Again, agitations for the propriety for the election of a politician of Igbo extraction as President of Nigeria in 2023 are on the rise.
Recently,Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, finally made good his rumoured exit from the Peoples Democratic Party from which he had sowed and reaped bountifully over the last two decades. And it happened that his decision to join the ruling All Progressives Congress has everything to do with 2023.
Speaking on why he had to leave PDP,Umahi said: “… the south east has since been PDP but did not get anything good from them.and from the look of things they will never be considered to run for presidency.
No one can blame the governor for his choice. He is entitled to it, except that he is not entirely right in the foregoing assertion. Here is what I mean.
In 1998, when the PDP had its first primary preparatory to the 1999 elections, Ekwueme contested the presidential PDP ticket in Jos, Plateau State. Had he won the ticket, he would have been the first presidential candidate of the party ever, but Chief Olusegun Obasanjo carried the day.
Since Ekwueme, who was a founding father of the party had contested this primary, impeaches Umahi’s argument about the injustice done by the PDP.
However, an even more important point needs to be made. This is the suggestion that some Igbo were actually behind Ekwueme’s loss of this particular process.Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, who represented Abia North Senatorial District in the eighth Senate, alleged that the late former Vice President’s bid was scuttled by some unnamed Igbo men.
Lesson to be learnt in the point made by the former senator is that attaining Nigeria’s presidency is more than just talking and blackmailing any set of people into submission. At the level of the primaries, there should be a meeting of minds of the group of people who desire to attain this position. This lack of single-mindedness is, according to this intervention by Ohuabunwa, one of the handicaps that the eternal craves of the Igbo to attain Nigeria’s presidency has suffered.
But, while at that, Umahi and other proponents of Igbo presidency must realise that regardless of any regional consensus on the Igbo’s crave for Nigeria’s presidency, the point must be made that leading a country as ours, mostly happens with the deliberate and conscious efforts of the aspiring politician and not their ethnic group. This is where people like Umahi and others who aspire to Nigeria’s presidency have a lot of work to do.
One of the important areas a candidate must pay attention is the acceptability to other parts of the country. Take the example of two Yoruba men who aspired and won presidential elections in Nigeria, the feat would have been impossible without the nationwide acceptance of their ambitions. In the June 12, 1993 election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, candidate of the Social Democratic Party, was reported to have defeated Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention in his native Kano State. In the case of Obasanjo, his presidential bid would have suffered but for his acceptance in other parts of the country. He could not even win elections in front of his house!
Now, consider how the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was described by the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as the best president Nigeria never had, found it hard to make it to the country’s presidency despite his eminent qualification and near-universal acceptance in his Yoruba source. The lack of widespread acceptability denied Awolowo the opportunity to be President and it would to any candidate, just as it denied President Buhari his heart desire three times before the alliance that saw him through in 2015.
While it is truly desirable and equitable for an Igbo to become President in 2023, Nigerians should, however, begin to look at competence, and a grasp of the issues that affect the country in the choice of their leaders. Unless that happens, agitations would extend to minority groups who also feel left out in the scheme of things.
As the igbo agitate for presidency,they should seek the consent of the minor groups,and imbibe the spirit of unity among themselves.OMOKOSHABAN