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By Buchi Obichie

The writer, Buchi Obichie, pokes holes in the popular argument that a victory for President Buhari in 2019 would guarantee a pathway to the presidency for the south-east (or south-west). She opines that the president is not that altruistic in his actions; and urges all citizens to vote according to their conscience.

“One good turn deserves another; Be my love, I’ll be your lover. It’s all part of nature’s laws. If you’ll scratch my back then, I’ll scratch yours.”

That’s not a poem; it’s actually the first stanza of an Elvis Presley song, titled ‘Scratch my back’.

However, the phrase, ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ was not coined by the writers of Presley’s song. It’s actually been in existence way before the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ was even born; and it basically means that a favour done will be returned, and nothing goes for nothing. I heard that phrase a lot while growing up; just as I still do today. Actually, most human relationships are about scratching others’ backs and getting yours scratched in return. And that’s because as altruistic as we humans like to portray our actions, we usually expect something in return for our good deeds. But then, some expectations of payback are not as subtle as others.

Take for example, the comments that we have been hearing in the political space, about what a victory for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 will mean for other geopolitical zones. For a long time now, the basic line to get out votes from Ndigbo has been “A victory for Buhari in 2019 is the only thing that can clear a path to the presidency for the south-east in 2023.”

According to that calculation, since the south-west has had its turn, and the North is now in power, if it (the North) is allowed to complete two terms at the helm, then an Igbo man would be given safe passage to the nation’s highest office in 2023, with the backing of the ‘grateful northerners’.

The clear expectation is this – that the Igbos first help the North retain power for another four years! Well, that was the basic calculus…not until Babatunde Fashola made a comment that ‘unsettled the equation’.

At a special town hall meeting on infrastructure, the minister of power, works and housing, stated: “Do you know that power is rotating to the south-west after the completion of Buhari’s tenure if you vote for him in 2019?

“A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the south-west in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely.”

Now, I am a bit confused! Was a victory for Buhari in 2019 not supposed to guarantee a victory for Ndigbo in 2023? How did the south-west, which held power from 1999-2007, now enter this equation again? Biko, what exactly is happening here? Anyway, after thinking about Fashola’s ‘Freudian slip’ for a minute, I concluded that the Buhari government is only after its own gain. Last last, a victory for any other zone will be dependent on how actively that zone seeks it – whether south-east or south-west – and not on if it helps the current region (and its man) in power succeed in 2019.

Who were we even kidding before sef? Did we really believe that the same Buhari who after winning the presidency in 2015 basically stated that he would pay more attention to the constituencies which gave him more votes, will suddenly become magnanimous to these ‘haughty, unbending easterners’? And in the same vein, does the south-west really believe that a man who can use a person like the ‘Jagaban of Borgu’ and then discard him when he felt like there was no more need for him, only to pick him up again when it was obvious that he (Tinubu) could not be thrown away without repercussions, will suddenly become loyal and clear the path for the Yorubas in 2023? Do you think that after Buhari gets a second term, he will ‘give a hoot’ about helping the Igbos or Yorubas get to Aso Rock ? When he has a farm in Daura to be more concerned about? Have pigs now begun to fly? Do cats now bark? Has hell frozen over? What even makes any one believe for one second that the North, which basically views power as its birthright and Nigeria as its inheritance, is really thinking of relinquishing power even after 8 years? I dare say that if that zone has its way, it would have its man in the nation’s highest office till the end of time. And that assertion is in no way meant to vilify that region; it’s just me being mindful of history.

Look, the sooner we all begin to tell ourselves the truth – especially those of us who are not from the North – the better for us.

My advice to every citizen and all geopolitical zones is this – vote according to your conscience in 2019. Let the nations’ best interest be your guiding light, as you make your choice. Look at where the country is now, and ask yourself if the man in power has done well so far…then, cast your vote.

Do not base your decisions on empty promises; because you will most likely regret it. Politics, they say, is a zero sum game; and the man in power has shown us that he knows no other way to play! A Buhari presidency in 2019 will not guarantee a south-west or south-east presidency in 2023. It will simply just be a continuation of the same, and (I dare say) four more years for the North to strategise about how to perpetuate itself in power. One good turn deserves another… If you’ll scratch my back then I’ll scratch yours; yes, those are beautiful lines, but they do not apply in this particular political situation of ours.



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