One of the greatest factors we have going for us is that we are pursuing an idea which time has not only come, but long overdue. This makes more meaning if you contemplate the fact that Victor Hugo said, and I quote: ‘’There is no army or force that can defeat an idea which time has come’’. In view of the fact that the question of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is an idea which time is long overdue, no matter how difficult the task ahead may look, the spirit that guided Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara, Alvan Ikoku, Mbonu Ojike, and Eni Njoku in risking their lives to liberate this very nation will guide us. I also pray that the spirit that guided George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Aminu Kano, King Jaja of Opobo, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu-all who fought for the enthronement of truth and the liberation of man from man’s oppression will also guide us.
It was Frantz Fanon who was born on July 20, 1925 on the mainly Diaspora Igbo Caribbean Island of Martinique, which was then a French colony who wrote, ‘’each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it’’. One of the greatest missions of our generation is to produce a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction and in asking for this we are not asking so much from the other ethnic groups that make up Nigeria.
Rather, it is in every true sense of it a logical affirmation of our faith in the Nigerian Project. The Igbo 2015 Presidency Project is an expression of our total trust in the wider Nigerian Project. The Igbo 2015 Presidency Project is an attempt to test the patience of the other ethnic groups and see if they have the capacity to accommodate for just four years, what we have endured for over 40 years.
Therefore, this Project is an idea which time has come and as a result in the name of freedom of information, for the sake of justice and equity, in the spirit of fairness let this campaign start in earnest. Put out your loudspeakers on top of your buses and announce it; occupy every open space and scream it; climb the trees, climb the mountains and stand in the marketplace to proclaim it. There is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear. Shout it in such a way that it will prick the conscience of every Nigerian that has the spirit of justice and equity running in his or her veins. This has to be so because the Igbo 2015 Presidency Project presents a perfect opportunity for those who have been shouting against injustice, man’s inhumanity to man; crusading for social justice and patriotism to walk their talk by stepping out and looking beyond their ethnic enclave to demand for the right thing to be done. It is either they stand out for the truth now once and for all or be damned for ever.
Even a blind political analyst will perceive the feelings that today, in the Nigerian polity, the Igbo, as a people, are being deliberately sidelined, especially in the sphere of political leadership of the country. Ndi Igbo as original one arm of the tripod in Nigeria’s historical, geo-political structure have struggled to produce the Executive President of Nigeria in all previous democratic elections without success.
So let the writers write it; let the singers sing it, let our internet wiz-kids spread it, let the preachers preach it; in the public domain, in the internet, in the electronic and print media, soliciting for the understanding and help of our friends, brothers, sisters, partners and in-laws. Let us remind them that there is nothing we are asking of them which we have not sacrificed before for them.
This has to be so because only a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2015 will clearly help to address this discriminatory attitude towards Ndi Igbo which is in sharp contrast with the support we gave to Shagari in 1979; concession given to the Yorubas over the M.K.O Abiola case in 1999, and the support we mobilized for Jonathan in 2011.
Going by all these it is only right to assert that our beloved co-citizens of Nigeria owe the Igbo Nation unreserved fraternal apology for visiting an unjust and sustained capital political punishment on the entire Igbo nation vis-à-vis their constitutional right to exercise power as president of our country. This is a fundamental right already too long denied, for which the entire Ndigbo as one united and indivisible family, no matter their individual political affiliations, must come together to fight in 2015.
In the same vain, it is most important to note that it was the emergence of Ndi Igbo in the Nigerian political struggle, led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nwafor-Orizu, Michael Okpara, Dennis Osadebey, and Mbonu Ojike, etc that fast-tracked the independence of Nigeria.
Politically, under the leadership of the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Igbos played the role of bridge builders in the fledgling Nigerian nation. In 1957 the British Colonial Government, under intense pressure from Southern politicians pressing for independence, attempted to uncouple the union between the North and South forged through Lord Lugard’s Amalgamation of 1914 with the offer of independence to the three Regions individually provided any two accepted the offer, a political crisis loomed large on the national horizon. The Northern Region, led by the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) took the position that the North was not ready for that level of political and economic independence. The Western Region, led by Chief Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) promptly, declared its readiness to accept the offer. It was the Igbo-led NCNC that held the balance. It was an issue that could make or break Nigeria if the three Regions chose to go their separate ways to independence.
The NCNC leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe took the stand that although the Eastern Region was ready to assume the responsibilities of Regional independence, its attainment without the North would lead, in his own words, to the ‘’Baalkanization of the Nigerian Nation’’ and conceivably a break-up of the country. The Eastern Region would rather suppress its appetite for independence and the obvious gains it would entail until the Northern Region was ready. That was how Nigeria Independence was delayed until 1960. In short, the Igbo-led Eastern Region would rather forgo the advancement of its own political economic interests than risk the break-up of Nigeria.
Had the Eastern Region opted for Independence at that time, the territory under its control would have comprised in today’s terms the following nine States with their enormous human and natural resources: Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. It would also probably include Southern Cameroun with the oil rich Bakassi Peninsula.
If not for Zik, by 1960, the three Regions would have become separate sovereign states and there would have been no question of Biafra’s attempted secession in 1967 from a non-existing Nigerian federation and the devastating civil war fought to stop it.
Unfortunately, upon all these sacrifices Ndi Igbo have been the greatest losers in the Nigerian Project. Despite our contributions to the emergence of a new Nigeria, we have occupied the office of the President/Head-of-State of Nigeria for mere six months; we have the least number of states, least number of Senators and Members of the Federal House of Representatives amongst other geopolitical zones.
While at the same time, the dynamic and highly entrepreneurial Igbos of Nigeria are the people who have sacrificed more than any other ethnic group for the unity of Nigeria.
