Honourable Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, has made a dramatic move that appears to speak to the beginning of a new phase in Nigerian politics. He is moving back into the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) from where he left to the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP). He has not said anything himself yet but the move connects very well with hints last week that President Buhari was considering a strategy of calming Nigeria. It became doubtful after the president responded offhandedly to a Senate resolution this Monday by saying he retained the prerogative for appointing and disappointing service chiefs. If he wasn’t removing the service chief in the face of escalation in violence and no mention of a Government of National Unity, then what could he be up to?
Well, there now appears to be one. A young, intelligent and calm former speaker of the House of Representatives who does not chase money or contracts changing party after a meeting between him, the APC’s caretaker Committee Chairperson and the president cannot but signal to a strategy of calming the nation that is already totally fragmented.
And that cannot but be the strategy of a minority Northern Christian who can unify the North as well as provide leadership adjudged good enough nationwide. In any case, that was the theme of Dogara’s intervention the last time he made a spectacular appearance. It was February 6th, 2020 at a Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation when he declared the North to be on fire but argued the possibility of its recovery from the current heritage of violence.
At the occasion, he said among others, as things were, the North was trapped in a prison of mirrors, “where revealed lies are answered with new lies”. He was sure that the region is confronted with a crisis that is unparalleled in its history as to make the current situation a case of a slow motion to apocalypse as has been seen before in Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria.
Six months after the speech, nothing has changed. In fact, they have gotten worse on all fronts. And what looks like a strategy of injecting a new face with a quality of newness is playing out. Hon. Dogara’s pronouncements and antecedents can be totalized into the ruling party’s strategic response to current tension across the country.
His stress on the possibility of reconciliation has, for long, not been the rhetoric of most notable Northern leaders of the Christian/Middle Belt identity, including those like General Danjuma. But what is unfolding is where one out of the current governor of Plateau State, the incumbent Secretary to the Federal Government and Yakubu Dogara will assume power in the near future. Plateau governor’s flirtations with the anti-Tinubu coalition in the APC might have knocked him off while the urgency of injecting a new name and face might have favoured Dogara.
The longer term imperative of blocking or undermining Atiku Abubakar in 2023 by coming up with a younger and sober Vice-Presidential material from the same Northeast as Atiku may have also favoured Dogara.
How far this may go in calming Nigeria remains to be seen but observable and unobservable indicators suggest it would and for two reasons. A speaker whose election was in the presence of a governor from the Caliphate along with no less than three other former speakers is not a typical speaker. Moreover, he handled the office without vulnerability to banana peels.
The second dimension is the Ahmed Bola Tinubu dimension. As Intervention speculated in its coverage of recent fracas in the APC, those who were saying Buhari had stabbed Tinubu were wrong. Instead, Buhari had handed over the party to Tinubu for the simple reason that Tinubu not only had more loyalists in the Caretaker Committee but Tinubu had kept the party going in the context of its organisational weaknesses. By the criteria through which that is done, which are network, structure and resources, it means guarantee of Tinubu supremacy in any test of strength. This is a point Buhari is said to know very well.
Politics can be full of twists and turn. The present assumption is that Yakubu Dogara is a potential successful leader. By that is meant the one who can recognise those who are angry for whatever reasons and make a move to calm them; identify those in need and provide them with something.
But that is the assumption for now. Whether a Tinubu-Dogara combination would beat contending candidates and parties in 2023 is yet to be seen. Or whether everything would work neatly as in the plans are what only God can determine. But what Dogara’s return to the APC signals is the beginning of the campaigns for 2023 on the one hand and the possibility of reconciling the North on the other.