Friday, 29 May 2015

The future of Ndigbo in the new government

From the election results announced all South Eastern States except Imo voted for Pres. Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Presidential and National Assembly polls.

In order words, Ndigbo are perceived to have voted themselves out of relevance in the APC govt except if they manage to integrate themselves into the system by some miracle.

However, as bad as it seems, many are still optimistic that there is a place for them in the new government, at least, as provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Chekwas Okorie, one of the presidential candidates in the last general election said that although the voting pattern of Ndigbo will make it difficult for them to make claims in the APC government, there are certain things that are the rights of Ndigbo as guaranteed by the constitution.
“It is the constitutional provision that every state must be in the Federal Executive Council, FEC, every state have a Minister and that cannot be denied. “
However, it will be to Buhari’s political benefit that some key positions be allotted to the South-East because he is the president of Nigeria and not the president of APC. South-East is part of the Nigerian state and therefore should not be sidelined because they voted mostly for PDP. From records, he got a significant number of votes from the South-East too and that should not be disregarded. “ 
The new president should also know that anybody in government wants to be there in the next government. I’m sure that he would want to continue in 2019 and it is the way he handles things that will determine the future. If he ignores Ndigbo now because they didn’t vote for him, what happens in 2019? Will he come back to campaign? APC should have their eyes in 2019 and therefore, should not disregard Ndigbo because of their bloc vote. 
“The new government should also realise that in 2015, more than 50% of traditional Igbo votes did not go to Jonathan or to Buhari. The truth of the matter is that many Igbo were aloof. They didn’t vote at all because they were not with Jonathan and they were suspicious of Buhari. So, Buhari should not give Ndigbo cause to believe they were right in their suspicion of him by ignoring them. He is Nigeria’s president and should therefore focus on the future and what determines the future is what happens now.”
On reference to statements credited to Oba of Lagos, Oba Akiolu and Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka on the politics of Ndigbo, Chekwas Okorie refrained himself from commenting on what the traditional ruler said. 
According to him, “ He is not a politician and therefore I don’t want to talk about him. As for Soyinka, let me give give him benefit of doubt especially as he denied ever saying what he was alleged to have said.
“My concern more is the attitude of the South-West in the whole issue of APC and their purview that they are the ones that gave Buhari the victory. That is not true and that is not right. Even if they did, I think they should be more accommodating especially in the way they portray themselves in the new government and stop talking down on others.”
 A former governor of Anambra state, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife however didn't see any problem for Ndigbo in Buhari’s government. Ezeife opinion is based on the fact that Nigeria is operating a political party system and whoever wins at the end of the day becomes the people’ president.

