It is such a welcome relief that the crowded political space occupied by a deluge of contenders for the office of president of Nigeria is panning out nicely as the main opposition party, PDP, has concluded its presidential primaries over a week ago and the APC is about to round up. It is also gratifying that no lives were lost as the PDP exercise was less rancorous than anticipated.
Commendably, and by all indications, the candidates who failed to win may not end up in court as Atiku Abubakar is adjudged to have won, fair and square, with 371 votes, which is about 134 votes above his closest rival, Nyesom Wike’s score of 237.
Unlike what transpired at the state government level, where state governors more or less unilaterally drew up delegates lists which they changed at the twinkling of an eye to suit their whims and caprices, the delegate’s lists for electing the presidential flag bearer of the PDP were transparent and made available to all the presidential candidates in a timely and timeous fashion.
With the exception of Ebonyi state, where the presidential aspirant from the state, Anyim Pius Anyim, raised an alarm about not having access to the list of delegates, the PDP convention is generally adjudged to have been organized to the satisfaction of those who chased their dreams to the end.
While the PDP has crossed what I would like to term the political rubicon by successfully concluding its primaries for its candidates for the 2023 general elections from the state house of assembly, House of Representatives, senate gubernatorial to its presidential flag bearer, its rival, APC, was until June 6th trapped in the vortex of internal political Armageddon, for lack of a better nomenclature to characterize the ongoing storming over its choice of a presidential flag bearer.
After passing the mandatory screening for integrity and probity, which was supposed to be held on the 23rd of May but was postponed and later held over the past few days, the fate of the remaining thirteen (13) candidates from the stable of the ruling party at the center, APC, that are now cleared to contest for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is hanging in the balance pending when President Muhammadu Buhari takes office.
The wait will hopefully end after the convention being held this week so that the winning candidates and their parties can start to focus more on how they would solve the mounting obstacles on the path to progress and prosperity for Nigerians.
Three factors have been adduced as the trigger for the unusually large number of contenders for the 2022/33 presidential ticket, which was in excess of 40 until the PDP deftly concluded its political recruitment exercise last weekend, thereby initially pruning the unwieldy crowd to APC’s 25, then 23 after two were disqualified, and later 13, who will slug it out during their primaries held on June 6th and 7th, that is after another ten (10) aspirants were dropped by the Odigie Oyegun-led committee.
The first reason every Tom, Dick, and Harry exercised their rights to become president of Nigeria is the taciturnity of President Muhammadu Buhari, who unprecedentedly announced that he had in mind a candidate that would succeed him. But the identity of whom he has been keeping to himself has been revealed, thus throwing APC presidential hopefuls into a frenzy, as most party chieftains who believe they have done President Buhari a favor or two have literally thrown their hats into the ring.
The second factor is the effect of the electoral reforms embedded in the electoral act 2022, which promises to make elections more transparent so that votes count in the future, thus the avalanche of ‘wannabe’ presidents buoyed by the fidelity inherent in the new electoral provisions.
And the third is the initial prevarications by both the ruling and main opposition parties on whether to honor or not the 1994/5 gentleman agreement for the rotation of the presidency between the north and south, which has been observed since 1999 when multi-party democracy returned to Nigeria after a long military interregnum.
However, the last-minute resolve to keep faith with the rotation of presidency arrangement by the APC, resulting in some northern presidential aspirants dropping their 2023 presidential ambitions, has further helped to reduce the crowded presidential stage and raised the hope that our country is about to witness a rebirth.
But the rules guiding power rotation got switched by the PDP in the middle of the game and in consonance with the presumed changing political dynamics in the country, which has rendered the rotation of the presidency in the eyes of the party less critical, compared to rescuing the country from what it termed the ruinous policies of the incumbent government that have polarized our country unprecedentedly and imperiled lives and properties monumentally.
