Reno Omokri’s treatise on the Igbo quest to produce Nigeria’s next President has stirred some emotions in many.
Omokri had passionately canvassed unity among the Igbo, as recipe to actualising this ambition. He recalled that the Yoruba got the presidency in 1999 because they were united in the demand for it, as a compensation for the MKO Abiola debacle, or they would pull out of the country.
What Omokri forgot was that, if actually the Yoruba succeeded in getting the presidency because of any threat to Nigeria, it worked because they were Yoruba, not Igbo, for whom there seems to be a systemic plot to keep them on the leash. It is a known fact that both the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani have built an alliance of evil to checkmate the Igbo for daring the civil war, which was actually forced on the beleaguered people.
Sadly for them, the Igbo are a covenant come-back kid that no power can destroy. They rose from the ashes of that genocidal holocaust, with handouts of N20 in exchange for their millions in the spirit of Nigeria’s dubious mantra of ‘no victor, no vanquished’. It is a rare feat by whatever template it is measured and, as Omokri noted, “Without government assistance, Alaba Electronic Market generates $4 billion annual sales, according to renowned American economic journalist, Robert Neuwirth, who spent months embedded with Alaba traders. When you add Onitsha and Aba markets, the total comes to $6.5 billion. Add Ladipo Spare Parts Market, and it jumps to $8 billion.”
This is without factoring Abuja and such other offshore lands, which Igbo wealth has built up. Yet the Igbo are treated like pariahs and subjected to nefarious attacks by envious host communities.
That is why I wish the Igbo were more united in repatriating a greater percentage of their wealth to their homeland. You can imagine the impact a small percentage of such trillions of naira would have on the Igbo homeland. This is not to dissuade Ndigbo from seeking political power, which I know is possible if the economic power is deployed.
Those who argue that the Igbo cannot get the presidency are being frugal with the truth, unless they are considering deliberate obstacles strewn on their way. They would tell you that the presidency is based on merit, not rotation. I am yet to see any other tribe that has more meritorious men and women than Ndigbo. If merit is measured by the antecedents of those that have ruled and are still ruling this country, it is obvious that the Nigerian definition is flawed.
They also argue that politics is a game of numbers, inferring that the Igbo do not have the numbers to produce the President of Nigeria. This is not true. One wonders how a major tribe like the Igbo became minority. People familiar with the North will question the huge figures, which years of manipulation, allocated to that region. Large land mass, yes; but figures? The North is one large expanse of land with sparse dotting of few hamlets separated by several kilometres. How they are more populous than the densely-populated Igboland is a mystery and remains a contrivance of thievery statistics. It is also common knowledge that Nigeriens, Chadians and Malians are also usually imported and counted to beef up the trumpeted population, as could be testified in the evidence during electoral exercises when infants do not only line up to be registered but also actually vote in elections without any arrests made or prosecuted.
Moreover, because of the wanderlust lifestyle of the Igbo, they are usually the second largest number after the host community all over the country but Nigeria has fraudulently removed state of origin from census statistics hence the Igbo end up populating other areas while depopulating their own area. The worst is that they don’t even go home to be counted during census and most host governments often forbid them to travel. So, anyone coming from that angle knows he is not saying the truth. Even if that is the case, nothing is impossible where there is a will.
Another mindless argument is that the Igbo are agitating for Biafra and could not possibly be asking for the presidency at the same time. I do not know at which fora the Igbo demanded for Biafra. The truth is that aggrieved Igbo youths are agitating because of obvious injustice and inequities skewed against the Igbo. They see the injustice their fathers told about being replicated in their time and want a stop to it. There is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, Nigeria is besieged on every side. So, why single out the Igbo? It is baffling if anyone thinks that an Igbo President could decree Biafra into being just like that, with a National Assembly in place.
It is not really about Yoruba unity that the Yoruba produced the President in 1999. As a matter of fact, the Yoruba were not actually united and that was how the hegemonic Hausa-Fulani installed Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a man they detested and rejected. Anyway, that does not remove anything from that fact that the Yoruba got the presidency.
Saying that the Igbo are not united because of divergence of views is uncharitable; we cannot be zombies. Some of us are professing Biafrans but do not buy into the madness some demigod who knows more than knowledge has imported into the quest for justice. That cannot be disunity among the Igbo.
In fact, the easiest way to healing the wounds of hurt Nigerians is restructuring of the polity. Sadly, on the two occasions Nigerians got close to restructuring, it was truncated by southerners on the altar of selfishness. Former President Goodluck Jonathan flunked the great opportunity the National Conference he convened in 2014 offered. That august assembly made landmark recommendations that were capable of preserving the land but he dithered due to lack of political will until he was booted out of office. Before him, Obasanjo had also failed. So, expecting the presidency under Buhari to restructure may be a pipe dream because the North has gorged so much and got so used to it they may not let go.
However, the greatest mistake the Nigerian leadership would make is overly focusing on Ndigbo, instead of addressing the causes of the agitation. Nigeria is on the brink and manacled to cronyism, nepotism and palpable segregation in the land. Biafra is not really an Igbo affair. It has come to represent the obvious signs of the implosion coming soon whereby many Biafras would emerge.
Perhaps, the greatest need for Ndigbo is how to fill the leadership vacuum created by the demise of Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, whom they still venerate. Despite their republican nature, Ndigbo will always back the right leader. These paperweight bootlickers prancing about the Igbo landscape cannot command the people’s respect because they lack the requisite credentials.
Of course, there is nothing like absolute unity anywhere in the world, even among the feudal Hausa-Fulani and the Yoruba. There will always be saboteurs like those for whom their pears had ripened for them to lick but are today relics of abhorrent history, pilloried by their people and rejected by their masters, who had craftily used them against their people.