Nigeria and the Igbo Question

By Jude Atupulazi

If there was one thing that stood out like a sore thumb in these past elections in Nigeria, it was the harassment, intimidation and bullying of Igbo People in Lagos where they were told either to return to their homeland or stay at home on election days if they would not vote for the candidates of their host state.

Some of those who defied the threats to come out to exercise their mandate could not vote as ballot boxes were snatched. What happened all over the country over the two rounds of elections was easily the worst in the country’s political history since 1983. Not even the Abiola Election can hold a candle for this one. At least in Abiola’s case, the people were allowed to vote, after which the then head of state annulled the election.

In the present case, they did not even have the patience or finesse to allow the people to vote. The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also never hid the fact that he was working for APC and Tinubu.

I recall the haste in which he announced Tinubu as the winner of the Presidential Poll after assuring complainants at the National Collation Centre in Abuja that he would consider their complaints after collation but only to turn round to call the result in the middle of the night.

It was no surprise that widespread condemnations trailed the declaration of Tinubu as the winner. Many election Observers and Foreign Governments described the process that produced Tinubu as below par, just as the Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party went to court to challenge the result.

And significantly enough, those who were declared winners appear to be mourning while the ”losers” Labour Party, appear to be celebrating, with its candidate, Peter Obi, touring the country and being welcomed with tumultuous applause everywhere he turned up.

As someone stated, the situation with Tinubu and APC is like someone who stole the village drum. He is afraid to beat it or sell it. If he beats it, the villagers will hear it and know the drum is with him; if he comes out to sell it, he will be found out. And it does seem so at the moment. That is why the APC are seemingly lying low for now.

But beyond all the election brouhaha was the treatment meted out to the Igbo in Lagos and what seems the unwritten agreement that the Igbo will never smell the presidency of this country.

In Lagos we saw unbridled thuggery and even police conspiracy as voters were disenfranchised. People who looked like ”Igbo” were threatened to be dealt with unless they voted for the APC  Candidate. The Igbo Population was hounded and harassed in a country they call their own.

how, the APC Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu, has been declared winner but those who got themselves killed are gone and those who pushed them to their gruesome fate are alive and set to continue feeding fat on their ignorance. It was not their children that got killed but the children of the ignorant whose children are used as cannon fodder; as expendable materials. Who is fooling who?

But what have Ndigbo done to the rest of Nigeria to deserve all this? I’ve heard talk about the Igbo being ungrateful to Lagosians; that they were allowed to come there with nothing and prospered, only to return the good gesture of their hosts by attempting to take over Lagos.

In one social media group I belong to, a Yoruba apologist even wondered why the Igbo have not allowed any Yoruba man to buy land in the Southeast. I was quite flabbergasted by that question; being that the answer was simple. I asked the person if there was any Yoruba that came to the Southeast to buy land and was refused. I asked him if the Igbo would be blamed for the inability of the average Yoruba to leave their comfort zone to venture far to settle down. There was of course no answer to that.

I told him that the problem of Nigeria with Ndigbo was just envy. The rest of  Nigeria are yet to come to terms as to how a people who were only allowed to withdraw twenty Pounds from the bank after the war could rise to rub shoulders with those who made them pass through that experience.

They are also yet to come to terms with how a people whose abode was devastated by the war were able to rise from the ashes of that experience to have the most developed villages in the country. Indeed, of all the zones in the country, it is only in the Southeast that villages look like mini-cities. If one goes to other zones, after the capital cities, there’s nothing again to show.

The Igbo have a Midas Touch that makes them excel in business anywhere they are. They are able to spot business opportunities where their hosts do not and when these things happen, the Igbo become the object of envy. But we cannot change our destiny, we cannot fold our hands and suddenly become lazy just because others do not want to work as hard as we do.

Yes, one of the problems of the Igbo Youth who make it these days is loudness but then, it can be understood. Having been subjected to hostile and difficult conditions in their own country, those who eventually make it tend to celebrate their feat.

To me, there’s no law in the country that forbids people who succeed in their legitimate venture from celebrating. Yet, it can irritate some others, but those celebrating and making noise are within their rights to do so even though I personally detest such loudness.

