If the 2023 presidency is relieved of competition and reduced to an ethnic contest, then we are consciously backtracking to the mistakes of 2015. Ethnic considerations brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power. And I am sure most Nigerians have witnessed the calamity that this current administration is.
When leadership is robbed of progressive competition, competence is impaired. We will keep chasing the will-o-the-wisp of progress as a country for as long as the tribe of a citizen matters more than his antecedents, competence level and abilities.
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“Turn-by-turn’’ presidency will only yield ‘’turn-by-turn’’ misery. Nepotism here thrives largely because a leader selected on the basis of where he represents generally seeks to protect the interest of that base he feels solidified his claim to power.
So, we are only reinventing a broken wheel by putting more premium on where the next president should come from rather than on ‘’what he had done, what he is doing; his leadership qualities, academic background, mental state and health condition’’. And with the entitled perception that ‘’it is our turn; the president is our brother’’, nepotism is systematised.
Really, why should a leadership position that defines and determines the future of the country be ethnicised? Why is there no campaign for the basics of leadership? Why is there no clamour for the qualities, credentials and competence level the next president of Nigeria should possess? Why is it always about ethnicity?
It is revolting that presidency in Nigeria is designed in such a way that every ethnic group, particularly the predatory political class, sees it as an entitled offering that must be acquired for the sake of promoting individual and sectional interest. The base mindset of — ‘’it is our turn to take a crunch at the cake, so pass it!’’ If the ethnic-based presidency is so important to us, why can we not fragment the centre and return power to the federating units? So, every group can decide how to bake and eat their own cake.
On January 6, 2021, some Igbo political leaders emerged from a meeting and asked all political parties to zone the 2023 presidency to the South East.
To make it clear, the ‘’struggle’’ for the 2023 presidency by some South-East leaders is not in the pursuit of the Igbo interest. Rather, it is in the pursuit of the interest of the ruling elite of the region. The overarching interest of the Igbo is a restructured Nigeria where every region can grow at its own pace. I argued in a previous article titled, ‘Ndi Igbo forget 2023 presidency; it’s a trap’, that restructuring is not achievable with a president of Igbo extraction and I gave my reasons.
No political party should cede the 2023 presidential ticket to the South East on the basis of nothing but ‘’ethnicity’’. The process should be competitive to allow the best minds to take charge of the country – even if candidates from the zone are specially considered. There should be less emphasis on ethnicity and more stress on competence, credentials, antecedents, and ability for leadership.
And even if the South East gets a go at the presidency, the next president should not be from the pool of the perpetuators of the region’s underdevelopment.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.