In politics like in football, no permutation is completely foolproof, but politicians will be unwise not to take the predictions of pollsters seriously, just like footballers and bettors will be making a mistake if they ignore the predictions of pundits. There is a reason why they are around; not really because they are always accurate in their permutations, but because they provided the needed guide to games that are impossible to predict. What bettors and even soccer managers and players may do when the predictions of respectable pundits do not favor them is to work hard to prove them wrong. This is also applicable to politicians.
Outside pundits and political analysts, other people whose warnings and predictions should be taken seriously are the veterans. Having seen too a lot of elections and political seasons, having made friends and interacted with people from diverse political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is one man in today’s Nigeria whose words and warnings cannot be ignored. He has his reasons for recommending that the Igbos wait till 2023 before making a push for the Nigerian presidency once again. There are very few people who are as keen as Okorocha on the Igbo presidency project, and left to Okorocha, he would wish the Igbos produce the next Nigerian President, by the next election, but he is being careful not to allow his passion becloud his sense of judgement. Igbos have been deceived enough and time is ripe for them to be more accurate in their political permutations.
Undoubtedly, as an important part in the tripod upon which this nation stands, a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is long overdue and which every politician in present day Nigeria cannot but align with. This is not because it is only from among the Igbos that the man or woman that can solve Nigeria’s myriad problems can be found, but because equity is crucial to finding the solution to these problems. In advanced democratic settings, zoning of political power is hardly a factor in discussing national politics, but Nigeria’s democracy is still in its infancy and Nigeria as a nation has peculiar political make-up, which makes zoning of political power necessary, but not indispensable.
With the foregoing, any reader should have understood that the writer is not an unrepentant apostle of power rotation or zoning. However, assuming these factors become determinants- like it is likely to become – in the politics of Nigerian Presidency, the ethnic group most qualified to be favored by such sentiments is the Igbo ethnic group, not just because it is the only group among the three major ethnic groups in the country that is yet to produce a substantive and powerful president since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, except for the checkered six months military rule of Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi,( Nnamdi Azikiwe’s presidency in the first republic was a ceremonial one. The actual power was wielded by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa) but also for the fact that among the Igbos are uncountable numbers of enviably endowed Nigerian citizens who have what it takes to rescue Nigeria from its many troubles and place her on a higher and enviable pedestal of growth and transformation.
This fact is known to most Nigerians and there are few Nigerians today, who would raise their voices in dissent against a Nigerian presidency of Igbo extraction, anytime the incumbent President completes his two terms in office. Someone asked me; ‘what if Buhari decides not to run in 2015?’ my simple answer to that is that; the field will become very open for every ethnic group to present its members for the top job. However, it will be a wiser political idea if the North is allowed to complete its eight years term to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2011, which is more responsible for the uncertainty surrounding the Igbo presidency project till date.
By original political agreements, though unwritten, the Igbo presidency project would have been realized in 2015, if the PDP had stuck to its own Constitution which provides for power rotation and zoning between the component zones in the country. In 2006, when the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo was coming to an end, almost all the sitting governors from the South-South and Southeast showed interest in succeeding the Egba Chief in Aso Rock. Many of these governors and politicians actually purchased their nomination forms, while a good number of them invested massively in campaigns across the country. But at the National Convention of the Party on the 16th and 17th of December 2006, the Party declared to its over 30 presidential candidates that the presidency had been zoned to the Northern part of the country, thereby, technically disqualifying all the candidates from the South, except for Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who insisted on slugging it out at the ballots and ended up giving the eventual winner, Umaru Musa Yaradua, a serious run for his money. Though, Owelle Rochas Okorocha came second in that race, he succeeded in giving the Igbos a serious bargaining advantage for future political negotiations by displacing top-rated aspirants like military and political veterans; Aliyu Gusau, Jerry Gana, Buba Marwa and others. Some analysts believe that the incumbent Imo governor would comfortably won that primaries had it not been for the interference and interestof the then incumbent President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Had President Yaradua completed his two years tenure, which would have terminated in 2015, the Igbos would have had a very bright chance of producing President after Yaradua. This is because it would have been glaringly inequitable for any other ethnic group outside the Igbo nation to have a push at the presidency, after the Yorubas have taken their full eight years with an Hausa as Vice-President, and the Hausas taken their turn with an Ijaw man as Vice-President, the next in line by such arrangement, especially within the PDP would have been an Igbo man. This chance was lost not really because of the sickness and eventual death of President Umoru Yaradua, but because the Igbo political leaders, especially, those who were in power within the PDP failed to take the most appropriate stance, politically at the time. They allowed their personal sentiments and interests to override the better sense of judgement which would have been supporting the North to complete the Yaradua tenure. Many Northerners who slugged it out with immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 PDP presidential primaries and the eventual general election, made it clear that they were only interested in completing the turn of the North in the presidency. All the Southeastern governors of the PDP extraction did not only coalesce their entire support to Goodluck Jonathan’s camp, but more than 90% of Igbo votes also went to Jonathan in the general election. This was done without recourse to what will be the consequence to the Igbo political agenda.
