By Fredrick Nwabufo
SIR: If the 2023 presidency is relieved of competition and minimised to an ethnic contest, then we are consciously backtracking to the mistakes of 2015. Ethnic considerations brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power. When leadership is robbed of progressive competition, competence is impaired. We will keep chasing the will-o-the-wisp of progress as a country for as long as the tribe of a citizen matters more than his antecedents, competence level and abilities.
’’Turn-by-turn’’ presidency will only yield ‘’turn-by-turn’’ misery. Nepotism here thrives largely because a leader selected on the basis of where he represents generally seeks to protect the interest of that base he feels solidified his claim to power. It is the reason Buhari shows exceptional consideration for his ‘’political base’’. In fact, one of the murmurs among members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – the president’s party – is that Buhari and his camp commonised the contributions of the southwest to his electoral victory in 2015 and 2019. The president feels strongly that his victory came by the hands of his fanatical followers in the north.
So, we are only reinventing a broken wheel by putting more premium on where the next president should come from rather than on ‘’what he had done, what he is doing; his leadership qualities, academic background, mental state and health condition’’. And with the entitled perception that ‘’it is our turn; the president is our brother’’, nepotism is systematised.
Really, why should a leadership position that defines and determines the future of the country be ethnicised? Why is there no campaign for the basics of leadership? Why is there no clamour for the qualities, the credentials and competence level the next president of Nigeria should possess?
Why is it always about ethnicity? Really, we are doomed to have a reprise of the indomitably failed Buhari administration, if we persist in the pursuit of ethnic-based leadership.
It is revolting that presidency in Nigeria is designed in such a way that every ethnic group, particularly the predatory political class, sees it as an entitled offering that must be acquired for the sake of promoting individual and sectional interest. The base mindset of — ‘’it is our turn to take a crunch at the cake, so pass it!’’ If ethnic-based presidency is so important to us, why can we not fragment the centre and return power to the federating units? So, every group can decide how to bake and eat their own cake.
On January 6, some Igbo political leaders emerged from a meeting and asked all political parties to zone the 2023 presidency to the southeast. Among these Igbo political leaders were a former governor who took a hiatus from prison and a former senate president facing corruption charges. I was startled. Who among these ones is fit to be president?
To make it clear, the ‘’struggle’’ for 2023 presidency by some southeast leaders is not in the pursuit of the Igbo interest. Rather it is in the pursuit of the interest of the ruling elite of the region. The overarching interest of the Igbo is a restructured Nigeria where every region can grow at its own pace.
No political party should cede 2023 presidential tickets to the southeast on the basis of nothing but ‘’ethnicity’’. The process should be competitive to allow the best minds to take charge of the country – even if candidates from the southeast are specially considered. There should be less emphasis on ethnicity and more stress on competence, credentials, antecedents, and ability for leadership.
And even if the south-east gets a go at the presidency, the next president should not be from the pool of the perpetuators of the region’s underdevelopment.