By Ifeanyi Maduako
The 2023 general election is less than a year from now. With the recent conclusion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national convention where Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu was elected by consensus as the national chairman of the Party, activities for the 2023 general election have commenced in earnest. The election of Alhaji Adamu as the national chairman presupposes that the presidential candidate of the APC should come from the southern hemisphere of Nigeria.With President Buhari from the north, the presidential candidate and ultimately the elected president of Nigeria, three southerners viz; Chief Bisi Akande, Chief John Odigie Oyegun and Adams Oshiomhole were the national chairmen of the party. It would be somewhat incongruous for the party to produce the presidential candidate from the north again for the 2023 general elections with Alhaji Adamu as the national chairman.
Since 1999, among the three geopolitical zones in the South, the Yoruba had produced a president for eight years in Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. By 2023 the same Yoruba should have produced a Vice President for eight years in Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The same Yoruba also produced the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. The South-South produced the Vice President and President of Nigeria in former President Goodluck Jonathan for eight years between 2007 and 2015.
The five states of the southeast had shared the position of the Senate President between 1999 and 2007. Since this Fourth Republic dispensation, the Igbo have not had the opportunity of producing either a Vice President or a President for the past 24 years by 2023.
If a Yoruba man succeeds Buhari in 2023, he will most likely be in office for another eight years. The Vice president of a Yoruba president will definitely come from the North. When the Yoruba President finishes his eight years, there’s no possibility that he would hand over to an Igbo man. It then means that the number one position will go back to the north. The northern president may also be in office for another eight years. The most the northern president can do for the Igbo is to choose an Igbo man as his running mate when the Yoruba man finishes his tenure. Therefore, if a Yoruba succeeds President Buhari, and subsequently returns power to the North after his tenure, an Igbo man could lay claim to the presidency in 2039, which is the next 16 years. By 2039 the Igbo would have been denied the presidency for 40 years in this current democratic experiment.
In any case, there is no guarantee that even in 2039 when the Igbo should supposedly have their turn that the South- South will not lay claim to it as well. By this permutation, a Yoruba president in 2023 will keep the office away from the Igbo for the next 16 years. Equity, Justice and Fairness demand that the Igbo should succeed Buhari in 2023.
If APC hands over the ticket to the Yoruba, the Igbo are likely to continue their affinity with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This is because even if the PDP gives the Presidential ticket to the north in 2023, either Alhaji Atiku Abubakar or Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal is likely to pick an Igbo man as running mate as had been demonstrated over the years. It then means that the Igbo have a better offer in the PDP because once the PDP presidential candidate finishes his tenure in 2031, the seat may return to Igbo in 2031 instead of 2039 in the APC. Like I earlier said, a Yoruba president in 2023 can’t produce an Igbo Vice President.
But a northern president in 2023 can produce an Igbo Vice President in 2023. A Vice President for Ndigbo in any party in Nigeria will give them a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project as a country. Both APC and PDP should look at the direction of the Igbo for the Presidency of Nigeria for the forthcoming presidential election as equity, justice and fairness demand.
However, in the event of the Igbo not becoming the presidential candidates of the two major political parties in the country, any of them that gives Ndigbo the Vice Presidential shot will get the bulk votes of the Igbo across Nigeria because half bread is better than none.
Ndigbo have no problems with the Yoruba aspirants for the position, but in fairness should they take another shot at the plum position when Igbo have not tasted it for even one day since 1999? A Yoruba president can never guarantee Igbo Vice President in Nigeria and Ndigbo do not need the position of the Senate President in 2023.
Let the Yoruba exchange the number three position in the land with the Igbo in 2023. Those who bandy competence as the only criterion to throw the presidential race open should know that there is no LGA in Igbo land that doesn’t have competent presidential materials.
Maduako, writes from Owerri Via [email protected]