November 27, 2022

BY PAUL MUMEH
It is an incontrovertible fact that the south-east geopolitical political zone otherwise called the Igbo extraction of Nigeria is the “weeping child” of the Nigerian political arrangements. This is because the zone has not been favoured in terms of attaining the plum position of president or vice president since the enthronement of democracy in 1999.
The persistent cry of marginalisation against the south-east zone was further aggravated by the present regime of All Progressives Congress (APC) of Muhammadu Buhari when the Igbo are almost out of political reckoning without any visible appointments into key government positions.
However, as the 2023 elections gather momentum, both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC have a window of opportunity to reintegrate the south-east geopolitical zone into the mainstream and end the real or imaginary exclusion from the scheme of things.
From 1999 to 2007, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (south-west) was the president while Atiku Abubakar (north-east) was the vice president.
The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (north-west) was the president of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010. His illness and sunsequent death changed the political equation when his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, succeeded him.
From the political arithmetic since 1999, the south has had a slot in Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Buhari from north-west have had the slot in the presidency.
So in 2023 when power is expected to return to the south, it is ordinarily taken for granted that power should be microzoned to the south-east as the only zone that is yet have a shot at the presidency. But that seems not feasible immediately as the PDP has given the slot to Atiku; a northerner and APC elected Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a south-westerner.
While it is certain from the victory of Tinubu that the APC would look to the north for its vice presidential candidate, many believe that the PDP has the avenue to remedy the situation by narrowing the choice of his running mate to the south-east geopolitical zone for equity and justice.
This is because the zone has been loyal to the PDP since 1999, and has always voted for the party in all presidential elections. Besides, many believe that the additional case for a vice president of south-east extraction in 2023 is a pragmatic one founded on the fact that of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, the south-easterners have invested most in the Nigerian project as they live and invest in virtually every nook and cranny of Nigeria, championing small and medium scale enterprises–the engine of growth in any economy.
They also posited that ceding the vice presidency to the south-east region will guarantee equity and justice as well as promote political inclusion. Apart from having eminently qualified aspirants, the people of the zone have made enormous contributions to the overall development of the country. Election of a south-east indigene in 2023 will further cement the nation’s unity and harmonious national existence.
Currently, there are an array of eminently qualified persons waiting in the wings for the running mate to Atiku. Top on the list is the cerebral former governor of Enugu state, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani. An astute politician and administrator par excellence, Senator Nnamani brought intellectualism to governance and elevated the infrastructure of the coal city state. He was the one that changed the political narrative in Enugu state when he introduced the Ebeano political family. That Ebeano family is now a movement that dictates the pace of politics in the state. Till date, the Ebeano political family produces successive state governors, senators, members of the house of representatives, state assembly, local government chairmen and councillors. No one makes it in politics in Enugu except the Ebeano family.
The current situation unarguably needs an Nnamani that is intelligent, fortitude, communicability, savvy, urbane and properly educated to help navigate through the murky political waters of today.
Senator Nnamani is reputed for building the permanent structure of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), the Nigerian Law School, Agbani, Air Force Secondary School and elevated the urban and rural roads in all parts of the state.
Interestingly, Atiku as the then vice president commissioned most of the projects executed by Nnamani administration. So an Nnamani with Atiku will be needed combination to fix Nigeria. Nnamani has the presence of mind, character, energy and intellect to add value to Atiku as presidential candidate.
He has a twin advantage of having cognate legislative and executive experiences which put him in a better stead ahead of his contemporaries. Like political analyst and law lecturer Dr. Sam Amadi puts it, Senator Nnamani is the right and proper person to hold the office of the vice president.
Besides, Enugu state unlike some states in the south-east has remain consistent and faithful with PDP since 1999. With local and international exposure, Nnamani is needed asset and a bridge between the old and the new.
Former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi state) and former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives Emeaka Ihedioha (Imo state) are also being mentioned for the vice presidential slot to Atiku. They both have legislative experience but not executive. Senator Nnamani has the twin advantages of legislative and executive experiences.
For 2023, it’s like a cry from the political wilderness for the south-east to be given slot of the vice president otherwise, their exclusion will give credence that it is deliberate exclusion or marginalisation of the zone. If the forthcoming arrangement fails to accommodate south-east in terms of the vice presidential slot, the Igbo would have been out political arrangements for 16 years thus making it a total of 40 years out of political reckoning since 1999. No leader or nation would accept or tolerate the exclusion of its component part.
This is why the burden of proof is on Atiku and the leadership of the PDP look the way of the south-east for the vice presidential seat in 2023.
Mumeh writes from Abuja
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