For so many people, 2023 is a whole lot of months away, but for politicians, it’s just a matter of days to come. And that can be seen from the subtle but strategic moves of those eyeing the presidential seat. Though not audible, the race for who gets the key to Aso Villa after Buhari has begun in earnest.
President Muhammadu Buhari would use up his constitutionally allowed two-term in May 2023 and give way for a new helmsman to preside over Africa’s most populous nation. So, that has spurred questions on where exactly should Buhari’s successor comes from– South or North.
That question is not something new and has featured consistently in the country’s every election circle since the return of democracy in 1999. This is so given to a widely conceived notion that power rotates between the North and South. Though it was an unwritten concept, it has turned to be a critical factor that played a role in who gets the presidency.
That is the basis of expectations that Buhari’s successor is likely to come from Southern Nigeria. If eventually the North concede to that notion and accept that South should produce the president after Buhari, there is the raging question on which part of South should have it– Southwest or Southeast or Southsouth? However, lately, the clamour for an Igbo presidency is evoking debate
For proponents, their arguments are very simple; Igbos have been ignored for too long in the scheme of things in the country and allowing them to produce Buhari’s successor would go a long way in showing that they matter. But those arguments have failed to persuade those eyeing the highest office in the country from the Southwest, who contends that power is usually earned and not given, hence, seriously pushing for the presidency in 2023.
Not long ago, I had separate chats with two different campaigners who offered to fill me in why it should be Southwest or Southeast that should get a shot at the presidency in 2023– and how one makes political sense to the other and presents more advantage at delivering victory at the general poll. From both interactions, it was obvious from submissions that one is based on political entitlement and the other appeals to fairness and justice.
Let’s be frank with ourselves, 2023 is more than just having a new president but an excellent chance for us to remove long-term suspicions and strengthen our bond as a nation. And no other way to ensure that but to give serious considerations to fairness and justice in determining who gets the presidency in 2023, which should go to the Southeast.
That would be similar to what played out in 1999, at the return of democracy in the country. If you recall quite well, the Yorubas (Southwest) were left unchallenged for the country’s highest office, which eventually saw to the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in what was seen as a move to placate the region for the perceived injustice that came with the annulment of June 12, 1993 election, generally believed to have been won by Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
And the clamour for an Igbo presidency at a time that hues of marginalisation have reached a crescendo, is something that warrants a similar approach. Why did I say so? This is because, in simple terms, that would put an end to unnecessary suspicions that have persisted for too long and decisively confront the division rhetorics that consistently count on the emotion of marginalisation against the Igbos, hence, help on the cohesiveness of our national unity.
Though we’re one nation, bound by a Constitution, but we must conform ourselves to the reality that we speak different languages and pray in different ways, and as such, every effort should be spared to ensure equality. Unlike the North and Southwest who have had fair shares at presiding over the country, the Southeast has been left in the cold when it comes to power, which has essentially given rise to disenchantments.
Too often, some people try to play down genuine clamours for equity by throwing up ‘competency’ as a particular set of criteria for leadership. But that insistence, over time, has shown to be a cunny distraction, because no part of Nigeria is ever in want of competent head to push for leadership. So, that kind of argument cannot be allowed to derail us from the path of fairness and justice, which the 2023 presidency would serve the Igbos if conceded to them.
When our founding fathers gathered in Lagos in 1960 to sign the Declaration of Independence, they have the sole intention of having a country that is fair and treats everyone equally. We should not let the values of that admirable sentiment to be lost on us, and at this point, commit ourselves to their ideas of freedom and equality that propelled their fights for independence. No other option better serves that but for us to replicate the brilliant arrangement of 1999 in 2023– this time, to favour the Igbo.
In my opinion, queuing behind Igbo for the presidency in 2023 would be the smartest political decision and its bearing, which I’ve no doubt will be good for the country, is something that would be cherished for a long time. To hold on to the past, will no doubt, be a major undoing that will ultimately rob us of the enormous potentials that the future hold.
Nevertheless, the Igbo should not stay idle but come up with a strong message to persuade other parts of the country on why it deserves the presidency. While the quest for fairness is something good, it, however, cannot be achieved when those who believed they have not been treated well failed to properly table the wrongs against them. Instead of banking on pity, Igbo should push forward their best heads, who will share ideas that would produce better results for Nigerians, and more importantly, assurance that Nigeria unity is secure with them.