Who said the Igbo hate Tinubu?
Sir: There is a notion that the Igbo people, collectively, hold some sort of grudge against the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This conception is almost laughable because it shows contempt for the intellectual capacity of the average Igbo and a lack of awareness of our cultural values. We are not the type to look to outsiders for solutions to our problems, neither are we quick to pass the blame to others for our problems; certainly not to persons who have never been responsible for an overt act of marginalisation towards our people.
Why, therefore, would any Igbo person hate Bola Tinubu in Lagos? Sure, one can make an argument for the Igbo being indifferent towards his person. However, even at that, the man is an entrepreneur and, of course, a powerful politician – characteristics that are far more likely to elicit feelings of admiration rather than contempt from the average Igbo man. But to call him a bigot or tribalist, I am yet to see the evidence. In fact, if anything, the evidence of his political career suggests a man who favours competence over tribal or religious considerations.
The Igbo prize industriousness and enthrone accomplishment. In the days of yore, before colonisation, Igbo men and women could only earn titles after displaying great feats of personal achievement. So, considering Tinubu’s achievements in the game of power, the Igbo will not say that a champion wrestler must be without dirt on his entire body to be deserving of his due. After all, Lagos State where Tinubu is assumed to hold the most sway remains the choice destination for successful Igbo to migrate.
The truth is obscured by the propaganda is this: The Igbo and the Yoruba have much in common; whether in terms of their pre-colonial history or their shared experiences under British colonial rule. Even in contemporary times, Yoruba and Igbo alike well understand the daily struggles of the ordinary Nigerian man or woman, in respect of which tribal affiliation makes little practical difference.
What the Igbo want, simply, is a government that provides just enough basic support to spur the exercise of our creative, entrepreneurial, and intellectual spirit. We do not blame anyone besides our own regional governments – state and local – for our regional issues. When we are in the West, we respect the traditions and demand only that we are recognised as fellow Nigerians and are not marginalised politically. Last I checked, we are still opening businesses, holding political offices, and purchasing land in ‘‘Tinubu’s Lagos’’ – as we have been doing peacefully since 1999.
It is time those peddling the anti-Tinubu narrative faced the facts; neither Tinubu nor his political machine has held the Igbo back in Lagos. Indeed, since he became governor in 1999, Lagos has been on an upward cultural, social, and economic trajectory the likes of which has not been experienced anywhere else in this country. Any Igbo man who takes issue with that kind of progress is, as we say here, on his own.
Eze Chikwelu lives in Isolo, Lagos.