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2023: What option for South-East if Presidency eludes them

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Peter Okutu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka, Enugu

• Our coexistence in Nigeria would be shaken —Dr. Adibe

• It’s clear cut message to Igbo that we don’t belong here —CISF

• South-East should re-strategise, reject VP slot if offered —Prof Ofoeze

• I don’t care where the President comes from —Ogbonnaya

From the scheming and permutations currently going on in the two major political parties ahead of the 2023 elections, there seems to be a calculated and deliberate conspiracy, particularly from some powerful politicians from the North, to deny the South-East the parties’ presidential ticket.

Abubakar Atiku and Governor Aminu Tambuwal, both of whom contested in 2019 when the ticket was zoned to the North, are currently working hard to scuttle the zoning which they enjoyed in 2019.

They, in collaboration with other Northern elements, who think they own Nigeria, including Bukola Saraki, the former Senate President and Governor of Bauchi State, are working hard to frustrate the earlier arrangement to zone the PDP presidential ticket to the South.

Recall that in 2019 in Port Harcourt, it was purely a Northern affair because it was zoned to the North just like APC also then did. If the party tickets elude the South, particularly the South-East zone, what are the options for the people of the zone to convince themselves that they are truly part and parcel of the Nigeria project?Senator Victor Umeh, former National chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, insist that the people of the zone do not necessarily need to reveal their next option if they lose out in 2023.He said they should jealously guard their next option until then.

“We should not lose the presidency at all not to talk of our next option. Until then, events will determine our next option,” Umeh said.For Bishop Abraham Chris Udeh, the General Overseer of Mount Zion Faith Global Liberation Ministry, Nnewi, Anambra State, “Ndigbo do not need Igbo presidency, rather what they need is to unite and get Biafra.”

According to Udeh: “Ndigbo should unite and get Biafra and not Igbo presidency. Looking for Igbo presidency is a wild goose chase because they can’t get it in this present circumstance. Even if they manage to get it, it won’t last long because the cabal in the North would like to one way or the other, scuttle it midway into the first tenure.

“Any Igbo man who becomes President of Nigeria now will be a mere figure head and a stooge to the Northern oligarchy because if he refuses to obey their command or to be teleguided by the cabal, they will remove him from the seat either dead or alive.

“So, Ndigbo do not need Igbo presidency for now. They should rather unite and go for Biafra.”Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, in his own view, however said Igbo unity is of essence, adding that with disunity threatening the corporate existence of Ndigbo, there is urgent need to first of all be united before looking for either Presidency or Biafra.

“Ndigbo are not united. Few days ago, the residences of Ohanaeze Ndigbo leader and his brother resident overseas, were set ablaze by unknown persons suspected to be Ndigbo. Ndigbo are currently kidnapping their own kinsmen and if you ask me, I will tell you that all these in humanity against fellow Igbo men are culmination of disunity and unless they unite, they can’t be talking of Igbo presidency or an option of Biafra,” Ezeonwuka said. Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said there is certainly no option left for Ndigbo if 2023 eludes them. The denial of their presidential chance would close all openings or chances for a diplomatic resolution of the Igbo question in Nigeria. It will heighten two main agitations, namely: the struggle for the restructuring of the federation and the struggle for self-determination by the Igbo.

Chief Abia Onyike, their spokesman said: “But we in ADF do not believe in restructuring. We believe in the reconstitution and renegotiation of the artificial federation. We want a return to Regional Autonomy with fiscal federalism. But in the event that these options fail, self-determination for the ethnic nationalities becomes inevitable. All oppressed ethnic nationalities in Nigeria can opt for their separate nationhood as autonomous republics under the banner of the African Union.”

Also, a group of Igbo professionals, under the umbrella body of Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum, CISF expressed disappointment at the new twist in making the 2023 presidency, particularly, by the PDP, a free for all affair.

“We the Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum observe with disappointment the making of the issue of 2023 slot for the Igbo man to become the Nigerian president, a free for all affair. Why must it be so for a particular ethnic group in a nation that obviously stands on a tripod of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo?

“Have Igbos become tenants in their own fatherland? We wish to remind fellow Nigerians that Igbo are equal stakeholders and shareholders of Nigeria and should not be relegated to the background.“The Igbo have played supportive roles in the PDP and APC to other candidates from some other region, and those parties feel that the Igbo are not worth producing the flag bearer! The usual things we hear at such time when the conspiracy to shortchange the Igbo man is in process: ‘Well it is all about competence and not merely zoning.’ ‘Power is never given but taken.’

“If we wait for Northern kids to be admitted to Unity Schools based on their performance, how many of them can gain admission into Federal Government-owned secondary schools?

“The pegs are high for the Igbo, even the fact that we do business in Nigeria under an unfair condition. Yet, some persons feel we do not have the competence.