It cannot be overemphasized that the Jonathan presidency cost the Igbos at least, eight years in the political negotiation table, and should the Igbos not plan well with present political realities, chances are that we may lose a further sixteen years without an Igbo man or woman sitting on the Nigerian presidential seat. Some politicians from other parts of the country are already throwing cheap baits to us, with the intention to distract us from what is realistic or to use us as poitical pawns for a war that we will benefit nothing from.
Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo’s influence and knowledge in the Nigerian political game cannot be taken for granted. While this influence has been used some times to the benefit of ordinary Nigerians, we cannot also take it for granted that the retired Army general is a wily politician who does not get into any political game, except he has something personal to benefit. Obasanjo is not the kind of politician to love the Igbos more than the Igbos can love themselves and certainly not the man whose words can be taken on the face value, especially, when transfer of power and the games that accompany it, is the issue.
Some of the reactions that have trailed Governor Okorocha’s proposal that the Igbos forget about the presidency till 2023 have mostly come from two classes of individuals; those who do not truly understand the intricacies of Nigeria’s politics and power play and those who understand but feel that since they are not positioned to personally benefit from such reality, they should play spoilers. The latter set of commentators clearly understand that Governor Okorocha’s idea is the best for the collective interest of the Igbos’, but have decided to disagree because they cannot come to terms with the reality of Rochas positioning himself to be President. They fail to understand that while Okorocha remains one of Nigeria’s most qualified for the presidency, there is no law at present nor will there be any law in 2023 or at any time prohibiting other Igbos or even Nigerian interested in vying for the presidency. The reality is that the Imo governor is being selfless by proffering the 2023 idea, as he might have a better chance of running in 2019, than he will have in 2023. All over the world, running for an election while in office, especially in an executive office, confers some special advantages to the candidate, than when running from outside office.
Some people have misconstrued the governor’s proposal as being a blanket support for President Buhari’s yet to be confirmed second term bid, but I do not think it is so. While the governor has not hidden his preference for the President to continue in power till 2023, the Igbo presidency project goes beyond support for one individual or the other. As a top ranker in the ruling All Progressives Congress, Governor Okorocha knows what a lot of us do not know. Governor Okorocha’s support for President Buhari goes beyond the Daura born retired Army General, but to the entire North.
The Igbos cannot have better political allies than the Northerners and this is why it is very important that we build this alliance from now. The incidents of 2010-2011 are still impacting on the politics of today and if good care is not taken, may continue to haunt us as a nation till a very long time. One of the best ways to permanently bury the mistakes of 2010-2015 is to ensure that the North get their full turn in power, which is from 2015 to 2023, anything short of this will not augur well with our politics as a nation in general and as Igbo people in particular.
It is important to understand that this is not really about Okorocha, but about the Igbo political vision and struggle. When the time comes for an Igbo to become Nigeria’s president, there will be many qualified Igbos to present for the job, and the onus will be on majority of Nigerians to choose the best from the legion of candidates that are to be presented. However, the first things have to be sorted out first; the right alliances, the right decisions, the right positioning, and most importantly, the right politicking. We must do all things bearing in mind that the struggle for power at the center is not something we can get into at the wrong time, and expect to succeed at the right time. To succeed at the right time, we must play the right dice all the time.
There are quite a lot missing in the above analysis. Reality on the ground is a major factor. Taking opportunity when it knocks at your door is another important factor. Both are missing. In politics as in many human affairs, what is on the ground is as important as what is desirable. A president runs and governs with a vice president. When the president completes his term or fails in the middle of it , the vice takes up the seat. That is what the Constitution provides. This provision overshadows the so called zoning principle which is parochial in effect. When Yaradua died in office, the North stood for completing their turn but the entire world was shaken to its foundation by the stupidity and outrageousness of such stand and they stood down. This is the principle of the reality on the ground. Goodluck Jonathan was foisted on Yaradua by Obasanjo and there was when the Igbo ethnic group lost out because even if the death of a president did not occur, you can hardly challenge the vice president who wants to run from the same party and an endless antagonism would be created for the people of Eastern region if an Igbo man supplanted Jonathan , Remember no other party other than the PDP had zoning formula in their constitution.
Ndi Igbo had their own opportunity when Dr. Ekwueme was vice president and both the North and the West supported him being president but the Igbo people conspired against him because he was not NPP, AND Obasanjo WAS EVEN BEGGED to run for them pushed by ex military powers. So he chose a Northerner and single handedly handed over to Jonathan who did not campaign for the position. We would not be here had Ekwueme got the chance he deserved at the proper time. This is the second factor, the principle of opportunity. We failed all.
My humble advise to the Igbo nation is stop talking and washing your dirty linens in the public and like a cat wait patiently for the PROVIDENCE of God. The North is not united, so is the former Western Region as well as the East, but only the East talk what they lack knowledge and divine how the world would be run. You miss the point. Our people say that if your tongue goes to battle first, the legs will be left at the battle ground. Nze CA
Okwaraojiaku na ala ISU