Igbo presidency and northern agenda
The race to 2015 becomes more and more interesting as northern politicians and those from the South East insist it is only fair they produce the next Nigerian President.
By Peterclaver Egbochue.
AGAINST the growing agitation by the South East to produce the next president in 2015, there are indications that the Northern political class appears set to slug it out with the South East over the presidential slot.
Disclosing this agenda in a recent interview, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, a northern elder and former Presidential Adviser opined that the North would not concede 2015 slot to the South East.
He stated that the South East leaders shocked their northern counterparts when they reneged in their agreement to back the North in its quest for the 2011 presidency.
His words, ‘We reached an agreement that they will support the North in 2011 and they did not.
‘So how can they now ask the North to take their votes and give to them? Let them wait for their turn. This is the reason why I am 100 per cent in support of rotation.
‘It started from us in NPN. We brought in rotation so that every part of Nigeria will produce the president. Unfortunately, the military overthrew that government before Shagari could complete his second term.
‘Now, by the special grace of God, General Sani Abacha created the 1994 Constitutional Conference where we recommended a constitution which he promulgated into a decree in 1995. It adopted rotation and is now in the constitution. Unfortunately, Abdulsalami threw it away’.
Yakasai explained that the Abdulsalami’s administration adopted the zoning formula and rejected rotation against popular demand, stressing that Nigeria would have to go back to rotation.
He commended President Goodluck Jonathan for advocating the entrenchment of rotation in the constitution so that the Igbo, the Kanuris, and indeed, every tribe would be able to produce a president.
He further said: ‘Now, if you go by the present geopolitical zones that we have in Nigeria, there are two zones that have never produced a president. In fact there is a zone that has never produced a president, not even a ceremonial president and that is the North East. So the two zones that are now left out in the presidential arrangement are the North East and the South East.
‘If you take all the votes of the Igbo in Nigeria, I think they are about 25 per cent and if they quarrel with the North, I can assure you that they will not get the votes of northerners.
‘Yes, Jonathan got the votes of a lot of Northerners during the nomination. But that is a different matter. When it came to the election proper, you know what happened.
‘So, I think if we are going to do it on the basis of democracy; on the basis of negotiation like we started. If they had kept faith with what we had agreed upon, all these problems would not have arisen.
‘You cannot have your cake and eat it. They promised to support a northerner and they didn’t and they want the North to support them in 2015, I do not think that is a normal thing. We should try to avoid selfishness in this matter’.
According to the former presidential adviser, the North is set for a battle with the South-East for the 2015 presidential ticket, if the sentiments being expressed by some northern leaders are anything to go by.
He emphasised that the South-East was being accused of betraying the North in the last general elections by being part of the forces that returned President Jonathan to power.
The ex-president Shehu Shagari’s adviser declared that having lost that bid, due largely to conspiracy to jettison the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) policy, there was no way his kinsmen would concede the 2015 presidency to any geo-political zone in the South.
It would be recalled that Yakasai was one of the few northern leaders who gave Ndigbo the nod to pursue their agenda for the 2015 presidential race on the condition that they would play a prominent role in influencing the 2011 ticket in their favour.
Similarly, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, former civilian governor of old Kaduna State, aligned with Yakasai’s earlier position. But in separate recent interview, the former governor said all that had been overtaken by events.
He said: ‘That was then when we thought we would get the presidential ticket. Since it did not work out as planned, we have no choice but to prepare grounds for 2015; it is sacrosanct to us.
‘We, therefore, cannot concede it to either the South- East or any other geo-political zone in the South for that matter and this decision is collective.
‘The emergence of President Jonathan as PDP’s candidate at the primaries and later the nation’s President on May 29, 2011 has changed all these.
‘There was a tentative agreement that the East would support a northerner for 2011 and in return the North would support the Igbo in their quest for the Presidency in 2015, unfortunately, they reneged on their own side of the agreement as none voted for the northern candidate in the race, so there is no way we would discharge an obligation we did not benefit from’.
Explaining further, Kaita disclosed that from the entire political calculation, the South had ruled the country for eight years, while the North ruled for only two years under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua before he died.
‘It is understandable that the constitution made it mandatory that his deputy should take over, but at the end of that tenure, it would have been a Northerner that would be nominated to complete the circle, so that at the end it would go back to the South, but for the South to be in control for three consecutive terms, I don’t think it is patriotic enough’.
He argued that although, the Igbo is blessed with many people who are capable of governing Nigeria and who would be acceptable to many other ethnic Nigerian units, insisting that they must appeal to the Nigerian common interest and pull away from Igbo centrism.
But in a swift reaction, the Igbo Youths For National Rebirth slammed the two northern leaders for what they described as uncharitable to their aspiration.
Rising from a meeting in Port Harcourt, last week, the group called on all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians to disregard the views of the two northern elders in the overall interest of the country, stressing that Yakasai was only seeking to be relevant by beating ethnic drum and should not be taken serious.
Nnamdi Okoroafor, the spokesman of the group said that the Igbo are currently grieving over the death of Chief Ikemba and Eze Igbo Gburugburu and would not join issues with Yakasai
In his words, ‘Yakasai and his like should stop living in the past. Which North is he referring to as being let down by the Igbo? Is it the north of Middle Belt or the north of North East? With which Igbo did the North have the so called agreement? Between the Igbo and the North, which group had betrayed the other more?
The group advised Yakasai to go down memory lane especially from the NPN days to the PDP presidency after formation and tell Nigerians ‘who let who down’.
They cautioned Yakasai and all other ethnic potentates to realise that the Igbo had been politically held down and need not fear any fall but only hope to rise again.
He insisted that if the power to produce the president was removed from the South East, then it would use what remains to tilt power to wherever it likes and so become beautiful bride.
Political watchers say the task of realising an Igbo president in 2015 requires building a strong coalition of tribes who are willing to trust and follow whoever will emerge from the zone.
Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former governor of Anambra State in a recent interview declared that only Igbo could stop an Igbo from becoming president in 2015.
This declaration, perhaps addresses the threat of the Yakasais and Kaitas of the North as well as a clarion call to Igbo to unite, knowing full well that the issue of forging a united front has always been the bane of the zone in its presidential pursuit.
In his words, ‘realising the Igbo presidency dream depends on every Igbo man. Nobody from outside Igbo land can take away the presidency from us in 2015, if we truly want it because we are comprehensively justified to fight for it.
‘The God of justice must be with us. By the time Jonathan finishes his tenure, every zone should have supplied Nigeria with a president for at least five years, except the South East.
‘Therefore, when I was the chairman of power sharing committee of the national political reform conference, the members of the committee agreed that there should be rotation by geopolitical zones for presidency.
‘Since every zone has had it, except the South East, what reason can anybody give for the Igbo man not to fight for it?’
Ezeife explained that by virtue of rotation that the South East should demand and get the presidency, stressing that refusing to accede to this demand by any zone would mean refusing the zone membership of Nigeria thereby playing into the hands of those agitating for Biafra.
‘For us advocating for one Nigeria, we are gradually finding it harder to continue our advocacy, if there is persistency in injustice and unfairness’, he submitted.
From the foregoing therefore, analysts express concern that the country may be pushed into another round of crisis if sound reasoning does not prevail in 2015.
Ndigbo - Between State Creation and 2015 Presidency
Enugu — EMINENT Igbo leaders recently converged in Enugu where they discussed extensively on the possibility of realising the 2015 presidency project.
Although the stakeholders did not address the press on the outcome of the 4 hour meeting, which was attended by Governors Peter Obi of Anambra State, Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, Martin Elechi, of Ebonyi State, as well as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ministers of Aviation and Health, Mrs. Stella Odua, and Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, and Minister for Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji.
The Moment gathered that top on the agenda of the meeting were the issues of state creation and 2015 Igbo presidency project.
It was gathered that the meeting dwelt on the need for Ndigbo to stop singing discordant tunes. To this effect, some prominent politicians in the area have risen up recently, calling on their people to return to the old path.
Leading this vanguard is Senator Uche Chukwumerije. At every forum, the senator had ceaselessly told the people of the southeast that their disunity will continue to rob them of dignity and recognition in Nigeria.
On the occasion of Ojukwu's birthday held recently in Enugu, the outspoken senator, while harping on the need for Ndigbo to unite, said that there is no longer a leader in Igbo land.
According to him, Igbo leaders lack what he called the Igbo spirit, which he said has affected the position of the Southeast in the current political arrangement in the country.
'We are here primarily to celebrate the spirit of Igboness, the spirit personified by Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, the leader of Ndigbo.
What we mean by the spirit, is the spirit of 'never say die', of keeping your heads high; the spirit of saying come rain come sun, Ndigbo must rise again in Nigeria; that is the spirit we are talking about.
'Let me tell you why I think Ojukwu is the unhappiest man today; it is because the greatest casualty of the civil war is not those killed; it is not property destroyed, but the death of the spirit of the Igbo man.
Forty to fifty years after the war, Igbo man can't rise up with courage and say this is my right; let me claim it back; and this is what the spirit of Ojukwu is telling you today.
Wherever he is today watching you, he will recover tomorrow if he knows that you are going to rise as one people to reassert, once more, the prominent position of Ndigbo in Nigeria.'
The senator also accused Igbo leaders of inability to take a firm stand on issues that concern their people. He said: ' tell them it is Igbo president in 2015, they will say no it is not our turn.
Those who want to be like Ojukwu please imbibe the spirit of the Igbo man; he is the only Igbo man I know, come rain come sun, come what the whole world is saying, he stands and speaks for the Igbo people. I want you to carry your heads high and behave like Igbos'.
Apart from the Senator, another man who is not confortable with the situation of things in Igbo land is the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha.
The governor, who was elected on the platform of APGA, said Ndigbo should not blame anybody for their own woes; but should pursue the Igbo agenda vigorously.
'I am asking that we use the occasion of our hero's birthday to make a rethink. The day Igbo nation comes together, the Ekwueme's, the Iwuanyanwu's, all our political leaders, including the governors; nobody will be able to stop us.
But our problem lies within us, nobody is holding us. The choice is that of Igbo man; if indeed there is marginalisation of Igbo people, it is the Igbo people that have marginalised themselves.
'We are Igbos and nothing can change the Igboness in us. I tell most people that the whole world is waiting for Ndigbo and not Ndigbo waiting for the whole world. We are a special group of people and that is why wherever we go, we excel.
We are not known in the past to be playing second fiddle; we are the sleeping giants and indeed it is time for us to rise up. I want to tell Igbo, rejoice because you are an Igbo man; our problem is ourselves, and no one is holding us but we are holding ourselves. Let's embrace each other, let's work in unity.'
Continuing, Okorocha said: ' APGA is not a political party but the conscience of the Igbo people; some of us are more PDP than most of the people in PDP.
What we are saying is that you should be an Igbo man first before joining any political party. The interest of Ndigbo should guide whatever we do'.
Governor Okorocha does not, however, believe in achieving any of the Igbo projects by means of violence. He advocated a change of strategy in the journey for the socio-political emancipation of the Igbo people, stressing that 'violence and arms will lead us nowhere but if we strengthen our unity, we will get somewhere'.
On his part, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State said there is no Nigeria without Igbo, pointing out that they are the only people residing and developing all parts of the country.
He noted that unity, which has eluded Ndigbo after the civil war would be restored, Obi said: 'It is the Igbo people that suffered for Nigeria. The person who was foremost in the fight for independence and also became the first president of Nigeria is an Igbo man.
The first Vice President is an Igbo man; the first Senate President of the Senate is an Igbo man. Ndigbo are highly educated; the first Vice Chancellor of Nigeria origin is an Igbo man.
'So it is never in doubt what the Igbo people can do. We are fearless people, the Igbo man is the first Nigerian to build house in Ikoyi and reside with the Whites.
So, it is important that we know what the Igbos have done in Nigeria. The first army graduate in Nigeria is also an Igbo man. So there is no sector in Nigeria where the Igbo people are not pace setters.
However, you have seen what is happening in other political zones, the North belongs somewhere; the West also belongs somewhere, so Ndigbo decide for yourselves where to belong'.
In the observation of Dr. Chris Mbah, a social critic, 'the course being pursued by the southeast now is a tall dream. If we talk of state creation, it takes a very rigorous process; the issue of a president of Nigeria emerging from Igbo land is even a more difficult project considering the political situation in Nigeria.
Igbo people are no longer quite close to the power brokers than the other regions. Most of our leaders have been so selfish in the past and that is why other regions have been scheming us out in the power sharing deal.
Ojukwu is the only person, after Zik, Okpala and the rest of them, whom we can truly refer to as a selfless Igbo leader. It will be hard to find in Igbo man, a character so imbued with passion for his people; a man who is ready to die for the liberation of his people.
For Prof. Ken Ikechukwu, there should be a turning point in the attitude of all sons and daughters of Igbo land both at home and in the diaspora. 'The problem is that most of us don't even believe in these two projects ourselves.
I have interacted with some people, and out rightly, they will tell you that it is impossible for an Igbo man to rule Nigeria. It is the same thing with state creation.
What I think we should do as a people is to strategise properly, let us not do many things at a time and end up achieving nothing. The issue of state creation should be pursued with every sense of seriousness. When we achieve that, we can then begin to talk of Igbo presidency.
In the words of Chief Anthony Eze of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, 'if prominent Igbo leaders are ready to jettison their selfish ideas, it is not difficult for the southeast to produce the president in 2015.
But then, you know that the North will do anything to get the position back in 2015, so it is not something that will come on a platter of gold or by holding series of meetings that are not backed by action.
They have to consult widely with other zones after they have done their homework very well so that we don't have a repeat of what happened in 1999 where some Igbo leaders sold their birthright.
Source: The Moment, 9th November 2011
Ndigbo to Pray for Ojukwu on Friday
The leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike has urged the Igbos both at home and in the diaspora to stop whatever they are doing on Friday November 4 to pray for the quick recovery of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a special gift for his 78th birthday.
He also warned Igbo politicians, who were dropping Ojukwu’s name to achieve political goals to desist from the act, saying “this is a time he is not physically well, people should pray for him and not use his name for politics.
Besides, he said as the Enugu celebration would be on, churches across the South-east and South-south would also be holding special services for Ojukwu on the same day.
Non-indigenes’ sack cracks Ndigbo unity
By ANAYO OKOLI, Umuahia
When the Abia State Government hinted of the planned disengagement of the non-indigenes in August, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State was said to have consulted with the governors of the other four states. The other governors were said to have indicated their willingness to take back their indigenes to be returned.
But when the October 1, 2011 effective date of the policy came, governments of the other states reacted angrily, a position that queried the consultation said to have been made by Governor Orji.
Imo State Government was the first to condemn the action, saying that it would rubbish the harmony and unity among Ndigbo. Imo claimed that currently, there were more Abia people in its work force than Imo indigenes in Abia’s. Ebonyi followed suit, first, saying that Abia had not communicated to them on the issue.
