By Rasheed Abolade
All efforts by men of vision and foresight to dissuade Igbos from falling into the traps of political miscalculation and making valid judgments based on research overwhelming facts on the personalities involved in the presidential and National Assembly elections proved abortive.
The popular sayings that “he who points a finger to another person has the remaining nine pointed at him” typically captures the case of the Ndigbos in Nigeria today.
The likes of Governor Rochas Okorocha, Chief Ogbonaya Onu, Chris Ngige and other few Igbos warn the kinsmen not to put all their eggs in one basket but all these warnings seemed irrelevant to them.
Instead of aligning themselves with and heeding the calls of these great men, they rather rebuke them and accuse them of betrayal of the Igbo agenda by associating themselves with the Northerners or what they initially called the Yoruba party, (referring to the All Progressives Congress, APC).
The anti-Hausa-Fulani and anti-Yoruba sentiments were taken rather too far as the (Igbos) forgot their own traditional party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), all because they wanted Jonathan by every means. This was done not necessarily because Jonathan is an Igbo man (which of course is not) but because they loathe the emergence a Hausa-Fulani man of a Northern extraction. The voting pattern therefore reflects a vote against General Muhammadu Buhari more than a vote for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Consequently, either by people’s will or by political gerrymandering, all the available senatorial seats and House of Representatives positions were clinched by the now minority party (the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP), leaving neither the APC nor the APGA with a single seat. The implication of this is that the opposition/minority groups in both legislative chambers will predominantly be constituted by men of Igbo extraction and those from the Niger Delta region. It is hoped that they will provide a robust opposition in the overall interest of Nigeria.
Some of the realities our Eastern Brothers and Sisters would have to grapple with are that, unlike in the Jonathan administration, not only would they not have prominent executive presence they may also found themselves playing second fiddle in the legislative quarters. Indeed!
Man is the architect of his future and a product his decisions. Without necessarily assuming that any region would be marginalized, the booties of governance at the federal level after the ‘Battle for Change’ have been fought and won as it would necessarily be much felt by the West, Middle-Belt and the North. They ultimately will have to face the consequence of putting all their eggs in a basket. While the old Mid-Western Region/Bendel struggles to produce a Senator, the entire old Eastern Region has none.
The Igbos therefore inevitably need to change their political way of life. They must purge themselves of the over-bloated religious sentiment and ethnic bigotry before it wrecks irreparable damage on them. Shortly after the results of Presidential and National Assembly results were declared, the detribalized Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha advised his kinsmen thus: “Selfishness and lack of vision have kept Ndigbo in the back seat of the nation’s politics, despite their contributions to the overall development of the country.”
Okorocha added: “It is very painful for the Igbo to lose the position of the Senate President after being denied any leading position in the country for a long time because our political leaders and office holders used their positions to rig out APC candidates in the election.
“There was no election in the entire Southeast on the 28th of March. The PDP leaders with the aid of the military and INEC officials intimidated and harassed our people and thereafter wrote the results in their homes. I assure you that all hope is not lost because we are going to recover our stolen mandate.
“We saw it coming and we told the political leaders why Ndigbo should embrace the APC but they could not believe us but today the story has changed and the PDP they have been following all these years with nothing to show for it’s now an opposition party.”
Without doubt, South Eastern region politicians urgently need a serious and deep ideological re-orientation. They and their apologists refused to keep behind them the bitter memories of 1966 counter coup and allow to hunt them, the memoirs of the civil war that followed suit. They will not forgive the Northern elites for waging a war against them and refusing them to have Biafra. They also hold grudges of betrayal against the Yorubas of the West for daring to stay with the Nigerian nation and refusing to support the secessionists’ idea.
Yet, the Igbo businessmen boast of almost total control of markets like Alaba, Ladipo and Oshodi, some of the most commercially important markets in the Yorubas’ city of Lagos. It is however amazing that the Igbos could easily forget and forgive their age-long rival and enemy, the closest neighbour- the Niger Delta- that never cooperated with them politically. They put behind them the greatest betrayal of the Niger Deltans in the pre, during and post-civil war era. Had the Niger be on the same page, the dream of Biafra could probably have become a reality.
My heart goes out to the Igbos for giving their all and sacrificing their political future for an Ijaw man who did not carry out any significant project in the East during his six years stay in office.
Now, against all odds, the reality is that the next Nigerian President is a Hausa-Fulani man and the Vice-President a Yoruba man. The Senate President seat that would have gone to the likes of Chris Ngige has virtually been forfeited by quackery political moves. Except the unexpected happens, however deep our love is and no matter the good wishes Nigerians for their Igbo brethren, this opportunity may likely to go back to the North Central. Beyond this, the posts of Deputy Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Chief Whip and all other sensitive positions in the National Assembly may elude the Easterners with the way the present political equation is constituted.
The Igbo leaders must therefore, as a matter of necessity review their political motive, if there is any; ask themselves salient questions and decide whether the politics of ‘Wherever Pepper Rests’ or ‘Any Government in Power’ is still relevant in this dispensation.
This indeed is a big message which the Igbos would have to cope with for the next four years. It is hoped that the essential lessons would be learnt and necessary political realignments made for a better political future.
God bless Nigeria.
Rasheed Abolade writes from Lagos.