“It is regrettable to note also that our brothers in the South-South and South-West would be desirous to take a second shot at the presidential ticket, when the Igbo man has not had his chance. This is so despite all of the massive support they enjoyed in the South- East to be able to occupy the top seat.“We expect them to join their voices against the visible marginalisation of their fellow citizens who share same Southern space with them. Unfortunately, Tinubu wants to be president despite Nigeria’s recent past with Obasanjo. The North equally feels that the slot of the Igbo man should be an issue of the survival of the fittest.

“Democracy is all about inclusion and the denial of the Igbo man a chance to serve in the capacity of the president only confirms the purported conspiracy, never to allow an Igbo man to ever become the president.

“Nigeria must understand that the reason why our economy has been on a continuous decline is simply because an Igbo man has not been given a chance to do real business of the economy.“Denial of the party tickets to the Igbo man ahead of 2023 is a clear cut message to the Igbo that we do not belong here. CISF considers that as a disservice to the nation, especially at a time when there is agitation against marginalisation in the South-East.

“If a people feel they are not carried along, it is the responsibility of Nigeria to demonstrate to Igbo that they truly are an integral part of One Nigeria. Nigeria has a golden opportunity to extend the right hand of fellowship to a major part of this nation that has been visibly marginalised, since after the civil war, up until now.

In his contribution, a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Aaron Adibe, said that the coexistence of South-East zone with other geopolitical zones in the country would be shaken if Igbo fails to get the presidential slot in 2023 general elections.

Adibe, who is also a member of the university’s Governing Council, urged other geopolitical zones in the country to sacrifice the presidential seat to the Igbo so that the country would remain intact after 2023, adding that there is a sentiment by Northern political oligarchs to zone the presidential slot outside South- East.He, however, tasked South-East politicians to galvanize their strength and lobby across other zones in the country because according to him “power is not given but taken.

“I believe there is a sentiment that presidency may not come to the South-East across major political parties in Nigeria, but I also believe that political power is usually not just given to anybody, it is taken.“However, I have not seen South- East galvanizing their power to produce a president for Nigeria in 2023. I know that the zone is interested in producing a president for Nigeria but it has to show in their actions. Let the politicians from the zone come together and lobby across other zones to actualise this ambition,” he said.Another senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, Dr. Nicholas Asogwa, said that the call by South-East to produce a president for the country was based on equity, not law.The don said there is a structural imbalance which favours the North, adding that the only option left for the Igbo is persuasion of other geopolitical zones in the country to make them see reasons why South-East should be given a chance to produce a president for the country in 2023.

“Nigeria is a country governed by law. This law supersedes individual or group interests. Many people are misunderstanding the issue of legality and equity. There is no part of the Nigerian Constitution which said that presidential power should be rotated between the North and South. What the Igbo should hold on to is equity which brings fairness.

“In as much as I recognise the primacy of equity which gives the South-East a chance to produce a president for Nigeria, the Igbo should know that it is not their right, therefore, they must persuade other geopolitical zones to be given the chance. The way forward lies in dialogue. I am hopeful that based on the enormity of appeals that have been made in the past and up till now, that the Igbo should be given a sense of belonging in Nigeria, these major political parties may zone presidential slot to the South- East.

“But in the event that it fails, I don’t advise anybody to pull out of the project, Nigeria. If you want to pull out, you must follow the Constitution which states that Nigeria is one and indivisible. The only option left for the Igbo in Nigeria is to play politics of dialogue and persuasion with other geopolitical zones in the country,” Asogwa admonished.

A professor of Political Science at the Abia State University Uturu, Professor Harts Ofoeze, in his view, advised the South-East zone not to pull out of Nigeria nor resign their political future to fate should the major political parties deny them presidential tickets in 2023.Ofoeze said that what the zone should do to re-assert its political relevance in the Nigeria political equilibrium is to re-strategize and continue to build bridges until it actualises its goals. He feared there is conspiracy against Ndigbo by other tribes who either feel intimidated by the heavily-endowed Igbo nation or are acting out of envy. He, however, ruled out the option of resigning the political future of Ndigbo to fate, arguing that “in politics, resigning to fate is not an option.”

His words: “There seems to be a conspiracy against Igbo by other tribes. I don’t see either Ahmed Tinubu of APC or Atiku Abubakar of PDP stepping down for somebody from the South-East during the primaries.So, what the South-East should do is to continue to build bridge and strategise, one day, it will click.

“Again, I will advise Ndigbo not to dissuade any of their people from taking the vice-presidential slot assuming it is offered to them. It may be a better option than to pull away in protest,” he advised.

In his contribution, a foundational member of the Peoples Democratic Party, and former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abia State, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, said he is not bothered about where the next president comes from but is only interested in somebody who will fix the country and move it forward.

He said he never believed in zoning of the presidency but preferred a competent person who will rescue Nigeria from its state of near comatose and re-jig its economy.

For the crown Prince of Muonago Royal Family, Amuro, Okigwe, Imo State, Prince Chris Muo, Igbo ethnic group should not give other ethnic groups whose aspirants are declaring interest the impression that they are not ready to field a candidate who can go through the party primary.Igbo should not also give others the impression that they are not organised to support one candidate of Igbo extraction.

