North-west deserves senate presidency

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Martin Luther King Jrn.

By the time you are reading this, the conscience of some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who are trying to deprive the North-west the senate presidency slot, must be pricking them. This is because they know the truth; they know what is right; they know what is justice in this case. They are only trying to live in denial and we are waiting to see for how long they can continue to pretend and run away from this stark reality.

Let us start from the beginning. The emergence of President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, did not come ala carte. It was a product of struggle and consistent fight for justice and advocacy for power shift. It was a product of painstaking, peaceful and orderly agitation which some of us were part of because we knew there was a plot by persons who do not love this country for power to remain in the North.

But while the North-west could have been the biggest beneficiary of the conspiracy against Tinubu, it was the leaders of the zone that selflessly led the agitation for the right thing to be done. When the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, went to an NWC meeting to fly the kite of an Ahmad Lawan candidacy and claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari was behind it, it was North-west governors like Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) and Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) who led other APC governors to storm the Villa to confront the president and urged him not to destroy his legacy with one last wrong choice. The result of that singular step was the president listening to the voices of reason and ordering that instead of a consensus presidential candidate from the northeast, the party should go ahead and conduct a free and fair primary election. The governors had insisted that power must return to the South and that if the president would not anoint anyone from the South, let there be a transparent primary to be held at the Eagles Square and they would know what to do.

The North-west governors did not stop there. They went ahead to mobilise massively for Tinubu who won almost all the northwest votes and emerged victorious in a commanding fashion. The way and manner Tinubu emerged proved that the governors were not on their own. The party leaders from the seven states of the zone were unanimous in their belief that Tinubu was the man who the cap fits.

Fast forward to February 25 when the North-west had a choice between a Fulani Muslim, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Tinubu, and chose the latter in line with a gentleman agreement that power should return to the South as part of measures to preserve the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity and sustain the southwest/North political alliance that was struck with the emergence of President Buhari in 2015.
Despite all the ethnic politics and all the ‘Naka sai Naka’ sentiments that were deployed by PDP agents to ensure an Atiku victory, the good people of northwest stood firm and elected Tinuby who won the zone with 2,652,824 votes compared to Atiku’s 2,197,824. Tinubu took a whopping half a million votes in Kano alone, giving Atiku a crushing defeat as he scored only about 100,000 votes. In fact, Tinubu got 30 percent of his total votes from the north-west which is almost one-third!

The people of the North-west are the real heroes of Tinubu’s emergence. Aside the fact that the president-elect got more votes from the North-west (2,652,824) than his home zone of South-west (2,542,979), while he was being molested by Peter Obi of Labour Party in his home base of Lagos, he was winning convincingly in Zamfara and Jigawa, and while Atiku was disgracing him in his traditional home of Osun state, he was giving the PDP candidate a bloodied nose in Kano.

For the purpose of greed, selfishness and political expediency people want to underestimate what the northwest did for the APC to retain power at the presidential level but those of us who care about the unity and greatness of this country won’t let them. For the records, out of the six states that gave the APC presidential candidate his highest voting numbers, four are from the northwest. While Lagos came first with 572,606 votes, Kano came second with 517,341, followed by Katsina with 482,283. While Oyo came fourth with 449,884 votes, Jigawa and Kaduna followed in fifth and sixth, with 421,390 votes and 399,293 votes, respectively.

What is baffling is the fact that some persons are working round the clock to deny the zone with the highest votes the position of senate president. If they succeed, it would be the greatest injustice done to any zone since the return of democracy in 1999. From the days of APP, ANPP to CPC and now to APC, no zone has invested in this party more than the northwest zone. None has stood by the party through thick and thin like the northwest. It is a huge credit to the political leaders and people of North-west that Tinubu won the zone even when he contested against traditional northern power brokers like Atiku and Rabiu Musa Kwanwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

As it is common with human beings generally, politicians too like to reap where they did not sow. The people who are against the northwest have the tendency to be hypocritical as they are now bringing religion into the mix again. They are saying a Muslim should not be senate president since we will have two Muslims in the Villa already. If religion didn’t matter when the candidate was going to choose his running mate, why should it matter now to the extent of wanting to deny deserving people what should naturally be a reward for their diligence and hard work?

Success has many friends. Less endowed politicians who could not deliver their areas to the candidate are the ones warming themselves to the president-elect and advising him to ditch a zone that helped him to win. When the struggle was derailing and there were challenges, we didn’t see these people but now that the booty is ready, they are salivating. We won’t let them.

North-west is deserving of the number three position in the country having given the winning party the highest votes among the zones. It is even due to the selflessness of the North-west that APC won in the zone since it had none of the first two positions – neither presidential candidate nor running mate. Yet, some characters are still saying the highest contributors are not deserving of the number three position. What an irony!

Yari Lokan

“Great leaders are not defined by the absence of weakness but rather by the presence of clear strengths” – John Zenger
The Senator-elect for Zamfara West, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari, is a household name in Nigeria today especially for lovers and followers of the country’s democratic evolution since 1999.

A former two-term governor and former chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Yari has come a long way and paid his dues. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to see anyone in the race for senate presidency today who can match his pedigree and capacity.

Yari, a successful businessman before venturing into politics, is regarded by colleagues in political circles as a master strategist, boardroom genius and astute negotiator. It was his unrivalled negotiating skills that made his colleague-governors elect him as their chairman many years ago. And true to type, he was said to have gotten the best deals in terms of concessions made to states by the federal government. Yari’s negotiating skills are some of the reasons most of the governors got funds and were able to achieve all they did in their respective states.

Yari began his political career in 1999 when he served as the secretary of the then All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) between 1999 and 2003. He was elected chairman of ANPP Zamfara state in 2003 and later rose to the position of ANPP national financial secretary and served in this position till 2007 when he was elected member representing Anka/Talata Mafara federal constituency.

On April 26, 2011,Yari was elected governor of Zamfara state on the platform of the ANPP. Again in the 2015 gubernatorial elections, he was re-elected governor on the platform of APC. He changed the face and fate of the state within those remarkable eight years in office.

On May 18, 2015, Yari’s colleagues in the NGF unanimously elected him as their chairman to succeed Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state.

Yari won election to go to Senate in 2019 but a Supreme Court judgement swept all APC candidates in the state away and he had to wait for February 25, 2023 for justice to be done to his case as he also won again convincingly via the ballots.

Now, the experienced lawmaker who has also excelled in all previous leadership positions wants to be senate president of the 10th National Assembly and this calls for celebration as the country is yet to witness the charisma, erudition and oratory of Yari in that role ever before.

If the senators-elect are looking for a man, a tough nut to crack, and a savvy negotiator who can protect the interests of their respective constituencies, Yari is the best choice for senate president. If the president-elect is looking for a loyal partner in progress and a willing collaborator in the affairs of moving Nigeria forward, Yari is the best man for the job. If the ruling party wants to consolidate power at all levels and is looking for a loyal party man to advance the cause of the party, Yari is the best candidate for Senate Presidency.

In the spirit of Emi Lokan, if May 29, 2023 is the turn of Tinubu and (Kashim) Shettima, June 2023 has to be the turn of Yari if we want to have a robust National Assembly that will complement the efforts of the executive to move the country forward; a National Assembly that will give the best service to Nigerians in terms of guiding and supporting the President and his cabinet to succeed and give good governance to Nigerians.

Yari Lokan !!!

Jackson writes from Kaduna

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