Power Shift to the South: A Greek Gift? – Part 2

Nigeria

By Christie Oby Ndukwe

In part 1 of this series which received a lot of accolades as well as attention from different sections of the society and even beyond, it was obvious towards the end, the reason for the title. Unfortunately, not many know the story of the Trojan Horse even though it is recorded as a Greek mythology. While the Wikipedia so describes, it is becoming realer than imagined as the quest for power and domination continue to live with humanity and not the black world is excluded. The making of the Nigerian Trojan Horse is non-fiction, yet a lesson from history.

Let me use this opportunity to take the uninformed through a fact-finding mission of this historical record and why the power shift agitation should not be a waste of resources on a possible failed mission.

According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, the “Trojan horse, huge hollow wooden horse constructed by the Greeks to gain entrance into Troy during the Trojan War. The horse was built by Epeius, a master carpenter and pugilist. The Greeks, pretending to desert the war, sailed to the nearby island of Tenedos, leaving behind Sinon, who persuaded the Trojans that the horse was an offering to Athena (goddess of war) that would make Troy impregnable. Despite the warnings of Laocoön and Cassandra, the horse was taken inside the city gates. That night Greek warriors emerged from it and opened the gates to let in the returned Greek army. The story is told at length in Book II of the Aeneid and is touched upon in the Odyssey. The term Trojan horse has come to refer to subversion introduced from the outside. Beginning in the late 20th century, the name “Trojan horse” was applied to deceptively benign computer codes that seem like legitimate applications but are written to damage or disrupt a computer’s programming or to steal personal information.”

The Greeks eventually won the war through the art of deception! A war they were supposed to lose.

The battle for 2023 is thickening as different interests continue to horsetrade behind the scenes. It is becoming rather difficult to stifle the voice of those who insist that power should move from the North of Nigeria to the South. Any other contrary opinion is termed by public opinion as an attempt to further divide the country and further the present scenario where ethnic cards have become the major fault line in the Nigerian contemporary politics.

Yet, the attempt to foist a Southerner as President can only be a test of our Democratic ideals as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution which unfortunately, is silent on rotation and zoning.

In spite of the fact that there are specific considerations on the choice of who takes on the baton after President Buhari, the political space is becoming polluted with all manner of people who think themselves competent to run the race but not cut out to win the crown in the end. I will restrict my piece to the real contenders while leaving the pretenders to their fate.

Much as the population and electoral figures continue to be a phantasm of their manufacturers, it is absolutely impossible to succeed electorally without the backing of the North. The numbers favor them and so they continue to pride themselves as the natural kingmakers or the born-to-rule, depending on which side of the coin they choose.

Buhari’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is expected to strengthen our democracy and move it from infancy to adolescence. It is therefore a rite of passage for the APC to zone its Presidential ticket to the South. This should not be a matter for debate. But there is a lacuna here. If the balance of power between the North and the South is weighed on a scale, from the time of this uninterrupted democracy, which we pray remains so, the South has successfully held on to power for 14 years, with Obasanjo and Jonathan as the occupants of Aso Rock, the seat of power. On the other hand, the North would have held on to power for 10 years, by 2023, when Buhari completes his second tenure. Recall that Obasanjo established the first power shift when he truncated Odili’s towering ambition to become President in 2007, at the end of Obasanjo’s 8-years hold on to power from 1999. Without that bloodless coup, Odili, a fellow Southerner, would have become President immediately after a fellow Southerner. Incidentally, at that point, not many were bothered if an Easterner succeeded a Westerner, in spite of both coming from Southern Nigeria. Dr Peter Odili was the candidate to beat but Obasanjo thought it would be senseless to let power remain in the South for another 8 years.

Unfortunately, the former President’s plans were aborted two years after his preferred candidate who later became President, died in office. Goodluck Jonathan who was the beneficiary of the palace coup against Odili became the President, as such, faulting every human calculation at power shift.

Another opportunity comes to play and this time, it is going to be a test of the resolve of President Buhari and his hatchet men in the APC to strengthen democracy by ensuring that equity and justice prevail. The President is not like the former President, another retired Army General who not only speaks up but acts out his body language on such occasions as this. Buhari is taciturn and prefers to abstain from political influence in matters that others before him would gladly engage in. A disturbing attitude to most of those who expect to benefit from his endorsement, directly or indirectly.

Speaking recently at a media parley, Buhari confirmed his choice of a successor but would prefer to keep it close to his chest until the time is ripe. His reason being that an attempt to make it public could lead to the person being killed, a statement I would rather describe as a joke or an excuse to not incite unnecessary political rivalry within the APC.

But speculations were rife that he may have been referring to Chibuike Amaechi, his Minister of Transportation, considering their closeness and the extraordinary performance of the latter in giving the government a face through his timely achievements in the Transportation sector and particularly in the Railway Revolution. Many political analysts believe that Amaechi needs to be protected. The recent turbanning of the Minister in Buhari’s hometown, Daura, heightened the speculations that Amaechi is the anointed one. But are these enough strengths for the camp of the Minister to celebrate even before the die is cast? Some argue that some others in the past had received traditional titles from the North and their political fortunes didn’t change. I was recently reminded that Odili was honored by the then Ooni of Ife with the prestigious title of Obafunminiyi of the Source. They point to the fact that in spite of Obasanjo being from the South West, the title bestowed on Odili in pomp and pageantry did not influence Obasanjo’s decision to zone Odili out of the political equation.

Could these titles be the Greek Gifts from the rest of Nigeria to the Easterners?

While the euphoria of the uncommon title of Dan Amanar (the Trusted One) of Daura conferred on Amaechi is sti on, there are yet others who believe that former President Goodluck Jonathan is the chosen one. While he is yet to make his intent known, there are inside sources to the cabal who align with the thoughts of the retired Generals popularly known as the G7 on the need to bring back Jonathan.

They argue that since the former President is the only Southerner who is constitutionally barred from staying beyond 4 years in office, he should be allowed to succeed Buhari in order to help balance power between the North and the South. Should Jonathan be voted back to office, at the end of his tenure, the South would be ahead of the North by 8 years, thereby giving the North another opportunity in 2027, to take back power for 8 years. This would bring both regions to a balance where the tension in the policy would have reduced and then a proper power shift and rotation would be entrenched along the geopolitical zones.

Aside from the issue of balance of power, the proponents of the second coming of Jonathan see him as one who is more acceptable to the different regions. His decision not to challenge the election of his successor in Court on the grounds that the election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian is a strong advantage above his fellow contenders.

But the other truth is that the APC is careful not to fall into the trap of the opposition PDP which is likely to zone its presidential ticket to the North. If the PDP does, the Jonathan group believe that he is the only one, if drafted into the APC and handed over the ticket, could muster the votes that would beat any popular candidate from the North. Otherwise, once a candidate emerges from the North in PDP, it is not unlikely that the North irrespective of Party leanings would throw their weight behind one of their own.

However the game is played, those with the Trojan Horse will emerge victorious.

Written by Chief Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe, a socio-political commentator, analyst and columnist based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State

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