On the flip side, in the interest of equity and harmonious co-existence, eleven (11) APC governors from the north have resolved to push for the 2023 presidency to be zoned to the south, and possibly to the Igbos since that is the only ethnic nationality yet to get a shot at it.
That is remarkable!
Although politicians from the Igbo nation, by straight-line calculations, (all things being equal) are supposed to be the zone from which both the ruling and main opposition parties, APC and PDP,
They should have sourced their Presidential candidates from a plethora of aspirants nationwide. (Based on the gentleman’s agreement to rotate the presidency between the three major ethnic groups in the north and south of Nigeria).
But the emergence of Igbo candidates on the presidential dais, which was somewhat late in happening and who are, in any case, lightweight, had justified my observation in a previous media intervention in which I had made a case that there was a dearth of presidential “materials” from Igbo land.
As such, I made the following recommendation in an article published way back on October 21, 2021, on both traditional and online media platforms titled “Nigerian Presidency 2023: Where Are The Igbo Candidates?”
The excerpt below encapsulates my thoughts about the Igbo dilemma a year ago.
“In my view, a partnership with Atiku Abubakar as a pathway to Aso Rock Villa remains the most viable trajectory for an Igbo man or woman to become president of Nigeria in 2027 on the PDP platform.”
That is because Atiku Abubakar is liberal, broad-minded, business savvy, and has links by marriage to all the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria: Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. It implies that Atiku Abubakar’s presidency would likely be more inclusive than nepotistic, a trademark of the current government in power that is fueling the current gale of separatism. “
I then threw more light on the issue by stating that:
“The point being made here is that under Atiku Abubakar’s watch as president, separatism would be consigned to the dustbin as inclusiveness becomes a major plank in government policy.”
With inclusiveness becoming a center point of public policy in Nigeria, secessionist tendencies would die a natural death in the manner that Niger Delta militancy ceased after the late president Umaru Yar’adua took strategic steps to stabilize the volatile region via his offer of amnesty to former militants after meeting some of their demands. “
I further pointed out that “The existential reality in Nigeria’s current political equation is that the Igbos need help to actualize their quest for the presidency of Nigeria.” As Atilla, the Hun, advised, “choose your enemies wisely and your friends carefully.”
And then I offered the following advice: “The average Igbo should understand that they cannot ascend to the throne in Aso Rock Villa on their own.”And they must accept that their business acumen will not be translated overnight into the political savvy required for someone of Igbo descent to become the number one citizen presiding over our country in the Aso Rock Villa seat of power beginning in 2023.
I could not conclude the referenced piece without making a recommendation and offering the following advice, which has remained valid: “So an alliance with the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, whose political fortune has been built since the time that he first contested against the late MKO Abiola in the Social Democratic Party, SDP primaries held in 1992, remains the most viable political catapult that can propel the Igbo nation into Aso Rock Villa, after Alex Ekwueme’s partnership with Shehu Shagari for the presidency.”
True to my projections into the future, the Igbos have now been edged out of the presidential contest through superior political brinksmanship in the PDP, and they might have concluded that in the PDP, they are like a stepchild whose future is not so bright in the family he/she finds him/herself.
All hope for a Igbo president in 2023 may not be lost as the ruling party, APC, may be on the verge of throwing the easterners the much-sought opportunity for one of their own to preside over Nigeria in Aso Rock Villa next year.
While they can justifiably be disappointed with the setback in the PDP, they should not give in or give up until their mission for someone from their ethnic stock is accomplished, perhaps in 2027 under the PDP or by leveraging the APC vehicle to become president in 2023, if the ruling party is courageous enough in its ongoing presidential primaries to concede the ticket to the Igbos.
Again, it needs to be reiterated that in my article published widely in the mass media on May 17, 2022, with the title “Becoming President of Nigeria, 2023 And Its Surprises,” I made a strong case for the presidency to return to the south for equity sake. I took the same stance in my new book with a similar title: Becoming President of Nigeria. A Citizens Guide
In which I made a case for an Igbo president in 2023 in four (4) of the twelve (12) chapters of the tome.
