“The bankrupt state of Igbo leadership is best illustrated in the alacrity with which they have jettisoned their traditional republicanism in favor of mushroom kingships”
Eze-Ndigbo in all nooks and corners of Nigeria is the bitumen of this arcane consciousness. Politics as business becomes an end in itself without productivity and entrepreneurial enhancement, provided profit and loss account is bullish. The cusp of Ndi-Igbo political desperation and frustration has suddenly become unbearable where: Eze-Ndigbo or micro Igbo leaderships in every space outside Igbo land is business; Igbo Traders Associations anywhere, another business; elective offices in Igbo land, the easiest ways to wealth; Town Union leaderships, a veritable means to grab public treasury; campaigning for electoral votes now a professional way of making money through buying and selling of votes; election rigging has become normal and expected means of victory at the poles; elections results are declared at humongous prices, at election tribunals and supreme court and kidnapping is a means of ascendancy to power.
All this is a symptom of flawed leadership recruitment drive in the unanimity of complex intrigues born out of primordial stereotypes and crude republican consciousness. It is mostly in Igbo land that leadership trust is no longer at the behest or the natural privilege of the elders. The clamour for youth takeover of leadership in all layers and segments of Nigeria has reached its anti-climax in Igboland, with catastrophic social and political consequences. Able bodied, emotional and sentimental youths have taking over the sits of wisdom, traditional stools and councils, and family heads, seldom, with the support of cash stripped and greedy elders. And what have you, the society is now standing with her head and philosophy upside down. This is better expressed by Chinua Achebe in his book, An Image of Africa and the Trouble with Nigeria thus: “The bankrupt state of Igbo leadership is best illustrated in the alacrity with which they have jettisoned their traditional republicanism in favor of mushroom kingships…And most of them are traders in their stall by day and monarchs at night; city dwellers five days a week and traditional village rulers on Saturdays and Sundays!…” (Achebe, 1983:68).
The entertainment industry is not helping Igbo cultural growth either. Unlike Richard Wagner music that drove the German consciousness and nationalism of conquest all over the world, the Igbo music and Nollywood industry emphasize less of nationalism, conquest and Igbo solidarity and much less in whatever geopolitical challenges they are confronted with, instead, they exalt self-aggrandizement, private holdings and money power to the existential diminishment of the race.
Take for instance, an assessment of the value addition to Igbo man’s economic and political growth in the sing song and musical renditions; Egobuike and Egobummanwoke (money is power and money maketh a man handsome). In the absence of a rider“that money is not everything” how else could an errant stereotypical belief like such enhance an integrated growth of a people’s personality and, as well, economic and cosmopolitan prosperity? Nonetheless, Ndigbo, the largest Diaspora nation in Africa, populating every nooks and corners in Africa and found doing business in any civilized parts of the world, would require some extrinsic economic and political capacities to steal the shine of other races. It seems political and economic isolationism is the problem, unfortunately, caused by culturally intertwined stereotypes interfacing unwholesome primodialities. Tragically, this has since been overtaking by modernizing and fast changing world.
But how else could this trend be stemmed without reversing some hypocritical values, yet stereotypical in evolution, where there is craze for titles, concomitants of self-adulation, selfish motive and personal aggrandizement? This again is an Igbo existential problem and stereotype which is inferred in some Igbo nationalistic literature. Chief Nanga in A Man of the People, by Chinua Achebe, is an ex-teacher whose failure to acquire more education pushes his crave for titles and recognition exposing his inadequacies by relegating what he has failed to achieve thus: “I use to tell them that standard six in these days is more than Cambridge today” (Achebe, 1966). Isn’t this aptly a stereotype? This is something more or less a primordial residual that resurfaces on the threshold of critical moral, ethical, aesthetics and political thinking of individuals, groups and social industries in Igbo land in terms of “money is power” and “money maketh a man handsome”.
Currently, there are non-existence of the positive values of precolonial Igbo republicanism, Things Fall Apart’s Okonkwo meritocracy, Igbo nationalistic leadership represented by Azikiwe, Okpara and immediate post colonial or 1960s Igbo Professional elites. And sadly, it is in the universities in Igbo land where leadership is bred that you find the greatest number of uncompleted and abandoned projects and buildings.
The political parties and their leaders in Igbo land from 2003 to the present are guilty of atavistic politics and flawed leadership recruitment. This simply amounts to reducing what presumptively makes Ndi-Igbo the Jews of Africa. Good leadership predicated on education, merit, consensus, vision, mission, justice and cosmopolitanism is the panacea to outlandish and grandstanding rendezvous of the present Igbo political equation. Certainly, if the present fledgling Igbo republicaness and inherent reverses in Igbo leadership recruitment must be tackled for good then here lies the imperative for recapitulation and replication of the panorama of pre-colonial epic Okonkwo Things Fall Apart and the narratives of Zik-Okpala-Eni Njoku pre and post independent era.
There are, however, natural and human approaches to reforming Igbo primordial stereotypes and that of humanity in general. One way is to rekindle and imbibe Plato’s statements that “the human race will never see the end of troubles until political power is entrusted to the lovers of wisdom” (Plato’s Republic) and that “so long as power is valued as the means to wealth, the helm of the ship will be grasped by man of business whose Bible is her profit and loss account” (Francis MacDonald Conford). The Igbo, no doubt, is the man of business who values power as the means to wealth and grasping the helm of the ship and whose Bible is her profit and loss account.
Stereotypism and primordiality which come with every human race in its cultural uniqueness is the immorality which Chinua Achebe describes as “baggage of irreducible inheritance of genes” (Achebe, 1988:100). It is the accumulation of sub-conscious deposits including the negatives and uncomplimentary ones which hedge against reason and development. The Igbo race would need to jump over this in an existential becoming, conquer of self and reform to discover herself in the cosmopolitan world.
Prof. Dukor is President/editor-in-chief of ESSENCE LIBRARY and teaches Philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka