Igbo Presidency: How best to realise it
Igbo community in C’River at ‘war’ over leadership Igbo need to be strong in the two main political parties Buhari’s nepotism will strengthen Igbo Presidency clamour
—INC Igbo need to assure that they won’t use it to break Nigeria
—Ude All Ndigbo need to be President in 2023 is to ‘urinate’ together, not speak with one voice
—former Senate President Igbo must negotiate with other tribes
—Sen. Orji By Anayo Okoli, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie & Steve Oko THE clamour for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction is raging and gaining momentum by the day, more so in the face of the unrepentant nepotism being exhibited by the Federal Government in all aspects of the administration.
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How best can Igbo achieve this long sought legitimate desire? Can they genuinely come together, irrespective of political divide to realise this noble desire, devoid of saboteurs? What do Igbo leaders really need to do and do them well to realise this milestone project? According to former Senate President, Dr. Adolfus Wabara, it is possible to realise the much desired Nigerian President of Igbo extraction come 2023.
Wabara said that all that Ndigbo need to do to realise the project “is to urinate together and not to speak with one voice.” The former Senate President argued that the Igbo republican nature does not allow them to be on the same page in any matter unlike other tribes in the country, but that such temperament does not stop them from working together as a people. He said that speaking with discordant tunes enables Ndigbo to work with superior argument in any matter for the best result. Senator Wabara said that it was very possible for Igbo political elite and stakeholders irrespective of their party leanings to collaborate for the actualisation of the big project not withstanding their individual views or utterances. He stressed that “what is needed now is more of action towards achieving the project” and not necessarily utterances.
“We can’t talk with one voice because our experiences are not the same. But we’re one people and will continue to fight until we are re-integrated into Nigeria.” Wabara, however, expressed reservations over the sincerity and willingness of other tribes to cede the Presidency to Ndigbo in 2023. “It is a tall order given our position in Nigeria. Are we wanted in this contraption called Nigeria? When we were growing up, Ndigbo were on top and we didn’t despise other tribes. But now, do they treat us as equal owners of the country?” To achieve this desire, a leading Igbo voice, retired General Joseph Okolagu said that Igbo political leaders should try to be a force in the two major political parties that would likely present the next President of Nigeria. General Okolagu insisted that the two main political parties should avail an Igbo man the opportunity to get their presidential tickets in 2023 and advised Ndigbo to join the political parties, play roles and ensure that they effect changes during conventions and congresses of the parties. READ ALSO: No group is united in Nig, we’re proud of our republican nature He, however, urged Ndigbo to align with other ethnic nationalities, stressing that there must be a handshake across the border. Okolagu called for national consciousness to assuage the feelings and anger of Ndigbo who have been continually marginalised. “The clamour for Igbo presidency is germane and I am also for it but Igbo presidency has to be on a platform.
We are practising democracy and you can only be elected under a political platform. I do know that if the rest of the country are sympathetic to Ndigbo, the only and possible way of getting Igbo presidency is for the Nigerian political parties to do what the political parties did then in 1999. “So, it is high time the anger and feelings of continued denial of presidential seat to the South- East touch the national consciousness and feelings to direct political parties to arrange themselves in such a way that head or toe, an Igbo man will emerge as the presidential candidates. “There are two political parties which is the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. For Ndigbo to actualise the Igbo presidency, they must be a force in the big political parties, because power can’t be given on ethnic sentiment but on membership. It requires strategy and tactics.
“We have brilliant and vibrant young men but I keep asking myself, if you are not in PDP, where are you? But if you are in PDP and keep asking APC to give you ticket, it is madness. “If the brilliant young men in South-East join any of the two political parties, PDP or APC, they are certainly going to be the President of Nigeria. For now, either APC or PDP will present the next president in 2023. My advice to my Igbo brothers and sisters is to come over to APC or PDP and start effecting changes because they are going to conduct congresses and conventions. “I know that other regions have interest in the Presidency but Ndigbo have to align with the national interest to get the power. We need the support of North and West to become the president of Nigeria. You cannot become the president of Nigeria just because you are an Igbo man. We need handshakes across the border”, he said.
In his opinion, former Abia governor and the incumbent Senator representing Abia Central, Theodore Orj, said Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 project “is very realisable.” He, however, advised that negotiations with other tribes and regions of the country were imperative if the project must be realised. “It can be realised by negotiations and not by war because politics is a game of number. We need to negotiate with other tribes and sell our points to them. We have very valid and empirical points to produce the next president of the country. “Let them give us a chance and see how an Igbo man will perform as president,” Orji said.
