There is no gainsaying that Ndigbo have suffered several political setbacks in the distant and recent political history of Nigeria.
It is equally undeniable that Ndigbo have won many a victory in the recent and distant political past of this country.
There was the strategic NCNC/NPC alliance of the Zik era.
There was the emergence of Dr Alex Ekwueme as the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria just nine years after the Nigeria/Biafra War.
Ndigbo were clearly on the rise just nine years after restarting life with paltry 20 pounds per banked individual.
During the military era, Ndigbo did not fare worse off as there were always a crop of Igbo sons that positively engaged with the military government.
Even the immortal Ikemba that championed the revolution of Ndigbo against the perceived oppressive superstructure of Nigeria thought it wise to join the ruling NPN when he returned from exile in 1982.
He neither wailed hopelessly nor sulked impotently.
He was abreast of the unemotional political truism that to empower one’s people, one needs to be in power.
Therefore, as a people Ndigbo can neither afford to opt out of power nor oppose power.
The last time Ndigbo tried that (1967-70), the result was a fratricidal war that decimated the crème de la crème of the Igbo society.
That non-strategic engagement with power cost Ndigbo all they had gained politically and academically since the creation of Nigeria.
Ndigbo had to start from the scratch once more, but this time around, with heavy political impedimenta on their back as a sad memento of the Civil War.
Till date, Ndigbo are still paying the price of that sad engagement with power.
What then should be the attitude of Ndigbo to the present dispensation?
Every Igbo man and woman must refrain from emotional response to power and embrace the government of President Muhammad Buhari.
That is the way to go. Of course, we cannot, and must not necessarily agree with all his policies.
But we will never opt out of power. To emotionally reject the government of President Muhammad Buhari is to opt out of power.
That is political suicide. We must remain in power to demand for more power.
Even if we have to challenge some aspects of power, we must use our leverage in power to do that.
To challenge aspects power outside power is self-hurting. Ndigbo as a people cannot afford to lose out in the next four or eight years.
There is need for diplomacy, strategy and political action. As a people, we must borrow a leaf from the Niger Delta.
The resistance of Niger Delta youths in the creeks yielded much hardship and little improvements in the lives of their citizens until they strategically embraced the government of Yaradua.
They consolidated on the gains made and pushed for Jonathan to be made president.
Of course, Jonathan was not made president by the creeks but by the powers that be.
The strategic cooperation of Niger Deltans with the government of the day yielded the Jonathan presidency.
The anger of Niger Delta youths at Jonathan’s recent loss is understandable.
Even at that, a sizeable proportion of them has embraced the reality of change and strategized accordingly in order to ensure that that they do not lose out in the present dispensation.
It is instructive that they neither took to the creeks nor took to the streets because Jonathan lost.
They still kept faith and embraced the amnesty program continued by the present government.
That Jonathan is well loved by Ndigbo is a fact that can scarcely be doubted.
That Ndigbo voted massively for Jonathan in 2011 presidential election is a fact that is corroborated by history.
It was a strategic decision even though it was not the number one choice of Ndigbo.
In the build-up to the 2011 election, Ndigbo actively canvassed for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
That was not to be as the major political parties in the country fielded candidates who are not of Igbo origin.
Ndigbo neither opted out nor wailed impotently.
They took the strategic position to support Jonathan who not being Igbo was nonetheless of Old Eastern extraction.
None of the legacy parties that formed APC had a strong footing in Igboland. The CPC was already established and extremely popular in the North.
The ACN was firmly in charge of the West. Only a faction of APGA controlled by Okorocha merged with APC.
The result was that APC was a weak party in the Southeast in the days preceding the 2015 election.
It was therefore, not surprising that PDP beat APC silly in the Southeast.
It is neither a surprise nor is it exceptional that the APC did very well in the Southwest.
That’s because apart from existing previously as ACN in that region, the region produced the National Leader and the Vice-presidential candidate of the party.
The Southwest had the incumbency of the governors and ethnic identification to its favour.
The North had a very popular presidential candidate who is a former Head of State and the leader of the defunct CPC, a major legacy party to the APC.
The North also experienced massive defections of PDP legislators and governors to APC, thereby making the party formidable and invincible in the region.
That isn’t the eighth wonder of the world for if the Southeast produced the presidential or vice presidential candidate of the APC who is popular, the party would have won overwhelmingly in the region.
Conversely, had the North not produced the presidential or vice- presidential candidate of APC, I bet the party would have failed woefully in the region.
That stated, what is the way forward?
Ndigbo have some of their senior sons in the cabinet of President Muhammad Buhari.
Among them, Dr Ogbennaya Onu and Dr Chris Ngige stand out.
Dr Chris Ngige stands out more significantly because of his unique background.
He was a PDP governor, a founding member of ACN, a founding member of APC and an APC senator in the just concluded Seventh Senate.
The fate of Ndigbo will be decided at the presidency and at the senate.
In the presidency, we need people who have the president’s ears. Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and Dr Ngige come handy.
At the National assembly we need people who have influence.
There, the deputy-president of the senate will do his best, but he is severely limited by the fact of being in a political party which is different from the party of the president.
A lot of intended good works are likely to be stifled by party rivalry.
Ngige is the only senator the APC has produced in the Southeast till date.
That gives him a big clout among his former colleagues in the Senate.
This clout was demonstrated on the day of his screening for ministerial appointment.
It turned out to be a day of uproarious reunion as the senate literally gave him a standing ovation while some persons had to pass through the eye of the needle to be screened.
It is clear that Ngige is strategically positioned to negotiate Igbo advancement in the present dispensation.
He must rise to the challenge to fill the political vacuum.
As a celebrated former governor, a renowned and the only senator of the APC so far in the Southeast, and a serving senior minister in Buhari’s government, Ngige has the mandate to position Ndigbo for betterment in Buhari’s government.
That is a task history has thrust upon him, a task he must rise to.
Ndigbo are better off with a strategic engagement with President Buhari’s government rather than sporadic political outbursts.
Ebo Socrates is a social & political philosopher; email@example.com