Recently, there was an outcry amongst Igbo PDP sympathizers over the statement credited to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to the effect that if the Yoruba continue voting APC, they stand in good stead to take the 2023 presidency. Before then, there were similar reactions from Igbo to a similar statement made by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola telling Yoruba to cont9nue voting for APC to stand a good chance of getting the presidency in 2023. Viewed from every perspective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with both statements which are quite in tandem with political projections members and supporters of a party should make, leading to a general election next month. Again, both the Vice President and the Minister are eminent Nigerians who have excelled in their respective political positions and stand in very good stead to make very successful leaders of the country any day and should the presidency come back to the Yoruba any time, the two are names that will surely crop up in the consideration of worthy, capable and experienced leaders that can successfully pilot the ship of the Nigerian state.
But I don’t understand why the Igbo PDP faithfuls should be angry at these innocuous statements that have deep roots in the present political calculation. I don’t understand the angst of my Igbo because both Prof. Osinbajo and Fashola have every rights to promote the political interests of their people and make sure they make worthy investments of their votes. They have every right to urge their people to continue their profitable fidelity to the APC and have every right to make projections of the outcome their people can derive from that investment. This does no injury to whatever the Igbo, especially the fuming PDP supporters decide to do with their votes and where they feel their nests are best served. The positions of the duo do not injure or vitiate the interests of the Igbo and do not stop the Igbo from making similar projections.
So I don’t see why the Igbo PDP members should fret and hoot over what both Osinbajo and Fashola said. I don’t see why Igbo should raise their blood pressure over who makes what projection both for 2019, 2023 and thereafter. That’s what politics is all about.
But the Igbo know, as much as I know that behind their restive reactions to the statements by the duo is their worrying predilection to making horrible political decisions which, over the years, have worsened the fate of Igbo in Nigerian politics and made them an irrelevant political force that lives on yakking and making laughable periodic noises while their political fate continues to dip. Fact is that in 2015, Igbo made a terrible choice of packing all their eggs in one fragile basket when they adopted Jonathan as theirs and PDP as their political party. It was so bad that candidate Buhari wrote and demanded a meeting from Ohaneze but the letter was not even replied. In the 2015 general election, Igbo succeeded to ostracize their votes and showed the entire country that they matter little in deciding who becomes the President of Nigeria.
The Igbo post-2015 conduct was more devastating. Instead of carrying out an objective post-mortem of how they made the fatal blunder of 2015, they started a hate-filled, divisive and dangerous tirade against Buhari and his tribe for the singular reason that Buhari, against their faulty expectations, defeated their adopted son and party. Even when the South South people that were the direct casualties of the 2015 election defeat, moved on, many Igbo refused to move on and in this mad frenzy, Biafra was exhumed as a convenient fallback for those that invested much emotion to the 2015 election and crashed. All the twists of this historical blunder have become history and Igbo are, once again, in the mix of another crucial decision time that has dawned and in a month’s time, Igbo will join other Nigerians to make a critical choice of their electoral future when, with their votes, they would decide where the future lies for their race.
To me, it is not about trolling any politician and making so much impotent noise of what he or she says or did not say. It is about making good use of our votes. Do the Igbo really need the presidency? The race must categorically answer this question for others to note. Recently, Ohaneze which claims to be the mouthpiece of Igbo said emphatically that Igbo do not need the presidency but restructuring. This was in response to the wise counsel from many Nigerians that Igbo should vote for President Buhari’s re-election in 2019 so as to stand in good stead for the 2023 presidency. Because the permutation is for the APC presidential slot, Ohaneze which does not hide the fact that it is a subset of the PDP aimed a shot at its feet that Igbo do not need the presidency. To show how politically doomed the Igbo have become, the same Ohaneze and its ailed interests were to start a new song as soon as PDP’s presidential candidate, Abubakar Atiku picked Peter Obi as his vice presidential candidate. They said that the vice presidential ticket of the PDP had addressed their age-old charge of being marginalized and they have been dancing themselves to stupor over that slot since then and with few weeks remaining before another general election, it could safely be projected that majority Igbo will vote for PDP. I may be wrong in the long run but that would be proved the morning after February 16.
