Tuesday was a battle. It was not a duel against malevolent spirits and other scary demons. Neither was it a mortal combat against ogres. It was a duel with nature. And as Shakespeare famously noted, nature must obey necessity. By three in the morning, yours sincerely had lost the battle and had been knocked cold on the canvas. After two sleepless, excruciating and nail-biting nights of watching the results of the presidential elections roll in with almost deliberate tardiness, nature finally had its way.

By the time one woke up two hours later, a new dawn had broken over the country. Bola Tinubu, our long-standing friend and political comrade in arms, had been declared President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was the stuff of scintillating fiction.

It has been noted that Nigeria is great movie crafted by a master artist at the height of his power and full of strange twists and even stranger turns. The canvas bursts with tumultuous characters, sacred monsters and human fiascoes from bygone and better forgotten ages. Perfidious prelates, mutinous mullahs, political astrologers and other spiritual carpetbaggers abound. They ply their trade without any concession to truth or fidelity to trustworthiness.  

Not many people thought that this epic of daring, this audacity of the immensely courageous, could be carried off without some elemental upheaval. But there you had it, slowly unfolding before the naked eyes. The political map of Nigeria was being redrawn, perhaps forever and if not so in the very long interim.  

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning. The sky was as clear as it was candid. The nation was eerily quiet. There was something surreal and even unnatural about the atmosphere. The jubilation and applause was muted and restricted. The protests were half-hearted and constricted.

Not even the man of the moment was spared the pervading sobriety. The president-elect appeared sedate, subdued and sombre, exhibiting commonsensical restraint and uncommon statesmanship. Perhaps the reality that he had just pulled off the greatest political siege in the annals of the nation and the burden of expectations going with this finally dawned on him. The man who walked on water has finally arrived at the lonely harbour of political intrigues and mysteries.

An Ibo proverb has it that if a man says yes, his chi, or personal god, must concur. It is a propellant of militant self-belief and unrelenting self-assurance. Tinubu has walked his talk. A fighters’ fighter and perfect embodiment of the warrior-spirit in politics, his outburst about emi lokan has already entered the nation’s political folklore and cultural lexicon. No matter what happens hereafter, the man has already passed into legend in his own life time.

Not unexpectedly, it is the nature of what happens hereafter that has further divided the nation and split its fractious political elite down the line. As this column never tires of warning, elections never resolve national questions but often serve to exacerbate them.

In the event, it is the group with the least polarizing baggage and the negotiating skills to broker deals with other contending groups that is assured of reasonable success in the postcolonial emporium. As hobbled and disorganized as the APC appeared going forward towards the election, this is the lesson the party and its flag bearer have been able to teach the nation.

Those in the heat of battle or hand to hand political combat never see the situation as it truly is. Outsiders often see us better and from a sharper focus. The Americans provided the best description of the just concluded elections when they deemed it as most competitive. Nothing can be more perceptive.

The election hugged all the fault lines and flashpoints of ethnicity, religious rancor, demographic polarization, inter-generational conflicts, gender disparity and class disequilibrium without any one of them or a combination thereof being powerful enough to take down the country. At the end of the most consequential presidential contest in its post-military history, the nation is still standing.

There were so many surprises and unfathomable twists. It will be safe to conclude that nothing is sacrosanct again. All revolutionary reordering of the society often begin as minor political hiccups. As we have noted, we may be witnessing the forcible reimagining of the political cartography of the nation as handed down by Lord Lugard and as reinforced by the advent of unitary government. Nigeria may yet involuntarily restructure itself to a more livable country without formal battlement.

We say formal battlement because lives have already been lost. Due to what is known as the cunning of history, men join particular battles without knowing what higher causes they are being used for other than what they think they are fighting for. This perhaps is what the President-elect meant when he said that he himself may well be an agent of a bigger phenomenon.

With this election, we have witnessed the disappearance of the twelve million votes warehoused somewhere in the core north permanently poised as a weapon of electoral shellacking. In retrospect, no one can be sure of the actual existence of this mythical electoral incubus usually called upon to steamroll the rest of the country into electoral compliance. All we know is that even General Buhari lost in his home state of Katsina.

