Nigeria, according to the great Igbo patriarch, General Odimegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu (Because I am Involved), is a multi-national State, and the Igbos are one within this family of nations. The Igbo-nation for Prof Chinedu Ositadinma Nebo (2010 Ahiajoku Lectures), is doubtless the most visible, most significant and most ardent believer in the concept of a united Nigeria among the federating units. No
other ethnic nationality is so massively dispersed within the geographical confines of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the Igbos.
The Igbos have been the most enterprising ethnic nation in Nigeria before the 1966 coups and the subsequent reprisals, pogroms and suppressing antics that followed suit. From thence Igbos were marginalised, and lacking in any appreciable influence within the power structure in Nigeria. This marginalisation in obvious in all nooks and crannies of the nation’s social existence, especially during
the coups of Yakubu Gowon and Muritala Mohammad, marginalisation in
states-creations, federal offices (especially in the Nigerian presidential seat, Attorney General, Federal House of Assembly, military Chiefs of Staff, Inspectors General of Police, NYSC Directors General, national census figures, NNPC Managing Directors), etc.
The above inequalities in participation in national leadership have compelled series of contemporary thoughts and social dispositions in modern day Igbos, and these in ripple effects, have compounded rolls of problems for the survival of the contemporary Igbos. The contemporary Igbos have fallen into gross individualism, which conversely results in: Death of Igbo socio-cultural institutions and
cultural heritages, (which amongst other reasons are responsible for the irrational multiplication of autonomous communities and Kingdoms, by the State Governors in Igboland) and the consequent saying that ‘Igbo e nwe Eze.’
Given the above realities that the present Igbos face in Nigeria, (as well as the complicated socio-political structure that Igbos distinguished themselves with, which scholars qualify today as ‘republicanism,’) to have a unified opinion and target has been a recurrent difficulty. And having sensed this, the grand masters of
Nigerian politics have always relied on the features and implications of such disposition to initiate, sustain and perpetuate structural marginalisation of the Igbos.
With the above life-situation, what Igbos need is not relevance-assertion, as their ubiquitous substantial visibility in all parts of the Federation makes them more federal than any other ethnic group in the country. What the contemporary Igbos need if we still believe in one Nigeria, is restructuring the ingrained structural
marginalisation that has existed for half a century now, without even mere inkling for change.
It is on this platform that Dr Orji Uzor Kalu stands perpendicular behind the contemporary Igbos. He is one of the substantial, tested and trusted Igbos that have strong enthusiasm in the affairs of the Igbo nation. He believes that Igbos must participate in active national politics if their dream of Igbo presidency must be achieved. This caused his involvement in the Njiko Igbo Movement, which aimed at ensuring the presidential seat for a Nigerian citizen of Igbo extraction. As it is a national fact that an Igbo has only held the Nigerian presidency for only six months since Nigeria’s independence (that is, from January 15, 1966 to July 29, 1966), and after then no more.
Yet this quest for Igbo presidency if achieved is no restitution for the gross marginalisation that the Igbos have been subjected to for five decades since after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. It is this very reason that marks the difference between OUK and other nationalist-minded Igbos that believe in one-Nigeria, as well as between OUK and the leaders of several movements on self- determination and groups agitating for the secession of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
As Ikwan Oleka rightly noted, Orji Uzor Kalu and Nnamdi Kalu are only two Igbos that have guts to say things the way they are. The only difference between them is their opinion. While OUK believes that Igbos will be better in a united Nigeria, Nnamdi Kanu believes that Igbos will be better of as an independent country called Biafra. It is on this note that he opines that the agitation for Biafra cannot be made possible now (but never ever), as there are pending procedures
that have not been taken to that effect, and instead urged Igbos to channel their energy for an Igbo to become the President of Nigeria. Thus, rather than spending energy on secession, Igbos in his view should gather up their political ante and play politics of inclusion, which can earn the ethnic group the nation’s President sooner, and thus end the jinx.
For Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, we the Igbos must fix Nigeria to work for allinclusive; for the aspiration of all. Certainly, Igbos have made progress but it is not yet Uhuru. This is not the time to pop champagne but a time for conscious reflection on the road we have passed, where we are and where we intend to be in the years ahead. As a diplomat, grand politician and Nigerian elder statesman, OUK resonates on the possibilities of a lasting, one united Nigeria and their procedural attainments. It is for this reason he stated that if we want Biafra we must first ensure that referendum is included in the constitutional review.
He strongly believes in one united Nigeria, and thus emphasises that Nigeria should be thinking of annexing other Africa countries rather than dividing itself. The unity of Nigeria from this purview is unnegotiable. China for instance, is 2 billion and not talking about secession. But Nigeria with less than 200 million people, is talking of secession. Consequently, Nigeria will experience quicker progress towards the fulfilment of its great potentials as a nation if its
citizens foster peace, security and stability, (which are essential for development) by abiding by the rule of law and embracing its diverse cultural values.
Similarly, he opines that Igbos are in a better position to understand that politics, like they say, is local. This therefore suggests that the Igbos must see the need to align properly and seek strategic partnership of other interest groups and political blocs in order to achieve whatever developmental ideas that they have; such as the shoot for the presidency.
As a seasoned politician, OUK expounds that in politics; you market yourself and make yourself a strategic ally. It is when you achieve this that you put your cards on the table. And just as he said, it is a practical truth that if we Igbos work ourselves into very strategic political partner, while not putting our eggs into one basket, we can then put the cards on the table before our partners to determine what
we get from them and what they get from us. We must build necessary networks and alliances across political divide. These are very important so that our own stories can be told and heard too. If we don’t build such alliances, Igbos will continue finding it difficult to market our demands.
A thorough observation of OUK’s speeches and involvements in one-Nigerian politics confirms his assertions that he is taking the Igbos to the central stage of politics and decision-taking. And to this effect, Igbos can no longer be ignored in Nigerian politics, though it is evident that Igbos have not seen themselves so.
Nigeria is a diverse country of different ethnic groups, and no single tribe can lay claim to the country. As such, all the ethnic groups in the country are stakeholders in the nation and no single tribe can lay claim to the country. As a result of the above truth, OUK asserts that both the agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra is a waste of time, just as the quit notice given to Igbos by Arewa youths, is an
act of unserious northern youths, which is not the collective decision of the north because as a well-bred Igbo who was trained in the North, he knows when the northerners are serious and those that speak for them.
Nigeria has come to stay as a heterogeneous nation and no amount of hate campaign can break the country. Igbos are everywhere in the country and anybody that touches any Igbo as a result of the quit notice and subsequent reactions, has inaugurated war in the country and Dr Orji Uzor Kalu vowed to led the Igbos to war if the anything happens to Igbos because of the quit notice.
Considering the above, it is evident that OUK is strongly behind Igbos’ future, and one of the most outstanding Igbos who is nationally respected. This manner of man needs to be backed up if the dream for Igbo presidency is really a contemporary pressing issue in the life of the Igbos of today.