It has sadly become a slogan for Ndigbo to sing, almost beggarly and even perpetually, all year round, “it is our turn to produce the president of Nigeria”. Yet, a thorough analysis will reveal that the politicians echoing such slogan have never made any sincere efforts towards ensuring the realization of such sing song.
Since the return of civil rule in 1999, no Igbo have occupied the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. So, the question begs for an answer: “Is there a Nigerian conspiracy possibly by APC and PDP or is it as a result of greed of South East politicians? It can also be deemed as “why APC, PDP may not consider South East for presidential tickets in 2023”.
Signs of conspiracy
There are indications that the failure of South East to produce the president of Nigeria since 1999 might have been made possible as a result of conspiracy against the Igbo. A point in hand was the example of the late Dr Alex Ekwueme. He was the late President Shehu Shagari’s deputy between 1979 and 1983.
So many Igbo people believe that the coup of December 31, 1983 which ousted Shagari and equally ended the Second Republic was targeted against Ekwueme and the Igbo. The reason for this assumption is that, had the coup not taken place, Ekwueme would have possibly succeeded Shagari in 1987 as they had harmonious relationship.
However, as most Igbo people still argue till today, Nigeria that time and today did not want and still does not want an Igbo man as president or head of government. In order to forestall the emergence of Ekwueme, an Igbo, the December 31, 1983 was staged hence, there was no Ekwueme, and there were no Igbo as president of Nigeria in 1987.
Rather, there was a 16 year military rule that all of four northern Muslim military heads of state namely Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar., and an 83 day old president who ruled in the Interim National Government arrangement in the person of Chief Ernest Shonekan, a Yoruba from South West.
Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former governor of old Anambra State and an Ohanaeze Ndigbo chief is a strong supporter of the above conspiracy theory against Ndigbo and, not too long ago, he made this claim during an interview on Channels Television, Lagos.
Subsequent events unconsciously supported the conspiracy claims of Ndigbo against them by PDP and Nigeria. For instance, in the twilight of the military rule in Nigeria, an Igbo ward, Ekwueme, again, came up with the idea of what he called G34 which was a platform of politicians of like minds, the progressives.
He mustered the courage and took the bulls by the horns, with the support of the G34 members, confronted the Abacha junta and asked him to quit. Few days after G34 had planned how to take on Abacha, the head of state died.
Abdulsalami who took over started a transition to civil rule process and so lifted the ban on political activities, including registration of political parties. This way, Ekwueme and his G34, working hand in hand with PDM, floated the PDP.
Ekwueme indicated interest in contesting for the presidential election and so entered the race for the PDP presidential ticket. But he suffered a huge set back as the exiting military cabal had made up its mind on former military head of state, retired General Olusegun Obasanjo who was serving a jail term, to be the president of Nigeria.
Despite putting up a colourful campaign and touring Nigeria round, marketing his idea on how to revive the country, Ekwueme’s colleagues at G34 and all those who pretend to be progressives still aligned with the military to deny him the PDP ticket at the party’s convention in Jos.
With that, it was an end of the road for Ekwueme and the Igbo is far as the presidency of Nigeria was concerned. At that time, majority of Ndigbo hollered foul and shouted “conspiracy against us”.
Case against PDP
A point in hand was the example of
the late Dr Alex Ekwueme. He was
late President Shehu Shagari’s deputy
between 1979 and 1983. So many Igbo
people believe that the coup of
December 31, 1983 which ousted
Shagari and equally ended the Second
Republic was targeted against Ekwueme
and the Igbo. The reason for this
assumption is that, had the coup not
taken place, Ekwueme would have
possibly succeeded Shagari in 1987 as
they had harmonious relationship.
Expectedly, Obasanjo easily won the election. Four years after, based on the not too immaculate performance of Obasanjo, Ekwueme still put himself forward for consideration for the PDP presidential ticket for the 2003 election. The convention was in Abuja.
Report then had it that Ekwueme had had a near perfect deal with the vice president at the time, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for a deal. It was said that Ekwueme, upon confirming that the structure of PDP was tied to Atiku’s aprons’ strings, approaches him to be his running mate in the 2003 presidential election. This, Ekwueme thought, would have effectively dislodged Obasanjo’s capacity while populating the former president’s camp.
As it was reported, Atiku agreed to that bait but sadly capitulated at the 11th hour by rejoining Obasanjo’s train. Informed political analysts noted that top Nigerians and big wig politicians of PDP bend convinced Atiku not to go the Ekwueme way. On that, again, Ndigbo made claims of conspiracy against them.
In all, it is more than two decades since PDP came into being and despite the huge contributions of the Igbo in building the party as well as slicking to it at a time other zones seemed to have rejected it, the PDP has yet to consider an Igbo good enough for its presidential ticket. This much was the reason preferred by Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi for leaving PDP for APC.
But PDP has debunked Umahi’s claims, describing him as a selfish person and an ingrate. In the contrary, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State noted that the PDP has given the South East all positions in the party except the presidential ticket. He stated that it was more of political accident than conspiracy that had denied the South East the presidential ticket.
Allegation against APC
In comparison, the APC has done more political damage to the South East than the PDP. In the first five years of PDP, the South East had got most of the things it shouted as evidence of marginalization the zone. In subsequent years, the region fared better both in appointments, location of projects and general issues. However, in more than five years of APC at the centre, the South East seems to have suffered the worst exclusion in independent Nigeria.