The candidates of Igbo extraction who have openly expressed interest should not also feel inferior that they are no match for the other ethnic groups’ contenders. They should also not feel that there is conspiracy against Ndigbo, because there is no conspiracy at all against Ndigbo. The reality is that Ndigbo seem not to be organised for the 2023 presidential showdown.

“However, the strategic options open for Ndigbo for the 2023 presidential contest are; first, organise town hall meetings for the adoption of one candidate of Igbo extraction. Second, hold a poll for all the candidates of Igbo extraction in Igbo land. Third, adopt the winner of the poll as the Igbo candidate. Fourth, meet the ethnic minorities and enter into a written agreement to support the ethnic minorities’ consensus candidate when it is their turn.

“Fifth, they should watch the PDP and APC declare their candidates, if none is an Igbo man, negotiate for mass decamping of Igbo and ethnic minorities to form a new party, engage Ndigbo to collect their voters card and vote for the Igbo candidate in any party on election day.

“But a lawyer and politician, Obiorah Unachukwu advised Igbo politicians aspiring to become president to do so on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, arguing that it has become very clear that the two major political parties, APC and PDP, are not thinking in the direction of the South-East for the position.He said although the first civilian governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife has consistently been saying that Igbo are very serious about producing the next president, the two major political parties do not think so.

He said: “As we talk, at least four notable politicians of Igbo extraction, including Dave Umahi, Orji Kalu, Rochas Okorocha and Sam Ohuabunwa, have been building their political structures across the country and were becoming noticeable in the political arena. Suddenly, APC and PDP politicians from other parts of the country started showing interest even when they know that ideally, it should be the turn of the South-East.“Suddenly, when APC came up with the policy of zoning the position to the South, politicians from the South-West who are presently occupying the position of vice-president and whose son, Olusegun Obasanjo, was president for eight years, started their campaign just to ensure that Igbo man does not get it.

“In the PDP, for instance, politicians from the North whose brother, President Muhammadu Buhari will complete eight years next year are, by recent declarations, insisting on succeeding him. What this shows is that Igbo are not important in the country’s political equation.

“I have also heard stories that the Igbo presidential aspirants are merely angling for vice-presidential tickets and if that is true, they have forgotten that the people of the South-South are also angling for the same position.

“What Igbo politicians should do is to pick APGA ticket. With such development, the other two parties, APC and PDP, will be forced to negotiate with APGA for power sharing in 2023.”

For a clergyman, Promise Izuogu, his advice is that in case a president of Igbo extraction eludes them in 2023, Ndigbo should re-strategize for 2027.“If it becomes obvious that the clamour for the emergence of a president of Igbo extraction fails, it is going to be devastating. But all is not lost. For me, Ndigbo should re-strategise for 2027.Agitations for the creation of change in any society must be consistent for it to occur. The fire or tempo must be sustained till the next electioneering campaigns begin. No Igbo man should give up.We have to re-strategise and re-empower ourselves to be able to achieve our aims. No giving up on the emergence of an Igbo president.”

According to Martin Eze, Ndigbo should not lose hope. It is not over. The Igbo man should get fully involved in the campaign for the emergence of any president from any other zone. This involvement will enable the Igbo tribe to reposition herself, be more strategic and well prepared for the position.

An emeritus professor of political science, Obasi Igwe, in his reasoning, urged Ndigbo to be ready to negotiate a reasonable place in post-2023 dispensation with or without Igbo presidency.He regretted that the agitation was initially for Igbo presidency but noted that some greedy and corrupt politicians coined it to South affairs, adding: “It is some selfish Igbo elites conspiring against the Igbo and themselves, not Northern or other Nigerians conspiring against Igbo presidency and whatever else.

“If other Nigerians are conspiring against the Igbo in anything, the presidency inclusive, their success is at all times built on the foundations laid by some corrupt and myopic Igbo elites, especially within the political class. If patriotic Igbo in all the states of their residence and nativity come together with other Nigerians committed to build a united and prosperous society, they can generate enough votes to win any office without begging anyone. Zik was a clear example. Buhari is another example if they are looking for more.

“The Anioma people suffered greatly in the Biafran war, and federal forces never looked back in killing them in Asaba. Similar brutality applied to the killings from Bonny down to Port Harcourt and all over Rivers State; the same into the Igbo hinterland now called South-East. Penitent Nigeria, in the process of reconciliation following endless cries of marginalization, almost overwhelmingly accepted to fully incorporate the Igbo into the political process through an Igbo presidency.”

“The prospective affirmative action is for all the Igbo because of what they collectively suffered during and after the civil war; it is not meant for the South-East Igbo alone, because they were not the only Igbo victimized. Therefore all Igbo must be involved irrespective of the political zone.”


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Posted by on Mar 23 2022. Filed under Latest Politics, 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

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