Chukwudi Enekwechi contends that zoning the presidency to the Southeast will strengthen the unity of the country

In every historical epoch, societies are confronted with befuddling political challenges and this seems to be the case with Nigeria at the moment in the search for a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Over the years political thinkers and leaders have analysed the heterogeneous nature of the country and the need to ensure peace, unity and progress of Nigeria, and after a daunting search were able to arrive at a consensus that power must always shift between the North and the South.

It was this mutual agreement that enabled the two leading political parties – the All Nigeria Peoples Party and Peoples Democratic Party to jettison the presidential aspirations of some of their leading members in 1999 and fielded only two Yorubas as candidates in the presidential election. The two beneficiaries of this unique political masterstroke were Chief Olu Falae and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Lest we forget, the ceding of these political platforms to the two Yoruba men was an appeasement for the cancellation of June 12 election perceived to have been won by Chief MKO Abiola, a Yoruba man of the defunct Social Democratic Party by the General Ibrahim Babangida military regime.

Today history beckons again for the current political leadership especially of the APC hue to toe the path of courage, fear of God, justice and equity in zoning the coveted office of the president. 

In the search for a peaceful, prosperous and united Nigeria, the question is to ascertain which region of the country has not had a shot at the presidency since after the civil war. The answer is not far-fetched for it is only the South East. Another question is – are there enough and justifiable grounds to micro-zone the APC presidential ticket to the South East, and the answer is also in the affirmative.

It is justifiable to micro-zone the ticket to the South East considering that it is already a settled issue that power will rotate between the North and the South, and secondly  the principles of equity, fairness and justice demand that out of the six geo-political zones only the South East has not occupied the presidential seat, and the 2023 presidential election affords the APC and its leadership to lead by example by micro-zoning the presidential ticket to the South East geo-political zone.

This approach will not only douse the tension created by the agitation for Biafra, but will also strengthen the faith of the Southeast in Nigeria, as well as the bond that holds Nigeria together as one indivisible and united country. It will also project Nigeria as a country where equity and justice prevail, and the name of President Buhari and APC will be recorded in gold by posterity as the leaders who finally brought true healing to Nigeria.

Agreed that this will be a difficult decision and indeed a tall order, yet this is the stuff great leaders of countries are made of. They are made of sterner stuff and the new leadership of APC under Senator Abdullahi Adamu are men with impeccable record of putting the general interest of the country first rather than pandering to narrow partisan or political interests. They should not cower or surrender to the intimidation and shenanigans of a few people who refuse to adhere to the universal principles of equity and justice. They should also not pander to the narrow partisan interests of those with access to the media.

Rather in taking such patriotic decision there may be need to scrutinise the presidential aspirants from the South East geo-political zone, and one that readily comes to mind and whose aspiration appeals to the generality of the people, especially northerners who have a unique balance in Nigeria’s geopolitical space is Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Dan Jekan Soloto, Magan Alheri Hausa and Jagaban Lafia. This is a man who since 25 years ago committed his personal fortunes in establishing schools for poor Nigerians across the country. The schools can be found in Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Zaria, Jos, Yola, Ibadan, Calabar, Enugu, Owerri, Ogboko, and lately another one for various African countries also in Owerri.  By establishing the schools he has positively impacted on the lives of millions of Nigerians, and if given the opportunity to serve as president definitely he will turn the fortunes of the people around for better as he feels their pain.

Nigeria is at a crossroads and needs a leader who knows and understands the country and its diversities. In Owelle Rochas Okorocha we have a leader who does not discriminate and who despite his Christian religious background appreciates other people’s religions and never misses an opportunity to support them in their faith. His accommodating nature has enabled him to build bridges where none existed thereby making him the only pan-Nigerian to aspire to the highest office in the land.

Apart from his patriotism, he also has the passion and determination to make a difference as Nigeria’s president. It is therefore imperative that the leadership of APC and the Presidency should utilise the opportunity offered by the zoning principle to take a firm stand by micro-zoning the presidential slot to the South East geo-political zone. They have the justification to do it and it will attract applause from across the country, rather than condemnation. They will also be on the side of history as there is a precedent in 1999 when the entire country conceded to the Yoruba agitation by fielding Chief Obasanjo and Chief Falae in the PDP and ANPP/AD respectively.

  Enekwechi, JP, [email protected]

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