ixty years after independence, there are Nigerians who still believe a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is impossible and can only happen over their dead bodies. Call it ‘Igbophobia’ or Anti Igbo Derangement Syndrome (AIDS). A certain Alhaji Shettima Yerima of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum is one of such persons. According to Yerima, “the Igbo can never rule Nigeria because they are not loyal”. It is unfortunate that this tirade of hate against over 40 million people is coming at a time when the world is struggling with the pains caused by racism, tribalism, hate and bigotry.
Apparently, people filled with this kind of Anti Igbo Derangement Syndrome (AIDS) and slurs does not know God and need to be re-schooled on the mystery of God; that all powers belong to God and that if it is the will of God that by 2023 Nigeria will produce a president of South-East extraction, no one can stop it. Only God gives power.
I advocate for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction not for the sake of it or because we Igbo are afraid of competition but because I know a Nigerian president from the East will heal, revive and restore Nigeria back to her glorious past.
Once, Nigeria held out as the best hope for the black race. Every African around the world looked up to her. The high premium placed on Nigeria was not for nothing. The country is hugely populated and blessed with the choicest of resources nature can afford.
Like several other nations of the world, Nigeria has gone through difficult times. It survived decades of military rule; survived succession of very bad leaders; survived one of the most brutal civil war ever recorded since after World War II. Though the civil war ended with the surrender of Biafra in 1970, the Igbo still bear the brunt of the war. They are still treated like conquered people despite holding the key for Nigeria’s prosperity. The Igbo question persist because Nigeria has learnt nothing from her difficult past.
At the point of writing this article, words came in that the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana was attacked and demolished. This wasn’t the first time Ghana is poking her finger into Nigeria’s eyes. This recent attack by Ghana is an aberration and yet the response from Abuja is feeble putting us in a position where we are no longer respected by our friends nor feared by our foes.
Nigeria needs a strong and assertive leadership that will unite the country, grow us to prosperity, inspire confidence and restore our pride and dignity as a nation. This is the leadership quality I advocate for which a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction will assure.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria’s unity is seriously under threat and that the past 12 years has further polarised and divided us. One of the arguments I have heard against the South-East, is that they want to be carved out of Nigeria and therefore cannot be trusted with the unity of Nigeria. This is a lie because irritants and fringe groups like IPOB exists in all regions and tribes of Nigeria cashing in on the general frustration of the people occasioned by 60 years of misrule, mis-governance and mismanagement. The activities of IPOB does not represent the opinions of the generality of Ndi Igbo who preferred a united Nigeria that is restructured or reformed in a way that more powers and responsibilities are devolved to the states as the federating units.
Restructuring is a win-win situation for all so that too much power is no longer placed at the centre. In terms of unity, the Igbo remain the only tribe that genuinely believe in Nigeria. They live in all parts of the country contributing to the physical development of their adopted homes. A Nigerian President of South-East extraction will unite Nigeria and treat every citizen fairly and equally. He will understand the problems and challenges faced by each section of the country and work to mitigate those challenges.
In 1999, Nigeria consciously and deliberately ceded power to the South to compensate for many years of northern rulership. The beneficiary of that concession was the South-West due to the annulment of June 12 election widely believed to have been won by MKO Abiola, a Yoruba, hence eight years of Obasanjo’s presidency. With Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Vice President, I believe the South-West has had a fair share of power to naturally concede to the South-East. Moreover, the strongest moral argument the North had against Goodluck Jonathan administration was the belief that the arrangement to rotate power between the North and South is being violated by the South shall Jonathan take another four years term of office.
Shall the North decide not to argue against her own moral standpoint by 2023, and decides to concede power to the South in honour of Nigeria’s unwritten code of rotation, it is only fair and just that the North supports the South-East to provide that Nigerian President of South-East extraction that will unite the country, inspire confidence, curb insecurity, grow the economy, fight corruption and build a just, fair and equitable society, hence the presidential aspiration of Bola Tinubu becomes rather obscene, not because he has no right to his ambition but because as a leader and elder statesman he should be more concerned about the unity of the country and not the pursuit of a selfish agenda.
I love and respect Tinubu. I admire him for what he has accomplished. There is no denying the fact that Tinubu will make a better president than some people who have ruled Nigeria. However, I expect him to use his influence and position to advance reconciliation, justice, equality and power shift to the South-East. That is what it means to be your brother’s keeper. That is what Azikiwe did when he conceded the post of prime minister to the North despite Awolowo urging him to the contrary.
For the unity of Nigeria, equity and fairness it is important that in 2023 Nigeria should concede power to the South and go ahead to elect a Nigerian president of South-East extraction. I believe those that love Nigeria as much as I do will see some sense in my position. Patriots can with an open mind commence the search for that South Easterner that possess some leadership qualities can be found in Mr. Peter Obi, Chris Ngige and Orji Uzo Kalu rolled in one. Here I mean a leader that can be trusted not to radically unsettle the federation but with the nerve to hold the country’s peace and unity intact, capacity to fight corruption, curb insecurity, grow the economy and inspire confidence. I believe either of Mr. Obi, Dr. Ngige and Senator Kalu fits this bill.
The Nigerian president of South-East extraction must be able to craft creative solutions to problem of insecurity across the country. No part of Nigeria is safe from the activities of Boko Haram, ethnic militias and bandits. Thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives, Christians and Muslims alike. The promise by President Buhari to end insecurity has not yielded any meaningful result. In fact, Northern elders had cause to label him a failure because of the perennial security challenges in the North. Even the President’s home state – Katsina – is also bleeding profusely. In a recent statement the elders gave him a two-week ultimatum to end the spate of insecurity ravaging the country. A Nigerian president of Igbo extraction with the cooperation of the North will defeat insurgency, end banditry and resolve the issues of ethnic militias.