In a multi-ethnic, multicultural country like Nigeria, you can’t win votes by playing the “ethnic card”. In endorsing Atiku Abubakar, the PDP Presidential candidate last week, the Igbo Social-cultural group Ohaneze Ndigbo claimed that the “the nomination of our son Peter Obi as the vice-presidential candidate has given Ndigbo an opportunity for inclusivity. Ndigbo must seize the moment.” For including this line of argument -ethnicity- in their endorsement, Ohaneze Ndigbo led by Nnia Nwodo failed the political cum emotional intelligence test.
Political intelligence is made up of five things, integrity, self-awareness, emotional intelligence about others, strategy, and execution. Having a high political intelligence means doing all five. While someone will still have political intelligence without being good at each of these; one absolutely lacks political intelligence without any of the five things. Unfortunately, it looks like the leadership of Ohaneze lacks these five things.
Political intelligence is not the art of war or a zero-game meant to take people down. But to have endorsed Atiku in an “emergency” meeting scheduled, intentionally, to coincide with the campaign of President Buhari in Enugu and Anambra States shows a zero-game meant to bring down Buhari and Ndigbo in APC. It shows a lack of political and emotional intelligence.
Political intelligence requires a display of emotional intelligence about others. Start with respect, always. It opens more doors and you won’t be blindsided. By endorsing Atiku, Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze were blindsided and clearly did not respect President Buhari, Governor Obiano and the Obi of Onitsha as they commissioned Nnamdi Azikiwe’s monument.
Here is another reason why Nnia Nwodo failed the political intelligence test, lack of strategy. Ohaneze’s endorsement of Atiku lacked a clear strategy. It is of no effect since the majority of Igbos were already staunch supporters of Atiku-Obi ticket. Also, Igbos that have refused to support Atiku and Obi were not persuaded by this misstep by Ohaneze. So, why the figurative endorsement?
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. If Nia Nwodo and Ohaneze had defined the reality of the present political atmosphere in Nigeria, they would have known that Atiku’s endorsement is an exercise in futility. Atiku is a loser and this endorsement is counterproductive.
First, the Yorubas that are already solidly behind Buhari and Osinbajo will be even more motivated to tighten their grip on the Southwest. Their superior number of registered voters will easily wipe out the votes from the Southeast. Secondly, the endorsement based on ethnicity will further alienate Atiku-Obi ticket in the Northwest, northeast, and South-south. So, why should Nnia Nwodo put Igbos through this?
Ohaneze Ndigbo failed Ndigbo in 2015 when it refused to even give then APC candidate Buhari an audience in the run-up to the 2015 elections after tactfully endorsing the PDP candidate Goodluck Jonathan. Four years after, Nwodo played partisan politics again, by the convening of Ohaneze Ndigbo’s Imeobi meeting on a day that the President came to honor Igbo’s great son, Nnamdi Azikiwe. There is no doubt that the intention of Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze was to ridicule Mr. President and reduce the significance of commissioning of the Zik mausoleum that was abandoned by the PDP for almost 2 decades.
Here is another confirmation that Nnia Nwodo failed the emotional intelligence test as a leader of Ohaneze; in a response to the allegation that Gov. Obiano called him an idiot, he released a text to the press, claiming that “History will judge who amongst us is idiotic. If standing with the popular wish of Ndigbo makes me idiotic, I am happy to be called an idiot. He added that “I will make this communication public so that Igbo will know who is idiotic amongst both of us.”
I will not get into who is idiotic between governor Obiano and Nnia Nwodo. I am, however, afraid that Nnia Nwodo is clearly exhibiting the same lack of political and emotional intelligence like Nnamdi Kanu of IPOP. Just like Nnamdi Kanu saw himself and IPOB as the Alpha and Omega in Igbo land before they were reduced to size, Nnia Nwodo sees Ohaneze as Chi-Ukwu Ndigbo and as an instrument, he can use to appease his friend Atiku.
Nnia Nwodo should know that that he addressed the Anambra State House of Assembly asking Ndi Anambra to disregard IPOB’s boycott of the last governorship election does not give him the liberty to endorse his friend Atiku on behalf of Igbos.Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze’s endorsement of Atiku is like putting Igbos in a Kirikiri cell that is 2 feet by five. By endorsing Atiku, Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze were telling Igbos that Moghalu a Presidential candidate of Igbo descent is not Igbo enough. They want us to believe that the likes of Ngige, Onu, Nnamani, Arthur Eze, Uzor Kalu, and others are not Igbos to have at least merited Ohaneze’s neutrality in a Presidential election.
It is a pity that Nwodo and Ohaneze are limiting the opportunity for Igbos to claim top positions in any political platform of their chosen. The fact the Ohaneze and Nwodo refused to endorse Moghalu does not mean that he is not a true Igbo son. For goodness sake, these politicians are all Igbos and we all can win with them irrespective of the political platform they are in.
Finally, running a marathon with a backpack is tough and may hinder one from wining a race. Political intelligence requires that political actors should avoid letting the baggage heavy with anger slow them down. By endorsing Atiku, unfortunately, Nnia Nwodo and Ohaneze have allowed misplaced anger to place Ndigbo in a difficult position, again, should Buhari win the 2019 election. I am, thus, worried that Nnia Nwodo lacks the political and emotional intelligence that is crucial in steering Igbos on the right path to thriving in a multicultural country that is fluid and dynamic.
There is an Igbo saying that when an adult is in the house, the she-goat is not left to suffer the pains of parturition on its tether. The adults in Ohaneze led by Nwodo have chosen to let the she-goat suffer in pains by aligning with Atiku and the PDP. It’s thus, time for Igbos to tell Nnia Nwodo, you know what? Get out of our political lives. We will not suffer in pains with you and Ohaneze.
You can email Churchill at Churchill.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @churchillnnobi