But in light of the fact that the presidency is never given on a platter of gold, did the LGB actually invest enough vigor and political brinksmanship in seeking to become president of Nigeria as the eventual winner of the PDP contest, Atiku Abubakar, Turaki of Adamawa, did? At the eleventh (11th) hour, Peter Obi abruptly left the PDP and joined the Labor Party, LP to pursue his ambition; it is up to readers to determine whether Obi’s somewhat erratic behavior did not, perhaps inadvertently, shoot the Igbo nation in the foot.
The fact that should also not be lost by observers is that, whereas Aminu Tambuwal collapsed his campaign into Atiku Abubakar’s to boost the latter’s fortunes, the southern candidates—Nyesom Wike, Udom Emmanuel, Anyim Pius Anyim, etc.—did not see any reason to consolidate their votes.
And I hope our brothers and sisters from the land of the rising Sun will learn to be proactive enough to commence bargaining with the winner of the presidential contest, Atiku Abubakar, by aligning with him in the forthcoming general elections in order to secure a strategic role for the Igbo nation, as Alex Ekwueme, of blessed memory, did and became Vice President to former President Shehu Shagari, also of blessed memory, from 1979 to 1983.
As I have argued in previous media interventions, it is not all the time that Fulanis are polarizing figures. As records reveal, Shagari was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a polarizer. He equitably shared out public offices, mindful of federal character principles entrenched in the constitution, and rolled out economic infrastructure such as automobile assembly plants and steel rolling mills throughout the country equitably.
Neither was Umar Yar’adua a divider. He is the president who offered Niger Delta militants amnesty and thus restored some peace and stability in the hitherto volatile region.
So, based on past experience, there is every tendency that Atiku Abubakar would hopefully not be a polarizer. Instead, he would be a unifier, as he was when he served as Vice President, 1999–2007.
As the initial fear became a reality that the 2023 presidency would not be within the Igbos’ grasp, in accordance with the concept of rotating the office of the president of Nigeria, introduced through a gentleman man agreement during the 1994/5 national conference held under General SANNI Abacha as military head of state, that had been killed by the report of the Bala Mohamed led committee set up by the PDP, which opposed rotation of the presidency, the Igbos have been and it is not surprising that not a few of their leaders are expressing their indignation by resigning from the PDP, ostensibly for the betrayal of their trust.
Is their motivation altruistic, and are the aspirants not only seeing the writing on the wall, as Orji Kalu and Ken Nnamani have, and as I have predicted in previous media projections into the future of politics in our beloved country?
Peter Obi, former two-term governor of Anambra state, vice presidential candidate for Atiku Abubakar in 2019, a proponent of fiscal prudence in government, and internet sensation, is the first to show the PDP his support. He used the APGA platform to win and serve as governor of Anambra State for eight years before crossing the carpet to the PDP, from which he recently joined the Labor Party, LP.
While the running mate of Atiku Abubakar for the presidency in 2019 has been saying all the correct things that strike the right notes and sound like music to the ears of the youths and internet denizens, another contender for the office of the president of Nigeria on the PDP platform, who lost to Abubakar and is regarded as an “infant terrible” in politics, Nyesom Wike, in a Channels television interview, deflated or punctured Obi’s sky-bound balloon in the social media space by drawing attention to the fact that Obi has consistently lost elections in his home state consistently since he left office as governor in 2014 by unsuccessfully sponsoring candidates against his predecessor, Willie Obiano.
He also did not enjoy the support of eastern state governors when he was picked by Atiku Abubakar as running mate for the 2019 presidential race. That implies that Obi has no significant political substance in Igbo land, as he is a superstar in the online space because his words resonate with youths nationwide who dominate the virtual space. Since the Generation-Z or # Endsars cohorts (as someone has categorized them) are hardly party delegates, so they cannot vote on the D-Day, one wonders how Obi could have won the PDP primaries. Even during general elections, the youth hardly turn up to vote, as they do online by posting thumbs-up emojis for Obi. So how would he win the presidency? The reality is that the members of Generation Z that are bestriding the world of social media are fewer assets and more liabilities to Peter Obi or any other candidate.
