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Why S/East Should Support Atiku In PDP Presidential Primary

By Mbaka Chijioke

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The people of the South Eastern states of Nigeria have for ages been known as a highly egalitarian and enterprising people.

Before the colonial era, the Igbo society was organised in a republican manner which gave every member a keen sense of belonging and a say on how community matters were handled. No one gave orders. All adult males were equal and took part in decision-making.

The members took pride in this sense of belonging and everyone did their part for the betterment of the community, town or village. The colonial era and the ordeals of the Civil War took their toll on this societal relationship.

But despite those trying times, visible and pulsating vestiges of this unique societal relationship and experience still remain.

The Town Unions all over the Igbo land, the constant community fundraising activities for pipe borne water, electricity, markets, schools, churches and healthcare projects are testaments to the enduring nature of the Igbo’s relationship to his community and his readiness to make tangible contributions to its advancement.

The other aspect, the Igbo’s enterprise, competitiveness and flair for business and commerce have even grown in ascendency over the years. The Igbo is custom-made for business and enterprise. This is one thing the deprivation of the Civil War could do nothing against – it rather accentuated it.

From the ashes of that devastating war, the Igbo rose like a phoenix and continue to take giant strides in business and commerce. The commercial centres of Lagos, Onitsha and Kano have the Igbo’s business heat map all over them.

His commercial ventures, schools, churches, homes are scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of this country. Some people have viewed this from a derogatory perspective, but there is no gainsaying the fact that this attribute is a great plus to the economic potentials of any country.

As he thrives, the country at large is expected do the same; this is because when the Igbo grows himself, he endeavours to grow the community he finds himself. It does not matter whether that community is in Lagos, Kano or Port Harcourt.

This is one of the ways he contributes in sowing the seeds of a common nationhood. And he does this by lending a hand in reshaping the fortunes of the environment he finds himself.

It is therefore of utmost importance that as the 2019 presidential election draws near, the South-East should be careful about the political choices they make. We have to critically evaluate the socio-political and economic situations at hand and tailor our choice based on those realities.

We cannot afford to choose anyone whose presidency would be inimical to the survival and advancement of our ideals, principles and worldview – to our egalitarianism and enterprise.

Whomever we may choose must be one whose government will accentuate our nature and facilitate the urge of the Igbo to continue to contribute to the advancement of his community and the nation at large.

We want someone who would also see Nigeria more as an economic entity – it is in such a setting that the Igbo would thrive – than just a political entity where every state engagement including those that are purely economic matters are subjected to political considerations.

The quest facing us is to elect a president that would engender a thriving and more open socio-economic and political environment in the country, structured in a way that would allow the various parts of this country including ours to progress without hindrances. (Restructuring also comes to mind).

Our quest begins in the presidential primaries. PDP is the only major party in which the 5 states of the South East can still make a choice based on these considerations.

The APC does not offer us this opportunity with the party willing to support the sole candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari, whose time in office to say the least is highly unfavourable to us.

PDP on the other hand has thrown up some interesting presidential aspirants with most of them entertaining more strengths than weaknesses.

However, given the peculiarities of our people, Atiku Abubakar is evidently the one whose presidency suits the South East and the nation best.

It is the best for this country especially at this critically defining period when most countries in the world strive more for economic leverage than political strength.

Atiku’s enterprise and pro-business credentials are suitable for Nigeria now that the country must leverage on its economic potentials, break its dependence on oil, and diversify.

Atiku’s presidency would augment our economic strengths and put the nation at large on a new economic path.

Because an economically viable country needs as many seaports as possible to facilitate commerce and trade, building an inland seaport in Onitsha would be seen as an economic matter rather than a subject for political consideration.

The same goes for a fully functional international airport in the South-East (Atiku has promised that). Creating a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Aba or resuscitating Oji River Thermal Power Station would be seen as economic exigencies.

They would not be jettisoned due to the ‘fear’ that they would strengthen the Igbos unduly, a regrettable pattern born out of negative and retrogressive sectional politics taken to a new level by the current Buhari administration.

Atiku represents Nigeria’s best hope of bringing this unfortunate trend to an end.

Apart from the fact that he has the political will to accomplish this, he is also so attuned to the economic imperatives of the new age and so detribalised to allow Nigeria to continue to waddle in the dirt waters of sectional politics which has for long formed the bedrock of our national life.

This is a defining moment in the history of this country. The South-East cannot afford to make the wrong choice especially after the debacle and retrogression of the Buhari years.

Atiku is a northerner by birth but his life as a man of enterprise and business makes him one of our own. He is the candidate that has the greatest chances of winning the presidential election for PDP.

His worldview, the seeds of friendship he has sowed across the divides, his detribalised character and enviable inputs in the country’s democratic sojourn has garnered him wide and unrivalled acceptability across the length and breadth of this country.

PDP delegates from the South-East should take this into consideration. We must team up with him to actualise his presidency and build a nation that is more open, inclusive and united, a detribalised and economically viable country.

That is the country the Igbo want to live in, a country where every one of us has the freedom and opportunity to dream, aspire and achieve.

Mbaka Chijioke (M. Sc) Public Affairs Analyst writes from, ENUGU.  08162284451 Twitter: @Mbaka_Ogonnaya

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