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2023 Elections: They Have All Forgotten the Igbos – By Phil Alalibo

Audio version of article here

By Prof. Phil Alalibo | NNP | March 13, 2022 – The Greek philosopher Plato once noted that the art of statecraft should be entrusted into the hands of those who are better equipped to handle the affairs of the state – those men he called “Philosopher Kings.” Similarly, in Nigeria today, there are many Platos in the political scene who believe that only a certain group of people are capable of handling the affairs of the state.

Excluded from this ‘elite’ cadre of philosopher kings are the Igbos due to the pervasive and chronic, but erroneous belief that they lack the leadership ability and/or commitment to the Nigerian project; they cannot be full participants in the Nigerian political landscape premised on their antecedence of succession from the Nigerian state. This perception and the unforgiving spirit of the Nigerian state towards the Igbos is what I would deem as Nigeria’s original sin. 

As the presidential elections of 2023 draw closer, we see once again the unmeasured and selfish attitude of the political class towards the Igbos. Even religious bodies that should be champions of equity and inclusion are said to be scheming to usher in a Yoruba candidate for the APC. The recent formation of a Directorate for Politics and Governance in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), is believed to be a platform to draft Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo into the presidential race. 

While RCCG may be working on a groundswell of support for Osinbajo who is a pastor in its fold, Bola Tinubu, the APC chieftain and kingmaker has decided to take the prize this time after delivering the presidency to the Hausa-Fulani in 2015 and 2019. With this act, Tinubu believes that he has fulfilled the prerequisite to contest the presidency in 2023. But he should not forget in a hurry what happened to his kinsman, Moshood Abiola, who regardless of a clear mandate was never accepted by the north, suffered annulment and paid the ultimate price. In January 2022, it was reported that Tinubu met with former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu to discuss his (Tinubu’s) presidential ambition. After the meeting, it was further reported that Kalu froze his ambition to run for president.

Tinubu’s presidential ambition means he has neglected his moral and ethical obligation as a national leader to work in the collective interest of Nigeria and not pander to sectional and ethnic sensibilities. He has a moral and ethical obligation to work hard and zone the APC presidency to the Southeast in the same manner he did for the north. The questions thus are – is Tinubu not aware that the Igbos are yet to occupy the presidency? Is he not aware that there is a major segment of the country being perennially shut out of the political calculation? Is he not aware that as a statesman and leader of a national party, he ought to be inclusive and accommodate the needs and political aspirations of the Igbos? Is he not aware that as a statesman, he ought to set aside his political ambition for the greater good and in the interest of national unity and one Nigeria? 

Tinubu, being a seasoned politician cannot be oblivious to the fact that the North, Southwest and South-South have all ascended the presidency except the Southeast. Even the South-south zone less known for its political pedigree in the grand scheme produced President Jonathan. So why the pretense that the Igbos do not exist or do not matter with his quest to occupy the presidency as a candidate from the Southwest? Why have they all forgotten the Igbos? Tinubu’s previous utterances may provide a clue into his mindset and may solve the puzzle of his ambition at the expense of the Igbos. 

A quarter of a century ago, on April 13, 1997, Tinubu stated in ThisDay Newspaper, “I don’t believe in one Nigeria.” This belief, which to date has not been rescinded, to the public’s knowledge, may explain his monolithic disposition and politics of regionalism to the exclusion of the Igbos. Amid this unpatriotic statement is a bigger question, one that questions his commitment to Nigeria and ability to govern a multi-ethnic Nigeria. We must thus ask – why does a man who does not believe in one Nigeria want to be president of Nigeria? Tinubu is obligated to answer this question satisfactorily to be taken seriously. The Igbos may not exist in his political orbit, and having delivered the presidency to the Hausa-Fulani, the Yorubas who have already had their day in the Nigerian political sun must return at all cost even at the detriment of an equally deserving segment of the country – the Igbos. 

The following statement uttered by Tinubu in 2014 provides a foretaste of his presidency should he be successful.  “Nigerians, the only way to have steady light and fuel is to remove Jonathan. And I promise you in six months,  Nigeria will be swimming in crude oil and fuel. Buhari will pay you all #5,000 monthly for being jobless, our youth will be gainfully employed with our 3,000,000 jobs a year.”  Sadly, this is a failed promise with the continued scarcity of fuel and light. Nigeria is awash in the ocean of kidnapping, crime, ritual killings, poverty and corruption. Unemployment rate is prohibitive in the face of a supposed 3,000,000-per-year jobs program.

On the other side of the aisle, the PDP is mulling with the idea of convincing President Goodluck Jonathan to jettison retirement and run for the presidency under its banner. They have paid little attention to the fact that Jonathan would effectively be a one-term president if he runs and wins by order of the constitution. This cannot be a more appealing prospect for a national party when the Southeast has able, tested and qualified persons that could run for the office and change the trajectory of the country. They could tap former governor Peter Obi, Godwin Emefiele, the current Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Charles Soludo who though has just been elected governor of Anambra might consider a higher seat or Dr. Chris Ngige, labour minister in the current administration.

It is no gainsaying that until Nigeria reckons and reconciles with its original sin and is willing to make amends by entrenching justice, it would continue to be a conflicted nation and one at war with itself. 



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Posted by on Mar 13 2022. Filed under Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, P, South-East. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “2023 Elections: They Have All Forgotten the Igbos – By Phil Alalibo”

  1. Godwin Airuoyuwa

    The presidency of this country is open to everyone, and there’s nothing in the constitution that bars anyone or any group from aspiring to become the president of the country. Though true that the Igbos have suffered some political setback at the national level because of the civil war, I believe that they ought to have overcome that by now. What is also true of the politics of the Igbos since the end of the war is that they have never spoken with one voice; there’s no unity amongst them. Unlike what you have with the Hausas/Fulanis and the Yorubas. Why will anyone forsake his ambition so he can fight another man’s cause; why should Tinubu be the one to fight for the Igbos when, according to your piece a prominent Igbo aspirant can so easily be persuaded to abandon his aspirations? Let the Igbos get their political acts together, show the entire nation that they have been marginalized for too long, and are ready to fight for their rights. No one, certainly not Tinubu, is going to fight that fight for them.

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