THE IGBO & JONATHAN'S PRESIDENCY
I have just received a cheap campaign scare-mongering propaganda material entitled Igbos are doomed if Jonathan succeeds. True, the Igbos have suffered serious setbacks over the years (some of our own making), but the Igbos were not doomed by the events leading up to, during and following the Civil War, were not doomed by the nine years of Yakubu Gowon's military rule, were not doomed by the four years of Shehu Shagari's rule, were not doomed by the eight years of IBB's military rule, were not doomed by the 11 years of Olusegun Obasanjo's rule, were not doomed by the three years of Yar'Adua's rule and the Igbos have not been doomed by the six months so far of Jonathan's rule, etc. Why would we be doomed by some more years of our brother/cousin/neighbour Jonathan's rule? As someone opined: 'If go back, we die, go forward we die, why not go forward and die?'
This campaign death scare 'Igbos are doomed if Jonathan succeeds' was first distributed at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri venue of a recent (sadly aborted) political meeting by over-zealous paid agents of certain Northern aspirants. The scare reminds one of a similar campaign scare mounted by racist and ultra-right wing Americans against Obama: 'If you vote an African American (Muslim) as President, America is doomed'! They say that all is fair in love and war, and this seems to give some political do-or-die combatants and their over-zealous supporters the excuse for dirty games! It failed to stop Obama being elected, and I believe that it will not, by itself, stop Jonathan from being nominated as PDP candidate nor from being elected President!
The under-belly of the propaganda is that some aspirants have said that, if elected, they will only serve one term and hand over power to Onye-Igbo! Look at their record: nobody abandons power unless he is forced to do so by the Almighty: (Abacha, 1998, Yar'Adua, 2010 – though they are not birds of the same feather), force of law such as constitutional limitation or other process of removal (Obasanjo, 2007), force of arms or political pressure (Gowon did not hand over to civilians when he promised to and was overthrown 1975), IBB (Maradona) continuously extended his tenure and finally annulled 'the freest and fairest election held in Nigeria widely believed to have been won by Abiola' and left only when he was forced by political pressures to step aside, 1993! OBJ was said to have reneged on his agreement to rule for only one term of four years, then planned to seek a third term after his two terms of four years each via an aborted constitutional amendment and was forced to leave and hand over power on May 29, 2007 by the constitutional limitation of tenure!
Why would anyone believe that any President would voluntary vacate office after one term of four years, if he can get another, just because he wants an Igbo element to succeed him? We have Maradona, not Mandela, remember! In the UK, remember the long tussle between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over an agreement for succession! And why should any individual play God to Ndigbo by 'dashing' us power or office?
And why would any clear-headed self-respecting Onye-Igbo bask in this illusory, anaesthetising, non-justiceable and non-enforceable 'promise' of eating off the crumbs of a master's table?
The office of President or Governor is not zoned in the PDP Constitution - nor in the Nigerian Constitution; for that matter, otherwise, could PDP Senator Gbemisola Saraki be seeking to succeed her brother present Governor Bukola Saraki who has ruled Kwara State for two terms of four years each? How did Abubakar Rimi (Kano) contest the PDP presidential primaries in 1999 with Obasanjo and Ekwueme? How could Gemade (Benue) join the PDP Presidential Primaries contest against OBJ and Ekwueme in 2003? How did Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ebitu Ukiwe (Abia) and others from the South contest the PDP presidential primaries against Yar'Adua and Gusau in 2007 and in fact, Rochas Okorocha came second to Yar'Adua in the contest, beating General Gusau?
If IBB or Atiku wanted to give power to Ndigbo, why did they not support any of the Igbo aspirants in any of the PDP presidential primaries: Ekwueme, Asiodu or Nwobodo, 1999, Ekwueme, 2003 or Okorocha or Ukiwe, 2007? Bear in mind that the zoning 'arrangement/agreement/discussions/decisions' are a PDP 'family affair' and that General Buhari (Katsina) and other Northerners contested the 2003 election on the platform of the APP/ANPP against OBJ, while Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (APGA), Pat Utomi (Delta) (ADC), Chris Okotie (Delta) and other Southerners contested the election against Yar'Adua in 2007 on the platform of their respective political parties.
In the Second Republic in which I was elected and served as Senator, my Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) was against zoning as a principle, but in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) where zoning was the official policy, one of the leaders of the Party, our own inimitable (and my double in-law Dr Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe declared nemo contradicente (without contradiction): 'We zone to Unzone'! Doctrinaires on the issue beware, as it is said that 'only fools rush in where angels fear to tread'! I have come to learn that in real-politik, one-plus-one is not always or necessarily two, as we were taught in school, and so Nigeria elected a President in 1979 on the 12-and two-thirds principle ('not to be used as a judicial precedent') and solved a contrived political impasse earlier this year based on 'the doctrine of necessity', a well-known principle of International Law!
If Nigerians feel that zoning is a necessary part of the development of our democracy, we should enshrine it in our Constitution; not between North and South, but between the six geo-political zones (GPZs), with the order, manner and tenure of rotation clearly defined. But remember, Abiola did not win his election based on zoning; nor did Obama!
Ndigbo are politically discerning and astute. In 1992, in spite of the fact that Onye-Igbo (Dr Sylvester Ugoh, Imo, devout Christian) was the running mate to Alhaji Bashir Tofa (Kano), the Igbos resoundingly voted for Moshood Abiola (Ogun) and his running mate, Ambassador Baba Kingibe (Borno), both Muslims!
The Northwest (Murtala, Abacha, Shagari and Yar'Adua) has ruled Nigeria for a total of over 11 years, the North-East (Balewa) seven years, North-Central (Gowon, Babangida, Abdulsalam (a total of 18 years), South-West (Obasanjo) 11 years, Southeast (Ironsi) – only six months and South-South ( Jonathan) only six months so far! If Federal character or zoning means anything right, equitable and democratic, the South-South (Jonathan in situ) should continue, then followed by the Southeast: any return to any other zone before then should be seen as an aberration!
The position of Ndigbo has been succinctly re-stated by Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the Statement titled PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND ZONING: The Position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo) signed by our President-General, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, OFR, dated 15th October, 2010 published as a full page advertisement in different newspapers.
The concluding sentence states:
'In line with this position, taken after wide consultations over several months among Igbo people at home and abroad, Ohanaeze Ndigbo confidently urges the Igbo Nation to support en masse a credible new generation Presidential candidate that has emerged from the South-South geo-political zone, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan'. Our esteemed leaders would not have taken this position if they are satisfied or feared that 'Ndigbo would be doomed if Jonathan succeeds.
Senator Obi is a member, PDP Board of Trustees.