an Absalom rebellion in Abia

In Party Primaries and Continuation of Igbo Wars, Chido Nwakanma advises return to the drawing board to forge a long-term winning strategy.

The recently concluded primaries of the PDP have provided another opening for the Nigerian pastime of Igbo bashing. Except that in this case, people of the South-East joined in the self-flagellation. They are berating their compatriots, the PDP, and the Nigerian political system.

Nigerians sing a song of ridicule because Sen Anyim Pius Anyim secured only 14 votes and Sam Ohuabunwa one vote while the South-East could potentially deliver 95 votes. They argue that the South-East delegates failed to vote for their people.

Party Primaries and Continuation of Igbo Wars
Ohuabunwa (l) and Anyim

Even one-vote recipient Sam Ohuabunwa joined in the mass error of blaming his compatriots for not voting for him on Arise TV on Monday, 30 May 2022. Can someone caution the respected Sam Ohuabunwa and Anyim Pius Anyim not to tread this path because it would bring up matters that would cause more injury to the region and themselves? Short-sighted and inappropriate reasoning. Let us assume that all the SE delegates voted for Anyim and Ohuabunwa. Remember, there were two other South Easterners on that ballot. But if they voted for just Anyim and Ohuabunwa, they would still manage to score 50 votes apiece at best. It would go nowhere.

It would make no difference if they gave all 95 votes to Igbo candidates. Why? The South-East does not have the numbers. The Nigerian political configuration ensured that the region has the least number of states and voting constituencies. Indeed, beyond the South-East, no geopolitical zone has enough votes to deliver the presidency to its candidate. Every geopolitical zone needs alliances and collaboration.

Secondly, no zone votes en-bloc. Even PMB’s North did not vote for him alone. They had more significant numbers. But three times, those numbers failed him until he sought and got the collaboration of the South-West primarily plus other geo-zones. Ndigbo shouldn’t allow themselves to buy the falsehood that their support alone is critical to delivering a South-East candidate. Or the need to show support for their candidates. The blackmail is the question of how they can get the presidency when they are marginalising themselves. Nigerian history disproves this.

Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) lost his ward and polling booth but became President of Nigeria.

Our politicians should face the necessary alliances and seal them. Relying on South-East block votes is delusional. Igbos should not accept that blackmail of not voting for their own as the cause of the failure. The Yoruba did not vote for OBJ, but he became President.
All delegates, South-East included, acted as humans do. They looked out for themselves first and took what was on offer.

The failure at the PDP and expected failure at the APC offer another opportunity for introspection on what I have called The Igbo Wars in this column since 2018. The Igbo Wars refer to the various contentions in the South-East on several issues, including primarily politics and culture. Lack of clarity and coherence in the matters is behind the South-East’s confusion.

Take political direction. Neither Ohaneze nor the South-East Governor’s Forum has a South-East ethos, policy, or purpose. What is the majority position in Igboland on a political direction? Is it to be part of Nigeria and pursue its path to relevance and recognition despite the challenges? Or is it to seek an alternate course of a new political entity called Biafra or whatever new name?
As the economists would say, other things being equal, Nigeria should recognise that it is the turn of the South-East to run for and get the presidency. But those other things do not cohere.

Indeed, a severe reading of the SWOT and PEST analysis would tell the South-East that Nigeria is not ready yet for a president from the South-East. Bald fact. What does the South-East do? This score is where negotiation skills and long-term planning come in. Instead, many in the South-East act like entitled, spoilt brats: either now or nothing. It is untrue in negotiations. You can lose, lose, and lose some more, then win. 2023 is not a terminal date.

Back to the drawing board. That should be the takeaway of the South-East from the ongoing political games. Be strategic. Strategy is choice; choice of where, how, when, why and what to play. Sit down and plan long term. What is the Igbo ethos? What are our regional goals? Clarity on these issues would be an essential first step. Then a long-term goal, a marathon no less, would be to get the presidency of Nigeria and gain better acceptance. That should be the confirmed goal devoid of distractions.

Chido Nwakanma: Party primaries and continuation of Igbo Wars