Ndigbo And The Flawed Sense Of Political Inclusiveness

Nnedi Ogaziechi image via Independent

AWKA (INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS, NIGERIA)--There is something very intriguing about watching and listening to men talk politics. So often it reminds one of Shakespeare’s description of life as, “a story told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. So very often, politics, especially of the Nigerian hue comes so close to this very poignantly factual quote.

Today, however, I want to beam a tiny searchlight on the politics of Ndigbo since 1999 given the recent carrot –dangling of promises of a 2023 presidency and the recent communiqué of Ohaneze Ndigbo at the end of the South East Summit on the Restructuring of Nigeria in Awka, Anambra state. Most of the proposals sound like song these days as nothing remarkably new is being proposed.

However, it is quite interesting watching political developments amongst Ndigbo since our clichéd, ‘nascent’ resurgence of democratic governments since 1999. The great Achebe bemoaned the renegades in the Anambra state politics (thank God the people have taken their state back, lol) that turned the state upside down. But the other states in the zone seem not totally immune to the perverted politics that Achebe was miffed about.

The zone has been playing marginal politics that neither enriches the zone nor empowers the players politically. The zone since 1999 had at different times produced the Senate Presidents that did the notorious chair dance that saw a huge turnover of Senate Presidents. It is convenient to turn to the clichéd, ‘Igbo enwe Eze’ to explain out the lack of concrete and vocal political class but this writer begs to differ.

Ndigbo have, with time, moved from the seeming Republicanism to throwing up some of the most self-centred political class who only care about themselves and not the zone as a whole. We have seen the deviation from the late Emeka Ojukwus, Akanu Ibiams, the Micheal Okparas, the Sam Mbakwes and all those former politicians that put the people first.

Now what the zone is plagued with are men who are ready to assist ‘outsiders’ further marginalise the people smarting from the effects of the war. It is difficult to understand how those politicians who seemingly posture as Igbo leaders on different levels have never had strong regional introspection that can spur economic productivity across the zone, irrespective of partisan affiliations.

The urge to be ‘Abuja’ players seems to remove the soul off most of the politicians, election after election. It is those who are more concerned with individual egos that access power in the region and all their efforts are geared towards individual political and economic fiefdoms. And the people continually lose out.

One fails to understand why anyone can find a promissory note of an Igbo Presidency an attraction for subservience to any scheme. But we have heard the song and dance about what the Igbos should do so that the presidency would be handed to them at some point. Pray, must a president come from the zone for economic progress to be made? How come the politicians cannot work together to economically develop the region by maximizing the education, industry and commercial prowess of the Igbo man?

How is it that those who have political power from the region would rather seek validation from the centre politically since 1999 and nothing comes to the zone except to those who gain individually? It is a shame that most Ndigbo politicians literarily hold the zone down to be raped. Who are those who never negotiate for any regional development plans from presidential aspirants since 1999?

Who are those who take their political visibility as ticket for self-aggrandizement? How is it that the Second Niger Bridge has become one huge political carrot for Ndigbo? Each government comes and some political foot soldiers lead them on campaigns around the region without any economically viable request? The federal presence in the zone is abysmal and puts a daily lie to the post-civil war promise of the three Rs – Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation? What has been reconstructed or rehabilitated since 1970? Yet those who access political power in the zone grandstand individually as though all is well and are always at the forefront of people who believe that they can always get the Ndigbo with the sound of coins literarily?

Methinks it is time for Ndigbo to have serious introspection and think of re-evaluating the type of people who grandstand as Igbo leaders without the requisite regional passion to develop the zone on by- partisan basis. It is somewhat shameful that all the other zones often have long term plans about regional development while Ndigbo seem stuck with individuals with purely selfish interests but who ride on the back of the people.

It is very curious that other zones speak with one voice and play deft political games while Ndigbo continue in what seems a pure wild goose chase. As elections approach, it would be good to re-evaluate the characters that access leadership in the zone and make choices based on the age old values of commitment, competence and intelligence if the zone must present a cohesive front like other regions that speak with one voice despite political party choices differences.

Ndigbo cannot continue to draw national political agenda for those who first make their different regions strong units through economic and political decisions. Presidency is good but it is never a magic wand for regional development, strategic and well thought out plans are key and must be driven by committed and focused people devoid of the present individualistic ego trips.

Tomorrow is May 30th; it is a remarkable day in the history of Ndigbo. Can our patriotic and proud forbears look at our present crop of politicians and have peace that the baton of leadership is in good hands?