Sunday, November 29, 2020 11:00 am
By Nehru Odeh
John Nwodo, President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo before George Obiozor emerged last week, has been unequivocal about the turn of the Igbo to produce the president of the country come 2023. He lent his voice to the clamour for Igbo presidency for the umpteenth time recently on Channels Television when he said the turn of the Igbo to produce the president in 2023 is non-negotiable.
According to him, aside from the fact that the Igbo have not been given opportunity to lead the country, the system has been deliberately programmed to deprive the Igbo access to political power
“Since the history of this country, the South Easterners have headed government only once. Azikiwe was a ceremonial president. The real power resided in the Prime Minister. It was only the military government of Aguiyi Ironsi that gave the South East any access to executive political power and it was very short-lived. And his life ended in a very disastrous circumstances, which compromised national unity. Which I don’t want to go into,” he said.
The Igbo leader said this deliberate policy to alienate his people is borne out of a deliberate lack of will to accept the people of the south back as equal Nigerians after the civil war, adding that, to him, it is not only done to punish the Igbo for going to war, the war is still on.
“There is a deliberate lack of will amongst the political class to accept the people of the South back on equal terms as Nigerians. It is not by accident that nobody from the South East heads the security apparatus in the country, not the army, not the police, not the air force, not the navy, not even the Road Safety Corps.
“It is a deliberate political manoeuvre intended by a conspiracy to punish the South East for going to war, a war that was precipitated by divisions by all Nigerians, not exclusively the South East,” he maintained.
“We have been left out of power apparatus in Nigeria deliberately. And it has endangered national cohesion, national unity.
“They (the Igbo) feel completely marginalized. They feel Nigeria has not ended the Nigerian civil war. They feel discriminated against,” he lamented.
Nwodo also decried the idea of bestowing so much power on the central while depriving the federating unit of their inalienable rights, thereby making them weak, adding that such a system is not workable.
“There is no federation in the world that works the way our own works. In political lexicography, the word, federation is a union of different federating units who have donated some of their powers to federal structure. But what we have in the name of a federation in Nigeria is a strong central government that donates certain powers, very little powers to the federating units.
“That’s a misnomer. It’s neither our history. It’s neither our agreement. And the constitution is one imposed on us by a military administration. It is not autochthonous. There was no referendum for it. It was never approved. We are living on a quicksand.
“It got to be the free will of the federating units. You don’t throw a military junta into the constitution and force a style of government on the rest part of the country. It will never endure.
He also threw in a word of caution, warning of dire consequences if things are not put right. “If it does not end in our generation, it will end in the generation of our children. And God forbid that it should move us to another civil war. And I am one of those who are opposed to anything that lead to a breakdown of law and order in our country, he explained.
Nwodo also gave the reason why the Igbo should be given access to political power, hinging it on their peculiar characteristics.
“I am saying that giving the South East an opportunity to lead Nigeria will not only be beneficial because the South East by virtue of their make-up, have peculiar characteristics of turning something out of nothing. The people of the South East are very industrious, very gregarious. And very adventurous. There is no time in the economy of this country do you need such a leadership characteristics as now.”
Asked what the South East agenda is, Nwodo said: “The South East agenda is a Nigeria that is more inclusive. It is a Nigeria that is more productive, guarantees freedom from discrimination and guarantees freedom to enter any part of the economy without administrative blocks, In other words, it liberates your potentialities to achieve your optimum without any administrative encumbrances.”
Affirming that it is the inalienable right of the Igbo to produce the president in 2023, he said that that is not enough, describing it as “tokenism”. He then advocated for restructuring, which he believes is more important.
“But apart from that, a tokenism of a presidential slot to the South East is not enough. It requires a restructuring of the federation. The current structure has failed. It has failed to generate national unity. It has failed to generate a strong and viable economy. It has failed to put us on a pedestal for effective participation in the world economy in a competitive manner.
When we talk about restructuring, it is not a South agenda. It is a condition precedent for the survival of this country. Everyone from the South East has agreed on two basic conditions for the continuing existence of this federation.
“Number One and the shortest one is an Igbo presidency in 2023, without which our continued participation in the politics of Nigeria is highly questionable. Even a child here believes in it. And far more important than this is the restructuring of the federation as soon as soon as possible. These are our two irreducible conditions. And anybody in the South East who does not believe in this is in the minority. He dare not shout to the public because he will be almost committing suicide,” Nwodo maintained.