The road to the presidency for the south easterner may be rocky and unattainable, but the road to a restructured Nigeria is even more bumpy. Perhaps, the much-desired restructuring can only be achieved by winning the presidency
By Anayo Ezugwu
ON Monday, June 8, Adamu Atiku Abubakar, commissioner for works and energy development in Adamawa State and son of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, and 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, scorned the quest for Igbo presidency in 2023, when he said that his father would contest the 2023 presidency unfailingly on the platform of the party.
Adamu said he personally didn’t see anything wrong with his father contesting for the presidency again. “In 2023, my father will be aspiring to the number one office in the land because he has been an astute, strategic, master politician for almost four decades,” he said.
The claim by Atiku’s son has further divided opinion among Ndigbo on whether to support the quest for Igbo presidency in 2023 or stick with the quest for a restructuring of Nigeria. It has also intensified the argument and the discourse of Igbo presidency and restructuring among Nigerians.
Those, who believe in restructuring, are of the opinion that it will engender fairness, peace and allow each region to develop at its pace. This school of thought advised that Ndigbo should continue to lead the campaign for a restructured Nigeria, stressing that the process would bring social, cultural, political and economic benefits to the region.
This school of thought insisted on restructuring rather than the Igbo presidency. They believe that restructuring the country would be more beneficial to the zone than vying for the presidency. They noted that part of the reason for this was that the present configuration of the country would not support the Igbo to vie and win the presidency.
For instance, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani said the desire of every Igbo man/woman should be restructuring rather than presidency in 2023. In a recent interview with AriseTV, Nnamani said Nigeria’s problem is not about which region produces the president, but how to live together and share the resources of the nation equitably.
“I believe that you have to be a good Igbo to be a good Nigerian. You have to be a good Yoruba to be a good Nigerian. I’m not interested in the Igbo presidency. I’m interested in restructuring. Restructure Nigeria so that my people, the Igbo people will have the same capacity, the the potential of achieving their Nigerian dream similar to a Hausa-Fulani from Sokoto or a Yoruba from the southwest.
“So I’m not interested in Igbo presidency. Those who have had the presidency for 40 years, what do they have to show for it. So it is not an issue of who is president. It is an issue of fair, equitable structure for Nigeria. Fair equitable share of our resources, those who have resources let them keep their resources. If they keep their resources others will have the incentive to look for their own resources within their area. We have to defuse power down to the federating units. That is my interest.
“We have gone beyond Igbo presidency or Yoruba presidency. The president can come from wherever, but provide just and a fair equitable structure so that our children and our children’s children can fulfil their potential. So I don’t talk about Igbo presidency. Nigeria’s problem is not about the presidency, but how do we live together and share our resources equitably,” he said.
Even Nnia Nwodo, president general, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is of the opinion that Ndigbo should concentrate on restructuring rather than the presidency in 2023. Speaking on a political programme on Channels Television in October 2019, he said from the way the country’s Constitution was framed, it would be difficult for any president to make a meaningful impact without the country being restructured.
Nwodo stated that he preferred a situation, where the country is restructured to guarantee true federalism than allocating the presidency from time to time to the zones. “I hate this idea of donating the presidency to any section of the country in the name of a sense of belonging. I prefer the restructuring of the country to make the office of the president less attractive.
“The office of the president has been made too important by the amount of power that the Constitution has vested on it. I don’t share in power-sharing, but I believe in getting the foundation right and working. I don’t know what miracle any president can perform in attempting to develop the country, no matter his best of intentions, with a jaundiced Constitution like ours,” he said.
But other Igbo elites and leaders of thought are of the opinion that going for the presidency in 2023 will solve the issues of restructuring. They believe that the only way to end perceived marginalization of Igbo extraction and agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is to occupy the number one position in the land come 2023.
