10 February 2013

Nigeria: Timeliness of President of Igbo Extraction


Something is indeed wrong with us as a nation.

Going through our National anthem and even the motto, then judging by the way we are, the way we do things and our approaches to issues that concern others, it shows that the anthem and the motto are veiled with garment of hypocrisy and that is the more reason every move we make is laced with falsehood and what works in other climes hardly makes headway here.

Does this go to suggest that the nation is built on falsehood, which I doubt unless events in the few years to come convince me?

Activities to celebrate our centenary anniversary kicked off couple of weeks ago in Abuja and would climaxed on January 1, 2014, which is one hundred years Lord Lugard amalgamated or fused the North and the South to give birth to Nigeria.

In this hundred years, various components of the country have at one time or the other produce the presidency except the Igbo and yet we are happy chorusing, One nation bound in freedom , peace and unity. Even the last paragraph of the second stanza of the anthem, to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign, elevates our hypocrisy higher.

Where is the peace and where is the justice reigning, in Nigeria or in the moon, that one hundred years of our existence and fifty three years after independence, one of the major components ( a tripod) of the nation has not accessed the presidency and people someway are talking about unity, faith, peace and progress.

2015 is around the corner, this is crucial in the anal of the nation's political development and I think it is a time to write the wrongs that have been done to the Igbo nation; it is the time for the race to produce the presidency by what ever arrangement. On equity it is her turn; going by history it is her turn; by conventional wisdom it is her turn; by natural law and justice; it is her turn and by contribution to the nation's development it her turn.

As it stands, I advice our northern brothers oiling their political machinery for 2015 presidency to wait as history, equity and justice are not on their side. In the same vein, President Goodluck Jonathan should drop his second term ambition as neither history and equity is on his side. This time around, the Igbos are not going to be deceived the second time. In 2011, the Igbos adopted Jonathan because Azikiwe is one of his names. This name appeared only in his bill boards in the South East but in the north, he never used Azikiwe as one of his names. So who is deceiving who, enough of the deceit? This is the time to stop this name dropping to hoodwink the zone.

With Jonathan's presidency, the soul of Isaac Adaka Boro has rested in peace but in Igbo land, the souls of millions of people who died during the civil war are yet to find rest until the necessary thing is done, which is one their brother to ascend the nation's seat of power. They died because Nigeria by its action didn't want them and they decided to opt out and when they came back the silent or unwritten code and policy of denial and exclusion from certain offices is visited on them. Yet, we are talking of unity and justice how and were could this be achieved. The syndrome of the civil war defeat probably caught up with our parents but my generation and children must have a different story to tell. We are not fighting or being violent but by peaceful negotiations we would win the hearts of all Nigeria. It is against this background that Njiko Igbo, a fledgling socio-political organization is mobilizing and bring every Igbo at home and in the Diaspora under one canopy and reaching out to other groups and regions towards the realisation of the race to produce the president in 2015.

The mission of the group is to prove to other Nigerians who believe that Igbos always sing discordant tunes when it comes to serious issues that affect them and that is the reason their hairs in the past were shaved in their absence, that is decisions that affected them were discussed without their inputs or not carried along on major national issues.

That era is all over as through Njiko Igbo and other interest groups in the region, we have learnt to come together and take our destiny into our hands. When any prominent Igbo is having any ceremony or event - wedding, funeral etc you see all the prominent Igbo congregate at such events. It was not so in the past era where others decided for us. So we have realized that a broom stick can easily be broken but a bundle of broom is very hard to break. We want to be together, our differences had robbed us our relevance in the past.

As we are united we can easily win the hearts of people of other zones on the project. In the past, we wholeheartedly supported the North to produce the presidency that is, in the first and second republic. Remember the NPN/NPP accord that helped Alhaji Shehu Shagari to form the second republic government. It was the same in the first republic of Tafawa Balewa's government.

We also supported the emergence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to become the president even when his people of South West turned their backs against him in 1999. In 2011, the South East zone gave President Goodluck Jonathan the highest percentage votes, higher that his South South region. Remember when Jonathan was sidelined following the hospitalization of late President Yar'Adua in Saudi hospital, it was an Igbo minister that shouted and shouted before Jonathan was allowed to function in acting capacity.

