We must embrace mainstream politics because we cannot use APGA to attain the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
Chris Ekwilo is the Chairman Igbo Coalition in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State Chapter. He spoke on the Igbo agitation for the country’s president of Igbo extraction and why the Igbo need to embrace mainstream politics.
There is growing realignment of political forces against President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid, which by extension threatens the hopes of some Igbo leaders who are saying the presidency will go to the South-east in 2023. What do you make of the development?
As far as I am concerned, the coalition is laughable because they lack the political strength to stop President Buhari’s second term bid in 2019. Out of that gathering of 38 political parties, it is only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has any atom of strength. The remaining political parties are mere associations masquerading as political parties. I call them mere associations because none of them can win just one out of the 774 local government areas in the country. Moreover, the Labour Party (LP) and
the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) denounced the so called Coalition of United Political Parties less than 24 hours after its formation. So, where is their strength and number? In politics, number counts.
Regarding the issue of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 after Buhari’s second term, courtesy demands that the Igbo be allowed to take a shot at the presidency considering their contributions to the development of Nigeria, and the only way we can get it is to allow the north to finish their eight years through Buhari, the power must not change hands because if the power is transferred to another northerner, the Igbo would wait for another eight years to take a shot. The power rotation equation is between the north and south and in the south, the South-west and South-south have taken their turn, it remains the South-east. So I appeal to south easterners to use their political microscope and see beyond the criticisms against President Buhari. Drumming support against Buhari’s second term will not help the Igbo in the political arrangement.
Crux of opposition against Buhari is that the country has never been as divided as it is under him. Without conceding that the allegations are true, if the South-east must support his second term just to get a shot at the presidency, which country will that Nigerian president of Igbo extraction lead if the nation disintegrates?
Yes, people say that Nigeria is divided under President Buhari and that there are killings all over the country, but Buhari is not the cause. This is a president that inherited
a vehicle with bad engine and no spare tyre. Buhari inherited a transfer of power that had nothing to offer. This is a man who inherited Boko Haram from the past government. Boko Haram had been killing people before Buhari emerged. Buhari inherited an empty treasury because it was looted by the past administration.
Also, attaching the crimes some criminals masquerading as cattle herders are committing to Buhari because he is Fulani and owns cattle is most unfair and unacceptable. It is not the entire Fulani that are cattle herders; we have well educated and responsible Fulani doing well in other sectors of the country. Buhari is a Nigerian who the circumstances of his birth made a Fulani and we should see him that way. I can also tell you that the killings would not continue and any person hoping that the killings would continue so that Nigeria will disintegrate, that person would fail. President Buhari is doing his best to fix Nigeria; he inherited a country where almost every sector was in crisis. We are talking about a rot that accumulated over 16 years, so Buhari cannot do it under four years, he is not a magician. He needs a second term to make an impact.
Ahead of 2023, what are Igbo leaders doing to ensure they present a credible and sellable candidate and not a situation where several candidates will come out to fight over the ticket?
The Igbo need to summon a World Igbo Summit where they would discuss issues affecting them as a people. The Igbo are found of destroying themselves. Yes the Yoruba may appear divided every once in a while, but when issues that affect them as a people come up, they speak with one voice, ditto the Hausa. But the Igbo will not agree to agree. They will always pull each other down and question the person’s authority to speak without even reading the content of what the person said. As I talk to you, the Igbo are voiceless because they don’t have a leader. Since the demise of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, no one has been able to wear the shoes he left behind.
Unless the Igbo summon a World Igbo Summit and come out with one voice, Project 2023 would be a pipe dream. Politics is about give and take and the president has said his support for the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 will depend on the level of support the zone gives him in 2019 and I think the Igbo should hold him to that and mobilise for him in 2019. Unfortunately, even if Buhari says today, I want to hand over to you, give me a candidate, the Igbo will fight over it. I will urge the Igbo to put on their thinking cap and work together on the Project 2023 because when the position comes to the south, the entire geopolitical zone would struggle for it and if we don’t come with one voice, we may not get it. I would want the national leadership of Ohaneze to take up the issue of the World Igbo Summit and get it right.
In 2007, the national leader of the then ACN, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, sent for me and Ngige, he said he was sending us on political errand to Anambra State to go and create awareness. To quote him, he told Ngige, ‘I know you may not win this time around, but go and create awareness of a progressive party in Anambra State.’ We went and created the awareness and came third at the election. Unfortunately, the last governorship election in Anambra State seems to confirm that the people have not embraced progressive politics. They don’t care if APGA is a town hall meeting or if it is intergraded in mainstream politics, all they know is that ‘nkea bu nke anyi’ (this is our own). However, the truth is that the Igbo will not make headway with this mentality. We cannot use this mentality to run for the presidency of the federal Republic of Nigeria; we must embrace mainstream politics because we cannot use APGA to attain the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.