YBTC News-As the 2023 general elections loom, the political arithmetic for who the Presidential cap fits have just begun. Just yesterday, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi announced his defection from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
His defection has raised questions on what could be his motive for this action; could he be warming up as APC’s first Igbo flag bearer for the Presidential seat come 2023?
Currently, the political atmosphere in Nigeria unlike any other time is seemingly favourable for the South Easterners as most political groups have come out boldly showing their interest in an Igbo-led Presidency. For instance, it can be recalled that on 5th October 2020, a group Global Movement for Igbo President 2023 was launched. Specifically, it is a movement to support the people of Southeast Nigeria to produce the next President.
During the launching of the group, the Igbo political bigwigs such as Sen Ben Obi, former old Anambra state governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Aviation Minister, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, former Minister for Women Affairs, Mrs. Josephine Anennih, business moguls and members of the intelligentsia were present and ready to throw away their political differences to unanimously support an Igbo presidency.
Historically, aside from Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Alex Ekweme no indigenous Igbo son has ever come close to the presidency. Azikiwe became the first indigenous Governor-General in 1960 and then metamorphosed to President after the country adopted the Republican system of government.
Critics have however pointed out that Azikiwe was just a ceremonial president without any significant power; Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, a northerner from Bauchi state was the one calling the shots with so many powers in his hands.
Significantly, it is important to point out that during the military expedition, an Igbo, Aguiyi Ironsi became the Head of states after the first military coup that led to the killings of Balewa, Akintola, Ahmadu Bello among other top-ranking leaders.
In the same vein, Ekweme who emerged a less expected choice for the Vice President’s seat in the 1979 elections deputized President Shehu Shagari from 1979 to 1983 where they were ousted by a coup.
Since then the Igbos became a less important aspect in the political ruling class of the country. Only a few Igbo people came out and contested for the office of the president from 1999 till date. People like Alex Ekweme were among the 1999 PDP primary contestants where he lost to Olusegun Obasanjo.
Also, since from since independence, the president’s seat has just been dominated mostly by northerners. In fact, Northerners have ruled for almost forty-two years and eight months, the south-west or Yoruba for approximately eleven years and ten months, whereas the only person from core Igbo heartland at the helm of affairs remains Maj. Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi ruled from January 16, 1966, to July 28, 1966. Clearly, Ndigbo have not had their fair share of leadership since independence.
The “Igbo presidency” has been a dream of one of Igbo’s Illustrarous son, Odumegu Ojukwu who went down into the annals of history as the President of the aborted seceded Biafra nation. Ojukwu fought against the Nigerian government of Yakubu Gowon to establish the Igbo nation of Biafra but could not succeed. Later on, he contested for the Presidential seat under All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) but lost.
However, the Biafran nation after its death in 1970 was reincarnated by Nnamdi Kanu who has now gone into the wilderness without any trace.
Obviously, only an Igbo led government in 2023 may stop the secession agitations by the chief secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB). According to an editorial by Thisday newspaper, 24th October 2020: “2023 is the proverbial year that is going to decisively determine the continued relevance of the Igbo ethnic nationality in Nigeria.