Unless there is a pathway to mobilizing and motivating them to become active participants in politics, the road to Aso Rock Villa for Peter Obi would just be a mirage. As an aside, I have a piece of advice for those hoping to tap into the potential benefits of youth engagement in active politics. Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, USA, who tapped into the voting power of his country’s youths to win the presidency in 2009 as the 44th president of the USA, is one man who has a blueprint for harnessing youth voting power. And his successful journey to the White House is simply due to the fact that, unlike their parents, who saw Obama through the lens of a black slave, American youths were influenced by the candidate’s intellectual capacity and organizational ability rather than the color of his skin, as their forefathers had done.
In like manner, the youths who are applauding or hero-worshipping Peter Obi mainly in the virtual world are obviously peeved with the past and current political leadership. and therefore, yearning for a new beginning. One thing anyone who wants to become president in 2023 needs to do is plug into the movement and momentum already stirred up amongst our youths by making conscious and concerted efforts to bring Generation Z out of the virtual world and down to planet earth. That is the sure way to tap their latent energy with the view to converting it into a political asset.
And that task can be achieved by organizing them into a sort of positive tour-de-force via engaging them in physical world activities that would advance their positive involvement in events that would reinforce the virtues of civic responsibility in them.
Now, the reason that Obi gave for quitting PDP is his disinterest in money politics.
By his own admission, in departing from the PDP, he moved from a palace to a hut. Obviously, it is going to cost him huge sums of money to convert the Labor Party, LP hut into a palace that he has branded the PDP. From the outcome of the primaries in which ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar triumphed, money is good, but goodwill built on a solid political foundation developed over a considerable length of time is better. Hence, Nyesom Wike, who has put up a good fight to earn the next highest votes after the winner, made a significant impact that might not have surprised those who subscribe to the school of thought that money works wonders in politics, be it in Nigeria or any other clime for that matter.
Shadowing Obi in his disappointment about the notion that the Igbos have been literally thrown “under the bus”, the Senate minority leader, Eyinaya Abaribe, another Igbo chieftain, has reportedly also exited the PDP. Ike Ekweremadu, the immediate past deputy senate president, has also dropped his gubernatorial ambition, citing a loss of faith in their former party, which they accuse of betrayal. Had Peter Obi’s exit from the PDP been a movement to APGA (apparently he prefers to be like Nnamdi Azikiwe who looked beyond Igboland), the predicted loss of the Igbo electorate by the PDP could have been the gain of APGA—probably the only ethnic-based party that demurred in 2013/14 from blending into the coalition of opposition parties, APC—as a political vehicle to oust the then ruling party, PDP.
Of course, there is also the Young Progressive Party (YPP), with Senator Ifeanyi Uba as the only elected representative. Just as no independent candidate, including Ross Perot or mayor Mike Bloomberg, we’re unable to win the presidency as an independent or late entrant into the presidential race in the USA, Obi’s departure from PDP to LP is likely to be disappointing. That is because building up a party from the ground up is not a tea party, as can be testified to by Olusegun Mimiko, a former Ondo state governor who was once the leader of the party, and Dele Momodu, who is a one-time presidential candidate of the LP.
With respect to APC’s delay in organizing its presidential primaries until June 6-7, which initially suggested that the party had established a pattern of tackiness, shoddiness, and inelegant attitude in political party organization and laxity in public administration, reflected by its vacillation on the date that its presidential primaries would be held, last-minute activities by the party suggest that it had been doing a lot of work behind the scenes building consensus amongst the key stakeholders.
