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The politics of who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari come 2023 is gradually gathering momentum. Expectedly, as President Buhari’s second term in office trudges into half time, politicians and political pundits of Igbo extraction including pressure groups have continued to demand for a president from that part of the country.
Just recently, the Governors of the southeast and other political leaders in the region including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo met in Enugu where they discussed a myriad of problems confronting Ndi Igbo including the fight for Igbo Presidency and how it can be achieved with the case study of the marginalisation in the country against Igbos which have pitted the Igbos at a political disadvantage. Although the resolve arrived at the meeting was not publicly made known, popular opinion had it that the major Igbo stakeholders arrived at a conclusion to try to push one particular candidate who would carry the general agenda to the top seat in the country. This decision was also made in line with the subtle campaigns being held by other regions for the 2023 Presidency.
Indeed, the controversy over which region should produce the next president in 2023 is already an issue and every zone of the country seems to have an unwavering interest in the issue. Some Northern political factions have made plans to keep the Presidency after the two terms of President Muhammadu Buhari while fielding some popular Northern Governors as their selected candidates. In the Southwest, the battle is already gearing up with the political juggernaut, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding the forte for the Western region and some parts of the Northern region. There are also Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the current Vice-President; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, and former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who are among those touted to have interests in the highest office in the country. The South-South have also shown some interest in the position on the premise that Goodluck Jonathan, was not given the opportunity to serve for two terms like others. This interest albeit subdued and lacklustre has seen some South-south political groups being divided between pitching support for the Igbos or fielding one of the South-south Governors to be nominated for the Vice-Presidential position as compensation.
In all these, one thing that cannot be denied is the fact that the Igbos seem to be the only region truly deserving of the position. The call for Southeast Presidency is predicated on the prism of ‘justice, equity, and fairness.’ Since Nnamdi Azikiwe’s tenure as a ceremonial president (1960-1966), no Igbo man has occupied that revered political position. It is on record that since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic governance after a long haul of military dictatorship, the Northern and Western parts of Nigeria have enjoyed their fair share of the position except the Igbos. Many well-meaning Nigerians from other ethnic groups have most sincerely attested to the fact that the Southeastern part of Nigeria has been left in the political lull for a long time. This has resulted in the many secessionist agitations in form of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) headed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) headed by Chief Ralph Uwazurike, Biafran Nation Youth League (BNYL), and others which have plagued Igboland today. Most Igbo indigenes have already lost any iota of hope for the realisation of an Igbo President thus the renewed cry for the creation of a new Republic in form of Biafra.
The Fulani Oligarchy have noticed this fact and have cashed in on it with the fears that if power is not shifted to the Southeastern region, there might be a ripple effect which would draw general sympathies towards the Igbos who would in turn use this renewed attention and strategy for a stronger push for secession with the secessionist movements. Dividing Nigeria is not on the agenda of the Fulani Oligarchy who enjoy the massive support of the British Government that founded Nigeria, call the shots in the Nigerian polity thus the need to restrategise and quash any form of secession from Nigeria.
The Igbos on the other hand have realised this motive and have planned to use it as an upper hand in the fight for Igbo Presidency come 2023. Popular opinion has shown that the average Igbo man doesn’t actually want to secede from Nigeria, the reason for this being the fear of starting afresh again after fifty years of development and rebuilding after the Nigerian/Biafran civil war menace. Igbos are known to be very industrious and very business-minded, this has pushed them to move out of their comfort zones into other regions in search of greener pastures. This has also led to the development of massive business empires and careers situated outside their hometowns. Secession would not only bring about the destruction of these business empires and conglomerates but also the economic downfall of the new republic which is what many Igbos are trying to fight against. It is also worthy to note that these Igbos who have established outside their regions are only but a small percentage of Igbos who are based in the Southeastern region. If it comes down to taking to Secession as a last resort after the 2023 General Elections, the opinions of home-based Igbos (who are mostly made up of common citizens who directly feel the brunt of Nigeria’s terrible leadership) greatly outweighs that of those who have established outside the region (who are mostly made up of Igbo elites and first-class citizens).
