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Test of the Igbo as opposition


Anambra State

Anambra state. PHOTO: jujufilms

SIR: A floodgate of congratulatory messages has broken from the storm of tokenism. President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari may as a result of the swamp be relocated from his residence before he gets drowned. It is not an easy feat to win the presidential election in any country, more so, in Nigeria where the race is potent with fatal manifestations. Many Nigerians sincerely welcome the change Buhari represented in his campaign.

Politics in the Southeast since after the presidential election, for the most part, has been about the position of the Igbo. Stream of blames about the manner the Igbo cast their votes in one block to one party has been pouring out from different shores, the argument being that the concept manifested shallowness of political vision. The anxiety is that the Igbo are cornered into a disadvantage by not favouring the winning party.

The critical question is where were these sore losers in 2011 presidential election when the Igbo massively voted for the winning party? I cannot recall anyone in the Southeast complaining about the group locking in their ethnic interest with one party. This leads me to believe that these folks masquerading as the protectors of the Igbo interests are simply sycophants. They are the class of opportunists lining up the front door of the president-elect wearing tall red hats and begging for crumbs from the master’s table.

The president-elect and his Hausa-Fulani followers have stood as the opposition for many years. There was no evidence that they compromised their core values in order to blend into the party in government. They were humiliated by losing in many elections but they persisted. Their focus never shifted and finally it materialised into the masses agenda and won them the presidential election.

This is the model for the Igbo to adopt. The notion of salivating for inclusion whenever a new government comes into power dilutes the political strength of the group. The clamouring for diversification of the Igbo vote will not give the group the critical mass for a candidate of their own to win a presidential election. The Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba ethnic coalition has shown an example of how to strategise.

The Igbo should formulate an agenda that is accommodating of other groups and stand on their grounds to accomplish their ethnic interest. I envision that ethnic politics will collapse with the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy. Till then, the Igbo should do what they have to do to remain vital and vibrant in the Nigerian state.

• Pius Okaneme, Umuoji, Anambra State.

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