An Igbo President: Is Marketing This Concept a Waste of Time?(1)

An Igbo PresidentI am using this as a platform to express my position on the place of marketing, in the light of propagating the clamour for adopting a concept that makes for the emergence of “An Igbo President” for Nigeria come the next opportunity of electing someone into this position. Attending to the subject here stemmed from various encounters I had recently, with both proponents and those who opposed the idea, coupled with emails, all ‘feeling my pulse’ on the relevance of applying components of marketing to facilitate acceptance of this concept by a generality of Nigerians.

I urge for readers’ fortitude as my position about this subject follows only after a critical consideration of vital issues which help in shaping the ‘marketability’ of this concept. It is in consonance with clarification of obvious factors that would make for readers’ easy identification of restraints to its feasibility or otherwise. Indeed, I hesitate to be a ‘hard nosed’ judge on this sensitive issue. Going through the entire submission here will no doubt portray my leaning on the subject, which is purely based on professional (and not political) appraisal.

This is a four part article, endeavour to read part one, part two, part three, i part four

The issue of having the next President of Nigeria emerging through candidature of a Nigerian who MUST be of Igbo ethnic origin seems to be gaining grounds as the next presidential election, hopefully in 2015, draws near. This is in line with the old saying that, “You don’t start training a dog on the day you want to use it for hunting”, hence the feeling presently to ‘drum up’ the subject. While I ponder how this plays out in the light of the perception of several other ethnic groups in the country, and maybe likely notion of being ‘cowed’, hopefully adoption of this concept may usher in a ‘Nigerian style’ democracy, expunging the tenet of free choice that goes with what democracy is all about.

From a marketing perspective, this ‘self composed’ definition of marketing – “All that should be needed to favourably make product or service available to the end-user” – is quite relevant when consideration is given to how applicable the principles of marketing can be infused into propagating this idea of the next president of Nigeria being an Igbo person. The ‘end-user’ in this regard is the Nigerian. Going by what obtains in product development, if the concept of “an Igbo president for Nigeria” is viewed as ‘Product’ and Nigerians comprising the ‘Consumers’, it is difficult to align the appropriate definition of product to this subject. Product is well acclaimed to be, “Every want-satisfying attribute a consumer receives in making an exchange, including any offering that can satisfy a need or want”Offering here is exemplified by goods, services, experiences, events, persons, places, properties, organisations, information, and of course concepts as applicable to this topic.

For effectiveness and clarity, one’s reasoning in this submission has been highlighted by way of sub-headings, which favour easier evaluation of how suitable this concept stands as an item that fits into the ‘mold’ of marketing. In this vein, the suitability of “An Igbo president”, as a concept for effective marketing, should be appraised from these viewpoints:

Rationalisation for an Igbo President

Proponents of an Igbo president as the next to be sworn into office, hopefully in 2015, hold firmly unto the justification that since the country’s independence in 1960 other major ethnic groups (as represented by the Hausa/Fulani and the Yoruba) have had quite a significant presence as the number one citizen of Nigeria while the Igbo (a third major ethnic group) seems to have been marginalized on this. That the Igbo seems to have been shot-changed, going by the fact that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwi (an Igbo who was at the forefront of the struggle for independence) only featured merely as a ceremonial president for three years (1963-1966), while Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa called the shots in government as prime minister during the same period. With the country’s first military coup in 1966, Major General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi (an Igbo and the commander of the army then) was thrown up by circumstances of this same military intervention in governance to hold sway as the head of a federal military government until his assassination in a countercoup six months after.

These advocates are reasoning that aside the period General Olusegun Obasanjo (a Yoruba) took charge as the country’s military head of state (1976-1979) all heads of Nigeria’s governments (inclusive of the short-lived second republic of Alhaji Shehu Shagari from 1979 per 1983) until the advent of democratic governance in 1999 were of northern extraction. According to them, the issue of having a president of Igbo extraction for Nigeria has become more significant since 1999 when the current civil dispensation took root. In their words, the second coming and two terms as president of Obasanjo (1999-2007); the brief and illness shaped tenure of his successor, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-2010); and the advent of the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (of Ijaw ethnic minority group) since 2010, all portray a confirmation of an impression within the same quarters that since after the civil war (in 1970) the Igbo have not been forgiven as they are yet to be completely assimilated into the country’s mainstream.

To diffuse such notion, these agitators believe that it should be a matter of right for the Igbo or “Ndigbo” to insist on taking their turn in occupying the position of president of Nigeria, as other major ethnic groups have done since independence – 38 years for those of northern extraction and 11 years for Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba. These are of the view, and maybe rightly so, that what is good for the goose must remain unchanged for the gander.

Constraints from Disunity

Just as obtainable in commercial marketing, the make up of a product is better projected as an entity. With the obvious exhibition of disunity among “Ndigbo” over what this concept portends, grounds for any positive outcome seem wobbly.
(Continuarà. Read the second part here: www.iroy.in/nigeria-2015-election)

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