By shifting its convention dates from May 29-31 before settling for June 6-7, after INEC was compelled to compromise its timetable to accommodate APC’s foibles, there was a strong likelihood that the party would experience a sort of chasm or meltdown, which presumably has been waiting to happen. But as the ruling party at the center has been successfully evading such a calamity since its birth in 2013/14, it appears ready to once more escape implosion and wax stronger. All of these are owed to intensive negotiations by President Buhari with the party stalwarts in the last week or so, which appeared to be yielding positive fruits until confusion took over the party on Monday via a revolt by members of the National Working Committee, NWC, against its chairman, Abdulahi Adamu’s announcement of the senate president, Ahmad Lawan, as the consensus candidate.
Clearly, the risk of implosion would be more rife if the man fondly referred to as the Jagaban, a former Lagos state governor and national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, with a larger than life image, and who has frankly stated that his lifelong ambition is to rule Nigeria, fails to become the APC’s flag bearer after its presidential primaries being held from the 6th to the 7th of June. If he is not given the presidential baton to run the race, would an alternative platform like the Accord Party be resurrected?
It is speculated that he would use any other political vehicle to drive his presidential ambitions. Should that happen, it would be evident that the much anticipated political realignments would continue to unfold and the equation would be balanced with Chukwuma Soludo’s APGA already being strengthened in the South East, Musa Kwakwanso‘s New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP gaining converts in the Northern part of the country and a Yoruba party of whatever nomenclature being prepped up in the Southwest, should Bola Tinubu fail to clinch the ticket of APC and he opts to leverage another platform to pursue his ambition.
With the outlined potential outcomes, there is clearly a looming danger that the legacy political parties that formed the ruling party, APC, may end up returning to the status quo ante. By that, they mean returning to their original ethnic and regional formations geared towards specifically and realistically attending to the narrow interests of the multiple ethnic nationalities that make up our country.
And that would amount to re-enacting the days of yore when the National Party of Nigeria, NPN (1979-1983), in partnership with the GNPP and other smaller parties, collaborated (not collapsed into one party) to form the central government since it could not win enough votes to give it the mandate to form government at the center on its own. The privilege of being an omnibus is what the PDP enjoyed from 1999 to 2015 and the APC has been enjoying from 2015 to date.
It may be recalled that during that era, unlike now, there was an equitable distribution of political offices and infrastructure reflecting the inclusion of all ethnic groups nationwide. For instance, steel rolling mills were equitably set up across the country, and so too were automobile assembly plants distributed nationwide and across all the regions based on fairness. As such, there was significant ethnic harmony and little or no religious extremism since policies and programs were conceived and implemented in the best interests of all nationalities, transparently. The presence of peace provided the atmosphere for the growth and development of society until the military coup of December 1983 literally torpedoed the ship of state. In my opinion, the current two-party system is a major bane of politics in our country. Because of a plurality of political parties, each pushing their own regional agendas, the year 2023 could be the year that our country returns to that period of political and religious tranquility that we all romanticize.
As already stated, Musa Kwakwanso, a two-time governor of Kano state, ex-minister of defense, and senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has opened the floodgates of political parties returning to the status quo ante via the formation of his own ethnic-based political party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP.
Another two-time governor of Kano state, Ibrahim Shekarau, has joined Kwakwanso in the NNPP. Atahiru Jega, a former INEC chairman, has joined the fray with his entrance into the PRP—a foremost northern party. And APGA is attracting Igbo political heavyweights back into its fold, just as YPP may also be a destination for other Igbo politicians.
That is in addition to Peter Obi’s cross-carpeting of the Labor Party, which would give the hitherto ailing party a shot in the arm and a new lease of life.
The stimulus for the return to the basics by some of our political actors is reminiscent of the biblical injunction ‘To your tents, Israel.’
And it is clear aftermath or manifestation of the stepping down of the rotation of the Presidency Principle that had become a tradition, if not culture, and glue holding the multiple ethnic nationalities that constitute our country together in a single party like the PDP, and with the potential for playing a similar binding role in the APC.
