I read the recent article by Engr. Joe Igbokwe, the All Progressives Congress(APC) spokesperson in Lagos State, written under the title, Can the Igbo Play Opposition for the Next 10 Years? on Sahara Reporters with keen interest and at some point-disgust! Let me make a point before some of those ethnic jingoists and their likes that this rejoinder is not a discourse of the muddle. Mine is but a contribution contrary to the idealism and philosophy guiding Nigerian crude politics of “our own; it is our turn to chop”, as it is well-noted in Igbokwe’s article.
It is an irrefutable fact as Igbokwe posits that “the Igbos have not played better politics in Nigeria since 1970 and that has been our bane. Anytime Nigeria wants to change a bad leadership in the country, the Igbo as a bloc will resist it. It happened in 1993 and we lost everything.” Truly, the Igbos voted for PDP as the party of their choice in the last general elections, but to reduce the PDP to an Igbo party is a wrong prognosis by Igbokwe who should have at least known better!
A reflection from the late Odimegwu Ojukwu’s (the undisputed Igbo leader) postulations is imperative at this point. He noted at some point that, ‘It is constitutionally invalid to seek to found an Igbo political party’ to the Ikemba, ‘politically, it is lunacy to do.’ He continues that ‘it is incomprehensible for any group of people to seek to project any political party as an Igbo party.’ If Ojukwu were alive today, he would have told the Igbo as he admonished prior to 1983 that “we therefore, need an ideological revolution, a new overview of Nigeria politics. And to sustain this new perspective, our people, collectively and as individuals, need a new behavior pattern that is appropriate to it…separation founded on a siege mentality that erupts in confrontation with everything non-Igbo is no road. It will lead to isolation, political arthritis, and hence defeat.’ This justified the defeat suffered by PDP leaving the Igbo to bear the brunt thereof by systematically marginalizing them from power structure that be.
At this point in time, it is paradoxical of Igbokwe preaching to the Igbos to remain in opposition for the next ten years will be nothing short of counterproductive bearing in mind the lesson and tragedy of Ghana in 1963 under Kwame Nkrumah. Having neglected the professional just because they do not belong to the same party-alas, no group or tribe will be consensually taxed without representation which could lead to unbalanced polity!
I think the Igbos should learn when to vote for personality and also when to vote for party if necessary; aborting the dream of one their own to become senate president is nothing to write home about, which on the other side would have put the Igbos in a better position for Igbo Presidency. Politics is not played on hatred or in isolation; rather it is rooted in ideas, horse-trading and bridge crossing. Praemonitus, praemunitus: to be forewarned, as the saying goes, is to be forearmed!
Igbokwe, I solemnly know that intellectual discourse is good, but intellect and literature are only useful if they are furthering the truth. Posterity still exists and will distinguish each and every one of us. You need not poison the well simply because your party is in power today. Rather, I wish to advise Igbokwe to prevail on his party leadership to build more wells by accommodating prospective willing members (the Igbos) and let them work for the party victories in subsequent elections. My unpaid advice is against the backdrop that there are still more elections to contest- and win.
I will like to remind Igbokwe that “There is nothing new under the sun” says the Preacher. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but slow and steady they say, wins the race.
***Remi Otuneye is a political scientist and public affairs analyst based in Lagos. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.