The Fulani Oligarchy have weighed their options on this strategy and have seen that the best alternative to this is to move the compass of leadership down to the Southeastern region with a candidate who they can control and manipulate regardless of the party. This why there have been some recent subtle strategies in the polity to demolish other political rivals who might want to rise against these plans. Already, there have been assumptions that the Fulani Oligarchy are already considering top Igbo politicians such as Ike Ekweremadu, Peter Obi, Orji Uzor Kalu, Dave Umahi, Rochas Okorocha, and some other select few. But the major issue regarding this selection process is a matter of general opinions, reception by Igbos, and unwavering loyalty towards the Fulani Oligarchy.
The Igbos although wonderful politicians do not understand the place of consensus and compromise in politics. They play a game of self-centeredness (if not me, no one else) which is why the Northerners keep beating them at the game of politics in Nigeria. Northerners are champions of the real game of politics. They understand the place of consensus and compromise in political strategy and victory. Their politicians are aware that all of them cannot be in a certain position at the same time. In the interest of the North those prevailed on to jettison their ambition easily sheath their swords. But this would be very difficult in an Igbo setting because most of these Igbo politicians would find it difficult to bury their pride, independence, and republican nature to support one of their own in the interest of the whole Igbo region. Also, another problem is that most Igbos cherish and promote good governance above any other thing, but as in the case of many Igbo leaders, politics in Igbo land is saturated with corruption, nepotism, bad governance, and greed. This and many more vices have made it hard for Igbos to fully support some of their leaders for this apex position. This can be demonstrated in the 1999 Presidential Elections where the Igbos supported Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, from the Yoruba tribe over Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and the 2007 presidential elections where the Igbos fully supported a Northern candidate (Umar Musa Yar’adua) over the Igbo counterparts. There is also a possibility that this same scenario might repeat itself in 2023. And another issue is that some Igbo political stakeholders like Although some Igbo stakeholders like Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, and Prince Arthur Eze of Anambra State have clearly taken a stance on the fact that Igbo Presidency doesn’t mean anything to them and therefore they won’t lend their support to it.
2023 is a pivot year for millions of Igbos desiring acceptance by the rest of Nigerians for belonging in the Nigerian state. One of the clear telltale signs that will indicate this national acceptance is the achievement of the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023 by an Igbo person. To accomplish this, Igbos need not only whip up the believers, advocates, and supporters of their cause, they also have to woo the agnostics, detractors, and adversaries across the land and this can be done with the help of the Fulani Oligarchy who can easily manipulate political tides to favor any candidate of their choice. The Fulani Oligarchy giving to the demand of the Igbos is only a ploy to dissipate the great storm in form of the Biafran agitation and pacify other Igbo activists while still calling the shots in Nigeria. And the best actually for Ndi Igbo is to arrive at a consensus, and demand for the restructuring of Nigeria. Secession under the leadership of Kanu, Uwazuruike or any other agitating Biafran group lacks any legitimate strategy to help Ndi Igbo secede. Also, none of the Biafran leader has any military background to even start leading a full military operation or guerrilla warfare to secede as the late Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu led the Biafrans in the past. The new-age entire agitation movement is totally unintelligent, and only geared towards economic exploitation of the gullible followers who make regularly financial contributions to a clueless style of leadership all in the name of Biafra, which is nothing but a facade. Having an Igbo President is feasible, and something virtually all Ndi Igbo (with the exception of some elites) will jump at, the recent Atiku/Obi ticket proved this beyond a reasonable doubt however, in reality getting an Igbo man or woman to become the next President of Nigeria will be good for Ndi Igbo but that will not actually change the status quo for Ndi Igbo in future because the President is bound by the Federal Constitution of Nigeria which he or she will swear to uphold, and protect. Restructuring Nigeria completely, first by constitutional review, and reamendment is the best for Ndi Igbo and every other region in Nigeria so that the interests of the Nigerian masses can be duly represented and recognised. The current Nigerian Constitution is a militarised one which under normal circumstances, should either have been done away completely or totally reviewed, and reamended in the present Nigerian democratic dispensation.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK