Since Kawu Samilla, one of the closest loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the Southeast would not get the 2023 presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, your correspondent has been wondering the reaction of some Igbo chieftains of the ruling party.
Kawu according to my sources was even hospitalized in Kano when he issued the statement last Thursday.
In the carefully articulated press statement, he said that no ‘right thinking Nigerian’ would vote for an Igbo person to be Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Even though he was not in the right physical state, no one is in dispute that his mental faculties were what they had always been when he issued the statement denying a region from contending for the highest office in the land.
Of course, as at the time of writing, no senior Igbo leader in the APC has come out to contend with Kawu on his assertion. Not even Dave Umahi who recently abandoned the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the APC has said anything.
Kawu has been in the inner circle of the Buhari political family and is generally regarded as a confidant of the family. He was generally believed to be Buhari’s choice for the 2015 governorship election in Kano State.
However, given that Buhari was not yet president at that time and did not have the gravitas he now has, he caved in to the aspiration of Dr. Rabiu Kwankwanso who was bent on having Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje replace him as governor in 2015.
Kawu, after serving as Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters is now one of about three of the most visible aspirants for the 2023 governorship ticket of the APC in Kano State. One of the Igbo chieftains your correspondent had expected to reply Kawu was Osita Okechukwu, the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, VON who has been at the forefront of canvassing for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Okechukwu, like Kawu has also been within the inner circle of the Buhari family. Okechukwu became a Buharist after the death of Chuba Okadigbo, who brought him as his disciple to Buhari when the former Senate President paired with him for the 2003 presidential election. After Okadigbo’s death, Okechukwu stuck with Buhari and in the opinion of some has now become the leading Buharist among the Igbo.
Indeed, Okechukwu has so much packaged or rather repackaged Buhari, to the extent of putting the Great Zik of Africa and Muhammadu Buhari on the same philosophical pedestal. Okechukwu for those who do not know is the brain behind the Zikist-Buharist Movement.
Kawu’s assertion now brings to fore the political contention as to the readiness of the APC to shift its presidential ticket to the South in 2023.
It also empties the optimism of folks like Okechukwu who have romanticized the idea of the APC ceding the presidential ticket of the party to the zone.
In fact, the increasing vocalization of the need for power shift to the South by Northern groups and political stakeholders is one of the most intriguing acts of political decoy that Nigerians may be witnessing.
With Northern groups and political actors drumming for power shift to the South, one is not left in doubt as to the deception by the APC to play a fast one on their members from the South.
Indeed, there are many reasons to doubt the sincerity of the party and its stakeholders on the crave for power shift.
One, the party is not one known for keeping to its promises. The party’s well-written manifesto and lofty ideals were immediately trashed once Buhari came to power.
Two, some may have noticed the rush with which the party last April came out to deny a zoning permutation that some party insiders used in teasing the leadership.
The Nation, a newspaper believed to be owned by an APC chieftain with interests in the 2023 presidential contest had last April published an exclusive report indicating that the presidency had been zoned to the South. Within hours the party leadership came out to deny the report. The party said it was not in a rush to articulate its zoning configuration.
Even more, insiders had also laid a trap for the party with the proposal in the Electoral Amendment Bill that stipulates that Nigeria should follow the example of Ghana and some other countries in compelling political parties to nominate their candidates a year or so to any election.
That Electoral Bill has stagnated in the two chambers of the National Assembly simply because some interests believe that it would foil their lastminute strategy to push
forward a candidate just close to the election.
Were that amendment bill to be enacted, the APC would be forced to produce its presidential candidate in early 2022, and by that force its hand on power shift.
Of course, if these reasons are not enough for anyone to believe the lack of sincerity in the APC in power shift, then one could well ask sceptics to show reason why a government that cannot trust those
outside the president’s immediate cultural and religious environment with the offices of Civil Defence, Immigration, Customs will trust it with the office of Commander-in-Chief?