by Kalu Pedro
“Whether this will be the supreme sacrifice required to gain the trust and loyalty of its Niger Delta Neighbours or perhaps the beginning of a new socio- political or maybe Ijaw-Igbo political relationship, Only time will fill my guess, If not the Igbos may just be riding on the back of a tiger in whose belly it may eventually end up”
Over years since the existence of the Igbo nation, through the era of early civilisation and the slave trade, the average Igboman has been known to exhibit traits of independence and does not rely on the collective decision of neighbours or leaders to inform his choice or opinion. He believes strongly that through hard work and prayers he could achieve anything. No wonder the Igbo proverb says “onye kwe chi ya ekwe” when a person believes in himself, the gods do his bidding”.
Due to this nature the Igbo man is very firm in this decision and will for survival. Though this nature has cost many scares, both politically and economically because he has subject to his belief refused to extend a hand of friendship across the Niger or change his opinion when need be to form the necessary alliance required for his greater survival in the Nigerian nation. The Igbos will willingly die in a cause they believe than take the backwards step that guarantees breath of life. This was responsible for the major resistance at the civil war in which a minor section of the country engaged the entire nation in a disproportionate war fare, defying numbers, external support and sophistication of their Nigerian Opponents.
In a natural exhibition of independence in its collective decision, the Igbos have again decided to snub other sections of the country in their crave to form an alliance that will ensure the massive withdrawal of support for Jonathan’s re-election in 2015. This alliance was born out of the formation of the APC (All Progressive Congress) by mostly regional parties from the North and the South, the APP, CPC and ACN. The alliance was met with a stiff resistance from the regional party of the South East APGA, which was initially dragged into it without consultation of the party leadership.
Ordinarily anyone would have thought any alliance to oust Jonathan will be welcomed by the Igbos for the reasons given below:-
The Igbo are perceived to be very greedy and domineering, willing to sell off its neighbouring minorities to withhold her relevance within the Old Eastern region and would not welcome the idea of a president emanating from its Niger Delta neighbours.
The history of political relationship between the Igbo and its geographically located neighbours especially the Ijaws has been that of opposition to any ideology founded by the Igbo and stiff resistance to its political ambitions and aspiration.
- QUEST FOR POWER
Jonathan’s tenure is an elongation of the prolonged quest and post civil war agitation by the Igbo to attain the sit of power in a united Nigeria.
Many had thought that power in the hand of an old eastern minority, especially the Ijaws would meet stiff opposition by the dominant Igbo, as in the case of the Hausa /Fulani against its minority tribes within the far north. Most people who opined that the Igbo would easily trade their support for Jonathan are as surprised as the Ijaws themselves. This assertion could arise from the stand point of revenge for the roles the eastern neighbours especially the ijaws have always played to scuttle the aspiration of the dominant neighbours, for thou the Igbo and its neighbours maintain a socio cultural relationship in the area of trading, marriage and religious affiliations, politically they have never had a history of alliance and support for each other’s ambitions but rather have created such primitive political awareness developed from pre-independence fear of conquest and dominion, for this reason the Ijaws through its Niger Delta Congress (NDC) lead by Dappa Depriye preferred to stretch a long hand of friendship across the Niger to its distant allies, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by Sir Ahmadu Bello over the NCNC (National Council of Nigerian Citizens) led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. This alliance proved the Igbo greatest weakness and the Hausa/Fulani greatest strength which produced Tafa Belewa as the First prime Minister.
During the Civil war, the active participation of Ijaw sons under the command of Major Isaac Jasper Boro as commander of the 19th Brigade helped the Nigerian army to gain grounds into Igbo land, a move that was responsible for the early capture of Port Harcourt and advances into the eastern mainland. It is worthy to note that Boro fought against a cause he once detested and so bitterly opposed because his unfounded fear of Igbo dominance was far greater than the continual fear of a Nigerian conquest and marginalisation. Late Ken Saro-wiwa of blessed memory also reiterated this in his article of 1987 titled ‘’Awo and the creation of states” where he stated the fears of minorities in old eastern region especially the Ogonis and Ijaws who were the major beneficiaries of abandoned properties in Porthacourt, domiciled in the belief that the economic viability of Igbo land rested on the oil wells within their heartland. Thou these fears are justifiable it has overtime matured into a perceived hatred that borders on tales of falsehood and manipulations by political actors of the region in the guise of minority agitation and insecurity.
