I have argued in my earlier articles on how it is fair and just to have Igbo president and for the sake of equity, it is the right thing to do. It is time to have the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from the South-East zone. I also enumerated some odds that will act against it within the Nigerians’ bias towards the Igbo people as well as some things to be looked at by the South-East politicians while working towards getting the presidency. But why is it called Igbo presidency?
I have at times joined in calling it Igbo presidency but I had to ask, why? Are we looking for Igbo president or president from the systemically marginalized South-East Nigeria?
Apart from the Igbo people, in recent memory, no ethnic nationality has contested for this office based on his or her ethnic group. Nigeria harbours about 300 ethnic groups but no politician from these places has presented himself based on his ethnicity. We have had presidents who ran for the office based on their geopolitical zone rather than their ethnic group.
Ndigbo is sending the wrong message by basing the argument on Igbo presidency.
Igbo ethnic group spread across three regions; South-South, North-Central and South-East but among these regions, South-East has not produced any president in over 50 years. Notably, South-East is populated by the Igbo people, but we cannot say that Igbo people found in other regions are less Igbo than those in the South-East.
If the South-East leaders continue to use this argument, it gives room for the detractors to drive a wedge between the Igbo of South-East and Igbo of other regions. It may interest them to have Igbo person from other zones than from South-East zone which in essence is a shot on the foot.
In the South-South, some Igbo deny vehemently never being of Igbo ethnicity. They will rather claim different identity even when they bear Igbo names and speak a dialect of Igbo language. When it comes to politics, they may choose to become Igbo. This is why some politicians from the South-South are presenting themselves for consideration for the presidency. After all, it is Igbo presidency.
Nigeria recognizes six geopolitical zones and South-South has produced President Goodluck Jonathan from the zone and not from Ijaw, South-West produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and not Yoruba President. Even Former Governor Ahmed Tinubu is not presenting himself for Yoruba President rather as a candidate from the South-West region. So, why should it be named Igbo presidency?
Continued naming it Igbo presidency may sound sinister to those being asked for partnership. Given the biases and fear embedded on the minds of Nigerians against the Igbo people, the naming will give them more reason to think that the Igbo president is coming to do the bidding of the Igbo people. It is therefore unintentionally elevating ethnicity than the political region as a deciding factor. There is need to change the narrative as soon as possible.
Is the insecurity in the South-East part of 2023 politics?
This is a fair question by any keen observer. While the national debate was on zoning and why it is righteously the turn of the South-East to produce the president, the region that enjoyed relative peace earlier in the year has become engulfed with insecurity. This started when the Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma invited the military to begin air bombardments in Orlu area of the state. In defense of his actions, he said he was pursuing the members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN). But the governor had opened the can of worms of insecurity that is destabilizing Imo state and the South-East. That could be the basis for the unknown detractors to seize the situation to begin to cause mayhem; burning state properties, killing the security operatives and Imo people.
The leaders of other zones had begun to accept the possibility of a president from the South-East but with the insecurity, some politicians from other zones, especially the north, have started to question the acceptability of a president from a region that cannot secure her region or have those asking for self-determination cautioned.
Sen. Ike Ekweremadu thinks the insecurity in the South-East may have been an “extreme and dangerous politics” by the authorities rather than to find a solution. He said, “I have come to the realisation that those making and inducing the statements are only playing politics with a very serious matter. The objective is to lay the foundation for the harassment and possible destruction of the opposition in the South East ahead of the 2023 General Elections.”
The foundation was laid in that it did not matter that insecurity is high in other zones especially the north but that of South-East was of great interest that the president threatened to speak to them, “in the language they will understand.”
For years, South-East has been an occupied region with security check points on the roads. The recent bombardments, heavy presence of the security operatives and insecurity aim to de-market, de-industrialise and to destroy the zone economically and socially.
Insecurity will not stop South-East from producing the president
Prior to the emergence of President Olusegun Obasanjo, there was unrest in the South-West over the outcome of June 12, 1993, election as well as the death of Chief Moshood Abiola. The South-South people engaged in the sabotage of the oil installations, hostage taking, and act of social unrest, President Goodluck Jonathan was the result of that. President Buhari became president as Boko Haram terror engulfed the north. No one questioned these regions or argued that they should not produce the president but rather they were placated.
The insecurity in the South-East zone is not being justified but when the dust of the insecurity settles, the region will consistently continue to seek equity and justice. Currently, the security operatives may be overstepping their terms of engagement by abducting and killing innocent people, yet the South-East is not privy to these terms of engagement.
For the sake of political equity, it is the turn of the South-East region to produce the next Nigerian president.
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