2023 Presidential Race: Let’s Turn to Eastern Nigeria this Time

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

Are 2023 presidential aspirants from Northern and Western Nigeria swimming against the political tide of the moment? That tends to be so if what Northern elders are saying is anything to go by. They are agitating for power to the South. Specifically favoured is Eastern Nigeria because of the worsening security situation in that habitat of Biafra agitation.

Reports say Forum of Northern Elders for Unity (FNEU) has resolved to back Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State as a sole candidate from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  for the position of President in 2023.

This is coming as a faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chidi Ibeh, is opposing former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s aspiration to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. According to the Igbo group, the mood of Nigeria favours the next President coming Igbo extraction.

In a statement by its Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the group claimed Atiku should ponder on the fact that the disintegration of the country was imminent, if the Igbos are denied the Presidency. “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide appreciates the unity of purpose demonstrated by the middle belt and Southern leaders, on speaking the truth and establishing the fact that based on equity and fairness in the spirit of one brotherhood (Nigeria) that 2023 should be exclusively reserved for the Igbo, to halt the disintegration adherents and factors threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2023.

“Based on this circumstance on the ground, any promotion of Northern continuation after 8 years of President Buhari from any individual is callous, voracious and selfish. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s boastful stance of winning the 2023 PDP Presidential ticket, is a nostalgic belief that has decorated him as a desperate politician swimming against the political currents and tides of the moment.

“Atiku has misread the mood of the nation ahead of 2023, and this miscalculation may retire him from partisan politics in 2023. Atiku has the constitutional rights to aspire for the office of President in 2023, but one had expected him not to rock the boat now that the odds are against him based on his age and his region. He should not fight dirty or appear desperate for the presidency, rather it’s time for him to voluntarily quit partisan politics and takes his rightful place in history as an Elder statesman without being dishonored and disgraced.

“Ndigbo had expected that Atiku should support a younger person, for 2023, especially after tGovernor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State openly denounced his proposal, for him to be his running mate in 2023. That’s enough message and signal to him that 2023 is exclusively reserved for a Southern President, and Atiku should search his conscience and support an Igbo in the PDP primaries to avert a disgraceful end of his political career.

‘’Southern Nigerian leaders and Governors have vowed that it’s unhealthy for another northerner to succeed President Buhari in 2023. In 2019, Ndigbo showed enough loyalty to the PDP and Atiku and the present predicaments and penalties facing the South-East today, was the 2019 Igbo support given to Atiku and PDP.

‘’But in 2023, Igbos will dump PDP if Atiku wins the PDP tickets. Ohanaeze Ndigbo in alliance with other ethnic groups will ensure that any political party that refuses to zone their presidential ticket to the south will suffer in the 2023 presidential election, If Atiku continues, he will surely taste the venom of Nigerians in the PDP primaries and disgrace that awaits him’’, the Igbo group said.

For the Northern elders, during PDP’s reign of power, its administration provided an all-inclusive government for a united Nigeria. It is now 22 years since Nigeria returned to democracy, and it’s unfair that the Igbo have not been considered for either position of the President or Vice President.

“Part of the reasons for our meeting today is to create a unifying platform for consultation that will help douse the tension created by some power-hungry and selfish politicians, who want to destroy the one  Nigeria our forefathers toiled to build”, the elders said.

In a communique after their meeting in Kaduna, they argued that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has a Northerner as President now and that it will only be fair and democratic to return power to the South, especially Southeast because the Igbo have been politically marginalized.

Jointly signed by its Chairman, Baba Mala and Mal. and Secretary, Yau Aliyu, the elders urged the opposition to give its Presidential ticket to Governor Ugwuanyi because of his antecedence as a leader with a passion for peace, progress and unity of the country.

“We have studied all the Governors in the South-East and discovered that Governor Ugwuanyi is a bridge builder and visionary leader that we can trust with power.

“And  If PDP wants to win the 2023 Presidential  election, it should consider giving its ticket to Ugwuanyi and we are prepared to work and ensure that his  victory at the polls is guaranteed. Ugwuanyi has a proven track record as one of the Governors, who has worked passionately to protect lives and properties of Northerners and settlers; created employment for all regardless of tribe and religion since he assumed office, a feat worthy of note.

“We therefore call on all Igbo and southerners  to join NEFU’s Project ” Restore Unity of Nigeria Now” and beg Nigerians across the geo-political zones  to support our bid for a United Nigeria with the best Presidential Candidate come 2023. We are from an advantaged region with  numerical voting  strength to decide who becomes Nigeria’s President, thus we will continue  to meet to  work out the  solutions to douse the  tension that arose due to the seeming  power tussle’’, they said.

Ceding the 2023 Presidency to Ndigbo would largely be seen as fair and equitable in the quest to reconstruct Nigeria as an egalitarian country. Of the tripodal WAZOBIA on which the twisted Nigeria’s federalism rests, it is only the BIA component that has been viciously excluded from sinking its teeth in the lavish presidential chop-chop.

Attempt to further exclude or deny Ndigbo the presidential tickets of the major parties this time around will worsen the security crisis in Eastern Nigeria. To a greater extent, the June 12 crisis the Babangida military dictatorship created, helped in paving the way for Olusegun Obasanjo’s emergence as president in 1999 through 2007. The same argument can be adduced in blessing any suitable onye Igbo to succeed President Buhari in 2023.

Can APC and PDP make that happen? As we see it, they can, if and only if united Nigeria means anything to them. Enough should be enough on treating citizens from Eastern Nigeria as outcasts, whenever the issue of choosing Nigeria’s leader comes up.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe

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