The emerging political alliance between the north and the south-west geopolitical zones has the potential to end the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, historians and political scientists have said.
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the experts, mostly academics, said that such alliances between the regions from 1965 up until 1993 produced the desired results.
According to Dr Umar Ardo, a governorship aspirant of the PDP in Adamawa State in 2011 and former political science lecturer at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, formed an alliance with the late Samuel Akintola Ladoke of the NNDP to win some parts of the then Western Region in 1965.
Similarly, Dr Michael Ogbeidi, an associate professor in the Department of History and Strategic Studies of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), said that the track records of those to be presented for elective offices under the alliance would determine the outcome of the polls. He said that Nigerians are wiser in casting their ballots now more than ever before.
“In my own candid opinion, there is nothing impossible, but the history of electioneering has shown us that no geopolitical arrangement has ever worked in the country. Let me borrow a leaf from what the leadership of the PDP said — that it is a marriage of strange bedfellows,” he said.
The voting strength of each region, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), shows that the north-west has 28 per cent, north-east 13 per cent, north-central 12.7 per cent, south-west 22 per cent, south-east 10 per cent, and south-south 13 per cent
Dr Ardo also recalled that it was a similar “alliance” between military officers from the north and the south-west that led to the toppling of the late Maj-Gen. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi regime, adding that “it was the strength of the alliance that contributed to the secession bid of the south-east and the civil war of 1967 to 1970.
The only exception was in 1979 when former president Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) picked Alex Ekwueme from the south-east as vice-presidential candidate and clinched the nation’s presidency.
According to Ardo, when Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) picked Dr Sylvester Ugo from the south-east as his running mate, the party lost to Chief Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who worked with Alhaji Babagana Kingibe from the north to lead the annulled 1993 presidential election.
He further said that, in 2003, former head of state Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who ran on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with the late Chief Chuba Okadigbo lost to President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP who picked Atiku Abubakar from the north as running mate.
Again, in 2007, Buhari formed an alliance with the south-east and picked the late Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke as his running mate on the platform of the ANPP and was defeated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Ardo said Buhari missed it in 2011 when he formed an alliance with the south-west under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) by picking Pastor Tunde Bakare whom he described as not a core politician from the region and lost the election.
He argued that with the north having the highest voting strength and followed by the south-west, any workable alliance between the two regions can end the presidency of Jonathan in 2015. He said the north and the south-west can garner 65 per cent for a presidential candidate to win the 2015 election.
The ACN, largely a south-west party, is forming a coalition – All Progressive Congress (APC) — with the ANPP and CPC, which are dominant in the north, to unseat President Jonathan at the 2015 presidential contest.
Also, a chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Mr Ayo Opadokun, and the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, have expressed doubts about the workability of the alliance.
Odumakin said such arrangement should ordinarily be seen as internal arrangement of the merging parties which, he noted, have the prerogative to choose the best strategy to achieve power but maintained that power rests with the people.
“There is nothing like north and west arrangement; there are political parties in the north and the west. For instance, there are different political parties in the west like the PDP, ACN and Labour Party.
To Opadokun, those planning the merger must ensure that they articulate a credible plan of action to convince the people that it is the credible alternative to the people in 2015.
“People have legitimate aspirations; they have the constitutional rights to contest for whatever they feel like. Political arrangement, strategy can lead politicians to take some actions; when politicians take their permutations, two plus two may not make four.
In his reaction, the immediate past national publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said: “As a founding member of the PDP, I make bold to say that what is happening between the ACN and the north-west is a media hype. When the chips are down, Nigerians will know that the south-west ACN leaders in particular are deceitful leaders. Their level of corruption is such that the south-west people will just go their way in 2015, For the north-west, they are practical politicians who will not be deceived by the antics of the ACN.”