The state of political awareness in the South East today is embarrassing, unbelievable and unpardonable. For a people that held the torch of anti-colonial struggles, resulting in the independence of Nigeria without military confrontation, this situation should be of concern to any right thinking Igbo man or woman who truly sucked his or her mother’s breast. Ndigbo have slipped into what CHUDI OFODILE calls ‘political insularity’, a situation wherein political consideration for Ndigbo has become carelessly and insignificantly a play-thing by politicians from other nationalities in NIGERIA.
The traders and business men/women that were the political rallying point in the days of Z. C. OBI and the Igbo State Union, have slipped into political oblivion. They do not register to vote, they do not take part in party politics, they do not participate in political mobilization and on the day of election even those who registered to vote either stay at home to watch television or use the day to clean their houses. In the evening of the election day (and sometimes while the election is on), these politically ignorant people would be found at beer parlours and pepper soup joints shouting ‘OJEBEGO’ (concerning a particular candidate ‘he is on his way to victory’). Yet, they did not vote!
A German philosopher, Betolt Becht once said that ‘the worst illiterate is the political illiterate’. What this political illiteracy is doing to NDIGBO is negatively unquantifiable. NDIGBO have surrendered their political space willingly and ignorantly to her 10th eleven, to charlatans, parasites and predators who play agency roles for powers and forces outside Igbo land. Lack of political education and participation, this enthronement of apathy in participation and surrender of our political space to political jobbers, have resulted in grave economic predicament and uncertainty for our people who are now faced with endless display of impunity and disregard for all known conventional rules of political engagement and existence.
Our desire for self determination has not helped in this context. Some politically ignorant people, who forget momentarily that they are still in Nigeria, even discourage Ndigbo from political participation. These neophytes have succeeded in convincing the politically illiterate to buy this falsehood, this fraudulent display of zeal without knowledge.
We must reject, refuse, and renounce this calculated attempts to make Ndigbo politically insignificant. The need to politically educate our people is important, necessary and urgent. Any more day that we spend in this condition takes us backwards. The churches where our people have gone to hide, take refuge or seek succor from bad governance, must arise to play a big role in this regard. They must organise programs targeted at political education for the congregation. The churches need to stop this heavenly focused and earthly useless experience which their parishioners go through. After all, it will take a political decision to even decide whether the churches should or should not open their doors for worship.
Unfortunately the worst commentary of this political ignorance is coming from the most unbelievable of quarters: the academia. Lecturers that should educate the young ones on their civic responsibilities are not rising up to that challenge. Painfully, this is also as a result of their own political ignorance. No one can give what he doesn’t have. No one is truly educated who does not know civics. Going to the class to teach biology, mathematics, history, agriculture, literature in English or any other discipline for that matter without imparting political knowledge will not the South East. Political education, especially in our tertiary institutions, should not be left for those in political science alone.
Town unions, community based organisations as well as none governmental organisations must engage in this project and program of political education. We must remember, Harold Lassewell’s definition of politics as ‘who gets what, when, how?’ and unless we get the right people to give the ‘who’, the ‘what’ they should get, then the ‘how’ is very likely to be compromised. Politics is the core of our existence in the society, it is where our life is circumscribed. If we want a better South East, we must get the political platform right. Education is expensive but it is still cheaper than both ignorance and illiteracy. By
D.G Movement of Biafrans In Nigeria
Coordinator South East Political Summit