Jude Chidozie Anyanwu
Though the 2023 date for another round of presidential poll is about four years ahead, the politicians are already taking positions on what to do and what not to do. Since the presidency is going to the south after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office, the battle line is seemingly between the South West and the South East even though other geo-political zones from the north are eyeing the plum job. However, it is my view that the 2023 presidency should go to the South East. Given the prevailing state of affairs in Nigeria , many Nigerians have come to agree that the most pragmatic and positive route, which will bring immediate but long term peace, economic growth and stability to this country is to cede the 2023 presidential slot to the South East of Nigeria.
While some leaders are clamouring for restructuring, self-determination and constitutional matters, which are very good, but which will take months and years for gestation, and actualization, millions of Nigerians have taken a totally different, more pragmatic, and more positive stand, that will lead to the immediate solution of the country’s problems, by boldly indicating their democratic preference to work for the enthronement of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction come 2023.
The leadership ball in Nigeria was kicked off in 1957 with Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa serving as the first prime minister of Nigeria from 1957 till 1966, a period of nine years. This makes any person from the North east ineligible for the 2023 presidential contest.
Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi became the Head of State and lasted only six months, January 15, 1966 to 29th July, 1966. That was the closest the South East ever came to the number one political spot in the country.
General Yakubu Jack Gowon stepped in as the Head of State of the country from 29th July, 1966, superintended over the Nigeria civil war of 1967 to 1970, and was in the highest office of the land for nine years, ending on 29th July, 1975. This means that General Gowon, from Plateau State, in North Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria, spent the same number of nine years in office, as Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister.
General Murtala Ramat Muhammad moved into the apex of Nigerian leadership, as Head of State, from Federal Commissioner of Communication on 29th July, 1975, and lasted till 13th February, 1976, a period of six months, just like erstwhile late Commander-in-Chief, General Aguiyi Ironsi.
Following General Murtala Muhammad’s death, by Colonel Buka Suka Dimka and associates, in an abortive coup d’etat, the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo stepped in as head of State, and leader of the country for three years, from 13th February, 1976 to 1st October, 1979.
General Obasanjo later became an elected president of Nigeria for eight years, form 1999 to 2007. So, the South West of Nigeria, has occupied the apex of Nigerian leadership for eleven and half years, plus six months of rulership by Ernest Shonekan, a private sector titan, from the stable of UACN, as Head of State, in the defunct Interim National Government (ING), of General Ibrahim Babangida, and truncated by General Sani Abacha. So all in all, the South West has served the nation for twelve years, and the South East for a mere six months.
Before we go into the civilian rulership of Chief Obasanjo, General Muhammadu Buhari, from Katsina State, North West geopolitical zone, has served as a Head of State from 31st December, 1983 to August, 27th 1985, almost a period of two years, after overthrowing President Shehu Shagari, Sokoto State, North West geopolitical zone, who was the first President of Nigeria for four years and three months, from October, 1st 1979 to 31st December, 1983.
So Murtala Muhammad’s six months, Shehu Shagari’s four years and three months, Buhari’s two years as a military Head of State, plus his current four years as a civilian, Executive President, General Sani Abacha’s five years in Aso Rock from November, 1993 to June 8, 1998, and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s two years in Aso Rock, all amount to 17 years and 6 months approximately 18 years for North West geopolitical zone, against the six months for the South East geo-political zone in Nigeria.
Back to North Central of Nigeria, if you consider Yakubu Gowon’s 9 years Babangida’s 8 years and Abdusalami Abubakar’s one year, you have an approximate total of 18 years, against a sufficiently insignificant six months for South East zone. From the foregoing, it is very clear that the North West has been in power for 18 years, North Central 18 years, and North East 9 years and the South East zone, six months.
With the above analysis, it is now beyond doubt that the South East Nigeria has been totally short-changed, and fully out-maneuvered, in the Presidential race project. We do not want to indulge in blame game or name calling on why the South East could not fight its way to clinch the Presidency of Nigeria earlier than now with the active support of the other five geopolitical zones of the country.
I call on the people of the zone to work with other Nigerians to ensure that someone from the South East emerges the president of Nigeria in 2023. It is not an impossible task.
Anyanwu writes from Owerri