Can it be interpreted that in all these periods, we have only been very good in voting others to the leadership of this country and we are not good to be voted for?

The Igbo man worked for the amalgamation of this country and his blood has been used to build the foundation of the unity of the country that we celebrate.

Apart from his blood shed during the civil war, whenever there is crisis that does not concern him in other parts of the country outside his home he is the major victim and casualty and yet he eschewed it and remains to contribute to the economic development of that area. Other Nigerians many regard this as resilience, docility or cowardice. For sure cowardice is the least that any one would ascribe to the average Igbo. If other ethnic groups have investments in other parts of the country as the Igbos definitely the way we respond and threat each other would have been differently. Our myriad cultures should exist in harmony, enhanced by their proximity to one another. But has that been the case in Nigeria?

Where there is intra communal feud in the North he became the target; where there is inter communal clashes also if he escapes death his property are destroyed and looted and yet he endures it and continues to preach and harps on the unity of Nigeria.

One good turn we are told deserves another and this is the pay back time for other zones to reciprocate the support and sacrifices that the Igbo have made to them.

Even though we are scattered and sizeable everywhere, we know that it is not only the votes of the Igbo that will give them the presidency and that is the more reason we are forging a common front reaching out and presenting our agenda before every Nigerian.

We are very plain in our agitation. We are playing our cards on the table for all to see. We know that there are two ways of getting power - peaceful negotiation and coercive diplomacy. We have all these options on the table but what is not in on our agenda and would not be is coercive diplomacy or violence. We have tried it in the past and would not repeat it even though the Niger Delta employed violence before attention was given to them and they got the presidency. With the violence through NADECO and of course, OPC, following the annulment of June 12, 1993 elections, they were listened to and from there a special arrangement was made for them to produce the presidency. Political pundits believe that the violent activities of Islamic fundamental group, Boko Haram is politically motivated that would pave the way for the North to produce the presidency.

We are nor considering violence, even though that is the language that Nigerians understand but we are doing ours differently by employing peaceful negotiation, reaching out to other regions and stakeholders. This has started yielding dividends as some of them are buying into the idea and waiting to see how far we go before they come out openly to lend their supports.

Nigerians are very reasonable and very godly and religious. We always talk of equity, justice and fair play because these are the tenets and cardinal principles of our religious beliefs or faith whether as Christian, Muslim or Traditionalist. That being the case, it is certain that the North has produced the presidency or heads of states, starting with Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdusallam Abubakar and Umaru Yar'Adua. These add up to over 35 years of our 52 years of independence. The South west produced Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan, both spending over 11 years in the presidency. The South south by 2015 would have occupied the presidency for five years, while the South east just had a stint at it for only uneventful six months.

If we are not hypocritical about our faith, which hinges on equity, justice and fair play, it presupposes that this zone that more or less could be said not to have occupied the presidency but for only six month should be given the opportunity to do so.

We know power is not given on platter and violence is not on our table, that is why we are reaching to other zones and stakeholders putting these arguments before them and many conscientious are buying into it. This shows that Nigerians are eagerly waiting for the manifestation of an Igbo as president. Igbo are the most believers of one united Nigeria and that is the more reason you see them in parts of the country contributing to the socio-economic development of the area. You can't say that of other ethnic group.

Njiko Igbo is making every Igbo to drink, eat and even go to bed with the project. Every Igbo man, woman, boy or girl has friends, associates and business partners from other ethnic groups, through this; we are getting across to every body in the country. Is there Nigerian from other regions who doesn't have an Igbo friend, associate or business partner?

We are not just going to draft Igbo man for the presidency, but will present to Nigerians a man that dreams of Nigeria, has vision not the one that would promise transformation, a political science jargon used to deceive the electorate because he doesn't have anything to offer. we are not going to present such Nigeria.

• Nwosu, National/Diaspora Publicity Secretary of Njiko Igbo and former Imo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant for the2007and 2011 elections, writes from Lagos.

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