If on May 29, 2023 an Ibo man is not sworn-in as president, no one should blame God or the Hausa-Fulani Oligarchy or the rest of Nigerians for betraying the Ibos. Over ninety per cent of the blame would be laid at the door steps of the Ibos themselves. And this blame should be domiciled there because they do not know how to comport themselves in their personal relationship with other Nigerians and also because they lack the discretion to conduct their group public affairs in a manner that sells their race as being capable of providing leadership for themselves and everybody else.
And of these failings, the one that may prove the most disastrous for, and destructive of, the Ibo race is their lack of discretion. Two weeks ago, a piece of news item that was credited to the former Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, which has, up till now, not yet been dishonoured by him to the effect that if the presidency is zoned to the Igbos, it should be restricted to the Igbos of only the South-East geo-political zone and not opened to the other Igbos of the Delta or Rivers states, got me quite alarmed.
As a self-assigned champion of The Igbo Presidency Project 2023, informed only by the principles of justice, fairness and equity, I am justifiably alarmed by this remark by a man like Anyim. The presidency has not yet been zoned to the Igbos, yet a man like Anyim is already engaged in the parochial business of which divide of the Igbos is better entitled to that diadem.
He is already thinking of “original Igbos’’ versus fake or “adulterated Igbos’’; the “Mainland igbos’’ versus the “Peripheral Igbos’’; and the “Igbo Bakwoi versus the “Igbos Banza’’. I am amazed and left speechless. When I first read this news item the immediate thought that came to me is: The Ibos have started what most Nigerians fear about them and that is their lack of political sophistication, tact, discretion and strategic thinking.
This is a time that the Igbos need to make friends with everybody that they need to make friends with beginning with a concentric circle of peripheral Igbos, the peoples of the South-South, some of whom were under Ibo suzerainty in the former Eastern Region and who need to be placated, appeased and assured, the North Central, the South-West, the North East and finally, the North West. To begin to antagonize close cousins even when the race has not started is to shoot themselves in the foot.
Sometime last year, the journalist Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu posted an old material on Facebook whose aim seemed to stoke a useless war between the Ibos and the Yoruba. The theme was who, between Awo and Zik, was a better person and an achiever? Uchegbu and the Ibo writer of the stuff seemed to be of the view that Zik was the better of the two and the Ibos, the superior of the two.
When I read the piece, I wondered to myself whether the journalist has been recruited as a fifth columnist to do damage to the Ibo cause. The debate was completely a needless one and as an Ibo intellectual, I expected that in view of the 2023 project, Ibos in diverse fields will be seeking to build bridges wherever there is a river and not seek to erect walls where they are supposed to be bridges. Whatever the Ibos or anyone else thinks about Awo, Awo is a Yoruba deity, a principality and power in the sub consciousness of the people of the South West and beyond. To seek to demystify such a personage by an Igbo who surely need the help of the Yorubas to actualize their dream is an act of pure foolishness or unwisdom, if you ask me.
What Anyim has done is akin to a significant Yoruba politician such as Veepee Yemi Osinbajo saying that if there is any thought about zoning the presidency in 2023 to the Yorubas those to contest for it should only be the Yorubas of the South West and it should not include the Okun Yorubas of Kogi state and the Igbomina Yorubas of Kwara who are in the North Central region. Not even a rookie Yoruba politician will make such a statement.
Even if the thinking of most Igbos on the matter is what Anyim has voiced out, must it be a man like Anyim who must say it out? To a humble me, Anyim and those Igbos who share his thought have started what is likely to deny them an office they are entitled to have had long ago but which they have been consistently denied of for ages. Many think that the Ibos are too brash, proud and totally inconsiderate of the feelings of many people who, at any rate, they look down upon.
In a sense, I feel some kind of private vindication that it is Ayim Pius Anyim and not some other big name Ibo politician who has made this gaffe. In my last post entitled “Actualising the Ibo Presidency Project Come 2023’’, I suggested four prominent Igbo men, two politicians and two technocrats, who I think are eminently qualified to contest for the presidency in 2023. I thought of adding Anyim Pius Anyim to that list but changed my mind when I remembered an incident involving Anyim, bordering again on indiscretion, which may have affected his destiny forever.
During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s first term, Anyim, in a moment of near fatal excitement in a plane fight from somewhere into Abuja, committed an act of monumental indiscretion by volunteering a piece of information that he ought to have kept severely to himself until the appointed time. He told a big time Ibo political squealer and trader in squealing that his prophet had told him that he, Anyim, will be president of Nigeria. That squealer, who is known to many shall remain nameless, went straight to the Villa to tell Baba. That is when Anyim’s trouble began and the rest, as they say, is now history.
This preacher of the Gospel who belongs to the Assemblies of God’s Church forgot the reaction of Herod to the Good News announced by angels that a King has been born in his domain. Earthly kings are wired to be extremely jealous and would react wickedly if told that they have a person who will rival them for the throne whether such prophesies will happen in their time or years away. He forgot how the news by the Three Wise Men led to the death of hundreds of thousands of children by the order of Herod such that there was much lamentation and weeping in Herod’s empire. He forgot how Joseph’s parents and his brothers reacted to his dream that one day all of them will bow down to him. He did not seem to realise that there are men and women who have the capacity to kill dreams or postpone it.
Anyim also forgot that when Mary the Mother of Jesus heard and saw the many strange and unusual things surrounding her son, the Bible tells us that that truly virtuous and discreet woman “kept all those things to herself’’. That God who gives dreams and who sees all things saw that Herod was planning some harm against the boy king, he told Joseph in a dream to take the boy out of harm’s way away to Egypt.
Well, this piece is not about Anyim’s indiscretion, it is just to counsel our brothers to the East to begin to learn the art of discretion, diplomacy and native wisdom and cunning and to abandon the ways of pride, arrogance and boastfulness for which some of them are justly accused.
Right now every public step which a prominent or not so prominent Ibo person takes, he or she should deliberately weigh it and ask, “is it one which people will say, ‘the Ibos have started again. How can we give national power to a people who say or do things like these?’’’
Alibi wrote this piece from Abuja