By Charles Onunaiju
In historical terms of the well known Igbo traditional political system, the contemporary Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, referred to as apex Igbo socio-cultural organization is actually an aberration.
The well known republican nature and collegiate structure of Igbo political organizations and institutions render any non-consultative and un-representative body, strictly nugatory of the core values of the political and social life of the Igbo nation.
Political institutions or socio-cultural bodies higher town unions are at best coordinate bodies, without any mandate to speak for the Igbo nation or take sides on her behalf without open and elaborate consultations.
The decision of the so-called Ime Obi of the Ohaneze to enter into political fray, sequel to the coming presidential election based on its vacuous claim that “a major political party, (PDP) by the nomination of our son, Peter Obi as the Vice Presidential candidate has given Ndigbo an opportunity for inclusivity,” and hence “Ndigbo must seize the moment, was at best an insidious effort to manipulate Igbo public opinion for a premeditated political choice of its purveyors. Mr. Peter Obi is a partisan political actor who is as much a “son” of the Igbo nation as other “sons” of Ndigbo in other political parties. Any attempt to spin that his nomination as vice presidential candidate of a major party, is gives an opportunity of inclusivity,” to the Igbo nation is patently deceptive and show of total ignorance of an understanding of political inclusion. Inclusion is a horizontal structural framework of popular participation with networks of incremental interactions and feed-backs, with the resultant practical effects of high political consciousness and material improvements in the living conditions of the people. Not even a concession of the Presidency to any ethnic nationality can guarantee political inclusion and to suggest that the candidacy of any person brings an opportunity of inclusion is a plain political manipulation at its lowest levels or ignorance at its highest level.
In another justification for its political partisan volte-face, the Ime Obi of Ohaneze said “that the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has made an avowed commitment to restructuring of the federation and reconfirmed same, during his recent visit to the United States in his meetings with high-levels U.S officials.
Any modicum of self-respect thatOhaneze commands certainly flew out of the window with the utterly supine self-lowering remark about their choice candidates’ reconfirmation of an avowed commitment to restructuring,…during his recent visit to the United States in his meeting with high-levels U.S officials.” Such condescension and neo-colonial fawning is completely beneath the proud Igbo nation and of those unable to understand that a Washington that is currently in disarray is even unable to help the American people, would have nothing to offer others.
The Ime-Obi Ohaneze appear to have naively believed that whatever commitments that are made before U.S officials is wrapped and sealed in heaven and while this may suffice for the premeditated political choice of the group, it is a patent non-starter to assume that the broad spectrum of Igbo sons and daughters would buy into the hollow and puerile hogwash.
Any group purporting to modestly represent the Igbo nation or even speak or act on its behalf but lacked the elementary insight that any partisan alignment or affiliation ruins its reputation and blight its consensual framework, is an upstart wholly unfit for an executive branch of a social club.
The vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi for whom theIme Obi Ohaneze choose to dance naked in the market square, was not even produced through consultation with the Igbo politicians in the PDP, resulting in the well known cold attitude of the Southeast PDP governors. If the South East PDP chieftains decry the method of Mr. Obi’s choice for the vice presidential slot without adequate consultation, why is the supposedly non-political and socio-cultural organization jumping into the fray? The Ime-Obi Ohaneze has a right to institute itself as any wing of the PDP, but has no such power to cajole the Igbo nation to any political party. The choice of Ohaneze to stand by the Presidential candidate of the PDP is their choice and would have no effect on how the generality of the Igbo people would decide to cast their votes in the 16thof February 2019. For the avoidance of doubt, the Igbo nation is among the key and major stakeholders of the future of Nigeria and would never in the contemporary times, stand one of its core values in the head by putting all its eggs in one basket.
Ime-Obi Ohaneze can repay its political debt in whatever form or shape, it so chooses but it has no such right to tie the destiny of the Igbo nation to its political I.O.U.
On what is termed Ime-Obi, a purported esoteric conclave is actually in contradiction to the republican assembly for which Igbo political process is famously and historically known for open consultative and democratic content. Such esoteric conclaves are mostly reserved for the initiates of such deep cultural groups as Ozo, Owu, Manwu and the likes.
Against the background of the recent political manipulations of Ohaneze to tar the Igbo nation with a partisan political brush, Ndigbo will actively participate in the coming election with an eye on the varied choices spread across, over the 50 Presidential candidates on offer and will choose according to policy platforms, considerations of integrity and competence of various gladiators and above all, consideration of the well-being of the country and its future.
Mr. Onunaiju is Public affairs analyst based in Abuja.