By Clem Aguiyi
Sixty years after independence and 54 years after a brutal civil war, there are still Nigerians who have not reconciled themselves with the fact that the civil war is over, and that a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is possible. Call it Anti Igbo Derangement Syndrome(AIDS), and you won’t be wrong.
According to Alhaji Shettima Yerima of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, ‘the Igbo can never rule Nigeria’. It is unfortunate that such an abhorrent anti- Igbo rhetoric is coming at a time when the world is struggling to dismantle racism, tribalism, discrimination and bigotry of all kinds. He and his likes forgets too quickly that the Igbo are Nigerians and that its over 40 million population are equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project and has a right not to achieve their Nigeria dreams.
Apparently, the amoral monster who is drunk on Anti Igbo Derangement Syndrome (AIDS) does not understand the God factor in the affairs of men; he need to be taught that all powers belong to God(Allah), and that the will of God(Allah) will always prevail . If it is the will of Allah that by 2023 Nigeria will produce a Nigerian president of South East extraction, no forces of darkness can stop Allah’s will and he (Yerima) will as a servant of Allah work to fulfil the wish of the Almighty.
I advocate for a Nigerian president of South East extraction not for the sake of it or because we Igbo are afraid of competition, but because our democracy is a course correction and I know a Nigerian President of South East extraction will heal the nation, fix our broken politics, restore our past glory and put Nigeria on the path to prosperity. At independence in 1960, every African around the world looked up to Nigeria as the best hope for the black race. The high hope placed on Nigeria was not for nothing. The country is hugely populated and blessed with the choicest of resources nature can afford. It has all it takes to be a great nation.
Like other nations, Nigeria had gone through difficult times. It survived decades of military rule; succession of very bad leaders and one of the most brutal civil war ever recorded since after World War II. Though the civil war ended with the surrender of Biafra in 1970, the Igbo still bear the brunt of the war. They are still treated like conquered people and systematically excluded from the scheme of things. The Igbo question persists because Nigeria learnt nothing from her difficult past.
At the point of writing this article, words came in that the Nigerian Embassy in Ghana was attacked and demolished. This wasn’t the first time Ghana had poked fingers into Nigeria’s eyes. This latest attack by Ghana is an aberration and yet the response from Abuja is embarrassingly feeble putting us in a position where we are no longer respected by our friends nor feared by our foes. Post Buhari, Nigeria needs a dynamic leader that will unite the country, grow the economy, inspire confidence and restore her pride and dignity as a nation. This is the leadership a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction will assure.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria’s unity is seriously under threat. One of the arguments I have heard against the Igbo , is that they want out of Nigeria and therefore cannot be trusted with preserving the corporate existence of Nigeria. This is b—s. Irritants and fringe groups like IPOB are not exclusive to the Igbo. All the tribes have their own bunch of irritants . They feed on the general frustration of the people occasioned by 60 years of misrule and our inability to co-exist in unity under God. It is therefore wrong to tar all Igbo with same tar brush otherwise it will be ok to classify all Yoruba as OPC, All Niger Deltas as Vandals or Militants and all Northerners as terrorists, bandits and militia herdsmen.
I am Igbo and there is nothing that I wish for the Igbo that I don’t wish for the Hausa and Yoruba. The activities of Mazi Namdi Kanu or IPOB does not represent the opinions of majority of ndi Igbo who preferred a united Nigeria that is restructured in a way that more powers and responsibilities are devolved to the states so that too much power is no longer placed at the centre. Except we reform or restructure Nigeria will remain unprogressive , underdeveloped, insecure or disintegrate.
In terms of unity, the Igbo remain the only tribe that genuinely believe in Nigeria. They have demonstrated this over and over by living in all parts of the country contributing to the physical development of their adopted homes. A Nigerian President of South East extraction will see the entire country as his constituency. There will be no Igbo domination. No citizen or part of the country will be enslaved to the other. We will be a country where we are all our brother’s keepers, where the weak will be lifted by the strong, where no one or section is left behind.
In 1999, Nigeria consciously and deliberately ceded power to the South West to compensate for many years of northern rulership and also the annulment of June 12 election widely believed to have been won by MKO Abiola, a Yoruba. The beneficiary of that concession was former President Obasanjo. Between 1999-2023 the South West would have spent 16 years in office as President and Vice President. I believe the South West save greed will naturally concede power to the South East. Moreover, the strongest moral argument the North had against Goodluck Jonathan administration was that the arrangement to rotate power between the North and South will be violated if Jonathan takes another 4 years term of office.
Should the North decide not to argue against her own 2015 moral standpoint, and decides to concede power to the South in 2023 in honor of Nigeria’s unwritten code of rotation and power shift , it is only fair that it lends her support to the South East to produce the next president who will unite the country , inspire confidence, curb insecurity, grow the economy, fight corruption and build Nigeria back to prosperity, hence the current presidential aspiration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is rather immoral and obscene , not because he has no right to his ambition but because as a leader and an elder statesman having been pivotal to the election of President Buhari, he should have remained a king maker rather than making a king of himself.
I love and respect Tinubu. I admire him for what he has accomplished in life. There is no denying the fact that he will make a better president than some people who have ruled Nigeria. However, I expect him to use his influence to facilitate the dismantling of anti-Igbo sentiments holding Nigeria down by advancing the cause of reconciliation , justice, equity and power shift to the South East. This is what it means to be your brother’s keeper. That is what Nnamdi Azikiwe demonstrated when he conceded the post of prime-minister to the North despite Awolowo urging him to the contrary.
2023, Nigerians will decide the person and character of the next president who will be of Igbo extraction. Patriots can commence the search for that South Easterner with the right leadership qualities which can be identified in Mr. Peter Obi, Chris Ngige and Orji Uzo Kalu rolled in one person. Here, I mean a leader that can be trusted not to radically unsettle the unity of the federation but with the temperament to preserve the country’s corporate integrity; a leader with the capacity and common sense to do the right thing and avoid that which is wrong, a leader with the nerve to fight corruption, curb insecurity, and inspire confidence; a leader with the humility and financial prudence to manage scarce resources and grow the economy to prosperity. The Post COVID 19 Nigeria require an adept economic wizard and prudent financial manager.
A President of Igbo extraction will create Nigeria’s golden era. If Nigeria can in 1999 concede Presidency to the Yoruba in all the then three major political parties so that head or tail the Yoruba wins, Nigeria can do the same for the Igbo in 2023. The conspiracy of the North and South West to rotate power between them at the exclusion of the South East will only spell disaster for Nigeria. The time to abort such conspiracy is now. The time to embrace one another is now. (The Sun)