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Igbo Presidency 2023: Seriously?

By Chuka Nnabuife

Former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha is merely running around, raising dust but still coming short of saying it.

Anambra State's former governor, Peter Obi is characteristically playing the media, hopping from one speaking platform to another, smiling at anybody in every event yet failing to state intent.

Erstwhile Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu still switches from one corner of the country to another consulting and negotiating while still playing the other engaging chess game for, possibly, the Government House in his home state, Enugu.

Sen. Ken Nnamani bumps up like high and low notes in a stacatto whenever the issue is thrown up. Some say the former Senate President is a possible aspirant. Some say, he will back out when the hard push comes. Irrespective of the high-profile biography of his, presented recently in a very celebrity politicians' event, he keeps coming across as one who could come up, at one point or soon vanish behind shadows like a once conspicuous byestander.

Another former Senate President and erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ayim Pius Ayim, has bounced up more forcefully and vocally, even saying that he wants to run but many still watch him like children watch the sideshow masked one who dances more energetically than the real thing, the big masquerade. Some still regard him as  that 'Joseph' who always 'dreams' as they deemed him before he emerged, literally, from the blues to become a Senate President.

At one point it has looked like the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu had such dream. Same with a handful others who appeared to kick but in reality not (at least from street parlance) like the former Deputy Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Kingsley Moughalu, who shows up strongly at as many television talkshows and public speaking and makes the most appropriate presentations yet stopping short of stepping up to gun for the he diadem or join a political party that looks like a viable vehicle for it. 

So far, many of the frontline political players in Igbo land, especially in South-East who are expected to step their feet on the pedal and run, seriously, for the much projected, 'Igbo Presidency' of Nigeria in 2023 have not shown serious bid. 

Even those who mulled intents, which is, realistically, wish not push, have merely stopped at the stages of imagination not action. The nearest them is a long distance before those who are getting to the ball.

Indeed, only the elite pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa has said he could. As things stand now, no Igbo, man or woman, has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2023 Presidency.

None of Igbo nation's frontline politicians, activists or technocrats has featured in the news as dropping hints of an intention to push for Aso Rock in any frontal form or decoy. 

But for news reports of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaeze Ndi Igbo, hitting (rather hinting) that a non-Igbo president of Nigeria on May 29, 2023 will be unacceptable, there appears to be no concrete push from the Igbo nation for an Igbo-born helmsman of Nigeria to emerge from the next presidential election. 

Notwithstanding the hiatus, there is a tidal wave of enthusiasm and public opinion in the South-East zone of Nigeria for the Igbo presidency. A real feel of the pulse of the East reveals an energy in the expectation -- much like the Israelites of The Bible eagerly awaited the return of a Moses.

 Even uneducated market women, street urchins and motor park errands can give lengthy emotive speeches on how the absence of an Igbo person in the saddle is the bane of Nigeria. 

In the words of Mama Ozii, the fruit vendor: "Na im de make Nigeria no move forward everi time. If you de doubt me, check am nah."

 Beyond the zone, there is also a consternation of calls for Igbo Presidency from avid campaigners, majority of who are not Igbo persons.

When news of the said 'closed-door meeting' of erstwhile governor of Lagos State and media mogul, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) with Orji Uzor Kalu in the latter's Abuja home broke earlier this week, I told some colleagues watching the television with me: 'that is how to go about it.'

Thereafter, I observed a flurry of media reportage with even close-up photographs (of the said "closed-door" event) in the prints, electronics and social media.   Worthy of note is that as we learnt, it was Tinubu that went to visit Kalu, not the former Abia helmsman who, for emphasis, is a media mogul too. But the network strings that mainly spread the news were BAT's. 

It is held that both men dwelt on the politics and future of Nigeria. Most likely, the Abuja meeting is about 2023, in which Tinubu, from South-West, is highly touted as one who could run despite the loud calls for South-Eastern persons to run given the fact that Nigeria, since creation, has not had a president from the area.

An unemotional reading of the ululations and outcries for Igbo Presidency in 2023 is that Ndi Igbo and the many other Nigerians who join them in the call desire that fairness, ballance and equity in the distribution of political power in Nigeria. They make it clear, every time the matter comes up for discussion, in the streets and in press that they would only feel that their country takes cognisance of them when the turn for the top job comes in 2023 and they are allowed to get it as other parts of Nigeria has done. That can just be fair and logically so given that every other

section of the three original regions of the country, has had the presidency but the Igbo.

But politics is never a game left for morals and emotional judgement. Indeed, real politik is a raw, crude and mundane push and shove to shake off the weak from the pack.  Often, in politics, the strongest bully, the smartest alec and the most brazenly tenacious takes the diadem. 

For the ethical and moral, it is just not fair. But experts and great thinkers in the game, from Ceacero to Machiavelli, to Plutarch, to Robert Grene would tell that those who know how to gain the system, would most times, win.

This implies that notwithstanding the calls for Igbo Presidency in 2023, and clear evidences to buttress the call if there is no momentum and swirl of socio-political action to back the bid, those who have the zest would snatch it from Igbo, especially, in the current situation where, it appears, frontline politicians from the area are halfhearted about the quest.

Indeed, a Tinubu, though from South-West, like any other Nigerian, can run, and take it with both hands.

In fact, Tinubu's case is like the former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku's. Though Fulani, like the current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and from the North too, Alhaji Atiku is busy traversing Nigeria currently to shop for ears and hearts for his political intention.

Politics is about such focused penetration and audacious visibility even against defying odds. It is more so, in a polity marked by unabashed lead acts, sadists, and vouyeuristic greedy shenanigans.

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State in north-central, a zone that produced most of Nigeria's military leaders, also told a conference of Nigerian news media editors held last month in Abuja that he would not mind running for presidency in 2023.

The instructive factor here is that some people are already working hard at cracking the 2023 knot. Many of them are, interestingly, not Igbo, yet the streets are wet tears for Igbo Presidency.  

The excuse for the puzzle is unfathomable. If a Tinubu with his recent health challenges would return from a long spell abroad on health tourism and plunge straight to the matter, nobody would doubt it's importance to him. He is after the crown with every energy left in him.

I have not heard of any of the earlier-cited Igbo frontline politicians with damning health issues but I am yet to see such vigour and frantic push from them. Even a similar dexterity in working the media is not noticeable in the largely, very media-aloof South-East leaders, including the less than one per centile that own stakes in media house (a sphere where their colleagues elsewhere play like kings because of their stakes).

 The Awka-based young public affairs commentator,  Chima Christian, actually notes that though BAT may not "seem to have the vitality needed to run Nigeria in 2023 and beyond. The problem is that the so called virile/viable ones are still playing hide and seek."

He adds a good reading of the country's politics which fits here: "Despite my best wishes, elections in Nigeria do not go to the most fit and intelligent. It almost always goes to who works the "system" better.

"I encourage our intelligent and “fit” 2023 hopefuls to get off their intellectual and puritanical high horse, roll up their sleeves and play the game by its rules."

The rule in politics is: work hard; push hard; be brave; if need be, be brazen too 

That is my message to my brothers in Igbo. And I add: wake up and smell the coffee, you are lulling and lagging on the Igbo presidency 2023 project, if there is any. We cannot get it by hiding in the shadows. No matter how many crying around us: Igbo! Igbo! Igbo! We will not get it by genuflection, remonstration and banking on emotions.

Igbo can only get it if they make it a serious project

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