2023 presidency: Those scheming to retain power in the North are setting Nigeria up for disaster — Jones Fcc Onwuasoanya
Any keen observer of political developments in the last few weeks would have noticed a well-coordinated and desperately propagated attempt by some political gladiators from the Northern part of the country to blackmail the Southern section of Nigeria into abandoning their right to the Nigerian presidency in 2023, and arguing, with a most embarrassing impudence, that the North should and can retain the presidency beyond May 29th, 2023, when the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, would have completed his Constitutionally allowed eight years tenure. Those who do this are the greatest enemies of Nigeria. They are worst than the separatist campaigners and terrorists.
Unfortunately, we have had a slew of them, apparently, sent out by more powerful elements to test the waters. They do not do this on their own volition, but on the prodding of some more influential people, who want to see and who believe that they could impose their will on other Nigerians. The latest among these insensitive commentators and Messengers is Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, an official of the Northern Elders Forum, an otherwise respectable forum of elder statesmen from the North.
Dr. Ahmed who has been described as a “Northern irredentist” by Dr. Itse Sagay, who should know him better, had declared at the memorial lecture of one of Nigeria’s most respected diplomats, polemicists and politicians, Dr. Yusuf Maitaima Sule, that the North can retain the presidency beyond 2023 and that “Heavens will not fall”, if they do.
Before Dr. Hakeem, some top Northern politicians and respected commentators had made attempts at rubbishing the argument for the presidency to be zoned to the South, precisely, to the Southeast part of the country, in order to ensure equity and some kind of political balance in the Nigerian body polity.
Notable among the latter day critics of zoning is former governor of Nasarawa State and current Senator representing Nasarawa West, Abdullahi Adamu. In his words; “zoning is wishful thinking”. He argued that since zoning is not in the Constitution of Nigeria, anyone who wanted to vie for the presidency is free to do so, provided that he or she is qualified and will be able to muster the required votes to be declared President of the Federal Republic.
While Dr. Hakeem hinged his argument in support of North retaining power on the North’s assumed but arguable numerical advantage, Senator Adamu based his on “merit”. He also made reference to the United States of America where he argued; “there is nothing like zoning in America, are we more democratic than America?” Both men have come a long way in Nigerian politics to know that their arguments are flawed and selfish, but what they might not know is that such ideas, if they push it through, could finally shred the fragile fabrics that hold the Nigerian union together.
By Nigerian Constitution and Electoral laws, no single region in this country, can on its own elect a President of Nigeria without appreciable support from other regions. The framers of the Constitution must have had jingoists like Dr Hakeem in mind when they inserted that section that requires a presidential candidate to score at least 1/4 in 2/3 of the country before he or she could emerge winner. Had the Constitution approved simple majority to determine the winner in a presidential election, then, we could have taken time to interrogate the North’s acclaimed numerical superiority.
Senator Adamu was one of the frontline campaigners for power to shift to the North in 2007, when prominent Southern candidates looked set and would have been able to successfully retain the presidency in the South after Obasanjo’s eight years on the saddle. After Yaradua’s death in 2009, Adamu was also among those who insisted that the North must be allowed to complete its term. His journey to the All Progressives Congress is partly inspired by his disappointment with the PDP for giving its presidential ticket to Dr. Jonathan, a Southerner. So, it goes without saying that the former governor is not oblivious of the sensitivity of zoning in our political culture. Nigeria is a peculiar nation and those who truly want it to survive must at all times take stances and steps that guarantee a sense of equity and fairness among all component ethnicities and nationalities within the Nigerian State. Every true Nigerian statesman and patriot must therefore has no reason to stand against or attempt to sabotage the very valid argument for the Southeast to produce the next Nigerian President.
Historically, nation’s have been destroyed more by selfishness and a desire by one section or cabal of people to constantly foist their wishes on others than by any other thing. Every country has its peculiarities and sensitivities, and in Nigeria, we know the tripod upon which the nation stands. Attempts to displace one of the legs of this tripod is responsible for the intractable crisis and underdevelopment that Nigeria has been witnessing over the years. Patriotism entails that patriots and statesmen must stand up for the truth and ensure the preservation of the guardrails of our nation and democracy.
Nigeria needs to heal from the perennial troubles she has had to contend with, and the only way this can be attained is by ensuring justice, equity and fairness. Anyone, who therefore seeks to continue to subjugate the Igbos or to politically relegate them, certainly does not mean well for Nigeria. If Ndigbo do not rise up to fight, then the Almighty God, who prohibits injustice, must rise up and visit his anger on those who have sustained this injustice against Ndigbo.
It is time for true patriots to rise up and insist for the right thing to be done and there is nothing more right, than the Igbo being supported to produce the next Nigerian President. Let the political shenanigans stop, let truth be said. Let us be Nigerians for once, and stop holding too strongly to those parochial ideas that have kept Nigeria divided and underdeveloped for these decades.
MAY NIGERIA PREVAIL!
Onwuasoanya FCC Jones is the Deputy National Leader, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide-Youth Wing.