Igbos have displayed a clear preference for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; and their fondness for him is understandable.
They like the fact that Jonathan has two Igbo middle names (Ebele and Azikiwe). And many of them feel that he did well for them by, for example, appointing the first Igbo Chief of Army Staff (Lt Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika) since the civil war.
A friend of mine recently bumped into Peter Obi, the former Governor of Anambra State; and Obi told my friend that he supported Jonathan (despite belonging to a different political party, APGA) because Jonathan had given him almost everything that he had requested on behalf of his state.
Meanwhile, because South-Easterners are close neighbours of South-Southerners, there is plenty of interaction on every level and many of the latter (this columnist included) have Igbo mothers, Igbo spouses and Igbo relatives.
It is also worth noting that a significant number of Niger Deltans (the Ikwerres of Rivers State and Ikas of Delta State, for example) have Igbo ancestries.
Long story short, despite occasional tensions, the fact that Ikwerres, etc, sometimes vehemently deny their Igbo roots (weird, given that they have names like Ngozi and Chidi!) and the fact that Niger Deltans sometimes make nasty remarks about Igbos, the two groups actually have a lot in common and often do business together and are bound together by strong emotional and blood ties.
In other words, plenty of Igbos regard Jonathan as their cousin! And I hope that President Buhari will also make a special effort to woo the millions of Igbos who have been in mourning since he won the election and are flooding the internet with bitter ranting complaints about his past “sins” and his current performance (even though he has been in charge for only a fortnight!).
The most successful leaders are loved and respected across the board, even by people who originally viewed them with scepticism or hostility and once backed their political rivals.
Igbos are enterprising and hard-working. Many professions are populated by clever Igbos. Many top entrepreneurs are Igbo. Igbos can survive without government patronage because they know how to generate real wealth.
In a nutshell, they add a lot of value to the Nigerian Project; and since most of them are practical, logical, no-nonsense people, I’m sure that they will warm to Buhari eventually if he reaches out to them and does well in general.
ALL sane and decent Nigerians will hail Buhari without reservations if he pulls off major feats like curbing corruption and sorting out the electricity problem.
By the way, the kind of people who say that no Niger Deltan should ever rule again are also the kind of people who insist that Igbos must never rule. And I despair when I hear this bigoted rubbish! Even if I didn’t have Igbos in my family tree, I would wonder why anyone should write off an entire ethnic group.
As far as I am concerned, the next time the South is given a chance to deliver a president, it will be their turn and we should all back a good Igbo candidate.
I would like to warmly thank Edem Duke, the former Minister of Culture/Tourism, Pius Anyim, the former SGF and the other PDP officials who were kind to me and other APC supporters during the transition period.
They didn’t sulk or give us the impression that they resented our election victory and regretted the fact that they would soon lose their jobs.
I was a member of the Inauguration Committee’s media/publicity sub-committee and was deeply touched by gentlemanly gestures such as Mr Duke’s insistence on providing us with a lovely lunch whenever we had a meeting in his office.