If regional sentiment were to be the basis of statesmanship, the trio of Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Vice President Atiku Abubakar would have been qualified for gold medals.  Their romance in recent times, has been viewed as a union  of necessity rather than an alliance for change.

The quest of their region, the North to regain power and their individual presidential ambition, have been seen as the sources of the umbilical chord which has now tied  these men together. This is moreso that  there has been no love lost among these three personalities over the years.

Before the clamour for the return of power to the North heightened, the relationship among these three statesmen has not been anything to write home about. Whereas, Buhari and Babangida had been celebrated foes (despite different reconciliation attempts), since 1985, close relationship between Atiku with either of Babangida or Buhari had never been a matter of public knowledge. In fact, allegations were rife few months back that the sudden sour relationship between the vice president and his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo was being sponsored by Babangida. How did they suddenly turn friends who  now pursue a common agenda? This is one of the rhetorical questions agitating the minds of many.

At any rate, matters arising from this alliance include the hidden motive behind it. Primarily, many are seeking to know whether the union was borne out of  the love for the people or the interest of their  region or their search for personal agenda. This alliance is being viewed in some quaters as  a union of desperation, rather than that of statesmanship. Most shocking to people is that the three men are known as committed presidential aspirants who would not surrender their ambitions for anybody. What the three men are up to then, has been a source of interest to many. The union is in a way significant, moreso that the Bible says that whereas two are only better than one, a three-fold chord cannot be easily broken. How can three men pursuing the same goal with all measures of commitment now choose to fraternise with one another while they remain opponents? Answers to this question has till now not be found.

However, interpretations of varying degrees have been given to this alliance. Some notable Nigerians have described the alliance as a dangerous type. In fact, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) took a lead last week when it alerted Nigerians to be watchful about the alliance, alleging that it was nothing else but an attempt to scuttle this democracy. The conference chairman, Dr. Olapade Agoro cried out with deep feelings,  insisting that Buhari, Babangida and Atiku have "formed an alliance to stall transition in 2007."

For   Agoro,  there is nothing good in the alliance except  the crave of  the "three mega rich presidential candidates" to throw the polity into chaos because according to him, it was obvious that Obasanjo would not hand over power to any of them. "They are now crying wolf to cause problems in 2007, throw spanners into our democracy and ensure that   elections do not hold," he said.
 Agoro got more  and more exasperated about the development, convincing all and sundry that "IBB and Buhari have no regard for democracy. They only want to precipitate crisis for Nigeria." Rather than be pacified after expressing his feelings, his emotion rose more and more, advising each of them to forget about their presidential ambition in 2007 adding: "We have had enough of them. Let us have a new blood, a new beginning   and a clean break from the dirty past," he urged.

Also hitting the nail on the head, political activist and governorship aspirant on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, said the marriage of the three statesmen was nothing else, but the search of ambitious men mainly for their own political survival. Agbaje, like many other Nigerians, could not decode any national interest as the basis for this relationship. Instead, he sees it as the determination of the men to fight an unnamed but common enemy, whom he also described as a monster. Going by Agbaje's submission, the development corresponds with the biblical narration in which Herod and Pilate who had been adversaries of each other for decades had their   enmity  terminated upon the arrest of Jesus Christ, before His eventual crucifixion. Just as Jesus became the unifying force between Pilate and Herod, so also the trio have been united by "the common enemy," while not forgetting that the underlying factor is their own political survival. If one or two persons can easily fall prey to the "monster" perceived to be maximum both in power and stature, the trio must have believed that the enemy  will have to perspire much to defeat  the three of them. Agbaje who noted that the union was also not informed by party identity, which could have warranted the allignment of the forces, stated also that the men must have realized that their individual ambition was being badly threatened, and hence, crushing the enemy would only mark the beginning of hope.  

"Don't forget that to the best of my knowledge, the three men belong to different political parties. Atiku is in PDP for now, even if he is thinking of   possibly leaving PDP. IBB is in PDP, but also has his heart in other parties. Buhari is in ANPP. I believe that the alliance that they have   is an alliance against common enemy or  somebody they see as a monster. So, I want to believe it is more of a strategy to contain the monster. So to that extent - whose interest? It is for their political survival, to be able to crush what they consider as a monster. To the best of my knowledge, all have their individual ambition, but the first is to contain the monster," he noted.

However, Agbaje took exception from Agoro, who did not see any thing good in the three men. Instead, he said instead of labelling either of the three or all of them put together as bad, those who feel that they are credible should rather come out so that the presidential race can be a game of both the evil and the good, while   the electorate reserve the right to choose  the good among the evil.

