BY ADANNA CHIEGE
The race for the presidency has started in earnest with the South East zone making a firm and strong demand for the nation’s number one job.
The South East zone carries the banner of marginalization having not produced Nigeria’s President since democracy returned to the country in 1999.
As 2023 election draws close, the region is making an audacious move to produce the next President.
Already, the two leading political parties in the country, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have Igbo presidential hopefuls in their midst.
In the APC, presidential aspirants from the South East are former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
In the PDP fold, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and Mazi Mao Ohauabunwa, are Igbo presidential contestants.
Despite the renewed agitation for a President from the South East, there are fears if any of the aspirants could muster the required support from other zones, aside the South East zone to win the presidency, considering the diminishing presence of the two political parties in the zone.
The South East is divided by two political parties- the PDP and APC- each of the parties in control of two States in the region.
The APC controls Imo and Ebonyi States, while Abia and Enugu States are run by the PDP.
Anambra State has remained the perennial enclave of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
With the region sharply titling towards the two parties, some analysts contend that the South East is politically polarized and has failed to plan ahead of 2023 by dividing the zone along the APC and the PDP.
“It shows that the South East is politically divided. And these are factors that can weaken Igbo Presidential aspirants.
“In the South West, the region is dominated by the APC. Of the six states, all of them belong to the ruling APC, except Oyo State which is a PDP controlled State.
“The PDP has marginal presence in the South West. This strengthens the presidential bid of presidential aspirants from this region such as Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and Bola Tinubu” said Edward Igwe, a political analyst based in Owerri.
However, Elder Rufus Anyasodor, President, Igbo Re Awakening, contends that Igbo agitation for Nigeria’s Presidency transcends beyond the strength of the APC and the PDP in the South East.
“In the South-South region, the PDP is the dominant political party. The APC is only visible in Cross River State where Governor Ben Ayade decamped from the PDP to the APC.
“The region already has two presidential aspirants- Governor Nyesom Wike who is seeking the PDP presidential ticket and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
“Minister Amaechi cannot be said to be a weak presidential aspirant on this basis” Anyasodor said
He argued that the entire South East zone will align with either APC or PDP if any of them select an Igbo as its Presidential candidate
“There is no basis to say that Igbo presidential aspirants are weak in the race to Aso Rock Villa in 2023.
“When Olusegun Obasanjo aspired for the Presidency in 1999, the entire South West was in the kitty of the Action Alliance, AD. But he won the presidential race on the PDP platform” Anyasodor recalled.
“What is important, is for the nation to see the need for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023 and in the interest of justice, equity and fairplay, the South East deserves to produce the next President