket swept the votes.
The overall result this time was even worse for the ANPP with 18.72%. All Igbo states voted for PDP.
In 2011, he had to change strategies. You can say he felt that the Igbos may never support their own.
He came back with a Yoruba man+cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare and they came closer again with 31.98% return but his performance in the southeast went from bad to worse.
Bayelsa man, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his running mate from Kaduna, Namadi Sambo got over 95% of votes in each Igbo state.
Same opponents returned in 2015 and Buhari wouldn’t change what seemed likely to be a winning formula. He got two Yoruba men, the Jagaban and his godson, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and this time, they won.
Don’t get it twisted, the Igbo voters still did not vote for Buhari, the best he got was 18.96% in Imo state while other states shut him out, but the rest, as they say, is history.
However, 2019 will be a different ball game and Buharists know this.
The PDP is getting back on its feet and one of the major hurdles that will announce its resurrection is having a successful national convention in December.
It is almost certain that the party would be presenting a northern candidate and an Igbo running mate for the 2019 presidential election.
The implication of this is that the millions of votes that gave Buhari victory in 2015 will now be split between two northerners. Yes, including those juicy Kano votes.
This is when Nigerians will know that even among the northerners, there is the northwest, northcentral and northeast.
This is when we get to know that the Fulani is different from Hausa or Kanuri and northern Muslims aren’t really fans of northern Christians.
In the southwest, also, we cannot deny the fact that Baba has lost many fans. Many who shouted Sai Baba in 2015 are waiting with their voter cards to do the opposite in 2019.
The economic hardship they’ve had to face and Buhari’s perceived nepotism have not helped him in the region.
The South-south (Niger Delta) voters are still angry about the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan and they may not find it hard to vote against the man who trashed their guy the last time.
Even if Buhari has done more good in the Niger Delta region than their own son and all past presidents since 1999 combined, we know that the locals follow their politicians blindly.
Well, the politicians have robbed them blind.
Don’t forget that along with Buhari’s failed attempts at wooing the Igbos at the polls came the late Odumegwu Ojukwu who also contested as President on APGA ticket in 2003 but only managed to come second behind Obasanjo in all Igbo states.
This was a man that one would imagine the Igbos idolized.
So, we shall not be surprised if Buhari continues to ignore the threats from Igbo groups ahead of the 2019 election.
His party, the APC may suffer for it in regional elections like the 2017 Anambra governorship but PMB is not likely to be moved.
By now, he must be sure an Igbo VP does not guarantee him success at the polls and he would be asking the INC and other Igbos, when have you ever supported your own?
You can see how he embarked on his first official visit to Ebonyi state despite threats from the banned Biafra agitators, IPOB.
Some say the Ebonyi trip was because of the Anambra election which he desperately needs APC to win and his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, has denied it.
“If some people are infusing political motives, they have a right to their thoughts.
“As far as the President is concerned, this is a state in the country he has been invited to come on a state visit and commission some projects,” Adesina said.
Well, this is his real face ooo!