Power Shift Controversy And Tinubu’s SWAGA ’23

By Casmir Igbokwe

The year 2023 will be very interesting. It is a year that will make or mar Nigeria. Currently, there is an intense struggle to covet the beautiful bride called the presidency. Whoever wins this coveted trophy may clink glasses but cannot sleep with two eyes closed. Danger looms, if certain things are not done before the presidential election.

Already, the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, appears to have an edge in this race for the presidency. A group known as the South-West Agenda 2023 (SWAGA ’23), said the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader could boast of 12 million votes ahead of the 2023 presidential election. Tinubu was in London for three months for a knee surgery. Even before he came back last Friday, his foot soldiers had been doing a good job in garnering more support for him.

Last Thursday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, inaugurated SWAGA ’23 in Lagos. The agenda of this movement, led by Senator Dayo Adeyeye, is to muster support for Tinubu’s presidential project. At the SWAGA inauguration, Sanwo-Olu described Tinubu in superlative words. 

He said: “Asiwaju Tinubu’s story has been a legend in vision, passion and action. These three values stand him out among his contemporaries in national politics today. It is no wonder the man stretches his arm of fellowship beyond Lagos, the state he led for eight years as a governor and in which he bequeathed the legacy we are building on. He is nationalist in thinking and progressive in action.”

The northern caucus in the House of Representatives agrees with Sanwo-Olu. Recently, members of this caucus, led by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, met with Tinubu in London and endorsed him for the 2023 presidency. One of them, Lado Suleja, called the ex-governor, “Mr. President.”

However, this is not in tune with the position of some other northern political elite. Last month, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), for instance, said that the North would continue to lead Nigeria.

NEF spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before. Whether we are President or Vice-President or whatever, we will lead Nigeria.”

He said the North had the majority of the votes. So, he boasted, “Why do we need to accept a second class position when we can fight and get a first class position?”

Similarly, the Northern Governors’ Forum, after their recent meeting in Kaduna, condemned the southern governors’ call for power shift to the South, saying it was against the constitution of Nigeria. A northern elder and President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mallam Mamman Daura, had revealed the mindset of the North when he told the BBC Hausa Service last year that competence should be placed above zoning in the 2023 presidential election.

As expected, many individuals and groups, especially from the South, have condemned the NEF and the Northern Governors’ Forum for their stand. Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) were all united in describing the northern leaders’ stand as unfortunate, ridiculous and insensitive.

No doubt, the North is smart politically. The newfound love of some of their elite for Tinubu could not have been for nothing. Though the APC chieftain is back in Nigeria and appears healthy again, the rumour is that he is not as healthy as claimed. And so the calculation could be to front him for 2023 and wait in the wings for Yar’Adua’s scenario to happen. Recall that ex-President Umaru Yar’Adua was rumoured to be sick when he was campaigning for the presidency of Nigeria in 2007. The late ex-President lived in denial of that fact. He said he was hale and hearty and challenged any doubting Thomas to a game of squash. He became President quite all right, but some three years after, death visited. That was how his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, came on board as Nigeria’s President.

Northerners didn’t find it funny. In 2015, power shifted again to the North as Jonathan was edged out of office. Although power rotation is not in the constitution of Nigeria, the gentleman’s agreement prior to 1999 is that it should oscillate between the North and the South. This is to ensure equity and justice in the scheme of things in the country.

Hence, by 2023, President Buhari, a northerner, will have completed his full tenure. Naturally, power should shift to the South. When it comes to the South, equity and fairness demand that it should come to the South-East. South-West has had its turn between 1999 and 2007. The South-South, seen as minorities, has also had its turn.

Unfortunately, the rest of Nigeria does not yet trust the South-East. No one seems to reckon with the fact that Nigeria stands on a tripod. And when one leg of a three-legged chair is broken, the entire thing collapses. Those who are angling for any other region outside the South-East to produce the President of Nigeria in 2023 do not love this country.

Personally, whoever becomes the President of Nigeria is immaterial to me and many other citizens who are not career politicians. Whether the President is from Kaduna or Ogun or Anambra, the most important thing is for him to provide dividends of democracy.

