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Demonising Ndigbo

By Rotimi Fasan

TALKING POINT, this week, presents a two-part piece by Ginny Nwasoria, a public commentator based in Lagos.

THE American Indian proverb, “Respect your brother’s dream” can be put differently and correctly as “Respect your brother’s success”. However, we oftentimes find ourselves in the opposite situation,  scorning and slandering both the dream and success of our brother as the call to be our brother’s keeper is moribund.

One person caught up in this web of mediocrity is Bolade Omonijo the self-acclaimed political analyst who in his narrative of Abia political events in his column “Political Turf” in The Nation on Sunday, August 1, 2010 page 8, titled “Kalu and the Abia debacle” found a window of opportunity to pillory and disparage one of the founding fathers of Nigeria,  Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe popularly called Zik of Africa of blessed memory and Ndigbo in general.

Omonijo depicted Zik as deceitful, untrustworthy, without character and of no good in his political foray. He reduced Zik to nothingness, short of calling him a political scoundrel and a shameless, conforming maverick.

However, this contrasts with the cover story of same publication that extolled Zik as a legend whose mausoleum should be a monument and heritage for Nigeria and Africa and not a forsaken master-piece of shame.

The intent of Omonijo’s piece was to demonstrate the superiority of the Yoruba over the Igbo but that puzzle was too cheap even for an elementary mind. According to him, the few geniuses in Nigeria are Yoruba one of whom was Professor Ayodele Awojobi whose statements were sacrosanct unlike the tainted and unreliable words of Ndigbo.

Ethnic chauvinism is a recipe for national destruction because it breeds hatred and acrimony as in the case of Israeli-Arab antagonism that has bedevilled the Middle East region and the entire globe, defying every attempt at a peaceful resolution. This will be the outcome if not the intention of Omonijo.

According to Omonijo, even at 75, Zik was still characteristically himself, the leopard that never loses its spots, an unscrupulous power monger like the character, Caesar, in one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated works of the same title, who though desired the crown rejected it on the three occasions it was presented to him by snatching the mantle of leadership of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) from Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim in the Second Republic, contrary to his promise of becoming apolitical.

Omonijo likened this to two political incidents of dumping the Zikist Movement of Mokwugo Okoye during the struggle for independence and secondly, the political somersault of turning 360 degrees to call Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to form the national government against his previous position.

The civil war presented another historical episode that showcased Zik in his conquistador-like personality as he abandoned Ndigbo, his own flesh and blood in their clamour for secession and the founding of the Igbo state of Biafra like the “fruitless search for the goldmine of Eldorado”.

Omonijo gave full vent to his feelings, views, and assumptions in the most venomous outburst without recourse to logic, analytical depth or empirical evidence but in the vain desire for recognition, ended up reducing himself into an intellectual midget. But since there is a limit to what can be tolerated, it has become expedient to clarify the inconsistencies in Omonijo’s piece.

First is that the title of his piece has no connection with the message, a better title should have been, “Demystifying the Zik Legend” being the crux of the article, or “The Character Flaws of Igbo Leadership” would have subsisted, but he chose a topic to deceive and disparage academics of Igbo origin.

My confusion is the place of Rochas Okorocha in this narrative. Is it that Ndigbo are money bags without any form of sensibilities or what? I do not see any correlation between Rochas and the Abia debacle. Perhaps he wanted to marry Zik’s dumping his people at the critical period of a war he had promised to support and recognising Balewa contrary to his earlier position with Rochas dumping the party he formed and running back to the PDP.

Jesus’ admonition that we remove the log in our eyes before we do the speck in our brother’s becomes instructive for Omonijo. What happened to the martyred MKO in the Second Republic when Umaru Dikko, without mincing words, told him that the presidency was not on sale in NPN? Did he not abandon the party?

Secondly, what gave the same MKO the SDP presidential ticket? Was it not his money?  Politics is not meant for the poor to amass wealth but for the successful in all walks of life to create a better society. As a successful person, is it erroneous for Rochas to seek ways to give back to his society?

Further, on party-dumping, I need state that this is not peculiar to Ndigbo, but is a basic feature of politics and politicians the world over. In the United States, Democrats cross carpet to become Republicans and vice versa; so it is in British Conservative-Liberal shifts, Labour – Likud divide in Israel, Italy, Nigeria, etc. That is the beauty and dynamism of democratic politics of free entry and exit.

That Orji Uzor Kalu left PDP and founded the PPA is not an aberration and his Chief of Staff (COS), Dr Theodore Orji becoming the governor of Abia State is nothing strange; nor is it peculiar to Abia or Ndigbo as Lagos experienced same fate with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s dumping of AD, the party that made him governor to found AC and installing his Chief of Staff (COS) Babatunde Fashola to become governor of Lagos State.

Like Tinubu, Kalu was the political head of Abia State until recently, based on Governor Orji’s camp shift to APGA. Being Governor Emeritus (, he holds political power, installing all the elective and appointive positions from senate to special advisers of the governor.


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