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Ndi Igbo must support Peter Obi – By Tochukwu Ezunkanma

By Tochukwu Ezunkanma | Lagos, Nigeria | November 9, 2018 – 

It is most exhilarating that as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries ended, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, chose Peter Obi as his running mate. That choice has been characterized as a masterstroke by some political pundits because Peter Obi brings so much on board. He has already distinguished himself as a leader. In addition, his success in business, demonstrated administrative prowess and understanding of the economy compliments and supplements Atiku’s abilities and skills. He is an outstanding vice presidential material.
Secondly, the choice of Peter Obi as the PDP vice presidential candidate is politically most advantageous to the Igbo. It makes possible the elevation of an Igbo to an office no Igbo has held since 1983, and increases the chances of an Igbo presidency in 2027. The Igbo cannot let this opportunity slip through their hands. A number of Igbo politicians have raised objection to Atiku’s choice of Obi as his running mates. These individuals are entitled to their opinions. However, as the Igbo as a people have resolved to support Peter Obi, every Igbo must support him. Those that refuse to do so must be severely punished.
While I believe in individual freedom of thought and expression, I am also conscious that, for the public good, there is sometimes the need to rigorously subordinate the individual to the group. It is a consensus that strikes the delicate balance between individual freedom of choice, thought and expression, on the one hand, and the public good, on the other hand. It is important to note that consensus is not “speaking with one voice”. Unlike speaking with one voice, consensus allows for diversity of opinions and ideas. It provides an overarching ideological/political stance. It gives a people a unified sense of purpose, thus, nudging individuals with different political persuasions – liberals and conservatives, conformists and nonconformists, unionists and separatists, etc – towards a common political goal. The common political goal of Ndi Igbo in the 2019 presidential election is the election of the Atiku/Obi presidential ticket.
While there are different political perspectives and persuasions among the Hausa/Fulani, they have a consensus, northern hegemony. The political conservatism of Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Belewa and Shehu Shagari was conspicuously at variance with the quasi-liberal politics of Aminu Kano, Abubakar Rimi and Baralabe Musa. However, irrespective of their political strand and affiliations, their political lodestar remains the same: northern domination of political power in Nigeria.
The Yoruba do not speak with one voice. Some of the most ardent critics of the Obasanjo presidency were Yoruba. The Gani Fahimiwimi/Beko Ransome-Kuti political activism was not always in conformity with conventional Yoruba politics. Moshood Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo were protégés of the northern powerbrokers and not disciples of Obafemi Awolowo. Their broad political outlook contrasted with Awolowo’s narrow tribal politics, and they did not flinch in denouncing Awolowo and his politics. However, despite their political hues and bents, they have a consensus, which is, according to SG Ikoku, “Yoruba Irredentism”.
On the other hand, the Igbo, for long, had no consensus. However, with the emergency of Peter Obi as the PDP presidential candidate, divergent Igbo political views and interests have coalesced into a consensus: support for Peter Obi. All Igbo, including the aggrieved politicians, must support Peter Obi. Any Igbo that, for whatever reason, undermines the Igbo preferred presidential ticket, Atiku/Obi, must be severely punished. A major problem of the Igbo is the inability to punish those, who, in the service of the adversaries or furthering of personal ambitions undermined the collective good of the Igbo. At the PDP convention at Jos in 1998, the Hausa-speaking Jim Nwobodo undercut the Igbo consensus presidential candidate, Alex Ekwueme. Ordinarily, he should have been strictly punished. Unfortunately, after the convention, he returned home, and was not penalized.
According to a high ranking Ohaneze member, during the standoff between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Senate-President Chuba Okadigbo, Ohaneze sent a delegation to Abuja to rally Igbo senators in support of Chuba Okadigbo. The delegation was instructed to stay away from Aso Rock. They were mandated to go straight to the National Assembly, deliver the Ohaneze directive to the Igbo senators, and return immediately to Enugu. On getting to Abuja, they could not resist the magnetism of Aso Rock; they went to Aso Rock, and President Obasanjo sweet-talked them and weakened their resolve to rally Igbo senators in defense of Chuba Okadigbo. Subsequently, Obasanjo ousted Okadigbo. Lamentably, the members of this delegation that betrayed the trust reposed on them by Ohaneze, and by extension, Ndi Igbo returned home and were not punished.
It is high time the Igbo instituted stern measures for punishing errant and recalcitrant Igbo that, in pandering to selfish interests, subverted the collective good of the Igbo. For the 2019 presidential election, every Igbo must subordinate their individual interests and ambitions to the collective Igbo political goal: the emergence of Peter Obi as the vice president of Nigeria. Any Igbo that subverts this consensus on support Peter Obi must be severely punished: banished from Igbo land.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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