The winners and losers of the 2015 general elections in the country have mostly emerged. While the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential poll and many states, national and state assembly seats, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) maintained a distant second position.
The major outcome of the polls is that the opposition party has overnight become the ruling party while the ruling party has suddenly become the opposition party. There is no doubt that most PDP members including the Igbo that massively voted for the party might have felt great pain of loss following the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan by General Muhammadu Buhari.
Apart from vigorously campaigning for GEJ’s re-election, they are convinced that Jonathan will be re-elected for a second term in office. They believe that his modest achievements in office, education and calm disposition make him a good presidential material for the country. Besides, history was on his side as no incumbent Nigerian president has lost an election.
So, you can imagine their deep sense of loss when he did not make it. His quick acceptance of defeat, though a sportsmanship act, may not have mitigated their sense of loss. The loss would have been more ingrained on them when Oba Rilwanu Akiolu of Lagos, whether misrepresented or not, ordered those of them from across the Niger to vote for his candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode of APC or perish in the lagoon, literally or metaphorically. Since later clarifications and the interventions of eminent Yoruba and APC members saved the day, there is no point overheating the issue or scribbling hate speeches as some people are doing in the internet. As far as most Igbos and Yorubas are concerned that matter is closed.
During the election, many non-indigenes went to their polling units and either voted according to their conscience or as directed. Whichever way they voted, they exercised their franchise. And as luck would have it, the Oba’s candidate won. Indeed, all Lagosians won because Lagos being under the same government at the centre will mean more development which will also benefit all residents including the indigenous Lagosians, the owners of the land, and the immigrants.
That was the import of the Oba’s message which was probably quoted out of context. There is the need for a peaceful Lagos, and a peaceful Nigeria where all tribes will co-exist in harmony, without hurting the cultural and political sensibilities of their host communities or indigenous people.
Our nation building effort is still on trial and at infancy. We need more lessons on race relations and peaceful co-existence of diverse peoples. We are trying through striving to live together with a few mixed marriages here and there but there is hope that one day a generation of Nigerians will emerge that will neither care for their ethnic nationalities nor their boundaries. Then its politics will be devoid of tribe and tongue as it is the case in advanced democracies of US and UK. That day will surely mark the foundation of a true Nigerian nation. Perhaps our hip-hop music, Nollywood films and Nigerian literature are moving in that direction.
With time, we shall get there. The building of more cosmopolitan and ethnic diversity cities like Lagos in each of the six geo-political zones in the country and the establishment of more Unity Schools in all the states is the right step towards building a united Nigerian nation of our dream, where no Nigerian would be discriminated against on account of his gender, tribe or religion.
Also, opinion writers like me were not spared of the loss antagonism. As soon as Jonathan lost the election, my co-combatants on the other side of the war front informed me of their being magnanimous in victory and I congratulated them for putting up a good fight. But a few of my critics went to the ugly extent of taunting me for writing in support of GEJ. My only word to them is that it could have gone to either side. So, there is no point passing unnecessary judgements over one’s innocuous viewpoints on issues like election and its likely outcome.
I say this because, writing, especially the type I do, is not prophecy. Though my head is bowed, I am not out. While I will lend my support to the incoming administration in the task of nation building and enduring democracy, its shortcomings will also not be ignored. No government in Nigeria, whether APC or PDP will fail to perform. The results of the elections have drawn the line between success and failure in future polls.
To those castigating and blaming the Igbos for wrong voting or putting their eggs in one huge basket, there is no point brooding over spilt milk. Politics is a game. You lose some, you win some. You cannot win all the time. At times, it is good to even fail so as to restrategize for another time. That the Igbos will be out of the APC-led government does not mean that they are politically naïve or dead. The Igbo votes for PDP and Jonathan were never wasted. They will pay-off one day. No good deed is lost. There is a reward for every good deed. I urge Igbos in PDP to remain there. Let them stay there and build it even from the point of opposition. I say this because of the dangers of a one-party state.
Those that build APC from opposition to the mega party it is now are human beings. If they can do it, and there are some Igbos in that alchemy, there is hope too, that the Igbos and others in PDP can equally do the same. What Igbo land needs now is the sincerity of our state governments in using our resources to develop our region and stop the Igbo migration to Lagos and other cities in large numbers and not necessarily being in the party at the centre.
Also, the craze for honorary Ezeigbos in Lagos and other cities outside Igbo land should stop. Some of the holders of such honorary chieftaincy titles are embarrassing the Igbo race as the Oba Akiolu episode has demonstrated. It is paradoxical that those who are not Ezes in Igbo land are now Ezeigbos in Lagos. This craze for unmerited titles by Igbos should stop. The South-East can only be developed by its citizens and not by outsiders.
Let us think home and stop building castles and palatial homesteads outside.