Owerri, the Imo state capital will be agog for Buhari on Thursday and Friday as the President make his first visit to the South East since the 2019 election.
The official visit was revealed by Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma recently at the Sam Mbakwe Airport.
But as the President visits, he and his handlers are not ignorant of the sentiment against him in the region. He is aware that he is not that popular in the South East compared to the North and South West. His low popularity and acceptance in Igbo land are underlined by his low vote from that region in all past elections.
But one evident thing is that Buhari is eager to rewrite the narrative and make Igbo fall in love with him more. This is evident in how much his party has lobbied and strategised to make any inroads into the region.
However, his visit to Imo presents a golden opportunity for Buhari to change the mindset and convince Igbos about his love for the region. In this article, I will highlight three key things the President can do in Owerri to boost his acceptance and support base among Ndigbos.
Create massive publicity and advertisement around his achievements in the region in the last six years
Like they say, doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark, you know what you are doing, but the girl doesn’t. The President must take this analogy to heart on Thursday because many Igbo are not aware of his achievements in the South East that is why the stereotype against him persists.
The President should deliberately and elaborately highlight and talk about his achievements in the region. The President can take advantage of the massive media coverage of the visit to publicise his accomplishments and policies in favour of the Igbos. When people are aware of what he has done, they are likely to have second thoughts about his person and politics.
Talk about how he has appointed many Igbo sons and daughters into strategic positions in his government
The president has been accused of political marginalisation. Yet there are a lot of Igbo sons and daughters occupying top positions in the administration. Buhari should seize the opportunity of the visit to talk about it. Name name, quote statistics to support his claims. This could help to soften the hearts of some of those who don’t like him.
Buhari has committed to complete the second Niger Bridge in 2022(Photo Credit: Businessday)
Declare openly what he plans to do for the region before the end of his administration
He should talk extensively about what he plans to accomplish for Ndigbos before he leaves office in May 2023. For example, he should emphasize his determination to complete the second Niger bridge and how that will transform the socio-economic landscape in Igbo land.
I am persuaded that if the President does all these, Ndigbos will begin to reconsider their negative impression of him. And this could help attract new federal projects to the region
Do you think these strategies can make Igbos love Buhari? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. While you are at it, also like and share the story so that others can comment too.