2023: Time for a president from eastern Nigeria
Sir: I campaigned for a president from eastern Nigeria in my opinion piece, “rotational presidency in Nigeria” published in The Guardian on July 29, 2013. I asked the president, Goodluck Jonathan not to run for office in 2015 to allow somebody from eastern Nigeria to run for the highest office but the president didn’t care and abrogated the rotation of power agreement of his party. If he hadn’t cancelled the arrangement, that fair-skinned demagogue behind the radio wouldn’t have found job in project demagoguery to cause hatred. But I am pleased that the elite in the east and the middle class pay him no mind.
People wonder why I support this cause every time but the social order only develops when there is a change of perspective. Switzerland with many races has found a workable way to live together with their Canton system. No-one notices when they go to the polls to elect political leaders because power is rotated. Social stability is important before economic and political stability. The Igbo complain about political estrangement, although arguable due to poor choices but it is not enough to deny the east the presidency for the sake of One Nigeria. Shouldn’t we be ‘‘one people’’ before ‘‘one nation?’’ The North-West, South-West and South-South regions have all taken a shot at the presidency, then why not the South East? The Igbo are the most cosmopolitan and widely travelled race in Nigeria, it isn’t to be mistaken for nationalism though and they have helped to develop regions where they ply their trade.
Without a fact, the paroxysms of the misguided, inglorious civil war are still felt by the Igbo. And no leader in Nigeria has openly acted contrite to the people and to make them see themselves as shareholders in the Nigerian project. This is imprudent.
Two candidates from two major political parties and from the South West ran for office of president in 1999. Two candidates from two major political parties and from the Northwest ran for office of president in 2007. Two candidates from two major political parties from the Northwest and North East ran for office of president in 2019. When would two candidates from two major political parties and from the South East run for office of president in Nigeria? Would there ever be a president from South East Nigeria?
Reverend Jesse Jackson wept on the inauguration day of Barack Obama. I look forward to the day when people from the east would weep out of joy to see an easterner sworn in as president. I bring to the pole position the fact that the region has fewer states than its counterparts somewhere else. Nigeria belongs to all not some people.
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.
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