By: Forsta Igboanagu
THE history of Nigeria would be incomplete without the name of Nnamdi Azikiwe, popularly referred to as Zik of Africa, for he was among the frontline nationalists that fought the Europeans who colonised the country, her people, her resources and milked them dry before handing over to them on October 1, 1960, when the Union Jack flag seized to fly in the country and the “green, white green” flag of Nigeria replaced it.
It is also on record that the late Chief Azikiwe sacrificed his energy and resources to keep Nigeria as a corporate entity. If not, the southern part of the country would have gotten her independence in 1956, when young Chief Anthony Enaharo, moved for the self rule of the country which was granted.
But, the North declined, asking the south to have her independence for they were not yet ready. But the Zik of Africa, as a detribalised Nigerian of Igbo extraction, intervened and agreed that the South should wait for the North till 1st October 1960, which the north said was ideal for them. That was why the South waited for the North and Nigeria got her independence on 1st October 1960, as demanded by the Northern part of the country.
Also in the power sharing, Zik, the foremost nationalist among the others who used his intellect, energy and resources, including establishing various newspapers that include, “West African Pilot”, Southern Defender” “Outlook” “Comet,” to confront the whites, applying all media hype and propaganda, not forgetting the powerful Zikist movement made up of youths from various parts of the country, but mostly Igbo young educated elites that risked their lives and went to jail on different occasions.
In the fold where people like late Igwe Osita Agwunna, who later became the traditional ruler of Enugwu Ukwu, in Njikoka Local Government Area and double also as Eze-Umunri (crown head of over 10 communities of Eri descendants). The only surviving member of the Zikist movement in the country today is Chief Mbazulike Amechai, Dara Akunwafor from Amaihe village, Ukpor, in Nnewi South Local Government Area, who later at independence became the first Aviation Minister of the country.
Despite all these, Zik, the frontline politician who was the most educated of all his compatriots, for the sake of oneness, conceded executive powers to the North and opted to be a ceremonial president, going to parties and hosting top government visitors to the country all for the interest of indivisible entity called Nigeria, which he doggedly fought for her emancipation from the claws and jaws of the British imperialists.
Even during the ill-fated Nigeria-Biafra war, the despite the despotic went on the massacre of the Igbos and the atrocious destruction of their property by their so called Northern brothers and sisters, Zik still brokered peace and stood for one Nigeria.
We need not forget in a hurry. The cross carpeting melted to Zik in the Western house that made him rush back to the East and disposed a South-South man, Eyo Ita, who had already formed his government in the East; a fact the South-South geo-political zone will never forget in a hurry.
It was this issue that gave rise to the phenomenon called ‘Abandoned property’ which the South South people used at the end of the war to convert the property of the Igbos to their personal use.
Though the great Zik of Africa never supported the splitting of Nigeria, at the end of the civil crises, despite the pronouncement of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ by the military junta, the Igbos were subjected to treatments best described as man’s inhumanity to man.
But the Igbos, through perseverance, hard work and God’s providence, moved on and today, Ndi Igbo are the most enterprising among the various ethnic tribes that make up the country, the Hausas and Yorubas inclusive.
In all fields of human endeavour, Ndi Igbo rank first, except in the political equation and power sharing of the country and this is the bane and crux of the matter. Why are the Igbos not fully integrated into the body politics of the country? Is the Igbos the cause or the Igbos cursed?
To my mind, the Igbos are not cursed for we are the revered children (sons and daughters) of the Almighty Jehova. If not, we would have be exterminated from the entity called Nigeria because of the ill-treatment, punishments, discriminations and starvation being melted to us by our so called Northern, Western and Southern brothers and sister.
If we are not God’s chosen, the Igbos would not have survived the civil war, would have not progressed and would not have the creative ingenuity being exhibited by Ndi Igbo not only at the national but international levels. Even the present geo-political rotational zoning formula of the country’s presidency was worked out by an Igbo man, the late Chief Dr Alexander Ekwueme, from Oko, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, who served as Vice president of the country between 1979-1983.
Honestly, the Igbos cause their problems of not producing a president–an Executive President after the ceremonial presidency of late Azikiwe, because the Igbos had faulty alliances with both the North and the West and never kept to the tenets of the accord and as a result, the two legions will trust no alliance with the Igbos of the South-East Geo-Political Zone, just like the South-South Geo-Political Zone sees the South as greedy and avaricious people that would climb any rope to get political power.
I align myself to the words of Chief Nkwo Nnabuchi. While reacting to the marginalisation of the Igbo race, he said, “It is the Igbos who are marginalising themselves. They went into alliance with the North in 1960 and balkanised the Western region and put her leader, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in prison.
The following year, they went into alliance with the same people they destroyed, arbitrarily ending the alliance with the North. When the going became soar, they organised a selective coup that led to the formation of unitary government and eventually to a civil war.
Since introducing the presidential system, Igbos did not integrate themselves into the power base of the country. Unfortunately, the Igbos are not experts in this game and may continue to shut themselves out of power. Integration is only possible when you take part in the making of the central government.
Our brothers of Southern Nigeria only accept the Igbos as long as they need their services, but make sure they shut the Igbos out when there are important deliberations and participation in governance.
In a related development, the national chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye, admonished those talking of Igbo marginalisation as cowards who are in a state of imagination which is more torturing than reality.
He noted that it is high time people stopped looking for cheap publicity by touting and pronouncing Igbo marginalisation for according to him; the Igbos are everywhere in the country doing their legitimate businesses.
As it stands now, 2023 is far in the eyes of men, but the fact remains that the South-East must start now to strategise to present a common front come the presidential election if the zone hopes to produce the country’s president of Igbo extraction. Now is the time for alignment and re-alignment.
It will not be over-stressing the obvious which is that the Igbos should present a consensus presidential candidate, no matter the political platform. It might be the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Peoples Congress (APC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which are the three main political parties in the country.
Elders and leaders of the Igbos should as a matter of national interest, bury their political differences and come together to speak with one voice on who the entire South-East should support and the Igbos should also extend their hands of fellowship to people of the Middle Belt, for anything short of this might not yield any positive result to the Igbo race come 2013 presidential election in the country.
I sincerely call on the present governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Dr Willie M Obiano (Akpokuodike global) to put in motion the needed machinery that would bring ndi Igbo together to speak with one voice come 2023 for the state, Anambra, has been in the forefront in emancipating Ndi Igbo in particular and Nigerians.