By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
South east geo-political zone is plotting power grab. As 2019 general elections approach, the region has resolved to position itself for a dominant political role. The South east is also looking beyond 2019 in pondering its political future.
However, the zone is currently weighing four options and its political leaders are divided along these four. There is the option to stick with the erstwhile ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP with the view of using the party as a vehicle to negotiate for the Vice presidency in 2019 and subsequently the presidency in 2023.The second option is to switch support to the party at the centre, the All Progressive Congress, APC.
The third option is to strengthen the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA by getting prominent South east politicians, including National Assembly members, governors among others to join the party and then use it to replicate what the South west did with the defunct Action Congress of Nigerian, ACN in terms of power negotiation.
The last option is to key into the emerging mega coalition movement former president Olusegun Obasanjo canvassed in his recent shattering letter to President Buhari.The former president in the letter said Buhari has failed and should not therefore seek re-election.
Proponents of the yet-to-be born Coalition Movement suggest that Obasanjo should be courted to ensure that the South is considered for the presidential ticket of the Movement. Former Anambra state Governor, Peter Obi, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu among other notable South east politicians have been listed as possible presidential material for the Movement.
However, some South east leaders argue that it will be a serious political miscalculation to bank on a Movement that is still in the realm of speculations and permutations rather than work with already existing and firmly rooted political structures, namely, APC and PDP.
South east is traditionally a PDP stronghold. During the party’s 16 years in power, the zone held important political offices and wielded enormous influence hence some leaders of the zone argue that it would be foolhardy to railroad the South east into a another political party when the PDP is already firmly rooted in there.
They are of the view that with the 2019 Vice presidential ticket of the PDP going to the South east, the task before the zone is to extract a firm one-term commitment from whoever eventually emerged the party’s presidential candidate from the North so that by 2023, it will be its (South east) turn to mount the saddle.
However, some leaders of the zone who favour strategic alliance with the North insist the surest and shorter route to South east presidency is the party at the centre, the APC. This argument is predicated on the believe that after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second and final term in office which terminates in 2023, the logical thing the party will do, and which its national Chairman John Oyegun has hinted at several times, is to yield its 2023 presidential flag to the South east as against a fresh PDP presidential candidate who, in the event of victory, will be starting on fresh slate of one term, and is also constitutional empowered for a second term ending 2027.
To this end, this category of South east political leaders, mainly of the APC stock, is of the view that the zone should not only embrace the party but actively support President Buhari’s yet to be declared second term ambition.
They opine that the PDP may after all opt for a South west Vice presidential candidate to level up with APC’s North (Buhari)-Southwest (Osinbajo) ticket. Hosting some Imo political leaders in his Omuma, Oru east Council, country home during the Christmas break, Senator Uzodinma representing Imo West Senatorial District in the Senate spoke in tandem with the advocates of North-South east political alliance when he argued that that was the best way to realize South east presidency in the nearest future.
Proponents of the APGA option believe that the party, if well repositioned, could act as a beautiful bride and bargaining tool to negotiate for power the same way the South west used the ACN to launch itself into a position of influence and relevance in the current political dispensation by merging with other fringe parties to form the APC.
Multiple sources claim that the recent South east-South west summit in Enugu, dubbed “Hand Shake Across the Niger” was actually the brain child of prominent political leaders in the two zones who are bent on getting the two zones and North central to form a formidable political front for the purpose of fighting the 2019 presidential election and getting a South easterner elected as president.
However, the platform on which this will be achieved remains unclear but this Magazine was told that there is the likelihood of South west and North central wings of the APC fusing with APGA and other political parties of like minds.