I rode on a motor bike to the venue. Upon arrival, the rider asked me what time it was. I looked at my watch and told him: “7.30pm.” “Only 7.30 na im everywhere be like this?” There was nothing wrong with the neighbourhood where the commercial motorcycle operator had dropped me off. Nothing except that everyone in a usually noisy street had gone in to watch a live football match leaving the street deserted.
It is mid month in May 2013 and the country already is like this. Thick with plots and intrigues as though it was an election year. While some plots are obvious and plain, another plot is clearer by its darkness. The battle for the soul of Nigeria’s presidency come May 2015 began soon after May 29, 2011. The denials of the president that he is committed and focused to his tenure fool only those who have just returned from a vacation in Baga where the number of civilian deaths was exaggerated.
There are seven more months left in 2013 and another 12 months in 2014 but the politicians in and out of Aso Rock have all bought the latest time traveling machines. They now live in 2015. We are only playing catch up. It is not their fault that we did not hear them say ‘happy new year’. Did they really say or even need to say that to themselves? They are all at daggers drawn.
Their forward travel however has brought them not any foresight. They are still playing the cards of 2011, religion, ethnicity and name calling. Devoid clearly of issues, convictions or ideologies whatsoever is the sort of language being thrown all over the political airspace right now.
Chess is usually played between two opponents. But Nigeria is hardly a chess match considering the number of players at the table battling for first control of the City by the Rock to quote a writer of good humour. A Ludo game might best describe the scenario or perhaps real time strategy game, Age of Empires. Ludo will suffice.
On one part of the board in a room somewhere is one fedora wearing leader who is the present occupier in chief of the City by the Rock. The Ijaw born President Goodluck Jonathan may have risen to power on account of his wonderful luck or his lack of shoes but he has not been lucky at hiding his ambition to run again for office in 2015. A right he is guaranteed by laws of the land and the manuals of his party.
On another part of the board are members of the president’s party who though unnamed today all eye the iron throne or sorry throne of many cakes. A right they all have provided they find a party to actualize their ambitions. These governors are determined to prevent the president from adjusting the party’s manual. The president on the other hand is trying too obviously to win the party’s primaries before the convention is even held.
On another corner of the board is a certain governor who leads the governors’ forum. This governor cannot fly his plane at will because the president does not presently like the way he coughs and speaks. This governor has to contend daily with a plot to unseat him. He cannot ride alone and he cannot jump ship immediately. This governor is in a dilemma of sorts. Is he really on the board? It appears he just makes the list because he has been in the news far too often.
On the other part of the board are a different set of players. How they all managed to get into one colour remains proof that the office of the City by the Rock can unite more than it can divide. To capture that seat, an alliance or merger has united parties that could hitherto not agree. They now sing one song in comradeship. A new comradeship to pull a seat from the bottom of those who seat on it. History has never seen any of such comradeship at a political level in our clime. Before now, only Nigerian workers in comradeship against her national oppressors united for days. Today, some political parties including the ACN,CPC, ANPP, part of APGA and DPP have become a new yet to be registered All Progressive Congress.
Just outside the board are various players, spectators and keen observers watching how seeds are moved and dice thrown. It is all a game but unlike children at ludo, this is a much heated contest. For the seat of the City by the Rock is a seat like no other and he who wins this game either remains firmly seated, ejected or the board will become ‘ungovernable’ .
Ungovernable! What a word. Just about anyone can throw those words at the government in power with impunity. Really? This is hardly a case of freedom of speech. It is not by accident that a very fat former lord of the creeks has decided to haul that word at the perceived enemies of his kinsman. Enemies? I beg your pardon, I thought the word opponents have lost their place considering the drums of war echoed by Mujahid Asari Dokubo.
Dokubo’s threat though is reactionary. More reactions have come in from all angles including the House of Representatives and several human rights groups. The Niger state governor Babangida Aliyu has joined also in condemning the use of the word. Dokubo’s wordings though has done exactly what the president’s victory did in 2011, divide Nigeria along north and south lines only not geographically this time. Nigerians now rationalize and compare the similar threats credited to General Buhari. The Katsina general had at the time declared that ‘Nigeria will be ungovernable should the elections be rigged’.
The threat by Dokubo has really threatened and intimidated Nigerians. Dokubo was a mighty general whose armies routed the powerful Nigerian army time and again in the creeks. They are so scared that most of them have called the president to reign in on his private army led by the very fat Dokubo. Whether the president will undo that move of intimidation by Dokubo is yet to be seen.
Back to the game board. With the new alliance or merger in place, one side suddenly looks strong from the look of things. The CPC and ANPP have strong foothold and grip of the north at least by the last presidential elections. The ACN has good grip of the south west at least by the last gubernatorial elections in 2011. Now a union of these three should translate naturally into an upper hand. Considering that the PDP is a house divided against itself with some of its governors rallying to get the party’s nomination and the president is plotting against those against his candidacy, a weakened PDP is at the race to retake the seat for the City by the Rock.
It is not done and dusted though. This is 2013 even though the calendar on the walls of our politicians display the yet to be released 2015 almanac. The APC have a major hurdle with one of its chieftains. General Muhamodu Buhari’s undying ambition could and will cost the merger dearly if he is presented as candidate again. At 70, the general clearly lacks national appeal. He has no face in the south-west where people love affable fellows. His name rings suspicion in the south east and he has no comeliness that the generation of internet eager young Nigerians should thumb him. Whether a radical Christian pastor or the very widely loved Asiwaju supports him as running mate, he will not get votes in the south, period.
Asari Dokubo and his overlord will secure a landslide victory in the south-south and south east, no doubt. The south west however will be what the Americans call swing states. Will they side the president, stay true to Asiwaju and the new broom APC or will they vote for the lucky Goodluck Ebele Jonathan?
Sensing this scenario, presidential strategists have decided to play up ethnic and religious sentiments as a way of coercing a people to vote for the fedora wearing president again. On social media, one of such write ups has shown how all powerful positions, oil blocks and resource in the land is being controlled by the northern Muslims thereby creating a marginalized south feeling and sentiment. Far too obvious though.
But a far less obvious plot was an attempt ahead of time to divide the south west. If anybody thinks that the one hour long Democracy Day speech of last year was to show how well a struggling administration was doing, think again. The last and most notable conclusion of that delivery was the renaming of the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University. That singular move will be played up again only this time not so discreetly to divide the Yoruba such that some will side the APC arrangement but more will side a weakened PDP. Will the president divide the Yoruba votes or will he desperately court them? Time will tell.
It is only 2013 and there are still many months left on this calendar. The battle for the principal seat of Aso Rock continues at the Ludo board, dice thrown and placers moving. While Nigerians continue to moan the inattention, insensitivity and non performance of the administration, her politicians scheme away at the board, throwing dice, moving placers and courting one another or better still eliminating one another.