Colonel Emmanuel Nwaoboshi was a Nigeria -Biafra civil war veteran. He died last week but before his death, he warned Ndigbo that “a party (APC) that cannot trust them with a grade one ministerial or political appointment cannot give you its presidential ticket to rule the country”.
It has been stated over and over again that Ndigbo are really excluded from the Nigerian project since five years of APC reign. For this reason, it may be very difficult for the APC as a party to look towards South East for its presidential ticket for the 2023 elections.
Issues before 1999
Way back before 1979 and this present dispensation, Nigeria has not been very fair to Ndigbo when it comes to who becomes the president of the country. For instance, Zik failed twice and in all the military regimes, except the six month of General Aguiyi Ironsi, no Igbo ever assumed the status of head of state.
Trouble with Ndigbo
Many still believe that the Igbo are their worst enemies. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State and now the senator representing Abia North in the senate, has always maintained this viewpoint. He is an apostle of “Ndigbo are their own enemies”.
Yet, Kalu voted against Ekwueme at the PDP convention in Jos in 1998. All of Senator Chris Ngige now a minister, Senator Ken Nnamani, ex senate president now an APC chief, Arthur Eze and few others maintain this line of argument.
Their point is that the Igbo do not speak in one voice. They are of the view that Ndigbo are usually working at cross purposes without any united action plan. At a point, it was became a thing of caricature that if the presidency of Nigeria is zoned to the South East and be allowed to produce the president, Ndigbo would spend eternity fighting and dragging on their choice without any success.
However, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu said there was nothing absolutely with Ndigbo except the wrongly structured Nigerian state that has made Ndigbo a minority zone in all things. Equally, Ezeife said that no tribe in Nigeria would suffer what Ndigbo had gone through and still survive the way Igbo wards have appreciated. “The thing you call Igbo disunity is a Nigerian conspiracy against Ndigbo”, Ezeife enthused.
In one of his numerous interviews, Chief Chekwas Okorie, the founder of APGA and UPGA, revealed that “Nigeria as currently constituted is anti Igbo, though Ndigbo have their flaws like Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio etc”.
The reasons the ticket may elude Ndigbo from either of the parties are so obvious. For APC, the fact that the party may not trust Ndigbo with the presidency is quite glaring. For a party that has not thought it fit to appoint an Igbo man as the chief of the army, navy or air force, and such sensitive ministries as defence, finance, petroleum, and secretary to government, how can it then entrust the highest office in the land to Ndigbo?
The pointers are already there crystal clear on why the APC may never be looking towards the South East. Recently it was reported that hierarchy members of the party went on a pilgrimage to Bayelsa in pretence of to bayelsa in pretence of felicitating with Goodluck Jonathan on his birthday but with intention to invite him over to run again. Again the APC may not have found favour with the South East that has chosen to stick with the opposition PDP.
The reality has been there for a long time that the broom party will not give its ticket to the Igbo. Before the new romance with Jonathan began, Tinubu, a founding member and chieftain of the party was already positioning himself for the crown before the recent power play which seems to have dealt him a big blow. If the party ever nursed equity in their mind it is long their body language would have stated so.
In an interaction with one of the party chairmen after a national executive council meeting at Abuja, he stated categorically that from his feelers on the goings on in the party the possibility of zoning the presidential ticket to the South East is very remote. He cited a clandestine move among the party hierarchy which in the outside makes comment that they are favourably disposed to the South East, but that is only a decoy to take away attention from the real motive.
For the PDP wishing to return to power after 16 years, the desperation to come back may not compel it to have an Igbo presidential ticket for the single reason it may think an Igbo ticket may not be saleable. This is given the fact that Ndigbo may not have the required voting strength and secondly the northern interest in the PDP, wishing to grab power may not also be favourably disposed to an Igbo ticket.
These developments add up to the inequities suffered by Ndigbo which has precipitated the various agitations from the region including the demand by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). The region alleges marginalization in political appointment, promotion in public offices, allocation of state resources or industries or schools. At the height of Covid-19, minister of humanitarian affairs, Sadya Umar Farouq while sharing money to northern indigenes excluded the rural folks in the South East on the ground that many of their had people outside who should cater for them.
Given the contribution of the boy in the country it does not appear justiceable that they would be excluded from serving at the highest level of political office in this country which is not the exclusive preserve of any group. It must be mentioned that Prof Gregory Ibe, Chancellor of Gregory University had advised that if Nigeria seeks an end to the Biafra agitation they should allow an Igbo man to occupy the presidential seat.
No matter how it goes, it remains to be seen how either APC or PDP will take its presidential ticket to South East in 2023. Except an event happens to change the tide, as it is, the presidential ticket our findings reveal may not smile on the South East for now. And the waiting game continues for them.
He is an apostle of “Ndigbo are their own
enemies”. Yet, Kalu voted against Ekwueme at
the PDP convention in Jos in 1998. All of
Senator Chris Ngige now a minister, Senator
Ken Nnamani, ex senate president now an APC
chief, Arthur Eze and few others maintain this
line of argument. Their point is that the Igbo do
not speak in one voice. They are of the view that
Ndigbo are usually working at cross purposes
without any united action plan. At a point, it
became a thing of caricature that if the
presidency of Nigeria is zoned to the South East
and be allowed to produce the president, Ndigbo
would spend eternity fighting and dragging on
their choice without any success.