By Emeka Obasi
Those of us who believe in the Igbo project within a wider concept know that there cannot be any headway without consultations. Politics is not for Monks. Saints who understand the game work assiduously to win as many souls as possible. There is more to power than youthful exuberance.
The Ohaneze Ndigbo as presently constituted and ably headed by Dr. Nnia Nwoko should be the voice of the Igbo henceforth. There is enough room in Nigeria for everyone. What should occupy the minds of those who understand politics is how to work with the other ethnic nationalities to restructure the country.
I must tell Ndigbo the truth. Time has come for them to wake up and face the struggle for power in Nigeria. Those who think exiting this country will take them to paradise do not understand the movement of History. They do not have to remind anyone that all that the Igbo lost as result of the Civil war made the other parts richer.
There is no doubt that Nigeria has come to be seen as a fraud formulated by the Imperialists and manipulated presently by vultures wearing different ethnic masks. The diversity of the fraudsters who have hypnotised their countrymen is only seen by the gullible majority who have failed to realise that the Hausa-Fulani is in league with the Yoruba and dines with the Igbo. They all invite the minority cronies to perpetuate their grip on power.
It will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an Igbo to rule this country in 2019. This is the bitter truth.
That miracle may not come before 2019. If the Igbo so believe in God, Obasi di nelu, let them continue to fast and pray. After all, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan did not dream of becoming President of Nigeria. There could be a politically correct solution to the plight of the Igbo under the present dispensation. The word is change in the form of restructuring.
There is every reason to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing the Igbo back to life. Someday, history will crown him as Enyi Ndigbo( Friend of the Igbo ). He showed them that there is a great deal of difference between 95 percent and five percent. No diplomacy about it all.
When Dr Alex Ekwueme was thrown away for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1998, Ndigbo did not get the message. When the latter played one South-East Senate President against the other, it did not sound strange. In fact, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo so loved the position that he began to dance to OBJ’s agidigbo.
Chief Adolph Wabara thought he had it all when Obasanjo relayed his childhood railways story. The Senator speaks undiluted Yoruba and was even fed by the Balogun of Owu. Cake is sweet but the one Wabara ate purged him. Thank God he was not diagnosed. It was poison from the Villa, the Senate President was treated worse than a village chief and sent back to Ohambele, empty handed.
President Umaru Yar’Adua was not bothered when the Nigerian tripod was broken. An Hausa-Fulani President, an Ijaw Deputy, Middle Belt Senate President and Yoruba Speaker of the House. The Igbo were sentenced to the Boys Quarters. They could not even serve tea by Chief Emeka Ojukwu’s standard. Second to Oga at the top in the National Assembly was their lot.
Jonathan was a bigger disaster in terms of Igbo relevance. They eventually began to serve tea and manage the economy. Choice ministries were allocated to them. And General Azubuike Ihejirika became the first Igbo Army Chief in almost 60 years. Ndigbo served Goodluck so well that his departure brought them bad luck. And they gained nothing as a people for all their support.
Buhari came and did not play pranks. A very straightforward gentleman, he began to punch the Igbo left, right and centre. There was no tea to even serve. The economy went to blazes. Many thought it was a dream. The lone Igbo State that voted massively for the President’s party was so debased with a junior ministerial appointment that Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha, looked like he sent his in-law to Sambisa, or better still, Siberia.
Failure they say, is the back door to success. Having failed to progress politically since the return of democracy in 1999 and unable to even speak with one powerful voice like the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo must put on their thinking cap. Dr. Nwodo must realise that he is not only leading a social cultural organisation. Ohaneze must assume the role of an advisory body.
We have had enough of outbursts from the younger ones. They are full of emotional energy which is not enough to play politics. Thugs are not meant to be leaders. There are polished and celebrated men and women from Asaba to Opobo whose contributions can leave the world smelling sweeter. And they are of Igbo background.
