Rev Fr. Evaristus Offor
The popular religious creed “one with God is majority’’, will prophetically play out in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. No Jupiter can stop God’s supremacy and as the late Reggae megastar Bob Marley, philosophically sang that no supremacy or authority, whether here, below and above, can stop the hand of time and season, except God.
This is because mere mortals cannot stop anyone’s destiny. Human destiny can only be delayed, no matter what. The Egyptians tried to fence in the Jewish destiny, but at the allotted time, God heard their cries and commanded Moses and other prophets to set them free via his dominant and spread-out arms. The story of the Jews and Egyptians is not yet cramped in the conundrum of historical books and commentaries. When they cried, God sent his angels to kill the Egyptian male children, and similarly divided the Red Sea for their freedom at the peril of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:13). He also encouraged them not to fear because the Egyptians will not be seen any more.
God’s power also played out throughout the periods preceding the incarnation of his Son Jesus Christ, when he censured, healed and dealt unfalteringly with political, traditional, religious and oppressing groups of the Pharisees, Scribes, Chief Priests, Elders and other opinion leaders of Israel. Our God abhors oppression, injustice and racist animosity, marginalization.
The narration of Nigeria is a true replica of the above biblical situation, where issues of long-drawn-out injustice, racial domination and marginalization, have warped and manacled the destiny of the Igbo people for so long. Just as in the above picture, the Igbo people have been incarcerated, humiliated, their rights and dignity tattered, their social, political and economic powers truncated and abused. The Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba nations have bypassed the Igbo people politically, rebuffing the Igbo people their prized rights, especially the right to political ascendancy. After so many years of Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba supremacy, they have willy-nilly allied to conquer and vanquish the race to the fourth-class citizenship making way for the South-South, to also circumvent them. They have been conquered and sideline to economic sticky situation, physical and cerebral anguish, political and social back bench. They suffer discrimination, intolerance, victimization and unjust structural status. No federal presence, so many federal bad roads.
I, therefore, want to appeal to world powers, the Vatican, World Council of Churches and people of good conscience all over to read this work religiously and tell us the reason the Igbo should not be given the 2023 presidential ticket. Here are some germane questions for President Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Adams Oshiomhole and their cohorts, begging for moral and spiritual answers. Have they forgotten so soon the pains, agony, grief and purgatorial cesspool, which have dogged the Igbo, since the outrageous pogrom of 1966?
Why should any right thinking person seek to shortchange rotational presidency, which has benefitted all other races, except the Igbo? Have they forgotten that since 1957 that the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, a northerner, ruled Nigeria for eight years? Have they forgotten that both the North and Southwest brutally killed Major-General Aguyi Ironsi, an Igbo who, was the General Officer Commanding the country? He led Nigeria just for only six months. Who is so callous to overlook that General Yakubu Gowon became the Head of State from 29th July 1966, and schemed the Civil War of 1967 which lasted till 1970. He ended his rulership after nine years of economic kismet on 29th July, 1975. Gowon from the North Central region of Nigeria spent the same number of nine years of waste in office, as Sir Abubakar Tafalwa Balewa, Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister.
Sadly, in a vicious reprocess General Murtala Mohammed, another northerner, immediately grabbed power on 29th July, 1975 which lasted till 13th February, 1976 just for six months. He was killed by his brother Col. Buka Suka Dimka and cohorts in an abortive coup d’état. After his short reign, General Olsegun Obasanjo of the Yoruba extraction took over the headship of the country and spent three years from October 13, 1976 to 1st October, 1979.
Worrisomely, the same General Obasanjo came back to national power as the elected president of Nigeria, spent a whole eight years from 1999 to 2007, keeping the Igbo out of a manipulated presidency. For this fact, the Southwest geopolitical zone has now enjoyed the presidency for 11 years in addition to the six-month rudderless headship of Chief Earnest Shonekon, as Head of State of the Republic of Nigeria. Instead of ceding power to the Igbo, the late dictator from the North gave the headship baton to another Yoruba. Have you seen clearly the monstrous picture of oppression and marginalization of the Igbo till date? Figuratively, the Southwest zone has been on the presidential saddle for 12 years, yet the Southeast is still perching on a six-month leadership.
Militarily, the North has ruled us for donkey years from an insensitive government to another, in a vicious circle jokes. In their determined born-to-rule strategies, the present President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari (North West) had once been the military Head of State of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August, 27th 1985. He spent nearly two years since he ousted President Shehu Shagari.
All put together, let people of God and good conscience see the cogent reason for the Igbo to be elected the next president of Nigeria. Let us employ reason, morality and the fear of God in assessing the above facts, and our resolve to see that justice and equity, fairness and equality are respected. Frankly speaking, when one adds up the leadership of the country and need for justice, it is obvious that it’s only the Igbo that are shortchanged. For example, when you add up Murtala Mohammed’s six months plus Shehu Sagari’s four years three months, Buhari’s two years as military ruler and his present civilian rulership, including Sani Abacha’s despotic five years (1993-June 1998) and finally the late Umaru Shehu Musa’s two years you get 17 unfortunate years and half a year, approximating 18 years for the Northwest region. Just imagine the Hausa-Fulani presidency in Nigeria and six months of the Igbo. Even the devil and his dark angels will quiver at the figure.
Should heaven not do something remarkable to remedy the situation as in the time of old? The story is even getting messier as you read along. What have the Igbo done to deserve this continued horrific mendaciousness? Since Yakubu Gowon headed the country for nine years and General Ibrahim Babangida’s eight years plus General Abdusalami Abubakar’s one year, the North-central has enjoyed 18 years as Heads of State and Presidents of the Republic of Nigeria. Please think about the six months that the Southeast has enjoyed? Considering the hegemonistic and jihadist enslavement of Nigerians by the North, you put together this simple arithmetic: Northwest =18 and North-central = 18 and Northeast’s 9 years , all equal to 45 years of Northern rulership of a 59 years country.
Imagine the Igbo race begging for an eight-year leadership out of the six months.
However, God on our side come 2023 victory belongs to the Igbo race. The blood of our brothers and sisters willfully massacred in the pogrom, brutalized in the callous putsch and the civil war, is before the God of the Jews begging for vengeance, which is already taking place. Ndigbo should unite because this is their divinely ordained time to clinch the most eluded national political trophy. Let them go all out internationally and continentally and speak out and mobilize. Let them franchise with the North and South for they still have men and women of valor who will help them get the goal in 2023.
Igbo media experts, professionals, trade unionists, students associations, and every good Nigerian should come together, pray together, synergize with each other and help return this country to her way of glory and stardom. Let us congregate without fear or favour, to tell the world that it does not serve the cause of truth to try and force everybody a materialistic worldview, tribalistic impunity and religious bigotry in the name of national democracy. Why should we Christians and good Muslims allow a cabal to change our heroes’ pride and nature’s climate of justice and equity.
Can’t we as men and women of valor, look for honest plans to redress the wounds of Biafra instead of people of crooked minds still breathing fury and animosity over Igbo ascendency? Where is our common belief in God, justice and everything nice and valuable in Nigeria?
• Rev Fr Offor Ph.D is Parish priest and Eze Udo of Umuoka of St Andrew Catholic Church, Enugu State, as well as founder, Scholars Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Igbo Civilization (SAPPIC).