Fifty years after the civil war. Fifty years after Ndigbo rightly or wrongly believed they have been marginalized and persecuted in Nigeria, it becomes morally incumbent on the rest of Nigerians to make concession to them so that the land can be healed and this negative perception addressed. This is particularly so considering that we are dealing with a greater percentage of Igbos who never witnessed the war; but who hang on to the stories that we were hated and not allowed to rule because we went to war against the rest of the country. If you concede the presidency to a Nigerian of Igbo extraction then this will right the perceived wrong against the Igbo.
To get it right Ndigbo must be proactive because nobody gives you power. You must take practical steps to get it. The first thing Ndigbo must do to recover power is to support the government and policies of the All Progressives Congress, APC, government of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is manifestly clear and predictable that the APC will win the 2023 presidential election. There is no alternative to the APC. Secondly, Buhari is larger than life. He is now a metaphor. You can’t rule the country without his name particularly in the North West. Of course, you can’t deal with the APC in the South West without the support of Asiwaju Ahmed Bolaji Tinubu. Tinubu has a firm control of his constituency working with great minds like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Alhaji Bisi Akande, Ogbeni Rauf Arigbesola, Babatunde Fasola, etc.
Why I’m saying this is for the Igbo to support Buhari and the policies of the APC because the party will win the 2023 elections. Nobody gives you mark in an examination you did not write. So we must be part of the APC to participate in the examination, being the presidential primary. We can always say, look we have been part of the programmes of this party and therefore must be allowed to produce the presidential candidate in 2023.
Another condition precedent for 2023 is that Ndigbo must support the APC in the Anambra State 2021 gubernatorial election. We must see to it that the APC wins. Of the 95 Local Governments Areas, LGAs, in Igboland, Imo State has 27. Anambra has 21; bringing the two states to 48 LGAs. From the other three states we have 47 LGAs with Ebonyi 13, Enugu 17 and Abia 17. If we win Anambra with 21 LGAs and with Imo already gone, we can now approach the APC and say, we’ve already given you 48 LGAs chairmen and 48 Assembly members. Please, on moral ground, give us the presidency because we are stakeholders.
In politics number matters. You can’t come to a party and be asking for presidential ticket when in your constituency you have nothing. The circumstances that produced President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 were different from what obtains today. Nigerians sat down and said that because of June 12, to heal the wound in the land, concede the presidency to the Yoruba. But it is not the same scenario now. Ndigbo have the opportunity to join the right party that can give us the presidency. If we fail to do that others will join and take it. That is my argument.
Quote me, the APC will survive beyond 2023. The fear of it being deliberately collapsed to pave way for a new platform is baseless. A leader is equal to the organization he leads; just as an organization is a true reflection of its leader. The leader of APC, President Buhari, is no longer human in terms of the ordinary. He’s an institution. When he contested before 2019, he was fighting from a disadvantaged position. But today he has everything capable of making a man win an election: Capacity to fund election, neutral INEC and entire security institutions.
Prospects of Igbo Presidency
The Igbo president should continue with the campaign against corruption initiated by the present government. He must never take state funds to buy choice properties in Dubai and London while Nigerians are pulverized by poverty. The abuse of public office should be checked. Since he’s the reference point for others to emulate, we expect him to dematerialize his soul while spiritualizing his conscience.
Industrialization must be prioritized to create massive employment capable of reducing tensions in the land. Anger, killings and frustration will reduce. You cannot talk about moving Nigerians forward without cheap and constant energy. The Nigerian president of Igbo extraction must be quick latching on renewable energies. Different energies for different parts of Nigeria. Hydro energy for those with access to big rivers. Wind corridors for those near the Atlantic Ocean and Sahara Desert. Solar energy for those in the far North. That is creativity.
He must develop our teaching hospitals to enviable standards to reverse expensive medical tourism. Our universities must be able to offer certain courses not presently available in Nigeria and encourage our lecturers abroad to come home. The Igbo president must pursue the fundamentals of international cooperation by opening his doors to friendly nations to help us. We need to develop fast without compromising standards. Critical infrastructure must be provided across the country and not done on the basis of nepotism or party consideration.
