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2023: Why Igbos Need to Forget the Past and Massively Support Tinubu for Presidency (OPINION)

Yusufomotayo 06/26/2020

Among the Igbos is a long-held sentiment about the Yorubas and it stemmed from the civil war: It is that Yoruba people are backbiters and untrustworthy and their words must be taken with a pinch of salt. This sentiment has been passed down from parents to offspring over the years and to an extent has shaped how the two groups view each other.

To an extent, this sentiment is built on which side of history one is viewing it from. From the perspective of the Igbos, Yoruba people led by Obafemi Awolowo betrayed the Igbos led by Odumegwu Ojukwu. The Igbo believe if Awolowo had kept to his words, Yorubas would have seceded alongside them and their combined forces would have made the breakaway more possible.

The Yorubas too hold a different historical perspective of what happened in 1967. To them, Ojukwu was pursuing a selfish agenda and only wanted the backing of the Yoruba people without putting anything on the table to assure them of what they would get from such move. Thus, as a result of this failure to reach a middle common ground, Awolowo did what he felt was best for his people.

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It is important to note that in 1967, Nigeria still practised a strong regional form of government and regional heads unabashedly championed the growth and development of their people in what many have come to see as healthy competition. Thus, while Ojukwu did what he felt was best for himself and his people, Awolowo also did the same.

This is not an attempt at historical revisionism but to only identify the standpoint where relationship began to strain between Yorubas and Igbos. Since the civil war, both regions have found it difficult to politically cooperate except in 2015 and when that happened, it ended up being for the good of Nigeria and the same thing can be replicated in 2023.

In 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo was the foremost presidential candidate who ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He was however not the consensus candidate of the Yoruba people as Olu Falae was the preferred candidate. Although Obasanjo won on the back of massive support from the north, he was never considered a Yoruba president in the real sense of someone whose presidency received support of his people or positively affected their lives.

In 2011, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan contested for presidency and won. Contrary to what many thought, Jonathan’s victory came largely from his dominance in the south rather than the north. He won all the states in the south except Osun state which was won by Nuhu Ribadu. His main opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, won massively in the core north.

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Significantly, the Yorubas of the south west largely voted for Jonathan despite the fact that the Action Congress of Nigeria led by Bola Tinubu was gaining grounds and affirming itself as a strong regional party. In Lagos for example, the ACN won the governorship election but the people still voted Jonathan as their presidential candidate. Ultimately, Jonathan’s victory came on the back of massive support from the south west, south east and south south.

It should be significantly noted that in the eye of the average Yoruba person, Jonathan is Igbo as not all, especially a large number of those that make up the electorate, can distinguish between the south east and south south. To them, anyone who is not Yoruba is automatically either Hausa or Igbo. Thus, Jonathan was perceived as an Igbo person when the south west electorate voted for him. Jonathan also did not shy away from what he also described as his Igbo heritage by emphasizing his middle name, Azikiwe, in his campaign.

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Jonathan’s loss in the 2015 presidential election was based on the fact that many felt he did not live up to expectation especially in his ability to curb corruption in his administration. Also, the rising Boko Haram attacks also contributed to Nigerians decision to vote instead for former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari.

Some Igbo people on social media sometimes blame the Yorubas for Jonathan’s 2015 loss saying he was voted out of office because of anti-Igbo sentiments. They forget however that these same people voted for Jonathan in 2011 and also felt he had not done enough in 2015 to give him a second opportunity. Thus, the victory of Buhari in 2015 was not an anti-Igbo expression but a move based on current event and had nothing to do with ethnicity.

Since Bola Tinubu;s name began to prominently feature as one of those who may contest in the 2023 presidential election, some Igbos under different groups have come out to reject his candidacy even before he has one. They make reference to the fact that their brother, Jonathan, was not given a chance by the Yorubas led by Tinubu and that they would rather support another northerner instead of supporting Tinubu.

Others also make reference to the fact that Peter Obi, an Igbo man, was not given an opportunity by the south west when he was Atiku Abubakar’s presidential running mate in 2019. Thus, they would replicate the same in 2023.

The south east however needs to put this narrative to rest and understand the fact that political support in Nigeria has moved beyond ethnic divide. The ethnicity of a presidential candidate has not actively affected how the Yorubas cast their vote in presidential elections and this is evident from 1999 till date. While Tinubu’s presidential participation might gather a lot of Yoruba support, it will likely more be because his antecedent is known and his performance in the past is clear rather than the fact that he is just a Yoruba man.

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 The south east need to forgive Tinubu if need be and embrace his political master plan. As a political godfather, his crops of loyalists have been people who have performed excellently like Babatunde Fashola, Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola. Although there have been complaint hat Igbos in Lagos have been marginalised, this has not stopped a few from occupying either political or party leadership in the state.

A Tinubu presidency is more likely going to shift federal focus from the north to the south and a win for the south west is also a win for the rest of the southern region. The development in Lagos and south west has attracted Igbos to it in growing and sustaining their businesses. In fact, many now see Lagos as their first home and even speak fluent Yoruba. Many Igbos complain that the Buhari administration has brought little development to the south east. Not supporting Tinubu in 2023 on the basis of the fact that he is Yoruba would be tantamount to cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Source: opera.com
The views expressed in this article are the writer's, they do not reflect the views of Opera News. Read more>>
Top Comments
+233-55737**** · 06/26/2020
God punish you, support Tinubu while we disown our own brother? whereas it is Igbo time to produce president. If yorubas will not support Igbo presidency it will still go back to the North while the Igbos pursue the separation ambition... Biafra is the bae..
KennethJohnson_05 · 06/26/2020
may God punish your generation for making that stupid statement.Go to hell with your brother Tinbu
Presley5 · 06/26/2020
 "south east need to forgive Tinubu if need be and embrace his political master plan" you are talking nonsense dear writer meanwhile take ur thuggery, bigotry and cunning characters to North. Tinubu shall never be the president of this great Nation.
0803******** · 06/26/2020
But why can't the reverse be the case there-by the Yoruba's support the Igbo's

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