How Ndi-Igbo Blew A Very Good Chance Of Producing Nigeria's President (2)

by Bode Eluyera

Без труда, рыбу не выловишь из пруда.

(Русская пословица)


Without making any effort, you can’t catch a fish from the pond.

(Russian proverb)

Omo to ba s‘ipa, ni iya e ngbe.

(Yoruba proverb)

“The wise are instructed by reason, average mind by experience, and the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.”

Marcus Tczero.

“Give us a free and fair election – allow us to be fully part of Nigeria. What upsets the Igbo population is we are not equally Nigerian as the others. It was this practice of unfair treatment of Ndigbo that led to Biafra‘s declaration of independence on 30 May 1967. I regretted the war and the deaths but I am proud that my people had fought back.”

Odumegwu Ojukwu. (Ikemba of Nnewi)

Excerpt of interview given to Sun newspaper in July, 2007

“The ethnic balancing in the country has suddenly changed. We now have the three key posts in the government being manned by Northerners. We have a situation where Northerners head all the three arms of government – the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. Yar’Adua is the President, Legbo Kutigi is the Chief Justice, and they want another northerner to be Senate President.

If you add that to the fact that both the secretary to the government of the federation (Ambassador Babagana Kingibe) and the head of service (Yayale Ahmed) are all from the North, you will realise what I am saying. We are saying the present set up is unfair to the rest of us.

We asked that we should restructure the country, but he (Obasanjo) was busy selfishly restructuring the human resources. We warned him then that his effort would be reversed within a short period. Now it has happened and it is staring all of us in the face.

I will suggest that in the interest of equity and justice, the Igbo should be allowed to produce the Senate President. They were not given neither the presidency nor the vice-presidency, and Yoruba just had eight years ruling Nigeria. So they (Igbo) should have the Senate President.

Some people say he merely inherited them (National Security Officer and Chief Of Staff), but I disagree. He retained them because it suits his plan. If they did not tally with his agenda, he would have rejected them. Is he saying he cannot find good hands in the entire South? That was the point Obasanjo missed during his eight-year regime on this issue of restructuring and it is a shame that he wasted the opportunity to restructure the country while the chance was there. Rather, he was busy plotting how to get a third term.

The problem of the Niger Delta will continue while lives will be generally unpleasant for all of us. We need to go back to the basics. All the regions should be sending rents and royalties to the central body not the other way round.

Unfortunately, some people in the corridors of power do not understand these things. In 2006, I delivered a paper at the World Yoruba Day in Atlanta Georgia, U.S.A., where I criticised Obasanjo for not restructuring the country. Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, came in the evening to dismiss what I said earlier. He said then that we the Yoruba should be happy that it is ‘Gobi‘ cap that is ruling Aso Rock. Can he say the same today? If there is a ‘Gobi‘ cap in that place now, it is the one Obasanjo forgot to take along with him. It is such short-sightedness that continued to make this matter to linger.”

Yinka Odumakin. Afenifere Public Relations Secretary.

excerpt of an interview given in early June, 2007.

What really went wrong?

It will be no exaggeration to assert that the contribution of Ndigbo to the development of Nigeria is invaluable. Hardly can one name a field of human endeavour that people of Igbo extraction have not only excelled, but as well rank among the best in the world. Take for example literature, Ndigbo have given Nigeria and the world some of the best writers in the world. Some of America‘s best scientists have their roots from Igboland. One of the most popular, respected and celebrated American scientist, Phillip Emeagwali was born in South East Nigeria. He is the pride of the black race as a whole. Ndigbo are known all over the world for their entrepreneurship spirit.

