You mean with all the years the Senate President spent in the National Assembly he fell for the bait too? I can’t believe I’m having this conversation. That’s 23 years. You ask me, 23 years of what? I don’t know if I can call it 23 years of experience since he didn’t make use of it. Experience teaches lessons. When a man learns them there’re steps he just wouldn’t take. That’s because he can read the signs on the wall better so he anticipates better. He does his calculations more accurately and conducts his affairs based on them, knowing that 2+2 must always equal 4.

 Listen, whatever it was that pushed Senator Ahmad Lawan to join the APC presidential race, whatever he was fishing for, he didn’t let experience guide him. I’m shocked, and that’s putting it mildly. A politician who’s new in the game should be the one caught in the manner he was caught. Does it occur to you that he’s in a weaker position politically, looking like any other ordinary politician after the primary? He is, both as a chieftain of the APC and as Nigeria’s Number 3 man.

If that hasn’t occurred to you then you haven’t been paying attention to the relevant symbolisms in our political space. In my estimation, before now he had gradually been cutting for himself the image of a national figure, following in the footsteps of the APC Leader, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu. He does as Senate President with the role he plays regarding national issues, how he maturely leads fellow lawmakers, and the fact that he’s been in the NASS since the inception of this democratic dispensation. It’s an image that should count in his favour when the time is right. But Lawan didn’t wait for the time to be right.

You ask, how? The time isn’t right. How can it be at a time when another northerner is the person he wants to succeed? With his political experience, did he see that as practical  without tearing the political fabric of his party apart? Northern APC governors thought of that; it’s the reason they said the ticket should go to the south, and that’s largely the reason for the relative internal peace APC enjoys at the moment.

APC also saved Nigeria the distrust that would have ensued if the two major political parties had northerners as their presidential candidates. In NASS he knows all about the balancing act needed to keep the peace.  On the grounds of potential threats to unity, Lawan should have known this isn’t the right time to contest.

As the number 3 man, he should have played the role of a political arbiter. He should have watched aspirants from the south contest,  stating loudly that he was for the success of the party in 2023. He should have been saying he would work with whoever the party produced. It was what he should have done if he had any respect for relevant indicators rather than the presidency dream that many harbour but which isn’t based on political reality. This would have placed him in a stronger political position after the primary and after 2023.  It would cement his status as an emerging national political figure, someone the winner of the primary would have to accord utmost reverence even beyond the 2023 elections. Having been a contestant himself, Lawan has frittered away all of that. He’s a rival who lost. A rival who lost is in a weaker position. Concession is what most rivals who lost get, not the reverence that a tactically savvy politician who plays realpolitik deserves.

How did Lawan get here? He ignored realistic indicators and allowed himself to be lured. Let me see the website of that online newspaper again. Yes, it’s there. 9newsng.com. Listen to this –  ‘Lawan was deceived by a presidential cabal to contest the APC ticket…’ I can’t believe this; so a cabal could assure him that a northerner would succeed a northerner and there would be no repercussions for the APC? Lawan overlooked what might happen if followers of the APC national leader believed the process was deliberately skewed just to ensure another northerner succeeded President Muhammadu Buhari.

He didn’t consider what might happen if both the APC and PDP produced northerners as presidential candidates. Or did he project that far, yet he ignored the possible consequences because of his ambition? In my view, the thought that Lawan sacrificed the unity and peace of Nigeria for a presidential ambition that he had no effective political structure to fulfil weakens his status in the national space.

Now, let’s look at the cards. A cabal reportedly told Lawan that the President mentioned his name as his preferred successor as we indeed learnt from the APC national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu. If this was what he was told, I think he should have taken a look at the relevant indicators in our polity.

Some of them that I shall tell you were what I mentioned in other private conversations from the very day Lawan bought the APC form, even long before the PDP presidential primary. I had stated that the PDP ticket would go to a northerner, but APC wouldn’t do the same, otherwise the party would implode for all the obvious reasons.

Now, why would Lawan think that northern APC governors would side with the President and support his aspiration over that of a south-westerner?  No reason at all.  The opposition party controls three out of the six states in the north-east where Lawan comes from. It’s not impossible but it’ll be tough for those states to be taken away from the opposition in 2023. Compare that to the South-West. Five of the six states are in the hands of the APC.

It’s easier to imagine that these states would retain their APC governors, and I imagine the APC will get voters in Oyo State (currently under PDP) to vote for the APC presidential ticket mainly because of their son, Tinubu. There may be a swing to the APC presidential ticket in Delta and Edo states, more likely in Edo because a southerner holds the ticket. If that happens, the North-West and North-East will supply the significant numbers they normally do to retain the APC in power.

Moreover, there’re still the chances that APC has in the South-East and South-South which became well known as soon as the PDP produced a candidate of northern extraction. It’s not hidden; everyone in those parts of the country is angry, causing political uneasiness as things stand within the PDP. All of these would have been playing in the minds of the APC northern governors as soon as the PDP result was known. So it was not surprising that the APC northern governors sided with the south to produce their presidential standard bearer. If APC had a northerner as standard bearer, South-West voters who thought it should be their turn would turn against it, and where does that leave the party in 2023?  Northern APC governors considered this. Lawan didn’t.

No doubt the Senate President would think that having supported the President, he would be considered the anointed which in the end we knew he was. What he didn’t consider was the role of the political structure in the selection of a party standard bearer and the eventual victory at the general elections. State governors control the structure and I wonder how many of the APC governors in the north  Lawan had formed alliances with. We saw the central role they played, banding together to insist that the presidency should go to the south.

These are politicians, and politicians must look for the best ground where their interest will be protected. APC northern governors know their interest is better guaranteed under a presidential candidate of southern origin, particularly Tinubu, at this time. He has the political leverage across the south that any of these northern governors  may need tomorrow. Lawan doesn’t have such leverage in the North-East where the APC controls only three states, let alone across the north. From the standpoint of APC northern governors, no political calculation sums up in Lawan’s favour. So, why should they want to camp with him? I still can’t believe Lawan contested the last presidential primary when he should have abstained. It was such a big disappointment.

By Tochi

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