By Robert Madu
When on 16th December 2021, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu wrote to the leadership and stakeholders of All Progressive Congress (APC) and requested a shift in the party’s convention date earlier scheduled to take place in February, citing barrage of anomalies and wrangling within the party, he received overwhelming criticisms. Kalu’s contention was that the party must put its house in order prior to hosting a successful convention.Happily, the party’s leadership and other wise men of the party including the progressive governors have embraced Orji Uzo Kalu’s idea by placing the sustainability of the party above sectional and personal ambition. APC has re-scheduled the convention to give time for procedural corrections to strengthen internal democracy. With this entrenched sustainability, APC can bet to be the ruling party for a very long time.
But in the strategic process of deciding to re-schedule convention, the leadership invariably worked hard to cohesively move the party ahead by addressing the longstanding issue of power shift to the south. So, the recent meeting of party leadership and the progressive governors that culminated in decisions on re-scheduling the convention and a shift of the presidency to the south puts the party on the spotlight as Nigerians and the international community monitor the transition of power and post Buhari presidency.
While Nigeria’s future remains uncertain, some political pundits such as Dr. Maduka Okoro predict that among other presidential aspirants, Orji Uzor Kalu has the capacity to improve on President Buhari’s record. Okoro cites Senator Orji’s record in administration, governance, business development, and dynamic centrist national politics.
Besides, APC leadership must be praised for being the first political party in the country to move beyond rhetoric to reality on the vexed issue of zoning formula in the 2023 election circle. That said, the party leadership and progressive governors can somewhat close a historic gap by looking deeper into the Southern Hemisphere with overriding sense of balance and equity to zoning the presidency to a Southern region that never had it through its consensus building capacity.
On the flipside, PDP pioneered by men and women of Southeast of Nigeria and some liberals from the North once zoned the presidency to the South, but the Igbos ultimately lost the opportunity because the ruling power network decided to compensate the Southwest as part of efforts to calm frayed nerves following the post June 12, 1993 political crises. For example, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu was inches away from grabbing the party ticket, but the same power brokers compelled APP to give the ticket to a Yoruba man and that was it. Both the earth, the moon, and sun agree that this is the time for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Senator Orji Uzor Kalu could be a bridge through which Southeast could be re-integrated into the main stream of Nigerian life.
Overall, it is reasonable to say that micro zoning the presidency to Southeast could be the main frame through which genuine national reconciliation on numerous national issues could be achieved especially as it got to do with the healing of the wounds of the past.
Dr. Robert Madu teaches at Department of Mass Communications, Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu Nigeria.