OHANAEZE NDIGBO: KEEPING FAITH IN TRUTH
Inconsistency (they say) is the hallmark of a good politician.. On the other hand, Consistency should be the hallmark of a socio-cultural group whose modus and purpose are usually altruistic. In this regard, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has kept faith with their pronouncement (as published) on the presidential election and the overflogged issue of zoning.
For those who may not know, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is the apex socio-cultural organization of that tribe who are the number one believers in the political territory called Nigeria, having jump- started the struggle for her independence with the sword of truth and logic and a will that knows no defeat.
History must be fair to Ndigbo; the most forgiving tribe in Africa if not the world. They happen to be the victims of the first pogrom & Genocide in Africa. They have suffered political betrayals, persecutions, marginalization, lowest revenue allocation and bitter conspiracies all borne out of misunderstandings: yet they forgive, forget and love the perpetrators and oppressors, live and invest more in their land and provide services to them without bitterness. Ndigbo introduced compromise into Nigerian politics and the stabilizing effect has kept the country one till today.. So when Ohanaeze Ndigbo speaks. It is for that tribe that has the highest stakes in the country called Nigeria having with their blood, sweat & tears invested in every corner of the territory of Nigeria.
Leaders of Ohanaeze have always been men of great accomplishments.. Men who are mindful of the peculiar position of the highly misunderstood people that they lead. Men who know the socio-political history of their people alot more than those who now call themselves politicians- hence Ohanaeze has been consistent. The sound logic employed in the interpretation of the so called zoning formula of the P.D.P gladdens the heart and if this is juxtaposed on earlier pronouncements of Ohanaeze, you see consistency.
In 1998-1999, at the Jos Convention of PDP, an eminent Igbo son was conspired against and betrayed. It was taken in good faith, no bitterness and all Igbos stayed on and voted for P.D.P. By 2001 the normal taking for granted of Ndigbo had begun; so they met under the umbrella of Ohanaeze in Enugu and -resolved to seek the office of the President with vigour come 2003; not for the sake of it, but for the fact that Ndigbo can be a lot more fair at handling national issues since they nurse no bias against any tribe in Nigeria. Moreover, it is justiceable and in-tandem with the spirit of Zoning. However, it did not work out and the nation watched the drama of the PDP primaries at Eagles Square in 2002-2003. Yet, with no bitterness, the Igbos did not desert PDP, they stayed on till date.
In 2005, Ohanaeze Ndigbo again came out with a time honored statement, they said ' We have served Nigerians for 45 years as supporters, deputies, cheer leaders and the henchmen of Presidents chosen by brother zones during the military era and after. It is only fair and imperative in a democracy, that the baton should be passed on to Igbos, or Ijaws or Ibibio or Urhobos or itsekiris, or Efiks or Annag or Ogonis or Isoko, Ika etc all from the land of the rising sun (East of the Niger and Midwest).'
That demand in 2005, was clearly an equity -oriented formula and for as long as Nigerians remain addicted to the tribal hype, the interest of the various ethnic groups must not be ignored. Now in 2010, Ohanaeze demonstrated integrity and consistency in line with earlier positions on the issue of zoning and said it is fair to support G.E.J from the south-south zone. Again ,you can see the beauty of the Igbo tribe, they are not asking for any promise from the Ijaws who have hardly ever given them any political support since 1959.
Rather in principle, Ohanaeze is saying, Ijaws are part of Nigeria from the South -South zone and they deserve to have the highest office in the land at this time. The south-south zone even deserved it by 2007. How can one fault that spirit and the logic? If truly we believe in peace and unity.
To the other Igbo brothers who see Nigeria as Northern & Southern protectorate and believe that power would be dashed to them when they support the North, may I remind them that alliances are kept by respect and or fear and not love. Power in Nigeria is not about individuals, it is about how each tribe can scheme her way into power by obtaining the co-operation of others.
Consistency attracts respect. Group cohesion could stimulate fear. The Ohanaeze message is clear. Ndigbo should stand by what is just. It is just to support G.E.J in the circumstance.
Onwudiwe writes from Lagos