Recent happenings in some parts of Nigeria following the 2019 general elections where the Igbo people came out in their numbers to exercise their democratic rights, and some people were worried and became jittery, sometimes raining abuses on them, have impelled on the Igbo, the necessity to have an arrow head, a leader, who would rally them around in times of crisis, or who they would look up to as the need arises.
The Igbo have contributed more than any other ethnic group in the country to the building of the Nigerian nation, yet their efforts are not recognized. They are not trusted. They are hated. They are villified. And they are often accused of wanting to dominate their environment.
Today, the Igbo have no rallying point. They have no leader. They are headless. They have no father-figure who could give them protection. They are like sheep without a shephard.
Unlike the Hausa/Fulani, or the Yoruba, the Igbo have no Emir, and no Oba as divine ordained rulers. They also have no Buhari with military might and religious zealotry. They have no Tinubu with bullion vans. They just play individual games, according to their whims and caprices.
In the First Republic, the Igbo have Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as their arrow head. Even with his pan Nigerian inclination and pan-Africanism (Zik of Africa), the Igbo still looked up to Nnamdi Azikiwe for direction, what Zik had to say on an issue (Zik ekwuola). They religiously followed the man. Almost every Igboman then belonged to Zik’s political party, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC).
When Azikiwe went to Lagos and became Governor General of Nigeria, he handed over the baton to Dr. Michael Okpara. Okpara was a pragmatist. He pursed the Igbo cause the best he could, with his strength and might. Under Dr. Okpara’s leadership, the NCNC forged alliance with progressive elements in the north and in the west, under the banner of the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA). And most Igbo people still went along with him.
The 1966 political crisis led to the circumstances of Biafra, with Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu emerging as the new Igbo leader. For the three years that Biafra lasted, the Igbo nation was behind Ojukwu, and he led them till the end of the war.
In the Second Republic, when it appeared that the Igbo were drifting aimlessly, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe came out again with the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). The Igbo also followed him to the party. The NPP won the two Igbo states of Anambra and Imo, and went further to win Plateau State in the middle belt.
In the present Fourth Republic, with the passage of Dr. Azikiwe, Ojukwu again came out with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and succeeded in winning Anambra and Imo States. We were still expecting that APGA would take the three other Igbo states of Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu when Ojukwu passed on.
Unfortunately, those who took over APGA following Ojukwu’s exit messed it up. They killed the party through selfishness and personal ego. The Igbo nation are now being identified with the PDP. But the PDP was the political party that denied an Igbo man ticket from being President of Nigeria.
With the passing away of Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Igbo nation no longer have anybody to speak for them. They have become orphans and voiceless. As such, some people began to talk down on them, to attack them, believing that the people would be swallowed up.
At times, we hear an Ayo Fayose or a Fani Kayode coming out to speak on behalf of the Igbo, to defend them. But we don’t hear much from our own people. Sometimes they would speak in discordant tones or become dumb, recluse, or play the enemy game.
The present circumstance therefore, calls for urgent need for an Igbo leader, a rallying point, one who would speak for the Igbo, who would give them protection, and who would chart a course of direction for the Igbo.
It needs a person who is courageous, a person who is ready to make sacrifices, and who is committed to the Igbo cause.