Mr. Kassim On A More Promising And Progressive Nigerian Future

By Ikenga Chronicles May 9, 2019

Mr. Kassim On A More Promising And Progressive Nigerian Future

— Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba,

Dr. Ola Kassim in an essay on a more promising and progressive future for Nigeria ( suggested that an Igbo President would be nice. He said “I truly believe that 2023 elections should be time for Nigeria to have a man or woman of Igbo ancestry as our President.

Of the many contributors to the Nigerian forums, I consider Mr. Kassim as one who truly loves Nigeria. I can also state that I agree with his views more times than I disagree with his views. Mr. Kassim’s reasons for the suggestions include:

a.  The 2023 elections would be a pivotal make or break Presidential elections in Nigeria. It would either cement the unity of Nigeria or signal the eventual breakup of the country into ethnic fiefdoms and Banana Republics, an idea that constitutes an anathema for folks like me.

b. Nigeria has had Presidents from the two other major ethnic groups and two minority ethnic groups in our national journey since independence in 1960– from military and civilian ranks. We have not had an elected President from the SE or the former Eastern Region of Nigeria which is the homestead of the Igbo, a major Nigerian ethnic group.

c. The SE is probably not lacking of worthy and qualified candidates who could contest for the Presidential tickets in the APC and the PDP in 2023. In the spirit of promoting national unity it would be great to have both of two major national parties nominate candidates for the residency who are of SE origin. This scenario will ensure that an Igbo becomes the President of Nigeria regardless of which party wins the elections.

d. There would have to be a lot more bridge building between the Igbo and all other Nigerian ethnic groups (and vice versa) in the next 4 years in order to achieve the above dream. Nigerians from all over the country would need to overcome and put aside the shared covert and overt prejudices and stereotypes they have about different ethnic groups.

Most people would agree that Mr. Kassim’s reasons above make a lot of sense on the surface. But this time I beg to disagree with my friend. My reasons for disagreeing are as follows:

  1. What Nigeria needs the most is a restructured country. As Nigeria is currently constituted only a Fulani president can be effective in the office of the president of Nigeria. Any member of any other ethnic group would be a mere servant of the Fulani ethic high command. A Jonathan, an Osinbajo, or a Duke must of necessity be a “yes boy” to the Fulani Caliphate.
  2. Deciding to elect an Igbo as the president is the same as zoning the presidency to the Igbo ethnic group. This will be contrary to holding a national election. In a national election the nation elects anybody the nation considers the most qualified. It is an election based on meritocracy and nothing else. The 2019 choices between Buhari and Atiku was an election fabricated by politicians and could not qualify as a choice by the citizens. It was an ethnic election.
  3. Merit is randomly distributed throughout the country such that restricting the choice to one ethnic group could result in missing the most qualified candidate.
  4. If an Igbo is elected just because he is an Igbo, he will not be able to serve well as he would most often offend one group or the other. A good project started in Igbo land would be seen as acting because he is Igbo. A project denied in Igbo land would offend the Igbo as it would be seen as not caring for his people in order to please his selectors.

After Nigeria is restructured and any president could be his own man an election of an Igbo would be welcome.  As a man or woman such a person would be proud that the nation has considered him/her the most qualified and not because he happens to be Igbo. He will be a Nigerian president who happens to be Igbo and not an Igbo President. In the interest of full disclosure.

I am an Igbo but do not speak for the Igbo. There are millions of Igbo more qualified to speak for the Igbo than I. By the way my views will not change if one substitutes Yoruba, Ijaw, Edo, Efik or any other tribe for Igbo.

  • Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba writes from Boston Massachusetts