In the run-up to the February 25 election, Peter Obi campaigned mainly in the enclaves of Igbo urban immigrants. The outcome of the election has since confirmed Obi was riding on Igbo ethnic sentiments. If the defeat of Tinubu in his Lagos stronghold through clannish voting pattern was not enough confirmation, cornering 85% of Igbo votes in the five southeast Igbo states by Obi were unarguably a reflection of reality.
Obi has been dressed in borrowed robes of the messiah of Nigerian youths by his ‘Obimedia’ who are as much of a threat to the health of our nation as his unquestioning ‘Obidients’ with battle cry of “end INEC and Nigeria” if their principal’s imaginary ‘stolen mandate’ was not restored. There has been similarly no word of caution from Obi as his children of anger fed with misinformation are left to run riot in Ikeja, threatening peace with provocative declaration that for next Saturday governorship election in their host’s land, “it must be Igbo endorsed governorship candidate or no one else”.
It was Ahmadu Bello who first admonished Nigerians to understand their differences. The problem is that some of those given refuge by host communities seem not to remember that we are a multi-cultural society where our ethnic nationalities at the time of contact with the Europeans were at different level of cultural development. Whilst according to PC Lloyd, there were groups that were more developed than Europe using urbanization as index of measurement, there were also the ‘unfriendly inhabitants of the Mama Hills, the anti-social Mumuye of Muri Province’ and those Clifford in 1920 identified as ‘cannibals inhabiting some hill tops’, and ‘the naked warriors of the jungle’.
Quite often, our culture defines our worldview. Those celebrated as heroes by some cultures could be villains in others. It was perhaps for this reason the policy thrust of our departing colonial masters was “a ‘regional government that secures for each separate people, the right to maintain its identity, its individuality and its nationality and its own chosen form of government which have been evolved for it by the wisdom and by the accumulated experiences of generation of its forbearers’. .
For instance, leadership among the Yoruba is earned through service to the people. In the run up to independence, the Yoruba’s new emergent political elite first became chiefs in order to understudy their fathers. They thereafter engaged in months of robust intellectual debate by experts from different disciplines, rounded up with various scientific surveys across the country before unfolding their manifesto of free education, free health and full employment.
According to professors Oluwasanmi and Aluko, they also set up, Western Regional Marketing Board, the Western Nigerian Development Corporation, the Western Nigerian Housing Corporation, the Western Region Finance Corporation, the Western Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and the Western Nigerian Printing Corporation “to perform functions that are of fundamental significance to the economic, social cultural development of the people of Western Nigeria. That the old West was to later become the most educated part of Africa and most prosperous region in Nigeria was not by accident.
Bola Tinubu merely took a queue from his illustrious forebears. He paid his dues by staying in the trenches along with other NADECO leaders fighting against military dictatorship in the aftermath of June 12, 1993 debacle. Upon becoming governor in 1999, he challenged the best brains among his people to come up with a Marshall Plan for Lagos. That was the foundation of today’s Lagos’ massive infrastructural development, the reactivation or the metroline derailed by Shehu Shagari since 1983, the Lekki Free Trade Zone, the Lekki Deep Sea Port and airport and the Atlantic City in Victoria Island.
In politics, Tinubu has remained faithful to Yoruba progressive politics of Afenifere (wanting what is good for yourself for others). He worked hard to build consensus among progressive northern politicians who were later to ensure he emerged as APC presidential candidate and garnered 5.2 million northern votes for him during the last presidential election.
On the other hand, all Igbo political elite needed to do to win the minds of their unquestioning “Zikists or Obidients” is to play the victim card by misinforming those who look up to them for direction with claims such as ‘Nigerians hate Igbo leaders because of their resourcefulness’.
In 1947, NCNC went on tour of London to protest some obnoxious laws in Nigeria. On their return, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin and Dr A B Olorunnibe, members of the group accused Zik of mismanaging the thirteen thousand pounds raised for the trip. All Zik did to get the sympathy of his people was to claim he was under attack because he was Igbo, forcing Igbo urban workers and their Yoruba counterparts in Lagos to buy off cutlasses in Lagos market in preparation for war.
In 1952, Zik insisted on becoming the first premier of the West after rejecting Akinloye’s suggestion that a Yoruba member of NCNC be appointed premier to secure the support of six Ibadan members elected on the platform of Ibadan Peoples Party (IPP). At the end, five of them, except Adelabu, joined Awolowo to form the government. Zik accused Yoruba of tribalism and his people believed him. But it was no more tribalism when Zik and his supporters later removed Prof Eyo Ita, minority leader of government in the east, to pave the way for his emergence as premier.
Fast forward to 2023. It is still the same Igbo persecution complex. Peter Obi was governor of Anambra under APGA. He is best remembered for creating disharmony between the Catholics and Anglicans and for sacking of non-Anambra Igbos working in Anambra civil service. After his tenure, he joined PDP where he rose to become Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019. Then on the eve of 2023 election, sensing the PDP presidential ticket would elude him, he resigned and ran back home equating his personal loss to Igbo nation’s loss. Of course he got the backing of his people. While Tinubu with all his years of preparation for recognition by his very critical Yoruba people got only 56% of Yoruba votes, Obi secured 85% of Igbo vote.
Of course the Igbo ‘Obidient’ and ‘Obimedia’ are at liberty to determine who their hero is under a democratic parliamentary federal system. What they cannot do is to question the right of the Yoruba to put their faith in Tinubu who they have continued to vilify, abuse and ridicule.
And lastly, ‘Obimedia’ should stop their unpatriotic attempt to undermine the integrity of an election many honest Nigerians including President Buhari believe may turn out to be one of the most credible elections since 1999, won ‘round and square’ by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. This was an election where President Buhari lost his state, the President-elect, his Lagos stronghold and the ruling party losing half of the 22 states it controlled in the run up to the election.
Finally, Obi’s surreptitious attempt to foist a governor on Lagos is a sad reminder of how NCNC/NPC coalition in 1962 attacked economic backbone of Yoruba in order to bring Yoruba to her knees. Lagos a product of long years of planning by our illustrious forbears including Awolowo who was spending 60% of Western Region’s health budget on her cannot be handed over to an unquestioning ‘Obidient’.