Anambra and Enugu have also condemned it even as their Houses of Assembly have also condemned the action. Indignes from states outside the Southeast including Nasarawa, Rivers, Edo , Delta and Cross River among others were also affected. Remarkably Abia women who married some of these non-indigenes were also disengaged.
Abia government officials have, however, remained unmoving saying the action was in the best interest of the state.
Chief Don Ubani, the Information Commissioner; Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief Charles Ogbonna; and the Special Adviser on Conflict Management, Chief Anthony Agbazuere, had at one time or the other defended the action.
Aside resettlement of displaced Abia indigenes, another reason for the expulsion was the N18,000 minimum wage, which they said had placed higher financial load on the government. To them the best way to reduce the load was though downsizing via disengagement of non-indigenes.
“The exercise is not sacking. The Government did not sack anybody. It is transfer of service. The Governor personally wrote to the governors of the South East states to inform them of the decision of his government and appealed to them to absorb them when they are transferred.
“The governor was very humane in taking the decision. He was touched by the number of Abia indigenes who were displaced by the various crises in northern parts of the country. Some of them requested to be transferred back to the state and the governor has no option than to do this.
But the letters issued to these people read “disengagement” from service not “transfer of service”. Though, Agbazuere explained that the government had earlier written letters of transfer to the affected states attaching the names of all the affected persons, this has not been confirmed by any of the states.
In spite of the Abia State covernment explanations, the action has generated a lot of criticism even in the state. The Catholic Church has condemned the policy, describing it as an “injustice and divisive,” pointing out that it “negates true federalism and constitutes a serious obstacle to our march to nationhood.”
In a statement by the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia, Dr. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the church said the policy contravenes Section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution in respect of place of origin. According to him, that some states breached the Section in the past should not make Abia State to “yield to the temptation of committing an illegality, [as] two wrongs do not make a right.”
He called on the Government“to rethink this policy in the interest of justice, fair play and ocial harmony,” arguing tha these non-indigenes hadnt several years in the state, paying their taxes and contributing to the development of the state. He said that it would amount to injustice to ask them to return to their states of origin that may not have any plan to engage them or provide them with their entitlements.
The Bishop lamented that “there is no assurance that the displaced persons will all be absorbed by their states of origin. This is a worrisome situation that can heighten the level of crime and insecurity in the country”, even as he faulted the inability implement the N18,00 minimum wage and accommodate Abians displaced in northern crises zones by Boko-Haram given by the government for its action.
He said that such reasons were not justifiable to embark on such inhumane policy that “seems to present Abia to the World as a state where apartheid is practiced and condoned.
Also, an elder statesman and founding father of Abia State, Prince Benjamin Apugo, condemned the policy, describing it as “unpopular and ill-advised”.
His words: “As a Nigerian I don’t support what Abia State Government is trying to do by disengaging non-indigenes. Many of them were born here and they were employed in the civil service by the state. It will look very bad for any government to throw them out because they have contributed to whatever development, if any, as at now. I am not in Abia State Government. I am speaking as a true Abian. Government can negotiate with its workers for salary. Disengaging them is not the best thing for the government to do. If the government goes ahead with this unpopular exercise, it will backfire.
“If the other 35 states retaliate will Abia state be able to accommodate those to be returned to the state. The answer is ‘no.’ The best thing for the government to do so that we do not have bad blood is to negotiate. The policy is unpopular; they should not go ahead with it. It will affect Abians everywhere. Those who advised the governor on this issue advised him wrongly. The advisers feed from government and so they cannot tell the governor the truth,” Apugo said, and called on the government to stop the exercise.
Aba branch of the NBA has also given the government a knock over the action. Aba Bar said the action amounts to “unabashed desecration of the fundamental rights provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and African Charter on Human and Peoples rights.”
As the controversy goes on, Abia Government has maintained that there was no going back on the decision even if others term it retaliation. Charles Ogbonna, the deputy chief of staff, said the decision had come to stay even as he gave statistics of Abians returned by other states in the past to justify the present action.
Ndigbo and 2015 Presidency
The recurring question of the election of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction has resurfaced, again, with the needless bitterness that had always attended it, especially among top Igbo politicians.
Over the years, prominent Ndigbo in leadership positions had been embroiled in bitter exchanges concerning whether the quest for the top most position in the land was feasible or not as well as over who should be put forward as the consensus candidate of Ndigbo for position.
The argument of some had been that it was a mission impossible while others have insisted that it is realizable if pursued diligently and strategically.
Whereas it is taken for granted that people are free to hold whatever views they choose to hold, the issue of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction has become so emotive that people are easily misunderstood and literally mugged once they are perceived as holding opposing opinions.
One - time secretary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who also served as Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, was, for instance, taken to the cleaners when he was misquoted as having said that such a quest was idiotic.
Former governor of the old Anambra State, who also served as Minister of Sports and later as Senator, Chief Jim Nwobodo, was also, literally blacklisted when, at the Jos, Plateau State presidential primaries of the PDP that led to the 1999 presidential polls, he reportedly addressed the delegates in Hausa language and was perceived as having "sold out" and therefore undermined the chances of the emergence of one time vice president and founding chairman of the party, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, as the party's candidate for the election. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo then emerged to fly the party's flag.
A similar scenario played out in Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital, at about the same time. Current National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), who was a former governor of the old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, was, literally, politically quarantined by Ndigbo for what was seen as his collaboration with elements within the then All Peoples Party (APP) who frustrated the presidential aspiration of the party's frontrunner, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
What these cases go to show is that Ndigbo instinctively react negatively to those, especially of their own stock, who they perceive rightly or wrongly as working against their aspiration to occupy, like every other ethnic group, the presidency of the country.
Any attempt, therefore, to cast a politician of Igbo extraction, especially one that is holding a prominent national position, in the mould of an opponent of this aspiration, especially falsely, is akin to hitting the person below the belt or, indeed, positioning the person unfairly for public condemnation.
And this was the lot of Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, who was recently quoted as having said that Ndigbo should forget aspiring to the nation's presidency in 2015 when the next round of elections for the position would become due.
Ekweremadu has vigorously denied the report and a reproduction of the interview he granted reporters in Enugu recently, from which he was misquoted by one of the reporters present at the event has also shown that, indeed, he did not say anything to suggest that Ndigbo should perish the thought of the nation's presidency in 2015.
But based on the misrepresentation, the Deputy Senate President has received some bashing from commentators and political leaders, especially of Igbo extraction.
As the highest political office holder in the present dispensation from the South East geo-political zone, it is difficult to see Senator Ekweremadu making the type of comment that he was credited with, which is why we are relieved that he has vigorously denied the statement.
This is because the position of the nation's presidency is open to all eligible Nigerians from every part of the country, irrespective of ethnic origin, religion or sex, and this contention has been borne out by the fact that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent President, is from an ethnic stock that ordinarily would not be counted among the famed "big three" ethnic groups that many thought had a monopoly of leadership of the country.
The Jonathan presidency, notwithstanding the unique circumstances of its birth, has, indeed, broken the jinx of the country's presidency being the birthright of any ethnic group or groups.
Moreover, Ndigbo can claim, even much more than the southern minority ethnic groups from among which Dr. Jonathan emerged, that they have been shut out of the presidency of the country for far too long and that the 2015 presidential race should be left open for them as the 1999 race was, literally, made an all-Yoruba race.
Also, Ndigbo can claim that the northern part of the country has, virtually, had a monopoly of the leadership of the country since independence, while the South West geo-political zone has had its fair share of the number one position. With the South South geo-political zone currently occupying the position, Ndigbo should, naturally, expect that there should be a consensus by all the other geo-political zones of the country to cede the presidency to them.
As the country inches towards 2015 and the dialogue begins in earnest, it is important, we believe, that Igbo political leaders and intelligentsia should be focused, not on undermining one another but on presenting a formidable front, backed by ideas, facts and figures, on how to move the nation forward, as they canvass the justifiable option of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction come 2015, especially as President Jonathan has pledged that he will not seek another term of office.
Ndigbo, Festus Eriye and the Limits of Sophistry
A number of unavoidable commitments meant my giving a miss to this year's Igbo Day celebration which took place in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, on September 29, 2011. But being one of the countless Ndigbo who appreciate the import of the Day, I asked Prince Ralph Ndigwe, the publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the organizers of the annual event, to please make available to me every important material on the Day. Among other things, I looked forward to reading the keynote address which Senator Uche Chukwumerije was slated to present. As it turned out, I read first a reaction to the keynote address before a copy of the Senator's paper got to me.
The reaction in question, which appeared in the Daily Nation of Sunday October 2, 2011, was by the columnist Festus Eriye. Sensationally entitled Uche Chukwumerije and the uses of militancy, and sub-titled Embracing violent fringe groups is recipe for disaster the article threw up its writer in bold, fraudulent relief. Mr. Eriye deliberately confused militancy with militarism in order to devalue Chukwumerije's clarion call to his people, and divert attention from the thrust of his representation. On both scores he failed woefully because whoever reads the keynote address and Eriye's "response" will quickly and rightly come to the conclusion that the columnist misappropriated his column for the chance to do a hatchet job.
Is Uche Chukwumerije the devil? Or is he a saint? Or neither? Whatever he is - and Ndigbo, his own people, as well as broad swathes of rationale people across the length and breadth of Nigeria, believe that he is a true and patriotic citizen - the very words he uttered should be used to form the rubric of his judgment, not the biases and prejudices of any writer who confuses the ownership of a column with the license to manufacture mendacity and utilize same for the obfuscation of the unwary. It is dishonest to deny a striker's goal on account of the fact that he happened to be k-legged, just as it is very wrong and most unfortunate to insist, as some misguided people have been doing, that President Goodluck Jonathan lacks the dominant infrastructures of leadership simply because he happens to come from a minority ethnic group!
For the benefit of those who are yet to get a lowdown of Chukwumerije's Igbo Day speech, I crave a general indulgence to recapitulate. The Senator's address, entitled Wake-Up Call: Path To Igbo Self-Rehabilitation explained its essence in the opening paragraph thus: "The dialectical flow of Nigerian's history has now swept Ndigbo to what Zik once described as the brink of an open grave. Ndigbo must today -not tomorrow - regain themselves and re-assert their corporate personality in our multi-ethnic Federation or diffuse into isolated individual entities in the anonymity of Nigeria's multitude. The purpose of this brief address is to draw our attention to this threat and offer suggestions on a mode of urgent redemptive positive action."
Chukwumerije's suggestions for salvaging Ndigbo were enunciated on a three-pronged praxis: the Economic, the Cultural and the Political. He detailed the economic, political and cultural relegation of the South East, not only through negative Federal policies and actions but also by regrettable diffidence among Ndigbo themselves. Witness:
"Content analysis of the Nigerian press in the last three decades will probably indicate that no ethnic group has fielded as many super-patriotic expert-advisers on Nigerian unity or is as ready to sound and act holier than Pope Nigeria as members of the Igbo ethnic nationality.
"But all these noisy activities have neither induced a change of heart in the Nigerian System nor restored our rights and dignity in the Federation. Today, South East zone still carries the open wounds of a savage genocidal war. She is the backwater of Nigeria, scoring low in economic, political and social indices. On the economic front, the fact that an indisputably major national project, Second Onitsha Bridge, has been abandoned by Federal Government to South East self-help through the euphemism of Public Private Partnership while similar mega national projects in other states or zones receive full Federal funding is an eloquent statement on Nigeria's attitude to the challenge of repair of our war-destroyed economy. In the quest for political leverage, our loud deadlines and projections on the election of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction have been mocked by the Nigerian system. Our place on the rung of Federation's power ladder has slid to 5th or 6th level, yet we are the largest single ethnic group in the country. On the social front, the Igbo cultural personality is treated with as much respect by the rest of Nigeria as the regard which animals of the forest reserve for the once-respected red crest of the cock!
"The Result? The nose-dive of the ethnic group, beginning from the collapse of our Igboness in 1970, has continued so relentlessly that the group is on the verge of extinction. Yes, total disappearance of a group from the institutional centre of our multi-ethnic Federation is a refined form of extinction. Extinction does not refer only to the death chambers of physical extermination and genocide. Total disappearance of a group from a political map is a refined extermination entraining the same grim harvest to a group which allows itself to disintegrate into lone disparate stars in the firmament."
Senator Chukwumerije's proposal for halting and reversing the slide of Ndigbo amounted to a three-sided rescue operation as follows:
Functional unity anchored on a core group.
Launch of a 'Marshal Plan' to the rehabilitation of our war-shattered economy.
Recovery of our group cultural personality.
It was from Chukwumerije's blueprint for the salvage operation that Eriye brazenly performed distortions in order to achieve his disreputable objective. This is what the Senator said [the italicized and capitalised words being his]: "In increased effort to optimally realise the potentials of its grass roots-oriented republican constitution, Ohanaeze needs to do more to reach three groups. One is the large reservoir of elders and statesmen in our large family to enrich and strengthen Ime-Obi. The second is the youths. Youths are the teeth or the fangs of any disadvantaged group struggling for redress. Distancing ourselves from our main youth organizations like Massob will cost us the leverage necessary to re-direct their energies to constructive ends WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE LAW. The causal relationship between OPC/June 12 and South West access to the Presidency for twelve years, or between youth militancy and Niger Delta's current access to Presidency, or between a politicized Boko Haram and North's determination to win the next round of Presidential election points to the fact that youth militancy has become an effective weapon in the armoury of group struggle. It is the fatherly duty of Ohanaeze to devise means of constructive engagement with our youth bodies as members of our large family."
It was from the quote above that Eriye fraudulently devised paragraphs 7 and 8 of his article which he put in quotation marks and credited to Senator Chukwumerije, thus: "It was the Niger Delta militancy that ensured that President Goodluck Jonathan became President of Nigeria while the Boko Haram sect is being used by the North to achieve its presidency bid in 2015. The Igbos should therefore incorporate the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) into its system to ensure that an Igbo emerges as President of Nigeria [in 2015]."
Now, any publication worth its salt will, in the very least, query this wanton display of intellectual dishonesty. Massob hasn't ever been tossing bombs into police stations, public squares and places of worship. Massob has never been carrying out assassinations. Massob has never been propounding violence as its raison d'etre. Above all, Senator Chukwumerije's presentation advocates the re-direction of the energies of Massob and other Igbo youth organizations "to constructive ends WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE LAW."
It is obvious that Festus Eriye has an ax to grind with Senator Uche Chukwumerije. That is his perfect entitlement. What he ought not to do is tell lies and deceive the reading public in order to score private points. Chukwumerije is widely regarded as the conscience of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly. He was at the cutting edge of the dismantling of Chief Obasanjo's unfortunate third term project. His address at the 2011 Igbo Day celebration went down well with Ndigbo as a people. Only those non-Igbo who would advocate disunity among - and marginalization - of their own people will find fault with his position.
