2023: For equity, fairness Igbo should be president – Elochukwu

Posted by FN Editor | 5 years ago | 1,514 times

One time president, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Chief Ernest Elochukwu, speaks on the just concluded 2019 elections, 2023 presidential race and other issues.

How do you see some Nigerians’ mood after the 2019 general elections?

Well, many Nigerians, not just Igbo, had very high expectations of change because there was this general impression that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had not done greatly in the areas that affect the generality of Nigerians and that is the economy.  So, the ordinary Nigerian wanted a change but the interplay of various factors including the usual resort to tribal and religious sentiments, manipulations by the established power brokers and the distorted conduct of the election itself somehow ended giving a different result altogether.

Many across the country were shocked because they voted overwhelmingly for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Later, this shock turned into gloom and depression because many people were merely managing the harsh life despite All Progressives Congress’ (APC) assurances of better times ahead. The deterioration of the economy as evidenced by various indices that we see has caused a sense of skepticism and cynicism that things were not getting better. People still believe that things aren’t better and they see the APC government of President Buhari as incapable of giving them a new lease of life.

It is generally believed that there is still no love lost between President Muhammadu Buhari and Igbo in general. What is your take on this?

To the best of my knowledge, Igbo don’t hate Buhari as a person or president per se, but whatever may be said to be the cause of that perception has to do with the political arrangement that brought Buhari into office. The APC was put together as a platform to remove the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan but in the build-up to that political merger, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu created the impression of pre-eminence which I’m sure the Igbo weren’t comfortable with. The position of National Leader of the APC which is ascribed to Tinubu even when it is not in the party’s constitution gives life to this impression of pre-eminence. Igbo had a suspicion that the Yoruba are angling for another shot at the presidency after former President Olusegun Obasanjo had held the position for eight years. So, Igbo’s seeming aversion to Buhari is a reaction to their perception that the APC arrangement marks them out in the struggle for the prime position in Nigeria!

 What is the solution to this perceived problem between Igbo and President Buhari?

The position of things can be likened to a father who perceives that one of his children doesn’t seem to like him. And now the question is: Would the father return the dislike as a solution to the problem? I think the normal thing is for the father to show that love to the child as a way of drawing him closer to himself.

It is really unfortunate that after the 2015 presidential election, those advising President Buhari did not take their mind to the need to forge a united country. The statement credited to President Buhari concerning his preference to attend to those who gave him 95 percent votes before thinking of those who gave him five percent was undoubtedly an ill-advised one. Again, the politicians of the Igbo extraction who had good positions in Buhari’s government did not use their positions to advance the acceptability of APC in Igbo land. Even before the elections, they always went about boasting of their capacity to use the federal might to win elections. This surely was a wrong political approach; so my advice is that President Buhari as a father should approach the subject of assuring the Igbo of his fairness and willingness to carry them along. By so doing, Igbo would have no option than to reciprocate in the interest of the unity of the country.

From the look of things, do you think an Igbo man will get the presidency of Nigeria in 2023?

First, the idea of rotation of the presidency which is commonly referred to as zoning is a good one on its own because this is what it ought to be in a multi-tribal cum religious country like Nigeria. There must be a deliberate arrangement to ensure that any part of country gets a chance to hold the prime position. So, as to the chances of Igbo in 2023, it is very high and bright. Igbo should now put their acts together for once. The basic idea of oscillation of the presidency between the North and South implies that after eight years reign of President Buhari, the presidency should naturally go to the South and when that’s done, the two zones, South West and South-South, who have taken their chances in 1999 – 2007 and 2010 – 2015, should not think of contesting a gain for fairness to thrive. The law of fair-play and equity should be considered in the next political dispensation, of which South East geo-political zone should be given the opportunity. Anybody from the South West or South South indicating interest will amount to taking a second chance, which must be stopped in the spirit of peaceful co-existence.

Of course, it must be realised that it was under PDP, a different political party that South West and South-South held the presidency. I equally know of a possible argument that Buhari holding the same position after Umaru Yar’Adua, had done same prior to his demise, meaning that North West had actually held it twice. But we cannot also ignore the circumstance that brought an end to Yar’Adua’s reign. So, my advice to Igbo politicians, especially those in the APC now is to start thinking of the project of getting their party into the heart and minds of the Igbo. I have always advocated that Igbo as a race should never be led by their political leaders into pitching their interest only in one major political party. Already, Igbo are visible in PDP, and since there are two major political parties, they should equally be visible in APC so that by 2023, they will muster enough courage and membership to go for the presidency.


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