This school of thought believe that it is the turn of the region based on power rotation, since President Muhammadu Buhari will be completing his second term in office in 2023. They noted that for Nigeria’s power rotation to be credible political engineering, it must be among the north, southwest and southeast regions, saying that these were the regional power blocs and geopolitical structures to which the British relinquished power in 1960.
This group argued that to end power rotation in 2023 without having the Igbos produce the president through the power rotation construct would be unjust, inequitable, and unfair. They said with the presidency having by national consensus rotated between the north and the southwest, 2023 should be the turn of the Igbos and that there is no just, fair and equitable reason to delay the rotation of the presidency to the southeast.
As this argument ranges, some Igbo elites and political commentators are also divided on whether Ndigbo is really ready for the presidency in 2023. Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke, the traditional ruler of Obimo autonomous community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, has also expressed doubt over the possible realisation of the Igbo president in 2023. He said Ndigbo lack unity of purpose.
He insisted that lack of unity of purpose by the Igbo and deficient political structure would make it difficult for them to realize the dream. He said Ndigbo cannot be talking from both sides of the mouth without any recognizable leader and hope to capture a presidential seat in 2023.
“This country has many miracles that occur at their own time, but I must tell you that there is no indication that an Igboman will emerge president of Nigeria in 2023. This is because the Igbo have refused to forge a common front politically unlike what we have in other major ethnic groups in Nigeria; even the minority tribes are more united than the Igbo.
“Though, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Nnia Nwodo, has improved the status of the Igbo in terms of achieving common ambition, there is still a lot to be done. Even among us, there are still some of us sabotaging Nwodo’s efforts.
“Let our politicians put their interest in a common pot for the interest of the zone and not be originators of discordant tunes. Igbo Presidency is realizable, but there has to be a long term plan geared towards achieving it. It is not possible in 2023,” he said.
Likewise, Oba Maduabuchi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said Igbo presidency is just a pipe dream and will never happen. He said Igbos must accept that power is never given. “Power is something you must take.” In an interview with a national newspaper, Maduabuchi said if the Igbo are serious about Igbo presidency in 2023, the first thing to ask is how are they strategizing? He said How are the Igbo strategizing in order to take power from the north or the west and make it an Igbo presidency in 2023?
“For instance, Dr. Orji Kalu raised his head, but today where is he? He wanted to be president and has started consulting, getting ready, where is he? Senator Rochas Okorocha became interested. He never hides the fact that he wanted to be the president of Nigeria. Same Igbo vilified him and brought him down. It is not only in Igbo land that a different political party has taken over as governor from another party.
“For example, in Gombe State, the former governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo was PDP and APC’s Inuwa Yahaya took over from him, did you hear of any panel of inquiry set up to make sure that the man went to prison? The first thing former governor Emeka Ihedioha did when he took over from Okorocha was to set up panels, sent the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after Okorocha to make sure that he goes to prison. Will this kind of altitude engender the kind of unity that will collectively help you to become the president of Nigeria?
“The point I am making is that the Igbo do not seem to be properly organized or have the necessary orientation to galvanize them and make a challenge for the presidency. If you ask an average Igbo man now, who is the man you people are proposing to be president in 2023? He cannot name the person,” he said.
Notwithstanding the arguments, one fact has remained obvious. Since the return to democratic rule in Nigerian in 1999, the Southeast is the only region in the country that is yet to produce the president. The southwest has ruled for eight years when former President Olusegun Obasanjo piloted the affairs of the nation from 1999 to 2007. By 2023 when President Buhari will be completing his eight years administration, the north would have ruled for 10 years including two years of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Also, the South-south has also have their turn with the six years of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
As the 2023 election approaches and Ndigbo intensifies their demand for presidency or restructuring, Nigerians and indeed the world is watching to see how far they can go to convince the rest of the country to support them. But be that as it may, Ndigbo is out to pull all stops to either get the presidency in 2023 for the first time or restructure Nigeria.
– Jul. 3, 2020 @ 18:53 GMT |