My goal is a fact filled assessment of what is driving Igbo politics in the upcoming presidential polls and its implications for Igbo liberation.
As the facts will show, collective Igbo interests have been relagated and sacrificed in the altar of personal ambitions of key principals in Igbo politics in a way to constitute a definite but temporary setback to said interests.
The purpose of this writeup is to clear the dense fog of confusion that has beclouded the eyes and minds of Igbo elite.
1. Collective Igbo Interests
NdiIgbo have made it resoundingly clear that their sole interest in Nigerian politics is immediate restructuring of the Federation. Between an incumbent Buhari who is deeply entrenched in maintaining the hegemonic unitary framework sown into the provisions of the vexatious 1999 Constitution and a challenger, Atiku who has an Igbo running mate and has openly confessed that the unitary framework should be reformed, Igbo collective formed a compelling interest in supporting the Atiku campaign.
Igbo decision was made easy by vicious, overt and long standing neglect of Igbo interests by Buhari dating back to his despotic 1983 to 1985 regime.
It should be recalled that he masterminded a coup against Shagari/Ekwueme, threw Ekwueme in jail without fair trial, and was literally forced by Gani Fahyemi to have even one Igbo man in his Supreme Military Council. That one Igbo man was Attorney General Offodile whom he proceeded to ignore in making mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice system.
As President, his record against the South East has followed the same pattern. In budgetary allocations, federal infrastructural presence, appointments, and human rights consideration, it has been nearly four years of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the SE overtopped with Operation Python Dance in which he deplored Nigerian military to brazenly waste Igbo lives in what should be no more than routine police action to quell unarmed civilian agitations.
With a clear pattern and long history of acting against Igbo interests, Igbo collective resolved that continued support of Buhari is clearly not in the interest of Ndigbo.
2. Caliphate Sleight of Political Hands
It is open secret that Tinubu is gearing up for Presidential run in 2023.
Fashola recently exhorted the SW to support APC in order to enjoy the support of the hegemonic far Northern bloc for Yoruba Presidency in 2023.
APC is essentially a Northern and Southwestern political alliance but apparently some Igbo politicians have fallen for the political legerdemain that APC will support Igbo Presidency come 2023.
3. Ohaneze Under Pressure
Ohaneze had made it clear that Igbo interest in restructuring coincided with Atiku’s interest in tabling that matter and to concretize Igbo support, Atiku chose ex Governor Obi as his running mate.
Ohaneze’s support of Atiku had begun to wane in what must be seen to be visible signs of compromise. To top it off, an alleged renegade Youth Wing of Ohaneze had gone to Aso Rock to endorse Buhari and the parent entity is dragging its feet in issuing a strongly worded disclaimer.
The conclusion at this point is that Ohaneze has become ideologically infested by APC partisans acting overtly or covertly using ime obi influencers and proxies. Some of the key APC partisans appear to be no other than Chief Arthur Eze, Governor Dave Umahi and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremmadu as the following facts would show.
A. Chief Arthur Eze
Chief Arthur Eze’s oil blocs are allegedly up for renewal and PMB is leaning on not renewing them. In a widely publicized video, the reclusive billionaire was seen praising Buhari to high heavens and openly endorsing him for another four years.
B. DSP Ekweremmadu
B1. DSP is being harassed by EFCC allegedly for massive property acquisitions including alleged 58 properties outside Nigeria.
If true, DSP can easily be blackmailed into supporting Buhari or may have decided that supporting Buhari is his best bet for taking shelter from Efcc harassment.
B2. DSP stands to lose his principal office at the Senate if Peter Obi from the same SE zone becomes the VP.
These two facts alone offer compelling reasons why DSP now straddles the two camps as shown by his infamous courtesy visit to Buhari in the heat of political campaigns with SE Governors in tow and his forked tongue pronouncements on key issues affecting the Atiku campaign.
C. Governor Dave Umahi
C1. As Chief Arthur Eze revealed, Governor Dave Umahi has been offered to Buhari as his apparent heir come 2023 and Gov Umahi appears to be getting a headstart in his alleged presidential run by distributing rice and yams to many needy communities outside Ebonyi State.
C2. The elder brother of Gov Umahi, namely retired General Umahi is alleged to be a military godson of General Buhari.
C3. With strong family and political ties to Buhari, Gov Umahi’s antipathy towards Atiku becomes easy to appreciate.
D. Chief Nnia Nwodo
The above mentioned principals and others acting by themselves and their proxies have managed to put a choke hold on the Atiku/Obi campaign by not holding rallies in their support and not contributing financially to the Atiku campaign.
But they need Ohaneze. Ohaneze’s endorsement of Buhari or at least neutrality will offer the narrative that their actions were driven not by personal interests but by manifest Igbo collective interests.
Their main argument as Chief Arthur Eze proffered is that it is virtually impossible to defeat Buhari and should Buhari win without Igbo support, that his legendary aptitude for vindictiveness would cripple SE economically and politically not to mention that Ndigbo would have zero prayers for Igbo Presidency 2023.
Put simply, what these people are asking Nnia Nwodo to do is agree that Ndigbo should meekly go back to Caliphate’s jail, hand the key over to them and hope that the Caliphate will be friendly and compassionate in dealing with Ndigbo in unitary Nigeria.
What Igbo Youth and Igbo masses have said is that they are prepared to struggle and pay any price to live in a truly Federal Nigeria or preferably become a separate and independent State and nothing short of repealing the 1999 Constitution will mollify Ndigbo in the short term.
This is an unfinished agitation since 1967 and Igbo masses have declared that that is their unshakeable stand.
It is now up to Chief Nnia Nwodo to decide whether he will stand with selfish Igbo politicians or stand with Igbo masses.
To be clear, what is at stake here is Ohaneze’s continued relevance. As far as Igbo march to freedom is concerned, Ndigbo have crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back.
Barrister Ephraim Egede