In 1993, when Chief MKO Abiola had the opportunity to clinch the ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Alhaji Bashir Tofa was handed over the flag of the National Republican Convention (NRC) – the issue of zoning the presidential seat to a particular region had not, at the period, risen. The two major political parties went for the candidates whom they believed could win the election for them.
After the annulment of the June 12 presidential election widely believed to have won by Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Abiola’s demise, the compass of politics changed direction. The country, after the military had agreed for transition, concluded that there was no other choice but to pacify the Southwest for the death of Abiola. And this brought the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Olu Falae of the Alliance for Democracy to be the only two major contenders in the 1999 presidential election. A northerner, Umaru Yar’Adua, would emerge the presidential candidate of the PDP after the two-term tenure of Chief Obasanjo against the ACN candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, also a northerner. Since then, zoning of presidential seat was somewhat inserted into the political system, and any party serious about winning election in Nigeria has to embrace it.
During the presidential primaries of the APC and the PDP, there were signals that some people in both parties, perhaps because of their personal ambitions, would try to change the tradition. This prompted the southern governors of both parties to issue a note of warning to their brothers in the North to desist from changing the arrangement. The APC yielded to the warning and did the needful, but the PDP, because of Atiku Abubakar’s inordinate ambition, called the bluff of the PDP southern governors. Atiku and some northern bigwigs in the PDP saw no reason the north could not rule for another eight years.
Governor Nyesom Wike somehow believed that power shift would favour him in the PDP primary, but met the unexpected when a fellow PDP governor, Aminu Tambuwa, declared his support for Atiku, a fellow northerner. As if this was not enough, Iyorchia Ayu, a northern chairman of the party, also allegedly endorsed the candidature of Atiku.
This is the background of Wike’s unrelenting effort at taking a pound of flesh from the party and those he perceived betrayed his trust and ambition.
Now that the G-5 Governors – Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) are determined to show the PDP why the already established agreement (zoning arrangement) should not be joked with, could the governors be said to be fighting a just or an unjust cause?
Ademola Babalola, Ibadan, Oyo State