Where do we go from here? Do we go to Pharaoh Sesostris III of Egypt to become ‘’prime minister’’ or do we go to Xerxes of Persia to earn a place in the council? Whichever way, there has to be a ‘’go’’. The south-east may be hamstrung by burdensome choices as regards the 2023 presidential election, but it must determine its own future now by getting dividend out of wild gambles.
The APC and the PDP are the only two operable vehicles for the actualisation of south-east’s goals – within the wider Nigerian interest. But the south-east’s dalliance with the PDP since 1999 has neither resulted in commensurate development for the region nor precipitated the centering of the region in national politics.
The south-east and the PDP liaison has been an abusive one. At the risk of everything, including its own development, the region has supported the party. In my column, ‘What did PDP do to deserve the loyalty of Igbos?’, I said the Igbo keep tailing the PDP through its floundering and wobbles, but even within the party, the south-east is henpecked. Yet, the Igbo sustain the romance.
In the column, I also challenged anyone to list the infrastructural achievements of the PDP federal government in the south-east in 16 years. I am still waiting for anyone to take up the gauntlet. The reality is that the south-east’s loyalty to the PDP has been grossly taken for granted by the party.
It is like a union encumbered by unrequited affection. One partner remains devoted, giving and committed to the relationship to the point that the other partner sees the loyalty as deserving or his entitlement without making any effort to reciprocate the trust.
It has become clear the PDP will not zone its presidential ticket to the south-east. Logically, if the PDP zones the ticket to the south-east without the APC zoning its own ticket to the same region, the election is as good as lost. I had explained reasons the south-east cannot produce Nigeria’s next president in previous columns – one of which is the prevailing national animus for the region owing to the terrorism of Biafra agitators. The perception is that the terrorism in the region has the tacit and direct imprimatur of the south-east political leadership and citizens owing to their variance with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The south-east will only have a chance at the presidency if the PDP and the APC both zone their tickets to the region. But this is wishful thinking.
The PDP zoning panel threw open the presidential ticket, asphalting the way for Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president (from the north-east), and Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers (from the south-south), to contest. Although Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue and chairman of the zoning committee, tried to apply chicanery to what seems to be a fait accompli by saying the party’s national executive committee (NEC) is yet to take a decision on the panel’s recommendations, the PDP presidential ticket trajectory is clear.
A few days ago, some Igbo leaders accused two south-east governors of receiving bribes to support the presidential bid of Wike whose antagonism for the south-east is common knowledge. This is the problem in situ. Survivalist politics — which negates the interest of the whole for that of the individual.
The whispers in PDP spectrum are that if the presidential ticket goes to a northern candidate, then the vice-presidential slot will go to the south-west. The PDP is thinking about winning the 2023 presidential election. Good strategy, yes, but where does that leave the dotting south-east? Nowhere. The assumption is that the south-east will swim with the PDP through hell and high water. This is the region’s depressing position now – taken for granted, used and abused.
How can the PDP propitiate the south-east for its years of blind loyalty? Can anything good still come from the south-east’s consort with the PDP? Only the south-east can determine this. Only the region can decide the outcome of its dalliance with the party going forward. But it has to take tough and rational decisions to come to a place of significance, respect and regard once again.
Does the APC offer better political advantages for the south-east? I do not think so, really. Not at the moment. This is because there is yet to be a welding organism between the region and the party. A bulk of the region’s political elite isolated itself from the party and chose to play the opposition.
The south-east must be dispassionate about its choices in the 2023 elections. Its umbilical cord was not buried with any political; hence it must accord all political parties equal measure of loyalty based on its interest within the broader Nigerian interest.
The region must see other parties outside the PDP as vehicles to achieving development, integration and national unity.
Only the party that presents a workable plan of how to support the local economy now battered by resident troglodytes, drive development and bridge the familial chasm; beyond political appointments which do not help anyone except those appointed; should the region follow. The south-east’s umbilical cord was not buried with any political party.
•Fredrick Nwabufo; Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.