Recently, the Forum of Southern Governors in one voice, announced a ban on open grazing in all the 17 southern states. That jolted some sections of Nigeria a bit.
The governors resolved that the Buhari administration should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems. They also resolved on other issues including the festering insecurity in the country.
Of the 17 southern states, 13 governors were in attendance at the meeting: Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos). Others are Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), and Willie Obiano (Anambra). Imo and Akwa Ibom states were represented by their deputy governors, while Osun and Cross Rivers states were absent at the meeting.
Surprisingly, governors of Eastern Nigeria failed to use the forum to pass a strong political statement to the rest of Nigeria on the 2023 Presidency. Of all members of the Southern Forum, it is only the Eastern bloc that is yet to produce Nigeria’s President since 1999. Western Nigeria through Olusegun Obasanjo dominated the affairs of the country from 1999 through 2007. By accident, the geographical Southern Nigeria held sway at the Presidential Villa through Goodluck Jonathan for six years.
Logically, some of us expected the governors of Ndigbo, to insist on an Igbo President as a basis of the bloc’s support for anything Nigeria. They failed to show leadership on this vital issue. They would also have confronted All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the issue of the presidential flag-bearer. Without a firm commitment from these two parties, the Plan B for Igbo leaders of all cadres should be to empty into All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and used as a platform to negotiate with power seekers desperate the support of Ndigbo.
Once Ndigbo pulled out of APC and PDP, they will no longer be national parties. The problem, however, is that the Igbo people are driven more by selfish interest than that of the community. Some sections of Nigeria will continue to toy with Ndigbo so far they take delight in exhibiting disunity among themselves. Sadly, no Igbo governor has attempted to unite Ndigbo behind their cause.
The Igbo political leaders also failed to show leadership on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). This separatist mass movement is more credible and generally more accepted by the generality of the Igbo people than the paper governors with feet of clay on the Nigerian Project. IPOB has consistently demonstrated it is in control of the East, not the governors.
Their failure to embrace IPOB as the political foot soldiers of Ndigbo has shown that the Igbo governors are yet to know the language Nigeria politics understands. Take for instance, when the Jonathan administration was routing the Boko Haram terrorists, former Head of State, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, screamed that the administration was killing Northern youths. The Boko Haram was one of the key issues Buhari exploited to oust Jonathan out of power in 2015.
Today, scores of Igbo youths are being murdered by the security forces and tagged as IPOB and Eastern Security Network (ESN) operatives. None of the five governors of Eastern Nigeria has raised his voice against the ethnic cleansing of the Igbo race. They are being cheered by the North for their political ineptitude.
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has commended the tactless governors for denouncing the agitations for Biafra in the region. In Western Nigeria, none of the governors there has said anything negative against the Oodua Republic Yoruba youths are agitating for openly. Comparatively, the Yoruba political leaders are masters in the game of power in Nigeria. Not those of Ndigbo who always enjoy playing the second fiddle.
on June 20, Igbo governors condemned the activities of “violent secessionist groups” in the East and other parts of the country, claiming that they are commitment to a united Nigeria, and that the impression that Eastern leaders are silent about the agitations for secession is incorrect.
Hailing the governors in a statement on Wednesday, Audu Ogbeh, ACF Chairman, said the group is satisfied with the decision.
According to him, ACF “expressed satisfaction that the Igbo elders have finally disowned the agitators, and called on the elders to take concrete measures to ensure that such agitations come to an end”.
Ogbe said the northern leaders will also ensure the security of Igbo indigenes living in the north as requested by governors, adding that “sometimes they enjoy security which even northerners do not enjoy”.
He directed the governors to also ensure that northerners living in the East are safe. ”On the other hand, we have received reports on a daily basis of northerners, ordinary citizens, who are earning their daily life as nail cutters, suya makers, shoe shiners, onion sellers are being bullied, beaten and even killed”, he said.
Except there is a birth of a New Nigeria before 2023, Ndigbo from all indications, will continue to be treated as a marginal factor in the power calculous of Nigeria. That will remain so because of the failure of political leadership.