THE IGBO DILEMMA; IF NOT BUHARI 2019, WHO THEN?
By Professor Ego Igwe
By Professor Ego Igwe
There is a political dilemma afflicting the Igbos today; a political choice that is being driven by raw passion and pulsating emotions. As the 2019 elections flow to the front, the Igbos are essentially haunted by ghosts from the past and a perception, wrongly or rightly, that the North, when in power, will never be kind to us.
It was Nasir Dambatta’s write up in Politics Today (Can Northern Elders’ Consensus Plan stop Buhari? 20 February, 2018) and my Facebook share and comments of same, that sent me off on a mission of inquiry. My search revealed a changing tempo in Igbo political calculations and thoughts. It also uncovered a political fatigue that seems to be spreading rapidly across the S/E. The reaction that l found to be most recurring was the question “If we don’t vote for Buhari, who else is there to vote for?”
This question essentially defines the present day Igbo political dilemma. Yes, there are questions about the way Buhari appears to have treated the Igbos and true, there is anger across Igboland stemming from this perception. But whereas this perception and anger may be widespread, there is also an even greater realization that the Igbos cannot continue to play from the sidelines politically, ad infinitum. At the other end of this political pole, we will find groups like IPOB and MASSOB, insisting that secession is the only way to go for the Igbos. They may have a point but realistically, l doubt if that shoe will fit.
It must be stated that the political fatigue which is presently spreading across the S/E arose and intensified, primarily because of the roles IPOB and MASSOB played in the political destiny of the Igbos. Some Igbos see IPOB as a gathering of the frustrated and MASSOB as a gathering of the aged. Those who do, do not see IPOB or MASSOB as grassroot but merely as a vocal mass for the disillusioned. This group maintains that IPOB and MASSOB are nothing but meddlesome interlopers who should steer clear from our political discourse. They hold that IPOB and MASSOB are unfit to drive the Igbo political vehicle and unworthy of Igbo political leadership, by reasons of content and context.
Be this as it may however, the truth may yet be that this political fatigue has compelled a necessary introspection and reexamination of the Igbo political situation. It has forced the consideration of a crucial political question for the Igbos; where are we headed in this geopolitical construct called Nigeria? This consideration to my mind is what has led to a groundswell of support for Mr President across the S/E. I will be the first to admit that even this support has not come about as a result of some kind of romanticism for the Buhari persona but rather because of a careful evaluation that acknowledges the lack of a viable option. By this, the Igbos have decided to bury the hatchet and along with it, the ghosts from the past. They have opted for a clean slate and committed to investing in the Nigerian project.
The Obasanjo factor is yet another force that drives the impetus for voting Buhari in the S/E. Whereas there may be that perception of meanness by Buhari towards the Igbos held across the S/E, the verdict on Obasanjo is out and it’s crystal clear; for the S/E, he’s a man who is not to be trusted or believed. Obasanjo’s one man, one plot policy is still seen today as a policy targeted at the economic ruination of the Igbos. Likewise, his regime’s fiscal policy of paying Igbos a paltry twenty pounds irrespective of deposits evidenced by their bank accounts, is also telling. It is believed also that his second coming as president continued that process of economic ruination for the Igbos. It can be truthfully said that all through Obasanjo’s political sojourn in power, he never once addressed the economic situation or infrastructural concerns of the Igbos.
The Igbos realize that no matter the perception Buhari evinces, Obasanjo’s tenure in power was more hurtful to our economic wellbeing than any other. We also realize that his primary assignment might yet be to split the PDP block votes in the SS, SE. The man is already shifting positions, perceptively and openly declaring he will have nothing to do with PDP. Yet, off he goes for prayer session with Jonathan. Where is Obasanjo’s activism in the SW? My survey shows Igbos view his sanctimonious outpourings as another deceitful gambit characteristic of his vindictive nature. There is nothing Obasanjo can now pretend to do that will drive Igbo support his way, his time is long gone.
The Igbos also realize the SW is the beautiful bride, but Tinubu is weak. Nigeria, to all intents and purposes is a one party system. What the SS and SE can bring to the table is the legalization of that process. Tinubu is not working his angles and is petrified of losing power, this is why the Odige-Oyegun threat is politically life threatening. Our affliation with the North weakens the SW and Tinubu’s bragging clout. It’s either Tinubu is talking to us or we’re talking to the North. In between is a comfort zone better than where we are now. The Igbos understand the SE will not be orphaned politically and that the time to roll that dice is now.
Come 2019, Igbos will vote Buhari because the time has come to move on. They will vote Buhari because the time is ripe to reclaim our rightful place as custodians and builders in the Nigerian project. Indeed, the time has come to offer up to our future generations a space devoid of rancour and self pity. Yes, the time has come to stand in brotherhood. Will Buhari be the silver lining behind Nigeria’s imminent and downcast skies? I do not see why not but time will tell.
Prof. Ego Igwe