A little over two months ago, I announced my intention to seek the presidency of Nigeria through the People’s Democratic Party. Since then, several others both in PDP and in other parties have made similar announcements and many of us have been on nationwide consultations in pursuance of our aspirations. I’m glad to report that my aspiration has received endorsements from several party men and women across the country as well as some notable national non partisan leaders. I want to place on record my gratitude to out team leaders and team members in all the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria who have been meeting and brainstorming both offline and online. I also thank our teams in United Kingdom and North America.
For several years, the general sentiment has been that the next president should come from the South Eastern Nigeria. This is for very obvious reasons. Many organizations have been existing for the last three years or more pursing the actualization of the Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. It is common knowledge that Nd’Igbo are the only major ethnic group that has not produced a Nigerian President. This agitation is therefore ripe, timely and reasonable. Nigerian unity and cohesion have suffered tremendously because of this imbalance and the Igbo nation has been subjected to all manner of indignation, discrimination and marginalization. Yet the Igbo nation has remained largely peaceful. For those of us in PDP, it has been our expectations and belief and indeed understanding that our party will break this imbalance by unequivocally zoning it’s presidential candidacy to Igboland. But with recent undercurrents and schemings in our great party, one is at a loss as to what the party intends to do. PDP has the opportunity of taking the steps to begin the real healing process of the past destruction of the fabric of Nigeria. This it can do by making sure the party’s Presidential ticket is zoned exclusively to the Igbos. It will be historical. In the situation we all find ourselves today as a nation, the PDP will easily and clearly win the presidential election and majority of the governorship and legislative elections in 2023. Our country has never seen the level of hunger, dissatisfaction, desolation, leadership rigmarole, corruption, nepotism, insecurity, and lack of vision as we are seeing in the last seven years. PDP has the unique opportunity of halting the national collapse and drift we are witnessing. But I am worried.
The recent announcement by the PDP NEC throwing open the purchase of presidential nomination forms to every section of the country is indeed very unsettling. It is even more intriguing that the party set up a zoning committee that is expected to submit its report well after aspirants from all parts of the country would have bought forms and submitted. This is just like placing the cart before the horse. I am curious about what the party wants to achieve or how this decision can ensure unity of the party and by extension the nation. It is unfortunate that our nation is bedeviled in gross disunity and leaders pander more to nepotism and that is why the level of leadership distrust is so high at the national level.
The problem we have had with many leaders of Nigeria over the years is lack of national development vision. Nigeria has thrust onto the national stage so many irredentists who only think of their zones to the detriment of overall national development. When I look at Nigeria I see a nation made up of people who seek genuine development and unity. Granted that there has been so much imbalance in national development, my potential presidency will definitely ensure that areas unduly and unfairly disadvantaged in terms of infrastructure and social amenities would be brought at par with other areas in accordance to their circumstances.
Historically, the Igbo man has this patriotic and nationalistic accommodating spirit more than any other group in Nigeria. My potential presidency will generally be a broad based presidency where no region will be oppressed or left behind the cutting edge development we will bring to our country to make her compete effectively with the rest of the civilized world. Our people deserve the best leaders and not the worst. With every hand on deck, we will get it right.
The South East region of Nigeria has had a checkered political history as a people and seem to have for many years been perpetually consigned to a near permanent inglorious bench of presidential trauma. This region has suffered marginalization in every way possible. We have for long been subjected to all kinds of unpardonable wrongs in a nation which our heroes past fought for its liberation from colonialism. In October 1994, exactly 28 years ago, I wrote a paper for the world Igbo Congress in Houston, Texas which I titled ‘Nd’Igbo, the struggle for identity’. In that paper, I x-rayed the journey of the identity struggles of the Igbo nation since 1960. We as a people have for several years struggled to be accepted in the presidential leadership equation of Nigeria. We have struggled to stamp the footprints of our identity on this nation’s political landscape. We have made numerous sacrifices, made our mistakes, placed our trusts and confidences sometimes wrongfully. All the pains we have gone through all these years are even quadrupling in weight and occurrence today. These struggles and pains culminated in the brutal Biafran and Nigerian civil war which took the lives of over 3 million people and destroyed our economic assets, heritage and monuments. I do not want to believe that Nigerians haven’t learnt from these mistakes or learnt valuable political lessons. A person can fizzle away but a people can never be phased out or wished away. The people of South Eastern Nigeria can never be wished away or marginalized out of existence.
Never in the history of nations has a people been more humiliated, more traumatized and more brutalized and yet more resilient than the South Easterners. Inspite of the challenges we have faced, we still traditionally have some of the most enterprising, the most brave, the most accommodating and the most nationalistic people in Nigeria. A people who were forcefully dispossessed of their trillions of pounds of collective and personal wealth yet they rebounded within a few years and built the strongest economic base outside government. Inspite of all these, we never think only about ourselves, we think of the entire nation all the time. Imagine the kind of major economic power Nigeria will become if indeed an Igbo man or Womam leads this nation for some years. We will become one of the most advanced in the world and to the benefit of everyone in the country.
PDP as a national party has an immediate and unique opportunity to balance this age long imbalance that can bring back the entire nation into the fold of one happy family. The challenges of developing Nigeria has become more urgent and fiercely emergent. As a party that seeks the driving seat for this national rebirth, PDP should do everything possible not to encourage a fierce and disuniting presidential primary process. The time to defer to reason and justice is now. It should unequivocally zone it’s presidency to the south East. For Nigeria, a new beginning is possible. My name is Ike C. Ibe and I’m running for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
God bless and keep us all.
Ike C. Ibe.