By  Josef Umunnakwe Onoh

The Vice Presidential candidacy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) awarded to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state cannot be said to be a South East ticket. It does not assuage the yenning of the South East in whatever guise and the South east will lose out if they vote for the PDP.

In the same vain former President Goodluck Jonathan sailed through using the Igbo name ‘Ebele Azikwe’ during his campaign; sadly the south east witnessed little or no infrastructural impact from that presidency. Today, the PDP vice presidential candidate bears an Igbo name, although it’s easier for him to claim being an Igbo man based on the close boundaries his state shares with Anambra state in the south east but as much as we appreciate the shared name one cannot say that Ifeanyi Okowa is an Igbo man in all traditional sense. That I wake up tomorrow and change or be baptised with the name” Raul Benicio Del Toro”  doesn’t make me Puerto Rican. Cultural identity is what makes you an igbo man,

The criteria for full recognition must be consistent with the principles and requirements of igbo tribal recognition; PDP vice presidential candidate needs to

demonstrate descent from a historical Igbo group(s) that lived within any current igbo boundaries in the south east; Show that the group’s members have retained a specific Igbo traditional identity and trace the igbo clan’s  existence within the south east from first contact with the colonials to the present.

He should provide a complete genealogy of current igbo clan members, that is, Age grade, traditional masquerade groups, family kitchen etc traced as far back as possible; Show that the group has been socially and culturally cohesive Igbo community, at least as farther back if possible, by organizing separate cultural social activities, Chieftancy titles, president Generals of their various communities, community businesses, cultural groups or the like; as well as provide evidence of ancestral linage from any traditional ruler of a community within the five southeast states, with full membership restricted to people genealogically descended from the historic igbo tribe.

The south east stands to benefit nothing if tomorrow PDP wins the presidency although I don’t see any possibility of that happening. If it does, they will tell us that the vice president is Igbo hence we’ve gotten our quota. We will then be fooled with our eyes wide open. This isn’t Las Vegas, being Igbo isn’t by name alone to genuinely claim you’re Igbo just because it’s another political season, many criteria are truly required. These criteria have not been visible in either President Jonathan of or current vice presidential candidate from the south-south, hence it’s right to say they’re not Igbo and do not represent any Igbo interest. The question that every Igbo should ask before the 2023 presidential election should be, where best does the south east interest fall?

In 1999 President Obasanjo was elected president with the current PDP presidential candidate as his vice. The south east in their own quota had the position of President of the Senate, the number three position. Sadly the south east failed to benefit from the great opportunity and guided by politics of emotions rather than interest, the position was turned into a Senate of Bureau de change, impeaching and electing five Presidents of the Senate presidents in two presidential tenures, the highest in Nigeria if not in Africa. Starting from Evan Enwerem in1999 to Chuba Okadigbo 1999–2000, Anyim Pius Anyim 2000–2003, Adolphus Wabara 2003–2005 and Ken Nnamani 2005–2007, all of them belonged to the PDP.

This show of emotional political immaturity frustrated the South East opportunities of harnessing the benefits of such office which would have shaped their political future and created a solid foundation to enable us achieve the Nigeria presidency.

In a situation where His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party fails to win the 2023 elections, where does that leave the south east? History will forever be kind to Peter Obi for the bold and courageous step towards occupying the number one seat and all Igbo sons and daughters should be proud of him. However, this isn’t a time for emotional politics but common sense and interest, hence I advise all wise intellectual and politically intelligent people of the south east to support the candidacy of H.E. Aswaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu so that we can have another opportunity to lay a better foundation and be well equipped in future to actualize the presidency.

This is not a time for religious sentiments, tribal sentiments, and emotional sentiments, rather it’s about interest. A vote for JAGABAN is a passport for future political success and actualization. It’s all about interest and rather than casting our eggs in one basket like the south east did in 2015 and 2019, which clearly failed us, going by votes cast by states in the south east. In 2015, the five states in the South east polled a total of 7,497,606 votes for the then President Jonathan of the PDP, while it gave President Mohammadu Buhari a tiny vote of 198,219; representing 457.67 percent votes for Jonathan and 30.22 percent for Buhari, yet Buhari emerged winner of the election.

Despite the loathsome political attitude of Ndigbo toward Buhari and the APC, he ignored it all and built formidable infrastructures in the South East which their preferred Jonathan could not do in his six years administration. Just to mention a few of those infrastructure, one can count on the rehabilitated Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, the second Niger Bridge, the Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu- Port Harcourt road, among others.

