…Igbo presidency in 2023 is one of the critical issues ongoing in the country
At this moment, the Nigerian government has a lot on its plate to deal with. And, honestly, it’s emotional to be a Nigerian right now. This, undoubtedly, is one of the critical periods of our national life.
As youths are protesting against the police brutality with #EndSARS demonstrations in the country and in Diaspora, restructuring and true federalism debates rending the air. In the same vein, the call for Igbo Presidency, which some Nigerians, especially the Easterners believe it was long overdue ranks high in the polity of the country. And, it can be said, it has become a headache for our leaders to handle.
While all these pressing matters require solutions to either eliminate or minimise our political and social challenges, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday, October 15, 2020, announced the date for the Presidential election. The date Nigerians are expected to go to the polls to vote the next president to lead the country after President Muhammadu Buhari would be February 18, 2023.
The announcement became imperative as to what the future holds for Nigeria. This, then, calls for further questions. Was it really necessary to publicise such information at this period, knowing the various agitations ongoing in the country? If the next leader would come from the South-Eastern part of the country, would this assuage the agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clamouring for the Biafra Republic?
Sensitive to these questions boil down to the fact that one of the problems Nigerians face is the audacity of the political elite to always successfully impose candidate to rule. If the whole country agrees to choose the president of Igbo descent in 2023, would the candidate be selected or elected?
In the argument filling the space already, Nigerians are projecting the Senate Whip and former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu to assume the mantle of office of the president come 2023. While in some quarters, Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi is the preferred candidate from Ndigbo.
Early October, certain Northern youth groups, by the name the Coalition of Northern Nigerian Youth (CNNY), came publicly to endorse Kalu. The statement they issued partly read, “Out of curiosity and positive thought, it has become absolutely imperative to write and urge his Excellency, the former Governor of Abia State and the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Distinguished Senator (Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu to contest for the 2023 Presidential election as we believe that, he has the leadership acumen, capacity, dexterity and contacts to govern a complex nation like Nigeria.”
As expected, the endorsement was greeted with both criticisms and commendations among Nigerians, but the former dwarfed the latter. In the numerous criticisms submitted by the citizens, his integrity was questioned by Nigerians referring to times of his rule in Abia State in his eight years as governor. While reacting to the issue, a certain Nigerian believed that Kalu lacks integrity to rule the country. “This country doesn’t want leaders that answers ‘Yes, yes sir!’ all the time. We need leaders with good integrity and impeccable characters…” Ben Nwabuwe commented on Twitter.
In contrast, the former Governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, has been projected as the trusted and capable man to become the next president. He was the presidential running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 Presidential election under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). “Peter Obi has been anointed as a consensus candidate for president come 2023,” Dede tweeted. “Obi is a credible, hardworking, tested, trusted, dedicated and intelligent gentleman, who is willing to fix the anomalies of this country if given the mandate. We’ll never negotiate it. Never!”
The matter pushes forward another thought, whether the country should settle for zoning or competence. Does it mean that if a brilliant candidate comes from another region, it won’t matter since the country agrees to have an Igbo president? This was the point made by a Digital Media Analyst and Trainer, Mr. Seye Joseph, arguing that Nigeria is too critical at this stage to be hell-bent on producing a president from a zone. He reiterated that the president can come from any tribe inasmuch as he is competent with visions and blueprint that will make the country an improved state.
“My view is just that leadership competence, irrespective of the region is very paramount,” Mr. Joseph said. “The president could come from anywhere. What we should look at is if the candidate has values, competence and other criteria that could move our country forward. I don’t care if the next president is Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. All I care about is the competence, and we should not be clamouring for Igbo presidency if it won’t do us any good.”
With the foregoing, obviously, the supreme plan among the Igbo, would be how to search the whole land and present a magnanimous product that would be embraced by Nigerians at the polls for the presidential election in 2023. A potential leader with visions. The job would be easy if the two dominant political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) present Igbo candidates for the nation.
In 1999 presidential election, the three parties then offered Yoruba men, as it was known that the political clan ceded the presidency to the south west to appeal for the annulment of June 12, 1993. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) fielded Olusegun Obasanjo, the All People’s Party (APP) had Olu Falaye and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) presented late Bola Ige. If there would still be APC and PDP in 2023, it would be almost certain that the party that offers a better Igbo candidate between them will carry the day.
The South East knows that if the chance to produce the next president comes in 2023, it is a huge offer the leaders wouldn’t fiddle with. This will make it to give it their best shot in presenting an acceptable offer that would look scintillating.
In the pursuit of strategising for the Igbo presidency in 2023, last Friday, a conference was organised by the South East and North Central Forum in Markurdi, Benue State. The purpose of the summit was for the Igbo people to parley with the Middle Belt, in achieving the topmost political agenda of the South-East in producing the next leader of the most populous African country. In the meeting, the chairman of the Forum. Hon. Afam Ezenwafor mentioned one of the key factors to win the struggle, which was presenting a good candidate for the country.
“Igbo people see Nigeria as their business and since they don’t ever want their business to crash, Nigeria will not crash in the hand of Igbo. We are also aware that there’s need for us to bring a sound candidate and that we can assure you we will do because the destiny of this country lies in our hands,” Ezenwafor said.
It cannot be overruled that having a president from Igbo land is long overdue, as the region has never tasted power since the coup d’etat that executed the military Head of State, General J.T Aguiyi-Ironsi in July 29, 1966. If unity still means something to this country, it won’t be undebatable for the political class to give the presidential slot to the South East. Our headache as Nigerians is whether he would be competent or clueless; elected or selected.