June 11, 2024

Nigeria’s democracy cannot thrive with continued marginalization of Igbo – Obidigbo


By Vincent Ujumadu

AN elder statesman and renowned industrialist in Anambra State, Dr. Chike Obidigbo has stated that it would be difficult for Nigeria’s democracy to thrive with the continued marginalization of the Igbo.

Speaking with reporters in Awka on the eve of the nation’s Democracy Day celebration, Obidigbo said events in the country since the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 showed clearly that there is a deliberate effort to consistently suppress the Igbo nation, despite their efforts to endear themselves to other tribes in the country.

He recalled that members of the National Assembly recently celebrated 25 years of democracy in the present dispensation, but no mention was made about the issue of equitable distribution of political powers or spread of social amenities and economic opportunities.

He said: “It is worrisome that despite the creation of six geopolitical zones, which was expected to provide equal opportunities and inclusive leadership, the Southeast has not been supported to produce the president of this country.

“This imbalance in the leadership of the country underscores the sore political points of lopsided allocation of number of states per zone. While other zones have as many as seven and six states each, Southeast is being punished with just five states. This is sad when you consider that  national cake is shared out  on state by state basis. 

“The Nigerian state has continued to behave in such a way as if isolating the Igbo is the best policy option to guarantee the country’s unity. 

“The recent reconstitution of governing boards of federal tertiary institutions and polytechnic showed that one state produced as many as 25 candidates, while the entire Southeast was allocated only 12.

“It is gladdening to note though, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu refused to endorse that obvious slight, but the development goes far to reveal the reality of continuing marginalization of NdIgbo in the Nigeria project.

 “Also not long ago, Mr. Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, regained his freedom and re-joined his fellow Yoruba people after the federal government dropped all charges of treasonable felony against him for calling for the separation of the Yoruba nation from Nigeria due to the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen in Yoruba land under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Similarly, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the former presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), was allowed to breathe the air of freedom after the federal government dropped charges against the young man for calling for revolution in Nigeria to address poor governance and bad leadership in the country.

“And just last week, the President of Myetti Allah, Bello Badejo, was declared innocent from the charges of terrorism after the federal government withdrew charges against him for setting up a nationwide Fulani vigilante to secure the country despite the existence of Nigeria security agencies.

“In all these gestures of peace and reconciliation, the Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi came out boldly to declare that the only way the leader of  the mainstream IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, can regain his freedom is through the court, despite the fact that the court of Nigeria had made a judicial pronouncement dismissing his trial for treasonable felony”.

 On the  June 12 Democracy Day being celebrated in the country, Obidigbo described it as another example of official deception. 

He added: “Some observers have drawn a parallel between what happened on June 12, 1993 and the recent events of February 25, 2023. The annulment of the 1993 election was not different from rigged or violent elections. The question that arises is, when will Nigerians truly say that they elect their leaders, as happened recently in Senegal and South Africa ?

“In the Southeast, despite the 25 years of unbroken civil rule, elections have always provided opportunities for those who are interested in the internal subjugation of Igbo land to impose leaders on the people. 

“This undemocratic programme, which started from Anambra State and manifested in Imo State, has always defined elections in the Southeast zone.

 “I say this of a fact because I contested governorship elections in Anambra State and I knew the level of interest shown by powerful individuals from outside the zone on who becomes governor of every Igbo state.

“The political emasculation of Igbo seems to be the most proficient political strategy handed down by the British to ensure their continued influence on the socio-political life of its former West African colony.

 “As a way out of the problem, it behooves on our leaders, particularly  Igbo political leaders, (which I doubt genuinely exist); Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisations and Igbo Think Tanks, to sit down and fashion out a workable course of action to free us from these heavy man -made burdens.

“We must realize that the progressive nature of Ndigbo elicits envy, jealousy, suspicion and outright hatred, which could culminate in deaths. Some people see the growth of Igbo economy as detrimental to theirs and so are ever prepared to do all in their power to arrest it, and at all cost.”

 Obidigbo dismissed the planned constitutional review, arguing that it would produce another master plan to further delay Igbo emancipation in an open society and egalitarian country.

He said that although the civil war officially ended 54 years ago, it has continued to rage against the Igbo in very subdued, but very aggressive manner, giving the clear impression that the war may not after all has ended. 

 He observed, however, that Igbo has allowed itself to be demystified by internal wranglings and ungodly behaviours, adding that the involvement of young people in get rich quick, at all cost schemes, including yahoo yahoo, rituals, drug trafficking, sex trafficking and other anti-social practices, have unfortunately helped to redefine Igbo identity.