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Do The Igbos Seriously want to be President of Nigeria?, By Mideno Bayagbon

An Eye on Politics By Mideno Bayagbon

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By Mideno Bayagbon

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My friend, His Excellency, Anyim Pius Anyim, late last week braved the odds and,  came out to declare his interest in vying for the presidency of Nigeria, presumably under the People Democratic Party, PDP. As we say in Warri, he was very categorical when he declared that weda or wedant,  that is, whether the PDP zones the Presidential slot to the South East or not, he is going to contest for the position. 

 His declaration came at a time most people were beginning to question the genuineness of the campaign by the South East geo-political zone that it is about time the rest of the country allows the Igbos produce a President of Igbo origin. It also came a few days after the Economic and Financial Crime Commission detained him for alleged involvement in a corruption case.

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Nevertheless, Anyim’s entrance has opened, what we expect to be, a floodgate of people who will come out to signify their interest in the office. As most people would have noticed in the media, Nigerians were beginning to ask where the aspirants, of South East origin, who want to be President, are.  Social media post after Social media posts, and articles, and gossip corners, in the newspapers were beginning to be swarmed with comments taunting the genuineness of the quest. Therefore, Senator Anyim, a former Senate President and Secretary to Government of the Federation, coming out, at the time he did, surely will assuage anxieties in these quarters, a little.

True, there have been posturings here and there, by people we suspect are interested in vying for the office. True too, Kingsley Moghalu, the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has left no one in doubt that he is still interested in the office he vied for two and half years ago, but made no significant impact.

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Peter Obi, of course, by body language, posturing and the many engaging media interactions he has been having, has left the impression that he has his eyes firmly fixed on contesting for the position. That is, until the Pandora Box global group of investigative media organisations exposed a soft under belly of the former Governor of Anambra state. He is said to have created a shell company in one of the tax havens where he lodged millions of dollars. Though he has not been directly accused of lodging slush funds in the account, he has been hard put in defending why he needed such an account and why he did not declare it in his assets declaration forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Then there is Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Governor of Abia state, currently a senator. Convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of humongous corruption charges, he was sprung out of Kuje Prisons, Abuja, where he was serving his term, on technicalities. He is now strutting about in the braggadocio  of a well connected  Nigerian politician, wanting to be considered for the office of the President of the Federal Republic. Before you think his quest is a joke, that he should be nursing his alleged guilt in silence, and seeking penance before God, remember that he is a man well beloved in Aso Rock, a man with seemingly wide tentacles in the north of Nigeria and is well connected politically and economically. The same Nigerian courts which convicted him, are today the same ones he is using to do the usual dribbling dance of politicians who know how to work the courts to stay out of prison. Remember, impunity has no consequences in Nigeria. Until another court of competent jurisdiction declares him guiltless, his dream of ruling the country is seemingly in jeopardy. 

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Rochas Okorocha, the statues loving former Governor of Imo state, who his people hailed at a time with the unkind sobriquet of Okoro-Hausa; Ken Nnamani, a former senate president  who recently launched a deodorising book, eulogising his allege role in the President Obasanjo third term imbroglio;  Governor Umahi of Ebonyi, who not too long ago dumped the PDP, under which he became a two term governor in the hope that the presidential race will be handed to him on a platter by the APC; and a host of others, I suspect, will soon come out to indicate their interest in the office. Indeed, very soon, the same Nigerians who were asking “where are the Igbo aspirants” will be the same ones who will be wondering why every Emeka, every Chinedu and every Ngozi, who know they stand no chance in hell of making it to Aso Rock, now wants people to believe they are the long awaited president, of Igbo origin. 

In that all comers quest, the fear is, some of these so called aspirants will turn their aspiration into a bazaar, a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder and  will be willing tools to pull even the credible aspirants down. We have seen it before. That is what has played out and is still playing out in Anambra state, where the governorship election is scheduled to hold this Saturday. Positioning as running for the office of President of Nigeria, will be seen, by these group of aspirants, as a meal ticket. To most of these hustlers politicians, their transactional politics has everything  to do with agitation to have an Igbo man or woman become the President of Nigeria. It is a business and political opportunity to be exploited fully, in the interest of self.

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Unfortunately that informs my fear that even if the position is zoned, by the APC and PDP, to the South East, it will still elude the zone. This, from what we all know, is because most Igbo politicians are not given to enthroning group or zonal interests above personal ones. (The average Igbo politician is a replica of the average South South politician: It is either them or no one at all).  If care is not taken, these hustlers will, with their own hands, frustrate the serious aspirants, hand the presidency over to the north in the hope that they, the betraying politician, will be the chosen vice president thereafter. 

I know i am fishing in troubled waters but the truth is, unlike in the north where consensus is easily built, where the group decides and the politicians tow the line, there is no such amity among the South Easterners. There is no group or leadership cadre among them, who will compel only a decent number of truly credible, viable and sellable candidates to be in the race. They are not like the South West politicians who are also very astute in the political game, where their northern colleagues are unrivalled masters. For example, the East cannot boast of their own Bola Tinubu who has singlehandedly superintended over the political affairs of the South West in the last, at least ten years, as the main, if not sole authority in deciding who got what and where. Unlike Afenifere whose voice carries a lot of weight among the political class, Ohaneze Ndigbo, currently headed by George Obiozor, is a tolerated toothless bull dog. The Baba sope and the Rankadede philosophy that governor the north and West politics, is evidently absent in the South East and South South, to their eternal disadvantage. For the Igbos, it is even more so: it is everyone to himself! The mismanagement of IPOB/ESN, as a major bargaining tool,  is a mighty testament in this regard.

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Above apart, as a people, there is nothing in the political space to indicate that the Igbos truly want the office badly. Emotional ventilation, yes. Strategic thrust, no. There is nothing to indicate that they have so embedded themselves, positioned themselves, and built enough formidable alliances in any of the two parties to show that they can pull their request through. True, in the newly reconfigured PDP, an Igbo man, Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu, is the National Secretary, a position ceded to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state who wants to be President or Vice President to Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto state. As all  pundits know, power is never willingly given, it is fought for, negotiated and sometimes forcefully taken.

There is nothing on ground to show that the Igbos are in pole position for consideration: no credible, formidable alliances, no strategic thrusts, no unity of purpose. How do the Igbos want to achieve their dream? Apart from Rotimi Amaechi, Anyim, Obi, and a few others, my mind tells me, those in the race now and the one we suspect will soon throw in their hat into the ring, only truly want to be vice president to any northern candidate the PDP or APC will throw up. How i wish they will prove me wrong.

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