2015 ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA: WHY IGBOS VOTED PDP AND JONATHAN
As a Political Scientist, many people have asked me why my people: The Igbos, massively voted for The PDP (and President Goodluck Jonathan). Friends, and those who appreciate my Political Thoughts (I won the best student awards on them while in the Ivory Tower), continue to seek my opinion on this issue! And this said enquiries set my Political Science mind working. Indeed, my Political Thoughts were ignited and my research capabilities in and on it were also aroused. Here are some of my take (Thoughts and Research findings) on the issue. Facts outlined below could make meaning to some people, and some will not also appreciate or like it. So be it! My findings are:
One: In Igbo customs and cultural life, there is an understanding, practice and proverb that assert, thus: “Onye egbula onye agbata obi ya” (meaning: one should not hurt/harm or kill his neighbour—especially when he/she is in need). In this case: Jonathan through his party: The PDP (required Igbo votes to remain in power).
Indeed, Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw man, is a neighbour to Igbos; and through the 2015 general elections, he needed the help of Igbos, by seeking to be voted into power (the second time) as the president, under the ticket of The PDP. The question was and still is: Should the Igbos have abandoned their neighbour in the time of his need, and vote others who are not considered as their close neighbours? Doing so could have come into conflict with their fundamental belief: traditional understanding and practice. Therefore, they took the risk (repeat: risk—Igbos are self-directed to a fault sometimes), and massively voted for their neighbour (eventhough many like this writer knew he and his party will be defeated despite the so-called incumbency factor—and they were actually and convincingly defeated). As a risk to be undertaken, they (Igbos) were prepared for the consequences if their ''supportee'' losses; but then, they would have satisfied their conscience by not abandoning their neighbour when he, through his party The PDP, needed their support most. This was the crux of the matter, and it takes us to the second point of our finding.
Secondly, Igbos in their traditional socio-cultural understandings and practices also believe in repaying in good deeds, when one has done ugly things to them. They believe that doing this will atone for their own wrong doings. In this case, many Igbos believed that they should payback the Ijaws (and other South-South neighbours) in good deeds for the very bad things they did to the Igbo race during the Nigerian Civil War from 1967-1970. Amongst other horrendous atrocities they committed against Igbos then were: bringing their considered enemies then: the Federal troops through their riverine-creeks to kill Igbos massively; allowing the Federal troops also to use airports within their confines and enclaves, like Port Harcourt airport, to genocidally annihilate Igbos-strafing and bombing their towns and villages out of existence (for example was this writer's town: Umuohiagu in 1969—see Chinua Achebe's book “There was a Country”, page 212); and wickedly acquiring and misappropriating Igbo houses and properties in Port Harcourt and Calabar—and other South-South towns then (this is also known as the 'Abandoned Property' Issue or Saga), etc. etc. In this instance, they paid back in good deeds to the Ijaws through Goodluck Jonathan (who contested under The PDP ticket), eventhough they (Ijaws) as neighbours, did the worst kind of deeds to them (Igbos) during the Civil War and after it.
Furthermore on the above, the spirituality in Igbo actions was made known during the research-findings of this paper. It was emphasized in the course of the research that: Unknown to The Igbos and Nigerians in general, Igbo people have atoned for whatever is their political sins in Nigeria, through their 1999-2015 electoral manifestations. How? (This writer asked). It was then firmly posited that: We (Nigerians in general) have forgotten that over three (3) million Igbos were killed from 1967-1970 during the gruesome Nigerian civil-war (mainly) fought in Igbo homeland. They (Igbos) forgave other Nigerians for this atrocity against them and integrated back into the Nigerian society in a very seamless undertaking (indeed without ill-feelings towards other Nigerians). It was then asserted that Igbos, from 1999-2015, overwhelmingly voted for those who massively killed them; and those who aided those who actually did so. Going further, it was said that: Olusegun Obasanjo (whose command genocidally and dastardly killed this writer's eldest brother: Eugene Chukwuemeka Osuji—one of the greatest pan-Nigerians born in Lagos in 1942, who spoke Yoruba more than Yorubas, best childhood friend of late Funsho Williams, an alumni of Hussey College Warri, and also an ex-staff of Nigerian Customs, in a church compound in our town on 4th September 1969, through a Federal–side Airforce jet-fighter's lone targeting on him) was on the fore-front of those who annihilated them en masse, but Igbos voted him into office in 1999 and 2003. Umaru Yar'Adua (a Hausa/Fulani-whose people led the war that killed a great many Igbos), was also voted-into office in 2007 by Igbos unequivocally (but also remembering that the elder Yar'Adua-Shehu, was a point-man during that war that killed supposedly 'fellow Nigerian–on the other side' en masse). Goodluck Jonathan is an Ijaw man; and every Igbo person know the role the Ijaws played during and after that grave war against The Igbos: They (Ijaws and other creek-people) brought-in The Federal troops through their creeks to annihilate Igbos; and they also wickedly took Igbo properties in Port Harcourt (which they called: Abandoned Properties); but not minding these inhumane atrocities against their neighbours, Igbos still voted en masse for him (Jonathan) twice (2011 and 2015). Now, what does all these (recounted above) mean? It means- this writer was made to know, in Igbo Spirituality, that Igbos have atoned for their own (political) sins by forgiving, loving and selflessly voting-into office those who hated and killed them en masse. This is cute, isn't it? Now also, Igbos say they now await for other Nigerians to reciprocate and allow them to have a space in the 'Nigerian Federal Political Space' (or else, without a fight this time, Mother Nature will compensate them Herself—remembering She is never partial, never discriminates and forgives those who have forgiven others and mercilessly hurts those who refuse to mercifully consider or forgive others—Is this True? Future will tell!).
