I am writing this article as a way of providing answers to two questions that I have been asked on numerous occasions by friends, a few political analysts and people who I have been opportune to sit with and discuss the current situation in Nigeria.
Last week, during an argument with a much older friend on the state of things in Nigeria, the scorecard of the Buhari led administration and on Atiku Abubakar, he repeated these questions which I have always had to answer since the day I published an article on Atiku Abubakar.
He asked, “As the co-author of the book, Nigeria, 2015 and Beyond: The Igbo Perspective, do you not think that your support for an Atiku presidency will only delay the Igbos from achieving the presidency, a move which according to the chapter five of your book will help restore belief in Nigeria within the Igbo ranks and also as one of the many young persons who defied rain and matched to the National Assembly on the 25thof July in support of the NotToYoungToRun bill, while will you be supporting a seventy year old man, what message are you passing to the young persons of your generation?
Just like I was able to state my stand to my friend, I will be using this article to do same.
In the above book, the authors clearly presented a picture of the present state of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity and also clearly gave some recommendations that if the Igbos want to become relevant in the Nigerian political system, we must become united and speak with one voice on issues facing us as an ethnic group in the country in order to attain the highest political office and also that the Igbos must not use because they want to become the President of Nigeria to side with any bloc in detriment of Nigeria’s development just because with that bloc, their aim will be achieved easily but must instead, be progressive in their activities as this will lead to the development of not just the south-east region but Nigeria at large.
One issue that has occupied the Igbo political space for a long time is the issue of restructuring.
Supporters of restructuring like myself have continued to state that Nigeria must be restructured now if we want to get things right, we must diversify our economy as the world is shifting away from oil and moving to other things.
In a book titled, We Are All Biafrans journalist and human rights activist, Chido Onumah, noted that, “nobody can fix Nigeria the way it is presently structured” and that Nigeria must be restructured politically, economically and Nigerians must also be re-orientated to believe in the Nigerian dream if we are to get things right.
The Igbos clamor for who will bring economic development to the South East and Nigeria at large and that can be done through restructuring and must, therefore, support a candidate who is pro-restructuring in the next general elections.
Just as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, said in a recent interview, “The Igbos will only support a candidate who means well for the region not minding where he or she hails from”.
The aim of the above book was to bring the plight of the Igbos to the front burner and not to campaign for an Igbo presidency at the detriment of the development of the region and with Atiku, I am optimistic that the problem will be solved.
Everybody wants development and the northern region that has produced more presidents than any other region in Nigeria is today regarded as the least developed and least educated region in the country. It all centers on bad governance.
During a recent conversation with an aide to Atiku who I questioned about his principal, he gave me an assignment that changed my views about this man. In 1993, I was only a year old when Atiku declared for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and his aide asked me to carry out a comprehensive study on his manifesto from 1993 till date.
My findings showed that his focus has been centered on restructuring and job creation, hence my support. As a person who wants a restructured Nigeria for economic and political security, I believe a man with the political will is needed and that person is Atiku Abubakar.
On the youth, like I told my friend, all we need is job creation and leadership education. These will provide us with economic security and also prepare us as future leaders. My perception of Atiku, is one who has the will to achieve this looking as his record as a successful business man and his track record with the youth, hence my support for him.
I am an advocate of the NotToYoungToRun movement but before the youth can run, he must be ready intellectually, financially and mentally. These qualities are today lacking in most of our youths. Supporting any person who will help the Nigerian youth to achieve their dreams is part of the NotToYoungToRun campaign and there is no young person right now who has the political capability to challenge the president, hence my support for a man who shares the same idea with the youths.
As young persons who wants to have a young president, as it stands, we must be realistic in our pursuit.
In conclusion, I call on those who have engaged me on these issues to please see reason with me and also to the millions of unemployed young persons in Nigeria who foresee a bright future to see reason with me and join me on this quest.
All we need, all we want is a Nigeria that works.
Odoh Michael is a youth activist and National President, Progressive Youth Initiative of Nigeria (PYIN).