By Obi Ebuka Onochie
What is the main difference between a political machine and a political party? A party is organized for a purpose larger than its own survival. A political machine exists for its own sake, its primary; in a sense its only purpose is survival.-Daniel J. Boorstin, American Historian.
In the wake of the ban placed on 2015 election campaign by President Goodluck Jonathan, the political gladiators have resorted to underground preparations and manipulations including the President himself. The President in an obvious attempt to calm the already overheating political atmosphere, placed a ban on open campaign for 2015 election especially on those working in his cabinet. But that not withstanding, campaign must go on if not overtly then covertly.
The Northern Governors Forum recently renamed Northern State Governors Forum is not found wanting in the game they believe only their association can save the north in the upcoming 2015 election. The stage is set. The political titans and gladiators are positioning and strengthening their weak points. The look beyond President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is on the increase with the north working tirelessly to make sure that they take over after President Jonathan with a strong and healthy candidate to avoid the repeat of Yar’adua’s saga. The South east geopolitical zone is also clamouring to take over the mantle for the first time in 49 years. All these build up is on the heels of President Jonathan’s statement in far away Addis Ababa that he won’t go for another term. The president has set the ball rolling but the direction, pace and the manner with which the ball rolls to a halt is still largely dependent on the president judging by our level of democracy. One thing that should not be ruled out is the possibility of President Goodluck Jonathan desiring a second term.
The candidacy of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as PDP chairman is said to have the backing of many PDP stalwarts and most importantly the Presidency. The president does not have interest in who becomes the party’s Chairman just to show political muscle but there are two things one of which must be the reason he has a vested interest in the chairmanship seat. One is if he is nurturing the dream for another term and the other is if he wants to choose his successor which has become the trend of our political culture. The choice for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who is from the same State with Atiku Abubakar, does not go down well with some northern PDP stalwarts who see it as a move to debilitate and finally annihilate Atiku’s remaining political vigor. This group believes there is no northerner presently who has the weight and clout to throw a heavy political punch that can dislocate southern political jaw apart from Atiku who incidentally has powerful enemies within northern political elites.
The recent outburst by Northern elitists group headed by no other than lanky Governor of CBN Mallam Sanusi linking the activities of Boko Haram to Federal allocation which they said does not favour the north is a very big ploy to get the support of minority ethnic groups in the north. In recent years, there has been constant ethno-religious upheaval in the north which has brought suspicion and distrust between the ruling Hausas and their northern minority ethnic groups. The voting pattern is no longer based on regional bases but along religious and ethnic lines which has defeated the one north philosophy. The idea of evoking the revenue disparity between the north and the south is to find a cause which the rest of the north will believe when achieved will benefit them too. This is to be able to pocket the block votes of the minority ethnic groups while the candidate must come from the so called far north or core north. This is in line with the philosophy of the northern political patriarch who was quoted as saying “the new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great grandfather called Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent change of power. We must use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future.” – Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto (Patriot Newspaper of 12 October 1960).
This is not coming as a surprise to anybody who is conversant with northern politicians who see political power as their birthright which in the modern Nigerian context amounts to self deceit and delusions of grandeur. In the north, its being rumored that Senate President David Mark, who infamously supervised the sharing of Igbo abandoned property in Port-Harcourt, Vice President Namadi Sambo and Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are already canvassing and seeking the backing of who is who in the north. Muhammadu Buhari who is a perennial Presidential contestant will as usual come out to be felt. The President himself is watching with a keen interest and making some moves which suspiciously are sending signals that he may not have totally abandoned second term bid which may kick-start sycophantic group visits to Aso-rock inducing him for second term with the usual “let me consult God on the matter”. The president enjoys overwhelming support base in the whole of southern Nigeria and greater part of middle belt leaving only the north west and north east, which were recently adjudged to be the poorest regions in Nigeria, to crack.
2015 is a vital year in the life and unity of not only this nation but Africa at large. Many southerners in the north have decided that 2015 will never meet them in the north and this is not unconnected with the level of destruction and horror recorded in the last general elections in the north. Leadership in Nigeria is too attractive and loose that people can do anything to get there. This is true if we should ask ourselves this question: If leadership is all about service to the people, why should somebody destroy property, cause chaos and even kill just to go and serve? What sorts of service will he render when and if he eventually gets there? The moves and counter moves by many career politicians who are jostling for the lofty position of president of this nation are very interesting to follow and at the same time a sour taste in the political tongue of true patriots. None of the political parties in Nigeria are driven by any political ideology and this leaves political machines killing the parties while the parties in turn compound the woes of the citizens.