By Peter Anosike
As the clamour for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction continue to dominate the air waves, a prominent Nigerian citizen and Chairman Igbo Stakeholders Forum, Lagos State, Prince Nixon Okwara has said that going by the way Nigeria is structured at present, what the Igbos need is not presidency, but a constitution that would ensure a level playing field for all Nigerians.
As an Igbo man, why are you not advocating for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023?
Well, I want to say without mincing words that Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is not the biggest problem of the Igbos at this point in time. The major challenge that the Igbos has is the constitution. We need an egalitarian constitution that would provide a level playing field for all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic background. We need a constitution that would enable all the regions to make the use of the resources in their soil and develop at their own pace. If we have a merit-based constitution, most of our economic and security challenges would become a thing of the past. For those who are clamoring for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023, I have no iota of doubt in my mind that a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction would turn Nigeria around for good. However, that is only under one condition, if he would have an enabling environment to put his talent to work. But as Nigeria is presently constituted, the structures that would enable a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction to make the difference if he gets into officer are certainly not there. So, I cannot wish for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction just for the sake of filling the quota. I want a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction who will make the difference. I want a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction who would take Nigeria out of the wood to prosperity. I want a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction who would make the Igbos in particular and Nigerians in general proud. The truth is that if a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction gets into office, the dignity of the whole nation would be at stake and if he fails to make the much desired difference, which the present structure of the country would not allow him to do, all the awe of the Igbo people as entrepreneurs and game changers would varnish in smoke and Igbos would be the worse for it. You would begin to hear insinuations like, they think that presidency is buying and selling of auto spare parts and second hand clothes. The truth is that Nigerian presidents of other extractions can afford to flop in office and nobody would be shocked or surprised. But with the famed entrepreneurial ingenuity and creativity of the Igbos, it would seem as if Armageddon has come, if an Igbo son or daughter should fail in a national office.
So, what are you advocating?
What I am advocating is for change of constitution that would promote merit rather than ethnicity. The whole scheme in Nigeria has turned to be a looting ground for mediocre and those who cannot even survive in a competitive environment. Until we begin to see a thief as a thief and not your thief, my thief or their thief, Nigeria would continue to wobble.
What are the qualities are you looking for in the next president?
I want a detribalized Nigerian. Somebody who would be able to unite Nigerians, adisciplined person with integrity and compassion. We should advocate for a president irrespective of where he comes from, who would be able to give us a constitution that would not recognize Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. But see every Nigerian as one. That is the only way to unite the country. Until we stop asking state of origin, local government of origin, we would not have one country. We must take a cue from America, where every American is an American. We need a constitution whereby state of origin is not a strong point when it comes to appointment or running for elective positions. When Nigerian politicians want to loot the treasury, they don’t discriminate. But when they want to perpetuate themselves in office, they would play ethnic card.