The swipe against Senator Chukwumerije is down to his advocacy of an Igbo President of Nigeria in 2015. The unjustified criticisms will heighten, of course. But the Senator had made this point in his address: "The possibility of the emergence of the six zones as the new units of power allocation and centres of initiative in the Federation makes the fossilization of the South East into a coherent bloc imperative, while the unanimous support given by Ndigbo everywhere to President Jonathan's Presidential bid underscores the communality of our pan-Igbo family." To this extent, the intervention of Festus Eriye, a South-Southerner, is perverse.
Source: Daily Champion, 10th October 2011.
Ndigbo and the presidential game
There is no doubt that the massive support given to President Goodluck Jonathan by the people of the South-east geo-political zone contributed to his victory during the last election. But 100 days after the election, how has Ndigbo fared? DICKSON OKAFOR writes
Difficult as it has been, the President no doubt may not have a robust score card to showcase, neither would he roll out drums in celebration. To many, the insecurity in the nation is enough distraction to the president. They see it as deliberate attempt to make the nation ungovernable by those who fell out with Jonathan during the power play that characterized the April general election.
Ihedioha Canvasses Support for Ndigbo
Ben Ukeji, Uche Nebrim And Adekunle Adesuji
Abuja — DEPUTY Speaker of the House of Representatives Chief Emeka Ihedioha yesterday expressed deep concern over injustice against Ndigbo as he vowed to be a good ambassador of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo by promoting and advancing the cause of South East geopolitical zone.
Ihedioha said there was urgent need for all Igbo's sons and daughters to collaborate in order to ensure the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of the Igbo people.
The former Chief Whip of the House of representatives stated this Thursday, at the 2011 Igbo Day Celebration organized by the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) Chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the old parade ground in Abuja.
The Deputy Speaker, who was represented at the event by his political Adviser Charles Obina also charged Igbo's all over the country to be peaceful and law abiding citizens where ever they are found.
He said that peace ,unity and stability of the nation was a necessary ingredients that would engendered growth and development saying that Nigeria need peace and harmony for the achievement of the much desired transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.
He assured the south East zone of an efficient and effective representation adding that he and other members of the house from the zone would do all within their powers to promote the welfare of Ndigbo.
Earlier, Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in the FCT Barr. Nwabueze Obi expressed dissatisfaction with way and manner the federal government is treating Ndigbo in the country saying that there is no justification for the continue political marginalization of the Igbo race.
Obi while questioning the rational for creating only five state in the south East as against seven and six states being enjoy by other zones ,urged Igbo in position of authority as well as elite to rise up to the challenge.
He advised ethnic nationalities in the country to stop the stigmatization against Ndigbo in other not to incur God's wrath warning that the Igbos drive their resilient, tenacity and industrious talent from God therefore, should not be a subject of envy by others groups.
He also charged the political leadership of the Igbo nation to resist any form of intimidated in order to succumb of obscurity saying that deliberate barriers are created to weaken the psychology of the Igbo people.
"Today, our brothers and sisters of other extraction have stigmatized us to the extent that some Ndigbo, particularly those in position of authority in government are begging to succumb to such absurdity and are now distorting and shielding their identities as a strategy for self survival in Nigeria, our fatherland. We asked; what is the continued justification for the South East geo- political zone having only 5 state while others have 6 and 7 ?"
The ohanaeze boss assured that the organization will continue to preach peaceful l co- existence with other ethnic nationalities in the country.
He also reaffirmed the commitment of the group to the unity and indivisible Nigeria.
Monarch Rallies Ndigbo at Yam Feast
By Onyedi Ojiabor
It is usually a colourful ceremony. Ndigbo, clad in their traditional best, roast some sizeable tubers of new yam and eat with a good helping of palm oil. Prayers and good-natured speeches often accompany the eating of the new yam but this year, the ceremony will be low-key among the Igbo in Kubwa, an Abuja community.
Nkweke urged unity among his people, telling them to focus on their business with all the seriousness they can muster.
New Yam festival (Iwa ji) is an annual harvest festival celebrated by the Igbo of Southeast Nigeria at the end of the rainy season.
It is a unifying harvest celebration that binds individuals, friends and communities together to mark the iri ji (eating new yam).
Yam is revered by the Igbo as the king of crops. It is to the Igbo what potato is to Irishman. Lavish celebration of the New Yam festival therefore speaks eloquently of the rich cultural heritage of the people.
But speaking in Kubwa at the 2011 pre-New Yam festival briefing Ozor Nkweke said the festivities will be low-key “because of the prevailing security situation we’ve found ourselves in Abuja.”
Though he explained that the annual celebration will still be observed “to thank God for sparing our lives to see another end of farming season,” the royal father said it became imperative to take necessary precautions following security challenges in the FCT.
His words: “We have decided to scale down the celebration, no thanks to insecurity. I advise Igbos in Kubwa and FCT in general to appreciate the fact that we’re strangers who came to Abuja to look for our daily bread.
“They should eschew their differences and come together for us to achieve our purpose individually and collectively. As people who are always marginalised, and people who more often than not become victims of unprovoked attacks, they should come together to chart a common course because our destiny is in our hands.”
Igbos, he said, should more than ever before be security conscious as well as shun all forms of criminality.
“Igbos in Kubwa and other parts of the FCT should be peace-loving, avoid all forms of illegal businesses and continue to trust in God in whatever they do.”
Ozor Nkweke who was crowned Eze Ndi Igbo of Kubwa on December 10, 2006, noted that apart from ensuring that the Igbo within his area of jurisdiction are secured, he has another target.
The target, he said, is to build a befitting civic centre that would be the pride of the people in Kubwa. But he said that a major stumbling block to the realisation of the dream is that a piece of land allocated to the Igbo community for the purpose has been taken over by alleged illegal occupant.
“We have official papers of the land duly signed by the appropriate authorities. We have reported the illegal encroachment into the land to the FCT Development Control. The structure erected in the place has been marked for demolition but nothing has been done for over one year now.
‘We are law abiding hence we don’t want to take the law into our hands. We are appealing to the authorities concerned to look into the matter and restore our land,” he said.
Asked why it is necessary to celebrate New Yam festival in Abuja that is not part of Igbo land, the royal father said it is to keep one of the most revered cultural heritages of the Igbos alive.
According to him, “Our people marry in Abuja , they bear children in Abuja , their children grow up in Abuja . Through the celebration of the festival the children who seldom travel to Igbo land will be abreast with their culture.”
He also dismissed the view that the celebration is shrouded in idol worship saying that for all intents and purposes New Yam festival has nothing to do with idol worship.
“We don’t worship yam but as Igbos we revere and respect yam as the king of crops. There is nothing like ritual. No name of any deity is mentioned. We pray to God and thank God for a new yam season. The festival remains a thing of joy to our people all over the world. It is part of our history,” he said.
A Homecoming for Joy Ndigbo
By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
It was easy to understand why Senator Joy Emodi’s last Senatorial campaign was famously described as a mosquito campaign at her homecoming last Saturday. The feeling of goodwill that poured at the thanksgiving and the reception that followed could have been likened to the effect of a brood of hungry mosquitoes swarming upon human flesh.
From different sections of the country they came to honour Mrs. Emodi at the thanksgiving service in Onitsha, Anambra State on her recent appointment as Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters.
The state Governor, Mr. Peter Obi and his predecessors in office set aside their fundamental political differences to grace the occasion, albeit staging their appearances at different times during the day long reception.
Mr. Obi in reference to Emodi’s graceful charm and character told newsmen that day, “She is one woman who is committed to serving humanity.
You can feel it yourself how everybody is here celebrating with her, you don’t do it often in politics, but because of her person every person is here.”
Dr. Chinwoke Mbadiniju who was the only one of the former Governors not physically present sent a handsome delegation.
The outpouring of affection was appropriately epitomised by the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Father Ndulue who while noting Emodi’s life of service to her people said the acronym of her name was reflective of a typical Christian ministry.
”JOY means Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last,” the priest said with a hilarity from the congregration that included such other dignitaries as former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, Chief Emmanuel Inwanyanwu who Senator Emodi described as her political mentor, the national chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, presidential aides, serving and former lawmakers, among others.
Following the thanksgiving mass, Mrs. Emodi was called upon by the parish priest to give her testimony.
While noting God’s grace on her she thanked the several dignitaries who turned out for her invitation saying that thanks must be given to God who according to her has kept all present alive.
Speaking at the church service Chief Inwanyanwu described Senator Emodi as a pride to the whole Igbo race and not only to the people of her native Anambra State.
”Joy is for all of us Ndigbo, not for only you in Anambra State. She is a combination of many things. Joy has intellect, she has beauty, she has perseverance,” the business mogul and politician said.
Umeh also speaking at the thanksgiving service, said: ”In Nigeria there is nobody more qualified than Senator Joy Emodi for this position.”
She also used the opportunity to solicit prayers for God’s guidance for President Goodluck Jonathan.
While Mrs. Emodi in her blouse and wrapper was all about receiving congratulations from her numerous supporters and associates, her husband, Dr. Okey Emodi a former university lecturer also flowed through the huge crowed brimming at the continued progress of the woman he described as his successful student.
“I am very happy I feel fulfilled. You know when you are a teacher and your student performs very well you are happy. I pray God to continue to assist her not to deviate from the path we chatted from the day we decided she should go into politics. I was part of it but when people started calling white red, I said not for me, but you can go and I will be behind you and that is the role I have been playing,” the happy husband of Senator Emodi said at the reception at their Onitsha residence.
Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Chinwe Nwaebili –Clair in a comment described Senator Emodi as a role model for women like her in the State. Indeed, Governor Obi in his comments to newsmen at the occasion described Mrs. Emodi as a reasonably deserving of the appointment even as he jovially claimed that women in the state were now taking over majority of the political appointments in the State.
His two predecessors both turned Senators, Senators Chris Ngige (ACN, Anambra Central) and Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra South) were equally in attendance.
Former Senator Ugochukwu Uba, who represented Anambra South before Senator Obiorah was also there and so was former Minister of Aviation and Nigeria Ambassador to Ireland, Mrs. Kema Chikwe.
Umeh advises Jonathan to sack Customs boss
National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Chief Victor Umeh has called for the sack of the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Custom Services over what he called continuous harassment of Igbo traders.
He also demanded that a commander operating at the Owerri Sector in Imo State whom he accused of being notorious should be retired because of the various complaints about him from traders.
Umeh, who made the call in a chat with newsmen in Enugu last weekend, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to call the Comptroller to order immediately to help put an end to the harassment of Igbo traders.
According to him, Igbo people are paying heavily for their hard work and business acumen as the men of the Nigerian Customs extort money from them daily and described this as shameful and despicable.
Umeh also called for the dismantling of all Customs checkpoints across the country and queried why the Customs who cannot stop smugglers from bringing goods illegally into the country would turn around to arrest innocent traders who went to shops in Lagos and impound their wares and vehicles and also ask for bribes before releasing the goods and vehicles.
The party chairman declared that mounting checkpoints along the nation’s highway is a clear indication and acknowledgement that the Customs has failed in its constitutional duty of policing the country’s borders and maintained that across the world the Custom’s activities are limited to borders, airports and sea ports.
He warned that the continued harassment and extortion may lead to bloodshed as traders are warming up to confront men of the Nigerian Customs Service pointing out that it is unfair for men of the service to collect money from importers and allow banned goods into the country only to arrest innocent traders who purchase these goods for retail, or to raid shops were such goods are stored or displayed for sale.
Umeh asked the president to declare Customs checkpoints on highways as illegal as well as come out with a clear policy statement that Customs should not arrest goods on transit.
He lamented that the Customs men collect bribe at point of entry and allow banned goods into the country and turn around to harass innocent traders for buying the goods and noted that most of the traders do not know which good or product is banned or not.Umeh lamented that many Igbo traders have been sent to their early graves by men of the Nigerian Customs who seized their goods, which in most cases were bought with bank loans or entire savings of the traders.
Ndigbo - Between Power and Protocol
By Chukwuma Anyadike
THE anger in the South-East zone over the arrangement adopted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for sharing of top political positions in the incoming federal administration is understandable.
The formula, which allocates the post of Secretary to the Federal Government as the zone's topmost position, is adjudged unfair to the Igbo. They surely deserve better, either as compensation for their whole-hearted support of the party's presidential candidate, Goodluck Jonathan in the April election, or for the fact that Igbo is one of the Big Three ethnic groupings that form the tripod on which Nigeria stands.
Everyone appears let down since the formula was ratified by the party. From Igbo PDP leaders to their kinsmen in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) , and the motley crowd that formed President Jonathan's foot soldiers in the South East prior to the presidential elections, the shock is evident. Leaders of the Pan-Igbo socio-political organization, Ohaneze, and the likes of Dr Alex Ekwueme who risked their reputation to make a case for Jonathan, are still to fully come to terms with the decision.
Prominent Igbo leaders like Professor Uche Chukwumerije said the people of the region desired the position of Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives as compensation for the support Jonathan got during the April 16 Presidential poll, adding that anything to the contrary would be against natural justice, considering the electoral performance of the zones. By the result, the South East accounted for five million votes for Mr. President out of the 22 million votes he got.
Ever since the retreat in Obudu, where President Jonathan started assembling his team, it was obvious that zoning was the first item on the agenda.
What the party's national caucus did at the Presidential villa penultimate Tuesday, was simply to adopt the formula which swapped the position of President and Vice President between the North West and South-South respectively, and the Party Chairmanship and SGF between the South East and North East respectively. The top positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives were retained by the North Central and South West respectively.
The Igbos have, with enough justification, voiced their dissatisfaction with the SGF position. Not just because the Ikemba Nnewi once described the government Scribe as one who prepares tea for the President. No. One of their reasons is that the position is least among those of the five other zones in the national order of protocol.
Also, the preference for the Speaker position is not because the occupant of the nation's Number 5 position flies jets from the presidential fleet. No. It all has to do with pride, for an ethnic group striving against odds to reverse its dwindling political fortunes in recent years. What rationale informs the relegation of the entire Igbo nation below the first five on the national order of protocol? The question becomes even more pertinent as the positioning for the 2015 presidency -which the Igbo have vowed to seek - has commenced in earnest.
Fifty years down the road of independence, the Igbo is the only one - among Nigeria's big three nationalities - yet to taste executive power in real terms, at the country's topmost hierarchy. Indeed, it has been discussed elsewhere that 2015 would have been the turn of Igbos, if the Yar'Adua presidency had run its full course.
The Jonathan election has definitely pushed that prospect forward by at least four years, which is another sacrifice the Igbo made for him. Secretary of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and Enugu State governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Mr Osita Okechukwu said he regards the failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to reward five million votes from the South-East fairly as not only unjust but outright contemptuous."
