It is time the likes of Boss Mustapha understood that these primitive presumptions that have marred our democratic goals, and the development of Nigeria has much to do with the inherited biases of the postwar years, which at some point must come to an end. The Igbo are not vulnerable and powerless people. Igbo power in Nigeria is dormant. Even the Igbo themselves sometimes do not know the extent of it. They are like that Eagle which has stayed so long among chickens that it forgot how to fly. But let me sketch this a bit. Democracy is about people, and demographic locations.
There are in every state of Nigeria, at least two million Igbo people settled. This is significant demographic distribution. The Igbo are the indigenous majority of Nigeria. They are strategically located in great numbers in at least seven states of the federation, and are indigenous minorities in Edo, Cross River, Benue, Kogi, and Akwa-Ibom. In Bayelsa, their population can go either way. But even in these states, there are at least 2 million mainland Igbo joining the indigenous Igbo of these states, to form a potentially powerful electoral population.
In key epicenters of Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Jos, Yola, Ibadan – indeed in all the major cities of Nigeria – the Igbo population is overwhelming. For instance, the “Sabon Gari” population in Kano is larger by far than the indigenous population of the old city, and the Igbo are the main inhabitants of Kano’s Sabon Gari. Usually, either this population votes with the local trends, or do not vote at all. They have not been fully mobilized to vote, as they were in the 1950s and 1960s, when Igbo population in Kano backed NEPU and gave it its consistent electoral victories in the North, or even in Lagos, where Igbo votes can very easily turn the tide of governance of that state, if properly mobilized or triggered. For years, the Igbo have been reluctant to press this dormant power in order not to unsettle Nigeria’s fragile political apple cart, set since 1970, to secure uneasy peace, and make the Igbo non-threatening. But it is about time that Igbo politicians also began to recalculate this electoral map, build new alliances, and go into party politics fully mobilizing this dormant majority, rather than pussyfoot in order not to seem threatening to certain Nigerian interests.
The future of the Igbo after 2019 is currently under fierce debate among the Igbo themselves as we speak, in any case: it is debate between the nationalist tendencies of Azikiwe, those who believe that Nigeria is Igbo heritage, and the new Biafra movement, who believe that the Igbo must leave Nigeria in order to secure peace. A resolution of that debate will determine Igbo future in Nigeria, not Boss Mustapha, or Buhari’s electoral victory.