But the Igbo president must not be prejudiced by events of the past otherwise he would shoot himself in the foot from the beginning. This is because while hunting for a perceived enemy someone else will hunt him. At times where there are no enemies we mistakenly create one. The Igbo have no enemy and so none must wake up one morning and create one. He must have a broad mindset to love humanity and fear God.
Role of Ohaneze
Delegates to the Ohaneze 2020/2021 general elections must be courageous to elect a broad-minded Igbo as our next President-General. We want an Igbo who will not in the pursuit of personal interests undermine the Igbo interests in the short run, long run or the very long run. Without mincing words, all the steps Nnia Nwodo took as president of Ohaneze were meant to undermine the interests of Ndigbo; particularly in his fight against a perceived enemy in President Buhari.
Nwodo’s hatred for Buhari is traceable to 2003 when the latter declined to make him a running mate. Buhari chose the effervescent Senate President Chuba Okadigbo instead. For that Nwodo as Ohaneze president refused to work with Buhari to the great disadvantage of Ndigbo. Buhari asked Ohaneze to submit the name of a sixth state for creation in the South East. The Professor Chigozie Ogbu-led Ohaneze Committee on State Creation recommended Aba State for creation but Nwodo refused to submit this recommendation to Buhari.
Our envisaged Ohaneze President should be realistic enough to know that there are things you don’t achieve through war but diplomacy, arbitration and mediation. This is democracy. Nobody will listen to you if you say you want to go to war. People will tell you to go and sort things out amicably. You can’t say that in Nigeria today, with all the people and infrastructure, you want to go to war. The world will ignore you as not deep enough in reasoning.
The next president of Ohaneze must be calm, resourceful and intelligent. He must be a consummate negotiator capable of engaging other groups and nationalities to back Igbo presidency. His language and body language, we pray, would show the world that we’ve gotten one who will represent our interests and speak for us. And with God on our side, we’ll get Igbo presidency come 2023.
I said that the APC will win the 2023 presidential election; meaning that possible candidates for Igbo presidency will be those in APC. We look forward to having three Igbo governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, moving to the APC. That will broaden the space for the emergence of APC in Igboland and emergence of Igbo presidency from APC. Even so, our definition of Igbo includes the Igbanke of Edo. The Ikwerres, Etches, Egbemas, Ekpeyes, etc, of Rivers are all Igbos. Ndigbo would be happy to have a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction who comes from the South South or South East.
All the Igbo shining stars in APC are qualified to be president. Senator (Dr) Chris Ngige, former governor of Anambra State and two-time minister, stands out as one of our very best candidates. Senator Ngige, the wonder man who turned around a failed Anambra State, remains unrivaled as cerebral federal legislator serving as Vice Chairman of 7th Senate Committee on Power, Metallurgy and Steel Development.
Ogbonnaya Onu, former governor, two-time minister and a leading pioneer of APC, is qualified. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former governor, Speaker, Chairman of Conference of Speakers, Chairman of Governors’ Forum and two-time minister, is qualified. Orji Uzoh Kalu, former Abia governor and sitting senator, is qualified. Chief Hope Uzodinma, former Senator of the Federal Republic and present governor of Imo, has lofty credentials fit for the highest office. Also qualified is Senator Rochas Okorocha, former Adviser to President Obasanjo, two-time governor of Imo and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum. Ken Nnamani, former Senate President and chieftain of APC, will serve meritoriously. Ndigbo have more than enough qualified candidates for 2023.
We must be able to tell Nigerians, these are our sons and daughters who did their party and country proud. You should be able to pick whom you can work with. But if Nigerians say, oh the Igbo want to show that they have sense. We shall tell them to take the sense and give us Igbo presidency. Nigerians did that in 1999. They took the sense and gave the Yoruba the presidency. That was how President Obasanjo emerged. In their own sense, let Nigerians give us a Nigerian president who is an Igbo and we shall be happy.
By Dimm Uche Okwukwu, Secretary-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide.
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