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Editorial/Of Igbo presidency and enemies of Nigeria

If recent comments by prominent northern politicians are any indication, then the presidency of Nigeria, hopefully, is up for grabs by candidates from the southern half of the country only, come 2023.

In an interview with the Hausa Service of the BBC recently, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-rufai, an influential, swash-buckling member of the conservative northern political establishment, noted that although rotation is not constitutional, it is an arrangement that has served Nigeria’s political interests well and must not be abandoned, at least not yet.

El-rufai’s statement was in an apparent reaction to the one earlier made by Alhaji Mamman Daura, a nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari’s, to the effect that zoning should be jettisoned as from 2023 to pave way for election of presidents based on personal merits not on the basis of where they come from.

Daura’s statement was seen by many as a kite flown by the North to see how Nigerians would react. As it turned out, he was not disappointed at all because Nigerians truly reacted angrily to that statement with many questioning the integrity and sincerity of the North in its dealings with the rest of Nigeria when it comes to who the President of Nigeria should be and where he should come from.

It was in a seeming bid to mitigate the collateral damage Daura’s unguarded statement might have done to the image of the North and its ruling elite that El-rufai granted the BBC interview, to reassure Nigerians that come 2023, zoning would still determine who the president would be and where he would come from.

El-rufai has since been joined by several other influential northerners, including elder statesman Tanko Yakasai, former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, among others, who have all called for power to shift back to the South after President Buhari’s eight years in office in 2023.

It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that, all things being equal, power will shift to the South in 2023. The question, then, becomes, what part of the South will it shift to? What part of southern Nigeria has the most legitimate claim to the presidency come 2023?

That Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, APC National leader and former Governor of Lagos State, wants to be President after Buhari is no longer news—to all intents and purposes, the man has been amassing a war chest to release that ambition. That the presidential candidate of the PDP in last year’s election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is also interested in the President come 2023, is no longer news. What is news, perhaps, is how these gentlemen plan to realize their ambitions in the context of a rotational presidency that already has a destination outside of their zones.

In 2023 when Buhari’s presidency expires, the North would have served a consecutive eight years in power. Before the Jonathan Administration that handed over to Buhari, there had been the Obasanjo Administration, which was in power from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo is South West Yoruba while Jonathan is South South. In plain language, going by the rotational presidency arrangement, Southern Nigeria has produced two presidents in the persons of Obasanjo, a Yoruba, and Jonathan, an Ijaw from the South South. It follows, therefore, that the next President of Nigeria from the South must come from a zone other than South West and South South. Since there are three geopolitical zones in the South and South West and South South have had their turns in producing presidents of the Federal Republic, it means that the next President of Nigeria come 2023 must come from the South East. Quod erat demonstrandum (QED) as the late great Zik would say.

Our position is, however, without prejudice to the reported Igbo preference to restructuring or merit as a more sustainable criterion for electing a president. Indeed, part of the opposition to Daura’s take on ‘meritorious’ as against ‘rotational’ presidency stems largely from the fact that he took a position that was akin to changing the goal post in the middle of a match (why did he say ‘from 2023’?); otherwise, his prescription of merit as a birther of a more enduring democracy is a winner any day. For, in reality, that is what Nigerians actually desire—that the country be run by the best not by the most ethnically connected. Daura got it wrong only because his intention seemed not altruistic at all–many believed he was prescribing a solution from which he hoped to benefit even after Buhari has left office as President. Or who did not know Mamman Daura was only hinting at the possibility of retaining the presidency in the North after Buhari?

Nigeria is in dire straits at the moment. Its sociocultural, sociopolitical and ethno-religious fabrics seem to have completely broken down or in free fall. Its larger socioeconomic problems may lie in poor governance driven by persons who are simply too incompetent to deliver results. But an appreciable per cent also lies in the mismanagement of inter-ethnic relations by those in power. The Igbo Question has remained largely unsolved not because it is intractable but because, for whatever reasons, those entrusted with the responsibility of resolving it just won’t do that. The Igbo Question is about equity, justice and fair-play, which the Nigerian system would appear to have denied the Igbo over time. And, yet, no progressive nation evolves from a community of people a section of which is practically in bondage, denied equity, justice and fairness in the way they are viewed or treated by the system. We hold the view that Nigeria’s problems are not totally economic; they stem also from the country’s refusal to run a just system that gives everyone or group equal opportunities to contribute their quota to national development. The Igbo bear the greatest brunt of the unjust Nigerian system.

Unfortunately for Nigerians, they cannot be up while a section of the country is down. For, as they say, injustice to one is justice to none. For 50 years now, since the end of the Civil War, Nigeria, we dare say, has suffered and had its growth stunted for the simple reason that it has not allowed the Igbo grow. For us, in AbeyaNews, allowing the Igbo to produce the president in 2023, therefore, isn’t as much a favour to the Igbo as it is a self-redemptive, exculpatory step for Nigeria.

By now, we must all have come to the realization that we can’t continue to run an unjust system as we have done in Nigeria in the past many decades and hope to make progress. As they say, you can’t eat your cake and have it; it is spiritual. AbeyaNews, therefore, calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the ongoing campaign to produce an Igbo man as President of the Federal Republic in 2023 so we can finally put behind us all these oft-distractive, not to say disruptive, cries of marginalization by a people who have, over time and by all standards, contributed immensely to the growth and development of the country.

Those who want to be president outside Igboland and are, therefore, opposed to the Igbo producing the president in 2023, may well be pursuing a legitimate ambition. But, there is something decidedly selfish and, needless to say, unacceptable about a zone which produced a president whose tenure ended only 13 years ago to want to produce a president again in 2023, over and above a zone which has not produced a president at all in all of Nigeria’s 60 years as an independent nation. Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition, or that of any other South Westerner for that matter, is completely selfish and not good for Nigeria.

It is time for us to say no to any personal ambition pursued simply for personal glory and not because it is driven by any noble vision of a country that is for us all. If we must move forward in hope and strength, we must confront our demons and will ourselves to put an end to our self-inflicted divisions, ethnic antagonisms and distrust flown on the wings of ambitious, corrupt and wheeler-dealer politicians who want nothing better for us than to remain in perpetual servitude to them and their unborn generations. We must henceforth treat such people as enemies of Nigeria…Let the Igbo rule this time. Nothing less is good enough for Nigeria at this point in time.

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