Ahmed Yahaya – Joe
Sometimes, to fully understand the present we must return to the past.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo lost the August 11, 1979 presidential elections even before the polling opened. His political death sentence was mainly dictated by his choice of Chief Phillip Umeadi as the UPN vice presidential candidate.
42 years down the line that same choice of running mate might plague Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who ahead of 2023 faces a Hobson’s Choice.
Today’s South East was back then Anambra and Imo states where UPN raked in a mere 0.75% and 3% of the vote compared to NPN’s 13.5% and 8.8% including NPP’s 82.88% and 84.69%, all respectively.
Apparently, Papa Awo learned the hard way that a Christian-Christian ticket was a hard sell. Perhaps why in 1983 he chose, Mallam Mohammed Kura as running mate.
Come 2023, Asiwaju must either run with a Northern Christian or on a Muslim- Muslim ticket;
“A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one thing is actually offered. The term is often used to mean an illusion of choice.”
Simply put, as far as Northern Muslims would be concerned, a Yoruba Muslim/Northern Christian ticket is as good as a Christian/Christian ticket.
While the dynamics between Chiefs Awolowo and Akintola on one hand and the prevailing undercurrents between Asiwaju and VP Yemi Osinbajo on the other are an interesting case study in the historical continuity of involuntary political suicide there is need to understudy the Muslim-Muslim ticket of SDP in the June 12, 1993 presidential elections.
Let me start with Plateau State in the predominant Christian North where the NRC that ran on a Muslim- Christian ticket. Alhaji Bashir Tofa and Chief Sylvester Ugoh, erstwhile Governor of Central Bank of Biafra raked in 259, 394 votes representing 38.32% of the overall vote.
Meanwhile, the Abiola-Kingibe duo got 417,565 votes representing 61.68% of the vote.
Then Benue State where NRC gathered 186, 302 votes/43.06% and SDP, 246,830 votes/56.94%.
Please note that the present entire Nasarawa State was then part of Plateau whereas the present Kogi East was in Benue back then.
So why couldn’t General Buhari pull off a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015 yet Governor el Rufai did so in 2019?
If Asiwaju properly tackles this, “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” the presidency is his to take in 2023. Unless…..Atiku Abubakar runs!
Many friends North, South, Christian and Muslim offline have asked me about the chances of a Northern Christian vice-presidential candidate to Asiwaju.
The bitter truth is that the Arewa non-Muslim house is not in properly in-order to be politically relevant as el Rufai has conclusively proven in Kaduna. Ditto Nasarawa, Gombe, Adamawa, and Niger States. Perhaps even in Taraba in the near future.
The fundamental issue is that, unlike among Arewa’s Muslims, diverse ethnic solidarities are still stronger among Northern Christians than religious particularism.
The psychology of rooting for the underdog would prevail for Atiku Abubakar (as it did for Buhari in 2015) because Asiwaju cannot extricate himself from the collateral damage of APC’s 4+4.
The envisaged political conflict between Asiwaju and Osinbajo would further water the ground for the North. To take maximun advantage of that the Arewa vote would therefore not follow party affiliation but regional solidarity. As it did in the First Republic when Awolowo and Akintola cancelled themselves.
According to the Electoral Act (as amended) all you need to become president is a simple majority with 25% of the vote in 24 states. With 19 northern states in his kitty all the Waziri of Adamawa, needs are just 6 states spread across the 3 geopolitical zones of the South.
My take is that Atiku Abubakar will chose his running mate from the South West because in the final analysis politics still is a numbers game.