Between A Future Presidency And The Reconciliation Of The Eastern People

“Goodluck Jonathan is from the eastern region, his name is Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. So why must he bribe his brothers to get what he wants?
Then, here I am from the eastern region and you are asking me what I am selling to the eastern region to be able to actualize an aspiration that will work better for them”
Dr. Wolfe Obianime, Ijaw National Congress President, at the WIC in Philadelphia.

It was indeed a paradigm shift. The contemporary politics in the eastern part of the country is relatively unique and replete with ideological variables. It was once the theater of a civil war. A war whose aftermath created unprecedented political misfortune, hatred, blame, accusations, identity crises, territorial disputes and quarrels amongst neighbors who had once lived in absolute peace for centuries. It would be an under statement to say that political and ethnic gulf are much more widened in this enclave than any other in Nigeria.

That said, attempts at reconciliation have equally been pioneered in the past by notable personalities such as Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Mathew Mbu, but with limited success. Igbos’ eastern neighbors, as it were then, weren’t forthcoming. Their grievances against the big brother which predated the war, and which had its roots in the political machinations of the then Igbo dominated NCNC in the East were neck deep. In a wave of relentless write-ups over the years, several non Igbo writers from the region have repeatedly accused the defunct NCNC of having sown the seed of discord in the region. However, from the current political permutation, it can reasonably be said that the right environment for a reconciliation may be now.

With the emergence of a Nigerian president of Ijaw extraction and his political ambition, the Igbo and their input, I suggest, should be guided by the burden of history.There is currently the desire to talk to each other. The Ijaw leaders, since after the war, have begun to meet with Ohaneze leadership on issues of mutual importance. This is good. Their meeting with Amb. Ralph Uwechue, did signal a generational change of baton, and departure from the belligerent style of the old brigade led by Chief E.K Clark. There is a leadership void in eastern region, of which this president is aware. How he handles the respective groups’ interests would determine if he’ll emerge the post war giant of eastern regional politics. An opportunity, that could propel him in the league of Zik, Awo and Ahmadu Bello.

Much as it is important for inter regional alliances in the nation’s political equation, the backlog of political problems in one’s homestead should not be overlooked. Reconciliation should be uppermost, and whatever price the Igbo have to pay, so be it.

The pledge by the current south eastern states governors not to seek elective offices in 2011 is most welcome. The strategy behind the decision may not be widely known. But, if it has to do with the aspirations of the current president, then, there is a natural connect, and which seem to reflect the sentiments of the local electorate in the south east. The emotional attachment to Dr. Ebele Jonathan is quite visible. And my recent trip to Nigeria did confirm it, as most of the locals whom I interacted with in the South east reaffirmed their confidence in Jonathan and his personification of the south east cause.

Although there may be a level playing field for Babangida, Atiku and other contestants, but the fact that the incumbent president was born Ebele-Azikiwe-Jonathan in a culturally sensitive society like Nigeria, appear to be drawing lots of sentiments for the Otueke born politician in the south east. A heritage he does not fail to remind his audience at any given opportunity. How time and events changes perceptions! Barely three years ago, another popular south south presidential candidate with similar heritage was known to have kept his heritage under wraps.

However, all things being equal, the president of a nation is the father of the nation, and whose duty it should be to see that every segment of his domain was carried along in his exercise of presidential duties, which has not been the case. Having seen the abandonment that is the south east zone, there is a moral and political justification for Ndigbo to insist on one of their own becoming the president. While the present configuration may not make that feasible, it does however present a mixed bag of options centered on either going with Pres. Jonathan or with the North.

And, In simple terms, the likely scenarios could be these: If the majority of Ndigbo go with the North and Jonathan loses this election, misgivings in the neighborhood will deepen; eastern region will for the next one hundred years be a den of resenting neighbors. If the Igbo go with Jonathan and Jonathan loses, it will be on record that the majority of easterners stood by their son. Such solidarity will not only bring back confidence amongst the people of the region, It would equally open a new brotherly milieu, which would wipe out old resentments. Suffice to say that in the face of such a defeat, the Igbo would lose nothing from a central system they’ve gained little from. And which goes to remind one of the saying that says: he that is down needs fear no fall.

On the other hand, If the Igbo go with the North and the North wins, it could be possible that a northern leader would, for the first time change their political fortunes. Of course, such would equally be a good development. But, that said, let no one be under any illusion; the promises of an Igbo presidency in 2015 is merely an hypothesis. Anyone banking on such a promise in the fluid Nigerian political terrain should have a rethink. The tenurial aggregate of leadership of the nation vis-a-vis zoning or morality, demands that south east zone be ceded the presidency immediately after Jonathan’s tenure in 2015. That is, if he wins the coming presidential elections.

Irrespective of the noises being made about zoning, the north have a collective agenda, which is barely the case in the south. A collective southern agenda would go a long way to sophisticate southern politics. It would compel presidents of southern extraction, irrespective of tribe or tongue, to implement southern priorities, while pursuing the overall national objectives. The north’s unity of purpose is not in doubt; the varying background of the current PDP presidential contestants validates that. There is no contention in the north of which zone should fill the slot of what suppose to be the North west zone. Shine your eyes my people! as they are wont to say.

Written by
Ossie Ezeaku
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