But wait a minute: shouldn't the Igbo be asking for both power and protocol, and not one at the expense of the other. Which brings us to the question: between the House Speaker and the SGF, which is more powerful? Many people have argued that the SGF comes with more power, such that can impact government policy, the public service and top official appointments far stronger than the House Speaker could.
In contrast, questions are asked about what impact the five Igbo Senate Presidents made in the zone from 1999-2007. Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Pius Anyim, Adol Wabara and Ken Nnamani were both Senate Presidents and Chairmen of the National Assembly, yet few of the profound problems of the zone were put on the national table. If there were any that received attention, it is arguable whether it was because an Igbo was presiding in that position.
The fact that the Igbo have been unable to coherently address this issue indicates the fact that the nationality has sliden so fast in the nation's political reckoning? Feelers from the PDP hierarchy indicate that the party was forced into swapping the Party Chairmanship from the South East to the North East in exchange for the SGF position because no Igbo governor was prepared to accept that his state would produce the party chairman.
Apparently the Nwodo-Chime debacle of early this year remains in their memory, but the decision -if indeed it is true - smacks of myopia. Why would they reject such a powerful position, akin to throwing away the baby with the bath water, just because of one unsavoury incident? Granted that, unlike the Yorubas are rallying round Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Igbo have no central political figure, does it also pass as excuse for the apparent lack of perception among those of them that presently hold political offices? Why were they that quiet following the 'forced' resignation of Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo as PDP national chairman and when Interior Minister, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho, was shown the exit door?
From many points of view, it is obvious that the potentials of the SGF position appear more beneficial to the South East than the position of House Speaker. It may be a hard sell for the Igbos for reasons already mentioned, but it is true. Two issues, however, ought to be the new focus for Ndigbo now: the choice of who occupies the SGF position and the all-important 2015 presidential project, especially as the posts being clamoured for are not of strategic importance to the 2015 project.
Igbo Royal Fathers Meet in Enugu
Even as the Political Committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo rejected the zoning of political offices which clearly schemed out the South East zone from mainstream political decision making offices, the traditional rulers from the zone would meet today in Enugu to review the situation and take far-reaching decisions.
Ohanaeze Political Committee chairman, Chukwuemeka Ezeife in an interview expressed serious disgust over the decision of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scheme out the zone from the main stream administration of the country, pointing out that it is unacceptable.
Ezeife wondered why the party would chose to reward a zone which had demonstrated utmost good faith in their support for the party’s presidential candidate President Goodluck Jonathan, in spite of doubts being expressed then that Jonathan would use and dump the zone.
Doubting if Jonathan would allow such injustice to take root, the former Governor of Anambra state noted that "it is true that the entire Ndigbo we voted for Jonathan without attaching conditions to it, but that is not enough to deny Ndigbo what rightly belongs to the zone".
He said if the political history of the country is anything to go by, then, the South East zone would not need anybody to lobby other parts of the country for a consensus to be arrived at for the zone to produce the next President of the Senate, but "if we are magnanimous again to concede this position to other zones, not because we do not have capable Senators to occupy the position but to again demonstrate utmost good faith in the progress of the country, then, the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives should be given to us without any further negotiation".
He said Ndigbo would not forget in a hurry the trauma they are currently being made to go through to get a position that rightly belongs to them, adding that President Jonathan should immediately prevail on his party and elected members of the National Assembly to do the correct thing.
House of Representatives members from the South East zone had Saturday held a marathon meeting at the National Assembly condemning the PDP decision and resolved that their quest for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu to continue to serve as Deputy Senate President to Senator David Mark remains the only justice-able political decision to take.
They had wondered why the leadership of the party would chose to reward a zone which did not support it during the election, and sacrifice a zone which gave all the support, stressing that with five members of the PDP stock against 66 members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) from the South West in the House, it was most unfortunate that the party contemplated zoning the office to the South West in the first place.
Even as the agitation peaked, the South East traditional rulers would meet today in Enugu to discuss the seeming political marginalisation and take a stand on the matter.
Confirming the meeting, the chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, told our reporter that "yes, we shall meet tomorrow (Monday) in Enugu to discuss the issue and take a stand. I shall be able to react and tell you our position on the matter after the meeting".
Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Wind has disclosed that it was keeping a tab on all the elected legislators of the South East zone with a view to monitoring their activities so as to find out who among them would go against the interest of Ndigbo.
Warning that they would strip such a person naked anytime he or she returns to the zone, they warned them not to compromise the general interest of Ndigbo for any personal or selfish interest.
Speaking though one Chief Ezemaduka Chinedu, who claimed to be the Public Relations Officer of the body, they claimed they have intelligence information that a particular Senator-elect form Anambra state had been detailed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to finance the election of Ajibola Muraina, pointing out that if the Senator accedes to the instruction, then they would set an example of him and ensure he is immediately recalled.
They also commended the House members whom they claimed have no faith in either Muraina or Ms Miniset Adeola-Akande, whom they claimed was Obasanjo’s alternate Speaker, stressing that both of them have no leadership capability nor enjoy the support of their colleagues.
"With what we are working on now, which is to dialogue with the 92 members from the North West who are also angling that their zone produces the Speaker, we are also discussing with the legislators form the North East and we do not believe that those of them from the North Central or South-South, whom we supported their sons to number one and three positions, would not reciprocate our gesture," Chinedu stressed.
Lend Me Your Ears, Ndi Igbo
By Oguchi Nkwocha, MD, 23rd May 2011.
Fellow Igbo and Biafran countrymen and women: Lend me your ears.
I come not to bury the Igbo nor to praise or blame; I come to reason with the Igbo. Soon, the good in the Igbo will all be perished; and the ghost of the Igbo will live with and be remembered only for the bad. Nigeria has seen to that. But, we have a chance to change this outcome.
Recent social and political events in Nigeria have affirmed what is already known to you, and proven that:
1) The Igbo have left their political destiny in the control and management of the hegemony and forces who rule Nigeria, a hostile “country” to the Igbo. Debating whether it was taken (over) from us, or we gave it up, is moot; what is fact is that we have actually lost control of our own political destiny.
2) The Igbo and their property are not safe and have not been safe in Nigeria, and not even in Igboland / Biafraland; for the most part, this is peculiar to the Igbo relative to other peoples living in Nigeria. There is no security for the Igbo especially, anywhere in Nigeria.
3) The Igbo do not have any control over what happens in their own land; Igboland / Biafraland is under the control of the occupying force of Nigeria visibly represented by Nigeria Police while the Nigeria Army and other armed forces and armed non-uniformed agencies are also evident. These formations provide an enabling and supportive environment for the take-over of our land by serious crime and criminal elements, criminal enterprises and crime-syndicates, because such—multi-level destruction of the Igbo / Biafra—is in the expressed interest of Nigeria.
4) The Nigeria Police occupying Igboland / Biafraland extort money openly from our people in our own land, and shoot to death non-compliant Igbo; this is well known to the Nigeria government and to Nigeria in general. The Nigeria Police leadership and their commander-in-chief, the President of Nigeria himself, are unwilling and or unable to put a stop to this.
5) Igbo graduates are pressed into Nigeria's NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) by decree; by the same Nigeria's decree, they may not serve in Igboland / Biafraland where they are sorely needed; rather, they must be shipped out to parts of Nigeria where they are forced to do debasing things; and which locations, anyway, have proven lethally hostile and the served ungrateful. Thus, our youth are essentially conscripted to render slave labor to other parts of Nigeria while risking and losing life and limb in such service.
Over forty years of futile pleading, sycophancy, appeasement, apology and unnecessary submission by the Igbo to Nigeria have only made these conditions worse, which is not surprising to psychology, common sense and lay experience. During this time the Igbo have acted like it is much better to grovel for the crumbs—and at that, beg for permission first; and that such crumbs are somehow tastier, more satisfying and more pleasing than the feast itself, a feast provided for, prepared and presented by the Igbo in the first place. Even then, the crumbs are kicked away from the Igbos' reach and grasp and they would still have to scamper for it.
Do the Igbo have a problem in Nigeria, with Nigeria? Yes, of course: it is rather obvious.
Is there a solution? Definitely, Yes!
Is the solution going to be difficult? Not really—not compared to suffering the problem. It is in fact inherently more difficult and more costly to continue to play the part of the slave that the Igbo are currently engaged in, than to work the solution.
Pundits and frightened Igbo say that the Igbo have a self-inflicted problem with respect to Nigeria; I say, the Igbo have “a self-inflicted solution”—let's see how.
What the Igbo need now for solution, healing and reversal of fortune are attitude, agreement and principle.
Simply stated, there is no way that the Igbo will continue to allow Nigeria and Nigerians to carry on with toying with the collective destiny—political, economic, social or otherwise—of the Igbo. Nigeria “yo-yo-ing” the Igbo is an extremely explosively dangerous situation for all parties concerned. With affirmation, natural determination and self-confidence, the Igbo resolve to wrest control of their destiny from any and all forces and or formations; and the Igbo resolve to be directly in complete charge of Igbo destiny and political space. It's an attitude born of a certain unshakable conviction and anchored bone-marrow-deep: our own destiny is our business and responsibility; that's our charge.
True, the Igbo seem to hardly agree on anything. But when we do, something happens—something spectacular—that we all want and desire. We do not have to agree for a long time: just long enough to achieve whatever it is we set our minds to. We know how to do this: we have done it before. In fact, we do it more often than we are given credit and give ourselves credit for. That's one of the things that others fear about the Igbo: Igbo-in-agreement. Just last month even, we got Jonathan the Presidency of Nigeria by such a move. And, if and when it is necessary for all being to be in agreement for a longer duration, let the value of that which we have already accomplished together be the motivation, reward and conviction to stay in agreement.
The Igbo have to be principled and disciplined from now on. The Igbo have always been: when did they start deviating? No matter, appeasement and sycophancy are out: they do not work. Going to set oneself up in a location where one is constantly getting attacked and killed is plain stupidity and worse than suicide; Igbo life-view abhors suicide: there has got to be a principle against that. Belonging to a Nigerian political party that plays and humiliates you is unprincipled; when such a political party is out to cheat you or treat you as if you don't exist and don't count, and you still give that party your loyalty and support, that's unprincipled, besides other sick names that will be omitted here for now. You leave that party. For that matter, discipline and principle demand that we stop our silly delusion that somehow, we are going (to be the ones) to save and preserve Nigeria and make it great. That's simply not going to happen! We need to apply the discipline and principle which is based on the reality that Nigeria is not one and cannot be made one, even with the sea of blood, flesh, sweat and tears of the Igbo. We need to shed the false notion that we are the Defender or Keeper or Savior of Nigeria: that is delusion; rather, discipline is what is asked for—principles, realistic principles.
The other major issue about principle is that the Igbo have to base their actions and reactions to Nigeria on authoritative principles, such as flow from nature and affirmed by normal humanity. The principles of Self Determination, for example, affirm and guarantee that as an ethnic group, the Igbo ought to hold and exercise the right to be in control of and decide their own political, economic and social Destiny, including a wide range of autonomy (to include complete split); and that they have a right to the lands they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used. The latter includes the right to property over lands, territories and natural resources; rights to full ownership and possession of the total environment they occupy and or use. UN General Assembly Resolution A/61/295 on Self Determination is a document which speaks to these principles. The Igbo need to wholeheartedly adopt Self Determination as a principle and as a matter of principle.
Principles issuing from nature relate to Sovereignty. The Igbo, like any other ethnic group, have natural sovereignty. Just because colonial Britain suppressed such sovereignty as part of its colonial “plantation” process; and decolonization / Independence, rather than restore it merely transferred the stolen sovereignty to the artificial British-installed state called Nigeria, does not mean that we have lost our natural sovereignty. You can't lose what you are by nature. The Igbo have to draw strength from the principle that they are already sovereign: nature makes it so; however, the Igbo have to act as a group aware and in possession of their own sovereignty; they need to believe in themselves and their own sovereignty. That also speaks to “attitude.”
With the right attitude, agreeing to agree, application of discipline and adherence to principles, the Igbo can begin to solve their Nigeria-problem—starting right now. All put together, this solution relies on the disposition that the Igbo neither seek to wage war nor peace with Nigeria, but act to restore what is in the best interest of their nature, survival and existence as a people already threatened by and in their current obviously toxic environment and already succumbing. Affirmation and acting out our will with a steady and steely resolve is how we do it; belligerence is not called for.
If we do not address this problem today, the Igbo youth will demonstrate to all that they are not going to continue to die in vain fighting old Igbo men's fear-and-anxiety-battles; our youth are not going to continue to sacrifice their own morn trying to not rock an already sinking boat sailing into our old men's greying humiliated and confused sunset. If we do not act today, then our women—Igbo women—will have to act to remind the contemporary and future generations of “the Aba Women's Riot” of 1928/29; which historically, factually and properly should be named “the Biafran Women's Revolt.”
What about Biafra? Just as well President Jonathan of Nigeria recently reminded Nigeria and Nigerians that current events resemble the conditions which set in motion happenings that led eventually to Biafra secession, a vindication of the action of our people. Brothers and sisters, you can now see that if Biafra had not been declared in 1967, then it would have been necessary and justified to declare it this last month following that carnage in Northern Nigeria, or after previous similar episodes; or even today with the culmination of the nasty political game always being played to the detriment and humiliation of the Igbo in Nigeria. Biafra represents the correct, moral, practical and complete answer to problem Nigeria.
Defeat in war or not, the declaration and independence of Biafra cannot be reversed or undone. The sovereignty of Biafra is not at the mercy or whim of anyone or any institution. The exercise of Self Determination rights would have led, and leads, to Biafra Independence—then, as now. God-given sovereignty is not anything that can be taken away or trifled with: suppressed, perhaps; but lost? Never! Biafra thus remains, and it is for us to immerse ourselves in her as the end-process of our solution to the Igbos' Nigeria-problem.
Biafra as a symbolism indicates self-determinism: every nation has a right to decide and take over control of its own destiny. There is no need to fight one another or the subtending state. It is a win-win solution and outcome. Solutions based on Self Determination are the stage where the contemporary world is operating from. In practical and operational terms, with regards to today's Biafra, nations who participated in the original Biafra of 1967 are of course free to leave or dissociate themselves from Biafra, without rancor or opposition; or to continue, if they so choose. That's self-determinism at work, and that's the true spirit and message of Biafra. Who remain(s) in the end will be the Biafra of the day and the future.
Fellow countrymen and women: every journey, as you know, starts with a step. That first step is totally mental. I recommend that every Igbo take that step as he or she reads this or learns about it. Begin with “…attitude, agreement and principle…” as above; and fix your mind's gaze on Biafra. Then, a physical step will follow, and another, and then another, directed by the principled mind.
For those Igbo in Nigeria's politics, if PDP does not give you what you deserve, why not reject the crumbs-offer and why not you all move into APGA en masse—not with PDP / Nigeria mindset, but with Self Determination principles in mind and in act? For that matter, wherever you are, whatever station, why not work on our Self Determination?
