The politics of who succeeds president Muhammadu Buhari come 2023 is gradually gathering momentum. Expectedly, as President Buhari’s second term in office trudges into half time, politicians and political pundits of Igbo extraction including pressure groups have continued to demand a president from that part of the country.
Recently, a prominent elder statesman from the south-west Ayo Adebanjo has lent his voice and support for the presidency to be ceded to the south-east. The call for the south-east presidency is predicated on the prism of ”justice, equity and fairness.
” What other reason could one adduce to drive this point home? Since Nnamdi Azikiwe’s tenure as a ceremonial president (1960-1966), no Igbo man has occupied that revered political position.
It is on record that since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic governance after a long haul of military dictatorship, the northern and western parts of Nigeria have enjoyed their fair share of the position except Ndi Igbo.
Many well-meaning Nigerians from other ethnic groups have most sincerely attested to the fact that the southeastern part of Nigeria has been left in the political lull for a long time.
After the unfortunate civil war, Ndi Igbo have been roundly treated as second class citizens. Whenever an idea for the south-east presidency is mooted some ethnic groups grew suspicious of a new Biafra.
Nigeria is not a divided nation as is evident, therefore, other ethnic nationalities should see Ndi Igbo as who they are: Nigerians. They should be seen as an integral part of Nigeria and people who deserve the same treatment and equal rights as others. However, the quest for the south-east presidency despite its attraction may not be tenable any time soon. It is a complex political issue just like the region itself.
The following reasons could suffice. First, the republican nature of an average Igbo man is, unfortunately, his political undoing. The region has qualified political leaders like Ike Ekweremadu, Peter Obi, Orji Uzor Kalu, Dave Umahi, Rochas Okorocha and others. But who among them would genuinely bury his pride, independence and republican nature to support one of their own in the interest of Ndi Igbo? Igbo enweghi eze they say (Igbos have no king you know).
Second, Igbo politicians do not understand the place of consensus and compromise in politics. The game is self-centred. If not me; no one else. Whether you like it or not, northerners are champions of the real game of politics.
They understood the place of consensus and compromise in political strategy and victory. Their politicians are aware that all of them cannot be in a certain position at the same time. In the interest of the north, those prevailed on to jettison their ambition easily sheath their swords. In as much as my northern brother is there, I am equally contented and duly represented is the perception. Alhaji Maitama Sule was a reference point to this understanding of the place of political consensus and compromise in electioneering.
He was the most favoured to clinch the 1982 National Party of Nigeria (NPN) presidential ticket based on his educational qualification, experience and urbane nature. But when the light went off (rigging) at the venue of the primary election based on reasons best known to those who supported the candidacy of Shehu Shagari, Maitama Sule surrendered his ambition and subsumed his political structure under Shagari in the interest of the north. He would have decamped to another political party as is the buzz of the moment having his popularity in his pocket but he never did.
Who among the above Igbo politicians would be humble enough to tow the line of Maitama Sule in an event the political calculation did not go in his favour? Third, without sounding immodest, some Igbo politicians are known spoilers of their mother’s funeral and habitual sell outs. Most of them seen ‘passionately’ mouthing Igbo presidency today are at best Judases of our time and commissioned political merchants of interests outside the region who draw their monthly allowances from their paymasters.