The drumbeats of the 2019 presidential campaigns and the posturing of the leading contenders have already presented a veritable opportunity for Ndigbo to make the right choices. In Leviticus 20: 19-20, Joshua told the Israelis, ‘I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life… and then you and your descendants will live long in the land that God promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The present administration is cajoling, intimidating, coercing and scheming deviously to manipulate the Igbo race in its ploy to return to power by any means possible. It is glaringly clear that Ndigbo are seen as mere pawns in the political chessboard of the country’s power game. This unfortunate posturing bespeaks arrogance and smacks of mockery and condescending impressions of the Igbo nation.

While the Buhari administration has never been pretentious about its disdain for Ndigbo, it gnaws at the deepest region of one’s soul to see some Igbo leaders working at cross purposes with the overall interest of the Igbo race because of filthy lucre and predilection for the trappings and allurements of power. Yet, such unbridled striving are inexorably transient. And because they are caged, trapped and blinded by self-diminishing pursuit of personal interests, these unscrupulous politicians unashamedly dance naked at the village square. While some of the spectators cringe in wonderment, stupefied by their ‘unchoreographed’ and ‘insane’ dance steps, others amuse themselves and relish the cacophonous rhythms with gusto. Simply put, this is a tragic case of self subversion. Ndigbo must not succumb to the self-serving pretensions of Igbo men and women shamelessly sacrificing the collective destiny of the people on the altar of unbridled greed and quest for political power.

Now, for the first time ever, Ndigbo seem to have found someone who is willing, eager and able to redress the injustices of the past and usher in a glorious era of self-determination that would, inevitably offer them the opportunity to be the best they can be. Atiku Abubakar has started by strategically placing one of their own at the nucleus of the political engineering process. He is favorably disposed to the practice of true federalism which will naturally address some of the core issues of marginalization and subjugation stirring and bruising the conscience of the Igbo people. The hope of reinventing the dogged spirit of the Igbo in an atmosphere devoid of undue encumbrances is alive once more. True federalism will surely create a veritable ground for Ndigbo to showcase the stuff they are made of, and just in due course, become the pride of the Black Man. 

What future does voting for Buhari hold for Ndigbo? None at all! In the first instance, whether Ndigbo votes for Buhari en masse, or not, he will never be favourably disposed to helping someone who would start the process of restructuring the country, an idea he is pathologically opposed to. The hypocrisy, ulterior motive and fraudulent intent of Buhari’s devious scheming has been exposed by the shameless promise he made to both the Yoruba and Igbo regarding the Presidency in 2023. 

Ndigbo have a choice to make, a critical decision to take and a commitment that must guarantee a better future for their children and the generation yet unborn. The Igbo nation is at this point in history in dire straits and need to take genuine, altruistic and proactive steps to reinvent her bastardized identity. The usual reference to Ndigbo’s republican inclinations has become, indeed, a tragic narrative and metaphor for disunity, affecting them negatively in the geopolitical power struggle in Nigeria. This is the time for the average Igbo man and woman to act with one accord to checkmate the subversion of their collective interests by a few subterranean interests, saboteurs, masquerading as true champions of the Igbo cause.  The political scenario is very clear; the visions of the future are not murky and ambiguous. It is a choice between what is progressive and regressive.

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For Ndigbo, Atiku is a beacon of hope, a new bride for a blissful marriage, representing collective optimism of the Igbo race in search of relevance and legitimacy in an indifferent and hostile society unwilling to redress the manifold injustices of the past. Atiku is a friend and a true ally of the Igbo race. Buhari is an oppressor, the unrepentant bully of the Igbo race, insistent on keeping them on their knees without choice but to beg for a piece of the crump from the country’s collective sovereign wealth. For Ndigbo, Buhari represents frustration, despair and a lingering sense of hopelessness, alienation and uncertainty. Buhari’s vindictiveness against Ndigbo has gone beyond the bounds of reason. Any attempt at assuaging his wounded spirit is akin to forcing the Carmel to go through the eye of a needle.

The Igbo opportunists drumming up support for Buhari are doing so for selfish reasons. They are not advancing the views, convictions, aspirations, hopes, yearnings and collective consciences of the Igbo race. Ndigbo insist on the restructuring of Nigeria. Buhari is vehemently anti-restructuring. Ndigbo yearns for the practice of true federalism. Buhari insists on sustaining and maintaining the status quo of hegemonic stranglehold of the Nigerian state, a scenario which made it possible for the continued subjugation and marginalization of Ndigbo. Ndigbo yearns for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. Buhari is insisting that they must succumb to his whims and caprices for the quest to begin to wear the toga of possibility, even as he has dubiously made the same promise to the Yoruba, his obviously favorite choice.  Ndigbo are crying over the years that they have always been shortchanged in federal appointments.

Buhari has extended the gaping inequalities in such appointments to a ridiculous and mentally unthinkable proportion, retiring and replacing with his tribesmen a few of the Igbo people fortunate enough to have risen through the ranks. The truth of the matter is that Atiku, by all intents and purposes is the best bet for Ndigbo. Any Igbo man, no matter how highly placed, canvassing the opinion that Buhari is better placed to advance the interest of Ndigbo is being mischievous, out of touch with reality and only doing so for selfish purposes.

Ndigbo must be bold enough to exercise their democratic rights without succumbing to subtle intimidation, monetary inducements and covert maneuverings by sworn enemies of the people. 

Nonyelum writes via [email protected]