By Chris Aniedobe, Business Day
Many have billed the lack of a transcendent Igbo political leader as the Igbo albatross. Those who say that do not understand the Igbos. The Igbos are economically efficient, individualistic, non-ideological, rational, resourceful, and always have been and always will be politically risk averse. The average Igbo man feels that he has the skill, dexterity, perseverance, and luck to dare his own failure or his own success, sometimes in spite of the incipient odds of failure. That is why the Igbos are dispersed throughout Nigeria and the world with each person daring his own failure or success. But that which makes us successful as individuals fails us as a group because group dynamics is not always the sum of the parts that make it up.
Ndigbo are yet to evolve a group leadership model that will work for us. Until we attain such a model, we will not be successful in party politics because politics is a game of platforms. We see political parties as platforms for individual opportunities and not platforms for collective tribal political actions. This attitude has so far characterized our attitude towards politics particularly since 1999.
Although Ndigbo may come together during times of crisis, it probably is best at this point to acknowledge that Igbos do not need leaders, and do not believe in leaders in so far as those leaders do not create economic opportunities for them. That transcendent Igbo political leader may still come about but only in the context of a firm belief that tangible economic opportunities may come from his leadership.
Unfortunately, in the minds of a people that tend not to anchor their fate on their leaders, the failure of our political leaders have tended to reaffirm the belief in the Igbo mindset that so called leaders are really of no tangible consequence in their lives. Many of our so called leaders have shamefacedly exploited their offices for opportunities. Until then, a distributed leadership model, where the average Igbo man is in fact given a material leadership role in a highly coordinated system of known risks and guaranteed rewards may be the best leadership model for Ndigbo at this point in time.
While our political theorists deal with the issue of appropriate leadership models for Ndigbo, it stands as a purely elementary proposition that we do better as wealth creators than as politicians and rather than pursuing illusory political goals, we should expend our efforts at utilizing our superior economic skills for rapid regional economic resurgence of our Region.
But Let Us Just Stop Being Naïve about Nigerian Politics, Power Concedes Nothing without a Demand. It Never Did and it Never Will
The talk of Igbo Presidency 2015 is a distraction by people who have not taken a close qualitative look at Igbo assets. Those who believe that Ndigbo should be President in 2015 on moral grounds alone are offering up cheap political blackmail that rings hollow. To paraphrase Frederick Douglass, if NdiIgbo are not prepared to vigorously struggle for it, there is no point talking about it. Those who profess to favor Nigerian presidency of Igbo extraction and yet depreciate the need for deep agitation on a common political platform are people who want crops without plowing up the ground. They must commit to the struggle all the way with the zeal of the Zikist boys who were prepared for either freedom or death.
Until the will is there to stamp our foot on the ground and be willing to lay down our lives for it, talking about Nigerian Presidency of Igbo extraction in the face of the considerable structural limitations that constrain us is a distraction. The political diffidence of Ndigbo is self-evident. Others have found out what Ndigbo will quietly submit to and know the exact measure of political injustice which can be imposed on Ndigbo and it will continue until they are resisted with carefully orchestrated struggle. Right now the will is not there. Ndigbo are happily foraging for opportunities in a platform independent manner and are engaged in anything but platform oriented struggle. There is nothing wrong with that. There is however, everything wrong with thinking that the Presidency will be conceded to us purely on moral grounds.
Not that Ndigbo do not need political power; it is that we cannot attain political power without a road map and that road map must take into account the structural defects of the Nigerian entity in so far as it has constrained Ndigbo, its largest ethnic group, to less than one sixth of the Federation. That road map must be drawn on the fabrics of true federation and true federalism. The execution of the road map will involve both words and blows; words in the sense that we must be willing to mount consistent and sustained assault on the anomalies in the practice of the Nigerian Constitution that preclude Ndigbo from attaining full rights and benefits of citizenship in their States of domicile; blows in the sense that Ndigbo must be prepared to assert their legal rights of Nigerian citizenship in any manner legal or necessarily legal to ensure that their fundamental rights remain inviolate. In fact, in any well conducted election, Ndigbo have the numbers to vote in an outcome determinative power in States outside Igbo land. This is a bargaining chip that other ethnic groups do not have but it is also a chip that must be well-guarded.