by Salihu Yakassai
But despite this advancement and exposure, History has proving that the South-West region has always voted on the lines of sentiments and not principles
By this time next year, February 14th, 2015 to be precise, Nigerians would have started the political rituals of ‘s’electing their next set of leaders. This will start from the National Assembly members, to President and two weeks later , Governors and State Assembly members. Whichever way the presidential election swings, one very important factor that cannot be wishes away is the contribution of the South-West Geo-Political zone which comprises of six states namely; Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ondo States. With a count of 14.3million registered voters, these states make up the second biggest voting block after the North-West zone. As such, their relevance is key to producing the next President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. People from this zone are believed to have a numerical edge in literacy and knowledge against the other 5 zones in the country
But despite this advancement and exposure, History has proving that the South-West region has always voted on the lines of sentiments and not principles. This can be traced to the first ever elections in the history of Nigeria as an independent country. The NPC led by Sir Ahmadu Bello went into the elections together with the Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe led NCNC as well as the Action Group led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The results collated showed that the NPC won the majority of seats albeit not enough to form the government. They had to go into an alliance with the either the NCNC mainly an eastern party as well as the south western controlled AG. In the end, the NPC was bale to strike a deal with the NCNC much to the chagrin of the leaders of the AG. From then on, the seed of discord was sown between the two regions (i.e North and South West).
Although it is noteworthy that in the 1964 elections, the AG was to break into two bringing forth the smaller NNDP led by the then premier, Samuel Akintola and the larger AG led by Obafemi Awolwo which later merged with the NCNC, which had hitherto been with NPC, to form UPGA. Again, the NPC – NNDP was able to secure majority of the seats.
In later years the AG transmuted into Unity Party of Nigeria and at various times was unable to form strong alliances with major northern parties leaving the NPN (the new NPC) to merge with NPP led by Azikiwe to further win elections in 1979 and 1983. This shows that historically the Yorubas have never agreed politically with the Hausa Fulani. By extension, the Hausa Fulani had formed political alliance with the South East region. Like the old saying, every beginning has an ending. The Hausa Fulanis seem to have now buried the hatchet with their Yoruba brothers all in the interest of Nigeria under APC.
Now looking at 2011, when ACN (which was predominantly strong in the South-West) couldn’t go into an alliance with General Muhammadu Buhari’s CPC, and each went to the polls with their own candidate, both of whom were Northerners, with Nuhu Ribadu contesting under the ACN. One would have expected the South-West to vote as a block for Nuhu Ribadu. But on the day of the elections, he could only secure a paltry 2.9million votes form the entire 36 states of the federation and Abuja, which is just 5% of the total votes cast. Interestingly, ACN won State and National Assembly elections as well as Governorship. Which could only mean one thing, they simply voted for Goodluck and not their own presidential candidate. Did it have to do with Nuhu’s tribe? I don’t know.
Four years later in 2015, we will be at that bridge again. This time around, under totally different circumstances. Now we have only two major political parties, PDP and APC. For APC, it is safe to say that the party leadership is under the leaders of the South-West zone, which many in the North, see as a “Yoruba Party”. Again, from the scenarios playing out, the likely presidential candidate of APC will be a northerner. The question is, will 2011 repeat itself??? We have one year to know for sure.
This is the reality on ground but my own personal take on this is that -I sincerely believe the South-West zone have learned their lesson. After supporting Goodluck in 2011 and then ended up with not even a thank you, let alone developmental projects or even a position high above in Abuja. They do not have a President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker or his deputy, and not even the Secretary to the Government.
As it stands now, the North West and the South West alone control about 49% of Nigeria’s votes. Add the North East, which seems to be comfortably in the grasp of the APC and you have about 67% of Nigeria’s votes in the hands of the opposition. The task seems easy at hand, but they must not be complacent. They must also continue to be honest with themselves and not compromise. They must realize that Nigeria is in dire need of new handlers that will chart a new and enviable path for it. We are watching! They must not fail now!
The opportunity APC is offering to the South-West in 2015, is the Vice Presidential position, with a strong possibility of power shifting to the region, after the completion of whoever gets elected under the APC from the North. It also offers them the chance to extend their dominance, from the South-west region alone, to the entire country. But most importantly, if indeed APC becomes successful and wins the election, and then be able to effect the positive change people are desperately yearning for, then the leaders of the South-West will have their names written in gold, in the annals of Nigeria’s political history. What more could be more glorious than this?
Tanko Yakasai is a proud husband and father of two. He is a broadcaster with Freedom Radio, Kano. Yakasai believes in the unity and development of Nigeria, which paved his way into community activities through NGOs in transforming our society for the better. He is a registered member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.