You are currently viewing 2023: Why the Presidency cannot be ceded to the south east
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By O’Seun Ogunseitan

It is a wrong equivalence, comparing the 1999 Nigerian Presidential Election and the deliberate fielding of two Yorubas as Presidential candidates in the two main Political Parties then, with the need to field only Igbo Presidential candidates in all or at least the major Political Parties in 2023.

One good reason is the fact that as at 1999, a Yoruba man had clearly won a Presidential Election way back in 1993, but he had not been allowed to become President by a cult of soldiers and some civilians. Fielding only Yoruba Presidential candidates in the major political Parties in 1999, was therefore not out of the blues or for any political balancing. It had a background of a debt to the Yorubas, who by the way had been shut out of federal democratic governance by an alliance of Igbos and the Hausa-Fulani, since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

Curiously too, it was when a Yoruba man for the first time ever in Nigeria, won a federal election with Abiola’s resounding victory in the Presidential election of 1993, that an evil coterie of mainly Hausa-Fulani soldiers and their surrogates, incidentally again used an Igbo businessman and a South Easterner Judge, to lay the foundation for the annulment of the result of that near-impeccable election.

Specifically, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, a Yoruba man, resoundingly won the June 1993 Nigerian Presidential Elections and Yorubas who voted massively for him, with most other Nigerians, except the Igbos, discouraged Abiola from trading off his mandate. In the Election which Abiola won, the Igbos understandably voted massively for the other Presidential candidate, because an Igbo man was going to be Vice President if Abiola’s opponent won.

It is however also pointedly noteworthy, that against the spirit of democracy, Alh Bashir Tofa, Chief Abiola’s opponent and Dr Sylvester Ugo, Alh Tofa’s running mate who would have become Vice president if Tofa had won, both supported the annulment of the freest and fairest Presidential Election in Nigerian history.


Understandably too, the struggle for the actualisation of the result of the June 12, 1993 Election, was spearheaded by residents of the Nigerian South West, the homeland of the Yorubas. The June 12 Struggle grounded most of Nigeria, but particularly the Yoruba’s South West, for almost five years until the death of Gen Abacha in 1998. In essence the Yorubas and their sympathisers in the South West, never sat down comfy, even while asking Nigerians to do what is right when Abiola won the 1993 Election. They willingly paid the price, scores of them, including some of the leading lights of the struggle like Chief Alfred Rewane and Vice Admiral Babatunde Elegbede among others, who paid for their stoic stand against the wrong, with their lives.

A second argument suggesting that it is wrong equating the seeming “ceding” of the Nigerian Presidency to the Yorubas in 1999 with “the need to cede the Nigerian Presidency to the Igbos in 2023”, is that never in the history of Nigeria or any multi-ethnic country of more than 180 million people, will millions of people of diverse tribes, voluntarily just ask a tribe to come to lead them, by presenting a President for an annointing.


Even in 1999, majority of persons of other Nigerian tribes including the Igbos, did not vote for the candidate of the Yoruba. They rather voted for the candidate of the establishment Party and chose “their own Yoruba candidate” who pointedly lost in all Yoruba States, including even his own Polling Unit and virtually 90% of polling Units in Yoruba land.

To be clear, I think the Igbos were right in 1999, to have voted like they did because that is how free persons should vote in an open democracy, not in deference to the wants of Yorubas or any other tribes. To now ask Nigerians to cede the Presidency to a particular Nigerian tribe, will turn the supposed election into a selection.


Also, if the 1999 victory of Gen Obasanjo was really a result of a pan-Nigerian agreement to let the Yorubas produce a Nigerian President, the President with a Yoruba ancestry which Nigerians chose then, would not have so massively lost the election in Yorubaland. Majority of Nigerians who voted for Gen Obasanjo, only simply voted for the person the outgoing military establishment wanted to handover to. Nobody voted to appease or assuage the Yorubas for their unfair treatment over the June 12, 1993 Election annulment and failure to swear in Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

Nigeria which did not openly own up to any wrong done to Chief Abiola back then, could not have been appeasing any wronged Yorubas with any pan-Nigerian decision to cede the Presidency of the country to the Yorubas. Until Gen Buhari righted the wrong and formally changed the status of Chief Abiola to Winner of the 1993 Presidential Election, the official Nigerian government position, was that the Chief Abiola’s attempt to become Nigerian President was inconclusive. Nobody acknowledged that Chief Abiola was cheated or had been cheated as at 1999.

Additionally, if the 1999 victory also resulted from an agreement to put a Yoruba in power, Alh Abubakar Rimi and Dim Emeka Ojukwu among other non-Yorubas, would also not have contested against Gen Obasanjo in 2003, if the re-election Gen Obasanjo was seeking in 2003, was ever seen as that of “their Yoruba candidate” seeking re-election.

Also on the 2023 Election, asking the APC to somehow cede the Presidency to the South East, is akin to somebody working for Zenith Bank and asking for salary from UBA. This simply does not happen in real life and it does not happen too in Politics. The Igbos have never supported the APC in the last two General Elections in Nigeria.


They are still curiously as a group, today the most vociferous attackers of the APC federal government on the Social Media. No political Party worth its salt anywhere in the world, will zone its Presidential candidate to the zone where it has the least followership, simply because politics is a game of numbers. Political Parties worldwide, only reward loyalty, support and followership for the Party. No political Party of sane persons, will ever reward its critics and supporters of its opponents, with its crown.

Moreover, it is yet to be proven that even if the APC for example, zones its Presidential candidate’s slot to the South East, more South Easterners will still not vote for the opposition People’s Democratic Party where the bulk of their leading lights are. Among the Igbos, an Igbo Presidential candidate in the APC may not even command as much followership as to be as strong as an Igbo Vice Presidential candidate in the PDP, because the PDP parades a constellation of the most loved among leading politicians in Igbo land.


It is elementary too, that no politician voluntarily bears the pains for the mistake of another. Rather, politicians exploit the mistakes of their opponents. If the direction of 2015 Election was a difficult one to decipher for the Igbos, nobody but the Igbos must be ready to bear the fallout of the very bad, short-sighted politics they played in 2019, when they still roundly rejected the APC, knowing they may want to stake some interest in the Party’s Presidential ticket in 2023.

Finally and probably most importantly, nobody asks for the race, ethnicity or tribe of a Surgeon when one is needed for an emergency medical care. Nigeria today is seemingly in an intensive care unit today. This is not a time we can limit our search for the very best Nigerian for the job to the South East. Rather, even if a Nigerian with a Ghanaian mother, shows the most promise to reverse the decline of Nigeria, we must encourage such person to go into the Presidential contest along with Presidential candidates of the Igbos and Nigerians of any other ethnic ancestry.

Lennox Mall

This is of critical importance if we still want to have a Nigeria whose Presidency, Igbos can more easily win, without any concessions, in years to come, and possibly even in as short as four years, if a Soludo for example, performs as well or even better than Asiwaju Tinubu or Gov Fashola did in Lagos State a while back. For now, we simply must throw open the contest for the Presidency, if we want to be able to get the very best President Nigeria needs to survive and rebounce.

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