Chief (Mrs) Calista Nkiru Adimachukwu (Mmilioma), National Women Leader, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, speaks on the regret, gains and expectations of Ndigbo from the president-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Many Igbos are disappointed that President Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential election. What is your perspective?
The Igbos are the highest contributors to Nigerian independence compared to other regions. It is sad to note that since independence in 1960, other regions have countered Igbo objectives. The Igbos have not been given the opportunity to taste solid leadership in Nigeria. Even after Nigeria got independence, Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo, was made a ceremonial president whereas his NCNC and Awolowo’s AG were capable of forming a solid government and producing the Prime Minister. But Azikiwe sacrificed that for the peaceful existence and unity of Nigeria. Although Azikiwe had support from Awolowo, he reasoned that if the West and East teamed up against the North to form a government, the nation may lose its equilibrium as the North might feel short changed. Therefore, Azikiwe sacrificed that chance for the unity of Nigeria.
In fact, Igbos do not even want to talk about the circumstances surrounding the death of Major Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi. Even in the Fourth Republic, Dr Alex Ekwueme contributed immensely to the formation of the PDP, thinking that probably the Igbos might get the chance to control the central government. The Igbos hoped that Ekwueme would be made the presidential candidate of PDP, but there was gang up by the military against the Igbos, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the presidential candidate of PDP. Obasanjo’s candidacy was the continuation of the defeat of the Igbos because the northern oligarchy never wanted an Igbo man to be the president of Nigeria. Even before that episode, the Igbos voted for Chief M.K.O Abiola, but when it came to the time when an Igbo person needs votes from the West and the North both in primaries and main elections, the Igbos are usually disappointed. The Igbos have sacrificed a lot for the political development of Nigeria even to the extent of supporting a northerner in the Second Republic and also gave Sir. Tafawa Belewa support to be Prime Minister in the First Republic. The Igbos have been disappointed time without number whenever they needed support from other regions. This is one of the reasons the Igbos want the Federal Government to implement reports of the 2014 National Conference in order to end the issue of junior and senior partners in the Nigerian project and also to check-mate any gang-up against the Igbos now and in the future.
There is no doubt that the Igbos are disappointed because President Goodluck Jonathan lost the election. This is because the Igbos believed that since he was the one that instituted the National Confab in and received the report, he would have been in a better position to implement it. Again, the President has shown the Igbos that he has their interest at heart. Because of him, the Igbos now have international airport and other developmental projects in the region. I believe that he could have done more if he won in 2015 election. There are also other projects in the South East which he started that are still unsung. The Igbos have no regrets voting for President Goodluck Jonathan and will do the same again if the need arises. Notably, in the 2011 presidential election, similar thing happen where the North East and North West voted massively for Gen Buhari, and he lost in that election. However, those who voted for him then had no regret. They repeated the same feat in 2015 and he won. The president did a lot to ensure that the 2015 elections went well without violence. He should however be commended for his efforts in the 2015 elections.
All said and done, the Igbos will continue to hope that their contributions to national development will be remembered by all.
Do Igbos have any regret?
Yes, the Igbos have three regrets. The first is the non-implementation of the Aburi Accord. The second is that the Igbos have not gotten any meaningful gain after their foremost contributions to Nigeria’s independence. The third regret is that the East and West delayed Nigeria’s independence for the North to meet up with the pace of independence. It was because of this that Whitehall imposed federalism on Nigeria. Sadly, our sacrifice is not appreciated.
Read Full Interview on Sunday Vanguard
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Featured image: Calista Nkiru Adimachukwu