Thirdly, Igbos also felt in maintaining the so-called “Southern Solidarity” by voting massively for Goodluck Jonathan (a Southerner—whom the Yorubas and Edos abandoned, thereby also abandoning the afore-mentioned Southern Solidarity, by massively voting for the other contending party: APC, and its leading candidate—a Northerner from Katsina State). After all, they questioned: did the North not maintain ''Northern Solidarity'' when they wholesomely voted for Buhari because he is a Northerner? It takes Southerners and especially the so-called ''Southern Solidarity Proponents'' to answer this question! Surely, the so-called Southern Solidarity has been deconstructed and therefore made irreparable. Let's see whether the Northern Solidarity will follow in the nearest or distant future—and Nigeria will be better for it.
Fourthly, ''Myopic Politics'' was visibly undertaking during the 2015 elections. Indeed, during the general elections of 2015 in Nigeria, many Igbos were utterly fixated, rigid and downright conservative in their political sensibilities. They exhibited frontally their ''follow-follow'' mentality in politics by following blindly their so-called leaders in politics (so-called because Igboland has so-far produced grossly and highly individuated, selfish, unqualified, visionless and un-achieving leadership cadre since 1999-when the current democratic practice started in Nigeria—what a shame!). Blind followership of bereft leadership out-played its strategy and tactics in the2015 elections-true!
Fifthly, ''Money Politics'' also played its ugly-corruptive role during the elections in Igboland. It was a case of: “he, who gives the highest amount, gets the majority of the voters.” Indeed, “Greed-Politics” (pettish pre-bendal and cronyism politics) had an upper hand in the scheme of things. It was indeed messy and an ugly scenario that rankled sane minds.
Sixthly, “Clan-Politics” was also abundantly exhibited during the elections. This meant: voting for your kinsman who is contesting, whether he/she is capable to perform while in office or not. For example, is the overwhelming vote of Mbaise people for their kinsman: Emeka Ihedioha (of PDP) in Imo State, during the Governorship elections? Ngwa people did the same in Abia state with their son: Ikpeazu-they went to the most dangerous and fetish extent: threatening and scaring non-indigenes residing within their midst, who would not vote their son-of-the-soil with coffins (meaning they will die if they did not vote for their clans' man and son). And to mention a few by extension, this scenario also played-out at the national level too. North-West and South-South people similarly voted massively for 'their own': while the Hausa/Fulani massively voted for Buhari, their tribes' man; the Ijaws also massively voted for their son: Jonathan.
Seventhly, is what one could call: “Residual After-Effects of The Civil War Mentality Politics”? This entails, posits and asserts unequivocally, that Igbos should not vote for a Hausa/Fulani (in this case as represented in the 2015 presidential election: Buhari) that led the massive killing of over three (3) million Igbos during The Nigerian Civil war (from 1967-1970). The reality of this mentality showcased itself in the elections but it is a dying mental-set and phenomenon in Igbos of today).
Eight: In Igbo customs: cultural and traditional mythology, as encapsulated in their beliefs and practices, the broom (The APC symbol), has dual outcomes in its usage—good (used to sweep the environment clean); and bad (ill-luck, bad-omen and sickness for those it is flogged with). Therefore, they (many Igbos) were hesitant to embrace the ''broom symbol-party'': The APC, easily and wholesomely (but people like this writer did without equivocation). But the fact remains, that Igbos gave Nigeria the broom (palm tree is their main cash crop and they developed most of its derivatives like broom, etc.); and therefore, they think they know its total (spiritual and temporal) implications—and this could be easily found in their traditional customs and beliefs (whether they are right or wrong is another basket of fish and indeed, another study's brief).
