By Osita Chidoka.
In 1999, Igbos voted for President Obasanjo from South West despite the painful loss of Alex Ekwueme to the latter at the primaries of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Jos. Chief Obasanjo got 3.2 million votes from the South East which is about 70 percent of the votes cast in the region in 1999.
In 2003, President Obasanjo secured 4.5 million votes about 68 percent of the votes the region in while Ikemba Nnewi Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (an undisputed Igbo leader) got about 22 percent of the votes.
In 2007, Ndigbo voted for Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who is from the North West and with a running mate with the South South region. Ndigbo voted against Gen. Muhammadu Buhari irrespective of the fact that he had an Igbo man as his Vice-Presidential candidate.
In the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, Ndigbo voted for President Goodluck Jonathan who is from the South South region. President Jonathan secured over 90 percent of the votes in the South East region in each of those elections. Ndigbo did not vote for General Buhari.
In 2019, Ndigbo voted for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who is from the North East region.
To drive the point home the North West after voting Obasanjo with about 63 percent of the votes cast in the region in 1999 shifted to General Buhari in 2003 with 62 percent and have consistently voted for Northerners since 2007.
No Southerner since 1999 has scored, on average, more than 30 percent of the votes cast in the North East and North West regions of Nigeria.
The electoral results show that the South East is ethnically blind when it comes to voting. This voting pattern is the ultimate proof of the cosmopolitan ethos of Ndigbo. They will vote against an Igbo Vice President if he is co-yoked with a president who is anti-market, anti-merit, and divisive.
They will vote for a Northerner and a devout Muslim if they believe he is a man of character and a unifier. In Presidential elections, South East votes have been cast on a largely ideological basis in support of inclusion, rule of law, freedom, democracy and open markets.
The 2019 elections have also shown that Ndigbo will always vote in line with their conviction irrespective of threats or attacks. It is time for the country to take note of these salient points, drop their unfounded distrust of Ndigbo, and fight to enthrone the politics of live-and-let-live.
Excerpt from the Book review A POLITICAL HISTORY OF MODERN NIGERIA: WORDS AND THOUGHTS OF MBAZULIKE AMECHI Volumes 1 & 2 by Osita Chidoka