Ndi Igbo. We know how to jinx a good thing. Perhaps, it is our seeming indomitability, boisterousness and Thanos-will that seduce us to think everyone must believe in what we believe in and must act and think in consonance with our disposition. Anyone who does not support us or share in our sentiments is an enemy deserving the guillotine. How did we evolve illiberally?
We were not always this philistine, intolerant, angry, minatory and hateful. Our fathers were peaceful people who lived through a brutal war, yet held out a hand of brotherhood to other Nigerians. Some have lived and died in the north and in other parts of Nigeria outside the south-east since the civil war. They were accommodating of divergent views, temperate in utterance, graceful and measured in actions.
The Igbo young today, particularly those who take up residence on social media, are quick-tempered, oafish and ready to maul anyone who holds a plural view. They are unthinking, rash and uncritical. It must be their way or the highway to hell. What a retrogressive evolutionary trajectory! How did a critical mass of the Igbo young become so narrow-minded and uncultivated?
Maybe these ones do not know that to be Igbo is to be liberal; it is to be egalitarian; it is to be expansive; it is to be accommodating of all views and people; it is to be critical and circumspect, questioning everything and believing nothing until there is proof. And most importantly, to be Igbo is to not deify any earthling or make any human a god.
Since Peter Obi, former Anambra governor, declared his intention to run for president, a horde of internet contagion has been attacking anyone who does not show support for him. His supporters have been the most intemperate. Wielding virtual cudgels, they bludgeon anyone who refuses to acknowledge Peter Obi as a better presidential candidate. They empty their bowels of invective, hate and threats against anyone who points out the obvious political weaknesses of the former Anambra governor.
Peter Obi’s political network is abysmally limited. As I have always said, he is the creation of an internet fad and does not matter to the hoi polloi. But he is a decent man with the potential of a progressive president. If only wishes were horses, Peter Obi would ride them to the presidency. Sadly, they are not.
Only Igbo votes cannot make Peter Obi president. He needs first the votes of PDP delegates from across the states. And if by some twist of kismet, he becomes the PDP presidential candidate, he needs the votes of all Nigerians, particularly the north. His supporters are perhaps too self-absorbed or utterly ignorant to understand that belching ethnic slurs against other Nigerians on the internet because they are not so taken in by him is actually demarketing his candidature.
This is not how to win popular support in a country like Nigeria with a very diverse population. Instead of pulling moderates and the undecided to the umbrella of Peter Obi, his supporters are setting them apart and even turning the minds of those who are sympathetic to Obi’s candidature.
Who would want a Peter Obi presidency where his supporters are rabid, caustic, bigoted and hateful? It is becoming obvious that some of Peter Obi’s supporters may be from the same gene-pool as those who promoted south-east secession. It is the same non-strategy – hate, anger and more hate.
Peter Obi’s supporters may think they are aggressively promoting him, but they have only succeeded in reducing him to an ethnic champion. How unpropitious that a good product should be so jinxed.
It appears the south-east is in dire need of a messiah; so, any person that fate throws up is summarily crowned as a lodestar to lead the Igbo out of eight years of wandering. But we must realise that we are the messiah we seek. It is our collective action that matters.
Peter Obi is a gentleman, peace-loving, soft-spoken, refined, expansive and cerebral. I know he will not support the hate his supporters trade on social media. In fact, what his supporters do is antithetical to what he stands for. I think it is wise he addresses the mobilisers of his campaign on social media to put some decorum and decency to their crusade for him. He needs Nigerians to be president.