Should we end up marrying the choice of staying out of shape, then the Ndigbo political interest and cause would sooner than latter be a forgotten issue like a picture in an old family album.
The great scholar Henrick Clarke, once said that history is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but most importantly what they must be.
I am reflective of the past because an understanding of the past provides necessary tools for resolving problems of the present and righting the wrongs for a bettertomorrow,a better future that Ndigbo of the Eastern region can not wait to uphold. Since the loss of the civil war in 1970, Ndigbo had been subjected to the most discriminating and brutal treatment than any people who lost a war in modern times.
That Ndigbo have continued to survive individually in the face of the evil metted on them can be attributed to the ingenuity, tenacity, will power and creativity of the individual Igbo man. In the affairs of the nation, it is regrettably lugubrious that out of the near 55 years of leadership in Nigeria, the Igbos have been at the helm of affairs for only 6 months, even the Ijaw minority have done more but that is a talk for another day. This led to the highly respected writer and literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe’s assertion that “Nigerians of all other ethnic groups will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbos”.
Irrespective of all these and for whatsoever reason, the people of the Eastern region seem content remaining at the periphery of the nation’s political enterprise.This has even climaxed in the recent political dispensation where the Igbo people act with reluctance in matters of our own concern.
We act as if our historical plight and the precarious political and socio- economic future is no longer a concern. However, the upcoming rerun in Abia North will be another opportunity to make choices that will either keep us in shape or out of shape. Should we end up marrying the choice of staying out of shape, then the Ndigbo political interest and cause would sooner than latter be a forgotten issue like a picture in an old family album.
These notwithstanding, Ndigbo has produced great leaders like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe ,Chief Emeka Ojukwu, Dr M.I Okpara,Dr. Nwafor Orizu , Dr Akanu Ibiam to mention but a few,who had equally helped to improve the quality of every Igbo man by fighting vigorously for us and giving us near effective representation.
The rise of these great men in the Nigerian affairs was due to their self confidence engendered by their love for their people and belief that one man is as good as another and that no condition is permanent. People like Ojukwu had in the midst of political intolerance rose to fill the gap of pan-Igbo representation. He was a captivating demagogue, very expressive, a warlord who had fearlessly looked at power squarely in the face and stood for the interest of the igbos.
But today,all the Igbo giants have gone to sleep. The few ones in authority are only good in making perhaps, occasional fine speeches without commensurate momentum. Today, many who parade themselves as Igbo leaders either have nothing to offer to Ndigbo or fail to rise in defense of Ndigbo when needed.
They parade themselves in Abuja, Kano and Lagos under different umbrellas of Igbo groups as “Igbo leaders”. They do so as they have been perambulating and promenading with some of the unpopular Northern and Western creeps who have kept us in bondage. They leap over the stringent hurdles the Igbos have put in place for choosing their leaders.
The consequence is that Ndigbo has become pawns in the chessboard of political games in which they ought to have been players and would have drowned endlessly if not for the intervention of few vibrant ones that has sworn never to see it happen in their lifetime .The Igbos notable for being lashed by prejudice and buried half-alive in negligence in the national affairs have encountered much challenges in the recent years. And it is most painful that it was only a handful of our acclaimed leaders that came out and stood aggressively in our defense.
Thanks to Chief Alex Ekwueme, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, who, at different periods, came to the rescue of Ndigbo. It will remain indelible in the memories of many, the swift action of Dr Orji Uzor Kalu during the Fashola deportation of Igbos . When others were busy protecting their individual friendship ties with some people they considered powerful, Dr Orji Kalu took it upon himself and made sure that Igbos deserved a better treatment at all nooks and crannies of this nation.
His stance on the Apo 6, when Igbos were brutally killed for flimsy reasons, was very conspicuous and highly commendable. His popular encounter with the Sultan of Sokoto on the killings of Igbos in the North, his presentation at the British House of Commons as a Special Guest where he carried the crusade of equal representation in a nation that Igbos seem to be taken for silent majority received laudable commendations at home and diaspora.
