By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)
The clamour or agitation currently raging for Igbo Presidency in 2023 championed by Igbo political elites and other socio-cultural groups could rightly be described as an illusion, unnecessary dissipation of energy and exercise in futility.
The agitation had once again portrayed Ndigbo as a people who are totally lacking in diplomacy and political engineering. The agitation had also portrayed Ndigbo as a people who are completely out of touch with the current realities of the political equation now unfolding in the country called Nigeria.
The total absence of unity of purpose and cohesion among Ndigbo had always been the greatest hindrance and undoing for them in their quest for political relevance in the country.
Ndigbo tragically lost their pre-eminent position in the affairs of the country since the exit of the late sage Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who during the glorious era skillfully deployed his legendary political ingenuity, sagacity and diplomacy to the advantage of Ndigbo by wisely forging political alliances and building bridges across the political divide and thereby placing Ndigbo at various strategic and powerful positions in the country.
One would recall rather with nostalgia when Ndigbo played pivotal roles in the affairs of the country as major stake holders in the Nigerian project. It is pertinent to mention in this piece however, that during this memorable era, Ndigbo produced eminent personalities who occupied highly exalted positions in the Nigeria’s political landscape such as
(a) Late Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe who was the first indigenous Governor-General and later President of Nigeria.
(b) Late Dr. Abysinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu-President of the Nigeria Senate
(c) Late Dennis C. Osadebay (Osadennis) – Speaker of the Nigeria’s House Representatives and later first premier of the defunct Mid-West region in 1963.
(d) Late Dr. Bernard Uzoukwu Nzeribe – Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives
(e) Late great orator of repute Dr. Jaja Anucha Wachuku – Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN.
(f) Dr. Eni Njoku – Minister of Mines and Power.
(g) Late Raymond Amanze Njoku – Minister of Commerce and Industry
(h) Late Dr. Aja Nwachukwu – Minister of Education
(i) Late Alfred Chukwudifu Nwapa – Minister of Communications
(j) Late Dr. Pius N. C. Okigbo – Foremost Economist and Economic Adviser to the Federal Government and later Nigeria’s Ambassador to the European Community (EC) now European Union (EU) and (k) Late indefatigable and flamboyant Dr. Kingsley Ozuomba Mbadiwe (KO) – Minister of Aviation. All of blessed memory among others. The only surviving Zikist and Nationalist Chief Mbazulike Amaechi was also Minister of Aviation in the first republic.
It would be recalled that Late Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe the then Minister of Aviation took the famous “Atilogwu” acrobatic dance troupe to New York in the US during the maiden flight of the defunct Nigerian Airways plane from Lagos to New York. And as the plane landed at the tarmac, the “Atilogwu” dancers in their colourful outfit emerged from the plane like golden stars from the skies and stormed the airport with their unique and fantastic dance steps to the amazement and great admiration of the Americans.
That glorious era was indeed the good old days when Ndigbo were greatly revered and respected as unique and special people in the country called Nigeria.
It is a sad commentary however, that the present generation of Igbo political elites unfortunately, grossly lack the rudiments of political engineering and incapable of galvanizing Ndigbo to claim their rightful place in the Nigerian Nation.
The present rather sorry and pathetic situation of Ndigbo in Nigeria’s current political equation whereby the proud and highly industrious Ndigbo would now go cap in hand to beg for their due rights in Nigeria is to say the least utterly disgusting and unacceptable.
This beggarly mentality on the part of Igbo political class must stop forthwith. It is high time Ndigbo should rise to the occasion and quickly put on their thinking caps in order to regain their honour and lost glory and assume their rightful place within the Nigerian Nation, which they made tremendous contributions and sacrifices to build.
It has become imperative therefore, that Ndigbo should immediately adopt the policy of inward looking and set their priorities right in the face of their present agonizing and pitiable situation in the Nigerian Nation.
As the current debate on the zoning of the Presidential slot for the 2023 election gathers momentum, it is already becoming abundantly clear that the raging agitation for the Presidential slot be ceded to the South-East Geopolitical Zone would soon end up as an illusion, a mirage or worst still a wild goose chase.
The political temperature in the country seem not to favour the much talked-about 2023 Igbo Presidency even as the current political movements in the country towards the 2023 Presidential Election had almost reached a frenzy peak.
The political gladiators and big-wigs in the South-West Zone are fast mobilizing their people for the “strong man” of the West and National leader of the ruling APC Bola Ahmed Tinibu aka Jagaban of Lagos as a potential successor to President Buhari. It would be noted also that the South-West Geo-Political Zone had already forged a formidable political alliance with the North-West Geo-political Zone where President Buhari hails from.
And the South-West played a major and critical role in the election of the incumbent President Buhari in both 2015 and 2019 Presidential elections as the South-West delivered almost a block vote to President Buhari in both previous elections.
In terms of voter turnout, the two zones could boast of massive votes during election which is a huge advantage to Bola Ahmed Tinibu, should he eventually emerge as the APC flag bearer for the 2023 Presidential election.
The South-West zone rightly expects the North-West Zone to reciprocate the political gesture and support the Presidential ambition of the “Jagaban” should he eventually clinch the APC Presidential ticket as it is commonly said that “one good turn deserves another” which is very apt in the context of the unfolding fast political developments in the country.
