The Igbo in Nigeria’s Politics

By Jude Atupulazi

It did not take long for one to discern that the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had been compromised and poised to deliver the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu, at all costs.

This followed the breaching of own rules by INEC when it failed to upload results from polling units immediately to the server as it promised Nigerians on several occasions before the election. INEC’s failure to do this came amid allegations and fears that the results had been doctored in some states to favour the APC presidential candidate.

Indeed, many party agents claimed that what INEC had finally uploaded was different from what they had from the polling units but despite their complaints and the further complaints of party agents at the national collation centre in Abuja, the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, maintained a stone cold face and failed to convince Nigerians on why results were not transmitted electronically as was promised

All this came against the back drop of the belief that the presidential election was won by the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, hence the attempt to stop him from being declared winner.

One may not blame anyone believing that Obi had won. By dethroning Tinubu in Lagos; something no politician and party had achieved, Obi and his Labour Party lived up to the pre-election hype of being the vehicle for reaching the New Nigeria of our dreams.

Before the election the Labour Party had been dismissed as a social media creation. The two major parties clearly did not take LP seriously. Even when Obi was looking for a vice and explored the possibility of running with Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the latter dismissed Obi and claimed it was Obi that should be his running mate.

But when the election came, the masses went for Obi only for INEC to allow itself to be compromised. It allegedly whittled down Obi’s votes in the strong areas of his major opponents where he won and bloated the votes of APC where it won.

After Obi was declared the winner in Lagos State, there was wide spread jubilation among most Nigerians but some thugs suspected to be working for APC would not have it as they attacked Igbo traders in Lagos as though Obi was an Igbo project, rather than a national one. And this brings me to what I wanted to write about which is what Ndigbo have done to deserve what they are getting in Nigeria.

The desperation of APC to remain in power despite knowing they are not wanted and despite knowing who actually won the election is what beats me. It makes me look at what they have done to Nigeria and why some people have sworn that no Igbo person will smell the presidency.

Indeed, APC has scattered Nigeria. The problem with APC is that they keep giving us their worst rather than their best. Because of the weakness of their candidates the usual presidential debate has been jettisoned twice now, starting with Buhari. If APC had produced Osinbajo who would have been complaining? If they’d produced Datti, who would be crying? But because they’re afraid of good people whom they can’t manipulate they keep giving us people of lesser quality.

The average Igbo man isn’t clannish. All he wants is a level playing ground to achieve his potentials; not who rules. It’s because of leadership failure that the Igbo now want to lead. The Igbo are a very progressive people. Go to their villages and see development but go to the villages of others and you weep. Apart from their cities the people in their villages live in near squalor.

Then you wonder what they’ve gained from all their years in power if not to cater to selfish interests. In a saner clime, the Igbo would have been given a chance to apply their magic wand on the nation but here it is convenient to hide behind shallow primordial sentiments like ethnicity and religion.

That’s why appointments are skewed in favour of incompetence and merit. Look at how the security chiefs have made us a laughing stock in the fight against terrorism. An American was kidnapped by Boko Haram and kept in Sambisa Forest. America went in there and rescued him. But our govt who ought to know the forest inside out has not been able to do that.

That’s why Nigerians want a restructured country where merit reigns but the crooks in power are rejecting it. In education, often we see those who scored less than ten in JAMB gaining admission over those who scored 250 in the name of coming from educationally disadvantaged zones.

Yet when it comes to appointments that should be on merit the people who got less than ten are given juicy positions. Do you now wonder why the country is in such a mess? Even now, a professor is under a president that can’t produce his basic education certificate.

I’m not trying to disparage any person or zone but this is the hard fact in Nigeria. Many years after Independence we still can’t boast of good roads and regular power supply. But look at neighbouring countries like Ghana. Even Rwanda has emerged from a debilitating war to overtake us.

While the rest of the world is moving ahead  we’re here debating on the propriety or otherwise of creating grazing routes for cattle and whether hijab should be worn to school or not. Isn’t it a crying shame?

For those of us that want a New Nigeria, we do so genuinely because nothing works here.

If the north, for example, had been giving us their best, I bet you no one would be looking for power, especially the Igbo. The Igbo are the greatest Nigerians. They’re everywhere and regard those places as home. That’s why they invest there and grow the economies of those places.

They build industries, employ labour and mix freely in those places. But what about others? They’re hardly seen outside their bases and when seen, you find they only do menial jobs .I once visited the home of one of them in Onitsha who sold herbs for back pain. I was shocked to discover that all he had in his room was a spare shirt on a rope tied to both ends of the wall and a mat and plastic bucket. This means that if he wanted to leave, the land lord won’t even know.

Now juxtapose this with the average Igbo in other places. They build their own homes or live in good houses, do solid jobs and improve their environment. Yet, during crises, their shops and businesses are targeted by envious people too lazy to even feed themselves.

Even last Monday, didn’t we see attempts by some Yoruba urchins in Lagos to attack shops owned by the Igbo just because their principal was defeated in Lagos? Did they think only the Igbo voted for Obi? That’s the usual foolishness we see in Nigeria. They leave the substance and pursue the shadow.

They kill people in the name of religion and the killers go scot free. Up to now, the killers of Deborah Samuel are walking the streets freely, just like all the killer herdsmen because we have a govt that protects them.

Nigerians have suffered enough under this kind of leadership and that’s why they have united to demand a change but those who think they own the country are refusing to shift, even after being defeated. They pad votes and collude with INEC to deny the masses their mandate.

But these things don’t last forever. Every empire in history had an expiry date. Did the ancient Romans ever believe they would fall ? Even here the PDP, in the height of their power, boasted that they would rule for sixty years  only to lose the next elections which they even conducted.

Today the APC are playing God in utter disregard of the yearnings of the poor Nigerian masses. But verily verily I say unto them, the day of reckoning may just be around the corner.

Those being used as thugs to deny us our popular mandate because they erroneously see Obi as an Igbo project should know that even in the midst of terrible governance it is they that will suffer. The Igbo they so much hate will still be producing millionaires and living in affluence. Their villages will still look like townships and their spirits will never die.

As for Igbo leaders who collude with outsiders to sell their people, what has happened in these elections should warn them that it’s no longer going to be the same. The day of the jackal is well nigh.