There is no doubt the Ijaws had always wanted a distinct political space from the Igbos, this was reason why Chief Edwin Clark together with the like of late Marshall Harry had towards the formation of Council of South-East and South-South (COESS), an initiative geared towards the reunion of people from the old Eastern region, held a symposium stating that the Ijaws have had more familiarity and Political alliance with the North and felt at home that way, inspite of the continuous complaint of marginalization. The same Chief Edwin Clark was the greatest stumbling block to the former Governor of Rivers state Peter Odilli’s presidential ambition during the agitation of South-south to produce the president because according to him, Odilli is an Igbo man of Niger Delta extraction. I categorically wish to state that Ijaw leaders have always wielded a hard forged historical Igbo-phobia towards every opportunity that raises the clouds of Igbo dominance, hence the deliberate attempt to sabotage her efforts and frustrate the political ambitions of the group.
The tides have turn and its now the turn of the Ijaws to rely on the support of Ndi-Igbo. The entire North and south west have forged a strong alliance ahead of 2015, hoping and praying only for the igbos to come into this alliance, thereby forming a tripod on which stands a strong resistance to the re-election of President Jonathan for a second term in office, the Igbos have become the beautiful bride, those it rejects call it a slut those it accepts adores her quintessence. It is with much hope and anticipation they pray the Igbos remember their political history with the Ijaws. The failure of these regional players and political leaders to compel the Igbos into this alliance has lead to major frustrations and blackmail. Ndi-Igbo have received more whips on her back for their support for Jonathan than even his ethnic Ijaw tribe, resulting in collective insult, series of name calling and threats of political blackmail. It’s worthy to note that most unguarded utterances and vituperation of regional leaders such as the Mutala Nyako and Junaid Mohammed have conspicuously drawn a bull eye at the back of Igbos, terming them political mercenaries and sabotages, whose vote could only be bought with money. The lives and properties of Ndi-Igbo within the northern region are at risk and mercy of these war mongers and bad losers and their followers should Jonathan be declared winner of 2015 election. As Akin Osuntokun wrote in his article titled “The Unfounded Revanchist Igbo” ‘an observation that should not warrant argument is that Ndi-Igbo has demonstrated a sense of ownership of the Jonathan Government in a manner it has not related to any federal Government since 1966”. I will argue that this is not about regional solidarity as stipulated by the writer but rather about a long time cultural practice of the neighbourhood principle which confers a duty of care on the people to its surrounding neighbours and kinsmen, it’s a principle that says “if I can’t have it, let my neighbour have it” that is the socio-political behaviour of Ndi-Igbo, …the origin of OHANEZE (KINGS AND KINS). Thou an astute supporter of the present administration I believe Jonathan is worth a re-election on the bases of performance but not worth the fanatic support and fellowship of the Igbos based on sentiments arising from Boundaries and Borderlines or the distance that separates the two communities, in a democratic dispensation. Like a Big brother Ndi-Igbo have stood firm in her support for Jonathan, against the rising tides of opposition, against the painful memory of betrayal, sabotage and political blackmail by its neighbours. Whether this will be the supreme sacrifice required to gain the trust and loyalty of its Niger Delta Neighbours or perhaps the beginning of a new socio- political or maybe Ijaw-Igbo political relationship, Only time will fill my guess, If not the Igbos may just be riding on the back of a tiger in whose belly it may eventually end up, until then GOODLUCK TO THE IGBOS ON JONATHAN.
Kalu Christian Pedro tweets from @Peddykal
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.