If there are two persons who the Nigerian democratic history cannot forget, they must be President Muhammadu Buhari and Ahmed Bola Tinubu. One of the major tenets of a democratic system of government is that it allows opposition and without an opposition, a government cannot be said to be practicing democracy. Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu were two opposition figures in Nigeria that pushed the ruling people’s democratic party(PDP) to its limit from 1999-2015 when the PDP finally lost to a party formed by these men. Bola Tinubu built a party for the Yoruba people, even when their own son was at the helm of affairs, the Yoruba people were still a strong political force in both the ruling and opposition parties. Tinubu refused to decamp to the PDP from his party the Action Congress of Nigeria even at a time when a politician must be a member of the PDP in other to get their way. As governor of Lagos state even when Lagos was no longer getting allocation from the federal government, Tinubu did not give in pressure and did not decamp to the PDP. When Obasanjo left office in 2007, the Yoruba race rallied behind Tinubu and he made them a force in the polity. A political force so powerful that in 2011, it was rumored that then President Goodluck Jonathan had to enter into negotiation with Tinubu to enable him get votes from the west.
Just like Tinubu, love him or hate him, the Northern political history of Nigeria cannot be written without the name of Muhammadu Buhari occupying a significant position in it. From a personal view, no northern leader since Ahmadu Bello has commanded the kind of followership that Buhari has enjoyed in the north. During the height of the PDP when it seems like no other party could ever win the presidency or major positions in the country, the northerners still rallied round Buhari pitching their tents in two camps, in both the opposition and the ruling party meaning they could not be schemed out of the running of the polity.
Unlike these two great personalities and their ethnic groups, the Igbo race has been denied the luxury of having such figures in history except for the late Odumegwu Ojukwu and this has made the Igbos to continue to play the type of politics that my friend Augustine will call the politics of stagnation. According to Augustine, the Igbos have always put their eggs in the ruling basket and forgetting that in a democratic party, the ruling party can be kicked out at any time. In my book which was co-authored with Augustine titled, “Nigeria, 2015 and Beyond: The Igbo Perspective” which was published in 2014, the authors warned that the Igbos will pay a bitter price if they continue to play this type of politics by giving their total support to Goodluck Jonathan and forgetting about the then opposition. Even in president Jonathan’s region, they did not fully give him their support. The authors encouraged that the Igbos should take a clue from the Yoruba ethnic group and practice the progressive type of politics that has continued to place both the Western region and the Northern region at the helm of affairs of this country. Until the Igbos take a clue from these groups, they will continue to cry about being marginalized and will continue to ask for Biafra which for me is not realistic at the present dispensation.
On the 21st of July 2013, Dr Thomas, a lecturer of the political science department of the Lagos State University published a wonderful article on Thisday newspaper titled, “Igbo Presidency and the Yoruba example”. In the article, Dr Thomas advised that for the Igbos to be relevant in the running of the affairs of the polity, the Igbos need to come up with a dominant political ideology as different from the extant ragtag idiocies which case them as a group without political discipline. The Igbos need a radical over-hauling of their political philosophy by re-branding and articulating it just like the Yorubas and Hausas have settled for progressive politics. The Igbos need a central figure to play the toughie for them. What we as Igbos have now is the emergence of individual Igbo leaders with antecedents that question their credentials to pursue and promote the kind of political revolution needed by the Igbos. The Igbos need to learn one or two things from the Yorubas on matters relating to political revolution. At present, the Igbo politician who fits into this central figure personality is the deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu unlike most other Igbo politicians have proven to the mouth-piece of the Igbo race in modern times. In the wake of the PDP losing the 2015 elections, most notable Igbo politicians all decamped to the APC abandoning a party that made them relevant in the polity. Unlike Sen Ike Ekweremadu who has remained in the opposition and is always outspoken in the senate, these so-called politicians are greedy elements who are always thinking of their own pockets. They are like those friends who stay with you when you are rich and runs away when you become poor. The Igbo race needs to unite behind this man of dignity who today is a source of joy for all Igbos from all walk of life and is the number one citizen of Igbo origin with the highest ranking political office It is in the interest of the Igbos to put their house in order and coordinate their political operations to avoid this present situation where other ethnic groups are using them to count scores and the best way to do this is to unite behind a central figure and from my personal view, that central figure at the moment is Sen Ike Ekweremadu.
Writes from Kaduna
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