What the evolving phenomenon of ethnic-based parties foretells is that it is unlikely that a single party in the mold of the APC or PDP would solely lead Nigeria at the center in 2023.
That implies that a major party may only win a significant share of the votes but not a majority that is large enough to give it full control. As such, it would be compelled to go into alliance with the smaller regional or ethnic parties that would dominate their local environment to form a government at the center. And in the event that it turns out that smaller parties like APGA and YPP in the south-east, one or two local parties that may spring up in the southwest going by whatever name, join NNPP and PRP unfurling in the northern region, and they control their local environments, such as states and LGAs, they would bargain for strategic positions in the central government in the manner that corporations allocate board seats to stakeholders based on the size of their investments in a firm or corporation.
That is one way that the hue and cry about the current central government allocating all the strategic ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to members of the same ethnic and religious background as the president would be reduced, if not eliminated. That would be the situation when multiple parties in the national partnership negotiate positions that are in the best interest of their regions and zones as they form a central government together. It would be a re-enactment of the 1980s when the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) relied on a coalition of other parties to form a national government with Shehu Shagari at the helm.
In any case, as I argue in my book, Becoming Nigeria’s President,A Citizen’s Guide, the rotation of the presidency between the north and south calculus, has been producing a negative and unsavory outcome of zero-sum politics instead of a multi-sum outcome. And Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as president may end the nihilistic zero-sum politics if he runs an inclusive government with restructuring as the driver.
So, picking a southerner who will work towards restructuring the country as the presidential candidate of the APC would be an elixir or cure for the current toxicity in our polity. And the actualization of that prospect is imminent as the ruling party at the center, APC, appears to have resolved to pick a southerner as its candidate for president in 2023, during the 6th and 7th June special convention.
It is easy to forget that the rotation of the presidency was a mere stop-gap measure aimed at fixing an existential challenge of mistrust amongst the multiple ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria, which is that the minority would be marginalized by the majority. But the rotation of the presidency between the north and south took on a life of its own at the expense of the more robust policy proposals that would mitigate the threats to the harmonious co-existence of the multiple ethnic nationalities that constitute Nigeria, enunciated and entrenched in the Goodluck Jonathan 2014 Confab report and earlier in the SANNI Abacha Confab report of 1994/95, which is also a treasure trove of wisdom on how best to administer our beloved country in an inclusive and progressive manner.
Since the palpable fear of the minority had been sufficiently addressed in the reports of both the Jonathan and Abacha Confab reports, which without the sudden death of Abacha in 1998 and the defeat of Jonathan as president in 2015, should have been implemented by now, the rotation of the presidency principle ought to have become moribund at this point in time. But the loophole has been exploited to the detriment of society via zero-sum politics, witnessed since the return of multi-party politics in 1999 and especially in the past half a decade via the winner takes it politics currently in practice. What is zero-sum politics, some may wonder?
It is a fact that when anyone from each side of the north-south presidency rotation equation takes over the reins of power in Aso Rock Villa, he builds a castle with his kith and kin positioned in strategic public offices and locates infrastructure in their own regions or states of origin, to the detriment of other nationalities in the federation. Subsequently, after 8 years, the successor to the presidency throne or the next Aso Rock Villa occupant brings down the edifice constructed by his predecessor that is made up of his tribesmen and women.
With the metaphorical building up and bringing down every 8 years, Nigeria has failed to make genuine progress since none of the past leaders has built or is building on the foundation already laid by their predecessors, which could have had the beneficial outcome of multi-sugar politics that would engender prosperity and improve the standard of living of the masses, or hoi polloi. That is as opposed to benefiting just a few elites from both sides of the divide who rise and fall with their benefactors in the political class.
Fortunately, there has been an opportunity to remedy the ruinous practices that have been bedeviling our country. And it is evident in two initiatives. independently undertaken by the ruling and main opposition parties, APC and PDP.
