The Fragile State Of Ndigbo and Unguarded Statements (2)

by Ossie Ezeaku

While some would argue that handing out important positions to a few members of a group does not automatically improve the lot of the larger members of the group, It should be borne in mind that a group’s discrimination from the upper echelon of governance, has its own trickle down effect on the economic development of the people and their region. More so when the structure of governance, as it is in Nigeria today, has a very strong center.

Quite a number of People feel that Dike’s promotion to an equivalent of a four star General, the first in Nigerian and sub Saharan military aviation history was, irrespective of his unquestionable professional merit, borne out of a conscious determination to bring to a closure, the marginal position of Ndigbo. And so is with that of Onovo who had the fastest confirmation of an IGP in Nigerian police history.

The latest impasse was unfortunate, because when a leader is seen as the mouth piece of his people, his opinions, simultaneously, are assumed to have the backing of the majority of his people. Nevertheless, people should understand that the power of symbolic status is particularly susceptible to inadvertent abuse, because so much of what underlies it is tacit. Leaders, for reasons known to them, may avoid their basic responsibility to promote socio-political development, by not providing clear and unbiased information. The current controversial statement of the Ikemba Nnewi was a typical example.

The majority of Ndigbo, today, are determined to take their destiny in their own hands, and to retake their rightful place in the country their fathers and grand fathers once led, played crucial roles in achieving its independence. Igbos are historically patriotic citizens, and heart-touching examples are abound to back it. Way back 1945, before any living or dead Nigerian leader, young Mazi Mbonu Ojike, as a student in New-York, had already become a familiar face in the premises of the newly constructed U.N Building. To the amazement of the world’s top diplomats in the premises, the 26 year old Mbonu was always seen alone in the premises distributing pamphlets, asking for Nigeria’s independence.

That said, the pursuit of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, for example, cannot be realized in isolation or by constant calls for war – be that call real , proverbial or whatever – but with the trust and goodwill of fellow Nigerians. In the same vein, the position of a president and commander in Chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria can’t be realized by a group if they are continually viewed as a security threat. Thus, the Igbo should be mindful of their current attainment. They should guard it and equally know when it’s under threat.

On the other hand, the personality strengths of charismatic leaders and its effects on their followers should always be borne in mind. History tells us that good and equally catastrophic examples have been set by some of them. Be that of Nelson Mandela, Adolph Hitler, Mahatma Ghandi or Rev. Jim Jones of Guyana, the power that lies under their personal traits and qualities should not be under estimated. Commentators who cannot comprehend this, should simply bury their faces in shame.

I’m proud to say that Ndigbo have equally retired senior military officers of out-standing accomplishments. They should endeavor to stand up and caution when unguarded statements are made, especially by charismatic individuals. Key personalities like Admirals Ndubuisi Kanu, Alison Madueke, Chijioke Kaja, Benjamin Acholonu, Joseph Ezeoba and Emeka Ijeoma are some of them. In the same vein, Lieutenant General Chikadibia Obiakor, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Air Vice Marshals Canice Umenwaliri and Osita Obierika, Major Generals Godwin Ugwu, C.R.U Ihekire, Alex Ndefo, Festus Okonkwo, Charles Maduegbunam etc., are equally crucial.

The study of the life and times of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe has become pertinent today than ever. What ever was behind his success was clearly propelled by the simple fact that his approach to politics was anchored on a non-segmental and non-belligerent principles. A great tactician, Zik was the only Nigerian politician – North and South – in living memory, that was able to, without throwing stolen funds around, influence and command loyal followers even in the farthest northern and western frontiers of Nigeria.

A few years after the catastrophic defeat of Biafra and Ndigbo, his NPP made historical gains in Northern Nigerian states, winning Gen. Gowon’s home state of plateau. Without overstating the obvious, his virtues are worthy of emulation, and the most viable option for his people. I implore Ndigbo to exercise patience, condemn every echo of war, study and imbibe Zik’s values for a successful political future in the Nigerian enterprise. This is it.

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