2023: Much ado about Igbo Presidency

[By Theo Rays]

In recent months, I have keenly followed the activities of political pressure groups and individuals agitating for Ndigbo to produce the next President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the 2023 General Election.

To my own observation and understanding, the activities towards Igbo Presidency in 2023 by various political pressure groups in particular is at the level of busy body politics as I haven’t seen clear cut strategies towards the making of an Igbo man as Nigeria’s next Commander in Chief at Aso Rock.

Some of the pressure groups like Pan Nigeria Presidency For Igbo Extraction Coalition (PANPIEC) Advocacy Group, (AG) Global Movement For Igbo Presidency (GLOMIP) and Southeast For President 2023 among others have been going about claiming that it is the turn of the Ndigbo or the Southeast geopolitical zone to produce the next President. In the first place they put their hope in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the most available and possible platforms for the realisation of the Igbo Presidency dream.

Secondly, they plan to go round the country to meet with relevant stakeholders in APC and PDP to persuade them to concede the tickets for presidential election to the Southeast zone.

Thirdly, GLOMIP at a rally organised at Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre in Awka the Anambra State capital declared that the group will rally support from foreign countries including financial aid for the Igbo Presidency project. This is very interesting.

According to the Convener of GLOMIP, Comrade Kennedy Iyere, the group has planned to realise as much as $500million from foreign donors for proper execution of the Igbo Presidency 2023 project. Iyere told the audience which had notable Igbo leaders like former governor of Anambra State Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Senator Ben Obi, Iyom Josephine Aneni and Kema Chikwe who was represented at the function that, the reason to get foreign donors involved is to avoid Ndigbo spending money into the project.

The GLOMIP boss pointed out that executing the project with the money from the pockets of Ndigbo could hinder good performance because those that raised the money for campaign would definitely like to recover it from government treasury by the time an Igbo becomes President. Thus, he said that executing the project with foreign financial aid would pave the way for whoever that emerges as Igbo President to concentrate in using government treasury at work.

Iyere who is a native of Edo State was emphatic about the preparedness of his group to involve foreign donors and to prove a point he brought two white people who according to him are interested to work for Igbo Presidency to the venue.

Though some people welcomed Iyere’s declaration with round of applause, others were uncomfortable with him because according to them, Ndigbo are financially buoyant enough to execute the Presidential project, so the issue is not about money in the first place, rather it is about, how to get the ticket of either APC or PDP in the first place. Observers say, the event at the Professor Akunyili Women Development Centre is not more than busy body affair because there was no convincing idea on how to realise the ticket of the two major political parties with spread and strength needed to realise Igbo Presidency in 2023.

In the same manner, GLOMIP this time in collaboration with Igbo in Diaspora group known as Igbo World Assembly (IWA) led by Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze in a press conference addressed in Awka announced that IWA and GLOMIP will organise a solidarity movement for Igbo Presidency in the five States of the Southeast zone on December 27, 2020.

IWA and GLOMIP said that three letters would be delivered to the Governors of the five South East States by the people for onward delivery to President Muhammadu Buhari and National chairmen of APC and PDP respectively. Comrade Iyere said the essence of the letters to President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the APC and PDP is to notify them of the need to zone the presidency to the South East zone.

Fielding questions by journalists at the press conference in Awka Dr Anakwenze expressed the optimism that an Igbo Presidency is going to transform Nigeria because Ndigbo have people that are capable enough to give Nigerians the kind of leadership they yearning for.

According to him, Ndigbo deserve to be given the chance to produce the President because they have made tangible contributions to the development of the country and they have people who have been tested and trusted based on their track records of good performance in politics as governors, senators and more so they have great businessmen in their chosen fields of businesses who equally have the capacity to make a great President that can live up to the expectations of Nigerians.

In a similar program towards 2023 general election, Igbo leaders as political and religious leaders along with traditional rulers and other relevant stakeholders in a stormy two day meeting in Enugu to address the challenges facing the youth also initiated move on the agitation for Igbo Presidency in 2023 indicating that they will approach President Buhari as well as national chairmen of APC and PDP with a view to get them concede the Presidential ticket of the two parties to Ndigbo.

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo was appointed to lead a delegation to persuade President Buhari to support Igbo Presidency in 2023. This is a good move but again, it is lacking in ideas.

Ideas rule the world. Ndigbo that are interested in pushing for Presidency in 2023 have to focus more on ideas and strategies not busy bodies activities. Already the national chairman of PDP Prince Uche Secondus has said that the Presidential ticket of the PDP is open to all that are interested to seek for it. On the other hand, it is very clear that some political gladiators in the country have unquestionable interest in becoming the President of Nigeria. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, current governor of Sokoto State Aminu Tambuwal, former governor of Kano State Rabiu Kwankwaso (alias Kwankwasiya) and others have unquestionable interest in Presidency and it is not clear that anybody can stop them from continuing trying their luck towards it.

Similar situation exist in APC, former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu who incidentally is the co-founder of APC along with President Buhari is neck deep in the 2023 Presidential race. Current governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai is under pressure to contest for the APC presidential ticket in 2023. Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi is also said to be interested in running the 2023 Presidential race under the platform of APC. Following the interest of political gladiators both in APC and PDP to become President in 2023 sending letter or paying one on one visit to President Buhari and national chairmen of APC and PDP may not see the light of the day. But I pray it sees.

Analysts are of the opinion that Ndigbo have to focus on ideas and strategies to overrun their rival and not persuasion of President Buhari and leaders of political parties.

A current affairs analyst, Professor Omole Okanlawon advised Ndigbo to rather transfer their business acumen into politics and back it up with their national spread and possible sympathy from the rest of Nigerians.

According to Okanlawon, “Ndigbo have to understand that those who have interest to become President in 2023 are spread across the country and it is not easy for them to step down their interest, so what Ndigbo need to do is to come up with ideas and knowledge on how to move Nigeria forward and I can assure you that Nigerians should buy into such ideas and knowledge regardless of the political party involved.

Okanlawon, a Professor of Sociology insisted that there is a lot of time for Ndigbo to do the political works needed to see them through. Corroborating Professor Okanlawon, Professor Justice Chidi concurred that Ndigbo is capable of doing the political work needed to see them through to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023. Professor Chidi noted that it is clear that Ndigbo deserve to produce President in 2023 but it does not end in saying that we deserve it, it also involves some level of political works we can unleash on the system to be able to defeat our opponents.

Chidi, a Professor of Psychology from Abia State but resident in Onitsha said the political works needed towards Igbo Presidency has to start now and with strategies to get the tickets of APC and PDP as plan A. He added, “securing the ticket of APC and PDP would be a great advantage on Igbo Presidency and that remains plan A.

:Plan B should be aimed at getting Ndigbo speak with one voice. For instance, if we are to write a letter or send delegates to President Buhari and leaders of APC and PDP in particular or to the leaders of North, Southwest and Southsouth in general, let the letter and delegates emanate from one source. The idea of different groups and individuals approaching people for the same purpose is amateurish in nature.”

The truth is that Ndigbo is facing litmus test as far as 2023 Presidential election is concerned and there is need for them to start the game with a strong underground.

First is that It is highly derogatory to the status of Ndigbo to go about begging for fund to execute political project in Nigeria. Most of the groups listed above are begging for money to run their programs. There have strong arrangements for funding to avoid shame into the struggle.

Second, politicians mostly have to be ready to make sacrifice. Only one man is needed on the throne so those interested should have it at the back of their mind that it is not a do or die battle and it must be me syndrome has to be discarded.

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