By Ogu Bundu Nwadike
This should not be the first time the reader is hearing about “Igbo party” or “Hausa party” or “Yoruba party”. But in case anybody is hearing it for the first time, then so it is. In Nigeria there is what is known as “Hausa party”, “Yoruba party” and more recently “Igbo party”. In the beginning which is described as “first republic” after independence in 1960, the “Hausa party” was the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) led by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the “Yoruba party” was the Action Group (AG) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and even though it did not possess the full options of a purely regional party the “Igbo party” was the National Convention of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The trend to have a regional party has continued into the ongoing fourth republic.
When after the war the civilian political class was allowed by the military junta to reconvene a democratic government in 1979, what became known as second republic, the trend of regional party stood quite erect. The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was the Hausa party, the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) while the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) was the Igbo party. Despite various coalition arrangements among the parties, their unique regional stature was unmistakeable. In the third republic it was the same. The National Republican Congress (NRC) was the Hausa Party while the Social democratic Party (SDP) was the Yoruba party. There was no Igbo party because the military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) aimed to create a two-party system.
Now in the fourth republic which has subsisted since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is regarded as the Hausa Party while the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which has transmuted into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and now All Progressives Congress (APC) is seen as the Yoruba party. In the course of time the great legendary leader of Igbo, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi made a monumental move to create what many saw as Igbo party, the All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA). Incidentally, there has been an attitude by supposed Igbo political leaders that suggests that the concept of Igbo party is a crime against Igbo and Nigeria. Such politicians therefore undermine the idea of Igbo party while striving to goad Ndigbo into subscribing into other Hausa and Yoruba parties.
It makes people that think like me wonder why such pseudo-politicians from the East never reason like Ikemba and raise a formidable Igbo party which other regional politicians and parties will envy so much to want to join? Why has Igbo settled to be known as the “beautiful bride” that must leave the East to either the North or the West of Nigeria politics for unprofitable political marriages? Is there any constitutional violation for the creation of a solid Igbo party? What is generically wrong with APGA and United Peoples Party (UPP) which have boldly provided a strong political platform for Ndigbo to grow a viable political movement that will afford them grounds for a better negotiation over the sharing of the national cake of Nigeria? Do APGA and UPP sound so inferior when compared with PDP and APC? If Hausa and Yoruba communize Igbo parties, should Igbo also rubbish Igbo parties?
It is most disturbing that Igbo leaders and politicians feel ashamed of Igbo parties while glorifying Hausa and Yoruba parties. Yet, after all their efforts to please the strange parties, the unpatriotic politicians in the East are found among the frontline of complainants that there are no federal presence in the southeast region. Despite all evidence of continual intensification of oppression, suppression and marginalization of Ndigbo since independence and the accompanying civil war, some supposed Igbo leaders and politicians for selfish ambitions and purposes disappointingly join in the oppressors of their people. Take Imo state, for example. After all the show of shame by the governor of that state to ensure that the state was won by APC in the 2015 general elections, he is also seen shamelessly announcing that about two years after, the state has not benefitted anything from the Buhari administration. Yet, he spearheads efforts for Ndigbo to en masse join the same oppressive APC!
Instructively, that governor was a pioneer beneficiary of APGA which provided the platform he climbed to become governor. He rode on the back of the great good name of a true Igbo leader, Ojukwu, the Founder of APGA to become a governor. But months after becoming governor he fractured and factionalised the party, struggling to drag Ndigbo into a proven Hausa/Muslim party. This piece is not about this governor but about the corpus of the Igbo politicians and leaders that have refused to see today what Ojukwu saw more than 50 years ago. As a consequence our people grow other parts of Nigeria in the North and the West, while the East is steadily turning into a desert on which nothing thrives. It is believed that if Ndigbo see reason to create an Igbo party as the Hausa and Yoruba have done, the days of deliberate denial of rights that duly belong to Ndigbo in Nigeria will be over sooner than later.