THE 2015 general elections have come and gone but the echoes are getting louder by the day with parties celebrating, taunting, warning or even blaming one another depending on the side of the divide one belongs to. This trend has not been limited to the principal actors of the elections; it has also taken the dangerous and unhelpful dimension of tribal diatribes among citizens.
From the outburst and threat of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, against the Ndigbo resident in Lagos should their voting not follow a particular pattern in the last gubernatorial election, to the several and severe harassment of the people of the South East by all manner of people including those who voted for their choice of candidates based on the same considerations they turn around to accuse Ndigbo of in their massive votes for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Ndigbo have continued to be victims of their free choice in a multi-party democratic dispensation like ours.
A lot of analysts and commentators have derided the Igbo race and warned them in advance of likely not going to enjoy federal presence, support or projects because of their recalcitrant refusal to vote for Buhari who eventually won the election.
Before we go further, let it be reiterated for the benefit of all those who hold this view against Ndigbo, that the Igbo race does not regret its choice of candidate in the recently concluded elections. In fact, given the same scenario, the Igbo people will vote for President Jonathan again. This is because, as have been roundly and unabatedly accused of, Ndigbo are known to be highly independent and stubborn to the extent of running the risk of going it all alone once they are strongly convinced of a cause.
It does not matter if the candidate is from Otuoke, Daura, Umuahia or Ogbomosho, once the Igbo nation is convinced about him/her, they are ready to go the whole hog with the person even if it means them going it all alone. Ndigbo does not give in to prevarications, they only follow leanings that are evidently defensive of their cause in truth; they do not succumb to the money or sophistry of any one man. This is why some uninformed analysts and commentators have continued to vilify the Igbo people for choosing to be on their own in the last elections by voting for a man who in the eye of these analysts is not popular.
But the question is, what other choice was left for Ndigbo? None really! How could anyone in his right senses expect Ndigbo to sing the praises of a man who hardly did anything for them while he was a military Head-of-State?
How could anyone expect Ndigbo to have supported and voted for a man who showed his clear disdain for them when he had all the opportunity to prove he was a statesman above tribal and religious considerations during his tenure as Chairman of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) wherein he located a whooping over 70% of the Fund’s projects in the north while the entire south consisting of the Southeast, South-south and Southwest shared the remaining less than 30% projects among themselves? Muhammadu Buhari executed his assignment as head of the Fund as if there was no southern Nigeria! For example, only 4,440.43 kilometres of road were constructed in the entire southern part of Nigeria representing a paltry 24% compared to the 13,870.47 kilometres representing 76% of roads done in the north. Of these figures, the Southwest got 10.5% while the Southeast and South-south together got 13.5%.
As if that was not enough, under the National Health and Rehabilitation Programme (NHERP), while the entire south got 0% allocation, the north got 100% in the tertiary programme. In the vocational programme, the entire south had only 3% while the north had 97%. The same was for the primary side where the south had only 12% but the north was allocated 88%. The secondary area was not different. While the north had 86% percent allocation, the south had just 14%.
The question, therefore is, with these antecedents of Buhari, would anyone still want to blame Ndigbo for their choice in the 2015 elections? There is a proverb in Igboland that anyone who allows what killed his father to also kill him is foolish. In the two periods he had the opportunity to prove himself a statesman, Buhari fluffed the chance. Ndigbo will not let what killed their father to also kill them.
They made their choice based on experience which is unarguably part of the considerations in an election. They might have made a mistake in the opinion of others, but this, no doubt, is a correct mistake. Rather than mortify the Igbo people for their choice, it is Buhari that should be strongly advised to show some strength in leading Nigeria and not a section or some sections of it. The onus to leave the stage a true and celebrated leader among all Nigerians irrespective of tribal origin, political affiliation or religious leaning, lies on Buhari and not Ndigbo.
Mr Jude Ndukwe, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.