In every democratic polity with heterogeneous setting, power rotation is an inevitable mechanism that reliably enroots and fastens democratic development. It entails equitable rotation of the various arms of government amongst the individual geopolitical divides in the polity. In same vein, all leadership positions that are elective or appointive must revolve round such geopolitical divides. This has great developmental benefits. It fosters peace and unity, and to great somewhat ensures even distribution of dividends of democracy. It plays the accommodative cannon, wherein every component geopolitical divide receives adequate sense of belonging and co-participates in the leadership and building of the polity.

I am one of the harbingers of social justice and equity. I speak my mind in every given situation even when it disfavours my interest; those who know The Reformer can truly attests to this axiomatic fact. Today, as a social critic and messenger of true gospel of natural justice, I want to address the Igbo nation concerning the forth coming 2023 general elections. It’s very obvious that we all belong to different political parties and would love to protect our various noble and ignoble interests. However, a good leader is the one who puts the overall interest of the society at heart.

Though power is taken and not given, the idea of survival of the fittest as power-obtainment, ploy greatly impinges on pragmatic equity in power rotation in the multifaceted geopolitical divides in Nigeria. It fans the embers of domination and marginalization of some segments over others and thus the major cause of various agitations across the country by the marginalized and minority groups. The worst is with the Igbos/South-easterners that are today punitively vanquished and marginalized in memory of their secessionist attempt that ended in “no victor, no vanquish.” But if truly “the war” has ended and with ‘no victor, no vanquish,’ why are Igbos marginalized still half a decade after the war?

How can Igbos be assuaged? How can the wounds of the war be healed? How does Nigeria intend to prove to Igbos/South-easterners that the ‘no victor, no vanquish” declared after the war and the acclaimed national oneness of all geopolitical divides (as a federated State), when obvious institutionalized marginalization permanently denies them reach to the apex leadership positions of the country?

Come 2023 and in accordance with the gentleman’s agreement among the Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1998, power should rotate to the Southern Nigeria, and since the Southwest and South-South have taken their own shots to the Presidency since 1999, will it be wrong if an Igbo man becomes the next president of Nigeria? I am not talking of Igbo president but Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.

At the onset of the Fourth Republic, the Igbos fluffed a golden opportunity to produce a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction when they betrayed the late Alex Ekwueme at the PDP convention in Jos in 1998. At that time, he was in a pole-position to emerge as the PDP Presidential candidate in the run-up to the 1999 Presidential election. Had he won that PDP Presidential ticket, he would have become the president of Nigeria as PDP was the most formidable political party in Nigeria as at then, but his Igbo compatriots who were top members of PDP sold him down the river for pecuniary and selfish reasons. Should this intra-ethnic hatred spring for any reason come 2023 presidential election, the dream of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction will become just a mirage, hallucination and illusion.

In 1999, the presidential tickets of apex political parties were concentrated in the Southwest in order to placate the Abiola’s denial. Thus, the tickets were for Olusegun Obasanjo (PDP) and Olu Falae (AD and APP). In 2007, the elections were mainly for Musa Yar’Adua, Nuhu Ribadu and Muhammadu Buhari etc, albeit there were some other zones that featured candidates from their side in other political parties. In 2019, the election was mainly between Buhari and Abubakar Atiku. At the moment, the political battle is between Obi Southeast, Atiku North East, and Tinubu Southwest. Should an Igbo man go for Northeast or Southwest in order to justify his party political interest? Igbo man is known for nobility and the spirit of brotherhood should not be neglected.

A Nigerian President of Igbo extraction will not only heal the wounds of the past, it is also a bold step in harnessing the country’s abundant potential towards the greater good. It is an opportunity for equity and justice. According to Ogbonnia, it is an opportunity to assuage the long-standing distrust against Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria. It is a profound opportunity for the Igbo to reverse the downward spiral of distrust created among themselves by artificial post-civil war boundaries.

Despite the existence of the Federal Character Commission and the insistence that federal positions be shared on federal character basis, gross inequality heralds the Igbo existence in the Nigerian polity. There are institutionalized imbalance in the numbers of States in the Southeast geopolitical zone, in the numbers of Senatorial and House of Reps seats, Local Government Councils, Wards and Polling Units, etc., in the Southeast compared to the other 5 zones. Given these facts, I ask, since there was ‘no victor and no vanquish’ after the Biafra secessionist war, why are the constitutional rights of Igbos denied them? How does Nigeria intend to heal the wounds of the civil war?  The list of these imbalances is numerous and thus a central part of genuine agitation.

Now, it is time again to heal the wounds of the past and affirm our national oneness, the 2023 President should return to the Southern Nigeria, and since the Southwest and South-South have had their turns in the presidency, it is the turn of the Southeast to produce the Nigerian President. But then, what does this imply and demand?

Certainly, for Igbos to realize the vision of the Nigerian President of Southeast extraction come 2023, they should be able to be part of the major movement. This we have achieved through the emergence of Obi. This has been emphasized by prominent Nigerians from Igbo and Yoruba lands hence several endorsement by most conscientious Nigerians from other tribes.

I am yet to know what Ohanaeze is doing in support of their prominent son Mr. Peter Obi. Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo should form a formidable unified front that reaches out to and bargain with other zones, ethnic groups, political blocks, etc in order to make this work. As the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “No venturing, no gaining.” This according to Ebere Onwudiwe “requires building a strong and expansive nationwide coalition across the country to shake off the excessively individualistic pursuit of that highest office in the country. The place to start is at home, specifically, with consolidating the support of the Igbo nation all over the country and building a fresh strong bridge between constituents and their immediate neighbors in the South-South.”

The above call for mono-frontal political bargain entails total focus on the presidential seat rather than some cliques and blocs or persons from the Southeast opting for the Vice Presidential seat, National Party Chairman or making multiple demands and bargains. The elder statesmen of the Southeast should be able to call and form senatorial zones and States forum of Southeast statesmen, and the movement goes from senatorial zones to State level; to the Southeast and then to the Igbos in Edo, Rivers and Delta States. A strong delegation must also be formed and reach out to other zones in the Southern Nigeria with the mission of emphasising why Igbos must produce the next President of the country.

Power is taken and not given. It is on this note that I concur with Tochukwu Ezukunma’s view that “to expect the emergence of an Igbo president because it is the turn of the Igbo (for the sake of justice and equity) to produce the next president is starry-eyed nonsense.” Dr Ugoji Egbujuo used the actual word, “The Igbo cannot become the whining nation. We must shed the victim mentality of political passivity, negative thinking, helplessness, pessimism.”

Nigeria as a nation and federated State must see the Presidency of Southeast extraction as a task that must be accomplished as she did to the Southwest because of late Mushod Abiola. The realization of this national project goes a long way to ensuring definite sense of belongingness amongst Southeast Nigerians. It will foster democratic development, security, peace and unity. It will also go a long way in stopping secessionist agitations from the zone, and will be a reference point to all the 36 States of the federation, on the principles of rotational executive head of their States in a way that after one senatorial zone produces the State Governor, the next in the roll takes over. We must form this habit as a national portrait if democracy must grow fast in Nigeria.


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