In the final analysis, anything that you can do well in Nigeria or for Nigeria, you will be able to do better many folds over in Biafra as a Biafran—for the entire world. This is based on historical facts and proof, which Nigeria couldn't wipe off by fudging history and by pressuring cartographers to remove the term, “Bight of Biafra” from the map of West Africa, forgetting that “Biafra” precedes “Nigeria” by over four centuries. All the opportunities that Nigeria has deprived you of will be open to you and for you again in Biafra. The future which you don't have in Nigeria will again appear and be brighter in Biafra. Biafra means that you have successfully taken back your individual and collective destiny from Nigeria, and you are in charge of your own thing. That's the solution. That's how to be Igbo.
Remember: the world has left Nigeria—by Nigeria's own preference and actions—in the dust; and Nigeria cannot (chooses not to) look beyond its violence and sick games and problem-ridden dark pit—that's the best Nigeria has decided it can do and can offer. You and your children and their own children can climb out and into light and enlightenment; you and your offspring can rejoin the world—become part of the Human race again—as Biafrans, in Biafra, because you have the natural endowment, drive and mettle; and there will be no Nigeria to rubbish it and slow you down any longer. Biafra is your environment for success and fulfillment of your potential.
Take charge of your own destiny, live your nature; live healthy, thrive and prosper, oh Ndi Igbo.
By Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
Don’t Do This to Ndigbo —Ex minister Warns Jonathan
ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU, Awka
First Republic minister of aviation, Chief Amechi Mbazuruike has appealed to President GoodLuck Jonathan not to disgrace or humiliate Ndigbo in his appointments.
He declared that anything short of giving the people of South East their desired position will be tantamount to a "short change for Ndigbo." He hinged his position on what he described as "unconditional massive support" given to him by the South East zone during the presidential election.
He said, "we gave Good Luck Jonathan unconditional massive support during the just concluded election believing and hoping that he will not short change the Igbos. We are still looking forward to that"
The elder statesman maintained "The Igbos across the country gave GoodLuck stronger support than any other zone because we believe he is our son. We expect him as our own to re-write the wrongs and injustices done against Ndi-igbo by previous administration.
‘’Beyond agitation for appointments, the Igbos have been ignored in so many other areas. For instance when you open pages of newspapers you will see award of road contracts across the country but in the South East, the Onitsha-Owerri road project awarded over 10 years is yet to be completed. Onitsha-Enugu, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Enugu-Abakiliki are all in bad shape.
"The same is applicable to other areas of development. There is no favourable platform for South East. There is also no adequate replacement of retiring Ndi-Igbos in service at the centre. Look at the issue of Second Niger Bridge, a vital project for South East. We have heard less of the dredging of River Niger. We need a change which we believe is in Jonathan".
"The Igbo hold not only the largest population scared all over the country but are also very enterprising, so why the continuous relegation of the South East because of circumstances of the civil war. During the reconciliation after the war, the then Head of State Gen. Yakubu Godwon (rtd) declared no "no victor no vanquish" and promised that Igbos will not be treated like defeated region but it is not working.
Reacting to agitations to concede appointment of certain key positions to the South East, Mbazuruike in an interview with newsmen in Awka he said such demand was non negotiable.
Daily Champion recalls that there had been agitation for the ceding of speakership or senate presidency to the zone. The Presidency and PDP leaders recently allocated top offices to different zones. While the North Central was asked to retain the senate presidency, the speakership was given to the South West while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was allocated to the South East.
Mbazuruike lamented that since after the civil war, the Igbos have been relegated to the background despite their major role in the fight for Independence in 1960.
He lampooned the present crop of Igbo politicians, accusing them of lacking discipline, maturity and unity . He attributed these tendencies to the woes of the geo-political zone.
He recalled that "during President Obasanjo’s administration, when the Igbos wanted to contest for the presidency, no fewer than seven aspirants emerged from PDP alone. They only went there to split their votes. But the Yorubas skimmed the political situation in such a way that the two political parties that emerged presented Yoruba candidates, Obasanjo and Falae so that whatever happened a Yoruba candidate emerged.
"Others plan 10 years ahead but Igbos are known for fire bridge approach. They come to fight when there is war and after wards disappear, "he said.
The octogenarian popularly known called "the boy is good" also charged traditional institutions, governors and other well placed Igbos to throw their full weight in the pursuance of the liberation of the Igbo nation.
"Our dreams are closing up and we need to take quick steps to recover our selves. At a time we started producing Engineers, technologists and businessmen to control the economy but all the dreams are gone. Now our children now drop out of school for petty trading. The Igbos were leading in education. We produced the first female pilot in Nigeria.
" Any Igbo politician who find N20million in his account now becomes a leader. They don’t respect their political fathers or ever seek advice on how to handle some issues, so we need to get the foundation right and this is the right time.
The first minister of Aviation advised politicians of Igbo extraction to go back to the drawing board and make personal sacrifices that would better the interest of Ndi-Igbo in general noting there was need for the Igbo to plan ahead, strategise if they must be respected in the country’s political arena.
Jonathan Indebted to S’East –Former Minister
By Emmanuel Obe
First Republic Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to reward the South East massively for the “unconditional massive support” they gave him during his election.
Reacting to agitations to concede appointment of certain key positions to the South East, Amechi in an interview at Awka, Anambra on Sunday, said such demand was not negotiable.
There has been debate in the South East over the zoning of the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation by the incoming Peoples Democratic Party to the South East.
Amechi also said the South East political elite had been weak and inept and must rise to the occasion by leading the way to the liberation of the people.
The elder statesman said, “We gave Jonathan unconditional massive support during the just-concluded elections believing and hoping that he will not shortchange the Igbos. We are still looking forward to that.
“The Igbos across the country gave Goodluck stronger support than his zone because we believe he is our son. We expect him as our own to right the wrongs and injustices done against Ndi-Igbo by previous administrations.”
He lamented that since after the civil war, the Igbo had been relegated to the background despite their major roles in the fight for Independence in 1960.
He said, “Beyond agitation for appointments, the Igbos have been ignored in so many other areas. For instance, when you open the pages of newspapers, you will see the award of road contracts across the country but in the South East, the Onitsha-Owerri road project awarded over 10 years is yet to be completed. Onitsha-Enugu, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Enugu-Abakiliki are all in bad shape.
“The same is applicable to other areas of development. There is no favourable platform for South East. There is also no adequate replacement of retiring Ndi Igbo in service at the centre.
“Look at the issue of Second Niger Bridge, a vital project for South East. We have heard less of the dredging of River Niger. We need a change which we believe is in Jonathan.
“The Igbo hold not only the largest population scattered all over the country but are also very enterprising, so why the continuous relegation of the South East because of circumstances of the civil war.”
He, however, regretted that the present crop of Igbo politicians lacked discipline and maturity in political action and unity, saying such were responsible for the woes of the geo-political zone.
“During President Obasanjo’s administration, when the Igbos wanted to contest for the presidency, no fewer than seven aspirants emerged from PDP alone.
”They only went there to split their votes. But the Yorubas schemed the political situation in such a way that the two political parties that emerged presented Yoruba candidates, Obasanjo and Falae so that whatever happened a Yoruba candidate emerged.”
The first minister of Aviation advised politicians of Igbo extraction to go back to the drawing board and make personal sacrifices that would better the interest of Ndi-Igbo in general, noting that there was need for the Igbo to plan ahead, strategise if they must be respected in the country’s political arena.
Ndigbo Marginalised, Deserve Better Treatment
George Ekeh, the chief executive officer of the Lagos-based Justy Confectionaries and Foods Limited, is a native of Ubomiri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Imo State. He is not only a manufacturer and a writer, Ekeh, who studied in India and Europe, is at home with political developments in the country. In fact, he chats about Igbo issues with passion. In this concluding part of the interview with Regional Editor Valentine Amanze, the chief executive, who is one of the founding members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), laments the marginalisation of Ndigbo in Nigeria, bad governance and other issues. Excerpts:
You were saying earlier that Ndigbo is marginalised; how do you mean?
Today, what is being offered to Ndigbo is secretary to the government; you go and make tea. When the minister coughs you say sorry sir, otherwise they kick you out. People built this country; we secured the freedom and liberty of this country. Our fathers, not just contributed, but led the struggle of what Nigeria is today. Whatever Nigeria is today was built by Ndigbo. And we are still building in commerce; we are building in engineering; we are building in other areas; except politics. **Monkey de work baboon de chop.** We are holding the economy. Look at the little headache INEC ran into, registration; if it was not an Igbo boy, the exercise would have collapsed. The same thing happened during the Maurice Iwu’s time. Look at the position the South West got as compensation; even though it didn’t turnout to be anything good for them, the compensation of June 12 on Abiola’s plight. Who conducted that election that the world said it was good, which even the Yorubas laid their claims on? It was an Igbo man, Prof Humphrey Nwosu; he did his best. Look at the disaster that happened recently, Yar’Adua; if it wasn’t an Igbo daughter, Dora Akunyili, the executive members were completely confused. It took an Igbo daughter to say the truth to save the country. Look at the national debt; it was another Igbo daughter, Okonji-Iweala, made it possible to write-off that debt. Look at GSM revolution and others at NCC, it was an Igbo man, Ernest Ndukwe, turned it around. So just look at the banking now; the wizards of banking are Ndigbo. And at Stock Exchange, an Igbo lady, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, boosted it. So at every point in this national life, Ndigbo are playing wonderful key role that brings salvation to the country except in politics.
So what has gone wrong?
What went wrong is that we accepted stupid leadership. We don’t question them; **419** people come up we keep quiet; they mess us up for four years they run away; another team emerge they mess us up again; these are people the enemies of Igbo land go and pick to make sure we don’t translate into anything good politically. Federal Republic of Nigeria as presently constituted does not favour an Igbo man. The only system that will favour Ndigbo is confederalism.
And right now we have the best option or chance to do that; South West had been shouting and now they are converted. In short the first thing that was put on the table in Aburi, which their man kicked against. Now they have suddenly realised what Igbo man saw years past. And that is where every body wants to go and it pays everybody including those in Maiduguri, the Boko Haram people, who say they don’t want the contraption. And they have the right; the Igbo nation; calculate how many we are; but what is the population of the Gambia, Togo, Senegal? They are nations. We are not breaking Nigeria; what we are saying is that if we can’t stay in Nigeria and have our fair share of the gift God has given to this country, then we can go our way. It can’t be modern slavery any more.
Confederalism is not constitutional; is it achievable?
It is achievable. Constitutional matter indeed; how did South South achieve presidency? They fought; you can see terror being visited on us by supporters of Buhari in the North; they terrorise you; you must have a weapon to negotiate. If people know you are very intelligent at conference table – that you will defeat them, they find an alternative or a better way; it could be on the streets; the fight could be taken from the conference table to the streets. And that could be where they have an advantage over you. And that is what is happening in the country today. The North will use military to fight to put their position above you. So if Ndigbo say enough is enough; look at the insult in PDP now; let everybody go to APGA whether you gain anything there or not; you can see the South West has done the same thing now. They have taken back their states; they are even trying to penetrate Igbo land. They woke up and find out that PDP is a Northern party.
Igbo to Recapture Lost Culture with Things Fall Apart
ANOTHER step to recapture the rich historical and cultural values of Ndigbo will be taken on Friday in Enugu with the first festival of Igbo Culture and Civilisation in commemoration of the golden jubilee of Professor Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.
The move, The Guardian learnt, was in realisation of the fact that although Ndigbo have imbibed Western culture as a way of life, its continued existence as an ethnic nationality without its fundamentals, which portray the group as a distinctive people, would mean an end to its civilisation.
Leading other Igbo organisations to the three-day event is the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Others are the Catholic Institute for Development Justice and Peace (CIDJAP), Conference of Democratic Scholars (CODES), Izu Umunne in Jos, Plateau State, Ndigbo, Lagos, Aka- Ikenga, Igbo Studies Association in America and Whelan Research Academy, Owerri.
Former Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese, Enugu and Director of CIDJAP, Prof Obiora Ike, told reporters yesterday that Ndigbo would use the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart to showcase her rich cultural heritage as a way of rediscovering her lost identity.
He said: "Colonisation, invasion and imposition of leadership from outside have impacted seriously on our culture. It has impacted on our dress code, language, behaviour, arts and tradition. It is bad, especially when our youth follow Western culture sheepishly, paying little or no attention to who they are and what they represent".
According to him, Ndigbo believes that any development is the progression of culture, stressing, however, that the people lost their identity when they started accepting anything that comes their way as a way of life.
He went on: "That is why everybody will claim that there is beauty in Western culture. That it has several advantages and is superior to other cultures of the world. But we want to use our congress to say no to the fact that a people without culture are a finished people. We want to call our minds back that our people have a way of doing things, a way of living together, irrespective of how the Western religion and practices have dominated our landscape."
He said that Things Fall Apart captured, in clear terms, Igbo culture and traditions, expressed in music and dances.
Ike stated that with the inability of Igbo protagonists to document what could be likened to "conventions and practices of their people, "Things Fall Apart, therefore, has become a veritable tool that has existed for a time having promoted the culture and tradition".
He stated that the beauty in Achebe's work was that it has been acknowledged worldwide as a literary piece with great exception, that the culture and tradition of the Igbo nay Africa remains superior.
He disclosed that all the practices, conventions, norms, culture, traditions of the Igbo people were contained in the book which he said comes in "context of modernity and antiquity".
The three-day event will feature presentation, drama, traditional music and dances, folklore and film presentation among others, which were captured in Things Fall Apart.
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ambassador Ralph Uwaechue, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, Prof. Richard Okafor; Director-General, National Film Video Censor Board, Emeka Mba and Prof. Osita Eze, among others, will speak on various issues during the festival.
Igbo and the Emerging Power Game
In the past, the Igbo occupied positions of authority both on the executive and legislative fronts. Today, the setting has changed. CHRIS OJI (Enugu), NWANOSIKE ONU (Awka) and EMMA MGBEAHURIKE (Owerri) examine the place of Ndigbo in the current political dispensation. Are the Igbo more marginalised now than ever before?
What is there for the people of the South-eastern in the emerging dispensation? Are they losing out of the power game? These are the posers as another window of opportunities is opened with the general elections holding in April.
For the people, a glorious period it was, when Dr. Alex Ekwueme served as vice president to ex-President Shehu Shagari in 1979. Then, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke was the Speaker of House of Representatives.
In the 90s, Chief Agunwa Anekwe became the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s military regime. Consequently, other notable Igbo sons became President of the Nigerian Senate - from the late Chuba Okadigbo to Chief Adolphus Wabara, Pius Anyim Pius and Ken Nnamani. They also occupied the office of the national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But the party did deal a bad blow to the people of the area with the manner they were booted out of office. Today, however, the zone is only left with the office of the deputy senate president.
