To say the least, the Igbo have the right to the 2023 presidency and the right to vote for whoever they choose this year.
South East members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on December 30, 2018, made what could pass for a lamentation. Rising from a stakeholders’ meeting, which had in attendance some of the bigwigs of the party from the zone, they declared: 2023 Igbo presidency is under threat.
The APC South East members, at the meeting, which held at the home of Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, in Ebonyi State, lamented what they considered a conspiracy against the Igbo producing Nigeria’s President in 2023, blaming this on people against equity and fairness. They were unequivocal in declaring: “We have threats from different quarters to make sure that they stop us in 2023 at all costs.”
While one sympathises with members of South East APC, one can only say they are just waking up from slumber. They are suddenly realising that their hopes and aspirations, promised or assumed, in APC are just a mirage. Coming at a time when their mantra has been that in 2023 an Igbo man would assume the leadership of Nigeria, if President Muhammadu Buhari gets reelection, they have been jolted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s revelation that the Yoruba want the 2023 presidency. They are shocked that Osinbajo told his people, the Yoruba, that one of them would be President in 2023, if they voted and returned President Buhari to power this year. His promise to his people came a few weeks after his fellow Yoruba and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, also told their people that it would be their turn to rule Nigeria again, if they supported Buhari. This is despite earlier promise of 2023 presidency to the Igbo by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
If Igbo members of the APC are surprised that their claim to 2023 presidency is being challenged, it means they have not been reading the mood, disposition and shenanigans in APC right. After Buhari emerged as President and told the world that those who gave five percent votes should not expect to get what those who gave 97 percent votes would get, he clearly revealed that whatever he was going to do, in terms of incentives, would be based on votes and support. He has done that in the last three and half years.
No matter what, the choice of which zone would produce the presidency in 2023 should not be based on votes or support for any particular candidate or political party. It should be a matter of right, based on justice, fairness and equity. Fairness is fairness, no matter the creed, colour or tribe. When the presidency was conceded to the Yoruba in 1999, it was not based on votes or support. And when Nigerians chose former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as President in 1999 and gave him a second term in 2003, it was not based on earlier votes or support of the Yoruba.
For one, Obasanjo was not part of the formation of the PDP. The Yoruba were not even the prime movers of the PDP, which won the presidency and majority of the states. Rather, the Yoruba supported Alliance for Democracy (AD), a regional political party based in South West. Nigerians, believing that the Yoruba needed to be compensated, to make up for the denial of the 1993 presidency won by a Yoruba man, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, but which was annulled, conceded the 1999 presidency to the Yoruba. In fact, it was agreed that all political parties produced Yoruba candidates. This was why the All Peoples Party (APP) presidential candidate, Umaru Shinkafi, stepped down and became a running mate to Chief Olu Falae, a Yoruba man of the AD, in a strange APP/ AD merger arrangement. It was all aimed at having two Yoruba candidates in the 1999 presidential election. With that, there was a guarantee that whether it was PDP or APP/AD that won, a Yoruba man would be President. And it happened.
If votes and support were not the determining factors in 1999, they should not be in 2023. Therefore, APC members, who say the choice of a zone to produce the President in 2023 would be based on votes and support are being unfair. Osinbajo and Fashola and other Yoruba, who are laying claim to the 2023 presidency, are also unfair to the Igbo and the rest of Nigerians. Justice, fairness and equity demand that Igbo should produce the President in 2023, irrespective of which political party, be it the PDP or the APC, that wins this year’s election. In the current democratic dispensation, it is the South East that has not produced the President in Nigeria, in the South. Obasanjo of the South West ruled from 1999 to 2007. Jonathan from South South was President from 2010 to 2015. The next zone to produce the President in 2023, in the South, after the North takes its turn, is the South East.
From the foregoing, South East APC members should stop their pathetic posture of equating their right to the 2023 presidency to the number of votes to be cast in the presidential election or the support for President Buhari. They should be bold enough to demand that their claim to 2023 president is a legitimate right based on justice, fairness and equity. If they continue to tell Igbo that it is only when they vote for Buhari that the South East would get the presidency, they would weaken their position. That was the mistake some Igbo made in 2015 when they said the South East goofed by supporting the PDP and ex-President Jonathan. Such funny declaration gave Buhari and his government the impetus to deal with the Igbo.
To say the least, the Igbo have the right to the 2023 presidency and the right to vote for whoever they choose this year. They should not be beggarly about 2023 presidency. It is their right. With the now obvious dishonest activities and manoeuvring in the APC, it is becoming apparent that the Igbo have a better stake in the PDP. Having been punished for supporting the PDP, their best bet should be to stick
with the political party. Indeed, despite expectations and promises by Buhari and the APC, South East roads are still in bad shape. The Second Niger Bridge is still a political tool talked about when elections are coming. It is the South East that has not been well taken care of in the railway projects of the Buhari government. And now the 2023 presidency has been made conditional for the Igbo.
Taking all these together, Igbo may not vote APC not because they hate the political party. No. It is not that they do not like northerners. Never! It has to do with Buhari as a person. Buhari has failed to endear himself to the Igbo.
For the South East governors believed to be working to deliver votes to President Buhari, one would only say, good luck to them. Such governors should bear in mind that working for Buhari’s reelection would also cost them their posts as governors. This is so because, if Buhari is given majority votes during the presidential election in the South East on February 16, the APC candidates would also “get” majority votes on March 2, in the governorship election that would follow. Those in doubt should ask the AD governors in 2003, who made a deal to deliver votes for Obasanjo in the presidential election of that year and ended up losing their seats also.