SOUTH WEST NIGERIA AS BEAUTIFUL BRIDE
We have three clear years to go into the next General elections in Nigeria but as any discerning analyst would have learnt by now, Nigerian politicians will never be found wanting to display their legendary hunger and their incredibly expansive penchant for infamy and mischief so much so that they have begun holding subterranean and covert strategy sessions with the presidential project of the year 2015 in mind.
Only few days after the 2011 Presidential candidate of the North West dominated Congress of Progressive Change [CPC] Major General Muhammadu Buhari [rtd] held close door political parley in the Ikoyi, Lagos State residence of the leader of the South West dominated Action Congress of Nigeria Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu with the Presidential election that is three clear years away in perspective, the incumbent President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who belongs to the political party in power at the federal level -the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] has used the opportunity offered him by the celebration of the May 29th infamous democracy day to strike a master stroke by naming one of the Federal Universities located in the South West Nigeria- the University of Lagos after the memory of the murdered Chief Moshood Kashimayo Abiola who was the presumed winner of the June 12th 1993 Presidential election which was illegally annuled by the military dictatorship of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
The late Chief Abiola who was larger than life in Lagos state was renowned for his legendary philanthropy and his incurable love for sports. When the then Social Democratic Party featured him as the Presidential Candidate in the 1993 Presidential poll staged by the then military leader General Babangida, a man who never planned to hand over power to civilians in the first place, he had little or no opposition from virtually the entire South West and his political tentacles and influence spread as far as Northern and South Eastern political blocs came in handy which made it easier for him to emerge as the top favourite even when he fielded another Muslim like himself Ambassador Babagana Kingibe from Borno State as his running mate.
But General Sani Abacha [late] who took over power after a military palace coup that unseated the then civilan interim Head of Government Mr. Ernest Shonekan failed to hand over power to Chief Moshood Abiola and he consequently died in detention of suspected tea poisoning berely one month after the then militay dictator General Abacha reportedly died of natural causes. General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar [rtd] was the military Head of State at the time that Chief Moshood Abiola was suspected to have died from tea poisoning while in detention in Abuja. The military Government denied this version of the story preceding Abiola's unfortunate demise in State detention facility. But the late Abiola was known to have colapsed and died after he took tea that was allegedly presented to him by the current United States Permanent Representative to the United Nation, a well known Central Intelligence Agency's top flight chieftain-Miss. Suzan Rice who was visiting Nigeria to mediate in the political impasse that followed the illegal annulment of the June 12th 1993 Presidential election and the prolonged detention of the presumed winner Chief Abiola.
Chief Abiola is respected as a political martyr who a lot of Nigerians from across every progressive and even conservative ideological schools of thought believe was killed to forestall a possible take over of the Federal Government through a democratically free, fair and transparent manner because of the possibility that since he had the true love of the masses at heart he may be compelled to introduce some revolutionary initiatives that may undermine the overall political objectives of the elite who are interested in protecting their business and political empires.
Till date, forget the reported Students' protest over the renaming of the University of Lagos, Chief Abiola is still perceived as a well accalimed poltical Messiah who was stopped in his tracks before he actually emerged on the center stage of Nigeria's politics. I strongly disagree with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Abiola's clan's man who shortly before the military cabal dominated by Northerners railroaded him into the Presidential position in Abuja, stated that the late Abiola was not after all a political messiah.
Prior to 1993 and/or the emergence of the late Chief Abiola on the political big stage, the South West region has always played the role of the beautiful bride for most Presidential or Federal office seekers because of the unique political tendencies of the majority of the electorate who come from that geo-politcal area.
In the First Republic, shortly before the pogrom and genocidal killing of the Igbos in Northern Nigeria by riotous crowds in the early 1960's, the South West region was the cynosure of all political eyes of all those who sought to dominate the Federal political scene but the refusal and/or failure of the then Chief Awolowo-led Action Party to go into political alliance with the Northern dominated Northern Peoples Congress compelled the temporary and/or informal marriage of inconvenience between the later and the Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe-led National Convention of Nigerian Citizens [NCNC] and a small faction of South West politicians led by Chief Akintola. The exclusion of the Action Congress was viewed during the ill-fated First Republic as the exclusion of the entire South West region from the center of politics in Nigeria. The First Republic collapsed under the heavy weight of political machinations, scheming for power. subterfuge and contest for power by the leading actors of that infamous political era.