However, they continue hoping against hope of becoming the president of the country in 2015 which most people from the zone have described as another wishful thinking.
In the current political dispensation, no notable candidate from the area is listed for the presidential race or the vice presidential position in all the major political parties except Prof. Pat Utomi whose party seems to be obscure.
Worried, former president of Ohaneze Ndigbo (worldwide), Dr. Dozie Ikedife told The Nation that the political party through which an Igbo man is vying for the presidency is small and therefore, has little chance of making it to the top during the election.
“If we don’t get it today, tomorrow is another day. Come 2015, Ndigbo must stand up and be recounted in the presidential equation of this country,” the former presidential liaison officer during the Shehu Shagari regime said.
But the former chairman of Congress for Democratic change (CDC) in Anambra State, Lady Virgy Chukwuogor, said the zone is swimming in deep leadership crisis and if such a problem is not resolved, then in 20 years time, the zone is likely not to smell any major political office.
According to her, “We are going down the drain, but we should rise again. Ndigbo should come together; there is a major problem we have failed to identify. The problem is coming from our leaders; we should go back to the drawing board to know where we have gone wrong and seek ways to remedy situations, otherwise, we will remain where we are.”
She further said that it would not be possible for President Goodluck Jonathan, to hand over to Ndigbo in 2015, adding: “When we get to the bridge, we shall know how to cross it.”
But her views were countered by the former deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dame Virgy Etiaba. Though she refused to talk on the issue, she sees Jonathan as a man of honour.
Her words: “Our president is a man of honour, but whether he will hand over to Ndigbo in 2015 is what I will not want to discuss; but all I know is that the person we have as president now has honour.”
Also, the former presidential aspirant on the platform of PDP in 2003, Chief George Ike Okoye held that the corporate ambition on ground for the presidency is that of the entire Southern Nigeria and not for any section. He said that the Igbo people are beneficiaries of that agenda which he said is enough for the people of the zone.
Okoye further said that the only way the South East could grab the opportunity of being counted again in the political equation of this country is for the people to massively vote for Jonathan in the general elections in order to have a chance of having either the House of Representatives or the senate.
His words: “As an Igbo chieftain, I’m calling for Igbo people’s massive support for PDP so that we can have a foothold and have access to any of those two positions. 2015 is a gentle man’s agreement; one cannot force it under the law. It is 419. There is no guarantee that the North will support that move when the time comes.”
The position of the Secretary General of Ohaneze, Chief Nduka Eze on the situation is that it is a self-inflicted situation. He however believes that the individual pursuit of Ndigbo overrides the collective aspirations of the people.
Fuming, he gave as an example, the fate of the embattled former national chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo whose downfall he said, was plotted by Ndigbo.
According to him, the Nwodo example had clearly shown that Ndigbo do not want to occupy positions of influence in the country. And if one attains one by oneself, fellow Igbos will conspire to pull him down. “What is our aim?” He queried.
He also went down memory lane to recall the structure which zoned the senate presidency to the South East. Lamenting that within that short period that five senate presidents occupied the position, he said the cause was nothing but the individual nature of the Igbo man and the pull-him-down syndrome.
The Ohanaeze scribe was the opinion that after Jonathan’s tenure, the presidency should naturally go to the South East but feared that “if you give it to the Igbos, they will kill themselves over it. Everybody will come out to contest the position and nobody will step down for his brother.”
He warned Ndigbo not to blame their predicament on others because they do not respect the collective agenda of Ndigbo, positing that they rather respect their individual agenda or go for those set by other people.
Eya further pointed that it was the nonchalant attitude of Ndigbo that allowed Abacha to reduce the suggestion of Alex Ekwueme and Karibi-Whyte to North/South divide and not East, West, North and South. “The implication is that the North and the Southwest/Southsouth became the major players in the scheme of things to the exclusion of the Southeast.”
He, however, was the opinion that all hope is not lost as the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Amb. Ralph Uwechue is determined to bring the Igbos together. “What we are trying to do now is to bring Ndigbo together to realize their position in Nigeria and together fight for the common cause. We should be able to make them accept collective interest first, before individual interest.”
“If our efforts fail, then we have ourselves to blame. Let us not pass the buck to anybody or any part of the country. We should be able to tell ourselves that we are the cause and lick our wounds. Nobody gets power on a platter of gold. We should go for the power and grab it by seeing ourselves as a collective group,” he emphasized, but cautioned other parts of the country not to capitalize on this identified weakness of Ndigbo to exploit them. According to him, “we all own this country. Let nobody dictate the pace for Ndigbo.”
Chief Leo Okekere, another Igbo, submitted that Igbos must die before they resurrect. He stated philosophically: “If you plant a seed, it must die before it geminates.”
He revealed that the issue of ‘no victor no vanquished’ is by the word of mouth and not translated in practical terms. Igbos, he said, are suffering from the consequences of the Civil War.
According to him, they are being treated like a people defeated in warfare. “If Igbos had not gone to war, they wouldn’t have lost their prominent position in the country. We have to die before we resurrect. Even if we plant something, it must die before it germinates. One preacher once said that he was sent to come to announce that the four decades of suffering of Igbos is over. It is time to start reaping; Igbo people have paid their price and their problem is over.
“I am announcing that the marginalization has ended because no race can be marginalized for more than four decades. He said that at the end of four decades, the Igbos would spring up and get back to where they belong.”
Chief Okereke stressed that the sidelining of Igbos has a spiritual connection as according to him, soonest, “the Igbos will surely take their destiny in their hands and nothing will stop them; it is nothing to worry about. Igbos will bounce back. When human beings finish their allotment, God will take over.”
Helmsman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Imo State, Chief Charles Ubah said that the Igbos had all it takes to pilot the affairs of the nation, saying: “The national landscape ought to be for all and sundry.” He said that the Nigerian project should embrace all and the Igbos must not be left out of the political mainstream of the country.
He said that, the way things stand, it is glaring to all that something ought to be done so as to embrace the Igbos and reintegrate them into the political equation of the country and this would go a long way in restoring the confidence of the Igbo nation.
Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu, former National Vice Chairman of the PDP said: “Igbos must show unity of purpose and be able to speak with one voice if they intend to occupy the positions they held before the outbreak of the civil war. In previous dispensations, the political appointments held by Igbos need to be improved upon. The Igbo people also need to assist themselves by being their brothers’ keepers and desist from the act of pulling people down. We are watching with keen interest, the development of things at the national level, hoping that we will get it right one day. The political class should learn to apply the rules of equity and fair-play so as to accommodate all segments of the society.”
Ndigbo in the Fourth Republic
If I were an Igboman, I would not find the current political calculations funny at all. Look at the fact: from an enviable height in the First and Second Republics, when Igbos held key positions in government, the reality today is that the highest-ranking Igbo is Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweramadu. And guess what? He is No. 5 in the hierarchy! For an ethnic group that is one of the biggest three, this is not something to cheer. If the last four years did not offer anything noteworthy to them, how can the next four years be different? That, to me, should be the focus of Ndigbo politics ahead of the April polls.
Let’s start with the most difficult question: when will an Igbo man or woman become President of Nigeria? The South East Leaders Forum, in a statement issued last Thursday, proposed 2015. Now this is very tricky. A major issue in the polity today is the return of power to the North this year to, as the saying goes, “allow the North complete its eight-year term truncated by Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s death”. Assuming President Goodluck Jonathan wins the presidential election and quits after only one term in 2015, the coming presidential battle then would be between the North and the South-east. It does not promise to be exciting.
On paper, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar made the best offer to the South-east before the PDP presidential primary election. He promised to complete the “North’s term” by serving only one term and vacating the seat for an Igbo president in 2015. Under this proposal, an Igbo president could emerge in just four years. That, I would say, was very attractive. It would be, for Ndigbo, a dream come true. Jonathan had nothing solid to offer the South-east. His own VP slot was automatically for the North, while the Senate Presidency was not available. In other words, Jonathan could only offer Ndigbo the status quo: No. 5 position.
At the level of making a tantalising offer, therefore, Atiku had an advantage over Jonathan. But for whatever reason, the South-east did not take his offer; of the 446 delegate votes from the zone, only 23 voted for Atiku. The rest chose Jonathan (a friend jocularly told me: “Jonathan is Ebele. We voted for him because he is our son!”) Did the South-east throw away a golden opportunity by not supporting Atiku? The counter argument is that even if the entire South-east had voted for Atiku, Jonathan would still have won. And the zone could have been considered as “opposition” by the president for not supporting his bid. That would have political implications.
With the Atiku offer now gone, what next for Ndigbo? There are two options, obviously: to support Jonathan or pitch tent with the opposition. If the alliance talks between ACN and CPC had worked out, Ndigbo could have pushed for the VP slot, hoping that in 2015 or 2019, the chance for No. 1 would finally come. But the opposition parties have behaved typically by failing to reach an agreement. The implication for Ndigbo is that their selling point is now at risk. What’s the selling point? Getting the VP slot with the hope of delivering the South-east votes to the opposition alliance in April.
Many Igbo opinion leaders believe that the unenviable position of Ndigbo in national politics today is a product of conspiracy. They argue that Ndigbo are still paying the price for the civil war—that, indeed, there is a deliberate plan to keep them out of power. On the other hand, some argue that Igbo themselves are yet to move away from the war and are always playing the victim instead of tackling the enemies within and taking their rightful place in the scheme of things. I don’t want to be involved in this sort of argument because it is neither here nor there. It is about opinions—everyone has one. I would say, however, that even if there is conspiracy against Ndigbo, it is not beyond redemption. Deft group politicking is a critical antidote. It requires strategic planning.
Putting the conspiracy theory aside for now, I would suggest that two key developments have contributed to pushing Ndigbo down the pecking order of national politics: (1) the mainstreaming of the South-west and (2) the rise of the Niger Delta. The failure of Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led South-west to join forces with the centre in the First and Second Republics meant the South-east had an advantage over them. Dr. Azikiwe’s National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) went into coalition with the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and formed government in the Independence era. In the Second Republic, Azikiwe’s Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) also had an understanding with the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), while Dr. Alex Ekwueme (an Igbo) was Vice-President to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It appeared as if it was a matter of time for an Igbo to become president (I still believe if the military had not struck in 1983, Ekwueme was in line to succeed Shagari in 1987—but we would never know).
Ironically, Yoruba’s route to “centre politics” was through an unusual source: Bashorun MKO Abiola. Derided for “selling out” because he did not support Awolowo in the Second Republic, Abiola began building bridges across the country. When he eventually had a shot at the presidency in 1993, he won hands down. The annulment of the election created a serious national crisis; the powers that be decided they had to appease the Yoruba by zoning the presidency to them in 1999. The beneficiary? Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, another Yoruba reviled at home for “selling out” because he did not support Awolowo and the Yoruba cause in 1979.
With a Southerner occupying the No. 1 position from 1999-2007, it was expected that power would return to the North going by our political mathematics and sociology. The Igbo could neither take the VP slot under Obasanjo nor realistically have a go at the presidency in 2007. It’s a zero-sum game: my gain is your loss. If a Southern zone gets something, other Southern zones are automatically “zoned out” until the next time around. To compound matters, the South-south had become a big political force as a result of militancy in the oil-producing region. The politicians had also established a claim that the zone had never produced the No. 1 citizen, even for one minute. It became a movement. Militants were firing on one side, politicians on the other.
Suddenly, Nigeria was no longer seen as a tripod of Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba; the Niger Delta had assumed a life of its own, making a somewhat convincing claim to the presidency as the “hewers of stone and fetchers of water” for the country. With the Niger Delta now thrown into the equation, Ndigbo lost the most. They would logically have expected to produce the VP to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, thereby positioning an Igbo to succeed the Fulani man from Katsina. But the powers that be decided to pacify the South-south by picking an Ijaw man. (Remember, the decision to appease the Yoruba in 1999 also effectively ended Ekwueme’s quest).
These two factors—mainstreaming of the South-west and the rise of the Niger Delta—did not favour Ndigbo in any way. However, they could still have got the No. 3 position—Senate Presidency—in 2007, but the nature of Nigeria meant the Middle Belt also needed to be accommodated. So the No. 3 position, held by the South-east from 1999-2007, went to another Northern bloc—the North-central. The least I expected was that the South-east would get the Speaker (No. 4); it went to the South-west instead. The South-east could only get Deputy Senate President, the No. 5 slot.
What next then? Ahead of the polls, the South-east leaders need to sit down, strategise and negotiate the zone’s interest with regards to projects and positions, irrespective of who they support. Truly, going forward, they are faced with difficult choices: one, to go with the ruling party and negotiate their interests in concrete terms; two, to pitch tent with the opposition and aim for the VP slot, hoping that power would change hands in April. It’s not an enviable situation, I conclude.
Re: Ndigbo in the Fourth Republic
This piece is in response to Simon Kolawole’s write-up in his Sunday THISDAY column of January 30, 2011 captioned: “Ndigbo in the Fourth Republic”.
Let me begin by thanking Kolawole most profusely for his candour and sincerity of purpose in addressing such a worrisome issue, himself a non-Igbo. For me, as an avid reader of THISDAY newspapers, particularly Kolawole and Kayode Komolafe’s columns, this is the second time I am publicly responding to Kolawole’s write-ups.
The first was my essay in concurrence with his analysis on corruption in Nigeria, written a couple of years back. But this current piece on “Ndigbo in the Fourth Republic” is one write-up that should be a wake-up call for soul-searching for all Ndigbo.
Therefore to remain relevant in the political and social equation of Nigeria, Ndigbo must begin to rebuild an image that has been characterised by a combination of rudderless leadership and confused followership.
Yes indeed, in the First and Second Republics, Ndigbo occupied their rightful but enviable positions in the scheme of things in Nigeria. This was as a result of their collective adherence to measurable core values which were anchored on industry and tenacity of purpose.
This trend was manifested in every locale where Ndigbo were present, be it in Nigeria or beyond our shores. But again, the fact that they are widely dispersed and ubiquitous in all parts of Nigeria also renders them highly visible in all spheres of life.
Unfortunately too, this makes them highly vulnerable when it comes to collective condemnation based on any perceived negative traits. The question to ask is, how come Ndigbo have now been relegated to the back burners in the political arrangements in Nigeria, irrespective of their past contributions and status in the previous Republics? Kolawole threw up two theories that have been bandied around by some Igbo opinion leaders, namely the “conspiracy” theory and the “enemies within” theory.
I do agree with Kolawole and I respect his stand when he said he did not want to be involved in this type of argument, but I vehemently disagree with him when he said such opinions are neither here nor there. It is my view, and I do stand to be controverted, that the current political and social predicament of Ndigbo is a combination of both theories.
Please permit me to substantiate this position. First, the events leading to and during the unfortunate civil war brought to the fore some hard facts that point to a concerted determination to annihilate the Igbo nation. During the war years, the Nigerian government denied international relief organisations access to Biafra to alleviate the sufferings of non-combatant women and children who were kwashiorkor-ridden.
