By Rep. Bamidele Salam
Even though I am not one given to discussing Nigerian politics within the prism of ethnicity and region, there is a viewpoint I feel like sharing today. The view is that the Yoruba people of South West Nigeria, of which I am proudly one, are the least strategic and most vulnerable group in our National Politics. Several experiences I have had especially in the last few years have reinforced this opinion of mine.
In the build up to the last amendment of the Electoral Act and the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, some things happened that got me really worried about how Nigeria’s most educated tribe ( I hope this is still true) will be its most uncoordinated and politically unstable clan. Several months before these legislations were passed, Political and Community leaders from other parts of the country ( most particularly) the Northern part were in constant engagement with legislators representing those states in the National Assembly. Governors and traditional rulers from the Northern part of Nigeria were having meetings and facilitating retreats on key components of the proposed laws and taking positions on them. Strangely, no such connections were happening in the South West.
One day, I met a top leader in the South West Caucus in the House of Representatives to ask why our leaders were not showing so much interest in what was happening with those proposed laws and even the amendment of the Constitution. He opened his phone to show me several unreplied messages he had sent to South West Governors and some leaders on the need to have meetings and aggregate opinion on many issues affecting the interest of the Zone. He too was not sure of what else to do. Well, after the meal was on the fire and almost cooked, Yoruba leaders suddenly saw the need to engage their representatives in Parliament and a meeting was conveyed in the cozy atmosphere of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
When we got into the clumsy hall hurriedly arranged for the engagement, I saw video cameras and battery of reporters arrayed to cover a meeting that was meant to discuss strategies for pushing forward certain agenda on the Electoral Act, Petroleum Industry Bill and the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution! Talk about the a man loving to have a CCTV all around him even in his bedroom and rest room. 💁🏾♂️
I moved on to whisper to one of the leaders of the House of Reps caucus who then walked up to advise Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on the need to excuse the Media from the meeting. He obliged and announced that gentlemen of the Press would only be needed for briefing at the end of the meeting. I don’t want to say more about that engagement but suffice to say that we all came out with certain ‘resolutions’ which were more of a rehash of what an earlier meeting of Southern Governos Forum arrived at.
When the time came to push those agenda on the floor of Parliament, a lot of things also played out that portrayed us as People who love to bark, bark and then run run 🏃♀️ 🏃♂️. We took a position the first day and quickly turned 360 degree next sitting without any solid justification! Of course all positions adopted at the Transcorp meeting failed to pass!
In the last three years of my being in the House of Representatives, there had never been any form of communication ( formal or informal) from any State Governor, Political or traditional leader from the South West to canvass a position on any matter of interest to the development of the South West zone. The South West Development Commission Bill only scaled through critical stages because of the doggedness of the caucus leader and probably the grace of having a Yoruba man as Speaker of the House.
Now why am I writing this? I have watched with amazement how the race for the 2023 Presidency has been literally turned into a comic bazaar by political heavyweights from the South Western part of Nigeria. Osinbajo, Tinubu, Fayose, Fayemi, Amosun, Tunde Bakare and the list keep increasing, all paying a whooping 100 million Naira ( APC rate) 40M for Fayose of the PDP, to indicate interest in the Presidency. Which political mathematician is advising a region prone to divisive politics that it can make a headway with this strategy?
Check all major political parties and you will see that the states where you have the most bitter intra-party squabbles are in the South West. The Yoruba man does not understand political tolerance like other ethnic groups. All political fights are fight to finish, who doesn’t know we are the wild Wild West? If you don’t belong to my political party or even my political group in the same party, why should I see your clothes in the rain and bring it in for you? I may be wrong, but I hardly see this kind of bitterness in politicians from Northern Nigeria, hardly!
Well, I just thought to share this to let out my thoughts. I pray God bless Nigeria and God bless my hardworking Yoruba people of Southern Nigeria 🇳🇬
POSTSCRIPT: I am a member of the PDP. I will NOT support a Presidential candidate on the basis of tribe, region or religion. So please regard this as my random thoughts as a human being and a major player in the political dynamics of the South Western part of Nigeria.
Salam represents Ede north, Ed south, Egbedore and Ejigbo federal constituency of Osun state in the House of Representatives