Nigeria 2015: The Igbos Best Bet By Abdulrahman Usman Leme

It is the month of March already and all eyes are on Nigeria for an unprecedented, highly competitive and historic election – arguably Africa’s biggest election. Nigeria is poised for a historic election amidst so many political and economic challenges; some of these challenges are already threatening the existence of the country.

Like all elections in the past, the major determinant of the election outcome is not necessarily the interest of the Nigerian populace, but the interest of some vested interest from different quarters across the geo-political zones.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, the only zone out of the six that is yet to produce a president or vice president is the South-east region – arguably the most politically marginalised zone since the events of January 1966 that led to the civil war, which eventually subdued the region economically and politically.

While many are of the opinion that the 1966 coup led by major Kaduna Nzeogwu (an Igbo), which saw the execution of the First Republic politicians, majority of whom are of Northern extraction and the attempt to secede from Nigeria as the main reason why the Igbos are yet to be trusted with power at the centre by the political class. Some believe that after failing to establish the Biafran state, the Igbos are not really interested in power at the centre. Although some of the Igbos still dream of ‘the land of the rising sun’, rising out of the Nigerian state, they are still a major stakeholder in Nigeria’s politics and have continued to contribute to the Nigerian state at different levels and in different individual capacities.

As the 2015 elections draws closer, the two major political parties have continued to woo support from different interest groups, and as usual the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is seen by many to win majority of the South-eastern states, but the question here is, is the PDP really the Igbos best bet? I will attempt to answer this question using two points. First we look at this from political perspective, politically since 1999 the PDP, despite winning majority of votes from the South-east, they have never picked a presidential or vice presidential candidate from the South-east (Igbo), so the for an Igbo presidency by many Ndigbos like the second niger bridge is still far-fetched dream under the PDP, as the Party is expected to field a Northern candidate in 2019, if they win the forthcoming elections. The second point is the economic perspective. If the Igbos are not really interested in having an Igbo president, then known for their entrepreneurship skills and as captains of our industries, they must at least support a government that can put in place sustainable economic policies that can enable them continue to run their businesses. Here we look at the current PDP government seeking re-election under President Goodluck Jonathan and judging by the current economic turmoil the country is facing, I doubt if majority of my Igbo brethren are really smiling – especially those involved in the import and export business, the dwindling oil price and the devaluation of naira by the government has no doubt affected their numerous investments. But like I mentioned earlier on the outcome of elections in the past are not really determined by the issues affecting the common man. Of course with President Jonathan sharing his largesse in millions of dollars to woo the support of the South-east leaders and not ruling out sentiment, one could argue that the Igbos would rather vote for Goodluck ‘Azikwe’ Jonathan than Muhammadu Buhari. And in the likely event of disintegration they’d rather aligned with the oil rich Niger-Delta if not for the resources, but for possible re-union of the defunct Eastern region.

However, the APC have continued to seek for the Igbo support and many Ndigbos have identified themselves with the APC, notably Imo state Governor Rochas okorocha, Ogbonnaya Onu, Chris Ngige and many others.

General Buhari himself in the past, through his party the defunct ANPP twice have given the Igbos an opportunity to be on the presidential ticket; Late Chuba okadigbo in 2003 and late Edwin Ume-Ezeoke in 2007 an opportunity the Igbos never had under the PDP. Arguably the Igbos best bet is the APC as the PDP is expected to field-in a Northern candidate and a South-western candidate as running mate in 2019.

While I dream of a Nigeria where zoning will not be a factor in determining who lead our country, I believe the APC is not only the Igbos best bet but a child of necessity that Nigerians from all sections should embrace it as this will set a new dawn in our political landscape and henceforth Nigerians will have the power to elect their leaders base on competency, character and track records, regardless of their religious, sectional or ethnic affiliation instead of depending on some zoning formula of a certain political party.

God bless Nigeria!


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