By Ikenna Asomba
In his eternal sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, April 30, 1967, entitled: “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam,” the beloved Martin Luther King Jr. affirmed: “I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.”
For the interest of palpable peace in Nigeria; and for the sake of justice and equity, me thinks, come 2023, let’s give Ndigbo (South East) the opportunity to produce Nigeria’s President.
Over the last three years, Yours Truly, took a hiatus from copious political commentaries on the hydra-headed problems bedeviling our country Nigeria, because the political atmosphere was suffocating and the mephitic atmosphere of Buharinomics ill agrees with my chest.
Yours Truly would have continued to watch from the balcony, but for the wise words of the beloved Martin Luther King Jr., cited above, as well as countless calls from my numerous comrades within and outside the pen confraternity to return to the trenches, for the sake of nation building in motherland.
The raison d’être for this piece is not to say, I warned you all against the second and third coming of the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, as the train had since left its station. So, needless crying over spilled milk.
I must confess, Nigeria’s hydra-headed problems press on my mind like a mountain, but I dare say, they are not insurmountable. Let’s pray in the name of liberty, equality and reason for Igbo Presidency in 2023.
Going forward, now there are chances for such move before it is very hard to navigate in such a whirling, there is an urgent need to renegotiate how Nigerians should live together.
In the eternal words of the great Spanish writer and philosopher, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás (George Santayana), he wrote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Therefore, it is highly imperative at this moment in our chequered history to critically examine where we are coming from as a country.
The last time an Igbo man from what is today’s South East Nigeria was Head of State or Head of National Government or President was (January 17, 1966 to July 29, 1966). Since that brutal assassination of Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi in Ibadan, Oyo State, in 1966, is it not shocking that no son nor daughter from the Igbo Nation has held the plum job in Nigeria? For 56 years?
Let’s go down memory lane of Nigeria’s Heads of National Government since 1960:
1. Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa (30 August 1957 – 15 January 1966)/ Ceremonial President Nnamdi Azikiwe (1 October 1963 to 15 January 1966)
2. General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (17 January 1966 to 29 July 1966)
3. General Yakubu Gowon (1 August 1966 to 29 July 1975)
4. General Murtala Mohammed (29 July 1975 to 13 February 1976)
5. General Olusegun Obasanjo (13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979)
6. President Shehu Shagari (1 October 1979 to 31 December 1983)
7. General Muhammadu Buhari (31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985)
8. General Ibrahim Babangida (27 August 1985 to 26 August 1993)
9. Ernest Shonekan (26 August 1993 to 17 November 1993)
10. General Sani Abacha (17 November 1993 to 8 June 1998)
11. General Abdulsalami Abubakar (8 June 1998 to 29 May 1999)
12. President Olusegun Obasanjo (29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007)
13. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (29 May 2007 to 5 May 2010)
14. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (29 May 2010 to 29 May 2015)
15. President Muhammadu Buhari (29 May, 2015 to 29 May 2023)
I reiterate, over the last 56 years of Nigeria’s chequered history, no Igbo son nor daughter has held the position of Head of State or Head of Government or President.
More so, critically examining Nigeria’s history since the return of civil rule (not democracy) on May 29, 1999, it is arresting that no Igbo son nor daughter has held the position of Head of State or Head of Government or President.
Our brethren from the South West (the Yorubas) have had their fair share for eight years under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Our brethren from the South South have had their fair share under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for over five years.
By May 29, 2023, our brethren from the North would have had their fair share under Presidents Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari for over 11 years.
To salvage whatever is left of Nigeria come 2023 and beyond, it’s therefore expedient for our brethren from the South West, South South and the North to allow reason to prevail, in lieu of passion.
The foregoing, therefore brings to mind, the eternal words of Chief Alex Ekiotenne of RIERPO, before the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference put up by the Gen. Sanni Abacha’s regime.
Ekiotenne had argued: “The first question we must answer is if the diverse groups feel this federation (Nigeria) is no longer beneficial, then, we should dissolve peacefully without bloodshed like Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union.”
It was the 40th U.S. President, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who affirmed that “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
Nigeria is sitting on a powder keg, but as usual, her ruling, political elite are carrying on with ostentatious wining and dining like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In his book, “Revolutionary Brothers: Thomas Jefferson, The Marquis de Lafayette, And The Friendship That Helped Forge Two Nations,” prolific American author, Tom Chaffin, cited that at the time of crisis, every country is made up of:
1. Philosophes acquainted with man only as they see him in their books and not in the world.
2. Experienced reformers.
3. Scoundrels of wicked principles and desperate fortunes, hoping to pillage something in the wreck of their country.
In my usual characteristics, as I did in 2014/2015 and 2018/2019, ahead of 2023, I am once again calling on Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to allow reason prevail, not passion.
Ahead of 2023, for palpable peace, justice and equity, all Nigerians must throw their weight behind an experienced reformer from the South East (Alaigbo), not philosophes acquainted with man only as they see him in their books and not in the world, nor scoundrels of wicked principles and desperate fortunes, hoping to pillage something in the wreck of their country.
Ikenna Asomba is a Journalist and student of Compound Republicanism, he writes from Charleston Illinois, United States.