My intervention this morning on the plausible politics that might dictate the choice of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly seemed to have touched some wrong nerves, albeit dishonestly. Those who didn’t like the tone of my argument thought it was damaging to the nation’s ethnic fabric.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to dispassionately dissect the topic without sounding insensitive to the eastern sentiments. Shall we, therefore, sidestep the truth and continue to paper the crack? I don’t think so. It is not my thing either. While I thank those who intervened on the different platforms to calm nerves, I quickly want to drop this here again since I’d taken the attacks in my stride.
To my brothers and friends from the beautiful and industrious South East, who are still hurting and fuming – both from the outcome of the elections and my recent intervention – this is not to patronise you, because this writer would do no such thing. It is to pass the same message but in a different sense, hoping it would sink better this time.
Let’s be clear, the offices of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would not be served a la carte to any zone at all. It is natural that the election battle has shifted here, and it would be as tough. While the interested zones and aspiring candidates would fight for it, certain considerations would also determine where it would end up at the end of the day, with the president and the party leadership calling the shots.
But I believe the South East can still compete, however, not by sitting back and thinking it would be rolled down its way, all because there is a need for balancing to assuage everyone. The only thing that is constitutionally binding to reflect the nation’s federal character is the ministerial slots. All others are subject to the nation’s mercurial conventions and practices – at the mercy of the president – and they are not binding.
Thus, getting down to brass tacks, the South East leadership needs to get on its feet and start engaging other parts of the country, the north especially, and its leadership as well as the political elite, including the president and their prominent emirs. This is a power game, defined by numbers. It is nothing out of reach, really, but the mathematics of politics and power. The north can be bad in everything, certainly, not the power game, and they are politically smart.
Therefore, with serious engagements, which focus on consensus building and tight negotiations, it is possible that one of these crucial offices might end up in the East. But I repeat, it is not automatic. At least, the north has one thing going for it already, whenever the south is done in Aso Rock, it is confident power is coming back to it.
Given this mindset, the politically smart north might be willing to concede some of these things to the much sought-after balancing and political correctness, having established the understanding for support from the East, when the time beckons.
There are many Southeasterners that are politically shrewd and mobile and that can effectively drive the initiative in collective interest. They had better begun the groundwork. This is politics of power, where horse-trading is its nucleus. There is still time, and the smart ones can immediately swing into action.
However, except these initiatives are taken quickly and someone is not just hoping that “reason” would come to play by default, the fear is that this dispensation might end up again with a Muslim Senate President and a Muslim Speaker, curiously, from the north.