One of the things used to taunt the ruling party, the All Progressives Party (APC) after the outcome of the elections is that the ruling party, at best, is just a multi regional party and not a national party. And the reason for this is: it’s failure to gain a foothold in the South East and majority of the South South states after the 2019 general elections.
For a ruling party, it is painfully unusual. When it happened to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during Olusegun Obasanjo’s first term, with the South West, he came back in his second term and achieved the desired national spread by making sure PDP won the western part of Nigeria, save Lagos, where Asiwaju Bola Tinubu then was governor.
I believe this spread also help keep them in power for 16 years.
It is my belief that the APC does not plan to relinquish power just after eight years. So if they fail to plan properly, they are unwittingly planning to fail. It is imperative for the APC to penetrate the eastern part of the country, as one way of achieving this.
In 1999, Obasanjo, who won the 1999 elections, was mocked that he did not win majority of the states in the South West. The PDP had been lost the governorship and National Assembly elections at that time to the Advance for Democracy (AD), except the Ekiti South senatorial district, which was won by Senator Gbenga Aluko, who was the only PDP senator from the South West.
Aluko’s campaign had been intense as the AD then did everything to make sure he did not win ! And he, in turn did everything to win. He won and became the youngest senator in the country, together with his colleague and friend, Senator Udo Udoma. It was indeed a proud moment for Aluko family. Four years later, the PDP took the majority of the senatorial seats in South West.
At present, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is in the South East is just like Aluko in 1999. Kalu is the only APC senator from the South East. The APC should capitalise on this and work for 2023, to get more senators. To attain that spread, Kalu should be used as a bridgehead. He defied all odds to emerge senator.
With the Kalu momentum in the South East, APC would get a foothold. But there should be assurances for the Igbo of South East, especially as regards the next president. It is what the APC would put on the table that would entice the Igbo to join forces with it. President Muhammadu Buhari has got a second term. He won’t run for office in 2023. He should encourage the ceding of 2023 president to the Igbo.
The impressive thing about Buhari, during the electioneering, is that he campaigned vigorously in the eastern part of the country. He was really determined to make inroads in Igboland. At the election, he recorded better result than in 2015.
The 2023 elections should be a different ball game and the push for the APC in the South East should start now at the Senate. I had written in an earlier article saying the Senate presidency should ideally go to the South East! But since we do not have ideal situation because of the pattern of voting, the best next option to address this question of national balance is to embrace the South East and compensate them. We must remember that beyond politics there is the unity angle and a sense of belonging by every part of the country. What is planted now will be reaped in future. If the APC leadership plants the wind they will reap the whirlwind in future. The sensible option I see is that they should consider Senator-elect Kalu, from South East, as deputy Senate president. It is only fair to do this.
For example it will be unfair to have a South South deputy Senate president when for the APC chairman is from Edo State, in the same zone, while South East is left with nothing tangible. Such power configuration can never help national balance and it will definitely come back to haunt the APC in 2023. If the South East produces deputy Senate president, the Igbo will be less hostile towards the party.
The Senate should be guided in this direction. Those who want to deny the zone of its right do not mean well for the APC. The APC must think Nigeria first. It must compensate the South East for the votes President Buhari got in the zone.
•Aluko wrote in from Lagos.