by Ralph Egbu
When people talk of voting oneself out of contention, I perceive that what they have behind their minds is politics of the old order, when for lack of exposure political leaders saw democracy in very restricted forms. In that era, if a people did not vote for the winning party, they suffered official denial.
For me, and I want to believe many other Nigerians, today’s discourse is very important and of huge significance to the proper making of the New Nigeria we earnestly desire. Since Independence in 1960, ethnic loyalty and alliances have been an issue and their divergences most of the time have been at the root of distorted political structure we have which to a reasonable extent is the cause many of us are still concerned whether Nigeria as presently constituted would remain or disintegrate at a point in time. The presidential election of March 28, 2015, in which President Goodluck Jonathan from a minority tribe and General Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani were main contenders, have come and gone but as has been acknowledged by the world, it has settled some issues and raised new posers with wide implications for politics in our nation.
The first major outcome of the poll is the new interesting knowledge that incumbents can be beaten silly but the one I am more concerned with in this piece is the voting pattern, which has seen the Southeast and the South-South go in same direction, different from the other zones in the nation. This development has attracted many reviews but not in equal dimension. The South-South support for the People’s Democratic Party has received far less attention, perhaps because it was expected they would naturally line up behind their son, who is the outgoing President. The other reason could be that power manipulators in our nation hardly take seriously the minorities especially when they standalone. But most of the reviewers have given focus to the Igbo loyalty to PDP, and given the situation in which Buhari and APC swept the poll, now insinuate that Igbo have at last shut themselves out of the national reckoning.
Some insist Igbo have made a mistake for which they should bow their heads in shame. What do I make of these posturings? Ignore them? No, it is rather good opportunity for the Igbo leaders to teach Nigeria what the new order means and from this point stage the final reclamation of their image and place in the Nigerian nation. Those who think Igbo made a mistake for which they should be traumatised, not only miss the point, I see them as Igbo enemies whose penchant is to look for reasons to further their past-time of ethnic downgrading, reducing the Igbo, a majority group for that matter to an insignificant people especially as it relates to the management of affairs of the nation. For these Latter Day Saints, it is beginning to look for them as if the Buhari’s resurgence would be the beginning and end of group political supremacy in our nation. Good as it is, our level of development shows it is just a fraction of the changes that would come and to make it matter, all hands must be on deck.
When people talk of voting oneself out of contention, I perceive that what they have behind their minds is politics of the old order, when for lack of exposure political leaders saw democracy in very restricted forms. In that era, if a people did not vote for the winning party, they suffered official denial. Those who remind us of this discredited system do us no good and should be cautioned accordingly. They live in the past and want to drag the rest of us to their suffocating world. We would not allow them because it has become common knowledge that the meat of democracy is pluralism, which is best suited for a nation like ours. It recognises our differences and offers everyone the encouragement to maintain our distinctiveness within the level that make for peace. In America, Britain, France, just to mention but a few, established electoral pattern shows that till tomorrow, some areas would always vote in a given direction irrespective of who is contesting and after each poll that ends it and the task of nation building commences without discrimination; rather differences in opinion are rightly seen as the challenges the new leadership must lead the nation to solve.
The only issue that draws strength from electoral outings is that of prioritization and not denial as we tend to suggest in our part of the world. Buhari and Tinibu are too enlightened to fall for the baits of those who want a restricted government. It will do them no good in the long run if what I know of power management in this nation is anything to go by. I have told many of the political players of the APC stock who are my friends that it is politically suicidal to think that PDP is dead, just because they suffered massive defeat; conservative parties don’t die neither can they be weakened to the point they lose total potency. Few months after Buhari inaugurates his cabinet, they would come alive proving my position that you “can’t destroy the beetle” and this where the Igbo new direction would be potent and decisive and only those who can see the future, can reap from it. The new posture of the South-East and South-South, for me, symbolises a need and a challenge to be solved.
I see a new Biafra; many Nigerians loathe the word and equate it with secession. Those who know history know that Biafra was more about glaring injustice than anything. It was the poor management of the wrongs that ignited the bigger inferno. More than 40 years since the civil war ended the issues have remained the same but an emasculated Igbo needed and sought for a voice and cohesion and for that long could not find any because the forces that held them went the extra mile to kill rising voices and to deny them the weight of support of their close neighbours while consolidating theirs. What their natural strength and intelligence could not do the push against South-South has done. The new Igbo direction is a plus; it is their opportunity to redefine who they are and what they want from Nigeria. Like we have seen from the Yoruba, they could be in government and still shout loud that they are in opposition, this style has great gains. It will afford this majority group the chance to make the rest of Nigerians appreciate the uniqueness of the Igbo race and what their contributions have meant to the development of the nation. What the Igbo should do is to use the new found strength not in a beggarly fashion but in a most creative manner that the leadership would be clear and patriotic, and the issues, those things that have held the area back and underdeveloped.
Buhari, if he wants to succeed must see the opening and go in to harness them for his own good. I have heard about Southeast getting the position of Secretary to Government of the Federation. It is good but not good enough. The APC would have to bend a little more backwards to solicit Igbo understanding. If the nation could alter situations to produce two Yoruba presidential candidates at a time, it can do more than this, to properly place the Igbo ingenuity at the disposal of the Nigerian State. South-South should not be forgotten, they are angry. Nothing is too much to give for the building of a virile nation, especially one like Nigeria that is the hope and pride of the black man.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.