By Ismail Omipidan
As a reporter in Kaduna in 2011, I escaped being attacked by a mere whiskers. But not many Yoruba were that lucky. Our sin was that the average Hausa person rightly or wrongly believed then that the refusal of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to team up with President Muhammadu Buhari, who was the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, then, cost the north the presidency.
Kaduna, which was the base of President Buhari, suffered the most out of the about 12 states in the north that withnessed the 2011 post presidential election violence.
What was the cause? Absence of trust. The South-West was reminded of the events of 1983 and 1993, claiming that our brothers in the north caused the South-West the presidency on those two occasions.
However, after the 2011 presidential election, the likes of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai moved in. Tinubu, Baba Bisi Akande and others set machinery in motion, once more, to re-enact another working relationship between the North and South-West based on trust and promise-keeping. It is a long story. But in the end, the All Progressives Congress, APC, was birthed two clear years to the 2015 general elections.
The last All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) convention, where it formally dissolved into the APC merger was held in Zamfara in 2013. I was witness to that history.
In the buildup to the primary that produced Buhari as the APC candidate in 2015, the stakes were higher. Buhari’s supporters were apprehensive. But because there was an understanding between Buhari promoters in the north and Tinubu camp, Tinubu threw everything into that contest. He deployed every arsenal to ensure Buhari emerged as the candidate ahead of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Again, in the buildup to the presidential election, entreaties were made to Tinubu to back down. He carried on. It was about trust. It was about keeping promises.
After 2015, despite the mistrust and attempts to tear APC apart, all in an attempt to truncate Tinubu’s ambition, the Lagos Boy carried on. National Party officials were changed at will to strip him naked. He still carried on. For instance, I knew for a fact that the only reason Senator Tanko Al-Makura was shoved aside from emerging the National Chairman of the party, barely a month to the party’s convention that saw Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerging in his place, was because of Tinubu. The anti-Tinubu elements believed Senator Al-Makura was too close to Tinubu. I knew about Al-Makura’s ambition since 2019.
In the end, despite all the scheming during the 2022 APC presidential primary, Tinubu still got the ticket. He made it because it was destined by God. But God used the APC northern Governors to make it possible. The same way God used Tinubu to make Buhari’s presidency possible in 2015 and 2019.
Besides, the general belief among most Africans that “a man’s life is preordained and ruled by God,” also played out. And this has continued to play out in the political trajectory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
From 1992 when he was elected a Senator to 2003, when against all odds he emerged the only Alliance for Democracy (AD) governor in the entire South West at a time when many thought it was all over for him, Tinubu has fought and survived several political landmines placed on his path.
Before the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections, owing largely to the unanimity of purpose between the North and South-West, pundits could predict with ease where the pendulum would swing. But this time around, it is not the case.
It was unexpected. But it is the reality. A tiny but powerful few within the APC government have succeeded in placing political landmines before the APC presidential candidate. They have planned and plotted to derail the APC train. However, Allah is the best of all planners.
In Islam, breaking promises is a grievous sin. There are several verses of the Holy Qur’an that emphasise the need to keep promise.
In Qur’an 17: 34, particularly, Allah says “… and fulfil (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)”.
Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W) also said: “The person who has no covenant has no faith”. He went further to add, “Whoever has faith in Allah and the Day of Reckoning, should fulfil his promises”.
Tinubu and the South-West have fulfilled their own promise to the North. It is now the turn of our brothers, sisters, young and old in the North to fulfill theirs this Saturday. Some of the Southern Governors who are not of the APC from their body languages will also be abiding by their declaration that after Buhari, the presidency should return to the South. And in their wisdom, they believe Tinubu stands a better chance out of the two Southerners in the race.
Before the 2015 alliance between the South-West and the North that brought Buhari in as President, the first time Buhari posed any serious challenge to the PDP was in 2011. In that contest, Buhari ran against Jonathan, a Christian and a southerner. In Kaduna for instance, the contest was fierce. Although Buhari eventually defeated Jonathan in that election in Kaduna, the margin was slim. While Buhari polled 1, 334, 244 votes, Jonathan polled 1, 190, 170 votes. But in the final analysis, Jonathan won the contest, beating Buhari in seven of the 19 northern states and the FCT. The states are: Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba.
In 2015, when Buhari ran against Jonathan on the platform of APC, he not only defeated Jonathan in the north, he went ahead to win the contest for the first time, polling 15, 424, 921 votes, against Jonathan’s 12, 853,162 votes. He also defeated Atiku, a fellow northerner in 2019.
This Saturday will, therefore, be the third time Atiku will be on the ballot for the presidential contest. The first time was in 2007. But he was only cleared to run barely 48 hours to the contest. His performance was abysmal. Since then, he has made two other unsuccessful bids to be on the ballot until he got the PDP ticket in 2019.
In that contest, Buhari’s APC trounced Atiku’s PDP 15, 191, 847 votes to 11, 262, 978. Of the 19 States in the North, Buhari’s APC won 15, leaving the PDP with four — Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Taraba States. However, cumulatively, the APC won the geopolitical zones in the North as it scored 5,950, 651 votes in the North-Central against PDP’s 2,280, 415 votes; in the North-East, APC polled 3, 238,783 as against PDP’s 1,255,357; and in the North-Central, the APC posted 2, 313, 241 against PDP’s 1, 763, 772. This is why I believe the North holds the ace this Saturday.
To Tinubu, find solace in Q3:160, where Allah says: “…And when you are resolved on a course of action, place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). If Allah helps you, none shall prevail over you; if He forsakes you then who can help you? It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust”.
But for President Muhammadu Buhari, if indeed he wants the APC to succeed him, he needs to go beyond his broadcast to the Nigerians. He must take deliberate and decisive steps to reassure the people of the North, especially the Muslims, that he understands the intricacies of Amanah (Trust), Adalci (Justice) and Alkawari (Promise).
He must not only mouth it, the President must demonstrate in practical terms that he still cares about the welfare of the Talakawas in the North.
Truth is, most of the Talakawas are not happy with the ‘almighty’ CBN Governor Emefiele and all those behind the Naira re-design policy of the Federal Government, especially its implementation. They have concluded that Emefiele could not have introduced the policy if he had secured the APC’s presidential ticket. They remember with nostalgia, the role they played in the 2015 contest that brought you in, Mr. President.
In spite of all they did, you won that election, not because Emefiele and others wanted you to win, but largely because Allah destined it to be so. Another history is about to be written this Saturday. We have seen what Emefiele and his sponsors are capable of doing. But Mr. President, what will be your own role? The over 11 million voters from the North, who made your second term victory possible are watching. Mr. President, Sir, whatever you decide to do in these last minutes, history shall record it for you. If APC comes out of it victorious this Saturday, a lesson or two would have been learnt about trust and keeping promises. Regardless, Mr. President, Sir, history beckons!
Omipidan, a journalist writes from Ile Olorisa Compound, Eyindi, Ila Orangun, Osun