From Left: HRH Bokumor Orukari of Sagbagrea, Bayelsa Stat; HM Felix Otuarikpo of Upata kingdom and HRM, Disreal Bobmanuel of Abonnema of Rivers State at the occasion

(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – On October 1, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his broadcast to the nation, among other things observed that some citizens were crossing the red lines in their discussions on the structure and unity of Nigeria.
Although these discussions are not new in Nigeria, in the opinion of the president, the trend that he observed in the social media needed to be checked.
Well, when the president talked about ‘red lines’, not many Nigerians ever thought that a similar sentiment will be used so soon against his administration, as we are seeing from the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South – west, under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Tinubu.
At a meeting of South – west leaders last Thursday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Bisi Akande, former interim chairman of the APC was reported as saying that the party’s 2019 presidential ticket is open to all aspirants, contrary to the tradition where the incumbent is usually given the right of first refusal.
This statement, made in a well attended meeting of those who determine the political direction of Yoruba people appears to have unsettled the APC and the presidency.
Although the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in his reaction argued that the statement was Bisi Akande’s personal opinion but many Nigerians think differently. The general understanding is that the elder statesman spoke the minds of Senator Ahmed Tinubu and other South – west leaders who feel that their wishes and aspirations are not being met in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
From all indications, Senator Ahmed Tinubu seems to remain the greatest influence in the politics of South –west. In 2015, Tinubu proved that he is a political force to reckon with: and he still appears to be in firm control of Lagos State, and enjoys the loyalty of vast majority of politicians from the entire South – west region of Nigeria.
Obviously, the expression of frustration in the political marriage that threw up the Buhari presidency, for the umpteenth time, at the South- west leaders meeting by Chief Akande, and the support for open contest for the APC presidential ticket in 2019, represent a red flag for Buhari, who in normal circumstances should get the ticket unchallenged.
While it appears that the presidency is beginning to address what some have described as the excessive marginalisation of the South – east, it is doubtful if these efforts would have enough time to bear fruits before the 2019 elections.
As political parties strategise for the next elections, the question which now remains unanswered is: where will President Buhari get the votes to return in 2019? Can APC make it back to the seat of power with out the South – west?
In the last two years, there had been reports of lopsided federal appointments that did not respect the feelings and aspirations of others sections of the country. The forthcoming elections presents another opportunity for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe and religion, to re-evaluate their political decisions, and vote in a manner that would best serve their interests.
If it is true, as Dele Momodu has said that “ Tinubu is tired of being a kingmaker and he would rather be the king”, then the APC is in for a bid challenge. Chief Bisi Akande tended to re-enforce this thinking when, in response to a question from newsmen said: “Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria as long as he indicates interest”.
In the next few months, it will be clear to the world whether Bisi Akande was only expressing his personal opinion or the mind of the governors, National Assembly members, ministers and other chieftains of the APC and Yoruba leaders at the meeting.

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