(By Fredrick Nwabufo)
“Again, the Igbo today are political orphans. They are as scattered as the Jews were and rudderless without a rallying point in the form of an emblematic Igbo leader. Since the departure of the charismatic Igbo leader to the place yonder, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the vacuum of leadership of Ndi Igbo has been left unfilled. Some Igbo personalities have since his exit been jostling to win the hearts of the Igbo people by exploiting their vulnerabilities. But their attempts have always failed as their reputation precedes them. Ndi Igbo can see through their grandstanding, sophistry and ego nationalism.“
IT is contestable, yet true that the Igbo today are the most discombobulated people in Nigeria. The befuddled state of Igbo may be owing to some circumstantial factors and enervating forces, but it is pellucid that the formidable and irrepressible ethnic group is not concentrating effort at getting out of the tinderbox. The Igbo seem utterly lost in the wild. Without blind ethnic jingoism and with dispassionate assessment of the place of the Igbo in the political and social configuration of Nigeria, it is obvious the Igbo occupy the third rung of the ladder after the Hausa and the Yoruba. In fact, the third place of the Igbo is being contested with the Ijaw. Who knows in the future the Ijaw may supplant the Igbo going by the colouration of things.
An argument that has been advanced for the fall of the Igbo to the third stratum in the political and social stratification of Nigeria is the unfortunate Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the lacerations of which are still visible in Igboland. The proponents of this argument are wont to rationalise the Igbo position this way, and even go further to adumbrate their glory days in Nigeria. In view of that, it has been 43 years since the end of the war, yet the Igbo seem fixed on a crushingly low rung in the national structure.
Today, the Igbo cannot be located anywhere in the political radar of the country. For example, the Hausa and the Yoruba can be identified with some major political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) especially. What party with considerable capacity and national spread can the Igbo be identified with? Is it ramshackle All Progressives Ground Alliance (APGA) which death is already heralded? I stand to be challenged; the Igbo cannot be identified with any party that has octopus spread and gargantuan trappings in the country today. Rather, they can be found as burdensome appendages to Yoruba and Hausa dominated and controlled political parties. The situation is worsened by Igbo leaders who are poised, prodded and buoyed by their selfish interests. The collective interests of the Igbo are hardly an issue of consideration for those who are seen as their leaders. This underscores the failure of the Igbo to groom and grow an Igbo political party of national importance and reckoning. In other words, the Igbo have been unable to appropriate any major political party just as the Hausa and the Yoruba have appropriated the PDP and the APC respectively. By appropriation, I mean converting an existing political party and making it their own. The failure of this as well is as a result of the selfish interests of Igbo leaders. I wish to make it clear that my use of “Igbo leaders” is blanket, and not that the Igbo have endorsed any leader.
Again, the Igbo today are political orphans. They are as scattered as the Jews were and rudderless without a rallying point in the form of an emblematic Igbo leader. Since the departure of the charismatic Igbo leader to the place yonder, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the vacuum of leadership of Ndi Igbo has been left unfilled. Some Igbo personalities have since his exit been jostling to win the hearts of the Igbo people by exploiting their vulnerabilities. But their attempts have always failed as their reputation precedes them. Ndi Igbo can see through their grandstanding, sophistry and ego nationalism.
Without sounding controversial, the Yoruba have a leader in Bola Tinubu, the Hausa/Fulani have a leader in Muhammadu Buhari. Who is the Igbo leader? This is perhaps a question that will result in a profusion of mental elasticism and summary disagreement as many pretenders to Igbo leadership will come to the fore. It is important to state that the lack of a leadership figure for the Igbo is to a large extent not their fault; rather it is the fault of the Igbo leadership pretenders who are propelled by greed and ego. The Igbo people are yet to find a worthy successor to Ojukwu.
Finally, the Igbo seem to be confused in the question of an agenda. What is the Igbo agenda? The Hausa/Fulani agenda can be situated in the atavistic desire of the race to produce the presidents of Nigeria for life. Perennial rulership of Nigeria and domination of other ethnic groups in the country is the Hausa/Fulani agenda. The Yoruba agenda is implicit in true federalism, regional self-government or outright “bifurcation” of Nigeria, the subject their undisputed leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, canvassed all his life in speeches and over which he wrote books.
Where can the Igbo agenda be located? To point to the confused state of the Igbo, while some Igbo groups cry that Igbo Presidency in 2015 is not negotiable, others cry for Biafra. The Igbo tune is discordant. There is no harmony. What do the Igbo really want? Is it the Presidency or Biafra? The Igbo must harmonise and organise their thoughts, actions, wishes and aspirations to achieve a certain goal. If the Presidency in one Nigeria is what they want, then that should be their agenda, if it is an independent state of Biafra, then it should be their agenda which should be pursued using every viable means. The discordant tune should stop. They must sing one song, with one voice. Ndi Igbo te te, (wake up).
I remain a bonafide Igbo man for truth.
• Nwabufo is a writer and a poet.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”