SEVERAL socio-cultural organisations from across southeast Nigeria have decided to join forces together and campaign for the actualisation of an Igbo president in 2023 when the country is next due to hold elections.
Although not constitutional, Nigeria’s component parts have a gentleman’s agreement that the presidency will rotate between the north and the south of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure will end in 2023 and being a Fulani northern Muslim, it is expected that the next president will come from southern Nigeria.
Each half of the country is made up of three geo-political zones, which in the south is made up of the southeast, south-south and southwest geo-political zones. However, since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo. while the south-south has produced President Goodluck Jonathan, so the next president should come from the southeast.
Earlier this week, a former Biafran soldier and prominent traditional ruler in Enugu State, Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke, expressed doubt over the realisation of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 because Ndigbo lack unity of purpose. In a bid to prove him wrong, socio-cultural groups Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alaigbo Foundation, Igbo National Congress, have agreed to work together to make the dream come true.
Igwe Ugwuoke, who is the traditional ruler of Obimo autonomous community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, insisted that lack of unity of purpose by the Igbo and deficient political structure would make it difficult for them to elect a president. He said Ndigbo cannot be talking from both sides of the mouth without any recognisable leader and hope to capture 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 Igbo man will emerge president of Nigeria in 2023. This is because the Igbo have refused to forge a common font politically unlike what we have in other major ethnic groups in Nigeria, as even the minority tribes are more united than the Igbo.
“Although, the president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nniah Nwodo, has improved the status of the Igbo in terms of achieving common ambition, there are still a lot to be done. Even among us, there are still some of us sabotaging Nwodo’s efforts.
“We have to go back to Ohanaeze Ndigbo and make it the authentic mouthpiece of the Igbo because, as it stands now, the organisation is deficient in equitable representations of the different traditional institutions in the southeast, which is why it is difficult to speak with one voice. You always hear of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos, Abuja, Jos, South Africa and what have you, which is wrong and it is the origin of the discordant tunes affecting our political fortunes in Nigeria,” Igwe Ugwuoke stressed.
He pointed out that one would never see the Oba of Benin or Sultan of Sokoto being countered by their subjects. According to the monarch, this kind of speaking with numerous voices only happens in the southeast.
Igwe Ugwuoke added: “When you are looking for something, you should not create enemies. You cannot be opposing Buhari’s administration and expect him to back you up for the presidency in 2023.
“Let’s create a platform to promote the pains of the southeast as a geopolitical zone that has not produced a president and let’s get leaders of thought, traditional rulers and chairmen of the state council of chiefs to meet their counterparts in other geopolitical zones for support. Let our politicians put their interest in a common pot for the interest of the zone and not be originators of discordant tunes.
He pointed out that an Igbo presidency is realisable but there has to be a long term plan geared towards achieving it. Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesman, Uche Achi-Ogbaga, pointed out, however, that there is nothing like lack of unity of purpose as all Igbo cannot be in one political party or think alike.
Mr Achi-Ogbaga said that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has been galvanizing both Ndigbo and other ethnic groups and all parts of the country towards achieving this project. First Republic politician Chief Mbazulike Amechi, also berated those who think that Igbo presidency is not realizable, describing such people as enemies of Ndigbo.
He added: “In politics, just like in anything else, nothing is impossible, so the traditional ruler who said that Igbo presidency is not possible is out of reality, he is not being realistic. Igbo presidency like every other political action is possible.
“However, an Igbo presidency does not mean that an Igbo man will be president of Igbo’ alone, for an Igbo man to become the president of Nigeria, he has to be president of Nigerians in general not Igbo people. He has to be president of all Nigerians and Nigeria as a country.”