In 2019, it was the same despicable attitude towards Buhari as the south east again failed to vote for him and the APC for the second time, yet Buhari continued to accord the region its desired benefits. Of course the national government was formed and the south east once more embarked on complaints of marginalization galore.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo on many occasions labeled APC and Buhari as “Igbo hater.’ On November 1 2017, Former Ohanaeze President General, Nnia Nwodo criticized President Buhari for refusing to appoint a South Easterner as the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SFG). Since then there has been one form of criticism or the other from the Igbo against the Federal Government simply because we refused to accept the overwhelming federal composition. The question now is, for how long will the Igbo who had at the beginning of the formation of Nigeria been prominent in national politics of Nigeria, both in the first and the second republic, continue to be on the periphery instead of maintaining its core center stage?

The Igbo in 2023 cannot afford to continue to fail and repeat the same class; rather we should learn from history. In the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

Therefore, my south east brothers, if you must vote, I urge you to look at the future and drop emotions. While not asking Ndigbo to jettison their own, I suggest that we should give 50 percent of our votes to Peter Obi and 50 percent or much more to H.E. Aswaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (JAGABAN).

I’m proud of our great sons who see this great opportunity and stand firmly in actualizing this great dream, people like H.E. Hope Uzodinma, H.E, Engr. Dave Umahi, H.E. Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani (Ebeano & his entire Ebeano family) who I hold in high esteem and a man of his words marched with action and some other distinguished sons and daughters from the south east I didn’t mention, I urge every Igbo man to stand by them and support this journey so we may benefit from the Nigeria mainstream.

This has been the dream of some of our great sons who have perilously worked alone to actualize the Igbo integration. One of such men is Dr. Ogbonnia Onu, a gentleman blessed with consistency; Owelle Rochas Okorocha, these men have played great roles and saw the future while we were clouded by emotions and failed to see the bigger picture.

I urge Ohaneze Ndigbo to show support for the second southern presidential candidates as I know it will be a foolish request asking them to abandon their illustrious son, Peter Obi who I shall continue to hold in high esteem, but in the event we vote PDP or attempt to drown in Labour party, we would lose out totally.  I urge that we tow the path of wisdom and give a minimum of 50 percent of the south east votes to Aswaju Bola Tinubu. I believe in JAGABAN and I can vouch on his behalf that he will not disappoint the south east. If we fail and he wins, which I’m 100 percent confident that JAGABAN will be our next president, it will be unfair for Ohaneze and all Igbo to demand for various juicy appointments in a journey they didn’t contribute to.

Through his wife, Her Excellency Senator Oluremi Tinubu, a great Igbo son who is now the son-in-law of the Kenya President-Elect, Prof Alexandra Ezenagu was produced when Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State. Tinubu’s wife demonstrated passion in Ezenagu’s route to his successes through numerous support. Tinubu himself as Chimaroke Nnamani acknowledged was among the pioneer governors who started appointing non-indigenes as state executives. Numerous Igbo have benefited from such administrative initiatives. What else could be Igbo affection?

The vocalists trying to create religious divide and sentiments against the APC presidential candidate by raise of Muslim/Muslim ticket, failed to complain when my Igbo brother Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the first military ruler of Nigeria, chose a Christian as his deputy in 1966. Aguiyi-Ironsi became Nigeria’s first military head of state in January 1966 following a coup, but he was assassinated in another coup in July 1966 and made Babafemi Olatunde Ogundipe the de facto second-in-command as first Chief of Staff, Supreme Military Council from January 1966 to August 1966.

Tinubu fought for and contributed to the current democracy we enjoy today and so he deserves to be honoured and in supporting him with our votes, we would have secured a new path to the actualization of our collective dream. I look forward to an Igbo president but sadly that dream is not for today. I’m proud to be a BATMAN and fully JAGABANED for a better tomorrow hence I urge my fellow south Eastern brothers and sisters to unite for a common cause, keep sentiments aside for it has never helped us. Don’t forget that the south east and south west are more bonded together in the entire Africa based on common interest and opportunities which helped grow massive business trade beyond imagination in the Africa sub region, affording our sons and daughters to succeed both financially and otherwise. I dare to say and proud to affirm that the tremendous successes, vision and achievements of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (JAGABAN) in Lagos state and beyond contributed in giving them a great opportunity to join the millions of people in chasing the Lagos dream and shouting on top of their voices “Eko Oni Baje Ooo!!!! My south east brothers and sisters, It’s time to return the favour!

Dr.Onoh is a former PDP Governor Aspirant in Enugu State 2022

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