The Igbo political elite faces the problem of reworking an unimpeachable ethical argument right into a successful political coalition.
As campaigning for the simply concluded presidential election gathered tempo, Peter Obi, commonplace bearer of the Labour Social gathering (LP) discovered himself athwart two apparently opposite impulses. The primary, let’s name it the liberal impulse, centered on the irrepressible power and creativity of the “Obi-dient,” the mass of principally younger lovers who had come to see the previous Anambra State Governor as the reply to all their prayers for a greater Nigeria. The second impulse was the ethnic one, the conviction of the Igbo that “it’s our flip” to supply the subsequent Nigerian president. The strain between these impulses, one impressed by social justice within the broadest sense, and the opposite anchored on ethnopolitical fairness, simmered all through the marketing campaign, intensifying as Obi’s candidacy turned more and more believable.
The primary impulse has been copiously remarked. The quick roots of “Obi-dience” are, as broadly acknowledged, instantly traceable to #EndSARS, however its antecedents inside the broader ambit of Nigerian civil society are extra profound, an accretion of scholar protests, anti-corruption rallies, and, because the daybreak of social media, innumerable hashtags. Merely acknowledged, earlier than Obi, there was Obi-dience, and the Labour Social gathering commonplace bearer is simply an eponym for a trigger in want of a persona to impress it.
If Obi-dience is of historic classic, the Igbo quest for admission to the political mainstream has shadowed Nigerian politics because the finish of the Civil Conflict in 1970. Though Hausa-Fulani-Yoruba collusion might be tough to show, there was sufficient evidence over time to counsel the existence of a post-Civil Conflict elite consensus to make the Igbo pay for successfully elevating a hand in opposition to the state. The extent to which the Igbo elite itself could have perpetuated Igbo marginalization via its personal political bungling is a unique matter.
At any price, the Igbo have been within the political wilderness roughly since 1970, particularly in as far as success in Nigerian politics, in a context of fierce ethno-religious rivalry, is measured by successful the presidency. That the Igbo have flourished regardless of their inside exile is itself a feat value reflecting on, and to have a correct appreciation of Igbo excellence, it solely must be contrasted with the belief that not solely has entry to political energy performed little to alter the socioeconomic profile of the Islamic north, it’s, all issues thought-about, an impediment to its improvement.
Quite the opposite, the Igbo, who’ve a professional claim to being the one most pushed, most entrepreneurial ethnic group in the entire world, have claimed success from the jaws of adversity, constructing thriving companies and communities the place different Nigerian ethnic teams worry to tread. All informed, Igbo political rustication stands out like a sore thumb, and, their violent excesses however, successive Igbo self-determination actions just like the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) or the newer Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) get pleasure from widespread assist due to the notion that they channel a professional grievance.
All this explains the passion for Peter Obi among the many Igbo, each throughout Nigeria and within the diaspora. Rightly seeing in Obi the perfect likelihood in a era of placing one among their very own within the saddle, the Igbo would regularly overcome their preliminary skepticism as to the viability of his candidacy and rally to his commonplace. The Labour Social gathering’s rout of the opposite events within the Igbo heartland testifies to the energy and close to unanimity of this assist. On the similar time, Obi’s profitable administration of the doubtless cataclysmic pressure between the liberal and ethnic impulses embedded inside the Obi-dient motion illustrates a private shrewdness for which he has not obtained sufficient credit score.
But, if Obi finally got here up brief, the explanations had been on show all alongside, and even on the peak of his political ascendance, there was no scarcity of Igbo leaders (Governor of Anambra State Charles Soludo and former Governor of Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu instantly come to thoughts) who feared that the fervour of the Obi-dient however, the platform was doomed due to Obi’s failure to construct a successful pan-ethnic alliance. It’s tough to consider that Obi himself, given his aforementioned astuteness, would have did not see this.
To say that Obi did not construct a successful coalition is to not suggest that he didn’t attempt, or to disclaim that, politically talking he had been dealt a foul hand. Whereas the political profit could have been paltry, the selection of Datti Baba-Ahmed as working mate was undoubtedly an admission that the street to the Nigerian presidency runs via the northern Islamic belt, and the result of the presidential election may simply have been completely different had Abubakar Atiku not gone rogue, abandoning an elite consensus on energy shift and leaving Obi with no alternative however to fend for himself outdoors the primary opposition social gathering. Considerably, Obi additionally made headway within the southwest, forging an alliance with a faction of Afenifere, the paramount Yoruba sociocultural group, and successful the endorsement of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
A key problem for Obi, and by extension Igbo presidential ambition, is that the political panorama after the election is now radically completely different from the one earlier than. As an illustration, provided that in precept the north would really feel entitled to the presidency on the expiration of Tinubu’s potential two four-year phrases as president, the Igbo face the dire prospect of getting their keep within the political wilderness indefinitely prolonged. Quite the opposite, the Igbo can very properly make the not implausible case that Atiku’s energy transfer and subsequent hijack of the Individuals’s Democratic Social gathering (PDP) presidential ticket has successfully terminated the North-South elite compact. Both manner, and as underscored by the simply concluded election, the Igbo elite should discover a strategy to cobble collectively a heterogeneous political coalition, comprising each those that consider that the presidency ought to go to the Igbo as a matter of fairness and justice, and others who could resolve to enlist purely on account of self-interest.
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Daily that the Igbo are locked out of the political mainstream is a rebuke to the Nigerian conscience. An Igbo presidency is lengthy overdue, and final month’s election has confirmed that the need for one exists amongst a cross part of Nigerians. However being in the suitable just isn’t sufficient. To recover from the hump, the Igbo elite have to be prepared to do the mandatory political work.