As the clamour for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction gathers momentum, COSMAS EKPUNOBI writes that the two major political parties, PDP and APC are currently in a dilemma over zoning of their candidates to the South east
Agitation for a president of South- East extraction in 2023 is becoming more intriguing by the day with more political actors across the land drumming support for the project ahead of the election year.
Regrettably, South East has remained the only geo -political zone yet to produce a president since the return of democracy in 1999 and some people see it as the height of the perceived marginalisation of the zone.
Some Nigerians therefore think that the only way to give the South East zone a sense of belonging in the scheme of things is to support a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
This seemingly new posture of these political actors across the divide may have explained the wide spread support the project was reported to have gained so far. Though the demand for a president of Igbo extraction appear to be popular, timely and legitimate , most pundits have however warned that the demand as legitimate as it may look, may not come so easy, at least going by thinking of some mendacious political jobbers who are already looking in the direction of other zone to produce a successor to President Mohammadu Buhari in 2023.
Some actors have also reminded the South East leaders that ” power is not given ,but taken ”
It therefore behoves on the political actors from the zone to begin in ernest to assembly the relevant political arsenal’s, build the necessary political bridges across the relevant power blocs in the land ahead of the election year .
Interestingly some prominent leaders from other zones are beginning to see reason to support a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Governor Nasiru El-Rufia of Kadunna state, former vice chairman of APC Alhaji Umar Duhu were the first major voices from the North to throw their weight behind the clamour, insisting that South East should be supported this time around to produce the next President
According to Governor El’Rufia, a president of South East extraction in 2023 would further help to unite the country . A prominent Ijaw leader Chief Edwin Clark is more consistent in his campaign for a president of Igbo extraction. According to him, “ that will be the only way to heal the wound caused by the civil war.”
Though no Igbo man except former governor of Abia state, senator Orji Uzor Kalu has indicated interest in the number one job in the land , other prominent leaders of the zone are however busy building the necessary political synergy with actors from other zone to shore up support ahead of 2023 .
Interestingly the same senator Kalu was reported to have rejected the clamour on APC to zone presidency to South East in 2023. Kalu said the ruling APC constitution was silent on zoning . But other leaders however insisted that it was time to look in the direction of the south East for Buhari’s successor
Senator Ben Obi, former governor of old Anambra state Dr Chukwuemeka Ezife, Prof A. B.C Nwosu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyinwu and others are the few South East leaders in the fore front of the campaign for now
Dr Ezeife at a recent forum said, “people of South-East geo-political zone will go on their knees to beg other zones, if it becomes the condition to actualise their ambition to produce the next president in 2023.”
The former governor, who regretted that Southeast remained the only zone to produce a president since the return of democratic rule in Nigeria, appealed to other geopolitical zones to support the clamour for a president from the southeast in 2023 for fairness, equity and justice.
“We are using this medium to call on people like Alhaji Bola Tinubu and others from the north nursing the presidential ambition to have a rethink,” Ezeife said.
Sen. Ben Obi at another forum in Abuja urged Igbo people to unite to fight the course, saying that power is not given but struggled for
A former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih, said that it was imperative for other zones to support the agitation by the southeast to produce the next
According to her, any person that is opposed to the zone producing the next president in 2023 does not wish Nigeria well. But senator Enyinnaýa Abaribe and few others believe that restructuring of the nation’s political architecture would benefit the Igbos more . According to him restructuring will promote equity, fairness and justice.
Abaribe was not however averse to the project ,but insisted the present political structure in the land does not favour a president of Igbo extraction for now . Though South East leaders appear more United in this particular project , but some groups , including the Ohanaeze youth had threatened a show down with any Igbo leader that may stand the way of this project .Interestingly, the youth urged the actors from the zone to avoid the temptation of going as a running mate to any presidential candidate from other zone.
Though the agitation for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 is beginning to gather momentum , but some political actors are however worried over the long silence of the two major political parties, the APC, and PDP over which zone will produce their presidential candidates .
Source said both political parties are still in dilemma on which zone to zero it’s search for a presidential candidates for 2023 election.
Only recently, the national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, was reported to have said that the party presidential ticket would be open for all . According to him, “the floor is open for anybody vying for the 2023 presidential election, including former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
Prince Secondus said this while fielding questions from journalists in Bauchi at the weekend when he led a solidarity visit to the state Governor, BalaMohammed.
The delegates included, Governor Aminu Tambuwa of
Sokoto State, former Governor of Gombe State,
Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo; former Senate President, David Mark
Secondus said, “this party is very democratic. There is no room for discrimination.
“Everyone is qualified, young, old, governors and non-governors. We have the space for everyone – if you win, you become our candidate. The door is open to everybody.”.
But Secondus remark did not however go down well with the Ohanaeze Youth Council, which described his remark as unfortunate and subtle attempt by the party to scuttle the move by South East to produce Buhari’s successor in 2023 .
In a statement, the National President of the congress, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the PDP had confirmed it had no respect for Igbo.
He said any Igbo who accepts to be a presidential running mate in 2023 should be sanctioned.
“The OYC describes the recent vituperative rhetoric of the National Chairman of the PDP that the 2023 presidential ticket was going to be an open contest is an affront to Igbo and affirmative evidence that the PDP has no regard for Igbo after they had milked their votes in the last 21 years of democracy.
“It’s cleverly designed and clearly seen to all that the 2023 Igbo presidency project has been murdered by the PDP. It’s obvious that the PDP doesn’t need Igbo votes in the future, its sheer betrayal of trust and Igbo are not fools.”
But APC stakeholder, Umar Duhu, has warned his party not to renege on its zoning formula that cedes power to the South in 2023, insisting that the party risks quitting the political stage after just two terms, if it fails to do so . Duhu was reacting to media comments credited to Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), as saying “there’s no law that mandates the ceding of power to the South”.
However many stakeholders and proponents of Igbo presidency, including the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, have advised the APC and PDP to emulate the 1999 strategy, where the two major contending political parties at the nation’s return to democracy, the PDP and APP fielded an all South West candidate in Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae, to ensure that a president of Yoruba extraction was realized
To this effect, Okechukwu, a chieftain of the APC, insists that both the APC and PDP must pick their presidential candidates from the South East to actualize the desired clamour for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.