“It is the turn of the Southeast to produce the president. Nigeria cannot be a stable and prosperous country if some of its constituent parts behave as if they were the natural masters of everyone and that everyone else exists at their pleasure and to serve them.” Dr. Pogu Bitrus
Can any country, particularly one with multiple ethnicities, religions and languages survive for long when starved of the nourishing diets of equity, fairness and justice?
Going by the submissions of leaders of Southern and Middle Belt socio-cultural groups – Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and Middle Belt Forum – on Monday in Abuja, the answer is No! It is even more so in an environment where mutual suspicion is rife. Such a country will sooner or later atrophy and disintegration will be the natural consequence. It is just a matter of time.
If this is so, as indeed it is, why then are some forces in the country fighting against the enthronement of equity, fairness and justice? The answer is simple: Selfishness and greed.
Those opposed to the idea of power shift, especially members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has the principles of rotation and zoning enshrined in its constitution, are just power gluttons.
The repudiation has nothing to do with national interest and common good. They simply want to continue gorging on the national cake to the utter exclusion of everybody else, even when it has become obvious that they will choke, sooner than later, if they continue gulping down the inebriating liquor of power.
The anti-zoning advocates are just being clever by half. It is tantamount to one hiding behind a finger. They are preys to the debilitating allures of gluttony and ravenousness even as they pretend to be apostles of merit. Deceit is the name of the game.
And that is exactly the point that was eloquently made on Monday when the din of the call for a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction in 2023 rose a notch higher at the Executive Hall of the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
I am sure that even the organisers of the “Greater Nigeria Conference,” with the theme, “Together We Can,’’ an initiative of the Igbo Think-Tank, Nzuko Umunna, didn’t envisage such a roaring success.
The Conference was an effort to showcase Southeast presidential hopefuls in all the political parties to fellow countrymen so that they can independently make up their minds irrespective of the game of musical chairs a few self-serving politicians from the North have elected to play. When the clamour for a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction started resonating loudly, naysayers ridiculed Ndigbo with the rather insulting question: Where are the Igbo aspirants?
When the aspirants showed up, they said sooner than later every hamlet in Igboland will produce a wannabe presidential contender.
That has not happened. So far, the number of aspirants in all the political parties from the Southeast cannot be said to be unreasonable. And what’s more, despite their political differences, the aspirants have so far acted with the utmost decorum to the chagrin of their detractors who had expected a dog fight. Instead, it is those who claim that Ndigbo are politically naïve that are doing all the backbiting with allegations of treachery. That was when the worrywarts changed the narrative.
What is important, they now howl, is competence and capacity. The Greater Nigeria Conference was an audacious attempt to shut them up by presenting the Southeast presidential aspirants for Nigerians to judge for themselves.
By Ikechukwu Amaechi