One of the greatest prospects we have going for the Igbo 2015 project is the single fact that we have been marginalized for far too long. Therefore, my call therefore goes most particularly to fellow ethnic nationalities of our common Nigeria to realize that the call for Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is a call for Nigerian Unity. It is a call for peace, harmony, equality, fairness and understanding. We offer ourselves to this cause and our commitment to this struggle. We need you, fellow ethnic nations of Nigeria. Find our hand stretched forth in comradeship and take it, for truly truly, you need us as we need you.
As a matter of fact, it will be the height of injustice for any other region outside the South-East to step out to contend for 2015 presidential election. This is so because in summary, by 2015, we will have the following situation:
1. South-East 6 Months
2. South-South 4 Years, 4 Months
3. South-West 11Years, 11 Months
4. North-Central 18 Years
5. North-East 5 Years, 4 Months
6. North-West 13 Years.
2011 is the first time in the annals of Nigerian political history and democratic elections that no person from the core Igbo States of the South-East stepped out to run for the presidency in any of the major political parties. And after the political primaries Ndi Igbo massively voted for President Jonathan.
As you can bear me witness, we have worked with the North through our support to Shagari; we have supported the West through our hard work to elect Obasanjo, and we have sacrificed to the South through our unequalled voting for the election of President Goodluck Jonathan. There is no other better time therefore, than now, for us to come together in one accord and hold our brothers by their words. We will remind them of their promises to us, we‘ll remind the North of our loyalty to them, and to the West how we joined force to accommodate them and request from the South to reward us for our sacrifice.
Going through history, any good scholar of constitutional law will tell you that what we are asking for is in perfect constitutional order of merit. This is so because, section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that;
‘’the composition of the government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies’’
In arriving at the above balancing, am sure the wise men and women who framed the constitution had at the back of their mind justice, equity, unity and giving a sense of belonging to the entire ethnic group that makes up our great nation. And since all the ethnic groups that makes up Nigeria has tested power, it will be constitutionally wise for the other ethnic groups to come together and make sure that the next president after Goodluck Jonathan will be of Igbo extraction.
This is so because the survival and to a very large extend the strength of a nation depend on the ability of the state to eliminate conditions that will generate fear and suspicion in the minds of the various units to the union. And the new Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, International Edition defines a ‘’nation’’ as ‘’a body of people recognized as an entity by virtue of their historical, linguistic or ethnic links’’
These clarifications are necessary else we will be classified as yet another ethnic demagogue in a mad season of ethnic and sectarian supremacist politics.
To my knowledge, all that we is asking for is that Nigerian democracy to respect and honour our nation’s ethnic, cultural, religious diversities by providing each and every one no matter your tribe the right to achieve in Nigeria, what Obama came all the way from Kenya to achieve in America.
We can not be accused of not trying or working hard enough as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s pioneer head of state, took a shot at the real thing-the executive presidency, in 1979 and 1983. In spite of his nationally acknowledged role as the foremost crusader for our nation’s independence, he scored abysmally low in both electoral contests. Dr. Alex Ekwueme fared no better, even as he teamed up with a scion of the northern oligarchy-Alhaji Shehu Shagari. In this fourth Republic, mention must be made of the efforts of Dr. Achike Udenwa, Dr. Peter Odili, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Ebitu Ukiwe, Amb. Ralph Uwaeche and my humble self who struggled for the 2007 presidential ticket under our great party PDP. Not forgetting Chief Orji Uzor Kalu the PPA presidential candidate, Prof. Patrick O. Utomi of ADC, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu of APGA and the highly respected Arthur Nwankwo of PMP. Igbos have always stepped out to give the nation a multiple opportunity to make a choice from the pool and correct what seems like a perfectly scripted design to marginalize them from the political polity.
No doubt, the Igbo people themselves have their share of blame in this unsavoury saga, especially given the individualistic and blindly opportunistic attitude of some Igbo politicians, scrambling for crumbs of public office in total disregard of legitimate Igbo collective interest within the Nigerian family. Like Nze Ozichukwu Fidelis rightly observed, ‘’there is a discordance that seems metaphysical. We have always lost by own goals. Our past is nostalgic. Our present is pathetic. Let our future indeed not be ‘’A comedy of Errors’’. Unless we correct this, the greatest obstacle we are going to face in 2015 is going to come from within.
Like Alvin Toffler wrote,
‘’If we do not learn from history, we shall be
compelled to relive it, True. But if we do not change
the future, we shall be compelled to endure it.
And that could be worse’’
As a result, I suggest that we use the next few years to first of all put our house in order by doing the following:
a. Take urgent steps to restore the lost dignity of our people.
b. Develop a solid healthy political relationship with other ethnic groups.
c. Set up a political movement that will coordinate and integrate the Igbo 2015 project to become the mainstream of Nigerian political discussion in the next few years.
d. Start mobilizing resources both human and capital towards actualizing our objectives.
e. Unite the Igbo leadership to work as one no matter our different political affiliations.
Only this will create a strong cohesive political force that will help pull other political forces from different ethnic and political groups together, to form a base or a platform for the accomplishment of this noble mission come 2015.
The Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is an idea which time has come so, let us hold firmly to this truth and insist on it unyieldingly, for it will free not only us but every other bondman in our nation as it will wipe away the stigma of the Civil War. This is our manifest destiny. For us to change Nigeria and build a strong prosperous nation we must recognize the ethnic units as the foundation, the blocks that build our country. This is the time therefore, for us to rise from the North, West and South and answer the call of our united destiny by coming together to make a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2015. Let us help berth Nigeria conclusively on the shores of her true destiny by giving every ethnic unit a sense of belonging and the only way this can be achieved is for our brothers and sisters from the different ethnic groups to come together and join forces with us to produce a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2015.
God Bless Ndi Igbo! God bless Nigeria!!