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ENUGU, NIGERIA - JANUARY 9: A file photo of former Biafran war leader Emeka Ojukwu 09 January 2000. (Photo credit should read PETER CUNLIFFE-JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Tinubu 2023 and the Myth of an Igbo Presidency

In November 2017, the man that sat close to me at the Emerging Political Leaders Summit gave me the opportunity of access by handing me his business card; he is over 60 but, on that day, it looked like he came to observe. From that day till date, I have not met him even though we had plans to. However, I still get his WhatsApp Broadcast on Nigeria, politics and the power play in our country. Early this year he called me for us to talk on a particular issue; the Igbo Presidency. Now, this man is from the North I think Borno State and he had such an unbiased view of his relationships and people he has met from the South-East. He narrated at that summit of the Igbo man he works with and who he has been guardian to his children and more.

On the Igbo Presidency, after what he said to me I concluded that the hope that power will shift one day to the South-East is a myth. A myth in the sense that, no one has ever tried (he told me), none of the major political parties has ever adopted a candidate from the Igbo race and trust me Igbo Nwere Mmadu (we have people of timber and caliber).

As simple as that analogy sounded to me like a man who sits and waits for a blessing to fall on his laps every day or every four years, that shifted my mindset about the Igbo man producing a Presidency by waiting and hoping. With the recent dance between Buhari, Saraki and now Tinubu, it is clear that marginalization is not only the problem we face; we equally face a mentality of self-defeat.  

When he was granted pardon in 1983, Emeka Ojukwu during an interview with a BBC press man said, “Our people must face the fact that the war is ended. They must feel free to…partake and benefit from Nigeria. There must be no inhibition whatsoever…” This video is still available online.

Around within the same period he published a book, Because I am Involved; I think in 1989. In that book, he shared an all-encompassing view about Nigeria and when describing his view about the Igbo; Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu wrote;  

As a people, the Igbos do have a peculiar problem in Nigeria. We are constantly misunderstood; our boasted dynamism is suspect and our manner considered sometimes brash and sometimes obsequious. If, as a people, we wish to make an impact on the affairs of this agglomerate nation, then we must review our public relations. We have to be less suspect and more understood. We must bear in mind that it is not the Igbo which we are that causes national offence, but rather the Igbo that others perceive us to be. Therefore, our route to national acceptance and social esteem lies not in the denial of our fact, but more in the emasculation of the others’ perception of us. We have, as a people, fought and lost a war. We have seceded and have been reintegrated into Nigeria. If we wish to make a positive input into Nigeria then we must learn to avoid postures that make us a target. The Igbo people must advance into the mainstream of Nigerian politics-isolationism and wallowing in an orgy of self-pity or indeed carrying the banner of protest is counter-productive. If we persist in complaining, weeping and wailing and bemoaning our fate, we risk the bitter-sweet taste of drowning in the brackish waters of our tears. (Because I am Involved, Emeka Ojukwu, 1989)

From this piece, you will agree that the participation of Igbo people in politics or achieving this much acclaimed Igbo Presidency and the nature of always playing second fiddle or get conciliatory appointments at the national level is determined by what we think others think of us. That is, public relations. You can call this a defeated self-esteem that ‘who will trust an Igbo man’; have we truly tried collectively this time.

As much I condemned Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and for obvious reasons of postulating war to his followers, the man understood the source of his rage; Nigeria as it is today. The description as a zoo, even though I don’t know if he is the first to use became very glaring that people now see him as a prophet. Nnamdi Kanu is an intelligent and well-studied man but my concern was if he actually read about the scourge of war, the mere fact of saying get guns and bombs and what uneducated folks can make of it or the fact that we have been battered for many years and what we needed was to build esteem socially, politically and otherwise.

Thank God, his followers were wise enough not to resort arms. Sadly, this administration took the war to our market squares.

The civil war was a sad tale that many have still not forgotten because the history books are there, the videos are there, fathers, mothers and grand parents are still alive to tell the stories but I believe that our social esteem should be built first. We fought and lost a war in contemporary history (of guns, bombs from US, Russia, UK, France, not bow and arrow) and no tribe in Nigeria and maybe Africa has had such. The courage to accept defeat, the determination to keep fighting against every odd is something to be proud of.

As Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has shot himself in the leg despite the campaign chanting that was pushed by Rochas Okorocha on their behalf it is clear that waiting and sitting is no longer wise. Ako na Uche is not in it.

Ndigbo do not lack the men who can run the affairs of Nigeria (Igbo Presidency) at any level in Nigeria, Africa, and the world. Anyi nwere mmadu. It is time we came out and determine our future in Nigeria. It is time we choose a path, it is time we shelf every perceived form of betrayal among us and do the right thing. Why do we have an election that power is shifting from one generation to another yet there is no Frank Nweke II, Peter Obi is satisfied with his outing in Anambra? Osita Chidoka has the clear thinking of a man whose mind is like the river and he does a perfect job at delivery. Why are we allowing a man like Rochas Okorocha (this piece is not about him alone) be the one pushing for an Igbo Presidency when he of has failed in his first role as an elected citizen? Why, and Why?

igbo presidency
This photo taken on May 26, 2017 in Umuahia, southeast Nigeria, a painting of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu of Biafra placed on the floor of the Ojukwu Bunker. The Nigerian civil wars 50th anniversary will be commemorated on May 30th. The war was triggered when the Igbo people, the main ethnic group in the southeast, declared an independent breakaway state, the Republic of Biafra. / AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS (Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Igbo nwere mmadu; we have them. We have those who will sponsor the elections in Nnewi, in Ariaria, In Aba, we have men who have retired at 40 and are simply cashing out from their boys na agbara ha oso ahia (market runs). Our women folks are blazing the trail without losing the skills of being good women, wives, feminists and of mothers.


On Twitter, the feminists who entertain us daily are mostly Igbo women who are either in the US, UK, the Caribbean, Rwanda engaged mostly in academic pursuits. The beauty comes with brains and clear understanding of who and what a feminist is.

Biafra is a prophetic agenda that has come to stay; whether within Nigeria or outside Nigeria. After reading the Ahiara Declaration, I can only say that Emeka Ojukwu, who like any other was not perfect, was a man who communed with higher powers, asides being an Oxford Scholar.

Okenye anaghi ano n’ulo ewu amuo n’obu. I hope that our elders will not sit at home and their comfort zones while the goat gives birth in her tethers. We need a rallying point, we need a common narrative even if it means going back to the days of fighting the war (as a mindset) but this time in a democratic Nigeria.


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