The crumbling fortress in the Southwest


Dele Sobowale

“From the sublime to the ridiculous, there is only one step.” Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 236.

Once upon a time (that is how stories began in our days), a King who had successfully waged war within his own very rich country and subdued all his opponents, decided to build an empire.

So, using the wealth at his disposal, he proceeded to install stooges as kings in other nations around him. Each puppet enthroned by him was only required to obey him at all times and to support his ambition for more conquests. He succeeded admirably; and soon became known as the Emperor in the region. But, he wanted more. He wanted the entire continent.

So, he poured more money (don’t ask me where the funds came from because he was sitting on a “gold mine”), into the venture. After years of struggling, he struck an alliance with one perpetual loser who oddly enough was very popular with the masses of illiterates in his own domain. Emperor and the hard-luck fellow teamed up and soon, the ambitious man was almost realising his ambition to rule the continent. But, something unexpected happened.

“Beware! When fortune would elect to trick a man, she plots his overthrow / By such means as he would least expect.” Geoffrey Chaucer, 1342-1400. VBQ p 64.

As each of the adventurer’s vassals, mostly people picked from the gutter, got rich in their own domains, and no longer needed financial support from the Emperor, they began to resent his intrusions into the affairs of their domain. But, Emperor was oblivious of the pent-up anger against him. He went on dictating to each and every one of them. It never occurred to Emperor that poor men will accept any insult to their dignity only as long as they remain poor. With money in their pockets, they become rebellious; and the demand for independence will increase in direct relationship to how rich they get. After a while, they will not accept dictation from anybody – Emperor included. A breakdown in relationships becomes imminent.

Let me now confess that the story was made up. However, it serves as a take-off point for the situation in the Southwest of Nigeria at the moment. About six weeks ago, I read a piece which can only be called political arithmetic by an Igbo APC member in which he assigned all the votes of the Southwest to the All Progressives Congress because as he said “Tinubu controls the Yoruba vote.” I laughed; because as at that time, the Southwest was already in turmoil and nobody can claim to control the votes. At any rate, Yoruba are not the only voters in the Southwest – especially Lagos. Even if Tinubu controls Yoruba votes, it does not automatically mean he has the SW in his pocket. Events in the last six weeks in the SW have demonstrated that if the APC relies only on Tinubu to deliver the SW then they should not bother to contest the Presidential election next year. Let me explain why.

As everybody knows, APC lost the bye-election in Osun for the vacant Senate seat earlier this year. That was the danger sign. Then the party came second in the election for Governor of Osun State which was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Buhari, Osinbajo, Aregbesola and most especially Tinubu were all there to campaign for their candidate. It was not Tinubu who delivered the winning vote; it was Omisore.

Voters in Ondo State elected Rotimi Akeredolu despite Tinubu’s efforts to get somebody else into Government House. Tinubu and the state governor have since become two parallel lines that cannot meet – unless there is a change in the future. Tinubu cannot run Buhari’s campaign in Ondo State with Akeredolu in office. At best, he can be an onlooker. At worst, he can actually mess up the Presidential candidate on account of the deep division he has created among APC members in the state. That makes two states outside his control.

Only Almighty Allah can help Buhari in Ogun State now with Governor Kunle Amosun insisting that his choice for successor will occupy Governor’s Mansion in 2019. It is inconceivable that he and his fellow rebels will stop at campaigning just for their candidate for Governor. Their candidate will need a majority in the State House of Assembly to remain long in office. Otherwise, the Balarabe Musa treatment awaits the poor guy. From wanting to control the state house the gang must go the whole distance and vote against the APC – including Buhari. That makes three.

Governor Ajimobi will fully support APC candidates; but, even he is no longer the obedient follower he was eight years ago. He now has his own money and does not need any “subsidy” from Lagos. His own problems are two-fold. His unforced error of trying to devalue the Olubadan of Ibadan has created a personal and party problem. Even with Tinubu’s support, there are hundreds of thousands of people in Ibadan who will not vote the same ticket with Ajimobi.

Permit me to leave Ekiti untouched while making one observation. There are few people in Ekiti, APC or PDP who want Tinubu to interfere in their domestic politics. One reason accounts for this. Every four years, a lot of “Lagos politicians” or “Tinubu’s boys” descend on Ekiti to vie for political office. They disappear as soon as they lose – only to re-emerge again in four years. Ekiti people now know them. That is not what Buhari needs for 2019. There is more…

Lagos? Buhari buried Jonathan in 2015 in the state and would have been assured of another resounding victory in 2019. But, anybody who thinks the way Ambode was shoved out will not have consequences for APC must have rocks where brains are supposed to be. Not only can Tinubu not prevent the erosion of votes; he will be the cause of it. As a party leader, he meant well for the party. He had good intentions. But, the road to hell is always paved with good intentions.

At any rate, good intentions are never enough. And, on this matter, they don’t even come close to being sufficient. Apart from the Mandate Group and card-carrying members of APC, most people I have talked to believe that Ambode was removed so that “they can do business as usual using the MASTERPLAN”. That is not a tag that will win votes for APC in 2019. Again, there is a lot more that can be said on that matter. Mr Sanwo-Olu is already receiving a bad name – even before election. He will be closely watched, if elected. Somebody made a monumental error in the way they presented their case against Ambode. The votes at the direct primary, deliberately first in Lagos, was anti-Ambode instead of pro-Sanwo-Olu. Bad belle vote. As in any organisation, the buck has stopped at Bola Tinubu’s table.

To me, all these point to a crumbling fortress. The political powerhouse, which Jagaban built from the ashes of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, which he set on fire, is now under attack by political pyromaniacs, opportunists and life-long adversaries.

Like the Roman Empire which was sacked by so-called barbarians, it is not one set of antagonists getting ready to damage the party. Several aggrieved individuals and entities are gearing up for war. For the first time, the feeling is pervasive that the time has come for something to happen and something appears to be about to happen. Ambode might meekly accept his fate. 2019: More headache for APC as mass defection looms.

But, all those whose good fortune had resulted from his rise to power and who stand to lose will certainly not be so forgiving. Again, unless somebody had conducted a study to determine the percentage of Lagos voters (not APC members) supporting the Mandate Group, the one step from the sublime to the ridiculous might have been taken.

The road to ruin

“Politics without principles….. Wealth without work” were among seven things which Mohandas Gandhi, 1869-1948, father of modern India, told us would ruin any nation. Right now, the Nigerian political scene is presenting us with political associations which give scant regard to principles. It does not matter which “party” wins the election next year the national ruin that will follow is a matter of degrees. We are called upon not to choose between the good and bad but between various shades of evil. The APC and PDP conducted primaries in a way that left no doubt in anybody’s mind that the aftermath of victory will be a scramble for the spoils. The people are in danger of being forgotten.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, by virtue of being the largest (at least on paper) and the ruling party, can serve as proxy for the rest. Its primaries were conducted in various states either by direct, indirect nomination or by imposition. Even a fool knows that those are three different principles on which to base nomination of candidates. The repercussions stare us in the face now. Can a party which cannot rule itself rule Nigeria? We are in deep trouble.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here