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Nigeria, Ndigbo and our catch-23 dilemma   By MARTINS ONYEIKE

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Whereas the 2023 general elections is still over a year away, no mistake should be made about the fact that the bell has sounded, and the political gladiators have started throwing their hats in the ring. It’s that cyclical interval that presents itself every four years for Nigerians to go to the polls.

From the absurd to the outright ridiculous, political spectators and ringside commentators are sure to enjoy the intriguing theatrics on display by heavyweight pugilists of different affiliations and interests. Without contempt to the minnows in the mix, a wise punter’s wager should be placed on either of the two overwhelming favourites: the APC and PDP. Even a rookie won’t be needing a bookie for this.

Until there is a total overhaul of our electoral system, the minnows and underdogs I mentioned above will never stand a chance against their more illustrious counterparts. This is not owing to a dearth of capacity or competence, but simply because the playing field is lush for some and blighted for others.

In the coming weeks and months, not a few would be star-struck at the sight of their best-loved political thespians parading the streets like ordinary Nigerians. It appears that their cravings for roasted corn, roasted plantain (boli), roadside kpomo, moimoi and akara somehow aligns with the election calendar. Once the ballots are cast, an anorexia for these delicacies sets in.

Prequel to the aforementioned scenario, the words; rotation and zoning have emerged a recurring feature of our daily lexicon to the point they are almost becoming stereotypes. Hard as I try to recuse myself from joining this debate because of my personal convictions which I hold religiously, the allure to lend a voice is almost suffocating.

Pray tell, if the intentions of the most vociferous agitators for power shift is to ensure equity as being mouthed, it is also incumbent on the proponents of this unwritten principle to further guarantee that the only region in the zone yet to taste power since the advent of the 4th republic gets it. Unfortunately, the whole agenda reeks of hypocrisy. It is absolutely needless coming to equity with soiled hands.

While the opposition PDP holds a claim that out of the 16 years it held sway, Southerners were at the helm for 13 of those years. It further argues that the last PDP President was a Southerner in the person of Goodluck Jonathan. From the look of things, it appears that the party may either throw its ticket open or zone it to the North.

Despite the devilish whisperings by some divisive elements within the ranks of the ruling party calling for an open duel, it seems the power brokers have agreed to zone its ticket to the South. In comes the problem. If power is coming south, shouldn’t the South East be given a right of first refusal? As silly and politically naive as it may sound, that’s what holistic equity demands.

Irrespective of where the pendulum swings, there will be consequences for Nigeria’s already fractured unity in general and Ndigbo in particular. Permit me to highlight a few. Without sounding like the image maker of Ndigbo, it comes across that there is a popular consensus that they would rather power stays in the North than have it in the South West. You can’t push a goat to the wall and still blame it for acting like a bull in a china shop. Contrastingly, it appears they are warmly receptive to having a South-Southerner ascend the throne.

Flashing one’s mind back to the comments made by the Oba of Lagos in the build up to the 2015 governorship elections, it is an open secret that a cold war erupted thereafter and still persists today. The slightest perceived provocation from either side may lead to swords coming out of their sheathes. This is neither scaremongering nor some doomsday prognosis. It is the bitter reality.

As a consequence of the Igbo man’s cosmopolitan nature and spread across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, this virtue primes Ndigbo as one people that can decide election results beyond their aboriginal borders with relative ease. This can either be a blessing or a curse. A blessing when this voting bloc appeals to the pandering of its hosts, and a curse when same is used in protest or in defiance of the status quo.

Pulling no punches, the mutual exclusivity between the likely outcomes of the 2023 elections and a resultant enduring peace leaves us with a catch-22 situation. Amid a plethora of possible permutations, there is only one foreseeable fixed factor: massive disenchantment. In the event that power goes North, which is not practically impossible, it remains to be seen how the ensuing turmoil and vociferous howling by secessionists from the South would be handled.

If a South Westerner makes it to the ballot but loses out as a result of calculable Igbo voting patterns; my hunch tells me that, overtly or covertly, the royal threat of 2015 would be activated by a manpower of societal misfits who unfortunately, are not in shortage. Talk about getting stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea (lagoon). This may also be the case if an Igbo man becomes President.

Without being pacifistic, there is no such thing as an Igbo Presidency. What we clamour for is a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction and it is worth fighting for. Pay no mind to this “alarmist” at your own peril. There can’t be symptoms without an ailment. Nigeria is toxic. Let’s pick our most desirable poisons wisely.


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