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By: Egbuna Amuta

Although it is not strange to ardent political pundits in the country, the recent pungent and damning responses by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Sokoto state governor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal to the allegations against them by the National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, is apparently a big revelation to most Nigerian citizens. For the Igbos, smashing the Nsugbe coconut (Aku Oyibo Nsugbe), means telling undiluted truth. This is precisely what Dr. Saraki and Alhaji Tambuwal have just done by revealing Tinubu's desperate plans to succeed President Buhari in 2023, at all cost. That is, if the incumbent President wins the 2019 poll.   

As the leader and major financier of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which amalgamated with the demised Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the then new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP and a remnant of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to form the All Progressives Congress, APC, Tinubu obviously played crucial role in the selection in the primaries and subsequent election of retired Major General Mohammedu Buhari in the 2015, presidential election in the country.

Truly, he wanted to be the running mate of Buhari but the political realities of the Nigeria at that point in time frustrated his ambition. Tinubu had no option than to recommend the incumbent Vice President of the country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari's partner in that year's presidential poll. Professor Osinbajo is an ardent loyalist of Tinubu, who he served as commissioner for justice and Attorney General, when the former was the governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2003. 

Tinubu had argued that since Nigerians tolerated the Muslim-Muslim joint ticket of late Alhaji Moshood Abiola and Ambassador Babagana Kingibe in the annulled 1993 presidential election, there was nothing untoward in his wanting to become Buhari's running mate in the 2015 presidential election. He failed to realise that Nigerians accepted the Abiola-Kingibe coalition simply because they were fed up with military rule. They just wanted the former military President of Nigeria, retired General Ibrahim Babangida, who took them on a merry go round transition to civilian rule to quit the stage. 

That was not the case in 2015. Therefore, Tinubu's personal ambition hit the rock that year. But as a die-hard politicians, the former Lagos State governor had persevered in his vaulting ambition to succeed Buhari as Nigeria's number one citizen,  irrespective of the fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled the country from 1999 to 2007, is of the Yoruba ethnic stock, and from the same  Southwest geopolitical zone with him. Besides, the current Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, is a Yoruba.

Tinubu's inordinate ambition is also in spite of the fact that apart from Ndigbo of the Southeast, the Southwest and South South zones had through Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan respectively occupied the country's presidential seat since the advent of this Fourth Republic. 

Senator Ahmed Tinubu's insensitive pipe dream of succeeding the incumbent President of the country in 2023, is probably predicated on the argument that the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and President Buhari are from Katsina state in the Northwest geopolitical zone. Yes, this is possible because the culture of the political class of far Northern Nigeria is largely homogeneous, unlike their Southern counterparts. Therefore, what works seamlessly in the North does not work easily in the South. 

It is indeed a brazen insult and assault on the sensibilities of Ndigbo for another Yoruba person to be nursing or pursuing presidential ambition when the Southeast has not had its turn since the end of the country's civil war forty eight years ago. Notwithstanding that the Restructuring of the Nigerian Federation or return to true federalism is more important to the Igbo nation and most of the ethnic nationalities in the country, it is just, equitable and fair for the next president of Nigeria to be of Igbo extraction if the present political structure of the country should persist in the interim. This is the only way to assuage the people of the Southeast of the feeling of being marginalized and dominated. 

This is the only way for the rest of the country to convincingly prove to Ndigbo that the Civil War is indeed over, and that truly, there is "no victor, no vanquished" as proclaimed by the federal government in January 1970.

However, it would be foolhardy for the Southeast to think that one of their own would occupy the most exalted office in Nigeria without their making conscious and deliberate efforts to actualised the objective. First of all, the Igbo intelligentsia must generally come together as a formidable political bloc, as was the case in the First and Second Republics. It is only by this move that they can be respected and taken seriously once again in Nigeria by their rival ethnic nationalities. If they have forgotten the mileage their forebearers  covered in the country with the defunct National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC and Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, let the present day Igbo political elite at least draw a lesson from the Yoruba who effectively used the moribund Action Congress, AD and the low lying Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN to make themselves very relevant in the politics of the country's Fourth Republic. ACN remains a potent force in the APC. 

With the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, founded principally by some members of the Igbo political elite in 2002 and energized in 2003 by its pioneer presidential flag bearer, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Ndigbo have a ready-made platform to relaunch themselves into the forefront of Nigeria's political permutations and affairs. The Igbo nation have the requisite population and enterprising spirit needed in partisan politics. 

The people of the Southeast should indeed use APGA to call the bluff of their traducers. Politics is all about grandstanding, horse trading and negotiations. This posture had helped Ndigbo in the past, especially in the days of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who never allowed the Igbo race to be schemed out of the country's affairs as is unfortunately the case nowadays. Ndigbo can effectively reassert themselves again in Nigeria without being subservient or pusillanimous to anybody or group in the country. With APGA as a united and formidable bloc Ndigbo can always forge alliances with other political groups ready to serve fundamental interests of the people of Southeast Nigeria#

EGBUNA AMUTA, a Political Historian writes from Onitsha
Tuesday, August 21, 2018. 

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