Lawal: Flying the 2023 Kite at a Poor Altitude


Recently, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, said power must return to the South. But his fillip to it showed he was merely playing politics of selfish preference, writes Shola Oyeyipo

If his words were taken on their face value, any keen observer of the nations political undercurrents would comfortably say former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal, was a patriot, who loves equity and would always put fairness at first in anything he does.

Recently, the former scribe said power must return to the South. He berated northern elements that were insinuating that competence rather than geography of birth should determine where the next President comes from. In fact, Mamman Daura, a merchant of power and nephew to the current President, Muhammadu Buhari, was recently at the forefront of this campaign.

Lawal berated power mongers from the North who had been insisting power must remain in the region, demanding to know what the region had gained since the days of the late General Sani Abacha.

“By the way, what did we get from several years of governance with the Presidency being from the North? Since the demise of General Sani Abacha, the country has been into crises of insecurity and poor economy.

Along the line, we have also had vice-presidents, who were northerners. We have had presidents who were northerners but for whatever reason, the system is not improving. Presidency from the North is like an albatross around our neck,” he reckoned.

He was not done. He said the most sensible thing to do was for President Buhari to support power shift to the South since he (Buhari) currently enjoys his second term in office.

A just and equitable way of doing things is to agree, as gentlemen, that since the North has had its President for the second tenure, the opportunity should be given to the South to produce the next President.

But, as commendable as his position was, Lawal was playing politics and he knew. He didn’t just say power should shift to the South, which has three zones, Southeast, South-south and Southwest; he pointedly said power must shift to the Southwest. And not only that power should shift to the Southwest, he had his preferred candidate: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Lawal said nobody in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has the right to prevent Tinubu from contesting the 2023 Presidency.

According to Lawal, those who were behind the removal of the suspended National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, were targeting Tinubu, adding that the aim was to prevent the former Lagos State governor and godfather of the state from contesting the party primaries for the presidential ticket not to talk of the presidential election itself.

“Those who wanted Adams Oshiomhole out are more desperate because of 2023, because as a national chairman of a party, from my own observation, there’s very little he could do to favour or impose a presidential candidate in his party. Nobody with a clear conscience in the APC will deny Tinubu the opportunity to contest the Presidency.

“Nobody within the party has the moral right to even put a stumbling block on his path. The party must create an environment that is free and fair for anybody, who wants to contest, including Bola Tinubu. Let the delegates, who must have emerged through a similarly free and fair process, decide who they want to vote for.

Going rather spiritual, Lawal said except the party wanted to bring the wrath of God on its head, “because of his (Tinubus) role in building the party, equity and a sense of justice demand that he be given a chance in a free and fair system and let his luck prevail.

From all indications, Lawal’s intervention was nothing but another act in the power game going on within the party. Right from the campaign period that led to the success of the party first at the 2015 general election and later in 2019, Lawal has always been a Tinubu person within the party.

And from what he just came out with concerning the 2023 ticket of the party, it is quite clear that Lawal has not repudiated his loyalty to the former Lagos State governor.

Limiting his rather good intervention to someone trying to deny Tinubu the chance to contest for the ticket of the party in 2023 has shown that, perhaps, he was not better than those northern elements that were saying power should remain in the region after Buhari might have completed his term of office.

Without mentioning names, there are other eminently qualified individuals from the South, who could succeed Buhari and hence, Lawal would have retained the toga of a patriot and supporter of equity if he had not pinpointed a particular individual. Perhaps, he has also forgotten that there is a sitting Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who happens to be from the same Southwest and who, ordinarily on paper, should be given the right of first refusal as far as the party’s presidential ticket is concerned.

The rumour out there is that the return of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to the ruling APC was to facilitate his ticket with Tinubu. While there is still nothing to back this school of thought, it is equally pertinent to note that the timing of Dogaras return to the APC was instructive.

Alongside former Senate President and former governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Dogara had defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018.

Though the governor of Yobe State, who is also the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Committee, Mai Mala Buni, has come to say the purported rumour of the Tinubu/Dogara ticket was what it was: rumour.
“These are mere rumours and rumour thrives in a democracy. That’s not even our concern for now. It is not even proper to start talking about 2023 when we have a sitting President. People were surprised, when Dogara joined us (APC). That’s how we will continue to spring surprises. In a democracy, people talk but 2023 is not even our priority now. We are working towards uniting the party,” Buni cleared.

Good intervention from the Borno governor. But like his other colleagues in the ruling although troubled party, the main issue is 2023, no matter the level of pretence otherwise towards it. And that is what Lawal too has done, even if he covered his position with some veneer of patriotism and fairness. It is all about 2023 and all have different interests.