How elites undermine Igbo presidential bid

  • Discordant tunes, no consensus politics

Many observers believe that Nigeria’s Southeast geopolitical zone has a mountain to climb in its bid to produce a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.

But many also believe that although it is a daunting task, it is not insurmountable if certain factors or issues are properly addressed.

Some think that the major problems facing the Igbo presidential bid are disunity and sabotage hinged on greed on the part of their political class or elites cutting across all parties.

Prominent Igbo people occupy top positions in the major political parties and federal government but this is seemingly an albatross as none of them aspiring to be president is wiling to accept consensual arrangements that will put them in a position of strength to negotiate with others for the office.

This has thrown up many aspirants in the parties that will split the Igbo votes at the primaries that might lead to defeat and abortion of the bid. Another problem dogging the Igbo presidential bid is sabotage as some among them are available to be hired for a fee by others against the common interest.

The third problem is national and rooted in Nigeria’s lopsided federal system that has led to strident calls for restructuring as well as separatist agitation and groups.

The discord and other problems have recently manifested ahead of the political parties’ primaries and the 2023 general elections.

For example, while incarcerated leader of the proscribed group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, opposes elections being held in Igbo land despite the fact that the area has many aspirants in the race, some of the elites of the ethnic nationality are supporting outsiders for the job.

For example, Senate Chief Whip Orji Uzor Kalu says he may withdraw from contesting to be the president of Nigeria if major political parties do not zone their tickets to the South East. Kalu in a statement he issued in Abuja, however, said that it was his desire and intention to run for the Presidency.

According to him: “I am committed to this pursuit, but I can’t make an official declaration to this regard without the full support of other regions. “Everywhere in the world, politics is situational and that of Nigeria is exceptionally situational.

“The situation in Nigeria is that without the support of other regions, it would amount to a shadow chase for a South Easterner to be President.

“This is the reason I have been in the frontline of the call that the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should zone their presidential tickets to the South East as they did for the South-West in 1999.

“In the absence of this zoning, I shall return to the senate and stay away from the presidential contest.” He said that the North has more advantage to win elections in the democratic setting. “I am even shocked with the number of aspirants coming from the South-West and the South-South.

“It is embarrassing that these aspirants (APC and PDP) have no single respect and concern for the South East. “I had thought they would think about the South-East; I thought they would support us.

The amount of money being spent by these aspirants is alarming and they have forgotten that money alone cannot buy the Presidency. “It has become a joke to an ordinary Nigerian who hears Southern commentators and aspirants rooting for a Southern President on the premise of fairness, equity and justice,’’ Kalu said.

He further said that if there was anything like “fairness”, “equity” and “justice”, it should be the entire South pushing for a president of South East extraction.

According to him, anything less than that is “hypocritical”, “unjustifiable” a n d “inordinate.” “Some ‘persons’ are even claiming God’s anointed choice in 2023.

Unfortunately, it is not all prayers that God answers; at least not inordinate ones. “What moral justification does a Southerner who refused to be fair to his brothers have against a Northerner running for president?

“It will be very insensitive, unreasonable and disrespectful for any Southern man to criticise a presidential aspirant from the North on the ground that the North has done eight years and power should return to the South,’’ he said.

Kalu also said that while the South-West and the South-South successfully completed their tenures as ‘President and Vice President’, they should have the courage to support the South East.

“If the next president after President Muhammadu Buhari does not come from the South-East, there would be nothing unfair and unjust if he/she comes from Daura,’’ Kalu said.

He said that the two regions that are yet to produce a President are South-East and North-East. “If this means anything to Nigerians, the APC and PDP should be fair enough to prioritise these regions.

If power should come to the South and not the South- East or North and not the North-East, the essence for which the six geopolitical zones were created is long dead.

“This country belongs to all of us and the unity of the country should be paramount. “If not for selfishness and greed, how can you say that where a president comes from does not matter simply because you don’t want to support a president of Nigeria from the South- East, but turn around to clamour for a power shift to the South?

“How do we explain this to the younger generation? Let the wise and courageous stay firm on their convictions and not swing on the two sides of the Atlantic,’’ Kalu said. “To Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Edwin Clark, Deji Adeyanju and a host of others who have stood firm in their support for their brothers in the South-East, posterity will be kind to you,’’ Kalu said.

‘I don’t believe in zoning’ On his part, the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, at the weekend led thousands of South East youths in a solidarity march in support of the candidacy of the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, in the 2023 presidential election.

The youth, who started the procession from the MASSOB leader’s House in Owerri, marched through the streets, carrying different placards, with inscriptions such as “Power to the Youths, Support Yahaya Bello”, “Youths Can Also Lead”, and “Yahaya Bello for the Youths”, among others.

They made it clear that the only solution to Nigeria’s political quagmire was for power to go to the youths.

According to them, in this regard, Governor Bello is the right fit for the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Recall that Bello picked his Expression of Interest and Nomination forms at the All Progressives Congress national secretarial on Wednesday. Bello, who was the first to pay the N100 required for the forms, was received by a mammoth crowd of party faithfuls and support groups from across the country, who have been urging him to run for President.

Read Also: Has Okowa abandoned Oborevwori to faith?

Uwazuruike, who advised Nigerians and party leaders to shun zoning, saying it had no place in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, said his MASSOB/BIM would support Governor Bello to become the next president of Nigeria because he had the leadership qualities to lead Nigeria effectively.

He noted that power should go to the best in the race, adding that the Kogi State Governor was the best for the job. “All Nigerians should rally round the youthful Governor, Yahaya Bello. Today, April 30, 2022 is all about Nigerian youths.

We are supporting Yahaya Bello for this and no one else. That he has the capacity to solve the problem of insecurity and a host of others facing the nation is not in doubt. “This is a crucial time in the history of the country. We must give youths a chance, especially one that has demonstrated uncommon capacity, in the person of Yahaya Bello,” he said.

Uwazuruike, who is also the Founder of Biafran Independent Movement, said that he does not believe in a president of Igbo extraction, insisting that the contest should be thrown open.

Addressing the mammoth crowd that had come to welcome him at the APC Secretariat last Wednesday, Bello had said, “Right now, what we have ahead of us is a task of canvassing and consulting all party faithfuls, leaders, delegates and stalwarts, members and all Nigerians, at home and even in the diaspora to support us so that we become the flagbearer of this great party come 30 and 31 of May 2022.

And by the special grace of God, I am confident I shall become victorious and the party shall become victorious. “Yahaya Bello is coming on the table to restore hope for Nigerians, for the entire black Africans and for the entire black nation across the world.

That is the hope that we are coming on board with. To Unite, to secure, and to put the country and our people on the path of prosperity.”

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