By Igboeli Arinze
The APC Primaries was the much heralded event of all the primaries, asides from it been the ruling party, it paraded the biggest array of aspirants, big names in the nation’s politics, the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor David Umahi, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Rochas Okorocha, Governor Badaru and Emeka Nwajiuba had all indicated interest in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.
With the PDP concluding its own primaries, all eyes turned to the ruling party alongside the accompanied accoutrements of prophecies of doom and foreseen implosions. A number of hack journalists had even alleged that there was a gang up against its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, others shouted to the rooftops that there was no way the North would allow the South have its way with the ticket. Matters were not also helped when the likes of Governor Badaru and Ahmed Lawan declared for the Office as well as the emergence of Atiku Abubakar.
These conspiracy theories were however fueled by the continuous shifts in the dates scheduled for the primaries. Everyday a new theory would evolve as to how Buhari had endorsed one particular candidate and how the same Buhari had just endorsed another. There were stories of how the party had disqualified ten aspirants and how the party had arrived at a false consensus.
However things began to take shape when news reports filtered in that the Northern Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had agreed to support a Southern Candidate.
In a statement signed by 11 Governors, they said it was a question of honour for the APC and that after President Muhammadu Buhari had completed his eight years in power it was the turn of the South to take its shot at power.
But there happened to be another twist to the convention, a rumor had somewhat found vent that the party had settled for Ahmed Lawan, such a pronouncement was to mar a number of permutations as well as unsettle the party, since all the aspirants had settled for an elective contest and anything short of such would cause an implosion and do the party’s electoral chances a certain level of damage.
But like the heroes of this nascent democracy, the Northern Governors stuck to their guns and there would be no going back. By virtue of such an act these governors had helped save the APC as well as preserve the fabric thinly holding the nation’s stability! This was one big takeaway from that convention, and that was the fact that there was or there is still some honour in our politics. The Northern Governors could have used the superiority of numbers and the latent excuse that democracy gives to have one of their own elected as the APC candidate, but understanding that the Nigerian project is bigger than anyone or region chose to bury such aspirations and allow the South produce a president.
The primaries itself was a carnival of sorts and the drama that ensued could make the producer of the famous political series ‘House of Cards’ grin with envy. As a number of aspirants began to step down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu with that of Governor Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the bellringing exemplars it became obvious that the election was for Bola Tinubu to lose and win he did!
Another big takeaway from the APC primaries was the fact that all politics is local or should I say regional! While the SouthWest seemingly appeared to close ranks and see a sitting Governor and serving senator put away their aspirations for one of their own ( Despite the fact that the trio, Bola Tinubu, Fayemi and Amosun were not prior to that period the best of friends) the SouthEast played theirs like some circus. We had an Orji Uzor Kalu playing the perennial spoiler as he rooted for Lawan, while we had a David Umahi, Emeka Nwajiuba and Ogbonnaya Onu in the race. Again, it did appear that asides from Umahi, the rest of the SouthEast aspirants were banking on an “anointing” of sorts, while their fellow aspirants traversed the nation, seeking the support of the delegates.
When such an anointing failed to come we saw what I call a melodramatic appearance by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who bellowed out the words “Where is the justice? “ decrying the non decision of the party to zone the ticket to the SouthEast Region. While many may have agreed with Ogbonnaya Onu’s stance, one other takeaway from the APC Primaries is that power is taken and not served a la carte.
Lastly, Tinubu’s acceptance speech as well as his conciliatory visits to his fellow aspirants should as always suggest to many Nigerians that politics is about interest alone and there are no permanent friends nor foes. Such a move has helped managed the fallouts of the primaries and paved the way for him to unite the APC and meet the PDP in the polls where it should be all about issues and the party’s relative performance in power.
Igboeli is the Managing Editor of Anambratimes.com