Igbo presidency and the Nigeria project

What is generally regarded as the Nigeria project which started in 1914 was inaugurated by the British colonialists who were then in firm control of all the areas known today as Nigeria. It was a project which at the initial stage aimed exclusively at the politico-economic convenience of the British imperialists. But the merger of the diverse and often discordant ethnic nationalities into a nation-state within the international community which they named Nigeria soon assumed the perennial manifestation of inherent centrifugal forces within the contraption put together by the imperialists. There was no nation within the international community called Nigeria before that time. All efforts since then to function as a normal and workable political entity have somehow ended in futility. Nigeria has hitherto functioned more as an association of incompatibles, especially after political independence. There has been no genuine effort aimed at national integration. This has been the major root of political and economic instability in the country. In fact, the Nigeria project almost became an abandoned one as manifested in the events leading to the fratricidal civil war between 1967 and 1970. The lot of the people has always been that of retrogression than progress in all ramifications despite the nation’s huge human and natural resources.

Objective keen observers of what is going on in the nation’s political space right now will admit that normalcy or progress appears not to be in sight as far as the Nigeria project is concerned. Most of Nigerian politicians are too ego-centric for national unity. They focus more on selfish interests. Even where they seemingly champion their ethnic or religious interest, it is ultimately for selfish interest.  Now, many of the politicians have started moving up and down with a focus on the 2023 general election when the tenure of the present administration will come to an end. Some Northern hegemonists are even saying that the North will still retain power in 2023 after Muhammadu Buhari presidency. Implicit in their view is that political power in the country is the exclusive right of the Northerners. Even when they are not in power, they want to determine who holds power in trust for them. This is somehow atavistic, but it remains a ruinous absurdity in Nigeria’s political space.

Some more politically reasonable Nigerians (such Nigerians also include some Northerners), are saying power must shift to the Southern part of the country. Again, this somehow amorphous situation has left political contractors (and they are not in short supply in Nigeria’s political terrain) from both the North and the South with the opportunity to start putting forward particular individuals in the South openly or clandestinely to become the nation’s next president in 2023. Most of these political businessmen cum contractors are however merely exhibiting veiled selfish interest. They cared less about what becomes of the project called Nigeria as long as they are able to achieve their veiled selfish desire. After all, politics is glaringly the most lucrative venture in Nigeria, giving room for political upstarts to become emergency billionaires at the expense of the polity. Politics in the country not only confers power but also the formidable financial strength that power confers on power wielders in Nigeria.

Although I am not a fan of the politics of the pan-Igbo micro-nationalism of the pre and post-independent Nigeria, but given the nature of the Nigerian politics and the fragility of the so-called Nigeria project, the issue of who becomes the next Nigerian president in 2023 should not be searched for outside our compatriots from the South East geopolitical zone. An Igbo man must be the next Nigerian president if we are sincerely after peace and stability rather than the abandonment of the Nigeria project. Justice and fair play even makes this imperative in the polity.  We cannot shy away from the fact that accident of the place of one’s birth to a large extent determines what he or she gets in Nigeria. This is unfortunately the reality on the ground and no wonder everyone wants the president to come even from his village. Hitherto, this has been the trend in the country.  The bitter truth politically in today’s Nigeria however remains that no other section of the country has more tenable reason to present anybody for the presidency than the Igbo if we still need Nigeria as a corporate entity comprising all the groups making up the present British contraption called Nigeria. Implicit in anything outside this is saying that these people (Igbo) are not part of us and this will definitely put the Nigeria project in a more serious jeopardy if not to be abandoned completely. Any lover of Nigeria’s unity must be feeling very sad seeing some people throwing political decorum to the winds in a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria and foisting the names of some individuals in the South outside Igbo land as the next president in the country come 2023. This is not to talk of the absurdity of suggesting any name from the North.  Such should be seen not only as arrant insensitivity, but also as political recklessness. Setting aside primordial sentiment, such people should put themselves in the position of an average Igbo man and begin to imagine how they would feel. Every genuine lover of Nigeria as a single political entity should therefore begin to see the successor of Buhari as an Igbo man. Every alternative to this must be seen as arrant nonsense and therefore be ruled out in favour of the Nigeria project. This should be devoid of any argument or ethnic sentiment. It just has to be an Igbo man as Nigerian president in 2023.

This is not saying that with an Igbo man or woman in power in 2023, the seemingly intractable problems facing the country would automatically become things of the past. No. After all, it is not that the other sections of the country that have been holding power lacked people who could turn around things for good in the country.  The bitter truth however is that the nation is so structured socially, politically and economically that such people would not be allowed to have access to power. So, except someone with genuine motive towards the Nigeria project is allowed to access power, the national problems will persist despite Igbo presidency. If political contractors from the North and South (they are even not in short supply in Igbo land) are not allowed to determine the Igbo man to take over the presidency in 2023, we may be in for positive changes in all ramifications and the Nigeria project would stop being a mirage.


  • Adesua is a former MD/Editor-in-Chief of Nigerian Tribune


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