Dr Orji Uzor Kalu’s bravado in withstanding face-off with any Igbo hater has very much endeared him to a new generation of Ndigbo especially the youths. His example being that no Igbo leader should ever abandon his people in times of adversity, that every igbo man especially those in authority, those whom the Igbos have entrusted with the fate of the entire ethnic group must be ready to make a commensurate sacrifice for the igbo nation. I have come to believe that there will always be true men to lead the Igbos and consequently give voice to the igbo interests and aspirations in accordance with the social and political realities of the time.
That is why amidst the full support of Ndigbo for president Jonathan’s re-election bid, Dr Kalu is the only igbo leader who has shown his commitment beyond verbal support of president Jonathan’s re-election. He has lived up to his words by putting all his energy and resources to drive the project of making sure that President Jonathan continues, by distributing thousands of customized phones and numerous bags of rice as part of his own individual campaign for President Jonathan. And I am sure that the South-South youths and elders are taking note of that.
I strongly believe more still need to be done to promote the growth and interests of the Igbos in this nation, especially now that the Igbos have no expectation of a Nigerian President from igbo extraction. I had in the past sampled the opinions of some elites and those who understand that the prize of greatness is responsibility on the political future of the Igbos beyond 2016.
These are what they had to say: Senator Dr. Emmanuel Onwe- “Considering the political realities of time, the Igbos need to re-strategize and go for quality leadership with national and international connections in the search for a better future of the Igbos and for the socio-economic transformation of Ndigbo”.
Sir Victor Muruako opined that “the Igbos ostentatiously need a strong and vociferous voice at the National Assembly to properly represent the interest of the region and to fill the gap of pan-Igbo representation, while Prof. Tagbo Ugwu said that “if Igbos fail to have at least, a significant number of senators with irrefutable love for Ndigbo at the 8th National Assembly, true igbo leaders who will never be relaxed in the lock up of their comfort and pontificate on the plight of Igbos, then the Igbos will be likened to the cargo cult mentality that Anthropologists speak about- a belief by reluctant people that, sometimes, without any exertion whatsoever on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their habour, laden with every goody they have always dreamed of possessing.” But the question here is: Is that the prayers of Ndigbo? Well, I will leave you to your own judgement.
Ndigbo should think right now, lest we tend too fast to a point of diminishing returns. Some months ago, many groups at various times and occasions had pleaded with the Igbo leader, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu to contest for the Abia North Senatorial seat, all in a bid to have their own true leader in the 8th National Assembly and also a man who can speak on their behalf. Dr Kalu is a man that was massively voted for during his 2007 presidential bid. He is well known and generous with good acceptance beyond the shores of igboland.
He is also known for his good stead with many parts of the world. So,in a free and fair election, nobody in his zone, Abia North, can stand him. Nobody in Abia North can proudly cross his heart to challenge Dr Orji Kalu. Could that be part of the reasons he has been consistently pleaded on to represent them amidst any odd?
The bitter truth is that Dr Kalu’s fervent need to be in the red chambers at the 8th National Assembly as evidenced from the actions of some concerned Igbo youths and elders is of immense importance to Ndigbo at home and in diaspora than just Abia North senatorial zone, where he is constitutionally entitled to represent. And being who he is, Dr Kalu will definitely extend his representation beyond Abia North. Ndigbo will benefit immensely from his representation just as he has continued to do a good job for the Igbo nation.
The silent majority of this nation need to be heard again through a man famed for his courage and fearlessness in defense of his people. I believe Abia North will not sacrifice maturity and experience for mediocrity in the name of politicking since it is only a fool that will rely on a cripple to win a 100 metres race. They should be proud and thankful to God to have been blessed with such a great and humble leader with unquenching political will. Dr Kalu is an independent -minded individual and one of the most celebrated personalities of this country.
And as far as Abia North, Ndigbo and the entire nation is concerned, Dr Kalu represents the moon that shines down in the darkest hours unlike most Ndigbo that want to be the sun that lightens up but refuse to be around at the darkest hours. Dr Orji Uzor Kalu’s victory in the upcoming rerun abd what he will do for his good people of Abia North, Ndigbo and Nigerians at large will not be a surprise .But the great and extraordinary things he will do beyond representing his people is yet unknown. In the immortal words of Jimmy Cliff, ” time will tell.”
– Peter Ogbonna is the immediate past President of NESA, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He writes from ezekingV15@yahoo.com.