Political realities will always overcome political sentiments. That is a fact of life. So, in order to win, you do not cry over the realities, or argue about them. You simply understand these natural principles and then harness them.
One political reality is that the ONLY Southern candidates with name recognition in Northern Nigeria, and especially the Northwest and Northeast, are Bola Tinubu and Yemi Osinbajo. Even Rotimi Amaechi does not have it. I know some people will not like to hear this, but the truth is bitter and better!
And amongst these Southern candidates, only Bola Tinubu stands a chance in the Northwest and Northeast, for almost the same reasons that Abiola stood a chance. Even Buhari, with his real or imaginary Northern-cult following, can’t persuade the core North to vote for a Christian pastor.
Another bitter, but better truth. Although people will like to hear butter lies.
Asking core Northerners to vote for Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, who, rightly or wrongly, is seen in the core North as a Christian fanatic, who carefully put members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in key positions, is like asking Southerners to vote Isa Pantami, who was caught on tape expressing his delight at the death of non-Muslims!
Any sensible aspirant should cultivate the Northwest and Northeast. You can win the Presidency without the votes of one particular region I will not name because of their ability to insult more than their ability to vote. But you can’t win without the Northwest and the Northeast.
Alas, with the comments of many Southern aspirants, you would think that they can win the election based on bravado alone. Even the British tried to win the heart of the North, though they were colonial masters. It is a reality we must face as long as Nigeria remains one country.
I have a lot of personal disdain for Bola Tinubu, who I believe lacks personal hygiene and morals. I also have reasons to believe that he is corrupt and grossly so. But despite my misgivings, he is acting more sensibly than other Southern aspirants in courting the North.
Osinbajo is just delusional. He thinks he can win the APC primaries by speaking English. Even Buhari does not command the delegate votes to make him win. Yes, he has name recognition. But his name recognition in the North is like beer. Northerners know it, but reject it!
From what I have seen so far, 2023 will be a race between Bola Tinubu and the best Northern candidate the Peoples Democratic Party can come up with. Other than Bola Tinubu, the top three Northern PDP candidates have no match in the South. For now.
You doubt me? Okay, let me ask you this question. Who are Osinbajo’s coordinators in each of the nineteen Northern states? He either does not have such machinery in place, or where he has them, the coordinators are inconsequential people who are political lightweights that add no value to him.
Which Northern Governor is for him? With perhaps the exception of Nasir El-Rufai, the answer is zero. And if El-Rufai is for you, then you should consider that as a very big minus.
Contrast that with Tinubu. Whereas Osinbajo has no foot soldiers in the North, Tinubu has foot soldiers in every Northern state. Every time he is moving in the North, you can see top-level Northern power brokers with him, from Ganduje, to Ribadu, to Shettima.
I will not even bother about candidates from the Southeast. If you critique them because you want them to be better, their followers (who are invariably mostly from the Southeast as well), will troop to your public profiles to insult you, as if they alone can make their chosen candidate the President. I wish them luck in their chosen path to ‘victory’.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Bola Tinubu will win the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress. If his challenger in the Peoples Democratic Party comes from any zone other than the Northwest or Northeast, then Tinubu will be the President of Nigeria in 2023.
This much is obvious to people who have political vision. I do not know how anybody will actually allow their ethnicity to blind them to the point where they can believe that any Southern candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party can win an election in 2023. That will just be like gifting the election to Tinubu.
I have the voter turnout numbers of every Local Government in Nigeria from 2019. So, I look at elections from a statistical and scientific point of view. The Southeast of Nigeria has the highest Twitter and online turnout in the nation, but the lowest voter turnout during voter registration and election.
There are those who are being moved by ethnic sentiments and their disillusionment will come very soon. I do not need to belabour the point. But I will say this: Even in the Southeast, Bola Tinubu is very strong. Look at the former Eagles that went to endorse him. Where are they from?
Let us learn from the Northwest and Northeast. This is Ramadan. How many of them have you seen travelling? Even during Sallah, they don’t travel. But let it be voter registration or election, they will travel. You travel for Christmas, but not for election, and you want to win election?
Refusing to work with political realities, and instead, promulgating political delusions and building castles in the air, will not get any region, or any part, or anyone, anywhere at any time. 2023 must be faced using cold hard facts. If Tinubu emerges in the All Progressives Congress, NOBODY among those who have declared so far in the South can defeat him for the Peoples Democratic Party.
In Luke 14:31 Christ asked if a king with 10,000 soldiers can defeat another with 20,000.
If the All Progressives Congress gives Bola Tinubu their ticket, the Peoples Democratic Party should be mindful of the fact that Kano alone delivered 2 million votes during the 2019 election, while the entire Southeast delivered 2.09 million. Do the maths and stop sniffing meth!
In every election since 2003, Buhari has always had a captive audience of 12 million Northerners, plus or minus, one million. Buhari’s political foot soldiers in the core North are united behind him. What the opposition must do is to find a way to divide them. If the Peoples Democratic Party fields a Southerner in 2023, they will unite and obey Buhari’s command to vote for Tinubu. And he will win. The only way that those foot soldiers can be divided enough not to obey Buhari’s command is if the Peoples Democratic Party fields a Northerner!
Any scenario other than the Peoples Democratic Party fielding someone from the Northwest or Northeast is an own goal. I know this will infuriate a lot of people, especially from a particular geopolitical zone, but that is what truth does. It makes you mad as hell. But it makes you heal as well.
Southerners who think Buhari is no longer popular in the North are under the mistaken belief that Northerners care about the things they care about. When terrorist kill Northerners, Northern masses do not see it as Buhari’s fault. They see such deaths as the will of God that could not be altered.
The number one factor militating against the political progress of a certain geopolitical zone is their inability to work with people they do not like. Tell them an inconvenient truth and to a large extent, they will gather to insult, abuse and attack you. Then after they have finished alienating everybody, they will believe that everybody hates them.
Northerners understand Southerners more than Southerners understand Northerners. Northerners like themselves more than Southerners like themselves. And more importantly, Northerners vote for region and religion. Southerners vote for region and competence.
Both politics and war are a game of life and death. Once you understand that, everyone in your bloc will be motivated to win. Northerners understand this. Southerners do not. We see politics as an idealistic endeavour. Northerners see politics as a realistic venture and act accordingly.
Individually, each state in the Northwest is politically powerful, especially the KKK axis. Kano, Katsina and Kaduna. But their individual strength is not why they influence elections. The power of the Northwest is their ability to vote as a bloc. Only the Southwest is that politically disciplined in the Nigerian Project.
In politics, it is better to use your intellect and foresight than rely on stubbornness in the face of facts. Political momentum is built in the grassroots, not on social media, and that momentum is growing quietly in the North.
The great Chinese military strategist said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” The Peoples Democratic Party should imbibe this wisdom. Look at the voting pattern from 2019 and be guided by that, not by sentiments.
No party zones from a position of weakness. You only zone from a position of strength. As an opposition party, the preoccupation of the Peoples Democratic Party should be how to win. When they win, they can zone. But if they zone before they win, they will never win!
The Peoples Democratic Party must understand the military strategy that “the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” The All Progressives Congress is likely to present a very flawed but politically astute candidate in Tinubu. Thus, the PDP must respond by presenting a candidate who has numbers, not one who has sentiments.
It takes energy to bend the bow, but it takes strategy to know how and when to release the arrow. The Peoples Democratic Party has energy on its side. Now, all they need is strategy. Because, in Bola Tinubu, they are facing an opponent who relies on strategy, not sentiments.
Reno Omokri, is a former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Social Media.Follow us on social media