In defence of this heinous crime against humanity, government was harping on the slogan that starvation was a legitimate weapon of war! At the end of the war, there was economic strangulation visited on an already traumatised people in the form of calculated punitive monetary policy by government.
In that exercise, which is unprecedented in world history, all financial transactions by Biafrans were reduced to a level payment of 20 pounds, which was the currency in use at the time, no matter the amount hitherto operated by the account holder. Further indirect exclusion of a people from the opportunities open at the time for investments and participation in indigenisation of companies, was a deliberate attempt to impoverish the already economically crippled entity.
Do we recall the issue of abandoned properties, quota restrictions, indiscriminate cut-off points and catchment areas policy for admissions, and the seizure of mission schools which were the bastion of moral and religious knowledge in the Igbo nation? All these factors contributed to kill the quest for education among Ndigbo youths and which today has led to their engagement in various nefarious anti-social activities.
If all these discriminatory and negative government policies do not point to a conspiracy to keep down Ndigbo as an aftermath of the war, one would like to know of any other country where a civil war has been fought and the losers were so mistreated for this long.
But come to think of it, can anyone point to any meaningful sustainable federal presence in that region since the end of the war in 1970, 40 years after an unjust war of attrition? Shell D’Arcy, the precursor of the present-day Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), commenced full operations in Nigeria in Owerri in the early 50s.
The first non-commercial oil find was an exploration well drilled in 1955 at Ihuo, a town North-east of Owerri. In geological terms, this initial oil discovery could be ascribed to have led to the successful commercial discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1956. Yet no federal petroleum industry-related presence is accorded that entire region of the South-east to date.
Is it not also intriguing and interesting that in 2010, the current president was magnanimous enough to grant the Enugu airport an international status, even after Igbo daughters had been aviation ministers.
But then to most other Nigerians, this is a great favour done to the zone which had had a functional local airport before Nigeria gained independence in 1960. Little wonder then that the indigenes had to cough out their savings to build the Imo airport only for the airport to be taken over by the government.
The degree of apathy towards the South-east by successive governments with regard to economic emancipation and political integration of that zone should bother any broad-minded Nigerian, just as expressed by controvert in his write-up.
But really, the more worrisome theory is the “enemies within” theory as evidenced in internal wrangling among the Ndigbo, the disregard and discard of those Ndigbo core values of the First and Second Republics, the inordinate desire for acquisition of money and wealth, disrespect for elders and constituted authority and our inexplicable individualism, just to mention a few untoward traits.
One can try to explain away that with the end of the civil war, everyone was virtually left to fend for himself or herself for economic survival. Core values of industry and tenacity of purpose were thus abandoned and traded for quick-fix measures and individual efforts rather than collective goals and objectives. This is why I do posit that the problems of Ndigbo are a combination of both theories.
How many Senate presidents did the zone throw up in a single term when this position was zoned to Ndigbo? How many PDP chairmen of Igbo extraction have been smeared and prematurely relieved of their exalted positions, ostensibly engineered by Ndigbo? In all these cases, there are always Ndigbo waiting in the wings to rubbish their own, preparatory to taking over their positions, unmindful of the fact that the rest of the country keep watching us with keen interest.
How many politicians from their respective zones have lined themselves up to take over David Mark’s Senate Presidency or Dimeji Bankole’s Speakership since they both took office? Does it mean that they have functioned as saints without any blemish or that no one has unearthed any skeletons in their own cupboards? Of course not, I dare say. The issue is that the others focus on the larger picture in order to protect their collective interest and relevance, whereas for their Igbo counterparts they perceive them as having the mindset that any short-term gains based on narrow personal or selfish goals will suffice as long as their ego is massaged. This is the general impression that their colleagues in politics have of them and this is rather unfortunate.
You were perfectly right when you brought up the Alex Ekwueme angle in the 1983 disruption of democratic governance. It is obvious that the coup of that year truncated the imminent ascendancy of an Igbo to the presidency of Nigeria. This could be corroborated by the gang-up, years later, which ensured that the same Ekwueme who was obviously the candidate of choice never made it also in 1999.
You talked of appeasement of the South-west to compensate for the Abiola debacle which then resulted in the emergence of President Olusegun Obasanjo. You also mentioned the South-south appeasement for the Niger Delta conundrum which threw up President Goodluck Jonathan.
But come 2015, is anyone contemplating or willing to appease the South-east, since current and potential running mates for the April 2011 presidential election are from outside this zone? The political body language does not yet point in that direction. Rather there is a groundswell of views that all efforts will be made to assure the North that the Presidency will revert to that region in 2015 when it will once more become available. Again this is to appease the North for the unforeseen truncation of their term as per an earlier agreement.
This is the summary of your dilemma and should be the concern of all genuine Ndigbo. But then rather than put this down on the negotiation table as a prelude to the April polls, our political leaders were more interested in negotiations to secure their individual second or 10th term tickets.
Shouldn’t they have squared up first with their counterparts to negotiate for tangible and concrete terms for Ndigbo collective interest in the Presidency? How can the South-east zone be relevant politically and economically with just five states, whereas the other zones, some of which do not have sincere matching populations, have a minimum of six states each? One would have expected that this crucial demand for a legitimate status of equality of states in tandem with the zonal structure should have been uppermost in the shopping list of our Ndigbo political leadership.
As long as Ndigbo are short-changed in the number of states assigned to their zone, so long will their political and social relevance remain stunted. The other matter that is surreptitiously denied Ndigbo is their true population and this should be of concern to us as a people. In efforts that should help to reflect the true population of the citizenry as in the current voter registration, such demographic indices as state of origin and local government area have been carefully omitted.
This is disadvantageous to Ndigbo who are the most dispersed in the country and whose true population can never be ascertained without identifying them wherever they may reside. But when it comes to other issues such as admissions, employment, appointments, promotions, etc which are opportunities that create room for advancement, demographic indices mentioned earlier, readily surface, in the guise of abiding by quota and Federal Character.
The bottomline is that when individual interests are allowed to override collective interests in a country as diverse as Nigeria, the group with the common thread of individualism will always be left with the short end of the pole. This is the plight of Ndigbo today, I regret to state. It is not consistent with the vision and aspirations of Ndigbo political leadership of the First and Second Republics. But then this is the price we Ndigbo have to pay for the current rudderless leadership and confused followership. However, no condition is permanent.
Igbo, Marginalized, Relegated & Bashed Endlessly!
Written by Paul I. Adujie
Nigeria is actively undergoing electioneering campaigns for a general elections schedule for April 2011
This general election season has turned out to be an open season of attack, bigotries, prejudices and hatreds directed at Igbo by too many Nigerians.
Igbos are repeatedly attacked and denigrated, even when such attacks and denigrations are clearly unwarranted. These increased spate of vitriol directed at Igbos should make any reasonable person to ask questions.
Why is it, that so many Nigerians, too many Nigerians in fact, are so comfortable in talking down, patronizingly and condescendingly to, and about Igbos?
Why is it, that a majority of those commenting on national issues, with references to Igbos, are always denigrating fellow Nigerians, just because these Nigerians of Igbo extraction?
It is the case that most commentaries about Igbos are so insensitive, and so reckless and extremely inflammatory and careless. These caustic, corrosive and sour attitudes towards Igbos, clearly illustrate persisting ill will towards Igbos. These negative attitudes towards Igbos, are emblematic of bigotries, prejudices and hatreds which have been visited upon Igbos historically and unfortunately, the frequency of these anti Igbo pronouncements in Nigeria is on the upsurge. Too many recent comments against and about Igbos, are just shockingly disgusting!
Nigerians of earlier and older generations have poor excuses for exhibiting clannish attitudes towards other Nigerians of different ethnic or linguistic groups, religious and regional groups in our multicultural and very diverse nation. But how does anyone explain recent barrages of attacks, unwarranted attacks and badgering against Igos? How does anyone explain the fact that very educated, extensively traveled and worldly wise Nigerians continue to exhibit extremely negative and primordial attitude against Igbos?
It is recognized and conceded, that plural society are rather competitive. Competition for resources which are not limitless. Competition for economic and political control, including the competition for the control and or allocation of resources.
What is unacceptable, and what should be condemned by all Nigerians, and reasonable persons everywhere, is the frequency and regularity of occurrence of Igbo bashing and unwarranted attacks against Igbos by fellow Nigerians.
This is the first week of March 2011. Nigeria is in the throes of extreme politicking. It is public knowledge that a momentous general election in Nigeria is upon Nigeria, scheduled for April 2011.
Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora should or ought to be actively engaged in debates of our national issues and challenges. Nigerians ought to eliciting and engendering debates between political candidates and the various political parties regarding their stances and positions on public policies and programs
Nigerians across the spectrum ought to focus on how the current crop of political candidates and their parties may create or bring about better life for all Nigerians all over Nigeria. But instead, too many Nigerians are focused how to keep Igbos marginalized, relegated, even as Igbos are bashed ceaselessly and endlessly.
Igbos are continually blamed for every and all of Nigeria’s afflictions, including political, constitutional and economic underdevelopment. A cursory examination of Nigeria’s past clearly indicates Igbos as victims of sundry circumstances in Nigeria. But revisionists in Nigeria are constantly engaging in extremely offensive revisionism in which Igbos are blamed for the marginalization, relegation and bashing to which Igbo have been subjected for decades.
A case in point is the unwarranted vitriolic attacks from many commentators at a Nigeria related website known as www.Nigeriavillagesquare.com; There was news that the Lagos state branch of Ohaneze, an Igbo sociocultural organization, had issued a public statement, demanding political inclusion and adequate reflection in Lagos state affairs. Too many Nigerians are too often engaged in selective memory and blissful amnesia.
A majority of those commenting or responding to the news, commented as though they felt compelled to excoriate and demean Igbos. The comments against Igbos were so outrageous and outlandish, you would think the word Igbo refers to a foreign nation outside of Nigeria with which Nigerians and Nigeria understandably directed hostilities and venom!
On ground in Nigeria, the sour attitude directed at Igbo is not much better. Many high profile political figures in Nigeria, have recently engaged in uncouth, insensitive and inflammatory pronouncements directed at Igbo citizens of Nigeria.
It is quite ironical and even oxymoronic, that many Nigerians who celebrated and went agog, (perhaps rightfully and proudly so), over President Obama’s appointment of a Nigerian physician, cancer expert, Dr. Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade, Member, National Cancer Advisory Board of the United States; are the same Nigerians who are now, after or within a few days, surprisingly-shockingly disgustingly expressing offense, over possible appointments of Igbos by Lagos state government.
Dr. Olopade is Nigerian who received her medical degree from the great University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Chicago “transplant“, by way of Nigeria, even with her stellar academic and professional overachiever,with so many accomplishments under her lab-coat and medical overall, would an undeserving non-indigene, “foreigner” and usurper “settler” in the warped-twisted logic of some Nigerians!
Some Nigerians, too many Nigerians across the world, it seems, appear to think Dr. Olopade were she an Igo lady in Lagos or Kano should not aspire or be appointed, despite her pedigrees? It bears restating here for the record, that this ethnic, regional and religious chauvinism, bigotries and prejudices borne of hatreds or mutual suspicions, are not special or unique to particular ethnic groups or regions in Nigeria. Inequality, discrimination and devaluation of citizenship is an equal opportunity offenses of which too many Nigerians are guilty.
I am not advocating that a blind Igbo person should be hired by Lagos state government to drive school buses, in the name of diversity or representation of Igbos in employment by Lagos state government. But Igbos who make Lagos home, like other fellow Nigerians, with qualifications, requisite experience and antecedents and pedigrees should have equal opportunities and representation in the scheme of things in Lagos.
My argument is identical for ALL Nigerians of other ethnic groups, regional and religious affiliations.
Non-Igbo Nigerians in this current electioneering campaign in the lead up to the general elections in April 2011, have arrogantly and adamantly announced to Igbos where Igbos belong and what political turn Igbos may expect. These offensive pronouncements about and against Igbos are frequently made with consultation and reference to Igbos. And what is worse, these pronouncements are made by non-Igbos about Igbos and without regard to the feelings and aspirations of Igbos.
Loud pronouncements about the place of Igbos in Nigeria’s political future have been made by some high profile Nigerians in recent times. These pronouncements have bordered around and encompassed unrestrained arrogant vituperation of Igbos. No adult should tell another adult what to do or what the future holds, but, unfortunately, some Nigerians are arrogant and pigheaded in the extreme, when they presumptuously announce the future for over 40 million Igbos in Nigeria!
Some Nigerians are so insensitive to the feelings of Igbo Nigerians or perhaps it is that some Nigerians take perverse joy in dehumanizing and degrading Igbo Nigerians? Our national security and national strategic interests are better in foreign hands than in the hands of Igbos?
The truth is governments in Nigeria currently employ Americans, Europeans, Indians, Chinese etc. Why the fear and loathing for the prospects of Igbos in employment within the same circles of governments in Nigeria?
A few days ago, I read the opinion of the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji which contained yet, another gloomy, if impossible political forecasts of the future for Igbos in 2015. Professor Omo Omoruyi engaged in similar forecasts several days before, both men, with iron clad view of Igbo Nigerian as occupying the presidency of Nigeria in 2015. Both men were an inch close to and hair-thin short of, predicting that Aso Rock door will remain shut against Igbo man or woman in 2015.
Ibrahim Badmass Babangida it was who, loudly announced to Igbos to await the future, perhaps 2015 and to forget 2011. Babangida made this announcement while supporting and participating in the Adamu Ciroma so-called consensus candidature for the presidency of Nigeria, an effort, which insisted on zoning and rotational presidency by PDP, which is supposed to favor geographic northern Nigeria in 2011 elections.
Everyone often talk down to and about Igbos. Everyone makes matter-of-fact pronouncements about Igbo’s political prospects in Nigeria, and Igbos are supposed to and expected to take all of these and as fait accompli and smile? Igbos like other Nigerians have a stake in Nigeria’s outcome. Igbos should feel at home throughout Nigeria, even despite checkered and painful historical experiences of violence against Igbos across Nigeria. Non-Igbos are keenly aware of Igbos industriousness, superb intellect and business acumen and enterprise. These attributes and qualities are appreciated across Nigeria with Igbo’s industry and presence is felt in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, bar none!
Some states in Nigeria, including Lagos, in recognition and appreciation, have appointed Nigerians, Igbos, to prominent public state offices, even though such Nigerians are from ethnic groups, other than the catchments area dominant ethnic group.
As when Lagos appoints an Igbo person to public office because such persons are Nigerians and are qualified, and further, to give the appearance of representing and reflecting the demographic components of such states, in this instance, Lagos state.
