OPINION: South -Eastern Presidency; David Umahi's Position

From Dr. Celestine Perterson George,  USA

As race for the 2023 presidential election gears up, question of which geo-political zone of the country the next number one citizen of Nigeria should come from is raising lots of dust. In political parties, on different media outlets, unanimity on this matter is elusive at the moment. Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s open letter to APC party leadership to take an “unequivocal” stance prior to its impending presidential primaries, echoed views of the southern region. Nonetheless, the zoning poser persists: Which of south-east, south-south and south-west should it be? David Umahi argues south-east takes precedence over the rest.

During a live interview on Politics Today program aired on Channels TV on May 6, 2022, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi noted a fitting way to justly lay the zoning dilemma to rest. He contended it is turn of south-eastern zone to produce president on the bases of justice, equity and fairness, because south-west through Olusegun Obasanjo and south-south through Goodluck Jonathan have “tasted” it. The overly enthusiastic jostle for presidency—given body language of the north to give up power—by SS and SW politicians exemplifies insensitivity.

Where three brothers, Umahi instanced, are to share something in scarce supply two have had, the one yet to have at all should be profusely supported to have it. That’s equity and fairness in motion. Injustice is where the two are reluctant to support the one, who had before done same for the two against all odds. He maintained such scenario would be tantamount to blackmailing the northern region. Thus, zoning impact should cascade down from north relinquishing power to south projecting the south-east. Any arrangement other than this is hypocritical and a subscription to half-truths.

Furthermore, Governor Umahi adduced the political event of 1999 where other zones of the country rallied round south-west to produce first president of the democratic dispensation; south-westerners Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae only ran for election. So, throwing support behind one zone is neither strange nor unprecedented. He added that if SE won’t be predisposed to produce president by SS and SW, the north can as well contest and retain power. Clamoring for zoning and keeping mute about the benchmark when it arrives in your region is mischievously inconsistent.

Again, if the zoning standard is to be jettisoned at this juncture, Umahi asserted, it would still be injustice to south-east (and north-east) due to fact the two zones haven’t produced a president. Why would their turn warrant obsoleteness and ruling out of zoning? Are there connotations south-east is bereft of competent candidates? He emphasized there are people of timber and caliber, including himself, capable of handling presidential duties. Candidates with resounding leadership antecedents, for Nigerians are now weary of promises.

From the foregoing, reasons plus points raised by Umahi are reasonable. Objectively, if we are to go by the integral democratic virtue of equity, south-eastern zone should be topping scale of preference for presidency in political parties and across the country. The south-east staunchly stood behind PDP in the past, delivering millions of votes. Its indecisiveness about this issue is disappointing. South-east is no pawn on anyone’s political chessboard. APC can become a bastion of equity and widen its acceptance by acting on these decries. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

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