Ridiculous Permutations For 2023 Presidential Race

By Casmir Igbokwe

Nigeria is an interesting country. Certain issues surrounding the 2019 presidential election are yet to be fully resolved. President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to even take oath of office for a second term in office. But some political antelopes are already getting fatigued from 2023 presidential dance.

The drumbeats come from different quarters and the interests are variegated. There is a group represented by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and the suspended Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Uche Okwukwu. This group believes that the Igbo should never dream of getting close to the Presidential Villa in 2023. Their major reason is that the South-East did not vote for Buhari in the last presidential election.

Amaechi reportedly said, “For refusing to support the APC, they cannot come to the table to demand the presidency slot … if the Igbo had come and voted Buhari, they would boldly tell Mr. President and the national chairman of the party that presidency should go to the South-East, since the South-South, South-West and North-West have produced President. What argument would the South-East come up with now to convince anybody that they deserve the slot for the 2023 President?”

Okwukwu supports Amaechi on this. He had fallen out with Ohanaeze before the February 2019 elections due to his support for Buhari. Ohanaeze supported the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar. When the Igbo group could not take his rebellion anymore, it suspended him.

Amaechi, Okwukwu and some others are entitled to their opinion. I have always believed that what Nigeria needs most now is a good and effective leader, no matter where he comes from.

My worry, however, is that there seems to be a calculated plan to scheme out a major ethnic group from the scheme of things in Nigeria. It is convenient to talk about federal character when it has to do with admission into federal unity colleges. But when it comes to appointment of security chiefs and some other major appointments, the federal character principle is jettisoned. When it comes to the zoning of the principal officers of the National Assembly, the federal character principle is no longer necessary. Currently, the major positions in the federal structure are shared between the North and the South-West. 

The marginalisation of the South-East even goes deeper than this. For instance, only the South-East has five states in Nigeria. Others have not less than six. The number of local governments in the zone is also lower than in the other zones. This has affected allocation of resources to the region.

I don’t want to go into the history of how millions of Igbo lost their lives in the North during the pogrom and the resultant civil war of the ’60s. There is also no need talking about the frequent killings and burning of their properties whenever there is crisis in any part of the country. But there is every need to note that Nigeria stands majorly on a tripod. And when one leg of a three-legged chair is broken, whoever sits on it risks crashing down.

It was to avoid this type of crash that Nigerians allowed the Yoruba nation to take the first shot at the presidency on return to civilian rule in 1999. It was some sort of compensation for the South-West to ameliorate the ill-treatment meted out to Chief M.K.O. Abiola over the June 12, 1993, presidential election. Abiola won the election but the powers that be then denied him the opportunity to rule the country. Eventually, he died in detention.

The entire nation recognised this injustice and easily embraced Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (a Yoruba) as Nigeria’s president between 1999 and 2007. Umaru Yar’Adua (a northerner) took over from Obasanjo in 2007. Unfortunately, he could not complete his tenure in office as he died in 2010. His deputy, Goodluck Jonathan (an Ijaw), took over the mantle of leadership and ruled until 2015 when power returned to the North. Buhari has run his first term. He is getting ready for inauguration for a second term this Wednesday, all things being equal.

Since the North, the South-West and even the South-South have had their turns in Aso Rock in this Fourth Republic, is it not natural that the two major political parties should present a South-Easterner to vie for the Presidency of Nigeria in 2023? Or are the Igbo no longer part of Nigeria?

Perhaps, there is an element of truth in Obasanjo’s allegation that the Buhari-led government planned to ‘Fulanise’ and Islamise Nigeria. Last Wednesday, the Federal Government announced plans to establish a Fulani radio station. The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, gleefully stated that the radio licence was to serve as a vehicle of social mobilisation and education of the Fulani herdsmen wherever they might be. These are people who have the reputation as the fourth most deadly terrorist group in the world.

Rather than establish a radio station, the Federal Government decided to send pythons to reach members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) wherever they may be. These groups have tried to mobilise the Igbo to sit at home on May 30 as a way of peacefully protesting the injustices done to Ndigbo over the years. But the police and the pythons have been harassing, arresting and indeed clamping some of them into detention.

Let’s get it clear. I do not support some of the activities of IPOB and MASSOB. I also do not believe that an Igbo President will significantly change the plight of the South-East region. But, for goodness sake, why will anybody openly canvass that power returns to the South-West in 2023? Apart from eight years of Obasanjo’s presidency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been in the saddle as Vice-President for four years and he is likely going for another four years if there is no hiccup at the presidential election petitions tribunal.

It is most unfortunate that some individuals currently play the Bola Tinubu versus Osinbajo 2023 card. Both Tinubu and Osinbajo are said to be nursing the ambition to become President after Buhari. One newspaper even conjured a likely clash between the two men. The report says Tinubu is popular in the South-West while Osinbajo is more popular than him in the whole country principally because of the N10,000 loan to traders called Tradermoni. Ridiculous!

Those who make this permutation fail to understand that the APC is not the only party in Nigeria. In fact, what is holding the APC today is Buhari. Once he serves his tenure and leaves, the cookies may crumble. The PDP made a strong showing in the last election and could indeed take over power if there is transparent and free election.          

In any case, this struggle for power at the centre will wane the moment we devolve authority to the regions or states, as the case may be. Let each state grow according to its capacity. This was what happened during the First Republic such that there was healthy competition among the regions. Little wonder Sir Ahmadu Bello even preferred to be Premier of Northern Region to being the Prime Minister of Nigeria.

A return to this arrangement or what some people call restructuring is a debt Buhari must pay before leaving office. Until then, let us disembark from this 2023 train for now and join in the race to rescue our country from a seemingly unending journey to Golgotha. 

 

Re: Playing disco with Nigerian electricity consumers

Dear Casmir, thanks for the information on electricity consumers and the vexed issue of pre-paid meters. Under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme, meter costs N70,350 for three-phase, and N38,850 for one-phase.

But here in Port Harcourt, Enugu Disco, says that their meter is “FREE”.  That everybody should apply online, @www.enugudisco.com.  Click on “contact us”. Click on “request for meter”.  People wonder whether this is a Greek Gift or something smart. Dr. B.S. Chukwuka, who lives with his family on the next street, says that consumption reading on the new EEDC meter installed for him is very high.  A recharge of N5,000 in his flat runs out before one week.

That is consumption of about N20,000 per month, even as  there is no constant power supply.  This is almost the same as EEDC’s estimated bill of average N18,750 per month.  Which is better now?  Pre-paid meter, or estimated bill?

People suspect that the new EEDC meter is pre-set or programmed to run fast, and burn out credit faster than the old UNISTAR meter installed by PHCN in 2008. A recharge of about N2,500 lasts for one month with the old meter installed by PHCN.

Kindly highlight this anomaly and let EEDC tell us why their new meter is “free”, but runs so fast; and how illiterate consumers, artisans can apply for pre-paid meter online.

– Chief Nwosu P.C., Port Harcourt, 08085914645

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, May 27, 2019

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