Obasanjo, A new PDP & New SW-3


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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Obasanjo, A New PDP and A NEW Southwest After April 2003 - Part 3

How Obasanjo 'Captured' the Heart and Soul of Southwest

continued from http://www.dawodu.com/omoruyi20.htm




Professor Omo Omoruyi, mni

Former Director General, Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) (Abuja) 1989-1993 



       Who says that Chief Obasanjo is not a politician?   I too underestimated him until I saw what he did in the Yoruba land to change the political terrain.   It is wrong for Dim Ojukwu and Senator Adesanyan to use the military epithet to describe what candidate Obasanjo brought about in the Yoruba land, the southeast and in the south-south by calling it an ‘invasion’, a ‘conquest’ and the ‘capture’ of ‘unwilling enemies’.  

       What candidate Obasanjo did and how he did it should be studied by scholars and not condemned.   It is beyond the election tribunal to unravel, because it was a scheme, a plan to bring about a Nigerian Political Mainstream that did not just happen in April 2003.  

      How and why did candidate Obasanjo scheme to take over the south especially the southwest that rejected him in 1999 within three years is yet to be studied?   This is what scholars in Nigeria should be studying.   We shall soon abandon this ripe and veritable field of academic endeavor to foreign scholars who would turn out books later.   It is an abject laziness to adopt the refrain, ‘rigging’, ‘rigging’ with out understanding the simple logic in the expression, which the Chief of Army Staff even acknowledged that ‘one can only rig where one is loved’ and that ‘one cannot rig where one is hated’.   It is arrant nonsense to argue as the National Chairman of the ANPP (Don Etiebet) did that the changes that took place in the southwest, southeast and south-south was masterminded by security agencies.  We should not attempt to politicize our security institutions to the extent that their demands by some opposition group for the dismissal of Service Chiefs and Head of Police.  

     What should be noted was that there was a scheme by the candidate Obasanjo to bring about the Nigerian Political Mainstream to which the southwest would be an integral part.   The leaders of the southwest heard this message; they believed the message and they trusted the messenger.  

      One may ask by way of comparison or contrast when Dim Ojukwu told the Ndigbo audience at Aba that he was on his way to Aso Rock did he think that his audience believed him?   When he told his audience that he would be taking the Ndigbo back to Nigeria did he think that his audience believed him that they were not in Nigeria?   When he finally announced in a World Press Conference on April 23, 2003 at Enugu after the presidential election that “I Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu won the Presidential Election” but that Obasanjo robbed him of the victory, did he think that the world and Nigerians and the Ndigbo believed him?  

      Also when General Muhhammadu Buhari was appealing to Muslims to vote for someone who would defend their religion, the voters in the far north followed him because they believed in the message and trusted the messenger.   But if he had talked to them on who would deliver social amenities, he would have had difficulty matching his message with that of candidate Obasanjo. 

      Those who knew the inner working of Obasanjo administration since 1999 would tell one that President Obasanjo swore to achieve one thing in the southwest.   He knew he became President in 1999 without the votes of his people for obvious reasons.   Since then he swore that the 2003 election would not be a repeat of 1999.  He set out to create a political environment that made it untenable for the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the Afenifere to think of fielding a candidate in Yoruba land against him.   He did not force them not to field a candidate.   It was the political environment that made fielding a candidate counterproductive to the interest of the Yoruba people and the AD/Afenifere leaders knew this and they did not want to risk it.   What happened to the AD Governors would have still happened if the AD had fielded a presidential candidate against the PDP candidate, Obasanjo.   The little respect they still enjoy in Yoruba land after April would have been non-existent. 

        Let me just identify what candidate Obasanjo from 1999-2003 did that bore fruits in the April elections.

1.      Chief Obasanjo flooded the Yoruba land since 1999 with patronage to be compared with what the AD in Yoruba States could do for the people.  

2.      He made sure that the “made by Obasanjo (the Federal Government)” was visible in all Yoruba States to be compared by the people with the “made by the AD State Government”.   Without talking about it, it was obvious that the difference was clear.

3.      In preparation for the 2003 election, President Obasanjo made sure that this “made by Obasanjo’s Federal Government” called the “federal presence” was associated with persons in the different areas as “Obasanjo’s Men” in the different Yoruba States.   This was very visible as every community in Yoruba land had “an Obasanjo man".   This was explained to me by a former student of mine who is one of the coordinators of Integrated Supporters for Obasanjo (ISO) in New York in late March before the commencement of the series of election and told me, “Prof. just wait for the outcome of the first election to the National Assembly, ‘Baba’s men’ (meaning Obasanjo’s men) will sweep all the seats in Yoruba land”.   Was I surprised when the results were announced?   Even President Obasanjo himself said that it surprised him.    As was discussed in part 1 of this series, he took to the States in the southwest 48 hours to the Presidential/Gubernatorial election to make it abundantly clear that the AD Governors were men of yesterdays who he could not work with in the furtherance of the interest of the Yoruba people.   He then asked for the voters to give him his men, the PDP candidates.