The former governor also said that the discordant tunes among Ndigbo on some national issues did not in any way suggest that the tribe could not be united in making the 2023 project a reality, arguing that there is never a time there will be 100% unity on any matter. For the former Director of Communications under President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Jackson Ude, the Igbo need to assure other Nigerians that they won’t use the instrumentality of the Presidency to break Nigeria if they are supported to emerge President in 2023. Ude said this is important because most people from the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria see the Igbo as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. He said that they need to erase this wrong notion for the Igbo to truly get the massive support they deserve to clinch the presidency. According to him, IPOB has done a great damage in the psyche of other ethnic groups in Nigeria while the agitation to secede and declare an independent state of Biafra has made other ethnic groups suspicious of the Igbo.
“Igbos would need to assure other ethnic groups that if elected as president, they won’t use the instrumentality of that office to help break Nigeria. Igbo leaders need to reach out to leaders of the North and West and erase the suspicions and assure them of a united Nigeria because a typical Northerner and Westerner see the Igbo as IPOB members. “That erroneous notion must be erased for the Igbo to truly get the massive support they deserve to clinch the presidency and it falls in the hands of the Igbo leaders to do that leg work. Igbo leaders would also need to discuss with the IPOB. “The Igbo can only achieve the quest for the presidency of Nigeria if they close ranks, united and reach out to other tribes and ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Merely desiring the top political position and not working with other ethnic groups cannot give the Igbo the presidency. Politics and elections are a number game. Only the Igbo votes cannot put an Igbo man in Aso Rock. “The Igbo would need to reach out to the North, the West and others for support. They need genuine alliances and bridges of friendship to gain trust and confidence of other sections across the federation.” In the opinion of the Igbo National Council, INC, the high level of nepotism being exhibited by President Muhammadu Buhari in all aspects of his administration is a good opportunity for the presidency to come to the Igbo.
“Buhari’s actions will quicken the actualisation of the Nigerian President of Igbo extraction,” INC said. INC President, Chilos Godsent said the clamour for Igbo to get the presidency could be achieved fast on account of the reckless nepotism being exhibited in all sectors of the nation’s life by this administration. INC argued that the nepotism of the present administration is frustrating and would make the Igbo work together. “Buhari’s nepotism is furthering the unity of Igbo nation to struggle to produce the president of Nigeria. The issue is that the Igbo are already united. There will always be interests. The nepotism being demonstrated by the current administration will further unite the Igbo to see the need to work collectively. So, the lopsided appointments will be a unifying factor for the Igbo,” Godsent said. According to Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the secretary of the Chidi Ibe-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo, there are two different threats to the realisation of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023.
They are PDP and Biafra agitators. The platform for the actualisation of 2023 Igbo Presidency project is first, Igbo leaders have obstacles they need to cross. For 20 years, Igbo have invested heavily in PDP but it appears the party is playing the ostrich and craftily designed hurdles for Igbo after milking Igbo votes. The abolishment of the zoning formula enshrined in PDP constitution and rotational presidency which favours the South-East for an open contest is “the height of deceit and PDP will surely pay for it. “The most painful part is the silence of PDP Senate Minority leader and other Igbo leaders in the party. It appears Igbo presidency project is dead on arrival under PDP. “The insecurity challenges and Biafra agitators had disconnected the people over the possibility of the nepotistic nature of the Federal Government to allow Igbo Presidency project work under APC. “We will continue to negotiate and reach out to all ethnic nationalities especially the Arewa chieftains. Our Presidential aspirants in APC have the opportunity as the party agreed to zone the presidential ticket to the South.
We are pressurising all APC Igbo chieftains to work together for the actualisation of an Igbo flying 2023 APC presidential ticket. “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Engr. Chidi Ibeh is working behind the scenes to encourage Igbo presidential aspirants with cold feet to get ready and reach out to all the zones.” The former Imo State Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor Chidi Osuagwu said with the direction and situation of things in Nigeria, that there may not be 2023 general elections.
He said that Nigeria is already a failed country and if nothing was urgently done to reconfigure it, it would not survive especially as a result of the insecurity challenges facing it. “This campaign for political offices for 2023 is a big distraction in a crime-ridden failed state like Nigeria. The thing now is to reorganise the country from bloodletting. We must deal with the fact that we are in a failed state. “There is need to reconfigure the country so that it protects lives and property which is the purpose of a state. “The way this country is going, it can’t get there. We are in a failed state where both lives and property are unsafe everywhere.
People are being kidnapped and killed everywhere. “It is because we have people in Nigeria who don’t know the meaning of a state. It is a big joke that people are killed, kidnapped and many are unemployed. Those controlling the country do not have the capacity to do anything. We need the capacity to do things which Britain denied us in 1960. “The capacity to do things for ourselves, to protect ourselves, was what was denied us. The people who are going to occupy that office are part of our problem.
“The summary of what I said is that the presidency should not be our priority because it has not helped anybody. The problem is that the state is malfunctioning and has failed. “And that anybody with Igbo name can become president is not useful to us. What we should do now is to accept the fact that the Nigerian state has failed and decide on what to do and avoid the catastrophe that is facing us,” Osuagwu declared.