The former Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Peter Obi has given reasons why the Northern counterpart will not allow the ambition of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be President in 2023.
Peter Obi disclosed that “Tinubu isn’t electable in any region of Nigeria outside the Southwest, his natal.
Even in the Southwest, his political capital has suffered incalculable diminution over the years, particularly because of the growing perception in the region that he is now a mindless minion of a morally maggoty, Machiavellian and no-good northern cabal.
His callous, injudicious, not to mention misguided and evidence-free, exculpation of the alleged murderers of the daughter of Afenifere leader Reuben Fasoranti rankled many people in the region and helped seal the notion that he is now no more than a fawning, unthinking automaton for hostile political forces outside his region.
It is entirely possible that Fasoranti’s daughter wasn’t murdered by Fulani herders, but saying so without firm, foolproof evidence—and when raw passions were still inflamed—betrayed his lack of scruples and independence of thought.
That is why an increasing number of people in the Southwest now see Tinubu as an unreliable, out-of-touch, self-absorbed, power-hungry, and treacherous narcissist.
Among the electorate in the Southeast and the South-south, he is seen as one of the principal architects in the emergence of the unrelieved disaster that is Buhari whose regime has taken the humiliation and alienation of the two regions as an article of statecraft.
Tinubu also infamously sanctioned the systematic, state-sponsored, and thugs-executed disenfranchisement of Igbo voters in Lagos in 2019. His wife, Remi Tinubu, was, caught on camera lamenting that the Igbo are untrustworthy. (Her exact words were, “Igbo, we no dey trust una again!”) Most Igbos and Southern ethnic minorities would rather be dead than vote for Tinubu.
Christian ethnic minorities in the North, for whom religious identity is an important instrument of political mobilization, deeply distrust, even resent, Tinubu and his politics.
Although Northern Nigerian Christians tend to be largely indifferent to Southern (that is, Yoruba and Edo) Muslims, they nonetheless nurse deep-seated animus toward Tinubu because of the roles he is perceived to have played in propping up the fiendish monster of depravity that the Buhari regime has become.
You would think the Muslim North, particularly the Hausaphone Muslim North, would requite Tinubu’s support for Buhari in 2015 and 2019 by supporting his presidential aspiration in 2023. That is precisely what Tinubu himself, in his blissful naivety, expects. Well, as I pointed out many times before the 2019 election, this is where Tinubu will get the biggest shock of his life.
If Tinubu were lucky to clinch the nomination of the APC (as unlikely as this is), he would need to nominate a Christian, preferably a Northern Christian, politician to “balance” his ticket since he is a Muslim—or self-identifies as a Muslim—from the South. And that’s where the problem would start for him. In the North, there is an enduring distrust of the authenticity of the Islam of Yoruba Muslims.
There is even a Hausa phrase that encapsulates this distrust: adininYarbawa. It translates as the religion, i.e., Islam of the Yoruba. But it means more than that.
It is often uttered to suggest that the Islam of Yoruba people is fickle, inauthentic, meretricious, syncretic, and untrustworthy. So, as far as most Northern Muslims are concerned, a Yoruba Muslim/Northern Christian ticket is as good as a Christian/Christian ticket.
Well, some Yoruba Muslims have been able to overcome this visceral Northern Muslim perceptual bias against their Islam.
A good example is the late MKO Abiola. And it was because he did more for the cause of Islam than any Nigerian of his time.
You can’t say that of Tinubu who, apart from the rampant northern Muslim perception that he isn’t a practising Muslim. Even Abiola had to choose a Northern Muslim running mate to earn the trust of the Northern Muslim political elite.
Nonetheless, if Tinubu chooses a running mate from the Muslim North to compensate for his lack of sufficient Muslim bona fides, he would alienate Igbo, Southern ethnic minority, and Northern Christian voters, the very people who distrust and resent him in the first place.
Contemporary Nigeria is way more sensitive to the politics of religious representation than in 1990s Nigeria was when Abiola ran for president.
The rise of politically tinged Pentecostalism in the South has made even the religiously liberal Southwest a hotbed for religious particularism, even though ethnic solidarity is still a more potent instrument for mobilization in the region than religion.
But I wager that Northern Muslim voters would rather vote for a party that fields a Northern Muslim candidate—even if that party is the PDP—than vote for Tinubu even if he chooses a Northern Muslim running mate. So, heads or tails, Tinubu will lose.