Second is the decline and political superannuation of certain apex sociocultural organizations in the country. Out of abiding respect, this columnist will not mention names. But it is now obvious that they have been punching above their real weight and are of scant electoral values when the chips are really down.

  They have survived for long by skillfully aligning themselves with the mood of their respective regions. When they stray and go off message, humiliation and disgrace follow. In order to avert the looming terminal disaster, their regnant rumps must now go back to the drawing board. In Yoruba culture, there is a protocol for the retirement of pertinacious elders from partisan politics and this may be what is unfolding before our very eyes.

Finally, this election has shown the terminal unraveling of the old class of military selectorate, the men of the 1975 post-Gowon power consortium, who have held the nation by the political jugular ever since and whose word had been final in selecting who rules and runs Nigeria. This time around, their whimsical and hypocritical endorsements amounted to little within their own catchments areas.

They left things too late until bitter defeat and demystification became their lot. Unfortunately, it is obvious that they can no longer call for reinforcement from the usual quarters. Fortunately, Nigerians are a kind and forgiving lot. They will accord them full respect and recognition in appreciation of their past services to the nation once they gracefully refrain from meddling in our affairs.

  The obverse of the coin is equally interesting and full of mystifying portents. It is generally acknowledged that the heroes of the APC sudden renaissance against all odds and conventional wisdom are the northern governors who stood firm against the polarization of the party as its presidential primary took a nasty and unpredictable turn.

  But they themselves have not been able to prevail in their respective states. The feisty and rambunctious Nasir el-Rufai barely hung on in bitterly divided and polarized Kaduna State by the skin of his teeth. Aminu Masari was narrowly edged out in Katsina State. Governor Mai Mala Buni lost Yobe to PDP while the courtly and affable Abdulai Umar Ganduje was steamrolled by the Rabiu Musa Kwankanso blitzkrieg in Kano.

  The substantial votes accruing to the APC in these core northern states cannot be lightly discounted. But the fact that the governors struggled to barely retain the status quo is an indication of the unstable political dynamics in that region and the fact that the north is yet to throw up a dominant political figure post-Buhari. Politically speaking, everything is up for grabs in the north.

It is a measure of the unruly dynamics and the desacralizing momentum of the unfolding political era that the victorious APC flag bearer lost his Lagos base to a coalition of ascendant forces. This is the state where the former senator has loomed large, unchallenged and seemingly unchallengeable in the last twenty four years since the return of civil rule. As if to add to the bitter pill, the APC was also wiped out in Osun State, a core Yoruba dominion and bastion of progressive politics.

    Despite this tumultuous yearning for change in other parts of the country, it is only in the South East that we witnessed the return of the phenomenon of total voting. Buoyed by ethnic hysteria and egged on by irrational fears masquerading as facts, it is an anti-democratic ethnic census; the equivalent of circling the electoral wagons. It can only provoke similar neuroses in other nationalities and return the country to its 1966 default setting.

 How this will help Peter Obi grow his “revolutionary” momentum remains to be seen. Without any doubt, the most substantial factor impacting the recently concluded elections is the demographic shift in favour of youth. But it is a phenomenon mainly restricted to the predominantly urban conglomerations of the nation. Without ever tending the revolutionary gardens or weeding the shrubs, Obi has cashed in on the cocktail of ethnic resentments, economic inequities and generational disillusionment.

    But revolutions and revolutionists are usually made of sterner stuff. A person cannot learn to be left-handed or leftist-leaning in old age. Lacking an organic backbone and totally bereft of a vision for the radical transformation of the society beyond its soporific shibboleths, Obi’s inchoate ensemble is likely to coalesce around its ethnic substratum in the coming weeks. As the gloves come off, the “revolutionary” himself is likely to be outed as a smart Alec merely gaming the system.

  With ethnic revanchists on the prowl stoking the fire of national conflagration, the president-elect has his work cut out for him. Going forward, a lot will depend on his legendary political skills and capacity for conciliation. For now, congratulations are in order.

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