Last Updated on June 25, 2022 by Memorila
Igbos will forever remain second class citizens in Nigeria if they do not follow the strategies enumerated in this article, Faruk Ahmed writes
Since independence on October 1, 1960, Igbos have only tasted the tonic of steering the stewardship of the country twice.
After Ironsi was brutally overthrown by the northern military establishment who were revenging the gruesome coup orchestrated by Chukwuma Nzeogwu and his cohorts, the Igbos have not smelt the inner chambers of Nigeria’s power of seat as Head of State. Whether as civilians or khaki men.
Why have the Igbo race been ostracized by their Nigerian brethren? What could they do to be in the good books of these co-travellers?
And ultimately, how can they stoop to conquer the race to Aso Rock?
These and more are what this article will try to unearth.
Who am I?
You might wonder what capacity do I have to offer solution to the Igbo race to Aso Rock. Or what right do I have?
Well, first of all, I am a Nigerian citizen. Secondly, even though I am Muslim, I am a south-southerner, particularly from Edo state.
And essentially, whatever affects an Igbo man affects me.
When the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967, my ancestors bore the brunt of the war because we were at the crossroads of major battles.
That is, coupled with the subjugation and tyranny the Biafrans further subjected us to.
Why Ndi Igbo has been ostracized
When the former Head of State, Major General Iguiyi-Ironsi was murdered and overthrown in 1967, his military government was replaced by that of Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon. Ironsi is an Igbo man from Umuahia (present day Abia State), while Gowon is a northerner from today’s Plateau state.
Ironsi’s kinsmen rightly felt agitated over his murder and there were the reported killings of Igbos across northern cities. Hence, the southeasterners demanded that the pogrom be halted and Ironsi’s murderers apprehended and court martialed. But this the government of Gowon failed to do.
Furthermore, Lt. Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, another Igbo man from the present-day Anambra state, felt slighted by the sudden projection of his junior, Gowon, to the helm of the country.
Probably, ego played a role but you cannot also discountenance ethnic championing. Ojukwu also requested for the prosecution of Ironsi’s coup plotters and the stop of bloodletting, or else the Eastern region (as the whole southeast and some South-South states were known then) would secede.
When the former was not met, Ojukwu executed the latter! War broke out, what happened afterwards came to pass and the rest is now history.
A bad taste
The 3-year Nigerian Civil War left a bitter taste on the palates of most patriotic Nigerians. Even today, some Biafran progeny are still licking their wounds.
But some hapless souls who do not know their history, masquerading as the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), are today wreaking havoc in the southeast region. They are killing, maiming and destroying public and private properties.
What do they want? Biafra Republic!
Could violence give you what peace and negotiation could not give you?
Yes, it can!
But the outcome will be fragile and most cases pyrrhic.
Take South Sudan as a case study.
So, what is the best course for the Igbo nation?
Learning from the mastercat
I have two female cats. I have observed that whenever they want to prey on another animal, they bide their time.
They don’t just jump onto the animal except they are sure the prey is within grasp. Else, the prey eludes them.
These feline creatures move towards their targets with stealth.
They will crouch, look elsewhere and wave their tails and pretend as if they are not interested in the third party.
They will move again with stealth. Crouch, look elsewhere, wave their tails and pretend they are not…
The prey at this time will be absentmindedly munching its food.
But whoam! The head of the prey is in the cat’s mouth. Dinner!
The above scenario described the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been biding his time, scheming, negotiating, fence building and working towards his “lifelong dream”.
And don’t be a learner. By this time next year, June 2023, Tinubu might have spent about 14 days in Aso Rock as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The BAT phenomenon
Bola Ahmed Tinubu (aka BAT), ex-governor of Lagos State could have schemed to be the president of the nation immediately after his second tenure in 2007. But he chose not.
Why? The outgoing president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was also from the southern region and particularly from the southwest geopolitical zone where Tinubu hails from.
A good political player knows from the handwriting on a wall that it will not be politically correct for a southwesterner or a southerner to replace his or her kinsman as president of a Nigeria of today.
But this didn’t deter other second-tenure governors from the south like Peter Odili of Rivers and Cross Rivers’ Donald Duke, etc. They contested, filtered their respective states’ finances but couldn’t clinch their party’s ticket.
Eventually, the flag bearer and winner of the election was Umaru Musa Yar’adua of Katsina, Northwest Nigeria.
Look before you leap
Another reason BAT didn’t contest in 2007 was the fire that was brewing in his backyard.
After the 1999 elections, the southwestern governors of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) used long spoons to dine with the ‘devil’ of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Obasanjo. But this didn’t stop them from being grabbed and eaten whole by the latter.
Apart from Tinubu, none of the AD governors managed to served out a second tenure.
You cannot go out to war when your house is threatened by an opposing enemy.
So, the major problem BAT had in 2007 was how to ensure continuity for an AD cum ACN government in Lagos state. And also, how to checkmate Obasanjo’s PDP’s rampaging in the southwest.
