This article is a narration of conversations that took place on Twitter concerning the likelihood of an Ìgbò president, with a focus on unity, which other regions have always said the Ìgbò don’t have.
One Twitter user from the West said the Ìgbò are not politically united in regards to the clamor for Igbo Presidency, and a second Twitter user from the East roasted him with knowledge and facts in Nigerian political history, proving beyond reasonable doubt that Ndi Ìgbò are in fact more united politically than all other regions of Nigeria.
Following the announcement (through a Tweet) by the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, that he will be running for Presidency in the coming 2023 elections, many Nigerians have shown their support for his ambition to salvage the sinking ship, which is Nigeria.
While his announcement has created fanfare and enthusiasm among Nigerians on social media, there are those who have employed old tricks in dismissing the ability of the South East to produce a candidate.
One of them is a Twitter user (@Bolu_Oj). In his attempt to rubbish the announcement made by Peter Obi and the clamor for an Igbo President, he tweeted:
“Igbos deserve and want the Presidency but –
1. Will not accept Igbo candidates whose Igboness is in doubt either because they are not from the SE, have not been Igbo champions or do not pander to Igbo sentiments.
2. Will not unite behind candidates who have indicated interest.
Here is a long reply by a Twitter user from the South East with the handle @AfamDeluxo:
“This is a false narrative that has been peddled over the years to stereotype the Igbos and make them believe that they never agree on anything.
No ethnic group or zone agrees on any political issue in Nigeria. There has never been any time any part of Nigeria agreed to allow only one of them to contest for the presidency.
Let me not list the intra-ethnic crises of the First Republic or the intra-zonal coups and killings that dot our history.
In 1983, six politicians contested the presidential election: 3 from the North, 2 from the Southwest, one from the Southeast.
North – (Aminu Kano of PRP, Waziri Ibrahim of GNPP, and Shehu Shagari of the NPN).
Southwest – (Obafemi Awolowo from the UPN and Tunji Braithwaite from the NAP).
Southeast – (Nnamdi Azikiwe from the NPP).
Aminu Kano controlled Kano, Ibrahim
controlled Borno. Both of them contested against their fellow Northerner Shagari both in 1979 and 1983 despite the risk of splitting the Northern vote and making Shagari lose. None of them stepped down for Shagari on both occasions.
Imagine if that was done by three Ìgbò politicians.
In 1999, Bola Ige and Olu Falae contested the AD ticket from the Southwest. None of them stepped down for the other. When Falae was chosen, it saddened Ige so much that it led to a division in both the AD and Afenifere. Ogbonnaya Onu of the APP (ANPP) stepped down for Falae, but neither Falae nor Obasanjo (both from the Southwest stepped down for each other in the presidential election). Obasanjo was declared the winner of the election. Falae did not accept the result. He went to court. Yet nobody used this against the Southwest as lacking in unity. Imagine if Ige, Falae, and Obasanjo were Igbos.
Meanwhile, in the PDP primaries, Obasanjo defeated Ekwueme. Because Jim Nwobodo contested in the primaries and got a few votes that could not have made any difference if added to Ekwueme’s votes, it has been used as a story to vilify the Igbos as lacking in unity.
Meanwhile, while Ige was not happy that Falae was chosen as AD candidate over him, and while Falae was angry that Obasanjo was declared the winner, Ekwueme who was not Obasanjo’s kinsman congratulated Obasanjo after the PDP primaries and went with him to campaign in the Southeast, raising Obasanjo’s hand in different campaign grounds in the Southeast.
In 2007, Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua all contested the presidential election. None of these 3 Northerners stepped down for the other. When Yar’Adua was declared the winner, the others went to court.
In 2011, Nuhu Ribadu, Ibrahim Shekarau, and Muhammadu Buhari contested against Goodluck Jonathan in spite of the risk that their votes might be split and give Jonathan an advantage. Three of them lost to Jonathan. Maybe the result would have been different if they joined forces.
Imagine if these three were Igbo politicians.
In 2014/2015, some of the fiercest opponents of Jonathan were from the Southsouth led by Rotimi Amaechi.
Today the strongest opposition of Buhari is from the North: Buba Galadima, Junaid Mohammed, Atiku Abubakar, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal, Makarfi, Dankwambo.
Imagine if these were Igbos opposing the presidency of their kinsman: some people would have used it to wax an award-winning song. All comedians would have used it on every show. Every post on Facebook or Twitter and article in the newspapers would have referred to “Igbos being their worst enemies.”
Some gubernatorial elections had been held in recent times. In Bayelsa State, about 20 people were killed because of a contest between kinsmen. In Edo, the opposition went to court after the result was announced. In Ekiti, the opposition went to court too. But in Anambra, not only was there was no report of violence, all the top contestants congratulated Soludo and vowed not to contest the result in court despite their misgivings about the conduct of the election. Yet, the narrative is that “Igbos don’t speak with one voice”, “Igbos hate themselves” (the correct expression should actually be “Igbos don’t love one another.”)
But interestingly when the Igbos speak with the so-called one voice by voting for one candidate, the music changes to: “Igbos put their eggs in one basket;” “Igbos are clannish.”
The bottom line is that something must always be said to maintain the narrative that there is something wrong with the Igbos. If it is not that the Igbos are disunited, it is that they are politically unwise, don’t go to school, can’t survive in their land, or love money more than Lucifer, etc.
Some Igbos have even ignorantly bought this narrative. But only Igbos who don’t understand the reason behind this narrative believe it or join in spreading it.
Let me repeat: Based on the facts available, no ethnic group or zone speaks with the so-called one voice in Nigeria. In every society, there are individuals who disagree with others. There is never a time everybody agrees on a thing.
That is how life is. Let people stop this singling out of the Igbos for all these narratives that are not backed by any statistics. Stop flying this your divisive kite. It is lame and outdated. Ndiigbo bu ofu. Udo!