Like what obtains now in Nigeria, the First Republic collapsed for the aforementioned systemic ills which was captured by a foreign journalist Dilian D. Graft who recorded it in a special book publication titled "Politics/leaders and issues", a Daily Times Publication according to an account reported by a University teacher Dr. Ndubusi Acha. The foreign journalist wrote thus; "The story of the initial promise and prospects of the First Republic and its subsequent foundering as a result of acumulated problems of corruption, patronage, disunity, sectionalism, factionalism, primordialism, and many others have often been told..."
The foreign journalist and political historian also recorded the further reasons for the collapse of the First Republic as follows; "Indeed what is surprising about Nigeria's First democratic regime is not the fact that it went under after only five years, but that it was able to survive as long as it did. Notably lacking was an overriding sense of nationhood...."
Is anybody in doubt that politicians in our own time are busy scheming for prime positions and competing for which of the political platforms will carry the overwhelming votes of the entire region and especially the South West that is arguably the political beautiful bride even as the nation's economy is on the brinks of collapse and the state of insecurity has reached feverish dimension? Was is not few days back that the 85 year old Chef Edwin Clark, the regional political leader of the Ijaws in the oil rich Niger Delta region from where Goodluck Jonathan hails, confirmed to doubting Thomases including Goodluck Jonathan himself that the incumbent President will vie for the Presidential slot in 2015? So the renaming of the University of Lagos after the late Democracy Martyr Chief Abiola is a clearly calculated political master stroke done by President Jonathan to seek to curry political favour from the South West in the next three years when he is expected to face the biggest challenge to his presidential ambition especially from the Northern region that clearly believes that Jonathan usurped the turn of the North after he succeeded the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua who died while in office last year.
Iam in no way shocked to hear from those close to the corridors of political power in the AsoRock Villa in Abuja that the protest by some students of the University of Lagos against the decision of President Jonathan to rename their famous UNILAG to reflect the name of Chief Moshood Abiola may have been sponsored by some political rivals. This is because the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government conscious of the delicate nature of winning election in the South West in 2015 given the current political domination of that region by the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria thought that one of the ways to win the hearts and minds of the electorate in the South West is to try to ingratiate them by naming a popular academic institution after their political icon-Chief Abiola. It must be noted that right now the Action Congress Party is not seeing eye to eye with the Federal Government dominated Peoples Democratic Party which it [ACN] helped to win the bloc votes of the South West [minus Osun] in the 2011 April Presidential Polls even against their own candidate from the North East Mr. Nuhu Ribadu who ran with one of the most visible business executives in the South West Chief. Fola Adeola.
The Action Congress of Nigeria is no longer in any kind of political partnership with the Jonathan's PDP so now that a working alliance seems imminent between Action Congree of Nigeria and the Buhari-led Congress of Progressive Change, the Party in power at the center is already afraid of suffering defeat come 2015 even though we still have three clear years ahead but for Nigerian politicians who care less about the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians and Nigeria as a corporate entity they would rather go about their pedestrian and grossly partisan politcs even if the country is burning as it is now from coordinated terror-related attacks by the Northern-born insurgency-Boko Haram which is by and large ascribed to the perceived injustice against the Northern Political interest by Jonathan in the 2011 Presidential election which he refused to concede to the zoning arrangement which hitherto zoned the position for eight years from 2007 to the North just before the unfortunate demise of the Northern produced President of Nigeria Mr. Umaru Musa Yar'adua [the National Security Adviser to Jonathan Genral Azazi had confirmed that politics of zoning is responsible for the ongoing insurgency].
The renaming of UNILAG is all about the Presidency project come 2015 to counter the in routes and achievements perceived to have been made by General Buhari. But if the Government in Abuja is alleging sabotage in the students' protest over its decision to rename UNILAG after Abiola is it the Action Congress of Nigeria that is behind this protest and is the 2015 Presidential project the bone of contention between PDP and Action Congress of Nigeria? Only time can tell.
+emmanuel Onwubiko, head, HUMAN RIGHTS WRIETRS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA writes from www.huriwa.blogspot.com.