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OPINION

By Ofio ‘Lojuayegbe

The conversation below is a conjecture of what transpired between the outgoing president and the fabled cabal that’s holding him captive.

BuBu: Who do we choose as my successor from all these people trying to gain my support for their presidential ambitions?

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The Cabal: Baba, the issue is the parapo people feel entitled because they claimed they helped fulfil your age-long ambition of becoming president of Nigeria, not once but twice. The Biafrans have been agitating that it’s their turn, being the most marginalised region of the country, even though they contributed the least to making you become president.

BuBu: Okay, who do you guys have in mind?

The Cabal: Our Arewa brothers want the power to remain in the North but it’s a tough sell, your Excellency, walahi.

Bubu: I think I found a good candidate that will satisfy the southwest and the southeast.

The Cabal: (in chorus) Who, Baba?

BuBu: Rotimi Amaechi!

The Cabal: Menini, Haba Baba!

BuBu: Let me explain. His first name is Rotimi, which will endear him to the West, his last name is Amaechi, the South-east can live with that. And to cap it all, remember he is helping me build railway through my State to Maradi. Don’t forget the Transport University is being built in my State as well; so I should be able to sell him to our brothers Arewa brothers.

The Cabal: Walahi, Baba, with this kind of brain, koi, the Evil Genius is your apprentice.

The first kite fluttered in the sky when the Mallam in Kaduna stated on national television that if he was compelled by his taciturn uncle in the Villa to help carry Rotimi’s handbag, he will gladly oblige.

Now that Rotimi has danced into the presidential arena with all fanfare, pomp and pageantry at Amesiamaka Stadium in Rivers State, how significant is his declaration to become the President of Nigeria?

Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the sobriquet invented for him during his time as Speaker in Rivers State, came into the consciousness of many Nigerians when he became governor without contesting as a candidate.

He had won the primaries of his party and was on course to succeeding Peter Odili but the powers that be shortchanged him and substituted him with Celestine Omehia just before the governorship election. He went ahead to win a famous victory at the Supreme court and went on to serve two terms as Governor of Rivers State.

Amaechi, no doubt is a well-skilled politician. In the political chess game, the common affinity politicians have is to their interests, not their ethnicity or faith.

Amaechi fought an epic battle with the Jonathans over the soul of Rivers State, but his candidate, Dakuku Peterside, lost under controversial circumstances. His candidate on the platform of APC won an appeal of the verdict of the election tribunal, but Wike trumped him at the Supreme Court on technicalities.

Rotimi, in the interim, was consoled with the fact that he presided over a presidential campaign council as the DG of the Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Committee, that saw the ouster of a sitting president for the first time in the history of Nigeria. The fat cookie jar in Rivers State was largely credited for this appointment as he was barely known to Bubu at that time.

When Bubu’s Cabinet was being formed, Amaechi was given a very juicy portfolio, the Ministry of Transportation which has two cash cows under it: NIMASA and NPA. Needless to say that Amaechi has leveraged this portfolio to a good advantage endearing himself to the Northern power bloc by allegedly skewing more projects in his Ministry in their favour.

When Bubu was talking about a shocking candidate, political pundits easily looked past the Pastor in the Villa, but couldn’t hazard a guess immediately. But in the weeks preceding APC’s convention and the interview the Kaduna mallam had on Channels TV, there was little doubt that Rotimi seems to be the anointed candidate.

But how did Rotimi become the frontrunner against the more cerebral PYO and the emeritus professor of politics and the Jagaban of Borgu?

Let’s make an attempt at figuring this out. It is true that PYO is highly cerebral and can hold his own on a global stage, but the Nigerian politics of succession is played differently. There are some factors that come into play, including your faith, where you are from and the power bloc behind you. Here, the most potent power bloc is the Northern oligarchy. For starters, this Northern oligarchy as represented by the so-called cabal has an axe to grind with PYO for his unforgivable sin of challenging the status quo.

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Then again, they’ve made his sobriquet, ‘Pastor’ baggage that may count against him in the core North. He had ruffled not a few feathers when their man was prematurely ejected as the arrowhead of the DSS. For Jagaban, he may be a maestro when it comes to politics, but it’s believed the core of the Northern oligarchy hates his guts.

A former Senator in the short-lived Third Republic, a two-time governor in Lagos State and the self-acclaimed National leader of the APC.

The lion of Bourdillon is seen as an archetypal political strategist, an enigma, a phenomenal politician.

But the unanswered question is he has never been tested on the national stage. For the first time, he became a kingmaker when Buhari’s CPC teamed up with his largely regional party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, and other political platforms like the ANPP, and a section of APGA to form a special purpose vehicle known as All Progressives Congress, APC.

He strides over the political landscape of Lagos as a colossus and he takes no prison in his quest for power and influence.

But his political journey hasn’t been a rollercoaster affair. A few lieutenants have challenged his authority and many critics have frowned on his patriarchal style of political patronage, ala the “Baba sowipe syndrome” where one man and one man alone is made to take the final decision in virtually every political or governance issue.

He has met more than his match in a few instances, Mimiko who was famously assisted by his magnanimous deep pockets, refused to cow-tow to him throughout his reign as Governor of Ondo State. His effort towards making Pastor Ize Iyamu Edo Governor was roundly defeated with the help of the slogan, “Edo no be Lagos”.

Tinubu’s presidential ambition is faced with its greatest challenge in the form of the President’s lukewarm attitude towards his ambition, the equivocation of APC Governor’s allegiance which may become more pronounced as more candidates throw their hats in the ring.

With PYO’s formal declaration today via a well-curated television broadcast circulated via various social media platforms, the spectators are waiting for who will blink first.

For Amaechi, he is far from home and dry. Many reckon that the purported endorsement from the President may not have the same smooth sail as that of the APC Chairman who emerged via consensus arrangement, as many of the gladiators have super-sized egos that probably foreclose any chance of anyone stepping down for the anointed candidate.

Everyone is waiting to see whether there will be any politician or group bold enough to deny Bubu his last candy as a parting gift for a job badly done.

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