After the catastrophic rule of Nigeria by the North and the military for almost 39 years, the expectations of most Nigerians was that the battle for Aso rock would be between the South East and the South south respectively. If the presidential campaign had been limited to these two regions, Ndigbo being the largest tribe in the region coupled with the financial resources at their disposal, definitely would had emerged the winner in the battle. The denial of Ndigbo the opportunity to rule Nigeria by the so called “establishment” is not only evil, unfair and unwise but is a political time bomb that could explode at any time. Unfortunately, Nigeria and Nigerians are at a big loose. This does not auger well for the unity of the country that we so much talk about, but in actual fact do very little to implement. Who is really deceiving who?

On the other hand, as already stated in part 1 of the article, with all my respect and admiration for Ndiigbo, it is very sad to admit that they have done very little or virtually nothing in order to occupy a befitting place in Nigeria’s political structure. As far as the 2007 presidential election is concerned, the impression is that the Ndigbo really do not believe in themselves and their ability to produce Nigeria‘s no.1 citizen. How could such a brilliant and talented people allowed themselves to be caught with their pants down during the presidential election? This is still a big puzzle

for me to solve.

Unfortunately, Ndigbo are now paying dearly for their shoddy approach or preparation for the presidential election. Out of all the major political appointments, not a single seat is occupied by anybody of Igbo extraction. The humiliation of Ndigbo in Nigeria‘s post election became so apparent and embarrassing to the extent that the legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi was compelled to come out publicly to appeal to Yar’adua to slot the post of Inspector General of Police (I.G.P) to an Igbo man. The civil rights lawyer was quoted as saying: “the leadership of the police has consciously or deliberately eluded the Igbos who constitute one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. If he (Ogbonna) was qualified to be a DIG of Police, why should he not be qualified to be an (IGP)? I demand an explanation from Yar’adua administration. Afenifere was also not left out in their sympathy to the maltreatment and injustice meted out to Ndigbo.

The status of Ndigbo in Nigeria‘s politics has gone so low to the extent that only the post of I.G.P was being considered for such a great, talented and enterprising people. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Ndigbo must admit that they themselves and nobody else are to be blamed for their calamity. The North now know that all they could do is to bark and not bite. The Ndigbo have sold their birth right, or should I say bona fide right, for peanuts. The price of practically all Ndigbo politicians is known to the North, and by all indications, they had all being bought right before the election. The consequences of the action or inaction of Ndigbo during the Presidential campaign will hunt them for long.

It is widely believed ( I am not claiming or asserting that it is true) that Ndigbo love money so much to the extent that they are not only ready to sell even their mothers for it, but they are as well ready to wine and dine with the devil – irrespective of the fact that the latter is guilty of pogrom against his people – as far as he (the devil) promises to give him a contract that will improve his financial standing significantly. The believe in Nigeria is that no matter what you do to an Igbo man, once you invite him to Abuja and offer a piece of the national cake, he is not only willing to forgive and forget on the spot, but could equally sell his people to you without any guilty conscience. This is really very unfortunate. If Ndigbo want to be reckoned with in Nigeria‘s politics, most especially, if they want to occupy their right and befitting place in Nigeria‘s politics, they really need to work very hard to debunk this opinion about them.

Is one supposed to put up with the bitter truth that when it comes to political dexterity, manipulations, games and intrigues, Ndigbo are no match for the “barbaric” North? Or do Ndigbo have some kind of inferiority complex when it comes to fighting for political power with the descendants of Othman Dan Fodio? Otherwise, how does one explain the fact that they did not put up any serious fight to claim what by all criteria belong to them?

Based on my objective analysis, Ndigbo committed a lot of blunders during their campaign for Aso rock. Otherwise, how does one explain the fact that Ojukwu who initially declared his presidential ambition then all of a sudden made a U turn and said that he was going to do all within his capability to deliver Ndigbo votes and the whole of S.E. to Atiku. Atiku of all people! Chineke! Tu fia kwa. Chineke e ku lejo.

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1 comment

agogo July 16, 2007 - 2:52 pm

Bode, very true comment!!! Its their penalty for lack of unity and the inability to speak with one voice on national issues. Thanks 4 Ur comment on the Orlando article.


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