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Recalling the Igbo question

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By Chioma Gabriel

Igbos have been hoping that one day, Nigeria will produce a president of southeast extraction. But will that be possible when the people are not united and on top of it, they play bad politics. They support others blindly and emotionally without negotiating, believing power will be given to them on a platter. Many politicians from the southeast appear to be under the illusion that after Buhari would have completed his tenure in 2023, it would be the turn of the Igbo.

The southeast has missed so many chances. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the people seem to be groping in the dark. They have been waiting for their turn to produce the president of Nigeria. Some believe that Dr Alex Ekwueme was betrayed at the PDP Jos convention when Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo was brought out of prison and imposed as PDP’s presidential candidate. Some Igbo believe that it was akin to what they did to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe in the first republic that after winning an election in Lagos, the table suddenly turned and he was out. He was betrayed overnight. The Igbo need to deliver themselves from the ‘almost there’ syndrome. Aside the great Dr Azikiwe and Dr Alex Ekwueme, the present crop of Igbo political leaders appear weak, lacking what it takes to negotiate profitably for their people.

Before Buhari won a second term in office, a powerful delegation of Igbo APC leaders made up of  Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology had led a delegation that endorsed him for another term in office. They said the president did enough to merit a second term. That delegation comprised Deputy Governor of Imo State, Eze Madumere, who represented Rochas Okorocha before the duo fell out; serving members of APC in the last national assembly, former governors, all the former ministers from the south-east, members of the then national working committee and national executive committee of the APC. They had endorsed Buhari without negotiating the terms of endorsement.

There was no question of what Buhari would do for Ndigbo after 2019. And the delegation was happy that the president was happy with them.

It was not the first time Igbo leaders would play daft.

Since 1999, the southeast has been all out for the PDP. It supported former President Jonathan to the moon and back. But Jonathan lost the election. The south-east also lost out. The Pharaoh who did not know ‘Joseph’ came into power and the fate of the south-east deteriorated from playing third, fourth fiddle to playing no fiddle at all.

Of course, nothing was wrong with endorsing President Buhari for another term in office if they felt his government was good but what were there for the Igbo leaders in APC? What were their terms for supporting Buhari? He has won another term in office and will Buhari address the Igbo question? Will he work for the good of the Igbo?

This government has never spoken about the Igbo in a positive way. It has never made any promises, given juicy appointments or tried in any way to make the people happy. Each time an issue about the Igbo comes up; the people will be talked down on, intimidated and made to look foolish.

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In the midst of these, their self-serving nature has not helped matters. They work for their private pockets.

If the APC leaders who endorsed Buhari believe he will hand over to the southeast, did they discuss that with him?  Or were they happy that the  South East has the least number of states in Nigeria, the least number of Senators, least number of House of Reps members, the least number of State House of Assembly members, least number of Ministers at the federal level, least revenue allocation, least federal presence or investment, least local governments, least wards and the least of everything in Nigeria?

The endorsers had returned commending Buhari on efforts he is making to ensure there is development in the south-east. What efforts? Railways were mapped out across states in Nigeria and south-east got none. The south-east did not get any position of consequence in the present administration. Apart from the constitutional requirement that every state would produce a minister, did Buhari promise them better things during his second term?  Will he reconstitute the security agencies to have at least two Igbo at the helm of affairs? What projects have been cited in Igboland to create jobs? What development programmes have been considered for the South East? Or don’t Ndigbo have the resources and manpower to lead the nation?

Will the slow pace of work on the 2nd Niger Bridge, will it be completed soon or would 2nd Niger Bridge be used for another campaign in 2023?

In the past, it used to be Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo but now, its Hausa, Yoruba, South-South, then Igbo. Now, everybody denigrates disregards and talks down on the people.  They have slipped from being one of Nigeria’s largest and significant ethnic groups.

After Azikiwe and Alex Ekwueme, the political influence of the Igbo has reduced. The pronounced disunity and infighting among the Igbo would make it difficult for them to make any kind of progress in politics. The southeast APC leaders never showcased what Buhari promised the Igbo and from all indications, in the next 20 years, an Igbo man may not rule Nigeria. The people are known for playing bad politics. Other major ethnic groups have schemed to dominate political power. The Igbo nation has failed to make its influence count politically at the centre since the country’s return to democratic rule in the Fourth Republic.

When the pro-Biafra agitators started, the idea was to bring the Igbo question to the fore-front and many supported them but along the line, it was clear the agitation became a personal business enterprise. The leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr Nnamdi Kanu had a good cause but shot himself on the knee when he left the Igbo question to start addressing inconsequential ethnic issues, and then transformed himself into a god that his followers now bowed down to kiss his feet.

If Kanu had a good cause, he didn’t package it well.

Today his followers have done nothing over the herdsmen invasion of the southeast. This is where they ought to have been very effective because foreigners have invaded Biafra and IPOB has done nothing about it.

So, who is fooling who?


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