Nigeria is a nation known as a multi cultural society made up of more than 300 ethnic groups spread across the entire landmass. The Igbos are the third main ethnic group in Nigeria, according to a recent estimate done by CIA 2012 World Factbook the Igbos make up about 30 million people of the general population.
The igbos have what I would like to call a loose fragmented political system. The culture is highly diversified, even if they have a centralized system of government, they have existed mainly in small units which mainly constitute of lineages, clans and villages, this is still the same way even till today. They are known to be well traveled and are located in every part of Nigeria irrespective of how remote it is.
The Igbo man will travel to any part of the country in a search for good business opportunity to survive. It is a popular joke that Igbos can be found everywhere in the world as long as a black man can survive there. It is definitely not an understatement to say that in every five African men you find in diaspora one is Igbo.
Now that we have established that the Igbos are definitely a hard working tribe, let us take a look at the political inclinations of the tribe.
The Igbos played key roles in the struggle for independence. Important figures such as Sir Herbert Macaulay, Sir Nnamdi Azikwe and Sir Festus Okotie-Eboh have played no small feat in the birthing of Nigeria’s Independence. This is perhaps the reason why the first person chosen to head the colonial government and subsequently lead Nigeria to its independence had been an Igbo man. During the pre-independence era the Igbos were extremely visible in almost all the important government arms which varied from the Military, Police and the Civil service.
For the 59 years that Nigeria has been in existence as a country, the Igbos have only ruled Nigeria twice, and this has lasted for 10 years alone. Why is this so? Why has the Igbo man failed to secure the presidency for such a long time? Does his ingenuity in commerce not also extend to his political disposition towards the nation? Or do Nigerians still hold a grudge against the Igbos for the extraordinary part played during the civil war? Or perhaps, do the Igbos feel that Nigeria is not theirs to rule?
The Igbos because of their lack of unity have made themselves their own enemies, other regions in a bid to rule the nation would unite behind their candidate of choice during an election, but unfortunately the Igbo man has failed to achieve this. The Igbos have never agreed on a choice of a presidential candidate during an election. They have woefully failed to successfully produce a candidate that is acceptable to the whole nation in the way other tribes have done with the likes of MKO Abiola, Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari.
Instead of coming together to produce a candidate that would serve their best interest and that of their country they would rather take up time to cook up talks and threats of violence once a new election is about to begin. Even in the first republic when the North had NPC and West had the AG the East has never had a strong Igbo National Party. The parties that they have successfully set up such as APGA and the PPA have been known for their constant crisis and the members eventually abandoning ship, and decamping to other parties.
The Igbos have over time agitated for an Igbo president, the closest anyone has gotten is when Alex Ekwueme contested the PDP primaries in 2003. Even that attempt clearly outlined the disunity amongst the Igbo leaders. The Igbos at the long run had campaigned against their own son in the convention in Jos. This goes a long way to show that the Igbos are truly their own enemies and it is the lack of unity that will make it impossible for them to rule Nigeria.
Also, there is the issue of trust. Nigerians still have the strong fear that if an Igbo man becomes president he might eventually decide to break up Nigeria. Allowing an Igbo man to step into power might give the East the medium to finally achieve their plans of breaking the country into fragments. If you speak to an average yoruba man on the street you will realize that he would rather put his soul in the hands of an Hausa Man than to break bread with an Igbo.
The Igbos have certainly made this worse, groups like MASSOB still agitating for the division of the country at a time others are trying to bring the nation together is quite a huge set back. Another militating factor is the Igbo man’s seemingly intolerance of rule by other tribes. The Late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello had in very definite terms described the Igbos as too dominating. He had said that if you give an Igbo man a chance to work in your employ he would eventually take over your company, little reason why other tribes do not trust them.
One of the reasons why other Nigerians do not trust the Igbos is their acute hunger to acquire wealth by any means possible. If they are given the chance to rule, the presidency might just be a tool to use to enrich themselves and their region. It should be noted that most Nigerians who are being held in foreign prisons for one crime or another are of Igbo origin. To add to this the Igbos can hold a grudge for as long as possible. Some Nigerians are of the notion that because the Igbos have been denied the presidency for so long, if given a chance to rule they would go on a vengeance mission. And God knows the extent they would go to show their anger.
How then can the Igbos move forward? well with all that is going on it will take a miracle for the Igbos to rule Nigeria any time soon.
For the Igbos to be able to achieve the presidency come 2023, they would have to be ready to set aside all political differences and bring forth one strong political candidates that would show Nigeria that they are ready to take the country to the next level where others has failed. Although this might be a herculean task, but it is very achievable. For them to successfully rule Nigeria in 2023, they must be able to achieve this task within a span of 4 years.
Now there is the question of who the Igbos should be able to present as their leader. An Igbo leader acceptable to all Ndigbo might be a mirage, but the Igbos must be able to see beyond their traditional meetings, summit and solidly unite behind a ferocious and formidable candidate irrespective of their political party. If this achieved then it is very possible that they could have the presidency throne once again. If the Yorubas as a result of their alliance with the South South could deliver President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP in 2011 despite having their own candidate then there is nothing that the Igbos cannot achieve.