But methinks that Nigeria has undervalued the Igbo. During the Civil War the much disadvantaged Biafran Army was able to fight toe to toe with their better equipped Nigerian side for nearly three years. They were able to do that because they were manufacturing their own weapons. They built tanks and refined fuel, apart from other military feats.

At the end of the war, the then military governor of Midwest, Samuel Ogbemudia, suggested to the Federal Government the need to integrate the Igbo Engineers behind those military feats but FG refused just because it was the Igbo that were involved. Today, however, Nigeria cannot produce a pin.

What Igbo haters don’t seem to realize is that God has blessed Ndigbo. They may not occupy Aso Rock but the Southeast remains the least in the poverty index. The north that has been in power for ages, has its masses suffering. Go to the villages in the west and you also see poverty.

Yet, when the chance came to produce a man who can bring hope to the masses of the country, those pinning us and their people down, are trying to suppress it. In the end, the majority of Igbo people will continue to flourish but not so for the majority of the masses whose elite are oppressing us.

Tinubu at a glance

I stumbled upon a piece by David Hundeyin on the man INEC calls our president, Bola Tinubu. Read:

Few people knew Bola Tinubu as well as my dad. His first 2 land allocations in Lagos had my dad’s signature on them (then Lagos State Director of  Lands).

The full picture of him that I got from my old man is why I find the idea of a “President Tinubu” to be utterly hilarious.

The 1st thing to understand about the man is that he genuinely, wholeheartedly believes that everything and everyone is for sale.

“What money cannot do, more money will do.” That’s an actual quote from him.

The definition of “transactional” should have his photo next to it.

He has never at any point been a particularly great politician or an inspirational leader.

What he HAS been is a low-level wheeler-dealer. A petty grifter with a keen knack for sniffing out people’s financial weaknesses and targeting them with his vast unexplained wealth.

That ability to sense what people need/want and financially entrap them into loyalty  is what his ENTIRE support structure is based on.

There is NOT A SINGLE person around him who is there for any kind of ideological reason. It is ALL about give and take. Nothing more.

All your Dele Alakes, Bayo Onanugas, Festus Keyamos, Gbenga Ashafas etc have become his loyalists for no other reason than financial favours and access to financial resources they get from him.

Take that financial aura away from him for 3 months and he loses EVERYTHING.

Where he occasionally runs into obstacles that his money cannot dislodge, his only other calling card is violence. Hence, his long romance with MC Oluomo and other key crime bosses in the Lagos underworld.

What he can’t buy, he destroys. That’s it.

If he can’t buy you and he can’t kill you, he becomes completely helpless because the actual skills required of a political leader – situational empathy, ability to negotiate, ability to share power and collaborate, openness to scrutiny etc – are skills that he DOES NOT HAVE.

The guy is basically Lamidi Adedibu with more money and less capacity to control his ambitions.

Because money and violence have become his long-standing secret formula in Lagos, he believes the same formula can be transplanted to Abuja to rule/subjugate 180 million+ Nigerians.

Of course it’s not hard to predict what is going to happen if (and that’s a big “if”) he is sworn in on May 29.

He will quickly discover that

(A) Nigeria is much bigger and hungrier than Lagos, ego buying everybody off is impossible, even with “federal might” and…

(B) Deploying state violence is only a limited option. Nigeria is the world’s most under-policed state, proportional to its size. Also, the armed forces don’t work like MC Olumo and if they do, they must be funded, armed and equipped heavily, which means that…

(C) There will be a heightened risk of a military coup if “President” Bola Ahmed Tinubu tries to use the military to impose his will on the extremely restive country that Nigeria will become under him.

His is a classic Icarus story. The Lamidi Adedibu of Lagos who went too far.

He will find out the hard way that imposing your will using money and thuggery on Nigeria’s smallest land mass, is not just a different league, but a different sport altogether from being President and GCFR.

He will learn that even Buhari couldn’t rule using tyranny alone.

He may have successfully deployed his dazzling personal wealth to compromise INEC and get himself declared “President-elect”, but the idea that Bola Tinubu has “won” anything other than the 21st century’s biggest pyrrhic victory is halfway between cute and hilarious.