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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #5 of 54: Burkina Faso | Main | President Obasanjo’s Diplomatic Finesse: Unheralded in Nigeria! »

January 31, 2006

Ohanaeze and the Igbo Leadership Question

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (County Louth, Republic of Ireland) --- A friend of mine once asked me during the 2003 elections, “What does the Igbo want"? I answered by asking him, what he meant by that question? He retorted that the Igbo have been complaining of marginalisation,and have been championing the Igbo presidency project, but that the same Igbo remain the greatest obstacle to achieving a total de-marginalisation of Igbos,and achieving the much talked about Igbo presidency, because of what he called their lack of "fraternity, or unity of purpose".

This observation by a non Igbo rings true today as it did in 2003.In the aftermath of the Southern forum meeting in Enugu,the Igbo have been presented with an unprecedented opportunity to produce the President, or to largely determine who becomes the president come 2007, but once again what we are currently witnessing is a proliferation of Igbo organisations pursuing different agenda’s, and a crunching “second term” succession crisis in the Ohaeneze Ndigbo,the supposedly apex Igbo organisation .

The inescapable conclusion is that the Igbo elite, because of their greed and foolish opportunism, have still not come to terms with the reality of Nigeria.
Nigeria is a nation where ethnic or regional loyalty comes above everything else.But such a loyalty within any distinct group can only be achieved when the political class are united and demonstrate a sense of purpose. Agreed that in a democracy everybody cannot speak with one voice, but the nature and reality of Nigeria makes it imperative that any group that wants to be relevant or influential in Nigeria must to a large extent demonstrate a formidable cohesion and unity of purpose.

The North succeeded in dominating power for so long because of their unity and sense of purpose. The Southwest is known for their block votes and block support for one of their own, which even necessitated their not presenting a candidate in the 2003 elections in order to give block support to president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Even the South-South in spite of their glaring diversity, has become largely relevant in Nigeria today, because of their cohesion and unity of purpose, such that they are becoming increasingly more likely to clinch the 2007 Presidency slot.

Ironically the Igbo who are a largely homogenous group, unlike the North, and South-South are the most fragmented and disunited. The Igbo elite and political class must recognise the potentials and overwhelming advantage the Igbo have, because of their numerical strenght.They must play politics the Nigerian way. If the Igbo are united, there is no Nigerian president or power broker who can ignore them, because among other things they will need Igbo votes and Igbo support to access and remain in power, the process of negotiating for Igbo support will naturally lead to concessions, which will to a large extent resolve the marginalisation of the Igbo and guarantee a reciprocal gesture that will see the Igbo assuming the Presidency sooner or later. There is no magic about it, it is a natural law, that a united group or people will always influence, dominate, and or control the affairs in any given society. Those Igbo elites that are purportedly working for the North out of greed, are being stupid, because they stand to gain more in the Nigerian context from an Igbo president, than they would ever gain from a president of Northern extraction. The Yoruba’s have gained more today from a Yoruba presidency, than they would ever have gained from a Northern presidency.

Ohaeneze as a matter of urgency must convoque a meeting of stakeholders to resolve once and for all the succession crisis bedevilling it. rather than antagonise, they must liase with other Igbo organisations in a bid to assemble all of them under one umbrella to present a united front for the actualisation of the 2007 Presidency project. The Igbo parades a formidable array of highly qualified technocrats and achievers that can easily be sold to other Nigerians for the Presidency, among whom are Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a former World bank vice President and current minister of finance, a world class incorruptible technocrat and achiever. Chief Emeka Anyaoku former commonwealth secretary general, world renowned diplomat, and statesman.Dr Dora Akunyili the incorruptible NAFDAC scribe who has waged an unprecedented and relentless war on fake drugs at personal risk to her life.Dr Oby Ezekwesili who has come to be known as “madam due process” because of a dogged and unrelenting struggle to whip-in due process into the Nigerian psyche.Dr Peter Odili the Rivers state Governor, medical doctor and technocrat, a high end achiever and unifier who has managed to bring peace to a multi-ethnic state.Dr Chimaraoke Nnamani the Enugu state Governor, a foetal surgeon, technocrat, and visionary, he achieved the singular and miraculous feat of being voted the best Governor by international development agencies, irrespective of the meagre resources available to Enugu state.

From the above list which unavoidably left out so many other Igbo wiz kids, it is obvious that the Igbo more than any other ethnic group, parade some of the best achievers in the current President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, it thereby follows that if the Igbo demonstrate a high level of unity, there is nothing that will stop an Igbo from mounting the presidency saddle come 2007.
Rather than a protracted power struggle between the South-East and South-South, there is the possibility of using one stone to kill two birds by presenting a consensus candidate between the South-South and South-East. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,or Dr Peter Odili who are Igbos from the South-South will be perfect compromise canditates in that regards. Ohaeneze and other organisations can carry out opinion polls in the six geo-political zones on the above mentioned candidates and others,that will help them in determining who among them is the most electable,and make the job of a picking a single canditate easier.

All Igbo candidates whatever their personal ambitions or persuasion, must respect the choice of whoever gets nominated by the Ohaeneze and other allied Igbo organisations,so that the Igbo can for once present a single canditate that it can give 100% block support.This is the only way the Igbo, a majority group in Nigeria can reclaim their influence in the Nigerian project.The magic word is unity and cohesion.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
County Louth, Ireland

Posted by Administrator at January 31, 2006 08:15 AM


A house divided is a house defeated! The greatest problem we have as Igbos is our penchant to self-hate. It is a legend in Nigeria that every Igbo man wants to be president, qualified or not. And for so long, we have allowed ourselves to be led by greedy and irresponsible people. It seems, in all cases, they have gotten away with it. No repercussions!.
Maybe the time has come when we start holding our people responsible for their actions. If you go to the north or southwest and mortgage your destiny for a mere gift of a contract, the people would make life unbearable for you. The people may even resort to political elimination of such people, if you know what i mean. Igbos have to introduce a new dispensation in their polity. We've been taken for a ride for so many years. It's now time for action. Please, clean house!

Posted by: Kem Okoro at February 4, 2006 08:28 PM

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