Ninth: Consistency. By voting PDP in their majority, in the last general elections, many Igbos thought they remained consistent, true to their words and deeds (they have voted massively for the party since 1999 when the current democracy returned). Whether one likes it or not, consistency in anything in human endeavour is an attribute (they believe). But also, like everything in life, there are consequences in any position or action taken: good or bad. This could be likened to when Southern United States of America (which held slaves for their plantations) fought the North (which was industrialized and free from slavery). Eventhough the North won the American Civil War, it was their duty to over-develop (emphasis: over-develop) the South, so that they can (and did) abandon slavery (they were also magnanimous through High Spirituality to atone for the blood that was shed during their civil war by emplacing a new National Flag with red stripes that shows eternal atonement for innocent blood shed). It is then, the onerous duty of APC now to over-develop Igboland (and other places that did not vote for them), so that they can come-over, and properly come into The APC's winning ship, or do we say: ''political supersonic-jet.''
Tenth: IGBOS ALSO MASSIVELY VOTED FOR BUHARI. Many non-Igbos, do not understand the Igbo make-up: its intricate dialectics and dynamics; and therefore, make quick conclusions on them. Igbos are diverse and deep people and therefore need to be understood through keen and deep reasoning. For instance, many non-Igbos, do not know that there are two-Igbos: The home-Igbo and the Urban-Igbo. Igbos know this fact about themselves. The home-Igbo are those living permanently in the Igbo-homeland (Alaigbo); and the urban-Igbo, are those that have left the homeland and thereafter reside outside Igboland in Nigeria (even residing outside the shores of Nigeria), but still have their total and inalienable rights and connection to the homeland (after all it is said in Igbo proverb that: Isi onye Igbo anaha ere nam mba—meaning: Igbo person's head does not or should not be allowed to rotten outside Igboland if he/she dies there).
It is a fact, that Diaspora Igbos (understand me now?) are even in greater number than the homeland Igbos. Without equivocation, our findings showed that a greater number of Igbos living outside Igboland massively voted for Muhammadu Buhari and APC (except in Lagos where in greater number, they voted for PDP and its Governorship candidate: Jimi Agbaje—and they have their heartfelt reasons for doing so—they felt that Fashola's APC government evidentially did discriminatory things against them). But in all (this writer was told), “Igbos have paid their individual and collective prices to be true Nigerians: they walk the talk of “One Nigeria” by settling and having properties all over Nigeria (in all nooks and crannies: streets, towns and hamlets in the country). They do individually and in groups' make-up their minds on issues and stick to it (even if the negative repercussion may outweigh the gains). This is also, an attribute whether one likes it or not”. Also, this writer was unequivocally told: “They (Igbos) cherish and practicalize freedom (which is a hallmark of democracy) and therefore, nothing should impinge on it; and nobody should infringe upon it also. They (Igbos) have the individual and collective rights like every person or persons from other places to make their choices. The sin of one or some Igbo person(s), should not be regarded as the sin of all Igbos in their generality (remembering that the punishment of an innocent person (innocent Igbo person here) is a condemnation of self; and also, that the punishment of an innocent person in a midst of criminals is equivalent to committing a criminal act too)”.
Indeed, the 2015 elections in Nigeria have come and are gone; the result was emphatic: APC was in the majority, voted into power by the Nigerian people, at both the state and Federal levels. It is now left for APC to properly (emphasis: properly) manage their success and the trust reposed in (on) them by the Nigerian people. The “electorates' power” has been exercised and will continue to be exercised henceforth in manners that can be truly regarded as free and fair. APC can only perform creditably well or be considered and reconsidered (read my leaps!). Many people (like this writer) from Igboland saw the hand-writing on the wall and the wind of change coming; and without fanfare, worked intellectually and in the grassroots for the emergence of APC. We are now keenly watching whether the party will continue to be considered and regarded as a Northern and South-West Party. It is a sensitive issue; and Governor Shettima of Borno State got it all right when he said, and I quote: “The Igbos were the silent forces behind Buhari's victory” (“The Will” internet newspaper of 2nd April, 2015).
