Magnus Eze, Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu, Obinna Odogwu, Awka and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
There is palpable anger across the South East following the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Malam Mamman Daura, that rotational presidency had been discarded ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
He said the election would be thrown open for any qualified Nigerian to contest.
But prominent Igbo leaders said Daura was not sensitive to the mood of the nation, even as the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) declared that he cannot speak for the people of Nigeria.
First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi and the only surviving member of the Zikist Movement, said it was a big joke for Daura to be talking of competence, as Nigerians and the entire world had witnessed the kind of competence he and his cohorts could offer the country.
The elder statesmen who took a jibe at Daura and his cohorts alluded that “the most competent person is occupying Aso Rock now and Nigeria wants a competent person” in 2023.
“We know all that kind of competence but all we are saying is let a constitution be written for Nigeria if there’s going to continue to be Nigeria. But if it’s a question of competence where only one side of the country is producing a competent man, then let the country break, every people to their tents.
“This country, I fought for independence, I fought for unity but I see that there is hardly anyway now this country can be patched up but if they want to break up the country, like Azikiwe said, let them come together, plan and share assets and liabilities in a very peaceful way so that even as different countries, we can remain friendly neighbours.
“If anybody thinks with what they are doing now like with Miyetti Allah saying that they have inaugurated security services all over Nigeria, under what law; under what authority? And yet nobody is questioning them but if Kanu says look, I want you people to allow my people to vote to say whether they still want to be here or not, then they say it is treason. But if somebody says that he is going to rule the country that his father had said he should rule the country, there will be no problem.
“These things are not going to last, they are creating avenue for shedding of blood, but nobody wants blood. An old man like me, I don’t want blood. We fought Britain with strategy, with nationalism, with patriotism, with sacrifice; we planned and we succeeded.
“If Nigeria cannot be united as a peaceful country where all partners, all participating states will be equal, then let the thing break up, let everybody go home peacefully, that’s my attitude, but to say forever they will continue to produce a president because there is going to be competent president whether he is literate or not, it is not going to happen. But let’s see what 2023 will bring about.”
Amaechi noted that he was not surprised because the Saduana of Sokoto had in a publication 12 days after the nation’s independence in 1960, said the country was a gift to them by their great grandfather, Usman Danfodiyo, adding that the people of the Middle Belt and the South must be held in total bondage and “they must not be allowed to have a say.”
Igbo has sacrificed enough to be president –Iwuanyanwu
Another elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, stated that the people of the South East had paid enough sacrifice to merit the Presidency and there was no better time than 2023.
According to him, the ubiquitous existence of Igbo people with their businesses was enough evidence that they have kept faith in the unity of Nigeria.
He gave instances on the sacrifices made by Igbo elite in the course of the country’s independence saying: “No tribe has played the role Igbo have played to make the Federal Republic of Nigeria united. During the fight for independence, everybody knows that Nnamdi Azikiwe was the major crusader, with his colleagues, Ahmadu Bello and Obafemi Awolowo, but he was the champion. Unlike in Nigeria, those who fought for independence in other places became president. In Ghana, Kwame Nkruma was president, in Kenya, Jomo Kenyata was president, in Tanzania, Julius Nyerere was president, but Zik in the normal behaviour of the Igbo said it didn’t matter to him, what mattered was Nigeria’s independence, that is the character of a typical Igbo man,” Iwuanyanwu said.
Iwuanyanwu said: “We have shown commitment to this country and I wouldn’t like people to take us for granted, we have been taken for granted , Maman Daura is correct in saying whoever is qualified should be Nigeria’s next president , Igbos deserve to be the president.”
He stated that the Igbo were not in short supply of competent people should competence be the yardstick, hence, his call on the two leading parties in the country, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone their presidential tickets to the South East.
“What they should just do is to field in an Igbo candidate during election. I have 10 good young men and women I know in APC and PDP who can give a good representation of the Igbo in an election. So I believe 2023 it is the turn of the Igbo, like Daura has pointed out, that any qualified persons can contest irrespective of zone,” Iwuanyanwu said.
Also, former Governor of old Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife every right thinking person in Nigeria knew that it was the turn of the South East to produce Buhar’s successor.
He, however, urged the Igbo not to attack anybody against them, noting that if the prerequisite was merit, that Igbo will dominate the presidency.
“If it is to be chosen by merit, then after one Igbo man goes another Igbo man will take after him. Yoruba have merit, Hausa have merit but there is no part of the country that has more merit than the South East.
“No part of the country is in many other areas as the people of the South East. No part of the country is building the houses anywhere, everywhere as the people of the South East,” Ezeife stated.
Nevertheless, MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu described Daura’s statement as an insult to the sensibilities of the ethnic nationalities that make up the geographical expression called Nigeria.
The group alleged that it was a direct calculated attack towards jeopardizing the emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
Madu stated: “Ndigbo can no longer tolerate such political neglect or callous statements against the interest and justification of the Igbo questions. Even though MASSOB’s struggle is for Biafra actualization and restoration, we are not against the emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Every political and economic rights of Ndigbo must be supported and sustained.”
MASSOB, therefore, warned Mamman Daura to shut up his ‘cursed’ mouth, saying he can never decide for the people of Nigeria.
For Secretary General of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, Daura was merely in search of relevance, apparently to “succeed” the late Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari.
Also, former Deputy National Secretary of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Jerry Obasi said Daura was ‘half intelligent’, asking why he did not remind Nigerians about merit when the north campaigned in 2015 for Buhari to complete their turn truncated by the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Obasi said, “Why would he tell us about that when it is the turn of the Igbo? It is very unfortunate. He came very late; and the whole country including very sensitive leaders in the north, have accepted the fact that it is the turn of the Igbo.”