Permit me to refer to Dr. Doyin Okupe’s article with the above caption, published in the Daily Trust of August 28, 2018, on Page 42. Dr. Okupe is the former Presidential Adviser on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the article Dr Okupe said:”If Saraki emerges on the platform of the Middle-Belt, all he needs to do to weaken Buhari’s northern stronghold is to gather support from the South-East, South-South and South-West, since it is very clear that Buhari will lose all the Middle-Belt states including Kaduna.”
To begin with, I want to believe that many readers are not too clear about Dr. Okupe’s definition of Middle-Belt. Dr. Okupe also did not state why President Buhari will lose in the Middle-Belt. In my view, it amounts to a sweeping statement for someone to conclude that a particular candidate will lose in a particular zone without facts and figures.
However, if Dr. Okupe’s definition of Middle-Belt is North-Central, Nigeria, then he should have told us why President Buhari, who won four of the six states in the zone in 2015, will now lose it completely, including Kaduna State which is under the North-West geo-political zone.
As far as I know, the movement called “Middle-Belt” was championed by the late Joseph Tarka of Benue State, among others. The movement which did not see the light of day, started sometime in 1955. It is important to note that, our constitution does not recognise Middle-Belt.
It is clear that the South-West geo-political zone basically determined the 2015 general elections’ winner. However, I am one of those who believe that the North-Central geo-political zone (which comprises Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau states) will most likely determine the winner of the 2019 general elections.
So I quite agree that the North-Central, in view of the herdsmen-farmers clashes which is unfortunately being politicized by desperate politicians, will be the battle ground in 2019.
Personally, I don’t think that the result for the presidential candidate of the APC in the North-West, North-East and the South-West geo-political zones will be different from what was recorded in 2015, if its candidate remains President Muhammadu Buhari.
Though the circumstances now are different from what obtained in 2015, all things being equal, the South-South and South-East will likely continue to be PDP’s stronghold.
Winning North-Central by the PDP will largely be determined by its presidential candidate. On the other hand, the handling of the issue of herdsmen-farmers’ clashes by the Buhari administration will also determine his performance in the zone.
Nurudeen Dauda wrote from Kaduna and can be reached at:nurudeendauda24@gmail.