"The beauty of democracy is that it allows people to come out. If somebody comes out and he is not deemed fit, let others come out. At this level of our democracy, we should not discourage anybody. It is  not the issue of good or bad . Let others come out. It is not whether they are good or bad.  At this level of our democracy, let others come out."

If the idea of the alliance was spurred by the agitation of a region to control power, Agbaje distanced himself from such an attitude, regretting that increasing clamour for power control was only borne out of the failure of Nigeria to practise true federalism. According to him, in a true federal state, agitation for power rotation, which he believes undermines this system, can never come up.

"Every area is saying the same thing. Even the South-west is saying  the president does not represent the  South-west or that he is a military allocation so to say and that the South-west was not in support of the president, how then can you say its (South-west) chance is gone? Every zone is  clamouring. I will say categorically that I am not one of those for the idea of rotation, be at the centre, state or local government. I believe the best candidate for the overall interest of the people should be the president. What we are seeing is a fallout of not practising federalism. The reality is, if we are practising federalism, it does not matter who is the  president.

"The idea of we must be part of the centre is in the negative. Some of us believe that  this idea  of 'I must be part of the centre is in the negative. In federalism, you are encouraged to build the resources in your area to develop your area. It is not encouraging, taking pple to the centre to share national cake. The idea of rotation is not going to help. It is a fall out of bad governance over the years. We should not talk about rotation but federalism. If revenue is shared at equitable form, all will not be  saying 'I am going to the centre. Everybody has inalienable right to be in office, same way people are saying we are better, we are  more intelligent than you. If we don't practise federalism, we cannot  see ourselves as a nation. I must add that it is this idea that makes some people to say it is our right.

"Even in the North, many are not benefitting. We are saying Nigeria should  wake up . The system is only favouring few people. It is because we are not practising federalism that some people are saying it is our right. In the North, the generality of the people are not benefitting. When they want something, they will throw in religion and tribal sentiment," Agbaje said.

Reacting to a comment by a Northern politician, Tanko Yankassai  that the South-south should blame providence for being in the minority and not the North, which he claimed to be bigger than the entire South, a situation which he argued gave the North the exclusive preserve to dominate power, Agbaje regretted that "these are statements by few people for their selfish interest" adding: "One can only appeal to Nigerians to disregard  inflamatory statements."

Also condemning the idea of rotational presidency is the former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande. Like Agbaje, Akande saw the refusal of Nigerian leaders to embrace federalism as the main factor which has brought Nigeria into this level of discredit. He saw regional clamour for regionalism as a defeatist attitude.

"It is a defeatist attitude that the president must come from the North or the South...We need the autonomy of all our federating units. That is why we are calling for true federalism to reduce the power at the centre. Go and read the Yoruba Agenda. It is not the president who has the power to change the constitution. It is the people. The president needn't be a northener. We need a straight forward Nigerian," he noted.

If the basis for the alliance of the three northern leaders is to secure power for the North, Akande might be saying that the alliance is baseless if it is in  of pursuit of Northern agenda.

But Akande also reminded the people that Kalu (though not visible  in the alliance,) is also part and parcel of it. "Don't you know that Kalu is also part of the alliance? That is why we are saying that there should be the right type of selection. Who says Kalu can't pick up the ticket? Who says Hausa/Fulani is forming an alliance for themselves?" Akande queried.

However, Akande's argument that the call for rotational presidency is a defeatist attitude is also worth considering. Given Akande's view, clamouring for power shift from one zone to the other or from one region to the other, is nothing else but a show of ill confidence of the people in themselves in that part of the country. Put differently, the clamour which has become a subject of irritation, going by Akande's expression, amounts to a display of inferiority complex.

Therefore, going by Akande's view, if the feelings of inferiority complex are outrightly eliminated from the polity, the agitation for rotational presidency will be a thing of the past and the political terrain will be delivered from the confusion it is currently going through.

This therefore, being the case, one alliance or the other may be unnecessary, while the seemingly overheating of the polity as well as the internal and external conflicts created by this scenario, would have been avoided.

In all, watchers believe that the on-going romance of Buhari, Babangida, Atiku is not a marriage of convenience but rather one union aimed at achieving an ethnic or personal objectives as against national objectives. Such watchers believe that Nigeria should outgrow the search for political survival and price national survival above primordial sentiments.

twitterfacebook twitter google