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Opportunity knocks for Ndi Igbo.

It is about six months to the general elections and conceivably politicking has taken the centre stage. We have already been treated to the ignoble dance of defections, a botched or staged NASS takeover -depending on your perspective- and now we are witnessing the second season of letter writing. No doubt our champion Obansajo will be green with envy as his writing prowess has been eclipsed by that of younger gladiators in a war of attrition that may well shape the political future of the nation.

Leading the charge in a frenetic start to the week is Asiwaju Bola Tunubu. In a statement titled ‘They go Away Because We go the Right Way’ the former Lagos state governor and leader of the ruling APC alleged that Saraki and Tambuwal defected to the PDP because they were promised automatic tickets to pursue their political ambition, something he claimed was not possible in his party.

In his response, the Senate President accused Tinubu of dishonesty saying that he is still aggrieved at being denied the Vice Presidential ticket in 2014 and that his support for President Buhari’s re-election is solely informed by own his presidential ambition.

The debate over this bickering has since dominated the political and media space. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot and you shouldn’t too. Why should we care? It is neither about our betterment nor national interest, what’s more, the discerning political observer should know that both men have said nothing new. Both are ambitious, wealthy and power hungry. Their quest to occupy the seat in Aso Rock is already in the public domain.

But it will be unrealistic to expect that Nigerians will disregard this one, we love drama and we are savouring this. More so considering that in the process of fulfilling their ambition politicians may bring progress and development to their people, we must interrogate these statements, albeit without taking sides.

In a previous article I posited that the recent defections “may offer some hope for the political lightweights to have a shot at retaining their positions in 2019 but the gladiators are actually battling for relevance in readiness for a post-Buhari Nigeria in 2023”. This position has been buttressed by the events of yesterday.

Anybody who still believes that President Buhari will be defeated next February needs to study our political history beginning with social studies. By 2023 power will naturally rotate to the South at least in the APC, and if the PDP is still afloat by then we should expect a similar arrangement assuming they are to seriously give the presidency a shot.

Sadly, it is becoming clearer each day that my South East region is not even on the ringside for the political battle of 2023 because while the politicking and positioning were going on our politicians were battling with the chants of “Biafra or I die” from an electorate largely brainwashed by IPOB. Now four years is almost gone with the South-South better placed in the two leading parties to slug it out with other regions for political power.

But it is never too late, politics can be dynamic and if we are to work with Saraki’s statement that Asiwaju believes the presidency should go to the South West and ultimately to him then we can expect that 2023 will be more keenly contested. This is because with the exception of Buhari the president of Nigeria rarely goes to those who covet it. Tinubu will meet stiff opposition within his region from potential candidates like Osinbajo and Fashola, he will also have to contend with the resistance from the likes of Saraki and Tambuwal.

Likewise in the PDP, governor Wike will face strong dissent in achieving his rumoured desire to ascend Buhari’s throne come 2023.

Therein lies the opportunity for Ndi Igbo to stake their cards. This is why we have to quit playing the victim. There is need to replace the brand of politics we played in the past three years with pragmatic and proactive politicking if we are to begin the difficult task of taking back our rightful position in national politics. Its time for Igbo leaders to rise to the occasion, they need to be counted both in the ruling party and in the opposition. Wike and Tinubu must not be allowed to dictate in both parties. They must be pushed all the way.

Of course, some will argue that Igbos don’t need the presidency to make progress, that what we need is a restructured and equitable nation to excel. I agree. But I equally agree with the reasoning that it will be equitable for Igbos to produce a Nigerian president after all these years. After all, it is only the South East and North East that are yet to rule since the civil war. Moreover when last did you hear about restructuring? It is a sound whose volume is directly proportional to the distance from Aso rock.

Igbos should urge Okorocha, Ngige, Onu, Ekweremadu, Obi, South East governors and other leaders to be more vocal in demanding political power for the sake of equity. Power is not given but taken, so nobody will deliver the presidency on a platter to Ndi Igbo. It will come through hard work, bridge building and strategic alliance. The opportunity beckons in 2023, we could shoot an eagle but to do that we have to aim for the sky.

Odogwu Cmoni

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