By ORI MARTINS
The South East geo political zone appears to have been caught at a crossroads, politically. The region seems to be in a state of utter condition especially as the permutation and its attendant lobbying, scheming, alignment and realignment occupy the socio political space across the country.
At every turn and twist, what rules the airwaves, particularly among Ndigbo, is what becomes of Nigeria in 2023 even thereafter as well as what Ndigbo will ultimately make out of it. There are three fundamental issues at the front burner, so dear to the heart of overwhelming majority of Ndigbo. They are Biafra, presidency and restructuring.
The idea and philosophy that brought about the concept of Biafra are anchored in the fact that the Nigerian oligarchs are no longer favourably disposed to Igbo interest and sentiment. This school of thought argues that Nigeria as currently constituted cannot give the Igbo any atom of space for both political and socio economic survival both as an individual as well as a group.
Those who promote a Biafra Republic as the best solutions for the survival of the Igbo nation, point out that Nigeria is anti Igbo. “It is evident that the Igbo can only find freedom in an independent state of Biaftra. With Biafra the Igbo will fly. With Biafra, Igbo nation will experience technological growth, scientific development and rapid industrialization. They know what we can do, that is why they don’t want us to go. But how can we stay when since after the war, no Igbo has ruled the country? Go round and you will discover that the worst federal road network is in the South East. The South East gets the least of everything: least states, least LGAs, least NASS members, least constituencies, least in all things. This is why we call on Igbo people to support the realization of Biafra through peaceful means”, Chief Ralph Uwazurike, MASSOB leader said in an interview not too long ago.
Proffering reasons he is hell bent in his agitation for the creation of Biafra out of Nigeria, the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, revealed that the other regions in the country did not want the social, economic and political advancement of the South East. He querried why Ndigbo that were on the forefront of the country’s independence, should now be the ones being disregarded and maltrrated. Kanu said the only road that would guarantee freedom, security and prosperity for Ndigbo and their future generations, is when Biafra is achieved. He warned that any talk of improving Nigeria or making the Igbo man the president of the country, was nothing but deceit and destructive propaganda. He said: “How can your enemy of over 50 years allow you to rule”?
Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, erstwhile governor of old Anambra state noted that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari made the Biafra agitation so attractive when he allowed all forms of governance in a military regime to be denied the Igbo. “When the president is a Northern Muslim, the president of the senate a Northern Muslim, the Chief Justice of the Federation, a Northern Muslim. Infact, out of the 14 Security Chiefs are from the North. You come to South and chose a Westerner as the Speaker of the federal house without anything to the East, then you have made Biafra agitation very attractive”.
Indeed, as far as most Igbo youths were concerned, there is no need for any Igbo to talk about 2023 presidency or restructuring but Biafra. Everywhere they gather, they say it in both low and high tunes -“we want Biafra, not presidency, not restructuring”. IPOB, MAASOB and Igbo youths back Biafra.
However, the political elite, that is, leading politicians in the South East, are clamouring for an Igbo president of Nigeria in 2023. Some refer to it as a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. The Ohaneze president, Chief Nnia John Nwodo, in a recent statement in Enugu, made it clear that Ndigbo were ready for the presidency in 2023 and not Biafra. In the same line, an Igbo leader from Anambra senatorial zone, Augustine Emelobe said “Igbo president is long overdue, therefore, equity and fairness demand that the next Nigerian president should come from the South East. Ndigbo have made significant contributions to the political and economic stability of Nigeria and even in other fields of endeavour and therefore eminently qualified to produce the next president of the country”.
In his contribution, a frontline politician from Ebonyi State, Chief Jerry Obasi, lamented that “conspiracy theories and actions from other parts of the country have been the obstacles Ndigbo had faced in getting the president of the country. Hence 2023 presidential election is a veritable date for Nigerians to support a presidential candidate of Igbo extraction to cement the unity of Nigeria”.
It is on record that since 1970, and counting from 1999, Ndigbo have yet to ascend to the exalted position of executive power in the country, be it military or civilian. Ohaneze is for Igbo presidency.
Most of the elder statesmen of Igbo extraction are of the opinion that restructuring will go a long way to benefit all the zones in the country. For instance, Chief Chekwas Okorie, the founder of APGA and currently UPGA leader, all along has insisted that Nigeria was terribly structured. He is of the view that for Nigeria to meet her standards, the country must be restructured.
At the same time, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has also called for the restructuring of Nigeria to give every zone a sense of belonging even as he is not opposed to Igbo presidency. Former CBN Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, is among those who believe that a restructured Nigeria would give Nigeria wings to fly even as it would play down the chorus of marginalization that resounded from all regions all the time.
Whereas most Igbo wards have agreed to work together for the realization of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, the question is, will Nigeria and Nigerians support it? This is where the submission of Prof Achebe, in his book entitled “The Trouble With Nigeria”, comes to play.
Achebe wrote: “Nigerians of all other ethnic groups will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo…Modern Nigerian history has been marked by sporadic eruptions of anti Igbo feeling of more or less serous import, but it was until 1966-7 when it swept Northern Nigeria like a flood of deadly hate that the Igbo questioned of Nigeria which they had embraced with much greater fervour than the Yoruba or the Hausa/Fulani”.
If Achebe’s proclamation is anything to go by, based on recent records, will Ndigbo make any headway in 2023?