It is a common logic that when a people of common origin and ancestral history come together under one umbrella, they have almost everything at their disposal to do and undo. With their influence, they can do exceedingly and hypnotize even their enemies to their own camp. Nevertheless, when the reverse is the case, what you get is a direct opposite—a feeling of betrayal, of being excluded in the scheme of things and at its height, a feeling of subjugation and marginalization. Such a people end up becoming vassals to those who understand the ostentatious value of the word “Unity” and how indispensable a tool it is in the game of politics, the level of their civilization notwithstanding.
Without any equivocation, the entire Igbo race fits perfectly into the latter group described above. My father will always refer to a man who has so many sons but yet hasn’t an outstanding one among them as Odi Ukwu enwe Nnekwu which means, “having large numbers but without a superior”. Also, Ndigbo by their acts and inactions have shown since after the war that they are a prototype of a people who despite their huge number and influence, their wealth, their ingenuity name them, but yet have failed to single out a person who they look up to as the face of Ndigbo. Don’t tell me a thing about the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike.
Whether they are consciously or unconsciously acting in line with the age-long axiom which says: “Igbo enwe eze” (that Igbo’s have no kings) or not, somebody may want to tell me. The average Igbo man sees himself as a king in his own compound/house and doesn’t seem to care about what happens in the clan generally. Whether they do, or do not, it is only but a matter of time before they are written off in the poli (tricks) of this country if they/we refuse to change the status quo. Pardon my pessimism.
Except for the days when the Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was still alive, the entire descendants of ‘Nri’ as myths and legend will have us belief, have never again laid claims to a single political figure that will be their voice and mouthpiece unlike the Yoruba’s and Hausa Fulani’s west and North of the divide respectively. For the average Igbo man, he does not care. He is more engrossed and ensconced in his container on the high sea, his customers coming all the way from Chad or Niger Republic to do business than he is in the politics of the South East. He fails to understand that the number of sales he makes cannot correct the decrepit state of the East-West road or lead to the flagging off a second Niger bride or perhaps an international Airport in Anambra state and many other dividends of governance lacking in the region today. He prefers to board an airplane and land on another man’s land and then board a bus back to his country-home on roads which are hardly motorable. A conflation of the foregoing and many more, leaves people like me wondering where the so-called intelligence the Igbo man is adjudged to have, lies? Does the weakness of the Igbo race lie in their strength? Here am I wondering, looking up to the heavens to reveal that.
That Ndigbo has or have been “denied” a chance at the plum job of the presidency, is no index of how the region has been marginalized as is been pedaled among some feeble and gullible minds who have no time to sift between what they conceive and what they do away with. The only time the region came close to securing that pristine position, was way back in 1979 during the Shagari era which saw Dr. Alex Ekwueme as the vice president and since then, we have only wandered like itinerants on the corridors of power (the same way the Fulani herdsmen scamper for greener pastures with their cattle’s) without going any close to where the seat lies and without any prospects of doing so at least not in time soon.
It is true that we are a nation (even though the artificial lattice used in bounding us together, continues to wear out at the pass of each day) and such should not concern ourselves with where the president comes from but should rather be concerned with electing a leader who will rule us in the manner true leaders do but it is also rational that for a region which constitute the Big three and whose blood some people say has been used as the sacrifice to keep Nigeria one, ought to have produced a president since after the six months reign of Major General JTU Aguiyi Ironsi in the dark years of military rule but the converse has been the case. Ndigbo has indirectly denied themselves accession to the seat of power and have chosen to become vassals and minions to those who thought better than they had done despite their supposed intelligence. What shame!
The five SouthEastern governors as far as I know have failed to establish little or no synergy among themselves as opposed to the unity and level of cooperation that thrive in the south western states where the Asiwaju of Yoruba Land, Chief Bola Tinubu is seen as some sort of a demi-god in the eyes of the technocrats and also the electorates as opposed to the Ngige’s, the Nnamani’s, the Nzeribes and Orji Uzor Kalu’s who have ‘ignorantly’ continued to treat the symptoms, forgetting about the remote causes of Ndigbo’s continuous exemption in the scheme of things at the center. It is not surprising that today the defunct ACN has wrestled the former PDP states and won them over to the newly formed APC even before the merger and has today, made the South-West to be a tough contender for the presidency and a thorn in the flesh of the ruling PDP. That is what unity does and that is what the south eastern states lack and that is unfortunately why the presidency may still be beyond our reach for a long time except by the twist of providence, until we go back to the drawing board and chart out a new course.
