SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 27 – It appears some major political stakeholders in the South-West zone are firming up plans to float a new political party that would drive the zone’s push for the presidency in 2023 as moves to undermine the influence of Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, the highest ranking government official from the region continue.
According to a report by the New Telegraph, the proposed political party, which was referred to as ‘Plan B’, is expected to be a major part of the realignment plot in the zone in the wake of the struggle for power that is being anticipated ahead of the next dispensation.
Speaking with New Telegraph , a member of the steering committee set up to galvanise ideas and processes needed to protect the zone’s interest, said the think-tank team has commenced intense consultations across the zone on plans ahead of 2023, adding that preliminary feedback indicated that a new political party might be floated by stakeholders in the zone.
According to him, the team was set up by prominent Yoruba leaders and politicians to see ways of protecting the zone’s interest ahead of the crunch race that may pitch the North against South on one hand and South-West against either South-East or South-South on the other hand.
His words: “Some northern political leaders have continued to make case for their region to retain power beyond 2023 after eight years in power, but we are being strategic this time around and that is why we don’t want to be caught off-guard.”
Recently, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, said there was a need for the country to drop zoning in future elections, including the 2023 presidency, to enable the country to have a competent leader.
Similarly, the South-East has registered its intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, on the ground that it is the only geo-political zone yet to lead the country under a democratic dispensation.
The source further noted that the team, which operates under the aegis of “South-West 2023 Actualisation,” is apolitical and has the backing of notable leaders and politicians in the zone, including governors.
He said: “This is an anticipatory move because the signs about the political future of South-West are ominous. The North is firming up its plan for 2023 and it is fast gaining prominence. That is why we are not going to sit back and allow this to happen without putting up our plans to test.
“We have met with quite a number of leaders and even governors in the zone and they have given us the go-ahead to approach others and get the baseline plan for the zone. We also met with some traditional rulers and notable chiefs in Yoruba land and they gave their blessings. They may not tell you that we have met with them because it is supposed to be surreptitious plan.
“One of the traditional rulers even told us to ensure that the proposed political party should be patterned along the ideals of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. You will be shocked that all these are in the pipeline because we don’t trust the move by the North.”
Asked when the proposed political party will take off, the source said: “We are targeting first quarter of the 2020 for processing.”
He, however, said the group is going to have a meeting in Ibadan next week, adding that the structure has to be well-framed before approaching the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for registration.
On the viability of a regional political party in federal politics, he said: “The now-defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) under the leadership Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was perceived as a regional party until it became one of the thresholds that ensured that the APC took power in 2015.
“In politics, the issue is for you to be prepared, so that when the opportunity comes, you can seize it. Look at what is happening to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Which Yoruba son will be happy that they want to rubbish him because he is the top South-West leader in the country as we speak?”
While declining to mention names of those behind the movement, he noted that the team will soon meet with Tinubu, Bode George and others to seek their blessings over its plans.
Speaking with New Telegraph on the development, the Yoruba socio-politico group, Afenifere, said it has gotten overtures from some individuals for the zone to come into alignment ahead of 2023, adding, however, that it will only support alignment that comes with restructuring of the country.
“For us in Afenifere, any realignment that has as its core restructuring and reduction of poverty in the land, we will go for it,” Yinka Odumakin, the group’s spokesperson said.
He added: “Any arrangement for a new order that will bring back true federalism, sort out fundamentals that will make states and regions develop at their own pace and bring back the dignity of our people, will be welcomed. But, if the realignment is a power-grabbing and horse-trading antic, we won’t have anything to do with such.”
On the plot by the North to retain power after Buhari, Odumakin said such plan won’t work, as according to him, Nigeria belongs to all.
Similarly, the Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, told New Telegraph that Yoruba leaders would be very circumspect before teaming up with any group of people ahead of 2023 race.
He said: “I am not really aware of any plan to form a new political party or platform for Yoruba to achieve 2023 presidency. I am of the view that Yoruba should be cautious of mercenaries, who might be out to exploit the ignorance or patriotism of people to get them into mischief.
“I will advise Yoruba to approach the issue of 2023 presidency with a lot of caution. There is no zone in Nigeria; no ethnic group can become president alone on its own. The support of the other parts of the country is very necessary. So, they must try as much as possible not to create the impression that the president in 2023, if it is from Yoruba extraction, is only for Yoruba alone. It will be unwise to do that. We want a Nigerian president for all Nigerians. And we are going to solicit for the support of all parts of this country.
“If we are going to form any platform at all, it has to be a national platform that will involve all parts of Nigeria because we cannot do it alone. In fact, we want to lead this country in the process of building a united nation, not an egocentric nation.
“We must know the antecedents of such people; their political history and behavioural pattern.
Before we team up with anybody, we want to be sure about their sincerity. We believe in Nigeria and we want a united egalitarian Nigeria society; a truly Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, we will be very careful and circumspect before teaming up with any group of people.”