All Nigerians and lovers of democracy should advocate and promote this practice, in which our government at various levels, accurately reflects our local, state and national population of Nigerian citizens. Lagos and its surrounding or neighboring states are comprised ethnic Yoruba Nigerians. Igbos are the second largest Nigerian ethnic group apart from
Yoruba. It is therefore not extraordinary for Lagos to aspire to reflect this in elective and appointive public offices. Ohaneze is reportedly articulating and advocating inclusion into the political scheme of things in Lagos and Ohaneze have been accused of impoliteness or worse, threatening, usurping and blackmailing Lagos state. Ohaneze is an umbrella Igbo organization and it is duty bound to advocate Igbo’s cause. But Ohaneze is being accused of being bad “guests” for making legitimate demands.
In the United States, immigrants and their children are sometimes elected or appointed to political offices. President Obama is the son of Kenyan immigrant, President Obama is an American by birth, he is nonetheless a first generation American. But Nigerians motivated by bigotry, hatred and prejudice against the “otherness” in fellow Nigerians, in this instance, Igbos, would argue that a third or fourth generation Igbo person in Lagos should not be elected or appointed to political offices in Lagos, on the ground, solely, that such person is of Igbo great grand parents and in effect, of Igbo heritage, even if such person is as versed and as comfortable in Yoruba culture as Abiola or Komolafe or even Omoluabi
President Obama’s father came to the United States less than 50 years ago and his son is president. And yet, too many Nigerians insist adamantly, that children and grandchildren of fellow Nigerians who “migrated” from various parts of Nigeria to different parts of same Nigeria, should remain as “illegal-immigrants” in our country Nigeria? Going by the present illogic in Nigeria, President Obama could not be employed outside of state of Hawaii, never mind becoming a US senator from Illinois or US president.
Mrs. Hilary Rodham Clinton , the Secretary of State for United States is originally from the state of Illinois, married President Bill Clinton from the state of Arkansas, before becoming Secretary of State, she was the elected US senator from New York State.
And how about the storied astronomical rise of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of the state of California, the fifth largest economy in the world, and the most populous state in the United States with a population of over 35 million Californians, he was born in Austria, lived in New York City as a body builder, then a film star, and voila, governor of California! Why, in view of all these, are Nigerian focused on devaluing Nigerian citizenship of fellow Nigerians within Nigeria, just because the some Nigerians have exercised fundamental rights such as freedom of movement and right to travel or relocate and live in any locality within Nigeria?
Nigeria is replete and Nigeria in fact is being consumed by this singular illogicality. The settler-indigene dichotomies or fleeting and fluid distinctions which are inflicted on Nigerian citizens, devalues our citizenship as full fledged citizens of Nigeria with equal rights, duties and obligations. Nigerians in Jos, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Lagos etc are deathly afraid of domination by Igbos, instead of abject poverty and squalor and the absence of steady electricity and clean water?
Again, in the United States, particularly here in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mayors before him, have always recognized the immense contributions made by immigrants to the development of New York City. Immigrants currently constitute 36% of the population of New York City, while contributing 37% to New York City’s economic development.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg in recognition of this, created and appointed a woman of Palestinian descent as New York City Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs! Imagine the irony of the presence of a Nigerian immigrant being more respected and appreciated in New York City, compared with the devaluation and degrading treatment such Nigerian may receive in various parts of Nigeria where she-he was born, just because she-he has a heritage with origins, other than, her-his chosen state of residence in Nigeria.
So that an Hausa Nigerian, Igbo Nigerian, Yoruba Nigerian, Esan or Ijaw Nigerian have their beloved Nigerian citizenship degraded and devalued because they chose a particular part of Nigeria to make their home and life? What a shame indeed! Why should it be the case that, just because my great grand parents were born in Maiduguri, and even though I have chosen Nnewi as my preferred part of Nigeria to create health, wealth and happiness, fellow Nigerians would not let me be? Whereas, Mayor Bloomberg says I am OK in New York City, so long as I am all about creating health, wealth and multiplying human happiness?
This writer is on record as a fervently passionate about one Nigeria forever, about the benefits of Nigeria’s unity in diversity and the perils of disintegration. This writer is on record as chastising those of my brethren who continue to espouse beliefs and aspirations in Biafra or any national aspirations outside Nigeria as presently constituted. Nevertheless, it cannot be the case and it is not logical, for any Nigerian to think it acceptable, a national arrangement, where a particular group is historically and persistently marginalized, relegated to the background and frequently bashed as Igbos are in Nigeria.
But who wants to be marginalized, relegated and bashed so often and persistently? Nigeria’ greatest challenge is the allocation and management of resources with which to tackle and eliminate poverty from Nigeria. Undermining a large segment of our population is similar to deploying two thirds of our resources whilst neglecting the deployment of a sizable chunk, as large as one thirds.
Same way some nations neglect to develop their national human capital, by neglecting gender equality for women who are in fact a majority of national populations worldwide. No normal pilot flies large jet airplanes with one engine, ordinarily.
Igbos’ genuine desires and aspirations as full citizens of Nigeria, have been neglected and ignored for far too long. It is gross and extreme injustice for any reasonable person to expect Igbos to remain happy campers in stagnation for so long. All fair minded Nigerians only need to put themselves in the unacceptable position and circumstances which have been imposed on fellow Nigerians of Igbo heritage.
All Nigerians need to and must vigorously discuss Nigeria and the events which led to the ignominious Nigerian Civil War. All Nigerians need to similarly discuss the economic and political developments and occurrences in the aftermath of the Nigeria-Biafra War.
Nigeria need truth, sincere reconciliation and national healing. Constantly blaming Igbos, who are arguably the recipients of the roughest end of the Civil War stick, is a national disservice and disgrace! It takes two sides to fight any war. Blaming one side to a thirty month long war is unreasonable, particularly so, after these 40 long years after the war.
Democracy in Nigeria and across the world is messy and in fact, quite imperfect, this is even more so, in relatively younger democracies such as our in Nigeria. This messes and imperfection become even more complex in multicultural, plural, and secular nations such as ours. Democracies, even in plural societies in which the most qualified persons with passion, commitment and dedication to best public policies for national common good are certainly preferred.
Nigeria’s young democracy, nascent, so-called, is still susceptible to negative common denominators of ethnic, regional, religious differences big and small, real and imagined. And so, the concerns and fears of marginalization and relegation are tenaciously held deeply felt. All Nigerians should recognize these basic facts and therefore do unto Igbos as the rest of Nigerians outside Igboland would expect unto themselves!
All things considered, Igbo Nigerians have be patient and levelheaded even in the face egregious provocations imbued in offensively laced pronouncements regarding Igbos genuine desires and aspirations within the nation of Nigeria. All Nigerians should become more conversant with the fact that the sun also rises in Igboland.
There are millions of competent women and men, Igbos included, who are eminently qualified to occupy the highest political office in the land, and to assume and exercise presidential powers and duties in Nigeria.
1. 2007 Presidential Elections In Nigeria And Ndigbo's Genuine Aspirations. circa 2005
2. What Do Ndiigbo Want? From Biafra To MASSOB. circa 2004
3. Biafra Is Dead, Buried & No More! circa 2005
Ndigbo - Strategising for the Future
By Daniel Kanu
The Issue of formidable unity and the way forward for Ndigbo was at the front burner recently, at a dinner organised by Ndigbo Lagos, in honour of the new president-general of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Ambassador Raph Uwechue.
It was as if the gathering was designed to mark a new dawn of Igbo unity - in Nigeria and the Diaspora.
It was a gathering of prominent Igbo sons in search of a solution to re-enact their cherished values as an enterprising and hard working people.
Most especially the occasion provided a veritable platform for soul searching, articulation of a roadmap for a new beginning and a re-awakening for a people that have suffered pronounced set-back and socio-economic and political neglect since the end of the civil war.
The fate of Ndigbo in contemporary Nigeria was brought to the fore at the occasion. Although some believe that Ndigbo have had much talk shop on the issue of their neglect, many still believe that what is important is to develop the will power to confront any problem, no matter how monstrous it may appear.
From the beginning of Independence till date, a lot of economic and political blue prints have been marshalled out to make Ndigbo able to stand on its own and cater for the overall needs of their people. But, somewhere along the line, they have become political issues, which eventually end up in the dustbin of history.
The very robust ones put in place during the First Republic could not stand the test of time because they too were abandoned, as crude oil boomed, to the detriment of the people. Today, the zone is grappling with a lot of problems that have refused to go away.
But, Ambassador Uwechue set the tone when he asserted: "I feel greatly elated by the event we are witnessing today. Let us not forget our past, for I can recall that when things were based on merit, fairness, equity and justice we know where we were in relation to other ethnic groups. Nobody should feel apologetic. No Igbo person has any reason to apologise to any person, because we built and sustained this nation.
"We will use our population to our advantage. Unity is our strength, we should stop mouthing it rather, we should practice it. Let every Igbo stop bothering about what others think about us, rather let us rise and speak with one voice and, no group can match us.
" I am speaking today not as a diplomat, but as a full-blooded Igbo. Any greatness that was recorded at any point in time has Onye-Igbo as partner in that feat. Let's even look at recent records: the Charles Soludo, Oby Ezekwesili, Mrs Okonjo Iweala, Mrs Dora Akunyili, etc., - all left their imprint. There is every reason for us to celebrate among ourselves, among brothers, friends and sisters."
According to the diplomat, what the Igbo want is very simple: the best for Nigeria, because, when it is good for Nigeria, it will also be good for Ndigbo.
"It's high time we retraced our steps with a view to reversing the trend. And, we must do it now for the sake of our children," he stressed.
The challenges facing Ndigbo, Uwechue, said are the Igbo unity, networking and empowerment, gradual disappearance of Igbo language, cultural heritage and identity.
The newly elected President who held the gathering spell bound also threw another challenge to his kinsmen, when he chargrd: "Some of us are now asking the inevitable question: what the fate of Ndigbo existence is in the near future, with this growing challenges and constraint? One would have thought that in the face of the growing global ethnic identity drive, Ndigbo would need to look to our strengths which increasingly will lie in the talent and diligence of our people: our demography, our capacity and ability to refocus and re-educate ourselves and bounce back."
Ndigbo, he advised, should to shun selfishness and internal strife in order to progress and, above all, take their collective destiny in their hands if they must make headway; as selfishness, bickering and other vice must be jettisoned, if they must get to the promised land."
For Dr Sylvan Ebigwei, President-General, Aka Ikenga, an intellectual think tank of Ndigbo, there is the need to take vital step that will be aimed at re-orientating, re-branding and re-focusing the psyche of Ndigbo, to properly integrate in a society it has paid so much sacrifice, including a civil war.
Ebigwei stated: "We are a strong people. We are an enterprising and creative people. We have competitive spirit and self-confidence. We are daringly adventurous and can take ourselves to any height. We, therefore, have no business remaining backward, even if any adversary wishes us to remain down."
Mrs Njideka Anyadike, former governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), stressed that the era when Ndigbo were treated with disdain and levity because of absence of a leadership structure was over, urging all to continue to forge a formidable umbrella organisation that would always champion their cause.
She urged the new leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo in the country under the able leadership of Uwechue to be tolerant and to accommodate all kinds of opinion, while members should accord the leadership their loyalty and commitment to achieve success.
" We shall marshal new development strategy and pass the information to all our kindred to abreast them on the new wave of Igbo unity, and those groups that believe that Ndigbo cannot unite will be living in old times."
The major problem, bedeviling the people of the South East geo-political zone, in the thinking of many, is not that of building infrastructures or increasing the statutory allocation to the five states in the zone, but that of harnessing and galvanising the vast potentials that abound in the zone.
It is believed that some of the things that ought to have become a thing of the past are now major issues for discussion, leading to cries of marginalisation and the wanton deprivation suffered by the people everywhere including their very communities.
To many, it appears the economic status of the zone has taken a nosedive into the abyss, while the very infrastructure which the successive administrations have claimed to build have all given way and the people are merely existing in their states and communities, wasting away, and virtually eating out of the bread of sorrow.
Dr Ossai Ossai told Daily Independent that Ndigbo has remained an endangered specie in Nigeria as they have remained haunted.
"Elsewhere across the nation, Igbo people are being haunted down and butchered in different ethnic, political and other crises, which had engulfed the nation at one time or the other."
The reason for this continuous heavy loss on the side of the Igbo in various parts of the nation, like the recent happening in Jos, Plateau capital, to many analysts, is not far-fetched. It stems, they say, from the fact that their leaders have failed woefully to understand the endowment that God has bestowed on them, or if they do, have failed woefully to harness them to their advantage.
There is also the contention that those speaking for Ndigbo have not sincerely carried the groups' interest along, rather their personal interests.
" They had not only abandoned their responsibility to those who put them into power, but have aligned with others to undermine and impoverish, as well as risk the people's lives," regretted an aggrieved Igbo lady who pleaded for anonymity.
"In stead of speaking with one voice at different fora, these our leaders are more conscious of how the benefit of their current engagements can provide insurance for their fourth generations," she added.
It appears it was in the realisation of this woeful failure of leadership that the present call for change is coming.
Saint Iyk Ekeh argued that it would be counter productive if the unity of the South East, continued to be subsumed in the partisan politics of Igbo leaders and their followers, positing that it is only then would the area be able to undertake projects as a united body which would trigger economic growth as well as generate employment.
According to Ekeh, "the beauty of the gathering lies in the message of its import that sent a serious signal to those who thought that Ndigbo couldn't work together. We have discountenanced our diverse religious, cultural and political inclinations to work together for the common good of our people."
Many who spoke at the occasion including former Governor of Lagos State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, alluded to disunity in Igboland, which had contributed much to their sorry position in the nation's polity.
Joe Igbokwe stated, pointblank, that it is either Ndigbo work together for the good of the people or risk being consigned into obscurity, stressing that Nigeria is becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex.
Igbokwe said that Ndigbo must defend themselves politically because it would be in their disadvantage to separate in a country they have suffered to ensure its development.
He said the country was rubbing the South East close to N400 billion since the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, pronounced that an additional state would be added to the region.
"For the past 38 years - after the unfortunate civil war - Ndigbo has been in constant search of a vibrant and virile leadership. This lack of leadership has robbed the people of the social, economic and political benefits due to them, and left the people, painfully, marginalized," he reasoned.
Igbokwe, who argued that the thinking that any Igbo man could be bought, described such a notion as not only nauseating but a negative allusion
It is believed that Ndigbo lost great opportunities that came their way in their march to nationhood, but what is important is that the people have demonstrated in unmistakable terms in their different submissions at the occasion that they are ready for moral renewal and rearmament.
But, to some observers, what the people of the region are asking for is no longer long speeches and verbose expositions, but action on the part of its leadership. The people are not only expecting the putting in place of infrastructure such as roads, industries that would create employment opportunities for their teeming youth, but above all unity among the people.
In the majority view, the challenge is now to present a united front politically with visionary leadership.
© Daily Independent