Dr. Wunmi Akintide’s article, “Awolowo the most accomplished Yoruba leader; Akintola the first Yoruba politician to envisage Hausas/Fulani/Yoruba collaboration” momentarily rained on my parade for the election of Buhari as the president of Nigeria. I had joined the parade to get Buhari elected president solely because of his antecedent behaviours; as the head of state in the early 1980s he showed that he was a man of vision and was intent on cleaning up Nigeria’s dirty house. I jumped unto his current bandwagon because somehow I believe that despite him being a Fulani and a Muslim that he has what it takes to fight the cancer of corruption in Nigeria and perhaps point Nigeria to industrial development.
Here comes Dr. Akintide telling us what a masterful stroke it was for Yorubas to form an alliance with the Hausas and Fulanis. He believes that this alliance is a winning one for Yorubas. As he sees it, Igbos under Azikiwe had formed alliance with Hausas and Fulanis and that alliance gave them the rulership of Nigeria’s post-independence government.
He said that Awolowo was more like a technocrat than a politician who understood the need to build coalitions that could capture the central government of Nigeria. Akintola, he believes, understood the need for Yorubas to form an alliance with Hausas so as to capture the central government of Nigeria but that Awolowo focusing on good governance considered Hausas too backward to form an alliance with.
Now, he believes that Yorubas under Obasanjo and Tinubu have wised up and have formed an alliance with Hausas and as a result would most likely capture the presidency come the February elections.
He suggested that Igbos and Hausas have ruled Nigeria for fifty four years; that is, from Independence to the present. I was of the impression that after the military coups of 1966 Igbos were shut out of the governance of Nigeria, that Awolowo and Gowon formed a team to prosecute the civil war and after the War Yorubas and Hausas continued ruling Nigeria, culminating in Obasanjo’s presidency.
Forgive me if I say that I am not aware of Igbos ruling Nigeria since 1966. In the various governments of Nigeria some Igbo technocrats were given important positions, such as Ngozi Iweala Okonjo, the current minister of finance. However, I did not know that that meant Igbos ruling Nigeria?
The implication of Akintide’s article is that in future governments formed by Yorubas and Hausas Igbos would not be given prominent ministerial positions. Never mind; lesson learned, let us move on.
Most Nigerians know that Igbos are independent operators; each Igbo looks out mostly for what is good for him and wants to be the star of his club but seldom concerns his self with the welfare of other Igbos. Ngozi, for example, seems in it for herself and has done little or nothing for Igbos.
Moving on, Akintide suggests that with Hausas and Yorubas forming a team that Nigeria is theirs to rule. This, he said, is good for Yorubas. But how about other Nigerians or must rulership be considered only from ethnic interests?
I had earlier on supported Buhari not because of his tribe and religion (actually, I had reason to fear that he could try to impose Sharia on Nigeria and generate a civil war in Nigeria, for wherever in the world that nonsense is tried the country descends into chaos and anarchy but Muslims do not seem to have the capacity to learn the need to separate religion from government) but because of the competing candidates for the presidency of Nigeria he seemed the most able to do the job well. However, now I am told that I am mistaken and that the reason why Buhari needs to win is for the good of Hausas and Yorubas, not for other Nigerians!
I am, to put it mildly, at a loss why I should now support Buhari. Should I support him to win and marginalize Igbos? Is that in my best Interest? Am I supposed to be a fool who does not know what is in his best interest to the point of electing those who explicitly work against my interests?
Oh, I understand that to win political offices in Nigeria two of the three major tribes in the country must work together but does that mean that one must accept this tribal arrangement as the only basis for governance in Nigeria?
I have also been told that Hausas and Fulanis are supporting Buhari solely because of his place of origin in the North not because of his perceived ability to solve Nigeria’s problems.
In Nigeria we do not elect folks who solve our problems but those who come from our ethnic group and that is good?
And while we are at it, Asari Dokubo, a grossly fat Ijaw boy on the verge of having a heart attack, threatens to declare war on Nigeria should Nigerians not elect his fellow Ijaw man, Jonathan. Apparently, we should not even bother having an election; we should just ask Jonathan to continue ruling Nigeria. Why not? He is an Ijaw man!
And what is so important about Ijaw? Oil, nature’s resources is found in Ijaw habitats in Nigeria; therefore, Ijaw must rule Nigeria. If you do not like it leave and let the Ijaw have sole possession of their oil.
As an aside, this fat boy called Dokubo needs to take a couple of courses on politics and understand that politics, as Harold Lasswell told us, has to do with power, who has it and who is able to use it to clobber others; his Ijaw group certainly can be clobbered if Hausas and Yorubas ganged up against them; that same group ganged up and clobbered Igbos to have access to the oil that Dokubo believes belongs to his people.