So why are the Igbo fretting over Prof. Osinbajo and Fashola’s position on the 2023 presidency? Do they entertain the wild thought that after showing so much rejection to the APC, the party will patronize Igbo when the contest for the 2023 presidency starts? Do they believe that a party will take its ticket to an area and people that have demonstrated an acute hatred for it? What political projection is that? If the Igbo should continue their loathsome attitude to the APC and still demonstrate same in the coming 2019 election, on what grounds should anybody feel that the party must take its presidential ticket to an area where it is least accepted? What is wrong with Osinbajo and Fashola’s projection? Why should the party look elsewhere from the area where it is accepted when the issue of its ticket comes up? What will make a party to ditch its support base to patronize its hostile base?
If the Igbo pretend they don’t know the consequences of their voting pattern, 2019 will clearly show them what they stand to reap from patronizing any particular choice. I had previously written so much on this; to the fact that the Igbo will state their stand on the 2023 presidency by how they vote in 2019. Except one chooses self-delusion as a half-brother, it takes nothing to know that if the Igbo continue to patronize PDP in 2019 while the Yoruba continue to patronize APC, the 2023 APC presidential slot will go to the Yoruba. Perhaps, the PDP slot will go to the Igbo so let Igbo be content with whatever choice they make. In the unlikely event that PDP wins the February presidential election, with Igbo support, Igbo can hope that after Atiku finishes two possible terms in 2027, Igbo will get PDP’s presidential ticket. But if PDP fails again with Igbo support, Igbo should not expect the presidency earlier than 2039. These are hard facts that any knowledgeable Nigerian should know.
The fact remains that inasmuch as there is a need for equity and balance, such is procured not through emotions but through demonstrable actions that take into consideration the situational variables obtainable in the country. Power is not handed ala carte to anybody. Power is not given on a platter of gold. Power is not surrendered to anybody’s laps for nothing. Power is not given based on the loudness of one’s noise. Power is not given on the basis of how pitched one’s cries are. Power is struggled for and in this struggle, contestants bring all their strengths to the table. Prospecting for power requires a people and a race to marshal their best brains, their best strategic thinkers to see far beyond the immediate. Sadly, Igbo is in great lack of these thinkers and as such, what one sees is a field full of emotional players that believe that assuming victimhood and empty emotions can give them the presidency. It is for this reason that the Igbo invested in PDP for 16 whole years but ended up being hewers of wood and fetchers of water in Nigeria today. It is for this reason that in the 16 PDP years, Igbo lost its position as one of the tripods on which Nigeria stand and today, Igbo constitute no leg at all. Yet, for selfish, narrow interests of a few, Igbo still patronize the PDP more than any other people in Nigeria today.
So, there is no need for Igbo to fret over what Osinbajo or Fashola projects for their people. Their projections are solely based on support for APC. If Igbo feel that their umbilical cord is buried in PDP, they have no reason to even worry themselves over what APC plans to do with its ticket; either now or in the future. If they feel they are Siamese twins with PDP, what Osinbajo and Fashola said shouldn’t have troubled them. They should rather worry themselves with what PDP did with its ticket for 16 whole years and what they plan to do what remains of their ticket in future. If Igbo do not return massive votes for APC in February and the Yoruba does, there is no reason why a Yoruba cannot be considered as APC flag bearer in 2023. No party gives its slot to an area of least acceptance.
If, however, the Igbo should show such degree of restiveness as they showed with Osinbajo and Fashola’s statements, they must quickly retreat home to think. I have been calling for such thinking but for a race that operates on brainwaves, this imperative has been shunned. With the reality of what will happen in 2023 becoming more cadent, I feel Igbo should put on their thinking caps and vote where they feel their bread would be best buttered. If, as Ohaneze said, the Peter Obi vice presidential ticket has addressed their marginalization claim, then they should stop fretting over what the Vice President and Fashola recently said and move on with their lives. If, however, they believe that they deserve the APC ticket in 2023, they should stop revelling on vain pride and give APC their massive votes in 2023. There are no two ways about it. It is no rocket science. An Igbo adage goes that no one tells a person that just lost his mother to cry. At the fullness of time, Igbo will, for either good or bad, realize what good or harm they did to themselves since 2015. Our destiny is in our hands and has nothing to do with what Osinbajo or Fashola says on which race should take the presidency in 2023.
Peter Claver Oparah
E-mail: [email protected]