It may be recalled that the APC had set up a committee led by Nasir El Rufai, Kaduna state governor, to chart a way forward for the party after its victory in 2015. It recommended devolution of power from the center to the states, which would allay the fears of the minorities and also set up state police as a panacea to the frightening level of insecurity in the country. The PDP, similarly, after being defeated in 2019 by the ruling party, has also set up a committee to envision a future for the party. It was led by Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed. And it came up with the recommendation that the party should replace the rotation of the president’s policy with meritocracy and throw the presidency open. If both recommendations by the two committees of the ruling and main opposition parties were adopted and implemented, our country would be a better place as the two proposals uncannily addressed the fundamental causes of the mutual suspicions fueling the current crisis of lack of trust wracking our beloved country and the reason for the push for restructuring, which would address the twin demons of insecurity of lives and properties being driven by religious insurgents and separatists.
Not restructuring the political system as El Rufai’s committee has recommended, is basically the tumor that has become not only cancerous but has metastasized, therefore threatening to kill Nigeria, and which we must all resolve to kill before it kills us as individuals and a nation.
Unlike the PDP, which has implemented the recommendations by the Bala Mohammed committee as evidenced by the suspension of rotation of the presidency, the APC has failed to implement the report of the El-Rufai committee that recommended the devolution of political power from the center to the states, which would likely end separatist agitations in the east, west and middle belt zones; and the establishment of state police to address insecurity driven by religious insurgency, especially in the hinterlands of the northern parts of our country. It is a no-brainer that the implementation of both the Nasir El Rufai and Bala Mohammed committee reports together would have enabled our country to experience a political reset and rebirth.
All the maneuvering and nuances by political leaders in the two political parties are contained in my new book, “Becoming President of Nigeria.” A Citizen’s Guide. “
Realistically, and with regards to the Igbo jeopardy of not being able to produce the presidential candidate for the 2023 race to Aso Rock Villa, as they had anticipated, (if Peter Obi’s miracle does not happen), I had figured out long ago that the pathway to Aso Rock Villa for the Igbos would be rocky.
I have also, in several analyses projecting into the future, enjoined the Igbos to get into an alliance or pact with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to have a member of Igbo stock as running mate for the 2023 presidency, but they have been adamant until the reality hit them like a thunderbolt that the PDP would not give a member of their stock the ticket.
Well, I hope that since former Vice President Abubakar has once again clinched the PDP presidential ticket for 2023, as I had projected about a year ago, they can now see the wisdom in my timely advice, which was unheeded. As people adept at business, the Igbos can spot business opportunities a world away. But they failed to get the drift about their political future, which I had painted based on trend analysis. What would it have taken to spur the Igbos into action when I prompted them about a year ago?
Although the apparent Igbo inflexibility or poor reflex in political affairs could cost them number two and three slots in the pecking order in the Aso Rock Villa hierarchy if they don’t make haste, rather than throw their arms up in the air lamenting, it may not be too late to align with the Turaki of Adamawa and PDP in their March to occupy Aso Rock Villa from May 29, 2023.
As I will always counsel my Igbo brothers and sisters, in the highly fluid political environment in which our country can be categorized, there are many ways for someone of Igbo origin to become president of Nigeria without necessarily relying on a set piece of rotation of the presidency or other power-sharing formula if the two major political parties ignore them. For instance, the Igbos can choose not to be like a football team that relies only on a penalty shoot-out in a football game to win the match, whereas they can dribble and take a shot at the goal any time the opportunity arises. The above analogy is what waiting for the pendulum of the presidency to swing to them based on a tenuous gentleman’s agreement entails, in my view. They should try dribbling rather than waiting to be dribbled.
And the good news is that the door to Aso Rock Villa’s number one seat may still be open to the Igbos as, unlike the PDP, the APC has not closed it until it draws the curtain on its ongoing delegates convention.
Magnus Onyibe, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, an alumnus of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a former commissioner in the Delta state government, sent this piece from Lagos.