Ndigbo have this saying that one whose kin is not adept in the steps of the dance beat soon develops an itch of the eyelids (Onye onye ya n’amaghi nkwa agba, oko iku n’ako ya). And so, like many concerned and true Igbo sons and daughters, I have been disappointed, indeed severely burdened personally, at the trivia pursuit that have characterized much of our public discuss as we ride towards 2019 general election. So unfortunate that serious thinking on important matters like the question of Igbo presidency come 2023 has become rare.
I must as a matter of respect and recognition, acknowledge and give accolades most respectfully to the *National Vice Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), His Excellency Chief Austin Umahi* for not only being alive to his duties as the party leader in South East, but for being so conscious of the need for Igbo president come 2023. Thanks most immensely for rationalizing on this crucial matter sir; you are a true son of Igbo nation and one of the few Igbo leaders whose powerful and inspiring voice and disposition has triggered, rekindled and inspired me to keep writing and advocating for the need to strike a balance in the unfavorable sociopolitical and economic place of Igbos in the Nigeria project. Truly, you are indeed Ochiagha Ndigbo; no doubt.
Nevertheless, to find our way back into the mainstream of Nigerian politics, it is essential that we recognize the reasons for the hiccups and bumps that has characterized the place of Igbos in the political space of Nigeria as a nation. I simply do not want to believe that we are a people easily taken away by the mundane. Though all too often, a characteristic veil of emotions and sentiments beclouds our view and the capacity to be objective over what we stand to achieve collectively as a people when we come together in united front as a force, even when we acknowledge that our greatest strength is linked to our unity, which is however the greatest threat to our adversaries as a people. We have unfortunately become too preoccupied with individuality rather than issues central to our collective interest as a people, and in the process we loose the capacity to appreciate the crux and substance.
I strongly advocate for a conscious resolve by prominent Igbo leaders to strike both gentlemen and ungentlemanly agreements with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and whoever becomes her presidential flag bearer for 2019 general election, to do only one term (that is, 4years only) in office that will end by 2023, then pave the way for the long overdue Igbo presidency. It is no doubt that Igbos has shown more commitment and loyalty to PDP since 1999 till date more than any other ethnic nationality in Nigeria. The Igbo political predicament since 1999, and particularly since 2015 that dictator Buhari came to power can rightly be adjudged to a reasonable percentage to be coming from the diehard nature and loyalty of the Igbo people to PDP. Ndigbo have literally served as the sacrificial lamb for the PDP and have been relegated for so long politically for sticking with, and pitching tent with PDP. So it is only natural for PDP to do whatever it can to ensure that the dream and vision of an Igbo president in 2023 remains sacrosanct and realizable under PDP. If by any means PDP refuses to sincere show commitment towards producing an Igbo president in 2023; I urge Ndigbo, particularly the youths to totally withdraw their vote, solidarity or support for PDP and explore other political options of realizing our dream and vision of Igbo presidency in 2023.
We should not allow narrow personal ambition, instigated serial packs of incorrigible, unrepentant opportunists and political jobbers to freely trivialize, distort, and hijack the ambition of Igbo presidency come 2023. Over the years, we have seen selfish politicians of Igbo extraction capitalized on the folly and deception of the people and took their ugly power game to the next level of working with other mischievous elements to kill the dream and vision of an Igbo presidency. In so doing, they place their personal interests ahead of the common good. They broke all rules and agreements entered, crossed every line of fairness, decency or proportionality and stopped at nothing to realize their egocentric political and economic objectives. Even those who by training and profession are expected to uphold moral and ethical standards of behavior, wantonly compromised everything honourable or decent in their consuming pursuit of political advantage and patronage.
Ndigbo have fully paid the price both as a component unit in the Nigerian project, and as the strongest political base and loyalists to PDP, and it will be puzzling and astonishing to us as a people to believe or wake up to the realization that Nigerians, and particularly PDP does not appreciate the pivotal roles Ndigbo have so far played in building Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Playing politics with Igbo presidency in 2023 is tantamount to acting brazenly as to suggest that Nigerians and PDP were oblivious to the input and sacrifices the Igbo nation has so far made, and the challenges that undermines the Igbo cause. This scenario is however a history that must be avoided and must not be repeated come 2023.
