Let the Igbo go it all alone

Ladi Ayodeji

There’s something special about the Igbo, otherwise how could a people devastated by a 30-month civil war, displaced, dispossessed of their possessions, positions and political power come back under 40 years to regain all and more?

The resilience of the Igbo has rubbed off on other Nigerians in almost everything we do. Our brothers from across the Niger have moved from the back seat to the driving seat of the Nigerian economy, commerce, sports and every major sector. Igbo investments span real estate, where they own more than 60 per cent of property in the nation, banking, near total dominance of the import trade, etcetera.

The Igbo are everywhere. They created Nollywood, great markets like Alaba International, ASPANDA, Ariaria, and so on. They know how to set up micro-businesses and grow them into huge industries. Yoruba youth should learn from the Igbo how to do business instead of drinking “Paraga” in street corners as early as 8am. The Hausa-Fulani boys should emulate Igbo traders, instead of waiting for the slightest provocation to start a riot for the purpose of looting their shops.

Now, despite Igbo resilience, strong recovery rate and obvious prosperity, they still want political power: the Presidency. Unfortunately, the lousy way our eastern brothers behave, brag about their success and rub it on the faces of the other ethnic groups has stoked the fire of envy, which translates to political isolation of the Igbo in the power configuration.

Let’s fall back on some timely words from the great writer, Chinua Achebe. In his book, “There Was A Country,” where he lamented the plight of his people, he wrote: “I will be the first to concede that the Igbo, as a group, is not without its flaws. Its success can and did carry deadly: the dangers of hubris, overweening pride, and thoughtlessness, which invite envy and hatred, or even worse, that can obsess the mind with material success and disposed it to all kinds of crude showiness. There is no doubt at all that there is a strand in contemporary Igbo behaviour that can offend by its noisy exhibitionism and disregard for humility and quietness.”

Well said, Prof. Achebe! The Igbo bravado would continue to infuriate other Nigerians, who would rather antagonize, rather than learn from their success. The attitude of the Igbo and the negative perception problem, the lack of trust, which stems from the Biafran agitation, and sheer ethnic phobias bedevilling our polity stand between the Igbo and the Presidency.

But, like it or not, because Nigeria stands on a tripod as represented by the three major tribes, the Igbo must be given an opportunity to govern this country like other ethnic groups.

They’re perfectly entitled to it, regardless of their conduct. Igbo must be President, even if it means they have to do it alone on a compromise arrangement like Nigerian political leaders did for the Yoruba in 1999.

We must so arrange it like we did for the all-Yoruba presidential candidates, such that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, representing the PDP, and Chief Olu Falae of AD ran for the presidency in 1999 without the participation of other candidates from other ethnic groups.

The Igbo must be given this kind of opportunity to break the deadlock of inelectability of the Igbo person that has become a jinx in our polity. Outside of a compromise arrangement brokered by our political leaders, it would be extremely difficult to elect an Igbo person as President.

Nigeria needs an Igbo person in the Presidency to end the hangover of the civil war, and banish the ghost of Biafra from our political life. We can’t get there until the Igbo go it all alone like the Yoruba to win a presidential election, otherwise, that dream would remain a mirage. We need an Igbo man or woman in Aso Rock for eight years to resolve the Igbo question, once for all.

Along with that, the issue of marginalization as it affects the Igbo in the siting of federal projects, appointments into top, strategic government positions at the national level, including the security agencies, must be addressed from now, with all seriousness. In fact, this is where to begin the road to Aso Rock for the Igbo. This is how we can have lasting peace for the whole of Nigeria.

Once we resolve the Igbo question, the larger problem of nationhood could then be dealt with in a pan-Nigerian way with sincerity, love, equity and justice. What’s good for Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani is good for the Igbo and the other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Let the Igbo go it all alone in a presidential contest, and let them produce their own consensus candidates who would run Nigeria for eight years. That’s the way to go in 2023 or 2027.

I dare say such an arrangement cannot happen overnight, it would take time. To mend the broken hearts the Igbo people won’t be easy; to regain their trust in a One Nigeria arrangement would take practical demonstration of fundamental political action that would jolt the traditional power-brokers, who don’t want to accept a change of the status quo.

Unless the Igbo rule and are given the chance to be part of the governing elite at the centre, Nigeria would not know peace, and everyone would be a big loser.

•Ayodeji, author, pastor and life coach, can be reached on 09059243004 (SMS, WhatsApp and email only)


© 2023 The Sun Nigeria – All Right Reserved.


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