“General Buhari is Nigeria’s president and not APC president. He contested on the platform of a political party as established but having won election, will he now become the president of APC? He is the peoples president and should therefore be a man of the people”. In his own submission, Chief Nduka Eya, the Secretary-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said that whatever becomes the fate of Ndigbo in the new administration should be blamed on the much desired change. “ We must know that this is a democracy. 
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ruled for 16 years. We talked about change but nobody defined the change we talked about. Now, the reality has dawned on us. In the whole South-East, only Imo is APC. So, a lot depends on the government. They should realise that they cannot run the country without the South-East. Buhari is the president of Nigeria including those in opposition. So, the opposition should organise themselves because without Ndigbo, there will be no Nigeria. This is a pointer to any government . You cannot ignore someone because he is in opposition. This country is run with a constitution and therefore Ndigbo should not lose confidence. “ 
The South-East is not alone here. There is also the South-South. All South -East States are PDP except Imo which is APC and Anambra which is APGA. The entire South-South is also PDP except Edo state which is APC. So, what are we talking? Buhari must appoint a Minister from each state of the federation. It is for him to choose statesmen as ministers and not praise singers.  
“ Let me also tell you another thing. APC is as good or as bad as PDP. Nigerian politicians play politics of their pockets. Buhari is already in. Let us see what he will do differently. We must hold him to task on his promises because he must fulfill all and we want him to prove that APC politicians will be different from PDP politicians. He must keep to his words because that is what change is all about. And so, we must keep him on his toes on the top promises he made to Nigerians while campaigning such as : reducing fuel price to N45.00 per litre ; giving N5000 per month to every unemployed youth; creating 3,000,000 jobs per annum; providing free meals for all elementary/primary/almajiri schools; giving one year allowance for youth corps post NYSC members; promise of free and qualitative education up to SSS 3 ;. building 2 million houses yearly for the next four years; generating 48,000 megawatts of electricity within four years; applying zero tolerance for corruption, wiping out corruption by the force of his personal example; banning medical tourism by our politicians from May 29, 2015, annihilating Boko Haram within two months, equating N1.00 to $1.00 and stabilising the oil price . 
We want to see Buhari ask questions about peoples wealth especially those of his party men. People should be able to account for the stupendous wealth they flaunt all over the place. I want to see change in all its ramifications, not selective change or abusive change.” Dr Chinweoke Mbadinuju, another one-time governor who recently defected from PDP to APC opines that the way things are, the position of Ndigbo in today’s political calculation is highly pathetic. “Igbo have not had it worse than this, from the time of Zik, to Okpara, to Ojukwu and a few others. It has been like from fire to frying pan. But it is entirely not the fault of Ndigbo. It was circumstantial. 
For whosoever loses war goes on the receiving end which is where the Igbo now are on the receiving end apart from Zik whom the British awarded the office of ceremonial Governor of Nigeria and this was the highest political office an Igbo ever held. Even when Chief Alex Ekwueme became Vice President under Alhaji Shehu Shagari, still the Vice Presidency was without political powers except the much Shagari assigned to him. “Anyway, the constitution could grant a VP power like Chairmanship of Economic Council, but Dr. Ekwueme will know whether such power was good or ephemeral. “So since the end of the civil war, subsequent leaders did not see it good to integrate the Igbo into the mainstream. Abacha did not. Obasanjo did not. Even Mallam Yar’ Adua and Jonathan did not. All they did was to pick up one Igbo man or woman and give them little, and they would be parading them as Igbo leaders. “ But now, I know that political power is not given, it is taken. Igbos must learn to earn power and to exercise it. For now, it is not easy to know how President Muhammadu Buhari will pattern his methods. He was a soldier and former Head of State. 
He knows his onion, and within this short time he won the Presidential election, he is showing capacity to lead Nigeria into prosperity. Nigeria will surely prosper. Nigerians will surely assist President Buhari to end corruption; build security around our people; employ the unemployed; build power and energy; reduce cost of governance; he will handle the electoral reform or confab as occasion warrants. “Whether we are Igbos or Nigerians, we must all embrace the Buhari’s concept of “change” for Nigeria. If Nigerians, and indeed the PDP, had allowed Chief Ogbulafo and Dr. Nwodo to go on with their job of being Chairman of the Party (PDP) there would have been no collapse of the party which had wanted to rule for 64 years but stopped at 16 years. When some friends ask if I really defected to PDP which I helped to nurture, I told them I did not defect rather PDP defected. 
“At the end of the day we must all embrace the concept of “change” , not just “change”, but “positive change”. Nigerians will see that the hunger for food and drinks are not that alone, but we must deal with physical hunger; spiritual hunger; monetized hunger’ waste and wastages; and life of ostentation. “The Igbo people are not asking Muhammadu Buhari for many appointments. 
It is enough that the South-East people knew or ought to know the adage that “He whose bread I eat, his song I will sing”. So since the South-East did not vote for Buhari, it means that Igbo cannot complain if Buhari did not grant them appointments commensurate with other zones which got more and who worked harder and got more offers. “Good politics under Buhari will further enhance the neighbor to neighbor approach that will bridge any gap of good relationship. It is not God that will unite our people in understanding each other. This is the job Nigerians will do by themselves and it shall be well for all Nigerians. 
It is true that there are so many ethnic groups competing among themselves for preservation, but good education will help in ceiling the gaps created by politics and politicians many years past. Today we still can re-capture the Nigerian factor if we work hard for it and one day we will see the North calling the Igbo “my brothers.”
Vanguard

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