PRESIDENCY 2015, IGBOS AND THE SEARCH FOR A BRIDGE BUILDER
The essence of this piece is to re appraise the need for an Igbo to be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015. This is coming on the heels that the North, the South- South and strangely, the South West are also staking claims to the exalted seat in 2015. President Goodluck Jonathan’s body language has shown that he wants to continue in office beyond 2015. His actions and deft political moves which clearly manifested in the last PDP National Convention is an attestation of the fact that he certainly wants to occupy the exalted seat again.
On the other hand, elders of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) recently urged its leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to aspire for the office of the president in 2015- a move which has been interpreted by political analyts to be Tinubu’s voice speaking through his ‘Elders’. In otherwords, Tinubu’s elders have unveiled his inner most desire.
The North is also not left out in the scramble for the presidency as they have said in clear language that it is their right to produce Jonathan’s successor in 2015. They see Jonathan’s presidency as their mandate stolen from them and a violation of the gentleman power sharing agreement between the North and the South.
Igbos have also joined the scramble for the presidency in the next four years. For now, no Igbo has shown visible interest in the 2015 presidential contest and this factor, perhaps has necessitated comments from some political pundits to contend that Igbos cry for the presidency, yet they are short of men and women of spine in the political arena with a national outlook and posture to preside over the affairs of the nation. In other words, they say a look at the Igbo political landscape reveals that no Igbo after the demise of Ojukwu earns the acceptability and respect of other ethnic tribes or geo political zones to win the presidency now or in the future.
Such postulations, to say the least, are infuriating, especially when one considers the enormous contributions of Igbo men and women to the political and socio economic growth of the nation. It is more disturbing when one looks at the systemic marginalization of Igbos in the nation’s political and economic firmament which dates back to pre independence era.
Before I unveil Igbo sons and daughters that can lead this nation in this piece, it is imperative that one takes a look at the level or depth of contributions of Igbos to Nigeria’s development. Infact, this should serve as a ‘qualification factor’ for all the geo political zones that are presently aspiring for the office of the President in 2015. If the South- South gave the nation oil and has been rewarded with the presidency, what has other tribes given to the nation that emboldens them to lay claim to the presidency after occupying the seat of power at various times?
For Igbos, they have not only provided the nation with commerce and entrepreneurship that has contributed immensely to lubricate the economy, yet they have been deliberately denied the opportunity to lead the nation. After the gruesome and chilly murder of General Aguiyi Ironsi in 1966, no Igbo has come close to the nation’s seat of power. The closest was Dr. Alex Ekwueme who was handpicked to be Shehu Shagari’s deputy in the second republic in 1979.
Despite going through the pains of a war and a systemic enforcement of the policy of marginalization, Igbos have not resorted to the antics of the holding the nation to ransome. The youths have not carried arms like their counterparts in the Niger Delta who resorted to militancy and acts of banditry to press home their demand for more share of the nation’s revenue. Igbos have not allowed the systemic killings of their brothers and sisters in the North, to provoke them to resort to reprisal attacks.
Many years after the civil war, it is regrettable that Igbos still bears the scars of a defeated, conquered people. And it is unfortunate that other component units of the federation have continued to remind Igbos that they are a conquered people who deserve nothing in the polity. Till this day, Igbos labour to erase the stigma from their body and soul. Despite the fact that they have made conscious efforts to rise above their present predicament and consign their harrowing experiences to the trash bin of history, the Igbo nation has continued to maintain its implicit faith in one indivisible Nigeria. They have continued to remain optimistic that one Nigeria is the key to the attainment of the nation’s progress and development.
Based on the foregoing, is it proper for any sane person to say Igbos lack men and women who can lead this great nation? I call such people Igbo haters who are bent on puncturing the good image of Igbos across the country and beyond. Across the length and breadth of Igboland, the region has men of exceptional quality that can take Nigeria to the zenith of economic prosperity.
Does commonsense not demand that since Nigeria has not fared well and better under the tutelage of leaders from other geo political zones, is it not high time an Igbo is tested for the job? Now that Nigeria is at the cross roads of her political destiny as a result of the charged political climate propelled by the present security challenges in the country, is it not imperative that a bridge builder from the South East is elected to moderate or handle the affairs of the nation? It will not be out of place if one says that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder based on the prevailing political situation in the country.
The politics of 2015 will determine the future of the nation and If President Jonathan insists that he will run for the presidency again, it will certainly deepen the animosity between the North and the South. It will further widen the gulf of division presently rocking the country. The South West on its part, cannot lay claim to the presidency in 2015 having been duly compensated with Obasanjo’s presidency for eight good years.
The North in its desperation to have another hold of the presidency, cannot earn the support of other tribes to actualize its mission on the basis that it has had more than a fair share of the national cake having held on to power for several years.
Further, the heinous activities of Boko haram sect have further dimmed its chances of earning the support of other groups to win the presidency. No matter the colouration or reasons anchored on poverty and underdevelopment of the north by its leaders as reasons partly responsible for the activities of the sect, Boko haram’s activities have inflicted pains on non northerners, especially Igbos who are mainly victims of their atrocities.
If a break up of the federation is not the last option, then Nigeria needs a bridge builder from the South East who will save the nation from internal implosion. The nation needs an Igbo whose candour appeals to the North and the South. A moderate from Igboland, who has the ability to moderate the flaming tempers of the federating units of the country,. He will be a bridge builder, an Igbo by birth, a friend of the North and the South. Such leaders abound in Igboland. I will recommend just two out of other Igbos that moderate the ‘flame of fire’ burning across the nation. Though they have not shown interest in the exalted seat, I suggest they should be called upon to aspire to enable them rescue the country out of the woods.
1. Chief Emeka Anyaoku- He is a detribalized Nigerian and has earned respect within the international circles having proved his mettle as Secretary General of the Commonwealth. He has little or no political baggage- I mean he has not offended any ethnic group politically having acquired so much experience at the helm of affairs of a world body like the commonwealth. Anyaoku may lack the political will power to govern Nigeria, but he may just be the much sough after moderator that can moderate the nation.
2. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu- Onu is the First Executive Governor of Old Abia State and presently, National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP). One can remember vividly how he appointed non – indigenes into various government positions when he was Abia State governor.His political antecedents are impressive, having remained the only Igbo man in modern Nigerian politics to resist the temptation of flirting with political parties. Onu is also the only Igbo man that has maintained a political ideology. He has successfully re built the ANPP to be a virile national political party and has strong political ties with the North and the South. Having gone through the murky waters of Nigerian politics, Onu is believed to have the political nerve and the will power to lead a complex nation like Nigeria.
I did not deliberately limit my scope to these illustrious sons of Igboland, but i mentioned these two considering their impressive political track record. These are the wise men from the East.
Written By Raymond Osueke