DIALECTICAL logicians and theosophical purists are cantankerously at variance on many subject matters, but in a form of antinomy, they tend to agree that good things come to those who wait and that mammoth largess is the portion of those who labour and strive hard. These two perspectives about the approach to success are correct, but they draw their discipleship based on the principles of the collectivity or the individual. Where stands the Igbo nation in the light of the next president after Jonathan or Buhari, given the Igbo many years of political servitude? Is it political pragmatism or “waiting on the Lord or Godot” that will give them the presidency?
Demographic statistical data in Nigeria shows that the Igbo people constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. They are economic, social and educational giants in their own right. Their spirit of mercantilism and commercial dexterity has made them universally ubiquitous. The Igbos in the Diaspora spread to parts of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. But at home in Nigeria the Igbo people are political midgets and administrative homunculus. The demoniacal political fire and vibrancy in them is stoked by economic demonolatry.
But for how long will this playing of political second fiddle continue? When will Igbo nation and the Ibo-man be able to take his political destiny in his/their own hands? When will the Igbo people wake up from their politically slumberous stupor? Do they feel impact of erosion and topographical menace in their land? So they cannot see the hands of neglect and marginalization in their lives. They cannot decipher the glaring prevalence of political cronyism and administrative ethnic cleansing in their so-called fatherland, which implies that an Ibo man is not competent to be the Nigerian President. When will their chains of commercialism wear away?
The English playwright William Shakespeare posited that, “the fault is not our stars, but in us that we are underlying’s” The fault is with the Igbo people themselves. Do they know that Alhaji Tafawa Balewa ruled Nigeria for six years, General Yakubu Gowon nine years, General Murtala Mohammend 6 months, Alhaji Shehu Shagari four years, Abiola’s Election disallowed, Ernest Shonekan three months, General Sanni Abacha five years, General Abdusalam Abubakar 1 year, General/President Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo in both military/civilian computation ruled Nigeria for over 11 years, Yar’Adua 2 years and President Ebele Jonathan six years so far. Where is the South-East or the Ibo man in this political algebra or are they counting the figurehead of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, General Aguiyi Ironsi and or Alex Ekwueme as political leaders? What a shame!
Since the institutionalization of the Lugardian albatross of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, the commencement of the Direct and Indirect Rule System in 1916 and the inception of the political engineering process through constitution making which manifested in the 1922 Sir Clifford’s constitution, the 1945 Richard’s constitution, the 1946 Milverton constitution, 1951 Alan Burns constitution, the 1952 McPherson’s constitution, 1954 Littleton’s constitution, 1960 independence constitution, 1963 republication constitution, the military-manipulated 1989 and 1999 constitution etc. the Igbo people have never been at the Centre stage of the political process in Nigeria.
The 1957 constitutional conference offered Nigerian Nationalists implicit opportunity to proffer a date for Nigeria’s independence and not regional autonomy. But whilst other ethnic groups were calling for a fragmented Nigeria, the Ibos stood firmly for a united strong and virile Nigeria.
In the Federal election of 1959 which was meant to usher in the political independence of Nigeria, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) won 148 seats, the National Council of Nigeria and Cameron (NCNC) and the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) won 89 seats, the Action Group (AG) and the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) won 75 seats. No party won majority votes. This led to grotesque coalition, political manipulations and weird alliances that culminated in Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, former Premier of Eastern Nigeria being sworn in as the first indigenous President of Nigeria under a Parliamentary system of government, which made him a non-executive figurehead President.
The long sought after independence finally came, but it turned out to be a “Barmecidal dish” as our leadership was steeple chasing in the tenebrous abyss of self-destruct because of their nepotistic and narcissistic propensities. The Nigerian nation (1960-1966) was wallowing in the labyrinths and crypts of unthinkable corruption, indecent opulence, ludicrous antics, ethno bigotry, Political farrago and social gallimaufry. The international community, Nigeria and nay the military institution was disturbed by the dubious machinations, the fundamental errors of judgment and the culpable omission of our leadership and our politicians. One thing led to the other giving rise to the putsch of Jan 15th, 1966 (OPERATION DAMISSA). In the resultant coup de tat, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Prime Minister of Nigeria Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief S L Akintola, Chief Okotie-Eboh (Omimi Ejoh) etc were assassinated.
Many political analysts saw the spate of killings to be skewed in favour of the East (Igbo) and called it an “Eastern Coup”. It will be recalled that politicians of Igbo extraction like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, and Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe etc. were not killed or assassinated in the coup and an Ibo, Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi took over as Head of State. These selective killings sent the wrong signals to the Northerners. This political scenario prepared the grounds for the July 27th 1966 counter coup that led to the death of Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi and many other soldiers and civilians of Igbo extraction in the North. The genocidal decimation of Easterners led to the call for all Easterners to come back home, setting the plinth for the Nigeria/Biafra Civil war (1967-1970). The Igbo nation and people were killed like flies and reduced to smithereens in the war.
When the war ended, the Nigeria government under General Yakubu Gowon initiated the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation Programme (3R’s). But till today the reconstruction, rehabilitation, reconciliation and complete re-integration of the Igbo people is yet to be fully implemented in Nigeria. Why did Igbo people decide to fight a war? If they fought a war to break the tentacles of oppression, why are they now politically docile, unassertive and acquiescent in the face of palpable neglect? Why are they selling their political birth right for a mess of porridge? Why are they not uniting to fight for the presidential seat they call their own, why are they not fighting to build trust amongst their own ranks and file? For how long will they continue to stab themselves in the back? Why are they their own worst enemy?
