From 2019, if the Igbo nation is to be taken seriously, then they must begin to elect as governors persons with vision, tested character, competence and energy.

Ralph Egbu

Sometimes I look at the Igbo nation and I can’t help but express some level of pity. This is a highly populated area with very educated, industrious and versatile people and all these are positive factors that make a society and a people first class. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the current case with the Igbo. Increasingly, they are suffering relegation and gradually it is growing into abandonment and that is very unfortunate for a people that should be courted and embraced. I don’t know the why a first class nation has suddenly become the boot of all. Some say civil war took its toll; that is a fact. It is also a fact that the war ended more than four and a half decades ago and if past examples are anything to go by, given their known resourcefulness they ought to have regained balance and taken their position.

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I have heard some say it is greed and crass individualism hidden under the term ‘republicanism’, that may well be true to some extent but we must note it was the same individualism that enabled the Igbo to collectively fund the education of many of their sons and daughters before and slightly after independence, who later became champions of a new Nigeria. So something tells me the aforementioned variables are not the issues but one thing is: inability to sit down under perhaps a recognizable leadership to periodically meet to fashion out a vision and aspiration for the people, galvanize and indoctrinate the people to always fall in line. This gap is responsible for the rudderless movement of the Igbo nation on all vital fronts such as politics, economy and even social. We can see the loss but the other big groups of the known tripod in this country have somehow managed to keep their relationship with their minority neighbours; only the Igbo nation lost theirs.

The expectation irrespective of the fallout of the civil war has been that the Igbo nation given its preeminent position in the zone ought to lead the rest into a cohesive unit, that possibly could speak one language, have common ideals which invariably must result in massive political, economic and social transformation of the entire area. If this had been the case, with the easy access to the Atlantic from Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states and add these to the inventive ingenuity of the Igbo nation, the entire zone would have been swimming in superlative development and individual abundance on such a scale that people from the zone would be called and reminded that they have never been president of Nigeria. This is truth and it is supported by empirical studies. Many people would not be interested in public office if we had in place a system that provides dignified space for self- actualization. Rich men here want to run to public office because the set up is tied to public office, we can see this clearly from the experiences of the cement magnate, Ibeto, and Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors.

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In places that want growth such people and their likes would hardly have anything to do with government but more with the banks, other allied institutions and business partners, local and foreign, but here everybody wants to be in government because it has become the only way to secure your interest and fortunes; in our circumstance we have left universal standards and held tight to religion and tribe. In spite of this negative turnaround, the Igbo would have still been far well off if the observations I stated earlier were understood and pursue. It hasn’t been because there is no cohesion, so meeting has been difficult and so it has been to think out a blueprint. They are paying the price and it is proving to be very costly in all ramifications. The most painful being the penchant by every Musa, Tunde and Tamuno to tell or teach Igbo what they should want.

After the 2015 elections in the manner of schoolboys, some people told the Igbo they misbehaved by their one directional voting. I heard that and asked myself, in an ideal democracy why would it amount to an offence for an area to vote their conscience? In this country people have formed political parties and sought votes mainly from their enclaves and till today nobody has seen that as an offence. The other day Rotimi Amaechi came to Awka to knock into the dumb skull of Ndigbo that they need President Buhari better than anyone else. Shortly after, the Secretary to the Federal Government came again to Owerri and told Ndigbo ‘No Buhari, No 2023 for Igbo’and just last week on a national television small boy, Abdulmumin Jubril of the House of Representatives, introduced a twist that the North and the West are in this thing together, the West should work harder to vote for Buhari so that in 2023 the North would return power to the West to “continue the good work.” Another gratuitous insult!

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Ndigbo do not need office of the President for now and in the foreseeable future. In a reasonable system, public offices do not confer individual gains; the philosophy behind it is to serve the larger societal ends. There is no correlation that because the President is from a particular area, the area and people would be the most and best beneficiaries. If it were to be so, the North would have since pulled out to form Arewa Republic, because the level of development would have been enticing enough to choose that option. I have met with some friends from the Niger Delta and I can confirm the cry of marginalization is still very loud. One should ask why after their son, former President Goodluck Jonathan, was in charge of affairs in this country for six years.

The Igbo need to reestablish an identity. To do this successfully, they would need a leader, matured enough and detached from the hassle of daily struggles. I would advise they prop up the likes of Dr Dozie Ikedife and Chief Mbazulike Amaechi. On the religious front, build up Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma and a selected few, raise the Obi of Onitsha and let him share the same influence as the Oba of Benin, Sultan of Sokoto and Ooni of Ife. If Nnamdi Kanu is alive, the Igbo should demand and get a concession to bring him back and placed in charge of the younger generation. The Igbo nation needs a political party with a good dose of their influence. Economic integration and development are sine qua non. From 2019, if the Igbo nation is to be taken seriously, then they must begin to elect as governors persons with vision, tested character, competence and energy. The governors we have had, except in few instances, do not match the capacity of people of the area. The Igbo nation can have Biafra without really having to pull out. Israel has proved that a hated race can turnaround its fortunes, become self-reliant and then wanted. They don’t have to become poor students or beggarly people. The Igbo nation if well organized should have answers to every question bogging them as individuals and as a people.