From Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba
As Nigeria builds up to the 2023 general elections amidst the controversy over the zone to produce the next president, an elder statesman, Chief John Ewurum, has canvassed for merit instead of ethnic zoning of leadership positions.
He said it was the love for one, united Nigeria that led Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, to play politics of inclusiveness that backfired to make Igboland and its people, a marginalized society, a situation which led to the civil war, as well as the current agitation for secession by youths in the land.
He posited that those wanting the country to remain united must adhere to the tenets of democratic principles in which, the best is elected to lead on merit instead of getting people from particular areas to rule, even when such individuals lack requisite knowledge to manage complex societies like Nigeria.
“We didn’t envisage the politics and greed of today when we were fighting for independence. It was greed to become the greatest political leader in Africa, that made Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to sell the Igbo to the North, without looking into the future. He was always accepting Swhatever they told him, not knowing that he was creating avenues for marginalisation of his people.
“He came back from America and wanted to rule the whole of Africa, and won election in Yoruba land, but was deprived of enjoying his victory, and that started the treachery that is playing out in the country at the moment. Chief Ewurum said in the pre-civil war days, Nigerians, irrespective of ethnicity, lived together, saw one another as brothers and sisters, adding that with the turn of events, and wrong imposition of nepotistic activities in governance, certain persons from particular parts of the country, now see ruling the other groups, as a birth right.
“Nigeria today cherishes incompetence in the place of merit. The root cause of decadence is that we use inequality to compensate creativity and merit.
“How do you tell a boy that scored 200 in JAMB, that he could not be admitted, while his brother from another part of the country who scored below 100, gets the go ahead to enter the University, and tell people from certain areas that they cannot govern the country, even when those you choose to rule are below standards, in quality and knowledge?
“This is the problem. inequality in our schools, cherishing incompetence and ineptitude in leadership and asking people to rule over those that are better qualified and knowledgeable than them. In democracy, let us give the winner his due. Let the best become our leader.
On the agitation for a separate country for South-Easterners, Chief Ewurum said that the marginalisation and nepotism which led to the war in 1967-70, was still very much in practice, and that the hard stance by the government was pushing the youths, in various ethnic nationalities to push for separate states where they will be free.
“The cause of agitation that led to the Biafran war, which is injustice, is still there and we will not accept it if we continue to be maligned in Nigeria.”