By Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor
LET it be known and clearly understood that Ndigbo are more prepared than the North when President Buhari was elected in 2015. By then Boko Haram had threatened to over run the North and the country, and the nation’s priority then was security and the issue of who will guarantee security to the country favoured Buhari, a former Head of state, a General e.t.c.
The only preparation in the north was having available a man like Buhari presumed to have the capacity to confront the security challenges in the North and the rest of the country. In the South West, how prepared were they in 1999 when President Obasanjo was elected? Infact, many people from the South West did not vote for him in that election.
The people of the South West zone were deep in the crises of NADECO and displeasure over the June 12, 1993 election annulment. Here, notwithstanding, the Nigerian nation and the people through the two main national political parties zoned the Presidency to the South West in order to heal and reconcile the nation over the post 1993 election crisis. Today, if the truth must be told, the imperative of zoning the Presidency to the South East is an idea whose time has come. Certainly, Ndigbo are prepared and look forward to it as a national priority. It is also indeed reasonable and logical that before any other zone in the country goes for a Second Turn of occupying the office of the Presidency that Ndigbo should at least have their First Turn.
As Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of Afenifere, the Apex Yoruba socio cultural group said “you talk about unity, that is where you will know where sincerity lies. If you are keen about unity, will there be a unit of the country that you will deprive Presidency? What does that mean for unity? ” “We are talking about people who want Nigeria to stay together. How can anybody who loves this country talk of the Presidency coming to the South West in 2023? Why should you exclude the South East? Is South East not part of Nigeria? “South West has had, South South has had, the North has had, why exclude the South East if you want them to be there? That is the point”. The General opinion of patriotic Nigerians or as Ahmadu Bello would put it those with ‘Conscience Nurtured by Truth’ the “Yoruba have had a fair share of power since 1999, with eight years of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Professor Yemi Osibanjo who would be completing eight years as Vice President in 2023 under Buhari’s presidency.
It will be unfair, unjust and unpatriotic as well as against the national spirit and interest to deny Ndigbo their own opportunity and pretend as if they do not exist as part of Nigerian nation. As one commentator on Nigerian political affairs stated “The rest of the Country may not like the feistiness of the Igbo or any of their other idiosyncratic worldviews, but there is no excuse for denying them justice, fairness and equity”. And likewise, General Alabi Isama also said’ Let power shift end but Igbo must be President first.
There is an Igbo proverb that says, ‘You don’t take the tortoise wife because he has a small thing’ such injustice cry to heaven and to God who created him. Ndigbo waited patiently and cooperatively for the Southern zones-South West and South South to have their opportunities to produce the country’s Presidents. Who really wants to push Ndigbo out of Nigeria by denying them a place in history, to produce the President of Nigeria. Also no leader in history was ever indifferent about who would succeed him and President Buhari will not be an exception. Consequently, it is expected that Mr. President must have a critical role in the emergence of his own successor.
To this effect, it is important for the President not to lose sight of political developments that may be injurious to national unity and corporate existence of the country. It is the national expectation that Mr. President continues his policy of national healing and reconciliation to a logical conclusion. We should be mindful of those who want to pursue a politically motivated strategy that treats the South East as a hostile territory which is grossly wrong and unacceptable definition of the situation in the South East. Overwhelming majority of Ndigbo do not believe in secession or separatism from Nigeria. An Igbo President will “Focus on what can be done, instead of arguing over what is impossible”.
Indeed, there is no doubt that in the history of Nigeria from Nnamdi Azikiwe to the present, Ndigbo have demonstrated the highest virtues of patriotism and genuine nationalistic propensities. By history and character, what defines Ndigbo is friendliness and peaceful coexistence with others regardless of tribe, religion or race, Ndigbo are market people, travelers, entrepreneurs or business men. We know that the Devil in Nigerian politics is Power Sharing and an Igbo President will demonstrate to all Nigerians that power sharing can be done peacefully, justifiably with equity and fairness to all and his willingness to take last. The fear of Ndigbo by other ethnic groups is equally unjustified and a fiction of the imagination of those who create distorted image of Ndigbo.
We seek solution and not a blame game. As for those Igbos like, Fredrick Nwabufo who prefer to play the Manchurian complex as in his article in January 23, 2022 page 15, THISDAY, SUNDAY NEWSPAPER, implying that Ndigbo are not prepared, or drifting into one or another political parties should leave such criticisms to the enemies or rivals of Ndigbo. Patriotic Nigerians at home and abroad who understand the fundamental issues in 2023 Presidency understand also the historic imperative of zoning the Presidency to the South East ,the last zone and only the zone left out in Southern Nigeria in the First Round of the Presidency across the country.
Consequently, indeed, it is politically wise and reasonable, morally justifiable and defensible and patriotically persuasive for all the parties to zone the Presidency to the South East. For any zone in the South to aspire to hold the Presidency TWICE while South East has NOT had it even for ONCE, will be politically and morally unjustifiable and a national political blunder as well as a clear and open case of discrimination. Above all it smacks of reckless political adventurism to despise or ignore other peoples feelings or their fundamental rights as fellow citizens. No politician in Nigeria this time should have the illusion that Nigerians don’t know what is wrong or right,
Nigerians are awake. In Igbo land today, we have many competent personalities that can confront and solve Nigeria’s perennial and endemic socio- political problems and guarantee peaceful coexistence for all the citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or race. We are ready and with an Igbo President, Nigeria and Nigerians will experience the true meaning of a Federation with justice, equity and fairness.