Nigeria has a date with history. That is the day President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor would be sworn into office – May 29, 2023. This date is so significant it could sing a dirge for the tottering behemoth.
The reason is because of intense scheming with regard to which region would produce that president.
There has been a gentleman’s agreement since the return of democracy in 1999 to rotate the presidency between the North and South. That decision was arrived at, following the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, which the late MKO Abiola presumably won. The crises that trailed that action and Abiola’s death in detention necessitated the decision to concede the presidency to the South, Abiola’s Yoruba in particular.
Prior to this time, the North had monopolised power, resulting in seething anger in the South.
So, all the leading political parties then fielded only Yoruba candidates to ensure that the deal came to fruition.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo emerged from that arrangement and was succeeded by a northerner, Musa Yar’adua, who died, unfortunately, without completing his term thus making way for his vice,Goodluck Jonathan, a southern minority, to succeed him.
President Buhari defeated Jonathan in 2015 to return the presidency to the North and by May 29, 2023 he would have completed his maximum eight years in office and will expectedly handover to a successor.
Strangely, by that date, the North would have spent a total of 45 years and three months in power. The Yoruba or South-west would have spent 11 years and 11 months (via Obasanjo and Chief Ernest Shonekan), and South-south, five years (via Jonathan). The Igbo would have held power for a trifling period of six months by Gen. Johnson Thomas
Aguiyi-Ironsi. Of course, for purposes of mischief, somebody may refer to the Nnamdi Azikiwe years, which were ceremonial since the power resided in the North via Tafawa Balewa, as prime minister and, therefore, inconsequential.
Igbo’s meagre six months is a testimony to how Nigeria sees the area, as a mere appendage in the entire political structure that they are managing to tolerate. This has given rise to the agitation for political justice; that the Igbo deserve to produce the next president. Unfortunately, there is no justice anywhere in Nigeria, be it political, economic, judicial, even religious – everything is as fraudulent as the country’s fraudulent foundation.
Therefore, those agitating for Igbo to produce the next president are daydreaming. It will never happen, not now. At least, there are yet no pointers to that, and, in fact, the Igbo should not be bothered.
As it is, the North is already scheming to retain power. Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el Rufai had fired the first salvo to that effect by calling for abrogation of the zoning arrangement. Even before then, Yerima Shettima, leader of Arewa Youths, had given a hint to the thinking in the North’s unwillingness to relinquish power in 2023, although he premised his arguments on what he termed Buhari’s non-performance, a ruse.
Moreover, the Yoruba that could have supported the Igbo in the quest are busy plotting to return to Aso Rock too soon without a thought for their southern neighbours. Added to this is the fact that power is not given but won, meaning that the Igbo should woo other regions to its side if it desires the presidency but they Igbo should not waste their time. The Igbo should not expect to be handed the presidency on the basis of pity despite being treated like a pariah, which they are not. It seems there is a conspiracy to never allow an Igbo man in Aso Rock since their supposed defeat in the Biafra – Nigeria civil war.
Nigeria does not seem to trust the Igbo, fearing it would give birth to the long lusted.
Biafraland, at least, that is the counterfeit reason proffered. It is not yet clear how an Igbo president could decree Biafra into being by fiat but people keep playing pranks with the destiny of the Igbo nation. but fail to realise that this barefaced hatred is fueling the agitation, which is the only string upholding the Igbo man’s hope of survival in Nigeria.
It is worth asking why the Nigerian government visits the MASSOB-IPOB agitations with brute force, proscription and dancing predatory pythons, whereas similar protests by Niger Delta militants and OPC get rewarded with amnesty and presidency for their people. Even bandits in the North are being invited to dinner and handed mouth-watering packages in reward because we live in a country where violence is a rewarding venture subject to where the pendulum swings, though it must almost swing the wrong way whenever the Igbo are involved despite their non-violence.
Considering all this, do the Igbo really need the presidency? For what? How feasible is it that Nigeria would allow an Igbo man access to its presidency? And, by the way, would the presidency teach the Igbo to love and not to sabotage one another? Do the Igbo need the presidency to thrive? Are the northerners whose elite have monopolised the presidency fared better than the Igbo? Is it not instructive that the Igbo rose from the ashes of the Civil War to prominence in virtually all sections of national life without access to political power?
What the Igbo need now even more than Biafra or Nigeria’s presidency are ways to develop their land. The Igbo are unique beings that are envied by others. The Igbo are the only true Nigerians, who are not afraid to venture to other lands but also work hard to settle and make a home there whereas other areas have remained basically clannish. Instead of the quest for impractical presidency, they should rather deploy their entrepreneurial skills to develop their land regardless of deliberate incinerating policies.
The Igbo should also dedicate their time to supporting the call for restructuring. Restructuring will heal the distortions the jackboots injected into the system. It will secure inviolate statutory entitlements unlike amorphous president that could even be impeached the next day or caged by a cabal.
Assuming the Igbo are tipped to produce the president, would they not play the crab for their traducers until it slips from their hands? So, the Igbo should ignore these selfish, fame seekers, making noises about the presidency. Rather the endangered Igbo must realise the urgent need to secure themselves. A situation where everybody wants to be better than everybody else is unhealthy. A situation where everybody wants to lead everybody else can only lead to catastrophic chaos; their haters relish the divide.
So, beyond presidency, the Igbo need to build a formidable bond with one another. The Igbo need to covenant to look out for one another and encourage those who are better endowed to lead; we can’t all be leaders at the same time.
Let the South-East governors collaborate and build common heritage for the region in the spirit of igwebuike. Let them build a ring of industrial and Infrastructural development around ala Igbo and shun unhelpful petty squabbles. Whining or waiting for crumbs from the master’s table cannot help either. Only ofu obi, laced in Igbo pride, not presidency, can help the Igbo. Let’s do it NOW.