Surely, the Igbos in APC are watching whether they will be sidelined (do we use the popular refrain: marginalized) in the scheme of APC doing of her own things. Future will surely tell. Mother Nature and God will also be the last arbiters (at long last) after APC might have unfolded clearly. Indeed, history will surely record the trails of APC while in power, for all to assess and learn from. That is the way of life!
On the final note (which serves as our conclusion): We should always remember that Nigeria is a Natural Tripod (East, West and North: with big tri-races also; furthermore see the Nigerian Map-the beauty on how Mother Nature does her things: River Niger and Benue created the tripod and on every of the three sides a major and many minors groups in and within them). Indeed, the country has so far failed as a nation-state, because this understanding and how to properly manage it has not sank-in-well into the brains of her past and present leaders. If future leaders do not also comprehend it and equitably make use of it, they will also fail in nation building. Two of the tripod-seat-legs, cannot stand it properly for human-sitting (mark my words!). Mother Nature also judges the major three through how they treat and handle the affairs of their siblings—who are permanently around and within them. Indeed, nobody can survive without relations: distant and near, minor or major (please forgive my poetic-insight license here; but 'deep calls to the deep'—you understand me?). I hope the APC many of us laboured-for to bring into existence (intellectually, physically and otherwise) and worked hard also to see its progressive electoral victory nationally, will not turn out to become a sectional party—nepotically-run and therefore turn to become an ''Arewa Peoples Congress.'' The true test of Nigeria I was severally told while researching on this topic and issue here: “will irrevocably start from 2019 (if Buhari runs for a second term it is okay but whenever he finishes his term(s) and Igbos are not allowed to lead this country either by affirmation or by merit, it should then be known that Mother Nature will be vehement in her judgment for their freedom from the human strangle-hold in this clime–and this is also my prognosis-and many of my prognosis have not failed in the past to hit the bull's eye—the coming into existence of APC and its victory are some of them).” Indeed, 2020 will be 50years (remembering that The Nigeria-Biafra (civil) war ended in 1970) after the massive-shedding of Igbo blood without National Atonement; and I was also made to reflect (while researching before writing this paper) on the fact that that will be enough time for Mother Nature in her ways, to act fully to redeem the blood of her innocent children (it was emphasized that she never forgives those who toy with the blood of her innocents) who were among those who were killed in that gruesome war without remorse by those who think only, that might is right. Also, in the course of my research for this paper, I was told (and indeed made to know) that: “it should be unambiguously noted and unequivocally emphasized that nepotism, pre-bendalism and cronyism are the highest form of corruption; and therefore, APC while in “operative-power” should avoid their pitfalls. It was indeed emphasized that: “If one of APC's mantras is to fight and conquer corruption in Nigeria, it should as a political party (that has just won a National election to administrate on Nigerian affairs), also know that while attaining the numerous enviable elective position(s) to govern or rule (?) Nigeria, it should always know that corruption is an hydra-headed phenomena that does not begin and end in financial misappropriation only; but also involves subverting any provision of the constitution (for instance engaging in tribalism/sectionalism/nepotism/pre-bendalism/cronyism) while in power from May 2015.
Remembering also and always conscious of the fact, that corruption means abuse of power for self-benefit (in illegal money and property acquisition; getting whatever inappropriate elevation for oneself (or selves) in power position(s); using superior mental or manual powers to subdue those less endowed in order to do one's wish(s); deviating from established societal norms, customs and ways of life—making others to accept it (them) through supine, covert or strong-arm methodologies; bad and negative influences on others; etc, etc). In all, APC while in power should always engender and sustain truth, justice and sustainable all-round development for Nigerians, Africans and Humanity!!! But the most intriguing part of it all (can we say: it is funny indeed), is that PDP, that the Igbos massively voted for, from 1999-2015 did not do anything quantifiable, 'qualitifiable' and sustainable for the masses and generality of the Igbo people. Yes, they appointed some fringe-Igbo elites (repeat: fringe Igbo elites) into high positions, but they remained fringe, selfish and indeed highly individuated personalities: whose lives and living are worthless in the eyes and life of the generality and masses of Igbos–what a shame! What is round goes round (indeed comes around)—and PDP became round, came around and indeed went around the circle and flip–flopped; and the nation and its peoples moved-on. Will APC become round too? We are all watching!!! The pitfalls are glaring and therefore avoidable. History, Humanity–through the 'power of the people' and God; will be the last arbiter. Let the journey (albeit: political) go-on, for life is a journey. Indeed, APC should also, always remember that: “success is a journey not the destination.”
Written by Ejike Kingsley Osuji, M.Sc.