By Douglas Anele
Some of the reasons justifying the demand for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023 have been adumbrated already, but it would be useful to briefly reiterate the most compelling ones.
Of the three major ethnic tripods that constitute Nigeria the Igbo with the exception of Maj. Gen J.T.U.Aguiyi-Ironsi who ruled for six months only before he was brutally killed by murderous northern soldiers have not led Nigeria since independence.
The British colonial administration made sure that Dr.Azikiwe did not become prime minister at the end of colonial rule, but he was undercompensated with the posts of Governor-General (1960 – 1963) and President (1963 – 1966) which were largely ceremonial positions without real political power.
Thus, advocates of PIE argue that, on the basis of fairness and equity exclusion of Ndigbo from the topmost political office has gone on for too long and should end in 2023. That argument gains more weight given the huge contributions of Ndigbo to the making of modern Nigeria.
As a corollary, ceding the 2023 presidency to an Igbo would help heal the festering wounds of the civil war and give Ndigbo a sense of belonging because the people are still being treated as unwanted second class citizens by the Fulani ruling cabal and their staunch allies from Yorubaland. In addition, an Igbo President would be good a welcome departure from the divisive clannishness instituted by northern rulers at the federal level:
the ubiquity and developmental accomplishments of Igbo people throughout Nigeria suggests that any of their own who becomes president would be motivated to develop all parts of the country since Ndigbo are everywhere engaged in legitimate activities of all kinds which contribute immensely to nation-building.
Unlike the current presidency, at least in theory a president of Igbo extraction, even if he is an ethnic chauvinist, would ensure balanced development nationwide so that his people can benefit from the federal government as a way of encouraging them to achieve more successes in their various endeavours.
Again, many Nigerians believe that the impressive scientific and technological achievements of Biafra in less than three years notwithstanding heavy bombardment and genocide committed by foreign-backed Nigerian military forces can be replicated if an intelligent and hardworking person from Igboland is elected the next president.
Interestingly, the conviction that Ndigbo are naturally endowed more than any other ethnic group in Nigeria in terms of entrepreneurship and technological innovation not only supports the demand for a president of Igbo extraction, it is also one of the ideological driving forces or pillars behind the quest for an independent Biafran nation based on the belief that Nigeria is asphyxiating the creative ingenuity of Ndigbo.
Now, inasmuch as one endorses the notion that Igbo leadership of Nigeria is long overdue, it is important to point out that, aside from the moral argument based on equity and justice the strongest practical justification for it would be to showcase concrete examples of good leadership especially by governors in the south-east geopolitical zone and Igbo governors in states like Delta, Rivers and Cross River.
On the strength of that, exponents of PIE can confidently claim that the achievements of such governors can be repeated at the national stage if one of them is supported across board to become president.
Unfortunately, using this criterion might not really work because with the possible exception of late Chief Sam Mbakwe most governors in Igbo-speaking states have been agbataekee politicians who, to put it mildly, are square pegs in round holes that used their office as conduit pipe of self-indulgent primitive accumulation for themselves, their families and cronies.
But all hope is not lost: Peter Obi manifested a reasonable degree of prudent management of scarce resources when he was governor of Anambra State whereas by most accounts the incumbent governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has done a lot to uplift the state despite his misguided effort to curry favour with caliphate colonialists by his pro-One Nigeria comments and allowing Fulani herdsmen to occupy significant portions of Ebonyi probably because of a phantom promise of northern support should he decide to contest for president in 2023.
Of course, there are competent Ndigbo with creative imagination, vision, sound academic background, and track record of excellence in their chosen fields who can lead Nigeria out of the existential morass she is in presently.
Indeed, apart from Fulani boot lickers of Igbo extraction who foolishly believe that the only way they can remain politically relevant is by demeaning themselves and genuflecting before prominent members of the northern military-civilian establishment, any Igbo that emerges president in 2023 will do a better job than the person Prof. Wole Soyinka described as a ghost president in office presently.
Why? Because the presidency’s disappointing performance has lowered the standard of governance so much that mere avoidance of nepotism in appointments to critical positions by whosoever becomes the next president would be enough to rank him above the ghost president.
