WANTED: A PRESIDENT OF IGBO EXTRACTION
One of the features of the British colonial system of administration in Africa was the lumping together of disparate ethnic entities under one administrative body for the rationale of political expedience and convenience. So, the onetime governor of colonial Nigeria, Lord Frederick Lugard, amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria.
But, was the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria, which are dissimilar in many areas, not a recipe for the eruption of ethnic rivalry and conflicts in Nigeria? to form matters worse, Nigerians, who are naturally very aware of their ethnic origins, owe their loyalties to their ethnic nations instead of their country. and that they do place their ethnic groups’ interests above the interests of Nigeria. So, our disposition and attitudes sowed the seed of the existence of ethnic disharmony in Nigeria.
Little wonder, during the colonial era, the political parties were formed along ethnic lines. Action Group (AG) was to the Yoruba people what the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) was to the Hausa/Fulani people. And not a couple of Nigerians believed and thought the NCNC to be a solely Igbo party.
And, upon our attainment of political freedom in 1960, the departing British imperialists helped a northern Muslim, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, to become our prime minister when either Nnamdi Azikiwe or Chief Obafemi Awowolo could are a far better choice. But, sadly, and unexpectedly, the primary republic collapsed due to the January 15, 1966 coup and therefore the July 1966 counter-coup. Consequently, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, our Prime Minister, was murdered.
Since the collapse of the primary republic, and until 1999, Nigeria alternated between despotic military regimes and inept corrupt civilian governments with the northern people calling the shots. And since the top of the Nigeria-Biafra war, other Nigerians are treating the Igbo people with utter disdain and suspicion. and therefore the people of Igbo origins are being given deal within the areas of education (admission of pupils into Unity schools), and appointment of military personnel into top security positions within the country. More so, now, in comparison to other parts of Nigeria, the Southeast geopolitical zone has less federal presence than other geopolitical zones within the country.
Worse still, nobody of Igbo descent has ruled Nigeria within the true sense of the word since we became a politically independent country. But, is it fair and only for us to account and equate the murdered Aguiyi Ironsi’s brief stay in office because of the Igbo people’s leadership of Nigeria? However, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), Muhammadu Buhari, Sani Abachi, Murtala Mohammed, Abdusalami Abubakar are northern soldiers, who ruled Nigeria as military men within the past. And at the dawn of the second republic, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a northern Muslim, became our first executive president, having been helped to power by Northern political interests and other kingmakers. And, he led Nigeria between 1979 and 1983.
In the fourth republic, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, was helped by the northern people and other interest groups to become our President in 1999 so as to placate the indignant Yoruba people over the annulled June 12, 1993, Presidential election. And, following the death of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in office, Dr Goodluck Jonathan completed their joint tenure and was re-elected for an additional term in office. While Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua was a Northern Muslim, Dr Goodluck Jonathan hails from the Niger Delta region, the golden goose that lays the golden egg. Crude oil, the mainstay of our mono-economy, is got from that region.
Now, it’s evident to us that the South-East, the homeland of the Igbo people, has not produced the president of Nigeria. Other geopolitical zones, save the South-East, have taken turns to supply Nigeria’s national leaders at different times. Thankfully, now, the unwritten principle of zoning political offices to different geopolitical zones has been effective in Nigeria since the inception of the fourth republic. The practice of zoning political offices to different geopolitical zones within the country is meant to engender national cohesion, deepen our unity, and allay the fears of individuals from the minority ethnic groups, who feel that they’re being marginalized and dominated.
Were Nigeria a very united country, the factor of competence will override the difficulty of ethnic origins and religion when it involves electing the President of Nigeria. Sadly, our country has been sundered by ethnic rivalry and non-secular differences. Now, Nigeria has not become a real nation-state where competence will take precedence over the factors of faith and ethnic origins when electing our President and appointing people into key positions within the government at the Federal level.
So, within the interest of peace and unity in Nigeria, and for the sake of our country’s continued existence together indivisible country, sense dictates that each one the main political parties in Nigeria should cede their Presidential tickets to politicians of Igbo descent.
Chiedu Uche Okoye,