Whoever has power has control over territories that power can control. White men from Europe have power and use that power to control the Americas; the interests of the local Native Indians is seldom considered; indeed, the natives are packed like sardines into reservations where they can hardly eke out a living for they are given the worst lands.
Dokubo needs to embrace reality and do it rather quick and stop making bleeping noises before someone slaps his fat, disgusting mouth (he needs to stop eating too much and start studying real politics).
Let us, however, move on for Dokubo is not my present concern; he is a small fish. The Big fish, as Dr. Akintide told us, is Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas, those who have been ruling Nigeria since 1966. Jonathan is merely their errand boy (apparently, the big boys have decided to remove Jonathan for he no longer serves their interests).
Igbos are bystanders watching the big boys, the men of power doing with Nigeria as they please. And what they have made of Nigeria is not pretty. We all know that Nigeria is hell on earth and the question is whether we can change it, and who is most able to change Nigeria?
Jonathan has had six years to make a difference and shows that he has no clue what is going on around him and the question is whether Buhari has what it takes to improve the situation. If he does not then the option we have is to allow the clueless Jonathan to keep muddling along or for the military to intervene and chase out the thieves of Abuja and embark on taking their turn stealing from the national treasury.
The real question is whether despite Akintide’s unabashed ethnicism (in a manner of speaking, the man’s honesty in speaking to what is good for his tribe, not Nigeria as a whole is admirable; at least, he is candid and is not hiding his loyalty) Buhari can do the job we all want done?
Something in me says that given the bad options facing us that Buhari is still the one that can take a crack at the job of rebuilding Nigeria’s fallen house.
Dr. Akintide rained on my parade; he momentarily made me doubt my support for Buhari. He jolted me out of my Africanist position and reminded me of the tribal nature of Nigeria’s politics.
As Tip O’Neal, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives said, all politics is local (domestic); the man reminded us that his politics is local; he wants to serve his ethnic group and sees that group forming a coalition with Hausas as in their best interest. So be it. I can live with political realism. As they say, in politics there are no permanent alliances but temporary ones that serve one’s interests.
The question remains: despite the political realism emerging before our eyes, the alliance of Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas to rule Nigeria who should I support?
Despite my pause to ponder whether I am a fool in supporting Buhari, the option I have is not to support him for there is no way I can support the non-performing Jonathan.
I support Buhari not because I think that he is an angel or a hero on a white horse riding in to save Nigeria but because I believe that allowing Jonathan to continue ruling Nigeria is to relegate Nigeria to the deepest corner of hell, to allow corruption to rain rampart and the clown of As Rock telling us that stealing is not a crime.
I support Buhari not because I am the proverbial ostrich that hides its head in sand but because he is the better of two evils. I am aware that what is emerging before our eyes is a proposed government by Hausas and Yorubas that excludes Igbos.
Many Igbos aware of this emerging reality support Jonathan. Alas, Jonathan cannot win with only Igbo and Ijaw support. Jonathan does not have the gravitas it takes to rule Nigeria. Jonathan is a light weight.
I do not know that Buhari has what it takes to rule Nigeria but I am willing to take my chance on him. We have had fifteen years of PDP ruling and it is now time to try another party’s ruling of Nigeria.
If for nothing else, we ought to see if in Nigeria one party can hand over government to another party hence making the system truly democratic.
If it turns out that Buhari is, like Jonathan a dud at least we would have learned that we can hand power from one party to another and the learning continues until we find those leaders who are committed to ruling Nigeria, not those who make Nigeria’s parliamentarians earning more money than any other parliamentarians in the world.
In conclusion, Dr Akintide, by stating that the emerging coalition of Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas is only good for your people you put other Nigerians on the defensive; you got them to think whether they should support Buhari or not. Of course, it is true that the teaming up of Yorubas and the men from the north seem a winning strategy for Yorubas. Nevertheless, the way you framed it means that Igbos should be oppositional to whatever government is eventually formed come May 29, 2015.
If Igbos continue seeing themselves as outsiders in Nigeria’s politics they would keep on grumbling. At some point something has to give. Political associations are not sacrosanct and God made; they are manmade temporary associations. In this world change and death are the only things we know for sure.
If Igbos really want to separate from Nigeria they will eventually succeed. See, the almighty Nigerian army cannot defeat a rag tagged terrorist group called Boko Haram after throwing their kitchen sink at them for over six years!
Igbos are hopefully learning from the situation in Northeast Nigeria about what type of war they should embark on the next time they are tempted to secede from Nigeria (guerrilla warfare not first world war type trench warfare that they tried during their ill-fated Biafra war).
Ozodi Osuji Ph.D
Dr. Osuji specializes on management and leadership.
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