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Why The Igbos Can't Win Presidential Elections



There have been intense political posturing, permutations and fireworks, especially as the eight-year tenure of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), who is from the North-West, winds down.

However, the clamour for an Igbo president has since resonated with some Nigerians 18 months before the general elections, especially as the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has been consistent in its demand for an Igbo president in 2023.

As the battle for who succeeds President Buhari in 2023 thickens, the popularity of former Governor Peter Obi has continued to grow sporadically across all the social media and tabloids. It will not be a debate that the Labour Party presidential candidate will cling to landslide victory if elections were held via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Peter Obi has become as popular as any top celebrity in the social and political space. But just as stated in the last publication, the odds against him lie in the reality of widening political structure which is determined by regional popularity and electoral values that are determined by the numbers.

This is not about Peter Obi alone. Beyond his growing reputation, he also suffers from the inequality of regional population strength that any Igbo candidate has ever encountered in our central politics. While the Obidients followers are making all the needed noise on social media, the numbers on the INEC papers show that Peter Obi can only win 3 states clearly out of the 36 states including Abuja. This is by reason of zonal and regional networks.

This problem is not peculiar to the South-East, but also to the south-south. There are 5 states in the South-East with a total voting power of 10,057,130 registered voters. An Igbo political analyst who corroborated this shortcoming added that close to half of the 10 million voters are already scattered abroad, and some are in Lagos. The few who are in the state are also divided because of the egalitarian nature of the Igbos.

“In the end, each state will not get up to a million votes each”, he added. This means the Igbos will always be at the mercy of the South-West and the north to clinch any significant post. Rather than form a strong unified force bloc, the few cross-sections of the influential ones usually pitch their tent with other regions based on personal interest and as a result dividing the bloc further.

Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, for instance, is not backing his kinsman, Peter Obi based on both personal and party interests. The presidential candidacy of Atiku has further divided the South-South movement by getting Okowa to his side as a running mate.

Votes from all the states of the South-East cannot match that of the North. It will shock you to discover that just three states from the north will equate and underscore the whole of the votes from the six states even if all the votes are cast for Peter Obi. Kaduna has 3,932,492 voters, Kano has 5,457,747 voters and Katsina has 3,230,230 voters. The three states alone have 12,620,469 voters. They will even have an excess of 2,563,339 voters against the South-East.

This explains the danger in polarizing the candidacy of Peter Obi along the ethnic line as his social media warriors are currently doing.

Despite the disadvantaged limitation of the Igbo population, the Igbo people have continued to dominate in many areas ahead of other tribes. Some pro-Igbo analysts are also of the opinion that the rest of Nigeria does not want the Igbo to lead based on their tendency to dominate. This is not a new narrative.

It has been argued that at every historical junction, the Igbos have made or attempted moves that have suggested domineering motive and tendency. Former Minister for Aviation, Femi Fani Kayode once recounted how the Igbos in the 50s and 60s put up a separatist attitude when their move to dominate the other regions met a brick wall. 

He recalled that it is the attitude of the Igbos in the 30s and 40s that alienated the Yoruba from them, thereby causing the Yoruba to establish the long-standing political movement called the Afenifere, which was at the time known as the Action Group., and resulted in the narrow defeat of Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe in the western regional elections in 1951. Fani Kayode insisted that it was the Igbos who introduced tribalism into Southern politics with the comment of Charles Dadi Onyeama who was a member of the Central Legislative Council and was quoted to have said that the domination of Nigeria and Africa by the Igbos is only a matter of time.

Some commentators have also argued that the “Igbo problem” was created by the Igbo themselves – that it is an injury that Igbos inflicted on themselves by staging the first coup d’├ętat in 1966 and then trying to secede from the federation, leading the country to wage war against them. They believe this is why the best an Igbo has ever gotten once in 56 years was a vice president, which was, of course, about 40 years ago.

Dr Doyin Okupe, who is currently the running mate to Peter Obi also hinted that as far as the 2023 general election is concerned, the North has not forgiven Igbo for Ahmadu Bello’s death and as such, the Igbo will find it difficult to be president in Nigeria.

“It has laid bare all the deceits, pretences and shenanigans being played out to hoodwink the Igbo on the issue of Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction while covering the truth”, he said.

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