Ever since the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government assumed office on the 29th of May, 2015, the Igbos have been massively and thoroughly shortchanged.
I will keep this write-up as short as possible and straight to the point. Ever since the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government assumed office on the 29th of May, 2015, the Igbos have been massively and thoroughly shortchanged.
Out of the more-than-a-dozen appointments that have been made by President Buhari over the past two months, there is no single Igbo man, woman, or child among them. The only Igbo that managed to rise to the leadership of a government parastatal under the present dispensation, NIMASA to be precise, was quickly booted out in controversial circumstances just days after he took over on the so-called principle of seniority.
A few weeks ago, the service chiefs that were appointed by ex-president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan were sacked and replaced by four new service chiefs along with two security advisers. Surprisingly, out of the six, none was Igbo.
In the legislature, the situation is not different. On Tuesday the 28th of July 2015, the House of Representatives' All Progressives Congress' caucus appointed its 4 principal officers. The Majority Leader came from the Southwest (which had already produced the Deputy Speaker), the Deputy Majority Leader came from the North-central, the Chief Whip came from the Northwest, while the Deputy Chief Whip came from the South-south. None of the 4 principal officers of the lower chamber, in addition to the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, is from the Southeast.
The Senate has since appointed its APC principal officers. As expected, no one from the Southeast was deemed worthy of holding any position over there. The Senate Leader is from the Northeast, the Deputy Senate Leader is from the Northwest, the Deputy Chief Whip is from the South-south, while the vacant post of the Chief Whip is reserved for the Southwest.
The events in the Senate did not come as a surprise, because no APC member from the Southeast made it to the 8th Senate. However, what happened in the lower chamber on the 28th of July paints the true picture of the situation the Igbos have now found themselves in Nigeria.
The implication of these arrangements in the country's lawmaking organs is that there's no APC principal officer from the Southeast. This goes to show that the Igbos have, by and large, been reduced to nonentities and mere passengers in the present Nigerian political setup.
Is this the agenda the All Progressives Congress has for the Igbos? Is it a sign of what is to be expected in the next 4 years? Yes, it's true that the Igbos did not support the APC in the past election, but what are they doing to support and justify the actions of the few who, against all odds, risked their lives, reputations, and those of their families by throwing their weight behind the Party?
The beauty of democracy is that everybody is FREE and AT LIBERTY to choose whomever he wants to be governed by. He is not to be victimized, punished, or marginalized for doing so. If the reverse were the case, then the American region popularly referred to as the "Bible Belt" would have been marginalized and severely dealt with by President Barack Obama for rejecting him, not once, but twice, in a presidential election. His predecessor, the Republican Party's George W. Bush, would have also done the same to the US Northeast, which repeatedly votes in favor of the Democratic Party.
These are true democrats who have had democratic principles ingrained in them from infancy. Nigerian politicians must also learn to be democrats, not vindictive and self-serving tyrants.
The sine qua non reason why the Igbos voted so overwhelmingly against the APC in the past general election was that the Party had, prior to the election, made no effort whatsoever to identify with them. The Igbos were treated as irrelevant while the People's Democratic Party warmed up to them. With the way things are going, the APC is all but making those suspicions well founded.
Democracy is all about making people feel included. Thomas Jefferson, one of the men who penned what became known as the American Constitution, once said that "government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors." So does leadership.
Be that as it may, the Igbos have clearly lost out in this current set-up. Now is the time to start re-strategizing for 2019. 2019 is not as far away as some of us may think. I still remember 2011 like it was yesterday; that was four years ago. 2019 is four years from now and it will come faster than expected. It is only wise that the Igbos meet it prepared.
All Igbos must come together to build a formidable political bloc devoid of the usual infighting and divided loyalties; a new sociopolitical platform that will not be driven by lust for power or wealth, but by a burning desire to represent the interest and meet the needs and aspirations of the Igbo nation. It should be led by a coalition of seasoned politicians and statesmen, leaders of thought, and intellectuals, as well as brilliant, vibrant, and focused youths.
If anything, the events of the past few months have proven that the time has finally come for Ndi Igbo to put their heads together, evaluate their current state in the Nigerian entity, and work towards a future with or without it.
I also wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to dear President Buhari to carry everyone along in his administration. Need I remind him that he's the president of the entirety of Nigeria, and not just a section of it?
I usually don't conclude my write-ups with quotes because I believe it's a bad way of writing. But I'll have to break protocol for this one by leaving you with a quote from Chinua Achebe in his magnum opus, Things Fall Apart: "The bird says that since hunters have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching."
Chinedu George Nnawetanma writes via [email protected] He can also be reached on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Nnawetanma.