On The Igbo Presidency Project (1)

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By Igboeli Arinze-

Come 2023, Nigerians will again troop to the polls to elect a leader that will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who will be finishing off two terms of four years each. This would then mean that barring any incidents either of the superlunary or manmade, Nigerians will have a new helmsman come 2023.

As one deeply committed to seeing this country doing great things, I am much interested in who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari, this is because whoever succeeds Buhari will either make or mar Nigeria, now while Buhari’s scorecard is two years from been tabulated, it is however of interest to the ordinary Nigerian that we elect someone who will be passionate about the nation’s development and unity, someone who will rise above the culture of corruption and kick against every reason why the country is not working.

Originally, Nigerians should not be bothered about where such a leader will come from but then prevailing factors demand otherwise. In a nation long suffered in ethno-religious crises after crises, there is the deficit of trust between its people, with each group engaging in a vicious struggle with another and at the same time crying foul at how they are been marginalized. 60 years after our independence , we are yet to arrive at a consensus on whether we are Nigerians first or Igbo, Yoruba, Efik, Fulani, Tiv, Bini, Berom or Kanuri before we are Nigerians. It has even become more complex as the Nigerian spirit now battles the ghosts of Biafra and the specters of Oduduwa , Gamji and the Niger Delta Republic and so you could be a Biafran Citizen possessing a Nigerian identity or a citizen of Odua Republic worried sick about the influx of supposed aliens into Yoruba land.

Two key steps will readily remedy the above situation; the first, is the need to restructure the country along the lines of what obtains in the practice of true federalism, the second will be the issue of rotational presidency. Both steps are important to the survival of Nigeria as a nation and one step as a stand-alone measure cannot ensure the survival of the nation, these two measures must be deployed together.

The issue of rotational presidency has been a much debated topic since the days of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, when it’s successor in the People’s Democratic Party, came on board, the issue of zoning was seen as a sacrosanct issue up until President Goodluck Jonathan was gifted before going on to deny the existence of a zoning formula within the party and the conventions that had governed the nation since its independence. The idea was to ensure that every region in Nigeria would get a shot at the leadership of the country to assuage the fears of the Northern domination particularly in the South.

And so in 1999, the presidential election was a southern affair, while the PDP produced an Olusegun Obasanjo, the Alliance for Democracy , AD settled for Dr. Olu Falae while the APP produced Ogbonnaya Onu, this was in line with the need for the presidential ticket to go south after almost 39 years of Northern domination.

When Obasanjo completed his eight year tenure of two terms a number of Southerners raising all sorts of the illogical positioned themselves as worthy successors, to their dismay, the same Obasanjo who had goaded a number of them to run for the office played his trump card by producing a Northerner in the person of a non chalant Umaru Musa Yar Adua who had initially wanted to return back to the classroom as a lecturer.

The Yar Adua administration was to be short lived as his failing health could not see him through a first term, his Vice President, a lackluster Doctor of Zoology in the person of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan would succeed him. His emergence pitched the North against the South as certain elements within the North believed that according to the zoning formulae of the PDP, the North still had four years left. This was rebuffed by a number of Southerners, particularly those of the South South Region who argued otherwise, stating that since the Yar Adua/Jonathan ticket which had initially brought the duo to power was one, it would be better if Jonathan serve out the remaining years and then hand over to a Northerner in 2015.

Jonathan, however like Oliver Twist wanted some more time at the seat of power to the chagrin of millions of Nigerians who realized that the hatted president had squandered the enormous goodwill initially foisted upon him at his emergence, combined with his attempt to shift the goal past midway into the game after having agreed to run for four years only, the North felt cheated and began to mobilize its political ranks, defeat stared Jonathan in the face so much that any candidate presented by the Region was sure to defeat Jonathan.

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