With the emergence of a northerner as its presidential candidate, I wonder how Afenifere, PANDEM, Ohaeneze-Ndigbo, the Middle Belt Forum and the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum now feel about their favoured child known as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
The virulent and avowed opposition that these august and highly respected bodies had against a orthern presidential candidate has been overruled by the party.
Their call for an Igbo presidential candidate has been ignored and treated with contempt and disdain.
Their preferred party is fielding a northerner and there is nothing they can do about it.
They have been misled, fooled and scammed and they have no influence or power over the affairs of their favoured party.
Despite the revered age of some members of the groups, wealth of knowledge, profound insight and depth of wisdom, the PDP has tossed their collective counsel into the dustbin.
Permit me to welcome them to the world of ‘real politik’.
Politics is a game of numbers where words and the knowledge of history alone count for little and where only insight, passion, a firm resolve and a large war chest, coupled with the ability to conspire and the courage to build bridges even with past adversaries and former foes, are the keys to success.
In this game, like the words of Shakespeare’s witches in his famous play ‘Macbeth’, “fair is foul and foul is fair: hover through the fog and filthy air!”
It is a strange and difficult game filled with intrigues, betrayal and treachery.
It is murky, it is foggy, it is dark, it is treacherous, it is full of intrigues and mystery and nothing is as it seems or appears.
They thought the PDP would produce a southern candidate even if the APC failed to do so but now they know that the trust they bestowed on their arrant yet favoured child was misplaced.
This must have been a shocker to them.
And let me assure them that more shockers and surprises are coming.
I believe it is time they start thinking differently and adopting a new approach in order to achieve their noble objectives of a fair, equitable and just Nigeria in which we are all equals regardless of ethnicity or faith.
Constantly supporting and relying on the PDP and hoping they will come to power to do something new, fix the problems and provide the solutions is an illusion and dangerous delusion.
It simply cannot work.
I advise them to have a rethink and to realign.
In doing so they may well make a difference and achieve their noble objectives.
Now permit me to get to the meat of this essay.
It is interesting to note and quite an irony that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), a party that the opposition PDP has wrongly labeled as a bunch of northern irredentists and hegemonists, is now the one that could possibly provide a southerner as their flag bearer.
Conversely, the PDP, the party that has always claimed to champion the precepts of equity, justice and southern rights and that has always prided itself on its strong southern base, has opted to give its presidential flag to a northerner.
They turned their backs on the people of the South-East who have given them more support than any other ethnic nationality in the country over the last 23 years.
They spurned the people of the Middle Belt who saw in them a hope of salvation and emancipation.
They rejected the people of the South-South whose sons and daughters stood firmly behind them through thick and thin.
Finally, they displayed their usual and utter contempt for the people of the South-West who they have always regarded as nothing but the biblical “hewers of the wood and the drawers of the water” and the poor relatives of the party ever since President Olusegun Obasanjo left power in 2007.
Worse still they gave their ticket to a man who withdrew a public condemnation of the savage lynching of Miss Deborah Emmanuel in Sokoto and refused to condemn the brutal slaughter of a pregnant Fulani lady and her four children in Anambra.
They gave their ticket to a man who lost the 2019 election and promptly left the country for three long years for beautiful Dubai, abandoning all his followers and supporters to weather the Nigerian storm and waters.
They gave their ticket to a man who is soft on the terrorists that are butchering the people of the North-West and North-East and who has offered no solution to the plague of unknown gunmen and terrorists that are slaughtering people in the South-East.
Is this a party that can be trusted with power?
Can the people of the South-West, South-East, South-South, North-Central or even North-West and North-East trust Atiku with power?
I have my doubts. The truth is that the PDP has been high-jacked by a cabal which has utter contempt for anyone and everyone that is not part of their inner circle.
Many ask, who are those in this cabal?
Who are those that now control the PDP and that ensured that Nyesom Wike was defeated and Atiku emerged?
The same forces ensured the emergence of Atiku at the Port Harcourt Convention in 2018 by whispering his name at the last minute to the relevant stakeholders and they have done it again in 2022.
How could a serious political party not afford Ayo Fayose and Dele Momodu at least ONE vote each at its presidential primary?
How could they lose Rabiu Kwankwaso, Peter Obi and Enyinnaya Abaribe to smaller and totally inconsequential parties just before their convention?
How could they deny Pius Anyim the presidential ticket?
How could they not encourage Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who is the best of them and the brightest star in the South-East, to run for nomination?
How could they reduce Emmanuel Udom to 13 votes, Bala Mohammed to 20 votes and Bukola Saraki to 70 votes and how could they deal such a ruthless death blow to the aspiration of Wike who struggled so hard to bring the presidential ticket to the South?
Had it not been for Aminu Tambuwal’s decision to back Atiku at the last minute, Wike would have won in flying colours.
And look at the convention itself.
The delegates were allegedly bought and their price was said to be on open display.
If there was any reason for INEC to nullify a party convention, this particular one provided it.
Interestingly, there are many in the ruling APC who have expressed a strong preference for a southern presidential candidate for 2023 and most of them are from the North.
Would it not be a remarkable thing if President Muhammadu Buhari, the man many in the South have constantly viewed with suspicion and skepticism and who many have wrongly labeled as an ethnic warlord and religious bigot, was the one that gave the South what they wanted?
And make no mistake about it, this decision is Buhari’s and his alone.
He alone will most likely determine who APC will field and where that person comes from.
If he chooses to stop any presidential aspirant from emerging even at this late stage, he can do so, no matter how popular, rich and powerful that aspirant may be.
Just one phone call from him to the relevant stakeholders can achieve that.
He can also endorse the weakest and most unlikely contender even at the last minute and that person will emerge.
Such is the respect, trust and affection that the leaders and members of the party at every level have for him.
As they say, he has the “yam and the knife” and he can determine what will happen or choose to sit back and allow all the aspirants to slug it out until the best man wins.
I am on record as saying that the three zones that ought to be considered for the nomination before others are the South-East, North-Central and North-East and I stand by that.
Compared to the South-West, North-West and South-South, none of them has had a fair crack of the whip when it comes to democratically- elected Presidents and they all deserve to have their chance.
They are not slaves and they need to be encouraged, given a sense of purpose and carried along.
I maintain this position even if I am the only one that refuses to hedge my bets and say so publicly.
I also maintain that it would be easier for a northerner to defeat Atiku but, if truth be told, it would also be a reflection of the courage and sense of fairness of the President and the APC that, even if it means risking the 2023 election, it is better to do the right and proper thing, assuage the fears and worries of the South, honor past commitments and allow a southerner to take over.
This alone will make Buhari a hero above all else.
This alone will give Nigeria a new lease of life and will restore and strengthen North/South relations.
This alone will assuage the feelings and heal the wounds of those that live in perpetual fear of northern hegemony and domination and quench the awesome fire of the militants and separatists that thrive in the South-East, South-West and South-South.
This alone will send a strong signal to Boko Haram, ISWAP, killer herdsmen and foreign terrorists that they have failed to destroy our fragile unity and to divide us.
This alone will be a legacy that will speak for our President and our party into eternity.
The question, therefore, is whether we do the right thing by giving the ticket to the South or do the politically expedient thing by giving it to the North.
That choice will be made at the APC convention in a few days time.
Let us wait and see.
Femi Fani-Kayode is a former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria