The battle is for all Igbos not for the leaders alone.
Let me complicate this a bit. We keep hearing, Igbo leaders have done this, Igbo leaders have not done that. But about Oha ndi Igbo? What have we done to deserve good leadership and effective representation?
Let me get a little personal, if you don’t mind: do you attend the meetings of your town union? Do you pay dues and levies to your town Union? Do you in fact have an organized town union? If you do, does it have a political committe? Does your town have a political action fund by which you could raise money to support a candidate of their choosing?
How many times have you volunteered hours to organize on Igbo issues? How effective is your organizing? Do you make out time, at least once every month to host a small dinner in your house aimed at galvanizing an Igbo issue?
Will you come out to protest in Owerri or Enugu or Umuahia or Abakiliki if either Nnia Nwodo or Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe is shot by “unknown gun men” ?
We expect much from Igbo leadership, but we have no hand in the choice of who makes that leadership. Now take this example: when the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha as Governor, you would expect that a mass protest would erupt in Imo with support action in all of Igboland and the Igbo diaspora. But what did the Igbo people do? They talked the moon to sleep. Critics arose in support of a … cream bleaching governor to rule Imo State.
If it were the Irish, say, they would send a quiet and effective message in the night to the judges encouraging them to do the right thing. But the Igbo? They pray and wait for God, and act surprised at very obvious political turn. When in 1983 this same Buhari hauled Mbakwe, his wife Ahuikpeghe to jail, did the masses of Imo and Igbo people get out of their homes in great numbers with their own guns slung accross their shoulders to say to those who took Mbakwe, “you dare not!” Hell no! How about when Babangida tested the waters with his sack of Okom Ebitu Ukiwe. Did Igbo people rise in protest? Heck no!
It was after the Ukiwe sack, without very strong response from the Igbo, that they began the strategic marginalization of the Igbo. They found that the Igbo were no longer politically relevant, effective. The current Igbo sons and daughters have not shown the kind of fidelity the older Igbo showed to each other. If it were in 1965, and Emeka Ofor donated whooping N460 million to the A B U Zaria for research, while Nsukka, Unizik, FUTO, MOUN lack money for their researches, the Igbo would send a quiet emissary to Mr Ofor and say, don’t you ever return to Igboland until you have given some money to Nsukka and others, too. In fact, Emeka Ofor may not have even dared.
If a people are without consequence, their leadership will be without consequence. In fact, how can you send men and women on an errand without making certain that they will return in one piece? All the people guarding your so-called Igbo leaders are all sent to them from Abuja. They are surrounded by military barracks whose provenances they cannot determine. So, you’re an Igbo leader, and you are stubborn like Mbakwe, and one day they take you out and say you had an accident. Guess what the current Igbo would do because they have not organized for effect? They will write letters to the Untied Nations and call all the forces in the world to bear witness to how we suffer in Nigeria. The world, if they pay attention, will nod their head in sympathy and say, “indeed, you suffer” and continue on their merry way. But if the Igbo provide very sophisticated protection services to their leaders, irrespective of what the federal government says, you’d have effective leasership because the Igbo too could bury you if you let them down.
Think about the Irish or the Palestinians. They don’t stand for rubbish. And if any one who leads them sells out, they have people to answer to. But not Igbo leaders. You know why? Because just as Igbo leadership is absent, Igbo people themselves are half awake because they can’t seem to organize themselves.
A people are always greater than their leaders. But today, the Igbo want leaders who are bigger than they, and from whom their destiny must be shaped. No! We must make the leaders we want. Recruit them. Train them. Support them and protect them. If they depend on us for their survival, they will give us sterling service. But if they depend on forces outside Igbo land for their political and economic survival, as well indeed as for their lives, you cannot expect their loyalty to be with the Igbo.
So, lets take some responsibility. The leaders we get reflect us too. We must somehow find the means to rebuild fidelity between the Igbo and those we send to lead the way.