Opinion: Why a victory for Orji Uzor Kalu in 2016 is a victory for Ndigbo

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Should we end up marrying the choice of staying out of shape, then the Ndigbo political interest and cause would sooner than latter be a forgotten issue like a picture in an old family album.
The great scholar Henrick Clarke, once said that history is not everything, but it is a starting  point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but most importantly  what they must be.
I am reflective of the  past because  an understanding of the past provides necessary tools for resolving problems of the present and  righting the wrongs  for a bettertomorrow,a better future that Ndigbo of the Eastern region can not wait to uphold. Since the loss of the civil war in 1970, Ndigbo had been subjected to the most discriminating  and brutal treatment than any people who lost a war in modern times.
That Ndigbo have  continued to survive individually in the face of the evil metted on them can be attributed to the ingenuity, tenacity, will power and creativity of the individual Igbo  man. In the affairs of  the nation, it is regrettably lugubrious that out of the near 55 years  of leadership in  Nigeria, the Igbos have been at the helm of affairs  for only 6 months, even the Ijaw  minority have done more but  that is a talk for another  day. This led to the highly  respected writer and literary icon,  Prof. Chinua Achebe’s assertion that “Nigerians of all other ethnic groups will probably achieve consensus  on no other matter than  their common resentment  of the Igbos”.
Irrespective  of all these and for whatsoever reason, the people of the Eastern region seem content remaining at the periphery of the  nation’s political enterprise.This has even climaxed in the recent  political  dispensation where the Igbo people act with reluctance in matters of our own concern.
We act as if our historical  plight  and  the precarious  political and socio- economic  future is no longer a concern. However, the upcoming rerun in Abia North will be another opportunity to make choices that will either keep us in shape or out of shape. Should we end up marrying  the choice of staying  out of shape, then the Ndigbo political interest  and cause would sooner than latter be a forgotten  issue like a picture in an old family album.
These notwithstanding, Ndigbo has produced  great leaders like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe ,Chief  Emeka Ojukwu, Dr M.I Okpara,Dr. Nwafor Orizu , Dr Akanu Ibiam to mention but a few,who had equally helped to  improve the quality  of  every Igbo man by  fighting  vigorously  for us and giving  us near effective  representation.
The rise of these great men in the Nigerian affairs was  due to their self confidence  engendered   by their love for their people and belief that one man is as good as another and that no condition  is permanent. People like Ojukwu had in the midst of political intolerance  rose to fill the gap of pan-Igbo  representation. He was a captivating demagogue, very expressive, a warlord who had fearlessly  looked at  power squarely in the face  and stood for the interest of  the igbos.
But today,all the Igbo giants have gone to sleep. The few ones in authority  are only good in making perhaps, occasional fine speeches without commensurate  momentum. Today, many who parade themselves  as Igbo leaders either have nothing to offer to Ndigbo or fail to rise in defense of  Ndigbo when needed.
They parade themselves  in Abuja, Kano and Lagos under different  umbrellas of Igbo groups  as “Igbo leaders”. They do so as they have been perambulating and  promenading  with some of the unpopular  Northern and Western creeps who  have kept us in bondage. They leap over the stringent  hurdles  the Igbos have put in place for choosing  their leaders.
The consequence  is that Ndigbo has become pawns in the chessboard of political games in which they ought to have been players and would have drowned  endlessly  if not for the intervention  of few vibrant ones  that has sworn  never to see it happen in their lifetime .The Igbos  notable  for being lashed  by prejudice and buried half-alive in negligence  in the national  affairs have encountered  much challenges  in the recent  years. And it is most painful that it was only a  handful of our acclaimed  leaders that came out and stood aggressively  in our defense.
Thanks to Chief Alex Ekwueme, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Senator  Ike Ekweremmadu, who, at different  periods, came to the rescue of Ndigbo. It will remain indelible  in the memories  of  many, the swift action of Dr Orji Uzor Kalu  during the Fashola deportation of Igbos . When others were busy protecting their individual  friendship  ties with some people they considered powerful, Dr Orji Kalu took it upon himself  and made sure that Igbos  deserved a  better treatment  at all nooks and crannies of this nation.
His stance on the Apo 6, when Igbos  were brutally  killed  for flimsy reasons, was very conspicuous  and highly commendable. His popular encounter with the Sultan of Sokoto on the killings  of  Igbos in the North, his presentation  at the  British House of Commons as a Special Guest where he carried the crusade of equal representation  in a nation  that Igbos seem to be taken for silent majority  received  laudable  commendations  at home and diaspora.
