Igbo Presidency for Who?


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Igbo Presidency for Who?




John Iteshi





February 17, 2006



There are very few honest people in Nigeria who would dispute the justness of the clamour for Igbo presidency. Since the distribution of resources, social rewards and even justice in Nigeria is determined largely by the personal interests of  whoever seats there as the president, it should be a matter of right for Ndi Igbo to insist on taking their turn in the presidency of Nigeria as other major ethnic nationalities have since independence. However, the disastrous state of affairs in Nigeria today demands more of serious thoughts about what we really want as a people than the issue of which ethnic background the president should come from. It is high time we faced some serious issues about the future of our statehood rather than finding cheap compromises just to keep things moving. There may be no argument as to whether it is the turn of the Igbos, but the more serious issue which  ought to dominate national political discourses now is whether we  want an Igbo president just to have an Igbo man take his own turn of looting the treasury and favouring his kinsmen in juicy contracts/ appointments, dodgy privatisation programmes and the best infrastructural allocations just as the Yorubas are enjoying under Obasanjo and the Hausa/Fulanis have enjoyed many years earlier or do we want an Igbo president because he or she would show Nigeria the way forward?. It may sound just and reasonable, but it would be primitive to believe that the way out in Nigeria is for every ethnic group to take its own turn in looting and plundering the country.


Even if we all accept that it is right to continue rotating the presidency on ethnic basis, the sad truth is that Igbo people are not ready yet. The fundamental issues of lack of cohesion and lack of ‘Igbo understanding’ among the different localities and peoples of Igbo origin mean that Igbo presidency at this stage will only benefit the individual in question and his village which would witness special presidential attention. Enlightened Igbo elders and leaders must not be ashamed to appreciate the fact that   despite the excellence of our individuals in various fields of endeavours both at home and abroad, that the Igbos as a group are politically uncivilised. The ordinary Igbo individual irrespective of his level of enlightenment appears not to have developed politically beyond his village or autonomous community and he still carries primitive communal rivalries with him wherever he goes. Primitiveness rather than sheer greediness as Igbo haters prefer to think is the real reason why the average Igbo politician, after wangling his way to power, would cheaply sabotage the interest of his people for trivial personal gains. Unlike politicians from other ethnic nationalities who manifest strong allegiance to their group interests, most Igbo federal politicians are mere individuals who lack any serious allegiance to any Igbo cause and as such could go as far as depriving their fellow Igbo people of equitable shares of  resources and rewards even when they are in-charge. A typical example can be seen in the way an Igbo man Senator Evans Enwerem, as senate president shared 45 senate committee chairmanship positions between 36 states plus Abuja and deemed it fair and just that one Igbo state –Ebonyi, despite being 100% Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not eligible to have at least one out of  45 chairmanship positions. This abhorring case cannot be justified under any situation because it is an established fact that no Yoruba or Hausa idiot as Senate president would under-represent his own people no matter the rivalries that exist internally. Some Igbo people would definitely be right in the light of their many unsavoury experiences in the hands of their fellow Igbos to believe that they would be better of under a Hausa or Yoruba president than an Igbo president who does not come from their own village. Enlightened Igbo leaders must therefore seek ways to address some serious internal issues first of all as a way of forging a united Igbo front towards any campaign. 


We must also appreciate the fact that the Igbo nation is traditionally made up of loosely organised pockets of chiefdoms which are more antagonistic than co-operative to one another. And to hide under the present fake colonial structures in terms of regions, states and local governments and ignore the fact that all is not well with us would do us no good. Perhaps, there is need to convene an Igbo National Conference for Reconciliation by respectable Igbo elders with the aim of reconciling all Igbo communities or groups (wherever they may be located) and even individuals towards forging a true Igbo national structure that shares a common political ideology. Only then will there be a true Ohaneze Ndi Igbo which truly embraces all Igbo communities.


Igbo people would only begin to show good sense of direction in national politics only when there begins to exist an Igbo political structure based on Igbo ground not floating about Abuja or New York. Then, Ndi Igbo would begin their quest for justice and Equity in the larger Nigeria, from Igbo land. When there becomes a genuine Ohaneze, the question of bad and irresponsible governments in Igbo land will be first addressed by Igbo elders before ranting on newspaper pages about presidency of Nigeria. A genuine Ohaneze will be able to prove to ordinary Igbo people that they are serious about their interests by first of all fighting corruption and official wickedness among state governors and local government chairmen. We all know that if half of the resources accruing to each state in Igbo land could be judiciously spent, that poverty and crime in Igbo land would significantly reduce. The injustices we are complaining at the federal level are exactly replicated at all states and local governments in Nigeria and as such it makes a better sense to start building from the ground. Clamouring for Igbo presidency will not right the wrongs being done everyday amongst different Igbo communities by their Igbo leaders. For example, Governor Sam Egwu has been running Ebonyi State like a personal territory conquered by his fathers for the betterment of his family and his minority Ngbo/Izhia people with the rest of the state as their slaves. The first project embarked upon on election was to build a private home he never could have afforded in his village with a solid new road and street lights where there was no electricity. He has not only favoured his minority people unduly, but has equally attempted to carve out four new local governments out of his small Ohaukwu in his primitive attempt to convert his minority people to a majority. This is clearly worse than any Hausa or Yoruba president has ever done in the wider Nigeria against the rest of the country. It must be understood that the divisions and acrimonies being created among Igbo people by those supposedly elected to govern them pose a graver danger to Igbo survival far more than marginalisation at the federal level.

Of course it is not only the Igbos, but all other ethnic groups in Nigeria that need to begin to build that ideal Nigeria from their respective locations. If only powerful individuals like Chief Ekwueme, Wole Soyinka, Gani and many other prominent Nigerians with great ideas of social change could think it wise to begin from their local governments and then state governments. If only Ohaneze, Afenifere , Arewa and all other similar ethnic associations could decide to forget Abuja for a while and focus on  how the huge amounts of funds flowing into their respective states and local governments are being spent, Nigeria would change in no long distance. Of course, one cannot ignore the fact that Nigeria is rotting fast from Abuja, but it makes more sense to win simpler struggles before embarking on the more difficult ones.


Enlightened Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity or whatever backgrounds must unite in debating about how to build a new Nigeria. There is no doubt that  every Igbo man would rather there is a new Nigeria where every individual is treated with equality and human dignity and is free to live and work anywhere in the country without fear of some primitive persecutions than  have a president merely bearing an Igbo name. The generality of the Igbo nation and the whole country will no doubt benefit better to have a new Nigeria where the federal or state governments and their agencies must obey without delay every court order whether  from an Abuja high court or from an Onueke magistrate court. We must understand that the foundation for a successful Nigeria must be laid firmly on an effective judicial system rather than on personality cults. The most worthy project which all ethno-political groupings must pursue is the enshrinement of the rule of law and the principles of freedom and human rights in the polity.




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