It is therefore not in doubt that with President Muhammadu Buhari’s completing his tenure in 2023, power will rotate to the South in tandem with the nation’s political convention that has seen power rotate between the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria, with exception of the Jonathanian era, which briefly and dishonorably interrupted such an arrangement put in place by our political wise men in order to preserve the nation and its democracy.
It is also not in doubt that with such a rotation, power should without doubt go to the SouthEast zone of the federation; this argument stems from the fact that since the return of democracy to the nation’s shores, the SouthEast is the only zone within the Southern part of Nigeria that is yet to have one of its own at the center, the Yoruba got eight years in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan spent five years in power as a South South person, it is only NdiIgbo who are a major ethnic group of Nigeria and the single largest ethnic tribe in Nigeria that is yet to take a shot at the presidency, to deny the zone such a slot will not only be unjust but also give wind to certain misguided elements calling for the zone’s secession out of the Nigerian Federation.
It is injustice that in 59 years of independence, the only zone that has contributed immensely to this nation’s growth, unity and development by virtue of how we have perceived Nigeria and our willingness to peacefully migrate to other zones and reside within such areas contributing our quota to that area’s development cannot boast of producing one of its own as president. Take for example, I was born and bred in Surulere, Lagos, had my primary and secondary education in the Southwest. My father worked in Lagos same with my mum, building a house in Lagos and raising five of my other siblings and a host of other relations there too. The situation earlier painted is wide spread within the Igbo people unlike the other ethnic groups who are more at home with their areas or areas contiguous with theirs.
A number of antagonists might as well throw up our secessionist history in the argument that amongst the ethnic groups and tribes that make up Nigeria, none has contributed to the growth of this nation than NdiIgbo. They are sure to point to the Biafran War as well as recent eruptions of Biafran irredentism as examples of how the Igbos have not committed to the unity of the federation. These antagonists forget that the civil war was forced on the Igbos and their counterparts in the Eastern Region; after a bloody counter coup and two pogroms was Gowon expecting the Eastern Region to look at those who had lost their loved ones as well as their limbs to believe in the entity called Nigeria at that point in time? A Nigeria that had failed to protect them? The antagonists forget also that at Aburi, which held the nation’s last hope for peace was scuttled by Gowon and his set of advisers, but for Biafra’s defeat, General Gowon like King George III is blamed for losing the American Colony should be taking the rap for the war. Even at that, near 50 years after the end of the Biafran war are we still fighting a war? If so then I would rather pitch my tents with the secessionists than do so with my country men who are yet to understand that wars fought are for a while, and while we look at the scars and the toll of war, we must also look to the future, knowing that no nation fights a civil war twice and survives!
However, NdiIgbo must know that power isn’t given but taken, the zone which has unfortunately played spoiler roles to its political interests must quietly get its acts together and begin a rapprochement with other ethnic groups whose support will be key to achieving such goal. 2015 showed us that no zone in Nigeria can solely make anyone President in Nigeria; NdiIgbo to this extent needs the support of every zone to take a shot at the presidency, this is the time to start courting such support.
The zone’s political class must also behave itself, they should jettison the” pull him syndrome “ much associated with them since 1999, unity to this cause should be their battle cry and not the “ If it is not me, then it should be no other person”, for there is much at stake here.
A president of Igbo extraction come 2023 will solidify this nation’s unity and beat back the agitations for the dismemberment of this country, it will do much good if this carrot approach is followed for the stick this time won’t work.
Igboeli Arinze is the Managing Editor, realpoliticsnigeria.ng