MasterwebNews 6/2/17: In search of Igbo president

[ Masteweb Reports: Muhammad Ajah reports ] - Former President Obasanjo while hosting the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogun state chapter led by Bishop Tunde-Akin Akinsanya at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, threw weight behind a possible Igbo President for 2019. He proclaimed: “…Irrespective of the thinking of the people ahead of 2019, I personally think that South-East should have a go at the Presidency too”.  But former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji  Uzor Kalu, in his writing on “Igbo after 2011 elections: What next?” said: “In truth, whenever any issue that concerns a people’s future crops up, common sense and wisdom should take the centre-stage, rather than undue pandering to emotionalism.”


In 1999 and 2003, former vice president Alex Ekwueme contested the seat on the platform of the PDP and lost. In 2007, former governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji  Uzor Kalu, who has defected to the APC, contested the presidential seat on the platform of the  party he founded, the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha has continued to nurse the idea of becoming the first Igbo President of Nigeria through the ballot.


But the Obasanjo’s quest is coming at a time when the polity is much enmeshed in controversies. The incumbent president is barely two years in office, with rumours of ill health and death. There are reported cases of attempts by politicians even within and outside the ruling APC to outsmart others in the build-up to 2019 general elections. Obasanjo is joining the likes of former military Heads of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida  (IBB) and General Yakubu Gowon, who had also called for a president of Igbo extraction.


Controversies have trailed the proclamation for Igbo president. Youth groups in the South-East hailed the idea. In a joint statement, the National President of the Igbo Youth for Good Governance (IYGG), Dr. Benjamin Okeke and the National President of Igbo Youth Initiative (IYI), Comrade Wilfred Eze, thanked Obasanjo for extending his sympathy for the Igbo cause and described him as the new father of democracy. This support for Igbo presidency, the groups noted, had given Ndigbo hope for realignment and fairness within a united Nigeria. They urged other elder statesmen and national figures to support the national call for a president of Igbo extraction. But former governor of Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, believes Obasanjo’s call was because he understands the dynamics of the nation’s politics. A governorship aspirant of PDP in Imo State, Brady Nwosu, said the call was “a very bold statement”. But Chief Maxi Okwu of APGA chided the support. Also, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko berated Obasanjo whom he described as an enemy of the Igbo people.


In its New Year mes­sage to the Igbo political class, MASSOB alleged that Obasanjo, throughout his eight-year as Nigeria’s president, created political problems and roadblocks for Ndigbo by initiating political frustrations against Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Imo States. However, the effect of the Biafran War, the unabated clamour for the actualisation of Biafra, the political miscalculations by the Igbo, the unpredictability of the Igbo political class and personalities are some of the key factors against Igbo presidency. The Igbo massively supported the PDP for 16 years and lost the position to the South-South minority Ijaw. Defections of Igbo PDP members to APC and the clamour for Atiku presidency in 2019 are gearing up.


While the Igbo are fit to produce a president of this great nation, it is yet unsure that other parts of the country can easily give support to them due to the persistent push for Biafra. This is because the political wave created by this agitation home and abroad is much more intellectually stronger than those of other regional quagmires. Hopefully, an Igbo President will emerge one day. And if it will be soon, who will the cap fit from a pool of democratic leaders, including Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Chris Ngige, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Peter Obi, Chief Rochas Okorocha, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, Prof. Pat Utomi, Retired Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Senator Pius Anyim, Godwin Emefiele and others.


Muhammad Ajah reports from Abuja.


*Photo Caption - Map of Igboland

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