By Charles Kaye Okoye
Today, I will go back to a subject that I have abandoned for some time now. It has become pertinent following the comments by Isa Funtua and Shettima on the subject, and of course the usual barrage of attacks that has trailed their comments from Ndigbo.
Before, I go further, let me warn that I will simply allow myself to flow freely without checking myself from saying anything that might paint me in bad light, expose me or disappoint some people who have always loved or admired me. I beg, don’t hold me to account over whatever I may say here.
Now, back to the gist, Isa while commenting on this issue, insisted that the Nigerian presidency is not “turn by turn PLC”, maintaining that to be elected as Nigerian President, an interested Igbo man should build bridges, should be one that can also reach out to other regions of the nation as well as have their respect.
He might have angered many Ndigbo, but I wonder why truth should hurt Ndigbo or why they should grow irascible at bitter truths. Isa Funtua cited example with Moshood Abiola, from South-west, who in 1993 defeated Bashir Tofa, a northerner, in Kano. Funtua stated that it was easy for Abiola because he made himself known, was always there whenever you invited him to events; sent representatives whenever he couldn’t make it himself, and donated to causes.
Why should a message like this hurt anyone?
Many sincere commentators on this issue have always insisted that Ndigbo should play the politics expected of anyone gunning for the number one position in the nation. And I truly wonder why anyone in his right senses should ever think or wish otherwise. But rather than be jolted to reality by obvious facts, many Ndigbo have chosen to cry and shout about how anything beyond dumping the presidential mandate on their lap, amounts to a clear message that the rest of Nigeria do not want them, and might have asked them to go their way.
But this is defeatist mentality, and if Ndigbo really think that these shouts can sway sentiment their side, they are very wrong. The name of the game is selfishness and no one gives a hoot about anyone’s feeling. For as long as Ndigbo choose to wail rather than strategize, 2023 will not only pass them by, but they will still not figure in the foreseeable future.
SHOULD IGBOS REALLY BEG FOR PRESIDENCY?
No, I Doubt! Truth is that Ndigbo have the comparative advantage to determine who leads Nigeria any day and any time. But sadly, these comparative advantages have never been recognized nor harnessed.
In every election, people check the population of registered voters in the five states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo, and erroneously think that the total number of registered voters in these five states are just the number of Igbo voters. People hardly factor in the fact that in all other states of the nation, Ndigbo are always second highest population only to the indigenes. People hardly consider the fact that when the population of Kano is put at 5m, that about 500,000 if not more of that population, are just Igbos. This is the way it is in every state of this nation. Even when you go to any local government area, be it in the far North or the far West.
Whoever that still underrates the strength of Ndigbo should just look back to what played out in the last governorship election in Lagos State. The entire scenario changed, when a majority of Igbos, taking a cue from the “Oto ge” in Kwara that pulled down Saraki empire, started chanting the same “Oto ge” in Lagos, in an attempt to undermine Tinubu. As strong as Tinubu and the APC were in Lagos, they felt really threatened and realized that if Ndigbo sided with the PDP, APC could be hurt. That’s power! That’s strength! And a good pointer to what the Igbos are capable of, if they really sit down to plan and strategize without allowing sentiment to rule.
It is for this same reason that many Igbos occupy political posts in many states and local governments outside the South-east region. There is no political party anywhere in Nigeria, from local government to state that will not want to woo Ndigbo with political posts just to get them bring their large local population to the party. Today, my own brother, Hon. Kanayo Osondu, is a counselor in Isolo Local Government, Lagos. We have others like him in many other lgs. We have Igbo commissioners in states outside Igboland. Our sheer large population in these areas make this possible. Still, it is a common knowledge that Igbos, especially outside Southeast are still largely apolitical. One can then imagine what it will be like, when Igbos are properly sensitized to participate in national politics.
So, for a fact, Ndigbo should be the beautiful bride, since they have all it takes to dictate the politics of the nation. It is disheartening then, when they resign to begging to be allowed to run unopposed.
DO WE HAVE THE MATERIALS?
(Join me in Part 2 as I talk about this and other issues on 2023.)
To be continued!