By Ibejide Jones
The decision by the two political parties to zone the 2023 presidency to the South must be commended, because the three geo-political zone; South East, South South and South West , (which makes up the region) possess experienced and credible personalities that can run and effectively manage the affairs of Nigeria without any worries.
What should be of paramount importance at this point to the parties that will be acting as platforms for the eventual candidates that will emerge should be, amongst other things; the acceptance of the candidate that will be eventually presented to the voting masses, addressing the inequality that has seen various aggrieved groups emerge and the person of the lucky candidate?
It is no longer news that the inequality clause that has existed in the polity, weighs heavily against the south east of the country, I have chosen to look at the inequality matter for various reasons.
• It will bring to an end the ongoing agitations from various quarters of the country, especially in the east of Nigeria, which has never had a go at the presidency, since after Nnnamdi Azikiwe in 1960 -1963
• Secondly, the Ndi-igbo have consistently reminded powers that be of the fact that they are represented in the region by only five states, while other zones especially in the North have six and seven states (North West)
Narrowing the whole representation matter to the fourth republic from 1999 till date, it can be seen that the first go at presidency was filled by the South West, with former Nigerian military Head of State of state, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo coming out from prison to take the mantle of leadership for eight years.
After Obasanjo was the opportunity of the North West to give Nigeria a leader, in the person of late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua which was eventually truncated two years down the line, a situation that almost saddled Nigeria with a constitutional dilemma until the Senate Under David Mark presented the way forward via the doctrine-of-necessity which gave the presidency to the then Vice –President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who took who took over the mantle of leadership until till 2015.
A critical look at the political events from 1999 till date suggests clearly that the interests of the south east region has not be captured in the political schemes of things in Nigeria, hence the need to get it right in 2023.
That the presidency is zoned to the south should not make political gladiators neglect the fact that the south has appendages (East and West) and Ndi-igbo which is the south east has been sidelined in the political ‘Arithmetic’s’ of Nigeria.
The region’s disadvantages in terms of the number of states it has and their opportunity to quell all forms of agitations stemming from the fact that an Ndi-igbo is yet to occupy Aso Rock since the outset of the fourth republic should be given priority consideration.
To give balance to the lopsided representation at state and national level, it will be advisable that the political parties, especially the APC and the PDP should work towards narrowing down the choice of who eventually emerges to the south east, because this alone will settle the agitators clamoring for a sovereign state.
I am confident that agitations for the creation of a break away entity from Nigeria will be a thing of the past at the point Nigerians see that months leading to elections proper, the two parties are rallying round candidates from the South East whom they have taken the time to screen to obtain what competences and qualities they possess.
What more, the APC at this point has two candidates from the South East and South West, (Rochas Okorocha and Bola Tinubu) whom many consider the only visible candidates in-terms of their positions, actions and pronouncements regarding the 2023 presidential race, while the former has been inundated with calls from groups to join the fray and recent encounter with the law leading to his arrest ( which many are now aware was just a ploy to get him to drop his ambition), the latter on the other hand has not minced words about his desire to be the next occupant of Aso Rock once the assignment of the incumbent is fully discharged.
The uphill task before the two political parties at this juncture is to amongst other things focus on the marketability of the candidates, by marketability the PDP and the APC should be asking who has the most acceptance, grass-roots- wise, is it a party chieftain who has a lot of baggage to carry and has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons like, Age falsification, Corruption, etc…, or should we go for a candidate who has the acceptability across the length and breadth of the nation and would be acting as a bridge between the North, South; East and West of the nation, as a result of the various interventions in the areas of Education, Health care, and general well-being of the average Nigerian, (if any).
The next Nigerian President should help in more ways than one , re-unite Nigeria, whoever will take up the mantle should be able to feel the heartbeat of the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba man, the candidates intervention over the years in bringing succor to the suffering of the common man should also be a factor.