Posted by News Express | 6 June 2019 | 1,640 times
An intricate ring is being run around the election year of 2023. Before coup-makers seized the stage, it was taken for granted in responsible quarters that other segments of Nigeria would support the South East to produce the President of Nigeria in that election year. The reason for that expectation is well-founded. The North will be concluding its eight-year tenure in the presidency in 2023. Going by the understanding, which the North and South reached, even if unwritten, to the effect that the office of the President would rotate between the two geographical zones, it would be the turn of the South to produce the President of Nigeria in that election year.
If we take a cursory recourse to who has got what so far, we will arrive at the logical conclusion that the presidency will be ceded to the South East, since the South West and South South have taken their turns in the office of the President. But this logical outcome appears to have been thrown overboard. The South West was the first to foul the atmosphere when some elements from the zone said they would run for the presidency in 2023. That declaration was not just provocative, it was anarchic. In my previous interventions in this column, I have had occasion to say that a 2023 aspiration by a south-westerner is an assault on the peace and corporate existence of this country. This assertion bears repeating here.
But there is a caveat here. Some notable south-westerners have since denied that their zone has any presidential agenda in 2023. They blame a few ambitious sons of theirs for this recklessness. Incidentally, this minuscule few are only found in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). No member of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from the South West has toyed with this bizarre idea. Then, you ask: why is the APC such a convenient vehicle for those who want to undermine the South East? Those who have advanced some argument for the party have argued that the South East cannot lay claim to the presidency in 2023 because it does not support the APC.
It was that warped reasoning that Chibuike Amaechi, a kingpin of the APC, relied upon recently when he held that the South East has no business having its eyes on the presidency in 2023, since the zone did not vote for President Muhammadu Buhari. Amaechi’s declaration is cheap in every material particular. It is lacking in rigour. He would have arrived at a different point of view if he had tasked his brain a little. Instead, he settled for the uncritical.
Let us engage the brains of the Amaechis of the APC a little. We will begin by reminding him and his likes that there is a difference between national interest and political interest. Amaechi obviously lumped the two together. He was only interested in what would serve the narrow, selfish interest of a few in his party. He did not consider whether such parochial interest would serve the national interest. We need to draw the attention of Amaechi and his cohorts that anybody who consigns national interest to a second order position does not wish Nigeria well. What purpose will be served if overzealous power-seekers torpedo the national ship of state in their rapacious bid to serve their personal, political interest? They have not stopped to ponder this question. I invite them to do so.
Beyond this, let us ask again: Is it possible for all segments of the country to vote in the same manner? We know it is not. It would be unnatural for that to happen. The world is not programmed like that. Nature teaches us to recognise contraries and make allowance for it. It would be a grave oversight to do otherwise since there can be no progress without contraries. It would be against the course of nature to expect that every segment of Nigeria would file out and support the same political party in an election.
Rather than expect that, we should recognise one of the central roles of political parties, which is to seek political power. In doing this, a national party that aspires to hold power at the centre cannot afford to discriminate against any section of the country. Rather, it should try to woo them. If the South East has rejected the APC, it behoves the party to redouble its effort in order to make inroads into the zone. That is what Amaechi and others like him should aim at, not shutting out the zone from the scheme of things. Politics of exclusion, which Amaechi is canvassing, has never helped any political party anywhere in the world. Therefore, it will do APC no good.
Besides, we need to remind those who are against the South East for 2023 presidency that power-sharing is not done on the basis of the political party that a people or a segment of the country support. When in 1999 the powers that be in Nigeria decided to cede power to the south west, they did so using the PDP even though an overwhelming majority of Yorubas supported the Alliance for Democracy at that time. The arrangement then was to produce a Nigerian President of Yoruba extraction. And it was done regardless of the political party that was used to actualise it. In the case of the Igbo, Nigerians need to accept first and foremost that it is the turn of the Igbo to produce the next president of Nigeria. If they appreciate this fact as men and women of goodwill have done, the consideration of the political platform to be deployed for its actualisation becomes secondary.
Since Amaechi has argued, albeit wrongly, that the South East does not deserve the presidency in 2023, we then ask: where does he want the slot to go to? Does he, like Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Yemi Osinbajo, want the position to go to the South West? Or does he want it to anchor in his South South region? Significantly, we have already pointed out why no other zone of the South, except the South East, deserves the position. Or does he want the north to hold on to the office beyond 2023? That is another dimension to the issue that is creeping into the stage. What does Amaechi have to say about this?
As a counterpoise by a section of the South to undermine the South East over the 2023 presidency, some elements from the North are hatching a plot. They want their region to hold on to power as the South struggles to wrestle itself to the ground. The plot, which is gaining currency, derives largely from the destabilising move from the South West. But we know that the North cannot, in good conscience, support a south-westerner to become the President of Nigeria for a second time when the South East has not taken one turn. It would be anarchic to contemplate that. To stave off the dangerous prospects, some smart alecs from the North are considering the option of perpetuating the region at the presidency, if the South cannot support one of its own for the office. It is simply cashing in on the in-fighting in the South.
But then, that is also not an option. The North cannot take more than its fair share in a democracy. It did so under military rule and it worked. It cannot work now. I doubt if Amaechi and his ilk have stopped to ponder the destabilising dimensions of this issue. They should do so before entertaining us with their histrionics.
•This column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via email@example.com
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