Nigerians must be politically realistic and smart, because the continued existence of Nigeria requires the sincere incorporation of Ndigbo as the most vigorous element as far as Nigeria is concern. Igbos spare headed the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and now others are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Anyone in his or her right senses should not expect Igbos to be happy with the unnatural state of affairs in Nigeria today. Ndigbo have been humiliated, ridiculed and insulted for so long by other Nigerians. You do not humiliate a people and expect them to corporate in their own humiliation, do you? If you do, you are a child and know nothing about human nature. Those you humiliate with impunity will naturally work to tear you down.
Igbos and her political leaders must be very conscious of the fact that 2019 offers us a new opportunity to retrace our steps and restore Igbo presidential interest in 2023 on its proper tracks by our decision and our political calculus in 2019. I am very confident with the current National vice chairman of PDP South East *His Excellency Chief Austin Umahi* that Igbo leaders will push for the right agreement with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before 2019, we will certainly realize our mission by 2023. Ndigbo have for too long served as a conduit for pursuing other peoples political and economic interest in Nigeria, it is high time we put our massive ingenuity to bare and lobby for other region and ethnic nationalities to serve our own sociopolitical and economic interest and objectives.
Ironically, Nigeria has continued to rely on Igbo intellect and skills to pursue policies and programs that benefit Ndigbo the least. Enamored by the realization that Igbo cohesion was once not that strong, they convinced themselves that buying off a token of few among Ndigbo is all that is needed to keep Ndigbo in check. They sponsored confusion among us, and like the uninitiated, we willfully propagate their designs to our own detriment. It is time to put our house in order if we must realize our presidential dream.
Part of the reason the rest of Nigeria gangs up against Ndigbo (even when they disagree amongst themselves on virtually everything else) is out of fear that reservoir of potent Igbo capability could be unstoppable if properly mobilized. Igbo detractors get worried whenever we come together. Igbo resilience have been exemplified on several occasions. One of such was clearly manifested at the end of the a brutal 30-month war of genocide that decimated the Igbo economy and political life. The rest of Nigeria was awed at how we survived 3 bleak years of total blockade and military vandalization. In few short month following, Ndigbo reemerged to competitive stature in national commerce life. Towns that were recently desolate after their occupants evacuated and became refugees soon resurged. Villages where the saturated stench of hunger, starvation, disease and death had barely cleared quickly become lively and buoyant again. Therein, my people lies the puzzle about Ndigbo. Ours is a rare phenomenon and the unspoken source of the attitudes and policies towards Ndigbo.
Conclusively, what Ndigbo need to regain our sociopolitical and economic balance, essence, and relevance is to be seen as cohering and coming together in unity of purpose. We are at our best when we work together, more so when our very existence is challenged. Our detractors recognize this fact very well. Today, Igbo political standing in Nigeria remains at stake. To this end I suggest that we use the 2019 general election as a mock test and a political wild card towards striking a political balance that will see Ndigbo bounce back through Igbo presidency in 2023. I contend that we must use our known strength to reassert our place in the Nigerian arrangement. Igwe bu Ike is not just a slogan, but also a time-tested fact of Igbo history. Our collective resolve and capacity is emboldened when we rally together in one united force.
Our political prospects will stay diminished as long as we are still living in our yesterdays. It is a known fact that politics is a zero-sum game, and every opportunity we lose is someone’s gain. It is naive to expect that other groups will, out of the goodness of their hearts, accord us our due in the national dispensation. We must buckle up to protect our valued interests. There is every need to strategically position ourselves in other to get our fair share of the Nigerian cake. We have to take a cue from the lessons we learnt from our past mistakes to effectively get it right this time around. By our very nature we naturally have the blocks upon which to build this foundation. Only Ndigbo can salvage the Igbo interest in Nigeria. I believe it can be done, and the time is now.