4.      President Obasanjo used these persons (Obasanjo Men) as his alternative to the AD Governors or Senators as the case maybe in Yoruba land.   The Yoruba leaders and people knew these men as such.      

5.      Hence in the election, the comparison was not too hard to make.   The difference was too obvious between “Obasanjo’s man”, the candidate and the AD/Afenifere man as the incumbent Senator or Governor.  

6.      President Obasanjo faced the Yoruba people as the voters and they chose “Obasanjo’s men” as the PDP candidates in preference to the AD candidates in the National Assembly election.   When the National Assembly election results were announced some asked would this be repeated during the Gubernatorial election.   This was obvious to all including the Governors themselves except the leaders of the Afenifere who still even on the day of the Presidential/Governors’ election were still hoping upon hope that miracle would happen that would make the AD Governors triumph.

7.       The President cultivated the friendship of the Yoruba traditional rulers who he visited routinely unannounced.   He routinely talked to them on telephone and made some of his aides to discuss the political situation in their areas.  

8.      The President invited many Yoruba traditional rulers to Abuja as his guests on a frequent and regular basis.   This was a treat reserved for the northern traditional rulers and selected traditional rulers from the south in the past.   Obasanjo extended this to all traditional rulers in Yorubaland.   It paid off during the election.   The traditional rulers in the southwest became the ‘unofficial campaign agents’ for ‘Obasanjo’s men’ and against the AD candidates in the election.   They embarked on what the Americans call the “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) for the PDP candidates in furtherance of the interest of the southwest.

9.      The President used the Yoruba traditional rulers and not the AD Governors as his alternative window to the Yorubaland.   He had direct access to them as his Kabieyesi.   Candidate Obasanjo treated them with more decorum than the Governors who saw them as employees of their respective states.

10.  President Obasanjo made frequent consultation with important personalities in the private sector in Yorubaland.   He sold to them his concept of Nigerian Political Mainstream in so many words and the enviable place of the people of the southwest in that arrangement.   He made them associate themselves with their local areas.   Example was the late Rufus Giwa the captain of industry who had to associate himself with the political fortune of the PDP in Ondo State just the week he died.   One would recall how the illustrious business Mongol, Chief Ogunbajo had to step in for his son who was ill during the campaign for the senatorial election in Ogun State.   What was remarkable in this race was that the Senatorial seat in question was the one held by Chief Biyi Durijaiye a leader of the June 12 group in the southwest and the Senatorial zone was the home of the leader of Afenifere, Senatorial Abraham Adesanyan.   The victory of the PDP in this zone was also a humiliation of the AD/Afenifere leader.

11.  The President encouraged and supported the action of the leaders of the PDP in the southwest under Chief Olabode George and Chief Sunday Afolabi.   He supported their determination to take over the southwest in the 2003 election.  

12.  He sponsored an alternative to the Afenifere in Yorubaland, the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) formed by the leaders of the former NPN and some important leaders from the Awo camp in the Yorubaland,   It was said that this initiative had the blessing of the late Chief Bola Ige who doubled as both a deputy leader of the Afenifere and a key actor in the YCE.   The determination of this group since 1999 was two-fold.   One was to organize support for the President in Yorubaland in the 2003 reelection battle.   Two, was to take over the Southwest and make it part of the Nigerian Political Mainstream.

13.  Candidate Obasanjo was uniter in the southwest.   He made many appointments in Yoruba land to both factions in Yoruba leadership from the Awo and SLA camps.   For example he appointed the daughter of Chief Awolowo and the son of Chief Akintola Ambassadors.   He pays visits to both families.  

         Are all these foregoing efforts succeeding?   First we saw the evidence of these efforts from the results of the National Assembly election.   We saw the final verdict on April 19.    


         The final verdict of Obasanjo in road into and near complete take-over of the southwest is not in terms of whether the PDP would dominate the political terrain because that would be the result of April 19/May 3, elections.   That would be a fact.   But the final verdict would be in terms of what would happen to the AD and the Afenifere after April 2003?  

          Would the AD/Afenifere survive as a political machine in Yoruba land in the context of the rival Pan Yoruba organization, Yoruba Council of Elders headed by two Awoist, Pa Emmanuel Alayande and Justice Adewale Thompson?   There are many statements that AD would bounce back.   Bounce back as what!   I have my doubt. 

         Those who say that the D/Afenifere would survive, the question that would follow is survive as what?   For what would AD/Afenifere be surviving?

          Those who say that the AD/Afenifere would bounce back or that it would survive sometimes ignore the role of money in political organization.   Who would be financing AD/Afenifere’s operations now that five of Six State Governments are gone?


         What would the AD/Afenifere do in the face of the electoral debacle of 2003?   I’d leave this to the eminent leaders of the AD/Afenifere.  

          The first issue is disengagement of the AD from Afenifere.   The second advice is that the AD should fuse with the PDP as the solution to an unplanned demise of AD that seems apparent after the April/May elections.

   The concluding essay will focus on how the Obasanjo reelection could be the evolution of the new PDP.   It will also focus on the lessons that could be learnt from what General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua tried to do in the past.   This is important because the Awo followers did not find it difficult fusing with the Yar’Adua organization in 1989.


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