Don’t see 2023 as only time to produce president — Northern elders counsel Igbo

Northern elders have advised Igbo not to see 2023 as the only time they can produce the president of Nigeria, saying that they should not make enemies and spoil other opportunities in near future.

Specifically, two prominent northern elders, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, who is the chairman of Northern Elders Council (NEC) and Mr. Anthony Sani of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and one time Spokesman and Secretary General of ACF respectively advised that Igbo nation should not play politics of do or die affairs in the 2023 presidential race because it is not the end of the road for them.

In a joint statement, replying to Professor Farooq Kparogi on his advocacy for President of Igbo extraction, the two northern elders noted that after the civil war which ended in 1970, the Igbo were rehabilitated, reconstructed and reintegrated into Nigerian national socio-economic system which made them felt belonged in nation building.

The elders further argued that for Igbo to feel belonged in national development, they have been occupying high ranking political positions since the country returned to democracy, and therefore advised them to refrain from politics of threatening leave Nigeria if denied 2023 presidency.

“The end of the civil war ushered a No Victor, No Vanquished pedestal, and gave birth to the 3Rs of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration, aimed at inclusiveness of the Igbos into the Nigeria National Unity. Since then, there have been consciously directed efforts to make the 3Rs more achievable.

“In fact, both the military and democratic governments have given Igbos fair representations in the Federal government and it’s agencies, such as Vice President, Senate Presidents, Speakers, SGF, Coordinating Ministers, Service Chiefs, CBN Governors and Chairman of the ruling party.

“This solid integration of the Igbo into the Nigeria affairs had enabled them to settle unperturbed in various parts of the Country, giving them the unlimited latitude to pursue their business activities, which currently run into substantial networths.

“Similarly, there are projects situated by the Federal Government of Nigeria (in pursuance of policy of Reconstruction) in Igbo land (particularly the construction of the second Niger Bridge) to amplify and demonstrate Government’s concern for the South-Eastern Region. Conversely, when the Igbo threaten to leave Nigeria, if an Igbo President does not emerge in 2023; one wonders the wisdom and the basis of this agitation without facts and figures to justify the intuition.

“Igbo, like any other Nigerians, are entitled to contest for the office of the President of the Nation under the current multiparty democracy. To that end, they are expected to devise their winning game plans and use that to convince the Nigerian electorates to vote for one of their own.

“The constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate must meet two important requirements to win majority and spread of votes by securing at least 25% of the votes in each of at least two thirds of the states; currently 24 states of Nigeria.

“This is true and balanced democracy. As neither the North nor South of the Country have 24 states, the intent of the provisions is to compel the nation to come together to elect the President for the whole Country, in order to promote the needed Unity.

“But when Igbo insist to produce the president in 2023 through affirmative action (ie the use of threats, of leaving the union) and not through the constitutionally laid democratic process; one begins to wonder if that would not amount to playing Denegeld’s theory of rewarding bad behavior, that comes from threats and intimidation, which brings about the avoidable mistrust.

“Igbo should design their game plans and canvass for the needed electoral mandate by taking advantage of the multiparty democracy. This is because democracy is contest of ideas and reasons. It is never bull fight or victim playing, and in doing so, not regard 2023 as the final hour.

“Those who seek to redefine democracy, which is premised on the triple foundation of Justice, Liberty and Common Decency, may as well end up reinventing the wheel or redefining the truth,” the statement said.

Making reference to Professor Kparogi’s advocacy for President of Igbo extraction, the northern elders said, “There can be no cavil with the significance of the submissions by Farooq Kparogi, which he considers as needed to bring about the desired unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence that is sine qua non for meaningful socio-economic development of Nigeria. This is because a diverse country as Nigeria, tends to be fissiparous and constantly pulled in different directions by centrifugal forces.

“It is against this backdrop, that Nigeria has instituted many policies like quota system of admissions, and federal character in distribution of access to national employment, projects and major contracts, for the expressed purpose of promoting sense of belonging in the polity. This comes with inclusiveness of the diverse people in the belief that it is very possible to make the most of our God given diversity, thereby ensuring that every segment of the nation is given a true sense of belonging.

“Similar countries have also attempted to introduce policies with the objective of nation binding. For example, Ethiopia, which has never been colonized, practices ethnic based federalism, yet it has prevalent challenges of nation building. Somalia, a country with only a few ethnic groups and predominantly singular faith, yet faces the challenges of nation building. Lebanon, on the other hand, has policies for balance of its religious diversity. Where the Christians produce the president, the Sunni would produce the Prime Minister, and the Shi’ite would produce the speaker. Yet, they have governance challenges. All these go to show that, the tasks of nation building go beyond mere balancing of public offices as an end in itself.

“All these are also a testimony to the fact that, though politics goes beyond ideals, it also includes who gets what, how and when, because it is driven by group interest, group goal, group coherence, group cohesion and even group conspiracy. Good governance is an art of balancing competing demands amongst not only constituents but also among socio-economic sectors; and what unites a nation, as they constitute national ideals and shared values,” they said.

Daily Sun
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