In the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, I raised a stumper in a column — “If Peter Obi fails, as he certainly would, what next for the southeast?” It was with sincere contemplation and unaffected judgement that I probed the immanent misfortunes of the southeast as fashioned by a star-crossed quest.
I had advised we deploy tact with dispatch and divest our support by adopting President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu as our candidate. I had also suggested that we should not go all-head-body-and-soul into Obi’s expedition, and that we should cast off the straitjacket of emotions and embrace political realism.
But I believe at the time it was too difficult to surrender emotion to reason under a charged cumulus of propaganda, anger, and native sentiments. Other factors from a persecutorial complex were at play as well, I know.
Today, we are here. The reality some never wished for is undisguisedly evident. Managing the reality of Asiwaju Tinubu’s presidency with solemn acquiescence is necessary for those who are too unnerved to reckon.
Damian Okeke-Ogene, vice-president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, was reported to have emptied his bowels of venom on the president-elect for purportedly not including an individual of southeast extraction in his transition/inauguration committee.
He was reported to have said: “Igbophobia is in his (Tinubu) veins and by not including Igbo people in the handover committee, he is only trying to reopen old wounds. He inherited the hatred (Muhammadu) Buhari has against Igbo, especially when the President-elect has said he will continue from where the incumbent president stopped. He said he will continue with Buhari’s policies, and our question is, what is he continuing? Is it to continue the marginalisation of a particular ethnic group?”
This is overwhelmingly ludicrous. It is disappointing of an elder to be so afflicted by hate and prejudice. I am of the view this unconscionable outburst betrays a cavernous agenda by a few.
Is this a taste of what to expect from this social taxon in the next four years? Ethnic recriminations, discordance, suspicions, and accusations? Is it appropriate to situate the current disillusionment of the youth on the turf of hate fed them by the older phylum?
The resort to caterwauling and ethnic Trumpism to stir sectional angst and dander by a few Igbo leaders is disheartening, condemnable, and injudicious. It will achieve nothing but create a chasm between the incoming government and the southeast. They must desist for the good of the zone.
The Tinubu administration is yet to take off, but cries and allegations of exclusion and marginalisation are splintering the air. All for a government that is yet to berth. This is disturbing. It smacks of a deeper class conspiracy robbed in patriotic perturbations.
Are these leaders afraid of their own excision from the table of serviced interest and compromise? Are they seeking to drive their own agenda baked in the people’s fears and concerns? Are they fighting for their own survival by kindling the ethnic cauldron? Are they on a war of personal interest against the collective?
Some of these Igbo leaders invested their loyalty in one party for 16 years, leading the people by the neck in their shadowing of political spoils, with no nameable benefit for the zone. It was all self-aggrandisement and material accumulation for self and self only.
At a time that tact and inter-ethnic cooperation is expected, this smattering number of leaders are issuing threats and provoking ethnic collisions. Who does that wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo speak for? I believe elders should know better and do better. They should guide and counsel the youth given to destructive proclivities and not become the soundboard for juvenile prejudices. If elders are seized by the same lurgy plaguing the young, then we have a serious problem in our hands.
Let me make it clear, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is peopled by some distinguished leaders who will not offer themselves to contemptible pursuits, propaganda, and schismatic crusades. Men of strong character and uncommon pedigree exist within Ohanaeze. But the capricious voice of only a negligible but blighted section seems to be loudest.
It is important to establish that the views of this minor cream in Ohanaeze do not represent the thinking, wishes and opinions of many people of Igbo patrimony.
I believe we should by now have learnt from the perils of political naivety and unrequited loyalty. Therefore, we must deploy tact, affability, comradeship, and compromise in whatever we are seeking in Nigeria. Holding out a hand of fellowship is not weakness, but percipience; it shows strength of character and patriotism. We must put an end to that which divides us and support the administration of President-elect Tinubu to succeed for the sake of Nigeria, and where criticisms are necessary, they should be constructive and not imbued with atavistic undertones.
Fredrick Nwabufo, Nwabufo is a media executive.