Similarly, another political Tsunami is also gathering momentum in the North-Central zone where political gladiators and heavy weights are equally mobilizing their people for the big battle of the titans to clinch the APC Presidential ticket for the 2023 election.
Some powerful voices in the zone such as the former Governor of Plateau State Senator Jonah Jang among others had already made a strong case for the North-Central zone to produce the next President of the country in 2023.
It is instructive to observe however, that fast political movements within the zone had already reached fever pitch geared towards the possible adoption of the current Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello as a potential APC Presidential flag bearer for 2023 Election.
The indefatigable Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly who is currently spear heading the political movement had already reached out to his fellow Speakers across the geo-political zones and solicited for their support towards the Presidential ambition of Governor Bello.
The Kogi State House Speaker had equally asserted during his recent shuttle visits to his colleagues across the country that Governor Bello was eminently qualified to run for the office of the President of the country citing his youthful age and vibrancy as a huge advantage even as the country is clamouring for a competent and knowledgeable youth to pilot the affairs of the country come 2023 in line with the current desire for generational shift in the Nation’s political governance.
It is needless to emphasize the point that going by the current political intrigues, manoeuvres, and horse trading, Ndigbo due to certain inherent inhibitions and negative factors in the system, seem not to be in any serious contention for the 2023 Nigerian Presidency.
And to further worsen the ugly situation, Ndigbo had unwittingly shot themselves at the foot by their apparent lack of unity and cohesion which had dealt devastating blow to their quest for the so called Igbo Presidency. There appears to be many discordant tones among political elites in Igbo land on certain critical and highly sensitive issues bordering on the collective aspirations and well-being of Ndigbo in the Nigerian project.
The total lack of unity of purpose and understanding among Ndigbo on certain crucial issues affecting the Igbo Nation had always been the greatest obstacle and setback for the socio-economic development of Igbo land since the end of the civil war in 1970.
It is no gain saying the fact that the apparent nonchalant attitude of the South-East Governors towards the terrible plight of Ndigbo in Nigeria had regrettably rendered them vulnerable to their perceived common enemies or adversaries and loss of the sense of belonging in the country they rightly regarded as their own.
The defeatist mentality or war hangover and unreasonable fear not to offend the powers that be in the country had continued to hunt Igbo political leaders since after the war in 1970 and unless and until Ndigbo begin to shake off this mentality from their psyche, their sorry and pitiable situation and woes would continue to linger.
It is regrettable to observe however, that the present generation of Igbo political elites in the South-East region seem incapable of forging strong political alliances with their counterparts across the country essentially due to their primordial greed and selfishness coupled with the mutual distrust, suspicion and hatred on the part of other Nigerians towards Ndigbo since after the war in 1970.
In the light of the foregoing therefore, Ndigbo as a people should now take their destiny into their own hands and direct all their talents and energies towards rebuilding the South-East region by engaging themselves in common economic ventures or enterprises that would eventually launch the region into an industrial hub which will be the envy of their fellow Nigerian compatriots.
A common Igbo adage says “Onye ajuru anaghi aju onwe ya”. Ndigbo should therefore jettison their current agitation and beggarly mentality for Igbo Presidency even as power is never given or served a la carte but taken. Ndigbo should utilize their God given talents and entrepreneurial spirit to rebuild the South-East region through common economic ventures and services.
The South-East Governors should come together and drive this noble project by drawing a road map for the transformation and industrialization of the region modelled after the Asian Tigers like Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Dubia.
The five States governments should draw a master plan to link the State Capitals and other major cities in the region by rail as well as the construction of modern high ways to facilitate easy communication and commercial activities within the zone. Furthermore, the Sea Ports in the region should be reactivated and put to effective use for the conveyance of goods and services within the zone.
And with the anticipated economic boom in the zone, the perennial issue of unemployment among the teeming youths would certainly be a thing of the past even as the army of young graduates and other skilled workers would finally be usefully engaged and thereby promoting or enhancing prosperity in the region.
The above well thoughtout recommendations are obviously the panacea for the fast socio-economic development of the South-East Region which will automatically bring to an end the so called marginalization syndrome of Ndigbo in the scheme of things in the country called Nigeria.
Ndigbo should therefore be in the vanguard for the urgent restructuring of Nigeria which would obviously serve as the catalyst or springboard for the early take-off of the envisaged socio-economic master plan in the South-East region.
The present flawed and utterly lopsided political structure in the country coupled with the deliberate concentration of critical instruments of power such as the Military and Police structures, as well as the seat of power in one section of the country apparently could not guarantee the effective and successful Igbo Presidency and as such, any Igbo man elected as President under the present extremely awkward and unjust political arrangement would only remain a mere figure head or ceremonial President throughout his tenure.
Ndigbo must therefore stop their current clamour or delusion for the appointment of an Igbo man as a Service Chief or the Inspector-General of Police which indeed remains elusive and rather, channel their collective energies and focus towards turning the South-East region into an economic and industrial hub which will be a model for other African Nations. There is no doubt whatsoever that Ndigbo have the potentials and capacity to achieve these noble objectives and make their collective dream come through in our life time.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a Regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State G.S.M: 08074942671, 07037256684 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.