CC™ Flashback: Igbo leadership and their penchant for the absurd

Former Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State
CC™ Conversation 

There has always been one constant with Igbo leadership. They have always had an obtuse penchant for the absurd while tinkering on the edge of provocation.

In a recent conversation with The Sun, a so-called chieftain of Igbo United Initiative (IUI) and Chairman of Win Peace Investment Ltd., Chief Amobi Nnadiekwe, stated unabashedly that the Ndigbo must produce the next deputy governor of Lagos State.

Chief Nnadiekwe stressed that his position was predicated on the 'fact' that the Igbo now constituted around 43% of the population of Lagos (I guess the Yoruba birthrate must be going down as well as that of the Hausa-Fulani in the state) and had contributed a lot to the growth and development of the state.

This is such obfuscated hubris and it is unfortunate that ethnic jingoists like Chief Nnadiekwe still continue to fight the civil war by preying on the guilty conscience of Yoruba liberals, in particular.

One wonders exactly why the fixation on Lagos State. I will delve into the politics of this in a follow-up piece and it will serve as a reminder to Yoruba leadership across the southwest, that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

As expected, it would seem that Chief Nnadiekwe's brethren across the bow does not share his notion of Nigerians "feeling at home" wherever they are, as an APGA (basically an Igbo party) leader declared that the APC (which most Ndigbo view as a Yoruba party) is a "stranger" in the same southeast Chief Nnadiekwe hails from.

Lagos State is a Yoruba state and will remain so. That the host ethnicity of that glorious state are welcoming and cordial, should not be misinterpreted for weakness. The Ndigbo remain by all accounts the most polarizing, parochial and unwelcoming of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.

It is time for there to be a realization that Nigeria does not owe the Ndigbo anything and the Yoruba in particular will not be blackmailed into sacrificing their birth-right on the altar of political correctness.

It is hypocritical that a man like Chief Nnadiekwe, whose political views have always been through ethno-tribal lenses should be the one clamoring for equity and egalitarianism, obviously when it suits him.

In this Sun interview, Chief Nnadiekwe speaks on various issues and claims that the Igbo constitute 43 per cent of the population in Lagos. 

Your group has been sensitizing the people of South-East to vote any political party that fields an Igbo as deputy governor of Lagos in 2015. So far, what has been the response?

The response was wonderful. We plan to visit town unions and markets in Lagos State especially, the ones dominated by Igbo. It is time to be part of the political process in the state where Igbo contribute over 52 per cent to the state's economy. Of course, you know that South-East constitutes 43 per cent of the state population. To that extent, we deserve the position of deputy governor. With the number of Ndigbo in Lagos, no doubt, if collectively we decide to vote for any party in Lagos, the party must win. Lagos State has continued to marginalize us politically, hence, Igbos have decided to demand for their right. We have written to all the political parties in the state, informing them of our resolve to vote any party that fields an Igbo as deputy governor.

We have given them early notice, so that they won't say we took them unawares as they are about to begin their primaries. Anything short of making an Igbo man deputy governor in 2015 will not be acceptable to Ndigbo. For the very first time, this vision has united Igbos in Lagos and in the Diaspora. This warning is extended to parties in the other states where Igbos are the second largest population. They should, as a matter of policy, field an Igbo man as deputy governor in 2015. The next stage is rally, which will be organized in the major centers in Lagos and in the affected states.

What other steps do you hope to take to make this happen?

Arrangements have been concluded to visit Igbo leaders and organizations including Ohaneze Ndigbo towards achieving this noble cause, because the population of Igbos in Lagos cannot be undermined in the forthcoming general elections in the state, even though we failed to realize this in the past. Our votes have always decided electoral victories in the state. Any party we vote for must win, hence, we refuse to be used to make up numbers in future elections in Lagos. Ndigbo will participate actively like never before in the 2015 general elections. We will continue to sensitize our people not to vote any party that fails to give the deputy governor slot to Igbos in Lagos. So, this is an assignment for parties jostling to win the gubernatorial race in the Center of Excellence state next year. We don't care about party, what matters most to Igbo is a party that has our interest at heart, whether APC, PDP, Labour or APGA. But if no party fields an Igbo man as deputy governor, we may be forced to boycott the governorship election in Lagos State.

Why the demand for deputy governor slot instead of the governorship seat considering the population of Ndgbo in Lagos?

It is possible for an Igbo to become governor of Lagos State. If you cast your mind back, you will remember that Zik won election as Premier of Western Region but was denied the opportunity and he ran back to become Premier of the Eastern Region. So, it is possible. If Ndigbo can come together, we will produce governor of Lagos State in the near future. We must start from somewhere, and that is the deputy governorship seat in 2015. Lagos is our second home. Majority of our investments are in Lagos and we have a good population. We are law-abiding citizens because there has never been any misunderstanding between Igbos and Lagosians. The relationship has been cordial, hence, even the indigenes wouldn't mind to elect Igbo as governor.

Don't you think that the issue of indigenization should be first enshrined in our constitution before making such demand?

Indigenization is one of the important issues addressed at the just concluded National conference. However, that won't stop us from making genuine demands such as the one at hand. Indigenization is welcomed by all Nigerians. What it means is that a Yoruba man can be governor of Anambra State; an Hausa can contest and win a senatorial seat in Ondo State.

And until we get to this stage, we are not yet a nation. Once again, I beg my brothers in Lagos State to allow Igbo participate fully in the 2015 political process in the state by zoning the position of deputy governor to Igbo.

We have paid our dues and have contributed in the development of the state which warrants this demand. Except they see us as slaves who don't deserve fair treatment. But if Lagosians are sincere, they would agree with me that Igbos are stakeholders in the Lagos project. 

We have developed virtually all parts of Lagos, a sign that we are not willing to leave the state or do anything to destroy or disrupt the relative peace in the state. If the truth must be told, Ndigbo have developed Lagos more than South East.