By Ismail Idris
I love the philosophies and ideologies of Frantz Fanon. And his books too. “The Wretched of the Earth and Alienation and Freedom,” would forever speak to our consciences on equity and justice. He understood the physics of human nature and established a nexus between rebellion and existential threats.
“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” In time an space, this postulation preceded in acres, George Floyd’s 2020 “I cannot breathe” last words and the revolts they ignited across the United States.
Inability to breathe connotes asphyxiation and in the same breath, a metaphor for a raft of injustices that victims endure.
The latter rings true from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the people of the South-east.
The story of Igbos and the PDP is that of 23 years of amity and loyalty, rewarded with betrayal and a knife attack in the back when it was payback time.
To break it down, the PDP for reasons of equity, fairness and sense of belonging ingrained the principle of rotational presidency in its constitution but when 2023 became the turn of the South-east, it jettisoned the rule in a manner that became easier to have a cold day in hell than for an Igbo man to earn its presidential nomination.
Igbos are speaking in no unclear terms that the PDP would suffer electoral consequences in their hands for a recompense. This by no means looks like an empty threat.
Hell I dare say, has no fury like a people scorned. The main permutation for which the PDP ensured that the South-east did not come away with its presidential ticket is the wrong-headed perception of low voters density in the zone. But all the comparisons political parties and politicians make about the South-east poor voters’ portfolio relative to other regions become logical fallacy when one figures-in the fact the Igbos usually constitute the second largest ethnicity outside their South-east domain in virtually all the country’s major cities, where they live and vote.
If we agree that Igbos in pursuit of commerce, have turned out to constitute the second largest ethnicity in about all Nigerian state capitals and major cities, one then does not need to dive deep before understanding the place of Igbo votes in the hefty chunks that come from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Rivers, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Niger and elsewhere across the country.
The possibility of Igbos exacting their pound of flesh from the PDP in 2023 is clear and present, not with the party’s orchestrations that have now earned the North a three-time shot at the presidency with zero opportunity to the South-east. Not with Igbos brazenly denied a leverage to produce a Nigerian president, either since 1966 or 1999 as one may wish to look at it. Not with the obnoxious fact that the PDP presidential candidate and its national chairman are all now annoyingly from the North in utter scorn for the South.
Where is the equity? Where is the fairness, in pitting yet another northerner as President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor after his eight years? Such a scheme for whatever it is worth is offensive and gnaws desperately at the tenuous cord that binds us in peace and unity. It affronts natural justice and deserving of a united voice of condemnation by all Nigerians.
In dropping the ball, the PDP showed no empathy or sensitivity to the people of the South and worse to the South-east, which has held the shorter end of the stick since the 23 years of democratic dispensation, with such now breeding anger and agitation, revolt and rebellion that aim directly at the core of our oneness and indivisibility.
While no one impugns the propriety of someone from the North-east emerging on the presidency on account of having not produced a Nigerian leader since 1966, yet the arguement in favour of the zone pales in strength in the face of that of the South-east, given that the North-east has between 1999 and 2007 produced Nigeria’s vice president in the person of Atiku Abubakar and worse is that power, moving straight back to a Northerner immediately after President Buhari’s eight years defines lack of consideration, insensitivity and it is provocative.
The South no doubt, hopes for remediation from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). And given that the South-west and the South-south have produced both presidents and vice presidents of the country within the democratic space, hopes are high that a Daniel would come to judgement in favour of the South-east with the APC.
Unlike in the PDP, the APC has the advantage of a centripetal force that can make this happen and all will fall in line, even if they have to kick- it is President Muhammadu Buhari-the only one true leader of the party at this material time!
It is the President’s prerogative and inalienable right to decide who takes the throne from him within his party. If the party’s state governors who are subordinated to him have the liberty of setting up anyone of their choosing as a successor, the President should enjoy no less of such right.
While the President has been forthright enough to declare to Nigerians that he has a favourite one among those angling to succeed him in the party, he has left no pointer as to who the chosen one is. This was, however, until Thursday last week when before he jetted out to Malabo, the Equatorial Guinea capital, he told a Kano State Senatorial aspirant, Basheer Lado, who had audience with him that he would go only for a person of integrity among the cast of 25.
That piece of revelation was a reassuring good news to us, knowing that integrity speaks of incorruptibility and firm adherence to moral codes. Nigerians who were happy for it, knew then that the job of choosing his successor from the APC array of 25 has been made easy and well cut out, all by himself.
Nigerians, just like the President are aware that not more than three aspirants in the APC fray can scale through the most liberal of integrity tests. What is it that is hidden in the aspirants in terms of their life styles, acquisition and the trail of their public service? He must not present anyone Nigerians would mock and deride as a thief, a locust and corrupt.
That revelation laid to rest in an instant, the repugnant campaign in the party that what mattered was for APC to bring forth a candidate that would match any of the then projected candidates of the PDP cash for cash.
The denominator last Saturday was cash in PDP, but President Buhari has worked out integrity for that of APC, but there is little doubt that well-entrenched forces within the party would make the path to the realisation of President’s goal a treacherous one. On trial will be the wisdom, will and strength of character of the President.
The President will waver if he fails to recognise that the choice he presents will be a referendum to Nigerians on whom he is.
He must be able to distill blackmail from the quarters it. He must watch out the devices of governors, either as individuals or collective and from the coterie of those that have his ears.
He would naive to discountenance that good cash would be deployed in different directions behind his back by the many thieves in the party’s presidential race, just to swing things to their side.
The President need not be reminded that Nigerians rooted for him on account of his integrity and expect him to present to us a candidate with no less irreproachable identity. He must not bend on this or yield to be broken on it.
Idris, a commentator on national issues wrote from Abuja