by Maduka Ogwueleka
Igbos are not strategic in politics like other regions – they put all their eggs in one basket. What a fallacy ~ Agunze Azuka Onwuka
I have heard this statement so many times these past days that it has become ridiculous.
The most annoying part of it is that even Igbos repeat it without asking if it is true or not.
In the First Republic, the South-west all voted for Awo’s party Action Group. Those who supported Akintola were labelled traitors and the “Operation Wetie” erupted which eventually led to the 1966 coups and civil war.
In the Second Republic, Yorubas who voted for NPN were labelled traitors. TOS Benson died as an outsider because he did not support Awo’s UPN. The same fate befell Adeniran Ogunsanya because he supported Zik till his death. Abiola was also seen as a sell-out because he was in NPN instead of UPN, until June 12 1993 electionmade him a hero.
On the contrary, the Igbos were always vilified for not speaking with one voice: for having some people support Zik ‘ s NPP and some support Ojukwu/Ekwueme in the NPN. They were told to emulate the Yorubas who always spoke with one voice (ie putting their eggs in one basket).
Now the Igbos have spoken with one voice, and the goalpost has been shifted again, by making it sound as if it was a crime. They are now accused of putting their eggs in one basket. Na waah for this life oo!
People speak without asking themselves how the Igbos would have won 2 house of representives seats in Lagos if they did not speak with one voice in this election.
By speaking with one voice, Igbos proved that they are trustworthy and reliable, even when many people sensed that Jonathan would lose and started jumping ship.
By speaking with one voice, Igbos showed the South-south that “agbata-obi onye bu nwanne ya” (a person’s neighbour is his brother).
The Igbos showed that contrary to all the decades oflies about Igbos being their enemies who seek to dominate the South-South because of oil, the Igbos are not as petty as that. They also proved to the South-South that the Igbos are not petty to seek revenge over whatever happened during the Biafran War.
Igbos proved that they fight for the oppressed and the underdog if the underdog is faced with two of Nigeria’s Big Three ethnic groups. It would have been a shame for the Big Three to unite against the South-South.
There is nothing like putting one’s eggs in one basket in Nigeria’s governance. It is constitutional that ministers MUST be appointed from all the states of Nigeria. It is constitutional that all federal appointments must reflect federal character.
By the way, there are top Igbo guys who stood by Buhari: Rochas, Ogbonnaya Onu, Pat Utomi, Chris Ngige, Oby Ezekwesili, Festus Odimegwu, etc. So it was not as if there were no Igbos that stood by him.Meanwhile, appointments don’t make an area develop. Tinubu led the South-west to reject the Speakership (No 4 person) zoned to the South-west by Jonathan.
So let us reject this feeling of loss or attempts to make us feel that we were unwise.
The Igbos acted based on the conditions on the ground. The Yorubas also voted based on the conditions on the ground, not because of any superior strategy in politics. There was no Yoruba among the two candidates. Also ACN is a major stakeholder in APC. And also because Buhari’s running mate is Yoruba, the majority of Yorubas felt that APC was the party that would benefit the Yorubas better. The other group led by Mimiko and Fayose and the Afenifere felt that Tinubu was leading the Yorubas into an unholy alliance with Buhari and that the Yoruba interest would be better protected by Jonathan.
The same group also feels uncomfortable with the power Tinubu wields over the region and the way he decides who should hold what position in the politics of the South-west.
On their own part, the Igbos voted for the candidate that appealed more to them.
The Igbos voted for justice by voting for a man from a place that had not produced the president, even though their oil feeds the nation.
The Igbos voted for a man who, for the first time since the end of the Biafran War, treated them like first-class citizens of Nigeria.
The Igbos voted for a man who showed them trust by appointing one of their own the Chief of Army Staff since 1966 when Ironsi was killed.He capped it up by also appointing another Igbo from Delta State (Ezeoba) the Chief of Naval Staff at the same time. That was the apogee of trust shown the Igbos in Nigeria since 1966.
The Igbos voted for a man who honoured their hero: IKEMBA. If Ikemba had been buried during the regime of some people, Ikemba’s burial would have been an Igbo affair, because many Nigerians still viewed him as a villain and a rebel. But Jonathan moved away from that path and gave him a national burial that made every Igbo tall.
The Igbos voted for a man who made it a reality that an international airport would be in Igbo land.
It would have been a stab in the back if the Igbos had scattered their votes between Jonathan and Buhari. It would have been a betrayal if the Igbos had not stood by a man who stood by them and gave them a sense of belonging in Nigeria. The Igbos had no choice. The Igbos stand by those who stand by them. When Adeniran Ogunsanya died, the Igbos closed their markets to honour him for standing by Zik through thick and thin till his death. The Igbos can never forget the sacrifice of Col Adekunle Fajuyi who was killed for trying to protect Aguiyi-Ironsi. The Igbos will never forget Carl Gustaf von Rosen for risking his life to fly into Biafra and assist them at that critical time. So let no Igbo accept that it was a mistake to give full support to Jonathan. The Igbos had no choice. One good turn, they say, deserves another. The Igbos rallied round a man who gave them a sense of belonging in Nigeria. Life is not all about winning elections.
Maduka Ogwueleka is an alumi of the Royal College of Physciians in London. He is on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.