The next move now is to play politics the way it should be played. Ndigbo cannot go it all alone. They need the other groups that make up Nigeria. That is why they must caution against the hate speeches and cyber attacks. They must stoop to conquer. I am sure these younger ones have heard that Obasanjo had to stoop to be returned as President in 2003. Those who thought he was a coward later realised they had sold their joker to a powerful man.
It should bother Ndigbo that in the Second Republic, they were the Bride and Beauty of Nigerian politics. And that was less than a decade after the War. Dr. Ekwueme was Vice President, Chief Edwin Umezuoke became Speaker, House of Representatives. Prior to the elections, all the political parties except Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) had Igbo running mates. Chief Philip Umeadi, Dr. Ben Nzeribe and Sam Ikoku.
In 2017, 50 years after the crisis, Ndigbo are like the beast of Nigerian politics. They have nothing to celebrate under the Buhari administration. It will not be out of place to say that there is no Igbo man in Aso Villa. The few that go there are escorted like prisoners changing location or slaves going to see their master.
This is an ethnic nationality that produced the First President of Sierra Leone and that country’s last Governor General, Christopher Okoro Cole and the fifth President of Liberia, Edward James Roye. The current President of Gabon has Igbo blood in his veins. The first President of Nigeria as well as the country’s first military leader were Igbo. The first three Senate Presidents : Dr’s Azikiwe, Dennis Osadebay, Akweke Nwafor Orizu came from Igbo land just like the First Speaker of of the House of Representatives, Dr. Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu.
You cannot fault the list of Firsts. James Nwoye Adichie, Chimamanda’s father, first Professor of Statistics. Laz Nnanyelu Ekwueme, First Professor of Music. Jerome Oputa Udoji, first African District Officer (D.O.). Nnodum Okongwu, first PhD. holder. Keneth Onwuka Dike, first Vice Chancellor. Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, first African to command United Nations troops. Julius Onuorah Onah, first Professor of Marketing. O.Z. Chiazor, first African officer of the Canadian Navy. Tim Onwuatuegwu, first Nigerian Junior Under Officer, Sandhurst. J.T. Ogbolue, first indigenous police officer. Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna, first Commonwealth gold winner. Immaculeta Chioma Ajunwa, first Olympic gold medallist.
The first female judge in the Solomon Islands is Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako. While Aso Villa was built by foreigners, Frank Mbanefo designed Ojukwu’s Bunker. The Grey Ghost took Ojukwu into exile in 1970 was flown by Osakwe. The same pilot was flight commander that took Yakubu Gowon to Kampala in 1975 from where he lost his Command as Head of State.
There must be a reason Forest Whitaker declared his Igboness with the title, Nwanne di namba of Nkwerre. Daniel Glover, became Enyioma of Nkwerre. The man on keyboard for Jamaican pop group, Third World when they visited Nigeria in the 1980s, was Michael Igbo Cooper. The group did Lagos jump thereafter and remembered that Igbo man called him Ikechukwu.
Ohaneze must bring all Igbo together. There should be nothing like Rivers Igbo or Delta Igbo. Oneness creates one love. Let Ndigbo reach out to the Yoruba. There are many more Adeniran Ogunsanyas, Adeyinka Adebayos, Alani Akinrinades, Ganiyu Adelekes, Ayo Fayoses, Femi Fani-Kayodes and Segun Martins waiting. In the North, the Sultan has a huge role to play as well as Governor Hassan Dankwambo.
In the old South-East, the Dr. Sam Imoke family is available. There is the Dr. Thompson Akpabio family. Chief Emma Agumah’s children are waxing stronger and Willy Murray Bruce’s siblings have a voice. General Philip Effiong has a son who behaves like his father.
This is the way to go. Let the North complete their tenure in 2023. Ndigbo should strategise for 2023. All the traders and cheer boys will have their say but the elite must have their way. Enough of the Ochanja -Ariaria rabble. Boys will be boys. The men must decide.