Buhari’s tribunal victory raises hope for 2023 Igbo presidency
• As Ndigbo Storm Umuahia For Michael Okpara Colloquium
With the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal providing the leeway into the resolution of the impasse that arose from the last presidential election, between President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the clamour for Igbo presidency in 2023 has taken an upward swing in the Southeast.
The ruling of the presidential election tribunal in favour of incumbent president Buhari has added bite and new zeal in the struggle by Ndigbo for the rest of the country to allow the zone for the first time produce his successor in 2023, irrespective of the political party; he or she might come from.
Although certain groups in the zone like the Southeast for Presidency Movement 2023 (SEFORP) had begun the campaign soon after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pronounced the outcome of the elections in favour of Buhari, sources stated that the early campaigns had kick-started with an eye on what eventually could emanate from an election tribunal.
Had the tribunal’s verdict gone the side of Atiku Abubakar, some say that could have imperiled the campaigns as zone could have settled down with the Vice Presidency since the nomination of Peter Obi as Atiku’s running mate was already settled. However, since it went the way of Buhari, pundits say 2023 is now open to allow and Ndigbo must begin work in earnest.
The traditional ruler of Mbano in Imo state, His highness Dr. Oliver Ohanweh raised the ante recently when he invited promoters of SEFORP to the Mbano epoch event holding next month. The Monarch, who had hosted members of the Movement, had indicated that it was time the rest of the country accord the Igbo the right to produce a president for the country.
Ndigbo from all walks of life would storm Umuahia, the Abia State capital later in the month for a colloquium in honour of late former Eastern Premier, Michael Okpara. The event being promoted by several Igbo groups shall draw representation from the South-South states, as well as governors in the zone.
Feelers indicated that the kernel of discussion would be around 2023 presidency and what role Ndigbo would play going forward, to ensure that they remain relevant in the political equation of the country.
Sources said that 2023 has become so important to the zone that unless it gets its acts right and on time, it could remain an onlooker throughout the next dispensation, adding that, it must begin to galvanize itself, while hoping that the rest of the country supports its quest.
National Coordinator of SEFORP, Rev Okechukwu Obioha, raised the consciousness recently, when he said that no zone in the country could have accepted a long political disequilibrium that held its people down than the Southeast, stressing that, the history of the subjugation dated back to 63 years ago.
Obioha, a former national chairman of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), who has successfully midwifed the Movement into a national platform, though agreed that the tempo of agitation could have been dwarfed by a possible victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates, he stated however, that the people were prepared to show support for another four years before they lay claims to their turn.
Speaking at Owerri, Imo State capital, during the inauguration of the state chapter of the Movement, Obioha said: “If it is better, let us taste it. Every other zone has had it. Please let us have it. We are saying that we want to change the tactics. We want to restore the value system. In 63 years, only the Southeast has had the question mark of not tasting power at the centre. It is a sorrowful thing; a monumental embarrassment. This generation of people of the zone is prepared to work to actualize that in 2023 and put an end to what has become a bad omen.”
Obioha told the enthusiastic gathering that the political leadership had meted injustice to Igbo ethnic group, stressing that it was sad the trend had been allowed to continue by those who should know the value of unity of purpose and togetherness.
“We are no where today and that is basically because, some persons feel that the structure is in their favour. That is not how a system should operate if we call ourselves one Nigeria. Democracy is the government of the people by the people and for the people, but where few individuals determine the fate of others, it makes mockery of the system,” he said
He continued: “We cannot pretend that all is well. If we keep quiet, our challenges will keep quiet, if we open up, I know there are still men and women with conscience in this country, who can call a spade by its name. We cannot continue this way. We need to change the system. We are barely surviving. An Igbo man is an institution. We have been tried and the result proved we are capable. They should give us this power. This power belongs to us. We are not begging.”
Obioha said that power was not given free of charge but was one that should be negotiated, adding that the zone had paid their due in the preservation, protection and service of the country to ensure its oneness and development.
“We are the most widely travelled segment. There is no part of Nigeria where an Igbo man is not contributing. We marry from any part of the country, we build houses, we do businesses, we provide jobs and we empower people to live. That shows commitment to a cause. No other region could have done better. If out of nothing we have contributed this much, then let the rest of the country come together and say that we have tried and give us that due to us,” he said.
Obioha, said it was unfortunate and unthinkable for anybody to deny the zone the opportunity in 2023, arguing that the only time an Igbo man the Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe occupied the position was a ceremonial president without much political power.
“We must talk to change the leadership on the top. When we have the capacity and political will, then we can change certain things for better. We are just saying, just give us president. If you don’t have an Igbo man at the helm of affairs, Nigeria will continue to throttle. We will continue to waste time. Igbo men have been excluded from activities of the government from 2015 till now.”
Speaking on the efforts to ensure that the objectives of the movement were not poisoned by bad political moves, he said that members have continued to voluntarily support the message for the realization of the presidency. “We just started not long ago and Igbos are queuing up. Forget about the balkanization. Remove the cap they used to mess us up. We are one. We do not want wild politicians to come in now. We want to strengthen ourselves now, guarding against hijack.”
Indeed the Movement is catching like wildfire. Already chapters have been inaugurated in Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra and Imo states. That of Abia has been slated this month, while other states of the federation are gearing up to be inaugurated.
Chief Alozie Agomuo, the group’s coordinator in Abuja wants all groups, like MASSOB, IPOB among others to drop their separatist calls and concentrate on the presidency project.He said his sojourn in the ECOWAS commission in the last 30 years had put him in a better stead to know that it was easier to realise thepresidency than the separatist agenda, which certain groups were clamoring for and urged Ndigbo to support the aspiration.
Recently in Awka, Anambra state, a University lecturer, Dr. Frank Collins N. Okafor, spoke on the imperative of Igbo Presidency with the topic “ Igbo Presidency 2023: A legitimate project in Scientific Perspective”Okafor had said that a proper scientific analysis of the circumstances and reality of the Igboman in relation to the office of the President showed that the current call was not only genuine but timely.
He said: “Apart from the above justifications, I make bold to state that it is has been my conviction that the failure of the Nigerian nation is consequent on her refusal to recognise the best innovative spirit, character and leadership of the Igboman, which can serve as solution to the lingering socio-economic miasma of the nation.
“I have always argued that Nigeria remains the only country in the world with first firsthand information and solution to her problem, yet, decides on its own to remain comfortable with its prevailing indescribable dilemma. It is a pity that over the years the nation has suffered under the suffocating grip of reluctant leaderships, which have vowed to not only keep the nation at a standstill but to make sure that all aspects of its future growth are perpetually decimated. This is unfortunate.”
A coalition of South East Civil Society Activists and Human Rights Defenders rose from their meeting in Enugu last week with a call on the rest of the country to allow Igbo produce the next president as a way of righting the wrongs meted on its people.
The group, which had listed several infractions against the Igbo such as exclusion from commanding height of national economy, lopsided appointment of security chiefs, deficit critical infrastructure like the railway, roads, seaport, as well as unfavourable allocation from the centre among others, said the zone had supported others to produce president in the past.
National Convener of the group, Ibuchukwu Ezike and Secretary, Dr. Jasper Uche, stated that it was unjustifiable for anybody to clamour for retention of power in the north after 2023, insisting that doing so would introduce crisis into the country.
“We posit that any attempt, surreptitiously, or otherwise, to ignore the smoldering tension occasioned by the self-serving plot to confine Ndigbo to perpetual hewers of wood and drawers of water in the Nigeria project, will incubate grave implications for Nigeria’s political stability and social harmony,” they warned.