The Oasis Reporters
January 10, 2022
By Datong, Dominic Gwaman
The strategy of divide and rule instituted in Nigeria during the colonial era has sneaked its way into post-independence Nigeria with several fractures along ethnic and religious lines.
Depending on which suits the purpose at any time, it would be applied. It has become a tool of ascending to power for the elite who have created religious and ethnic fault lines in order to get themselves close to power.
Issues of global concern as stipulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including end to hunger, women empowerment and environment, among others, are not of primary concern.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ forum, on the 5th of July, 2021 signed a communique after the 17 Southern Governors met in Government House, Lagos. Among other resolutions, the need for the Nigerian Presidency to come from the South which the Igbo belongs.
While it is doubtful that the plea refers in any way to the president coming from the eastern bloc of the South, at least, to the Igbo man, it reduces the number of actors
The question is, would the Igbos ever get their long coveted Nigerian Presidency? A short answer is, with the current political strategy, THEY CAN NOT. Let me explain.
Politics is a game of numbers! Those that use tribal sentiments to ascend to power have the number of tribal people to vote and put them in power. Can we say the same with the Igbos?
Available records from INEC indicate voter population by region, having the North-West with the highest voter population of 20.2 Million, followed by the South-West with 16.3 Million. Others include North-Central, 13.4, South-South, 12.8 Million, North-East, 11.3 Million while the South-East has the least voter population of 10.1 Million.
A rough calculation shows a total of about 10 Million voters in Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Anambra. With voter turnout of about 30%, according to a report by vanguard of February 9, 2021, the effective number of voters in the Igbo states would stand at 3 Million voters.
The numbers above show that the Igbo votes alone cannot win a presidential election purely based of ethnic considerations.
First, the number of Igbo states is effectively only 4 which falls short of the 25% votes in two-thirds of the states in Nigeria as required for a presidential win.
Second, the 3 Million registered voters is too small compared with the historical total number of votes that have so far won presidential elections in the country. The Igbos would be and are already making a mistake of negotiating their ascent to the presidency on the pedestals of ethnicity. This will surely fail.
Does this really mean that the Igbos can’t be president?
What it means is that they just need to change strategy that will support their agenda. States in the Central Zone or the so-called Middle-Belt region are an orphaned group as they don’t feel “loved” by the North even though they are considered a part of it. They are looking for parents.
With the wide-spread poverty in the Middlebelt region, elections are ten times (unresearched estimate) cheaper than elections in the south. This mean that the Igbos in their “Wealth” can install Governors, Senators, House of Representatives and even House of Assembly members within the Middle-Belt region, expanding the “Igbo tribe” to a quasi-Igbo territory. This would enable their benefactors to gain for them, more voting potential in more states in the Middle-Belt. The combined voting population of the Middle-Belt States is about 13.8 Million which is quite significant especially that the voter turnout in these states is higher than those in the Igbo states.
While the Igbos are unarguably talented and have potentials to lead Nigeria to greatness, their quest for presidency using tribal sentiments can not take them anywhere far. However, a combination of generosity and linkages, especially with the Middle-Belt will reduce the Igbo’s long walk to the presidency.
Datong, Dominic Gwaman is a
Conflict, Security and Development Expert/ Leadership Professional.