The post of the Vice President in Nigeria was made popular by the meek, cerebral and industrious late Alex Ekwueme, a well educated, admirably patriotic man of blessed memory during the Second Republic. He was chosen as Vice President to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a teacher who became the President of Nigeria in 1979. Popular tales had it that smarting from a very atrocious civil war that left the South Eastern people prostrate and in abject poverty given the financial injustice used as weapon of war by the administration of Yakubu Gowon, it was only an Ekwueme that could afford the required funds in the then National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to pay his way into being selected as Vice President of the government then. So much for the post war three Rs. Others claim it was a pseudo attempt of presumed inclusiveness of the Igbos.
However, after the coup of December 31st 1983, an Ekwueme was hounded into jail along with other politicians of that era for alleged corruption but the then President Shehu Shagari remained under house arrest.
Let’s fast forward to October 2018, more than three decades after Ekwueme, the Igbos are still scrambling literarily for the post of a Vice President in Nigeria. Names are flying, there are deft political horse tradings. There are negotiations, there are permutations. The Eastern part of the country has remained largely underdeveloped by successive federal governments. But have we had politicians ever since an Ekwueme? Oh yes! But they have been largely individuals on political ego trips and sometimes chosen political servitude. A large percentage of them are mere buccaneers who have been in politics for themselves and not for a regional integrative or growth process. Unlike other regions’ politicians that have the good and progress of their region in a very amoebic Nigeria, South East politicians have been disastrously in regionally strategic politics. And this has affected the growth process of Ndigbo in Nigerian politics.
Today, the two major parties, the APC and the PDP are on the race for the presidency in 2019. What is there for Ndigbo? Vice Presidency does not even seem too certain as I write. No one would bart an eyelid if another region gets the post. As usual, Ndigbo politicians would chuckle and later scramble for some Secretary to the Federal Government post …a largely ineffectual position given the tripodal structure of the Eastern region in the Nigerian federation.
As I write, I feel a sense of utter shame that the average Igbo politician that grandstands and wants to stamp some feet of patriarchy at home melts away without a solid regional political involvement.
Playing the patient dog and sucking up to less qualified individuals for a common political battlefield is a sorry history to write and recount.
Like the late Achebe lamented, the political shenanigans perpetrated successively by the politicians from the region in absolute service to and in collaboration with other regions sickens any sane mind.
Politicians from the East continually let the people down. Make no mistake about it, there are new on the block technocrats throwing their hearts in the ring for 2019, brilliant and very brave move on their part. However, we all know that Nigerian politics is not yet ready for them. In a country with crassly decided electorate and regional supremacy of people who had long appropriated more states and local governments, it remains to be seen how far the technocrats will go.
Have in mind that the demagogues of Igbo extraction in the bigger parties can never own their own..(all pun intended). They would be the ones to discredit their own, lap up to those with better and more strategic political calculations as second fiddle and leave the zone yearning for proper inclusiveness in a nation where fifty years after the war, a psychological and somewhat economic one still goes on as the infrastructural base of the region keeps deteriorating.
An Achebe twice rejected the National Award he so rightly deserved as an eloquent way of focusing the torch on the failure of the political class of Igbo extraction to work for the progress of the people. We’re an Achebe to wake up now, he would die over and over again as the politicians unable to regional strategies are scrambling for the vice Presidency of a nation they were cowed to be part of in a three year civil way that left the region down the valley.
In politics, no one hands you anything, you fight for every damn thing. Sadly the politicians of Eastern extraction (most of whom have no second addresses) continually put self before the people. They are truly satisfied with the political crumbs they have been picking since 1979.
It remains to be seen what portion would belong to the region in 2019 or whether some never do wells would continue to grovel and go about cap in hand waiting to be handed a presidential ticket in 2023.
What story with the present South Eastern politicians writing in their history books for their children to read? As for me, I am here to document everything henceforth. And I choose to start my charity literarily from home. Welcome folks to Nnedios Views. Hope our ride would make us all better. Peace.