The ongoing clamor for the post of speaker of the house of representative by leaders of many Ndigbo sociopolitical and partisan groups has brought back the themes of political marginalization, exclusion and even shortchanging of the Ndigbo back to the forefront of the national discourse in Nigeria. Some important questions need to be clearly and analytically answered about these themes. One, are the Ndigbo being politically marginalized, excluded or even shortchanged in Nigeria? If so, who are the perpetrators of such acts, and why? If not, why are some people saying so.
Like many of the Ndigbo elites you read and hear in the media these days, I agree that yes the Ndigbo are being politically shortchanged but therein ends our limited area of convergence. Unlike those Ndigbo sociopolitical and partisan leaders, some of us do not believe that the perpetrators of such bad service are some alien anti Ndigbo group or party to be fought by strong Ndigbo elites on the pages of newspapers and on TV. For some of us, the worst offenders against the interest of the people are above all these same Ndibgo elites.
When it comes to pain and joy, no one is different. Like the rest of the country, the people of the southeastern part of Nigeria need politics to deliver good governance that will facilitate the creation of safe neighborhoods, good roads, decent schools, efficient health system and of course stable electric supply. The residents and indigenes of that part of the country are clearly victims of the Nigerian political short change. What we really want is a Southern eastern Nigeria where all can go for holidays and business without fear of being kidnapped, good airports where planes arrive on time, a region where erosion is tackled with competence and integrity. Whilst we are at it, let us include the burning desire for an efficient and agile free trade zone.
Rather than deal with all these, those that politically represent and influence the lives of the Ndigbo have focused on attainting power and position. But power and position to do what and for whom? Lest we forget, never in the history of democratic Nigeria has the Ndigbo leaders been in complete and coordinated opposition to power in the central, no civilian ruler or party has ever ruled Nigeria without the support of a Ndigbo party. Even the NPP developed an understanding and a working agreement with the NPN. What have they done with such alliances? What benefit have they brought to their people from all those unions and supports? Before pledging and delivering support, votes and collaboration, what did those that spoke and negotiated for the Ndigbo ask the PDP today, the NPN yesterday and the NPC the day before yesterday? We do not know because they did not officially and publicly tell the Ndigbo and the rest of the world. What we saw however was nomination into national positions.
Assuming power and getting into public office in the name and on behalf of people and not doing concrete things for them by resolving their problems is politically short changing such people and it is morally wrong. On behalf of those hard working apprentices, business people, civil servants, professionals and students, we have taken stock for those that represent and direct the political actions of the Ndigbo and the result of the audit is bad. Ndigbo leaders need to change a lot in their mode of operation whilst representing their people and dealing with other group and people in Nigeria.
Before going to negotiate an alliance or pledge support to any group or person they need to remember it is not about them (the leaders) but about the people and consequently find out what these people want. They need to pledge their alliance only to those that have programmes and principles that meet the need of their people. They need to then make the reasons and expectations of their alliance public so that all can be witness and negotiators held accountable.
They need to change their language and tactics. The best side of democracy is carved in poetry; it is made of values, ideals and ideas. During negotiations and even after they have fulfilled their own part of the arrangement, leaders need to learn to refrain from using prosaic expressions that makes the whole process pedestrian. In the ongoing clamor for the post of speaker, it is makes one cringe to read Ndigbo elites use terms like “share the spoils of power”, or talk about a “reward system that commensurate support”. It is sad that to discover that that those clamoring for the role of the speaker for a Ndigbo legislator have not come with the name of who they want and why they think he or she will make a good speaker.
The modes of operating so far are unfair to the Ndigbo people in particular but it is bad for Nigeria as well. Those in the Southeastern part of Nigeria that do not like to be shortchanged in this way need to call the attention of these elites to their error.