But we assert in unequivocal terms that any nation will continue to fail and flounder until it ends a system that fails to respect and encourage the various constituent nations in it to aspire to greater political heights. The Igbo nation needs to re-invent itself, it needs holistic reorientation and strategic repositioning. The Igbo people need political pragmatism to enable them take their authentic political position after the tenure of Ebele Jonathan or Buhari, which is producing the Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Specifically, it is their turn to produce the next President of Nigeria. It was a great disservice to the Igbo course and it is tantamount to pusillanimous tergiversation, political skullduggery, cowardice and judgmental fallacy for Igbo leaders to have called and supported the then Third Term Agenda and political escapades of the then President Obasanjo. Indeed, the Pan-Igbo socio-cultural and political organization the Ohaneze Ndigbo, their Governors, Legislators and Igbo leaders were consummately indictable.
In the Ahiara Declaration (The Principles of the Biafran Revolution) the General of the people’s army, Late Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu said, “Our disagreement with the Nigerian Government arose in part from a conflict between two diametrically opposed conception of the end and purpose of the modern African State. It was and still is, our firm conviction that a modern Negro African government worth the trust placed in it by the people, must build a progressive state that ensures the reign of social and economic justice and of the rule of law.” what a shame that the Igbo people cannot take their political destiny in their own hands. Ojukwu further posited “Our revolution is a historic opportunity given to us to establish a just society; to revive the dignity of our people at home and dignity of the black-man in the world”. But where lies the Ibo-man political dignity?
The Igbo self-induced political quandary and dilemma could be likened to that of the comrades of Ulysses in the cave of the Cyclops in the Greek mythology, Homer’s lliad and the Odyssey. They loved their slavish conditions and servitude like the Ibos love their political servitude in Nigeria. The Igbo people will continue to stew in the oubliette of political slavery in Nigeria because they cannot take the bull by the horn and drive it out of their political china shop. What a shame! They should however, note that, if they fail to produce the next President after Ebele Jonathan or Buhari, they will continue to dwell in the epicenter of political limbo in Nigeria, pure and simple. It was the same Igbo people that stabbed their own Alex Ekueme on the back during the PDP CONVENTION that led to Obasanjo’s victory. The people are politically mysterious and a bunch of ventriloquists. Their political idiosyncrasies defy classification and surgeonizotion.
The Igbo people should put on their thinking caps now. This is an unsolicited, thankless and gratuitous advice to the Igbo people. I am reluctantly compelled to say this not because the Igbo people do not know what is politically wrong with them, but because they lack the political will and matadorial élan to effect a holistic strategic repositioning of themselves within the political ambit of Nigeria. I further dare suggest that the Igbo nation should call for an Igbo National Confab to address the issue of an Ibo President after Ebele Jonathan or Buhari. We are aware of the existence of many Igbo corybantic political black legs, lily-livered conscience-mortgaging stooges and nihilistic revisionist. But Igbo people must move forward notwithstanding who ox is gored. We are not calling for a reenactment of the Biafra struggle or war, but we are identifying the basic truth that the Igbo people are making rubbish of the glorious revolution by not standing up for their rights. It is clear that all the problems that led to the Nigeria/Biafra civil war still exist in Nigeria today.
It was the Statesman; Barry Goldwater in accepting the presidential nomination, in July 16th 1964 said “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”. This was corroborated by John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” and further substantiated by Chairman Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976) “A revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner or writing an essay, or painting a picture. It is an insurrection an act of violence by which one class overthrows another”. But the revolution must start with the Igbos themselves. They must do a complete radical implosive surgeonisation on themselves so that they can see the political light in the dark tunnel. They have to evolve a new strategy for self-entrenchment into the polity based on political pragmatism. They will continue to be shackled in deprogressivism unless they do a 21st century Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of their political structures and their attitude problem. This is the ‘Devil’s Alternative’ for the Igbo people. All their vaunting in wealth, and material abundance will come to naught if they have no political power to back it up.
Finally, as we march with uncertainty towards the 2015 elections, let Igbo nation come to the realization that it is their place, destiny and time to present an Executive President for Nigeria after Ebele Jonathan or Buhari. No other agenda is worthy of pursuit. They should get together and present only one Ibo candidate for the presidential election after Ebele Jonathan or Buhari and let every Ibo man stand by that candidate and I know and believe many other Nigerians will stand with the Igbo candidate. The English Playwright William Shakespeare posits that “there is tide in the affairs of man, which when taken at the floods leads on to fortune, omitted, all the voyages in their lives are bound in tempestuous waves”. A Chinese sage said, “It is the friends and relatives of the madman that are ashamed of him. He is never ashamed of himself”. But l am ashamed of the Igbo man’s political attitude. I pray they make me proud in the years ahead. Let them not allow the bait of creation of more states in the South-East overwhelm their political position. Let APGA, OHANEZE-NDIGBO, MASSOB, IGBO YOUTH CONGRESS, IGBO ELDERS AND ALL INTEREST GROUPS speak with one voice and stand in a political Indian file for the Igbo course. It is the Igbo’s turn to produce the President after Ebele Jonathan or Buhari.