Says Ndigbo presidency should wait for 2023
By Patrick Egwu, Enugu
The senator representing Imo West Senatorial District at the national assembly, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has declared that the agitation for creation of an Independent state of Biafra in the South East and some part of the south-south in Nigeria is not the ultimate solution to the development challenges and unresolved issues of marginalization facing the Igbo nation.
Senator Uzodinma gave his perspective on the renewed Biafra struggle and other socio-political issues confronting the country while speaking as a guest lecturer at the 14th memorial lecture of former vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Eni Njoku.
In a lecture titled: ‘Intellectuals as Critical Stakeholders in Nation Building’, Senator Uzodinma who is also the Chairman House Committee on Customs Excise and Tariffs and Chairman Southern Senators Forum, urged Igbo stakeholders to explore other means of addressing the development challenges facing the region rather than seeking for breakaway from
He argues that Biafra was not a solution to Igbo socioeconomic and political development challenges. Hear him: “Is it not really intriguing that our younger brothers who were born after the civil war are agitating for Biafra?
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Does that not even tell us that even the post-civil war generation of Ndigbo does not feel accommodated in Nigeria? Should we fold our hands as their disillusionment in Project Nigeria deepens by the day?
These are general posers I am throwing up for our intellectuals because I am convinced that they have all the answers.
I insist that our intellectuals can and should come up with well thought-out ideas on how best to reintegrate Ndigbo into Project Nigeria, where they will have and feel a sense of equity and a level playing ground for all. Certainly option Biafra is no option.
We need Nigeria and Nigeria needs us. So we must work it out – how best to co-exist as equal stakeholders,” he said.
Senator Uzodinma urged federal and state governments in the region to adopt technological advancements as obtained during the post-war era in order to end the continuous marginalisation in the south eastern Nigeria. “Before the war, the Igbo dominated the academia and technology in Nigeria.
We recorded many firsts in many intellectual fields including technology. In the present world where technology defines progress with its attendant leadership status, we should re-enact these pre-war feats and use them to dominate the economy of Nigeria.”
The APC senator also advocated for a true federal structure to ensure equity adding that Nigeria of post-independence survived and thrives because of a restructured system which “provides a level playing field for individual and collective talents to thrive.”
“Nigeria had a true federal structure that provided a level playing field for individual and collective talents to thrive. That is all that Ndigbo need to fulfill their God given destiny; a true federal structure that ensures equality for all. That is also what we meant by restructuring. In essence, we should champion the need for the restructuring of Nigeria, a return to the pre-independent and First Republic structure upon which our federal project was rested.
He went ahead to highlight some of the benefits of a restructured Nigeria which include; “That the South East region gets the sixth state it deserves. It will ensure that Ndigbo have a level playing field in Nigeria to take their destiny into their hands. It will naturally and logically end marginalization in any form or shed. We should push for it until it is actualized. In doing this, we must rise with a strong voice to condemn any separatist clamour. We must let our people know that what we need is a balanced Federal Republic which guarantees equity to all, not Biafra,” he added.
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Uzodinma equally asked Ndigbo from the South East region to forget about contesting for the presidency in 2019 but wait until 2023 before they can contest in order to produce a candidate for presidency in the general elections.
According to him, it would be an effort in futility for people of the region to pick a candidate for 2019 elections, urging them instead to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in order to deliver the dividends of democracy while waiting for the 2023 elections.
“A presidential election is at hand for 2019. As I said earlier, so far, Nigeria has had five elected presidents namely; Shehu Shagari, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yarádua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari. None was Igbo. What hope does an Igbo have of becoming the president of Nigeria? What are the chances of an Igbo winning the presidency in 2019, 2023 or anytime soon?
Already the major political parties have zoned the presidency to the north for 2019. This means we don’t stand any chance of winning the presidency in 2019. Since we do not stand any chance of winning the presidency in 2019, what about 2023? My answer is ‘yes’, we stand a good chance to win the presidency in 2023. But we must start now to do the needful. And this is where our intellectuals come in.
“I challenge our Igbo intellectuals to come together and analyse the political clock in Nigeria and formulate a way forward for Ndigbo vis-a-vis, our quest for the presidency in 2023.
It is a settled fact that having a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 is our sure way of assuaging the battered post-civil war psyche of Ndibo and re-assuring them of their full stake, once more, in project Nigeria. So, I challenge the Igbo intellectuals to chart a road map on how this can be actualised,” he noted.
He continued: “Some posers will help in this respect. Which northern candidate are we sure that if we vote for him must relinquish power in 2023, thus paving way for a Nigerian president from the South East?
What should reason demand: to vote for someone who will do only four year or the one who will do eight years?
As I said earlier, the intellectual is governed by reason not emotion. So I challenge our Igbo intellectuals to formulate a reason-driven pathway for the South East in the 2019 elections with their eyes fixed on the presidency in 2023,” he said.