By Chuks Osuji
I have always said it that we in Nigeria are not practising real democracy. This assertion cannot be questioned by those who know the real definition of democracy. As a scholar with extensive knowledge of functional politics, I am astounded by the level of political inadequacies in our country.
One thing is certain: our political gladiators see politics as a means of making money and enriching themselves and not as a means of serving and developing the society. This serves as a clear proof that our political actors are both shortsighted and less concerned about the society.
One way to demonstrate social and political inadequacies in our polity is the rate at which our political actors change camps by way of defection. That is why many people think that they are mere political buccaneers. Amid the confusion generated by political events and situations, I am one of those who pray and hope for a better political order in our nascent democracy. But for such a great political order to emerge, it requires the handwork of “good politicians,” of those who aspire to play politics according to its form and norms. As a writer, I wish our society could imbibe the idea of political orderliness.
One thing that is common in this country is that people allow tribalism and nepotism to shadow their political ambition. A case in hand is the current debate about Igbo Presidency. If people have common sense and rational thinking as well, why can’t the leaders of major tribes in this country collectively support the emergence of an Igbo president come 2023? I believe the reason they have not done that is because of their narrow political interest.
The issue is a simple one. Since 1999 when functional democratic administration came into being, no Igbo man has been elected the president of this country. The nearest that came to happening was during the time of Shehu Shagari with Dr. Alex Ekwueme as the Vice President. It was certain, absolutely certain, that Ekwueme would have become the President in 1985 at the end of Shehu Shagari’s second tenure.
But that dream was truncated when Gen. Muhammadu Buhari staged the most unwanted of military coups in 1983, and thereby thwarted the will and expectations of Nigerians. If and only if he had allowed politicians to manage the country’s socio-economic and political problems themselves without sacking Shagari’s political tenure, the country would have been the better for it today.
The clearest evidence of nepotism came when President Shehu Shagari was put under house arrest while the Vice President was put in a prison cell. That coup annoyed most of the military generals hence they planned and successfully overthrew Buhari under the leadership of Ibrahim Babangida. Since then, the following people have become president of Nigeria: Olusegun Obasanjo (Yoruba), eight years; Umaru Musa Yar’dua (Fulani), three years; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Ijaw), six years and now Buhari (Fulani) eight years.
It goes without debate that Buhari’s current regime has pursued anti-people’s policies that are not consistent with democratic norms. In all honesty, the Igbo nation is the second largest tribe in Nigeria, and the foremost tribe that has consistently made remarkable contributions in the development of this country. By and large, the Igbo nation has suffered the worst political marginalisation in this country than any other tribe.
Whatever may be the reason, it appears that there is a loud and clear conspiracy against the Igbo in Nigeria. This is a widespread opinion of many people in Nigeria including those who are not Igbo. Anybody with common sense can see the evidence of pronounced marginalisation against the Igbo. History shows that the Igbo is the only tribe that tolerates and accepts communality with other tribes. Today, it is a conscience burden on other leaders of this nation to support the emergence of an Igbo president in 2023.
In fact, I am surprised by the plan by Atiku Abubakar who had been the Vice President of this nation for eight years, and the moves by Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who has been in government for decades and now the powerhouse of APC, to become Nigerian President in 2023. It is now left for the people of common conscience to decide whether this is acceptable or not. But to me, it is not a good idea for Abubakar and Tinubu to think of becoming president in 2023, rather than supporting the Igbo man who had never become the executive president since modern Nigeria came to be. I remember what Orji Uzor Kalu said some years ago: “that unless an Igbo man becomes president, this country cannot attain its deserved political progress in economic development.”
The Igbo man may have his human inadequacies but he is more accommodating, has good outlook generally to embrace members of other tribes. To put it succinctly, Atiku and Tinubu should see the reason and know that it is time for an Igbo man to be given a chance.
Rationally and equitably, the Igbo man should be considered for the presidency. Some Igbo sons like Anyim Pius Anyim, David Umahi and Owelle Rochas Okorocha have already indicated their interest in having a shot at the presidency. We expect more to indicate interest because as the saying goes,”the more the merrier.” But the Igbo should recognise the fact that no Igbo man can become the president of this country without the support of other tribes and begin to reach out. After all, if an Igbo man becomes the president, another Igbo man cannot become the Vice President. Therefore, I posit with sense of equity that an Igbo man should be given a chance in 2023.
•Dr Osuji is former MAMSER Director for Imo State