As the nation continues the steady march towards the February 16 Presidential Election, one big question that has been agitating the minds of the people of the Southwest geopolitical zone of the country is what they stand to benefit by voting for either of the two main contending parties – the APC and the PDP. This is a question that falls within the purview of analysts to examine and present an overview of what to expect from the zone in the coming election.
One of the main grouses of the people of the Southwest against the PDP is the way the party treated the people of the zone during the Jonathan administration of 2009 to 2015. The people believe and rightly so, that they had been shortchanged not only in the siling of infrastructural projects in the zone but also in appointments to public offices.
Hardly can one point to any major project started and completed in the Southwest during the rule of Goodluck Jonathan or that of his predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Instead many projects initiated by the two PDP leaders have been abandoned halfway only to be taken over by the Buhari administration. Many of such projects have either been completed by now or nearing completion by the current APC government of President Buhari.
For example, the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway construction was to be done through a concessionary arrangement that flopped. That all important project very vital to the socio-economic well-being of the South westerners has now been taken over by Buhari and is getting near completion stage and more interestingly, this big undertaking is now being executed through direct government funding.
Similarly, one of the busiest roads in Nigeria, the Ibadan/Oyo/Ogbomosho Expressway which was started by the PDP government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was abandoned at Oyo leaving the Oyo/Ogbomosho section uncompleted since the past 16years. It is Buhari government that is now working towards the completion of the project.
One other major project that has continued to gladden the hearts of the Yoruba people is the standard gauge railway project directly linking Lagos with Ibadan, the political Capital of the Southwest. This project was started by Jonathan but nothing was done on it until Buhari came on board. While on a state visit to China, Buhari renegotiated the project with the Chinese authorities. Work is progressing at a high speed right now on the project.
You can just imagine a rail journey from Lagos to Ibadan taking only 30minutes. And what about haulage of goods between the two great metropolis? Why will the Southwest then choose to show ingratitude to a party, APC that is doing much at the same time in the geopolitical zone?
Right now Atiku is dangling the bait of restructuring to the region. But where are the details of his restructuring proposal? Will he do it, can he do it and is it going to be a project that will favour the people in that zone? Atiku came to Ibadan to canvass for the people’s support but merely touched the issue of restructuring on the surface. He merely browsed the issue and made no promise to complete ongoing projects that are of immense socio-economic value to the South westerners.
Today, Alhaji Atiku’s most vociferous backer is Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former President who had once declared the PDP candidate as unfit to rule Nigeria because of what he described as his insatiable greed and corruption. But even then, the pertinent question is, does Obasanjo possess the moral or political compass by which he can direct the course of events in Yorubaland?
Only recently, one of the most highly respected leaders of the Yoruba nation, General Alani Akinrinade, former Chief of Defense Staff, took a swipe at Chief Obasanjo and described his call on South westerners to vote for Atiku as “an insult to our collective intelligence”. He also blamed the media for according the ex-president undue attention, adding that they (the media) owe Nigerians the responsibility of “keeping this irritable man where he belongs – the waste bin of history”.
The retired general then advised his comrade-in-arms to “allow Nigerians choose who they want and stop goading the citizenry for his own selfish interests”. Alani Akinrinade has spoken the minds of most Nigerians, especially people of the Southwest. General Akinrinade is seen and regarded as a highly influential and respected leader whose views on any issues are usually taken as representing the collective interests of the Yoruba.
Now, if Atiku thinks he can rely on Obasanjo’s support to win Southwest votes, then he has missed the point. He must be living under a great illusion that Obasanjo’s political clout in the zone is sufficient enough for him to withstand PMB’s rabbit punch in the February 16 election. The Yoruba people have never regarded Obasanjo as a true son of theirs and many PDP leaders and supporters in the zone regard his much orchestrated support for Atiku as constituting a big albatross on the neck of his former vice.
Reasons why the duo of Obasanjo and Atiku cannot influence voters in the Southwest cannot be far-fetched, given the antecedents of the two leaders while holding the highest offices in the land. Neither of the two of them can point to any project or undertaking of significance that can qualify them for the people’s support or gratitude.
During Atiku’s eight-year vice-presidential tenure, people of the Southwest said they did not see the positive impact of his performance or activities either as a political juggermet or as the all-powerful No. 2 man who could influence the establishment of important national projects in the zone. The name “Atiku Abubakar” is heard in Yorubaland only when he comes calling for electoral support and not for the commissioning or laying of the foundation stone of any public or private projects in any area of the zone. He did not even honour the invitation to witness the heavily attended installation ceremony of the incumberant Olubadan of Ibadan Land, Oba.
As for the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Yoruba can never forgive him for the ignoble roles he had played in the affairs of his own people. According to General Alani Akinrinade, through Obasanjo’s “clandestine maneuvers in 1979, he foisted on Nigeria a reluctant Shehu Shagari at the expense of cerebral Obafemi Awolowo”. Through the same undemocratic practice he caused the removal of a popular governor, Senator Rashidi Ladoja from office in 2007.
Though Obasanjo was foisted on Nigeria as President by the military to atone for the great loss suffered by the Yoruba in the aborted June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and the state murder of its winner, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the main beneficiary of those sordid events, Obasanjo did not for once publicly appreciate the sacrifice made to bring him back to power, fame and world recognition.
For this and many more, including his unfriendly attitude towards the famous Awolowo family, Obasanjo is and will for many years to come remain a political outcast among the children of Oduduwa.
It is however to the eternal credit of President Muhammadu Buhari that what Obasanjo ungratefully refused to do for his own people in his eight years of misrule, PMB did it in under two years, and that is the official recognition and proclamation of M.K.O. Abiola as winner of the 1993 Presidential Election! This great and courageous act of patriotism on the part of President Buhari is more than enough to endear him to the hearts of South westerners and dismiss the vituperations of Obasanjo as the tantrums of a rejected leader.
By now Atiku should be reminded of the inglorious antecedents of his former boss, his own reputation as a corrupt and ineffectual leader and accept the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in February 16 Election as a fait-accompli