Nevertheless, in a heterogeneous society like ours, rotation is what will douse tension and fear of marginalization in the polity. That is why it is important to put that clause in the constitution. And this is where restructuring comes in. Without this restructuring, whoever is coming on board as President has a lot to contend with. With the current structure of the country, I won’t even encourage any Igboman to contest the presidential election. It will be suicidal.

Even now, the country is almost in a state of anomie. Terrorists and bandits rule in the North. In the South, there are separatist agitations. In the South-East now, the real power resides with non-state actors. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), for instance, has succeeded in getting a strong foothold in the region. What it decrees is what happens. If it calls for sit-at-home protest, people obey. It ordered that the Nigerian flag should not be seen anywhere in the region. And the flags disappeared. You can then imagine what will happen in 2023 if Tinubu or any other person outside the South-East is inaugurated as the President of Nigeria.

It is better we begin to look for the black goat now that it is still daytime. When it is dark, we may never find it. Let us restructure this country now. With restructuring, the centre may not be attractive anymore because there will be devolution of powers. Even if the centre is still attractive, there will be clauses that will make it impossible for any region to lord it over others. President Buhari is the person who can set the restructuring machinery in motion. But judging from his antecedents, he will not do it. So, where does that lead us in 2023? Tinubu and Co. may continue to swagger, but I pray Nigeria does not scatter!


Re: Independence tragedies for Nigeria

The enduring sad situation of Nigeria is rooted on the overdose of powers vested on Nigeria’s President who is even more powerful than the United States’ President. In a normal presidential system, separation of powers and independence of the three arms of government are observed to the letter. Unlike the pseudo type practised in Nigeria, which vests the presidency with unimaginable powers over the other arms of government. The enormity of the presidential powers – either rightly or wrongly – is rooted in the fraudulent, anti-people-oriented constitution. The unchecked powers of the President are the attractions of all manner of persons, and even those who could not ordinarily make their guber primary and only brought in as governor through manipulation and technicality. They now form part of the rat race for the 2023 presidential seat. The false federal system has consistently failed Nigeria because of our political immaturity, intolerance and tribalism, which usually help to throw up Presidents that are imposed on the people by the oligarchs and helped in via tribal loyalty or purported numerical strength. What rightly suits Nigeria is a confederal setting whereby the president is bereft of these absolute powers while all our presidential aspirants for 2023 are to deploy their energies to developing their geo-political zones. This approach will end these agitations, marginalization and all the annoying and insulting interviews on who or which zone should get the presidential ticket for 2023.

– Edet Essien Esq., Cal. South, 08037952470

Insecurity in southeast states is becoming worrisome and uncalled for and something has to be done in that regard by security agencies. Lives lost and properties destroyed cannot bring development in the southeast region. Rather it will bring setback. Security agents should fish out those behind killings in the region for prosecution.

-Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

Dear Casy, save for unmitigated nepotism and ethnic jingoism, I reduce throwing tirades on the President for the sorry state of our nation for the reason that behind every successful or unsuccessful President are his aides. There is no part of the economy that the President has not planted aides to help him deliver good governance. Yet, the country keeps drifting rudderless. Why? Midway into the 3rd republic trajectory, Idris came into our social sphere with a musical number titled; ‘Nigeria jagajaga, everything scatter, scatter.’ As jagajaga has got to tipping point today, may God plant in PMB the spirit of Delano Roosevelt, the President who turned around the American sorry situation with the principle of ‘the buck stops here’, the principle that eventuated America into enviable polity.

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731         

Dear Casy, what is happening in Anambra state is bad politics. The man who came into leadership position in Imo state through judiciary abracadabra and his Kogi counterpart who owed salaries of workers for four years of his first term and returned through unpopular means were drafted to Anambra state to bring in a man OBJ forced into the state in 2007 in worst guber election that caused tsunami and chaos. The man and his bro used thugs and other criminals, burned Anambra govt properties including govt house and Anambra radio. Buhari and APC govt should stop this evil in Igbo land and allow people to elect their leaders. Igbo and Anambra people shouldn’t allow APC evil govt to turn their homes into Somalia.

– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495

Dear Casmir, the same repetition you pointed out is what I am still doing. I’ve written time without number the need for distributive justice by embracing all tribes and religion in our political spectrum so as to ensure social justice. May the soul of Chike Akunyili and all victims of these turbulent times rest in perfect peace.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 11, 2021

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