By Emeka Obasi

The last weeks of the 2023 Presidential elections will continue to keep many guessing. All eyes are on the candidates and what each of the six Geo Political Zones stands to gain at the end of the day. There is more of strategic thinking than horse trading.

Labour Party trail blazer, Peter Obi  has tried so hard to prove that politics is not about physical structure. He continues to break barriers, gaining recognition from what many thought would be a difficult terrain.

Many did not reckon with the fact that his Running mate, Datti Baba- Ahmed is not a pushover in the North – West, the home of President Muhammadu Buhari. That explains the Labour Party candidate’s upward drive in recent weeks.

Wise men, let me call them the  Caliphate Mafia, have gone to the grassroots and there are indications that this development has unsettled some of the sitting governors in the Zone. These men of wisdom have weighed their options and concluded that the best way for the North – West to remain relevant at the top is to back the Obi – Datti ticket.

Their conclusion is that backing a Northerner after eight years of the Buhari regime could create more problem for the North – West. The plan therefore is to give the South a chance after which power will return to the upper part of the country in 2031.

There are two presidential candidates of Southern background, Bola Tinubu and Obi. Ordinarily one would expect the Caliphate Mafia to back Tinubu who is Muslim, against Obi, a Roman Catholic Christian.

Curiously, Obi got the nod based on religion. Their reasoning is that Asiwaju’s Muslim- Muslim ticket will further create tension that may eventually lead to the downfall of the Fourth Republic. With insecurity all around the country, this option was deliberated upon for so long.

The North – West Think Tank is working ahead. Should the Labour Party win the presidential elections, it is expected that after Obi’s tenure, their man, Baba- Ahmed will, likely run for the Number One position. That will  be a time for the South to pay back.

There is also more than meets the eye in this  informal endorsement. My source, who is close to one of the North – West leaders reminded me of  the age long Fulani – Kanuri rivalry that has extended from the  early 19th Century Jihad to the modern times.

” Yes, the Fulani and Kanuri may claim to be fighting for one North but there is also the fear of and issue of domination. When Sir Ahmadu Bello chose a Prime Minister for the country in 1957, there were prominent Kanuri politicians like Zana Dipcharima and Kashim Ibrahim. He preferred Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa”, the source said.

Ignoring Asiwaju may have to do with his choice of Kashim Shettima, a Kanuri as Vice Presidential candidate. However, the wise men who are majorly Muslims and Northerners used same faith ticket to throw their weight behind the Labour Party.

Another interesting dimension is the case of Atiku Abubakar who is Fulani but not of North – West stock. I gathered that the decision not to back Atiku had to do more with his age than Northern origin. The Caliphate Mafia were emphatic that bringing another old man after Buhari cannot sell.

And should Atiku decide to do four years and hand over to a Southerner, the South could also follow the former Vice President’s footpath and do twelve years. That would jeorpadize the chances of a Fulani ascending power in the next  twenty years.

Baba- Ahmed is seen as a young man who is more acceptable to the South because of his liberal Islamic foundation. He has a lot of followers in Zaria and has allies across the Nigerian divide. He believes in the the use of education to liberate the oppressed.

The Caliphate Mafia cannot flow with the so called Aso Villa Kitchen Cabinet, better known as Cabal, by Nigerians. While the former plots to return power to the South, the latter favours the North keeping power longer. Buhari is said to be against this game plan.

Mafia politics is part of the movement of Nigerian History. In the First Republic, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe would always listen to Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, Dr. Michael Okpara, Sir Luis Ojukwu, Dr. Dennis Osadebe and even his boy, Mbazulike Amechi.

In Biafra, there was the Nnewi Mafia that comprised Emeka, Odumegwu, Ojukwu and Christopher Mojekwu. Gen. Ojukwu relied more on his townsman than the wise counsel of Zik, Akanu Ibiam and Brig. Hilary Njoku.

During the military era, we moved from Langtang Mafia to Kaduna Mafia. Under Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, from 1999 to 2007, it was simply Otta Mafia, solely controlled by the retired general with First Lady Madam Stella as ex officio member.

President Umaru Yar’adua was accessible but there were two very powerful men who guarded him more than the Brigade of Guards. Michael Andoakaa and Tanimu Yakubu, were super ministers, more influential than Yakubu Gowon’s Super Perm. Secs.

It is an interesting war of nerves between the Caliphate Mafia and the rest. The truth is that Nigerians, above tribe and tongue, want a better country. And many of them believe that Obi is the man for the job of a New Nigeria. The Wise Men from the North – West are hearkening to the call.

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