Is it so difficult for the southeastern politicians to form a force that must be reckoned with? The late ezeigbo gbururu, left a legacy behind by forming a political party that will be the ticket of Ndigbo and the wagon with which they will pull resources together and ride to the presidency in time to come but ever since the death of the iconic leader, things have continued to fall apart and the center refusing to hold. Vintage Ndigbo.
Only a few weeks ago, the internal strife in APGA was settled between the Umeh led faction and the Maxi Okwu led splinter group, but just few days into the euphoria of that victory, Governor Rochas Okorocha, defected to the newly formed progressives and sticks out his chest to say, he has no regret. Of course he may have no regret since we are experimenting a democracy where liberty is the cardinal principle but then that is what happens when a people fail to grid their loins and put their house in order. APGA no doubt failed to do what it ought to have been doing and indirectly gave Rochas the leeway to defect to the merger party without an official intimation to his former party not even at the risk of being almost a ‘nobody’ in his new party. That is what disunity can do and let me be quoted anywhere that except for Peter Obi’s respect for the late Igbo Leader, he would have today, defected to the PDP. Thank God people like him still have human conscience.
In the last couple of years, the PDP dominated the south western states save Lagos state not until in recent past that we saw an almost ‘unopposed’ Bola Tinubu bit by bit, reclaiming the states back into the broom sweeping ACN and this no doubt, drew the merger parties CPC and ANPP into that merger vision with the ACN that has now become a reality—that is what unity does in politics. It makes a people conspicuous and thus, woos people from without, within. People from the outside are lured within by the unity/synergy set in motion and are most likely to be forced into joining forces with you. Me thinks, that’s what played out in the defunct ACN that has today metamorphosed into the APC and the very fact that the merger group retained the logo of the ACN, speaks volume of how much influence the Yoruba caucus of the party has, and when they present a Hausa/Yoruba candidate for the presidency, you can only imagine how much votes they will pull in a free and fair election, not the type Mugabe’s Zimbabwe just came out from.
My grouse is: why couldn’t the southeastern governors replicate same in the southeast? Why couldn’t Obi/Rochas pull their resources together to win over Elechi’s Ebonyi state, Theodore Orji’s Abia state and Sullivan’s Enugu state and possibly some south-south states just in the way the ACN won over Oshiomole’s Edo state to their side. But where is the unity to broker that deal? It is even worse among the electorates who have divided interest with their votes. The novel truth is: had APGA won over the south eastern states, they could have possibly joined the newly formed progressives and the south east will be assured of producing a presidential candidate of Igbo extraction in a rotational or zonal presidency which the APC are bound to be guided by to ensure smooth internal democracy.
Today, the south west no doubt has gotten their voice in the political debate of this country and is getting better than they were yesterday bit by bit. Who knows, it’s only a matter of time before they lay claims to the presidency once more. Where is the south east? We still don’t know where the rain began to beat us neither are we going to know where and when the rain will stop beating us. My greatest fear is: once the GEJ days are over in the PDP, the north will reclaim the topmost job there. The votes of the south east will only be used as a consolidation and I don’t see the PDP presenting a south easternern anytime soon as its presidential candidate or even as a vice-president hopeful and I hope I am not expected to explain why. This ‘disunity’ on the part of Igbo politicians I repeat, continues to be the albatross to their political aspirations and not any marginalization been pedaled across borders. Nobody is marginalizing anybody here; if anything, we have surpassed that stage. Igbo’s, must come together, form a front and be a force that must be reckoned with and only then, will she be taken serious for the seat at Aso Rock Villa.
If we must be taken serious and not to be seen as a people whose votes are/is used as a means to gratify the selfish end of others, we must come together to form a regional alliance at the state executive level, and be able to replicate same at the state and National assembly’s as only thence will we be getting our eyes fixated on the presidency. It takes beyond being captains of industries and building business empires both far and near. Success in the public domain is not and can never be enough compensation for failure at home.
Bertolt Brecht, German doctor, poet and philosopher was right when he said, “the worst illiterate is the political illiterate because he does not seem to know that the price of beans or flour and other dividends of governance depend on his active or passive interest or participation in politics”. Ndigbo must not fit into that equation. Ala Igbo ga’adi nma. (Igbo land will be better).
The writer is on twitter as @yung_silky