On the other hand, there are very good reasons for either rejecting the quest for PIE at this time or for interpreting it as an exercise in futility. To begin with, only few northern politicians have publicly supported the need for a president of Igbo extraction, whereas most of the more prominent ones like Nasir el-Rufai have either merely endorsed shifting the post of president to the south or rejected the idea that the next president should be ceded to the south-east perhaps in a manner similar to what happened in 1999 when the presidency was allotted to the south-west exclusively ostensibly to compensate the Yoruba for the heart-breaking political misfortune of Chief M.K.O. Abiola in 1993.
The late Isa Funtua and Mamman Daura belong to the group of northern hardliners who think that Ndigbo must appease and beg the north for them to get the chance of ever becoming president, although the latter hypocritically hides under the demand for competence, forgetting that if competence was used as the primary criteria in 2015 his uncle, Maj. Gen.MuhammaduBuhari (rtd), would have lost to Dr. Goodluch Jonathan.
One of the main reasons why discerning Ndigbo rejected the quest for PIE or views it with suspicion is that given the lopsided ultra-north configuration of the loci of real political power in the country presently, an Igbo president would merely be in office as a figure head, not in power.
Accordingly, from what is known about north’s obsession with power and the reluctance to allow an Igbo lead Nigeria, most prominent northerners would prefer an ineffective Igbo president beholden to the core agenda of Fulani caliphate colonialism, namely, perpetuation of Fulani political domination and turning Nigeria into an Islamic state.
At the moment the topmost echelons of all the security forces and law enforcement agencies are overwhelmingly dominated by Fulani muslims, the foundation of which was laid by northern military dictators aided and abetted by their self-centred avaricious southern lackeys who ensured that northern Nigeria has more states and federal legislators than the south, let alone the south-east.
The cumulative effect of all this is that a president of Igbo extraction would always be walking on eggshells trying hard not to offend the northern ruling elite, anxiously looking over his shoulders to ascertain that northerners are not planning anything against him.
Again, knowing full well that the “No victor, no vanquished” and “Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation” rhetoric of Gen. Yakubu Gowon immediately after the Biafran war was basically empty shibboleth, he would be afraid to take bold measures required to address repercussions of the civil war on Igboland, including exclusion of Ndigbo from the inner sanctum of power at the centre and criminal neglect of the entire south-east and its immediate neighbours in terms of heavy industries and infrastructure to promote economic development.
If he pushes hard to get these thing done, either the northern dominated National Assembly would frustrate his efforts or, believe it or not, he would be eliminated one way or another. Remember that even Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, despite being a retired general and one of the favourite allies of the Fulani from the south faced stiff opposition from a handful of Fulani caliphate colonialists when he was president from 1999 to 2007.
For instance, Mustapha Jokolo, the former Emir of Gwandu, at a meeting of emirs on 28 March 2005 in Kaduna under the auspices of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic affairs, complained bitterly that “We [muslims] have been pushed to the wall and it is time to fight…Obasanjo is trampling on our rights and muslims must rise to defend their rights.
The more we continue to wait, the more we will continue to be marginalised.” Former President Goodlick Jonathan while in office lamented the existence of Boko Haram elements in his government. But he could not do anything about it since those heading federal agencies he could have directed to deal with the issue were Muslim northerners just like the Boko Haram terrorists and probably would have ignored his directives.
And in spite of his deliberate attempt to placate the north with sensitive appointments and projects, they conspired against him in 2015 so that Buhari, their chosen one, would become president. Some naïve and historically blind Igbo with highfalutin academic and professional titles who support the Igbo presidency project presumes that northern power-mongers would fold their hands and allow a PIE undo or correct decades of injustice, oppression and marginalisation meted to Ndigbo especially since 1970.
Such infantile delusion is also behind the recommendation that the Igbo should beg or negotiate with Nigerians from other ethnic groups so that the next presidential slot would be zoned to Igboland. Personally, the idea of begging other Nigerians (oftentimes euphemistically concealed with the term ‘negotiate’) is very repugnant, a terrible insult if not an outright abomination to a proud, fearless and industrious people like Ndigbo!
Moreover, on what basis would the begging take place, who should be begged and what principles ought to guide the begging? Did the Yoruba beg before the 1999 presidency was conceded to them?
To be continued…