Igbo President: The Archbishop’s Gospel Truth

New Telegraph newspaper back page of Thursday October 21, 2021




Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, the Most Rev. Alfred Adewale-Martins, quoted above, was talking as a clergyman driven by truth and fairness, by the common good, and by what will engender harmonious living in our polity. Only time will tell whether his uncommon advisory has fallen on deaf ears. Will it go down well with the current thinking of decision influencers who shape how political offices are allocated?

Alas! As different as their faces are, so are politicians who have different approaches to resource sharing. Justice and equity, to them, are in the realm of dreams, utopia and the quixotic. Instead, they prefer Machiavelli’s end justifying the means or the Darwinian option of survival of the fittest. An attitude that deprives the weak and the disadvantaged in the society and always raises hurdles against peace in the land.

A society that is averse to justice and equity and yet desires peace and harmony lacks discernment. Often those with this mindset try to point at democracy that gives numbers a premium place far and above merit and equity. The consequence is that crises find abode in such an environment for an uneven-handed approach to governance makes the deprived lose interest in peace.

According to philosophers Plato and Socrates, there are direct consequences that await people who, for one reason or the other, refuse to participate in politics. “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,” says Plato. Socrates, in the same vein, says, “The wise who refuse to rule should prepare to suffer the rule of idiots.”

If Igbos, who are spread all over Nigeria and beyond, developing villages and towns, can tarry a while and give politics the deserved attention, they will not be victims to be defended by Archbishop Martins.

These great philosophers, earlier quoted, did not envisage there would be a Nigeria where inferiors and idiots will emerge as leaders but also block access to leadership by the good heads who do participate in politics. And the inferiors and idiots are in majority, unfortunately. In a democracy, as we are made to understand, the majority even if inferior must have their way and the minority even if superior only their say. So, critically, the error is in the system not in the people.

Zoning of political offices may not be a good option for fishing out credible leaders in our society but it remains the best in the circumstance to bring us closer to reducing the idiocy of our politics.

Since this dispensation that started in 1999, the people of the South-East region have been struggling against their calling to be responsive to the advisories of Plato and Socrates but have continued to be denied access to power, depriving the country of the uncommon talent of the people that make up this unique region. Even as we head to another election in 2023, all the indicator lights are still directing against the region.

At the risk of being seen as a harbinger of bad news, it may be correct to say that emerging political calculations in the country are still leaving the South-East out and they may end up as mere spectators in the 2023 race.

When Nollywood chieftain Chiwetalu Agu was spared further Army and DSS harassment for allegedly donning Biafra attire, he made an emphatic statement that seems providential: “Nigeria has nothing for Igbos.” A truth that will not be adequately understood now but later.

Ahead of 2023, Ndigbo are waiting for justice to get the Presidency but unfortunately for them, justice has no dwelling in this clime. They are waiting for the god of justice who did it for the South-West in 1999 (appeasing the injustice of June 12) and South-South in 2007 (to calm the restive Niger Delta militants and doctrine of the necessity of 2010) to do it for them in 2023. But it does not appear feasible now. Why? Because of the growing Igbo phobia in the country.

Political joggling going on ahead of 2023 is pointing to the sad fact that Igbos may not be either President or Vice President as it has always been since 1999. The two frontline political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that can produce the position are not looking southeast. If this happens, the trend would be clear that since this political dispensation one of the three major ethnic groups in the country has been consistently denied access to the presidency for over two decades; yet some people wonder why they are asking to be excused from Nigeria. Little wonder IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu is calling Nigeria a zoo country because in the animal kingdom there is no order, the most powerful is the king.

The people of Eastern Nigeria fought injustice in a war with Nigeria. And this injustice has not abated despite that hostilities ceased formally 51 years ago on a no-victor, no-vanquished note.

In the ongoing scheming ahead of 2023 to which Archbishop Martins is drawing Nigeria’s attention, Ndigbo technically are already eing edged out of the equation. This is how it will happen.

The Igbo elite is in the minority in the two political parties today. At the electoral level, they are strong in PDP. Unfortunately, the electoral potential is not a weighty factor in political considerations in Nigeria because it hardly matters. The elite interest is usually narrow irrespective of what matters. The negotiating power of the political elite is what determines not their number or qualifications. The strong electoral potential of Ndigbo scattered all over the place is immaterial when the chips are down. The Igbo elite is confused and venal, wanting everything but working for it in opposition, stabbing themselves.

Let’s take it party after party. The ruling APC has the gubernatorial seats of two of the five states in the South-East, Ebonyi and Imo, APGA in Anambra is the soul APC while the body is APGA. Therefore, technically, APC at the elite level is in the majority in the region. But when the time comes to share positions, the region’s anti-APC voting pattern is used to justify why the region should be deprived of any top position at the presidency.

In the PDP where most Easterners have faithfully domiciled their votes since 1999, the party is also looking away, based on its state control potentials which are now narrowed to two, Abia and Enugu, notwithstanding that Ndigbo within and outside the region always give massive support to PDP. So, technically, and by implication, the South-East has no reckoning in any of the two key parties.

When state governors who are the gods of the two political parties’ assembly, South-East will have only two in each, clearly handicapped.

The crusading Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has realized this and is already lording it over the South-East. Governor Wike is now scheming to take over whatever is due to the South in his party to anybody but to himself. He has become so overwhelming in his politics that he even installed his chosen candidates in the party positions in other regions including the South-East.

The South-South zone where Wike comes from is the richest geopolitical region in the country. At the election, they come with both numbers and money, South-East comes with none since its diaspora votes are not factored in the equations.

The foundation for this injustice was long laid when the South-East was given five states when every region had six and the North-West seven. This trait of inequality has led to the continuous dumping of one of the three ethnic groups in the country into the minority status where its weight is not being factored in the ongoing political manoeuvring.

The real danger in all this is already showing in the South-East where the youths are rebelling and asking for their due or to be indulged with a breakaway from Nigeria.

The essence of this week’s conversation, therefore, is the sensitization of South-Easterners to the plot being hatched in the build-up to 2023. They will still not get the slot of President or Vice President. The political reality on the ground reveals this fact and our political elite who have become docile and hapless should be held liable for this. It’s for these reasons that the youths in their anger are on the verge of taking over the region, almost running a parallel government and yet enjoying grassroots support.

Now, Nigeria needs to know and embrace this hard fact that despite the “dot in a circle” rhetoric, spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari, the effect of the Ndigbo-targeted injustice will not spare the entire circle unless Nigeria has settled to let Biafra go.

To continuously beat a child and still deny him the right to cry is patently unjust. No better time to heed the Archbishop’s advice than now.

God, help us.