Dr Orji Uzor Kalu’s bravado in withstanding  face-off with any Igbo hater has very much endeared him to  a new generation  of Ndigbo especially  the youths. His example  being that no Igbo leader should  ever abandon  his people in times of adversity, that every igbo man especially  those in authority, those whom the Igbos have entrusted  with the fate of the entire ethnic group must be ready to make a commensurate  sacrifice  for the igbo nation. I have come to believe  that there will always  be true men to lead the Igbos and consequently  give voice to the igbo interests and aspirations  in accordance  with the social and political realities  of the time.
That is why amidst  the full support  of  Ndigbo  for president  Jonathan’s re-election  bid, Dr Kalu is the only igbo leader who has shown his commitment  beyond verbal support  of president Jonathan’s re-election. He has lived up to his words by putting all his energy and resources  to drive the project  of  making sure that President Jonathan continues, by distributing  thousands  of customized  phones and numerous bags of rice as part of his own individual  campaign  for President Jonathan. And I am sure that the South-South youths and elders are taking note of that.
I strongly  believe  more still need to be done to promote  the growth  and interests of the Igbos in this nation, especially  now that the Igbos have no expectation of a Nigerian  President  from igbo extraction. I had in the past sampled the opinions  of some elites and those  who understand that the prize of greatness  is responsibility  on the political  future of the Igbos beyond 2016. 
These are what they had to say: Senator  Dr. Emmanuel  Onwe- “Considering  the political  realities of time, the Igbos need to re-strategize and go for quality  leadership  with national  and international  connections in the search for a better future of the Igbos and for the socio-economic  transformation  of Ndigbo”.
Sir  Victor Muruako opined that “the Igbos ostentatiously need a strong and vociferous voice at the National  Assembly to properly  represent  the interest  of the region and to fill the gap of  pan-Igbo representation, while  Prof. Tagbo Ugwu said that “if Igbos fail to have at least, a significant  number of senators with irrefutable  love for Ndigbo at the 8th National Assembly, true igbo leaders  who will never be relaxed in the lock up of their comfort  and pontificate on the plight of Igbos, then the Igbos will be likened to the cargo cult mentality  that Anthropologists speak about- a belief by reluctant people that,  sometimes, without  any exertion  whatsoever  on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their habour, laden with  every goody they have always  dreamed of possessing.” But the question  here is: Is that the prayers of Ndigbo? Well, I will leave you  to your own judgement. 
Ndigbo should think right now, lest we tend too fast to a point of diminishing  returns. Some months ago, many groups at various times and occasions  had pleaded with the Igbo leader, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu to contest for the Abia North Senatorial seat, all in a bid to have their own true leader in the 8th National Assembly and also a  man who can speak on their behalf. Dr Kalu is a man that was massively voted for during his 2007 presidential bid. He is well known and generous with good acceptance  beyond the shores of igboland. 
He is also known  for his good stead with many parts of the world. So,in a free and fair election, nobody in his zone, Abia North, can stand him. Nobody in Abia North can proudly cross his heart to challenge  Dr Orji Kalu. Could that be part of the reasons he has been consistently  pleaded on to represent  them amidst any odd?
The bitter truth is that Dr Kalu’s fervent need to be in the red chambers at the 8th National Assembly as evidenced  from the actions of  some concerned Igbo youths and elders is of immense importance  to Ndigbo at home and in diaspora than just Abia North senatorial  zone, where he is constitutionally entitled to represent. And being who he is, Dr Kalu will definitely  extend his representation  beyond Abia North. Ndigbo will benefit  immensely  from his representation  just as he has continued to do a good job for the Igbo nation.
The silent  majority  of this nation need to be heard again through a man famed for his courage and fearlessness in defense of his people. I believe  Abia North will not sacrifice  maturity and experience  for mediocrity  in the name of politicking since it is only a fool that will rely on a cripple  to win a 100 metres race. They should be proud and thankful to God  to have been  blessed with such a great and humble leader with unquenching political  will. Dr Kalu is an independent -minded  individual and one of the most celebrated personalities of this country.
And as far as Abia North, Ndigbo and the entire nation is concerned, Dr Kalu represents  the moon that shines down in the darkest  hours unlike most Ndigbo that want to be the sun that lightens up but refuse to be around at the darkest hours. Dr Orji Uzor Kalu’s victory in the upcoming rerun abd what he will do for his good people of Abia  North, Ndigbo and Nigerians at large will not be a surprise .But the great and extraordinary  things he will do beyond representing  his people is yet unknown. In the immortal  words of Jimmy Cliff, ” time will tell.”
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– Peter Ogbonna is the immediate past President of NESA, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He writes from ezekingV15@yahoo.com.

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