Since Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo issued a press statement through its spokesperson Chief Alex Ogbonnia on the issue of rotational presidency, the public space and the media have been awashed with it.
However, Ohanaeze Nd‘Igbo’s statement contains a lot of inaccuracies that need to be corrected so as to prevent that ignoble effort at rewriting history.
First, from the tone and letter of the press statement, it clearly exposes Ohanaeze’s disrespect and disregard for youth. Does youth to Ohanaeze mean the inability to follow the events of history properly? Does blackmail legitimise falsehood? And to what end was that press statement credited to a Nd‘Igbo?
I am a Nigerian of Igbo extraction, and do not subscribe to rotational presidency and there are millions of, who believe that competency and capacity must dominate the entire space of our politics as 2023 approaches.
Again, there is also no constitutional backing for zoning and or rotational presidency. In fact, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for the freedom of all citizens above the age of 35 who possess the requisite qualification to aspire to the office of President. To zone and or restrict the high office of President to a particular region or zone is therefore unconstitutional. How does that argument of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State merit the elementary response of the spokesman of Ohanaeze Nd‘Igbo? Even more curious is the effort to drag a highly respected socio-cultural group like Ohanaeze Nd‘Igbo in the mud by deploying very uncharitable language in that attempt to rewrite history.
Let us not forget that the 1998 meeting at the National Universities Commission (NUC) Centre in Abuja referred to in the Ohanaeze Nd‘Igbo statement did not settle the issue of zoning and or rotational presidency. Yes, there were persuasive arguments on the need for zoning but no such thing was agreed upon. It is on record that a few months after, the late Chief Alex Ekwueme, Chief Jim Nwobodo and a few others outside the Southwest zone were to contest for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was the leading candidate of the Southwest in the PDP primaries. So, where and when was zoning/rotational presidency settled?
Noted that Governor Yahaya Bello may have been in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) at the period in our history that that Ohanaeze statement seek to misrepresent, must they deny him the right to an informed position on the Nigerian polity? Must they continue in the ignoble trajectory that denigrates youths? When will they understand that in the 21st Century information is at the finger tip of the youths? Sad.
If zoning and or rotational presidency was settled as a protocol on our body polity, would President Muhammadu Buhari have been a three-time candidate before he won the 2015 Presidency in his fourth attempt?
If zoning/rotational presidency were a settled item in our polity would former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have been a four-time presidential candidate since 2007? Would the array of Northern and Southern aspirants who participated in the various presidential primaries of the leading political parties between 1999 and 2019 have been?
May I state without an ounce of equivocation that what those who believe in Igbo Presidency should do is deploy tact and diplomacy because those who believe in competency and capacity as the linchpin for the president, we crave come 2023 cannot and will not be cowed.
Finally, I implore the eminent leader of Ohanaeze Nd‘Igbo to helm in the spokesman of the group for Ndigbo are good students of history and do not deploy falsehood, mendacity and perfidy in pursuit of any worthy cause. Ya‘gazie.
– Nwaokobia Jnr, convener of CountryFirst Movement writes from Abuja