Although the Nigerian presidency has been his life dream, political survival was ultimate in 2007. Hence, he postponed clamouring for his dream until about 16 years after.
Can the Igbos learn from the mastercat?
Northeast could produce Nigeria’s president come 2031
Assuming Atiku Abubakar doesn’t win the 2023 elections, and Tinubu is returned, the probability is very high for a northeasterner to lead Nigeria come 2031.
All things being equal, if the APC is able to crack its vice-presidential voodoo properly, one can safely say it will coast to victory.
Its presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections is from the south.
Most northerners and southerners will gladly vote for any southerner in the forthcoming elections so that peace will reign. Hence, the APC could benefit from protest votes against the PDP.
Secondly, the PDP shot itself on its feet twice for not picking Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state first as its presidential candidate and then as its vice-presidential candidate. This slight might turn round to hurt it.
On the other hand of the divide, if Tinubu can get his running mate choice right, the APC can transition to hand over to itself.
The party may most likely field a strong candidate from the northeast. And this person or another might transition to be the president in 2031.
CAN should zip up
Even though the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had strongly kicked against the APC fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the Christian ‘political party’ cannot continue to eat its cake and have it.
Nigeria is a secular state and the religion of aspirants shouldn’t be a thing of consideration in the Nigeria of 2023.
Furthermore, the Christian association has also tacitly pronounced that hell will be let loose if a Muslim-Muslim ticket is toyed with. Invariably, it has showed that it has hands in the insecurity plaguing Kaduna state.
If an aspirant of another religion will not trample on my religion or deny me the right to worship whatsoever I deem worthy of worship, and then he or she develops my country and enables me to progress as a person, I see no reason not to vote for that ticket.
Hence, CAN should calm down. This is Nigeria of 2023.
And in the elections of year 2023, Nigerian youth will decide who becomes what. Not fat bellied clergymen who feast on our divisions!
Igbos should strategize for 2039
The next Igbo president of Nigeria needs to start building bridges now. He or she needs to start networking and building up his or her political cv.
A future Nigerian president of Igbo stock needs friends across the divide. Igbo votes alone cannot win you Nigerian presidency.
In fact, from my analysis, even without votes from the Igbo nation, one can win the Nigerian presidency. Read my write-up “Ignore Igbo votes if you want to become a Nigerian president“.
To further buttress my point, President Muhammadu Buhari contested for the presidency twice in 2003 and 2007 fielding Igbo running mates, Senator Chuba Okadigbo and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, respectively. He failed in both occasions.
In his third attempt in 2011, he jettisoned this move and ran with a southwesterner, Pastor Tunde Bakare, but still failed.
But with the APC merger, he successfully contested the 2015 general elections with another Yoruba man, Yemi Osinbajo, and was fourth time lucky. And this pair went on to be reelected in 2019.
Atiku Abubakar seems to have also taken a cue from the Nigerian ‘first tall man’.
For the 2007 and 2019 general elections, Atiku also ran alongside two Igbo men, Senator Ben Obi and ex-governor Peter Obi, respectively. In both cases, he didn’t carry the day.
Having learnt his lesson, Atiku has gone to court the votes of South-south geopolitical region by teaming up with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
This should be an eye opener for the third biggest tribe of Nigeria.
The Igbos are no longer the most beautiful girl courted by prospective presidential candidates. They are now overlooked for succulent brides of other geopolitical zones.
So, what should they do?
Stoop to conquer
Just like how Kate of the eponymous novel She Stoops to Conquer disguised as an inn maid in order to woo and win the heart of her prospective suitor, Marlow, Nigerian Igbos also need to come down from their high horses to cultivate friendship with the other geopolitical regions of the country.
Igbos need to be politically sagacious. They need to spread their votes not just to their ‘regional’ party, the PDP.
They should allow other parties, like the APC, gain inroads into their stronghold.
Igbos would need the consent and votes of all the other regions of the nation to lead the country. Hence, these regions need to see and feel them as team players.
And just like the mastercat, the Igbo race need to plan ahead.
They shouldn’t aim for quick fixes. This is a tall order.
If per adventure Tinubu wins and serves out two tenures in 2031, it will be proper for power to shift to the north. Particularly, the northeast.
The next president would probably also serve out two terms which might terminate in 2039.
If I am smart Igbo man, like my good friend, OssyDgreat Ezeakunne, I will start strategizing today. A future Igbo Nigerian president will start making friends across the divide today. He or she should join any of the major political parties and leave his or her mark.
If I were them I will strive to grow my profile. I will be appointed as the managing director of any of the federal parastatals; and the minister of A or E. Then I will rise to be the speaker of the House of Representatives or the Senate President.
Furthermore, I will use the opportunities to push my people to the centre and help other regions’ people. This will earn me political currencies.
Gradually, the whole nation will know me and feel my worth. I will become a political juggernaut.
And if after 16 years I mount the political rostrum and shout “Igbo kwenu!”, “This is the time for the Igbos”, the whole nation would vibrate and say “Eeee!”