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Road to an Igbo presidency in 2039

By Remi Koledoye 
05 March 2023   |   4:24 am
Now that the 2023 presidential elections have come and gone, I believe everyone’s eye ‘don clear’ now. One of the outcomes of the elections is the failure of the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi to clinch the presidency as his supporters boasted he would but I have to say he put up a good showing.

Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi was welcomed by thousands of party supporters in Yola Adamawa state on Tuesday.

Now that the 2023 presidential elections have come and gone, I believe everyone’s eye ‘don clear’ now. One of the outcomes of the elections is the failure of the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi to clinch the presidency as his supporters boasted he would but I have to say he put up a good showing. He actually did better than I expected.

Now, what should the Igbo do to get the presidency of Nigeria in the future? As a friend of the Igbo people and as someone that wants them to have one of their own as president of Nigeria one day, the following are the steps I believe should be taken to realise that ambition.

For starters, going by the generally accepted working rotational presidency arrangement between the North and South, the new president Tinubu will spend eight years (God willing) and the North would automatically take over after that for their own eight years. This is why El Rufai, Badaru, Ganduje and co are fully behind Tinubu’s presidency now. 

What this means is, we can only conceivably expect a president of Igbo extraction when it is the turn of the south again in 2039. But then, it can actually happen in 2027.

The following are what the South East geopolitical zone has to do to realise that ambition:

The APGA Option: The Southeast governors and lawmakers should all move to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to have a formidable organic Igbo party. This can then be used (by mass movement to the ruling party eventually) to negotiate for the presidency. The advantage of this is to demonstrate that the Southeast can be united and speak with one voice. The disadvantage is it may be too late to get the top position on the basis of being able to give only five states to the ruling party where other interests within the party would have been waiting in the wings for the same position. So, this option will likely not fly.

Labour Party Option: Admittedly, I did not believe Peter Obi’s Labour Party would perform this well. Kudos to him for being able to command the kind of following he brought into the party. This could be built upon to make the Labour Party the main opposition in place of the fast dying PDP. They should try to attract the rump of the dying PDP, especially influential northern politicians into their fold. The advantage of remaining in the party is, Peter Obi can be the rallying point for people that want a new Nigeria and they can work hard to build an organic party with solid political structure all over Nigeria. His showing has shown that it is possible with hard work. In the unlikely event of a Tinubu government underperforming, Nigeria will easily vote for Peter Obi to finish off the second term of a southern presidency, otherwise they will have to wait until 2039 when Obi may be around 77 years old by the time it’s the turn of the south again. Nevertheless, I think he should be around in the party for as long as possible to be the rallying point for people that want that change. 

PDP Option: The second option is for the Southeast to go back to PDP. After all, they have always voted for PDP since 1999 before Atiku came to hijack the presidency from them in 2023, which made them register a ‘protest’ vote for Obi of Labour Party. The advantage of this is, they would feel natural in PDP. It would be like a home-coming for them after the euphoria of Obi/Labour. The party has a solid structure in the region and Nigeria as a whole. The main disadvantage is the improbability of wresting power from the ruling APC. Regardless, I would still encourage them to test the waters in 2027 by contesting against a sitting southern president. In the event that the incumbent Tinubu is not performing well, their man stands a good chance of taking power in 2027 and at least complete the southern slot by 2031. This option is ambitious but will not likely fly because incumbents are notoriously difficult to defeat in Nigerian politics. 

Join the APC: This is the most unlikely scenario but the one with the best chance of succeeding. I say unlikely scenario because of the unpopularity of the APC in the South East. If I recall, they gave Buhari only three per cent of vote in 2015 and Tinubu did not fare much better in the just concluded one in 2023! Joining the APC, to many Igbo people, is like swallowing poison but for political expediency. This is what they may have to do to be ‘assured’ of the presidency. I will advise that all South East states should all become APC now and start working towards 2039. The reason is, they had previously given solid support to the PDP for 16 years but when it was the turn of the south to present the presidential candidate in 2023, Atiku Abubakar muscled them out of the race.

With the look of things in the political terrain at the moment, it is very likely that the APC will be in power at the centre and most states for the next 16 years. After becoming APC states in all ramifications, the first thing is to negotiate with the party from day one that they will be going for the presidency in 2039 when it will be the turn of the south again. It is very important for them to negotiate with the South West and South South at this stage to get their buy-in so that those regions will not mount a challenge when the time comes. As crazy as this idea sounds, this is the most seamless pathway for an Igbo to become president. This is because they will be able to latch on the established structure and influence of a party that would have been in power for 24 years at that time. If this is to be achieved, the work should start now.

Profile Of An Igbo Presidential Candidate
In presenting a candidate of Igbo extraction to contest in 2039, certain qualities are important and these include relative youth, visibility, national acceptance, good track record of achievement and intelligence. 

The only man that currently ticks those boxes is the governor of Anambra State, Chukwuma Soludo, but unfortunately, age is not on his side. I reckon, by 2039, he would be about 79 years old! 

What this means is, there is an urgent need for a relatively young Igbo politician (preferably about 40 years old now) to be propped up as the vice presidential candidate of the north in 2031. 

He will serve as a vice president for two terms from 2031 to 2039 to learn the ropes and register himself in the psyche of Nigerians.  He should be given an important role in the government, like being the head of the economic team so that he can showcase his talent to Nigerians. 

It is this same individual that should then be supported by all regions to contest for the southern slot of the presidency by 2039. 
Who will the person be? I do not know at this stage, but this is what the South East politicians and people of influence should start working on from now.
• Remi Koledoye wrote via