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OPINION: Letter to Ohaneze Ndigbo on the 2023 Presidential election

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With the 2023 general election less than a year away, high level consultations and political campaigns are intensely going on in every nook and cranny of the country now and more than ever before, the Ohaneze Ndigbo seems to be more interested in who becomes the next president of Nigeria and they are loud and vociferous this time round in voicing their demand for a president of Igbo extraction. I must say that I am intrigued by the intensity and euphoria associated Ohaneze’s involvement. But, before we take a plunge, it is imperative for us to pause and do some critical appraisal of our position in order not to miss out some critical details. Some of the pertinent questions we need to ask are: who are our candidates? What are our chances? What are the implications of failure? Where are our strength and opportunities? What is our major threat and how do we overcome it? What are our strategies to actualize our goal? What is our alternative plan?

In terms of capability, Ndigbo have the qualified candidates that can lead the nation. Ndigbo have the most credible candidates with pedigree and track records of performance. The Igbo culture and world view make the Igbo man a being that believes in merit, productivity and fairness. He believes in justice and equity. Nigerians know that the only people capable of rescuing the country from its current state of decay are the Igbo people. But regrettably, Nigerians are not interested in merit or productivity. Some don’t believe in one Nigeria either; they only pay lip-service to national unity. That is why we are where we are as Joseph de Maistre (1753 – 1821) the French moralist and philosopher put it aptly when he averred that every society deserves the type of leadership it has. Those controlling Nigeria are not statesmen but tribes men whose primary interest is sectional and primordial. Buhari has shown the world that his interest and the interest of his Fulani kinsmen is the lost Empire of his forefathers. The Fulani man who own the oil blocks and oil marketing companies and control NNPC would rather invest in Egypt, Niger or Dubai than invest in Niger Delta where the oil is drilled. It is the same with the Yoruba man. He believes that he is Yoruba first before Nigeria and that: “Nigeria is a mere geographical expression”. Tinubu expressed the same sentiment in an interview he granted the press in 1993 wherein he was quoted to have said that he did not believe in one Nigeria. This is the belief of the average Yoruba man. That is why when he works in Niger Delta where he controls the oil companies, his family is domiciled in Lagos or Ibadan and on Friday he flies Aero-Contractors to Lagos and on Monday he flies back. He would rather invest in London or Dubai than Niger Delta or any part of the country. The Igbo man is the only one who lives and invests in every part of the country and yet what he gets is envy and hatred.

Unfortunately, the minorities whom by aggregation should be the majority are neither here nor there. The retrogressive forces controlling Nigeria have been able to confuse them through many years of ethnic profiling, propaganda and lies into thinking that the Igbo people are the problem of Nigeria and that Igbo cannot be trusted with power. But evidently those that cannot be trusted with power are those who have given the country toxic leadership and who are hell bent on maintaining the status quo.
Besides, the forces that emerged victorious after the civil war live in perpetual fear of the Igbo man and would not want to upturn the status quo. Just as Britain who first poisoned the minds of Nigerians against Ndigbo was and is still apprehensive of the Igbo man because of his ingenuity and resilience so are some Nigerian ethnic nationalities. Some ethnic nationalities in Nigeria live in perpetual fear of Ndigbo and are more than willing to work against Igbo interests. The Fulani man thinks that a president of Igbo extraction will divide Nigeria and cut him off from oil supply. The Yoruba man thinks that an Igbo president will develop Igbo land and then diminish the importance and status of Lagos as the economic nerve center of the country. The suffocating presence of Ndigbo in Lagos is to their advantage politically and economically. This is why the ports in the Niger Delta must not function and any government that attempts to identify with Ndigbo is to the Yoruba man a bad government.

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In the light of these and more, I will plead with Ohaneze to critically and dispassionately scan our political environment and engage strategically in order to make the right decision and the right alignment that will be for the overall interest of the Igbo nation whom it represents as the all-important 2023 election beckons. We must not delude ourselves into thinking that the emergence of an Igbo candidate in one party will automatically translate into Igbo Presidency. The only way an Igbo man can emerge president in the present day Nigeria is if the two major political parties PDP and APC field Igbo candidates as was the case for the Yoruba in 1999. But, as it is now, even if the PDP field an Igbo candidate APC will never do that for the reason that I have highlighted above. Another way an Igbo man can emerge as president of Nigeria is if the ruling party uses its power and resources to install the Igbo man. But again the ruling Party, APC has proved itself to be a party with winner-takes-all ideology that does not believe inclusion and goal congruence.
It is clearly evident that the problem of the country at present is the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that has created insecurity, misery and uncertainty. APC regime has orchestrated the gross marginalization and persecution of Ndigbo in egregious dimensions. It has taken terrorism into Igbo land and turned our land into a killing field just to intimidate and blackmail Ndigbo. Thus, the major task before us all is to sack APC from government to save our people from extinction.

APC must be shooed out of power with its revanchist and obnoxious policies at all costs. Our stake is the future and survival of the Igbo nation. So, Ohaneze should not be rigid or fixated about Igbo Presidency but concentrate more on pushing out APC and salvaging the nation. Ohaneze should be pragmatic and strategic about it. That means Ohaneze should identify, negotiate and align with individuals or groups with the clout, resources and courage to wrestle power from APC. In all of this, our best bet is still the Peoples Democratic Party which from all intents and purposes is much better than the APC in performance and in recognizing the status of Nigeria as heterogeneous entity. Ohaneze must not lose sight of the fact that under APC the Igbo man has no future. We must not be distracted by the spurious and insincere call for Southern President as is being promoted in the Yoruba controlled mass media. Why would the Southwest be strident in their call for power to shift to the South while they are not ready to rotate it among the political blocs in the South? That is plain hypocrisy and a ruse to rotate power between the Yoruba and the Fulani to the exclusion of others. If the agitators are sincere as Atiku Abubakar has rightly pointed out they should be specific in calling for a president of Igbo extraction. As it is now, the Igbo man’s surest route to the Presidency is obviously through PDP therefore we should concentrate on where our forte is. And even if Igbo man did not emerge as the preferred candidate in PDP, our plan B should be to negotiate and support whoever the party presents as the flag bearer. No doubt, Ndigbo have the resources and the platform to press their demand. Ohaneze should mobilize and sensitize Ndigbo to pursue this course concertedly irrespective of party affiliations. To this end, Ohaneze must guard against the antics of our spineless governors and the self-seeking political reprobates from the region who might be used by outsiders to sabotage our common interest.

On a final note, I must apologize sincerely to Ohaneze leadership for my seeming impetuosity and choice of medium to reach them. It is just the burning desire in me to avoid wasting time associated with observing protocols given that the party primaries are around the corner. Of course, I have not told you what you do not know already but just to remind you or draw your attention to some salient issues that may affect our people in future as the highest body obligated to project and protect our interest.

AUTHOR: Gozie Irogboli


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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