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Opinion

Tinubu’s Northern Problems

By Mani Kazi

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Kazi Mani in this piece reviews the outcome of the recent presidential primaries in the All Progressives Congress, APC and articulates the problems of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Northern Nigeria

The conclusion of the primaries of the major parties has thrown up four major presidential candidates for Nigerians to decide on in 2023.

While the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC brought out former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP produced former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. A third prospect is Mr Peter Obi who has emerged as a possible third force. Another force is Senator Rabiu Kwankwanso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.

It is easy for many and the majority of Nigerians to say that the contest would mainly be between Tinubu and Atiku given the lack of organization that is presently in Labour and NNPP.

In this perspective, a match between Atiku and Tinubu in the view of many is an even match. Both men have political structure that flow back decades.

Both candidates are also said to be well endowed with the prospect of matching one another financially. Even more, both friends and candidates are also said to be endowed with linkages across the polity.

However, going into the 2023 contest those with discerning perspectives were saying at the weekend that the emergence of Tinubu appeared to be an afterthought and a matter of accident of history as he was not the favoured aspirant of the outgoing president. Nigerians will not forget that the chairman of the APC had told a meeting of the party leaders that the president desired someone else for the ticket.

This fact is further reinforced by the fact that the party leadership did almost everything to stop him including throwing up a last minute query to him over his speech at Abeokuta where he reviled His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.

While it was the practice for outgoing governments in the past to push through a successor by hook or crook, it is a great doubt that Tinubu would have such an advantage in the forthcoming presidential election.

So, Tinubu would go into the contest on his own records. His records meanwhile are not to be envied.

His first challenge would be the issue of a running mate. By the stroke of fate, Tinubu who is a Muslim would find it difficult to please both the Muslim majority in the North and the Christian minority either way he goes.

Indications that he would choose a Muslim running mate will be seen as a slap to the Christians who constitute at least 35% of the North. The Christian majority in the South would also be peeved that he has despised their faith in his choice.

The situation in 1993 that threw up the Muslim-Muslim ticket does no longer exist and the Atiku supporters can only be watching with glee as Tinubu roils in that controversy.

Even more, the live broadcast of the APC convention was not one that could have paid off well for the APC presidential flag bearer. The images of the candidate’s hands shaking as he held his speech, and also, as he received the flag are bound to raise unease among Nigerians.

While the Atiku Campaign would not be expected to make capital out of the health of the APC candidate, the TV image is one that is bound to continue to create panic among many Nigerians who have not been happy with the several medical vacations of the outgoing president.

Meanwhile, political considerations in the North have put Tinubu on the backfoot. While it was easy for him to win the votes of party members in several areas of the North, the generality of the people of the North are not likely to pander towards him.

An example is Kano where he easily won in the APC primaries. However, with Rabiu Kwankwanso standing in the main election as the candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Tinubu’s prospects are now greatly diminished among the general population who would choose between the former Kano State governor and Atiku.

In Kebbi the upheaval in the state chapter of the APC that has seen a mass exodus of members of the National Assembly towards the PDP has put the state out of his consideration. Sokoto is also out of consideration.

But by far what would be Tinubu’s problem is how to explain the insurgency that multiplied under the APC government. It is a known fact that the people of the North are today agonizing over the failure of the APC government to redress the insurgency. If Tinubu attempts to criticize Buhari for his failure in tackling the insurgency it would further alienate Buhari. If he does not, he would alienate the voters. So, you see why Tinubu has a big Northern problem even beyond the choice of a running mate!

Mani Kazi, a political consultant wrote from Lagos

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