By Nicholas ozor
In October 2016, the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzo Kalu, was widely published in the media as stating that Igbos are their own worst enemies. I cannot agree more.
Although the NADECO chieftain and Yoruba leader, Ayo Adebanjo as well as the fiery Femi Fani Kayode and Femi Aribisala may not align politically with Senator Ahmed Tinubu, they nevertheless rallied around the Jagaban, once the All Progressives Congress (APC) began rendering him an alien in the house he laboured so much to co-build. To them, the Yoruba political survival overrides their personal issues.
My respect for Adebanjo soared when he said “People are expecting me to mock Tinubu and say God has dealt with him over the manner he treated me and other Yoruba leaders, but I won’t do that because what is after six is more than seven”. This is political sagacity.
In the aftermath of the 2011 post-presidential election carnages, I cannot recall any notable northern leader, even of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that reprimanded Muhammadu Buhari, the worrisome public comments credited to him ahead of the election or his failure to timeously speak out against the violence notwithstanding.
On the contrary, the reaction of some Igbo politicians in APC to the providential reemergence of Ekweremadu can best be described as tactless, timid, jittery, and self-centered.
Senator Chris Ngige accused him of stealing an APC position. But his claim is at variance with provisions of Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution, which the APC benefitted from and hailed when Hon. Aminu Tambuwal defected to its fold and retained the speakership of the House of Representatives. APC still benefits from the emergence of its party men as Speakers of Benue and Plateau States Assemblies in June 2015, despite being in the minority both.
Ngige went a step further by boasting that “There are (however) many ways to kill a rat”. Thus, Ekweremadu’s travails, including the spurious forgery allegation and docking, were all political vendetta possibly with the blessings of his APC kinsmen.
Interestingly, it was not even as if Ndigbo was ever in the APC cabal’s power sharing equation. None of the two APC House of Representatives members from Imo State was considered for Deputy Speaker or even Deputy Whip. The arrangement was actually as follows: Senate President (Ahmad Lawan, North East), Deputy Senate President (George Akume, North Central), Speaker (Femi Gbajabiamila, South West), and Deputy Speaker (Hon. Mohammed Monguno, North East). North West and South West already had President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Unfortunately, Ngige’s tirades could not fetch him a first grade ministry or the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). The former Governor, Senator, and experienced surgeon was dumped at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, aka Aluta Continua.
As for Osita Okechukwu, for all the insolence hurled at Ekweremadu, he ended up as Director-General of the moribund Voice of Nigeria. The Nigeria Television Authority, National Broadcasting Commission, and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria went to 97 percent.
Of recent, APC Senators have been canvassing Ekweremadu’s defection to its fold to retain his seat. The spokesperson of the Enugu State chapter of the APC, Mrs. Kate Offor, issued a statement. If she stopped at saying that Ekweremadu was unwelcome, no one would have had problem with that. But it was polluted by name-calling and fallacious allegations. The State Chairman of the APC, Dr. Ben Nwoye, immediately addressed a press conference where he disowned the spokeswoman and warned that no one should use the party’s name to settle personal scores.
However, Osita Okechukwu confirmed the open secret as to the unseen hands behind the serial diatribes when he granted a counter-interview to further insult Ekweremadu and lend support to Kate Offor’s statement.
Osita could disagree with Ekweremadu on issues or on principle. But his antagonism of Ekweremadu is obviously one driven by jealousy, inferiority complex, anxiety, and ambition. Himself and his likes in the South East APC feel Ekweremadu would practically become the leader of the party in the State and zone if he crosses over. But, good enough, Ekweremadu depicted class and principle when he reduced them by saying he was not interested in joining the APC.
Osita has a legitimate ambition to succeed Ekweremadu as Senator Enugu West Senatorial District, but everyone, except Osita, sees as a mission impossible against Ekweremadu or whomever he throws his weight behind. Comparing Ekweremadu and Osita will be unfair and an insult to Ikeoha Ndigbo. One enjoys a cult-like followership in the State and beyond; the other is like a masquerade without masqueraders or an aircraft without an airstrip.
Come to think of it, what will attract a discerning Igbo man to the APC, a party that represents extreme hardship and by all means anti-Igbo. Even Ken Nnamani and Jim Nwobodo whose defection or imminent formalization of defection are being celebrated by the Enugu APC still have their wives as members of Enugu State University Governing Council, which they got under the PDP.
Indeed, in times like this, the likes of Osita should be contrite for selling to Nigerians a party that has practically collapsed the economy and quadrupled hardship; a party that has no respect for court orders and despises rule of law; and a party under which watch the sanctity of the ballot box has nosedived?
Ndigbo, such as Osita, already caught in APC’s web, should feel sorry for being part of a party that confessed before the world in Washington DC, USA, that it would not treat the South East and South-South fairly for voting against it, and has lived up to that promise.
It should bother Osita that those standing trial over the murder of hapless Bridget Agbahime in Kano were let off the hook by the Attorney-General of the APC government in Kano; that the Amnesty International’s allegation that federal forces extra-judicially killed at least 150 unarmed Ndigbo pro-Biafra activists has not been investigated by the APC-led FG; and that while those who steal cattle (rustlers) in parts of the north are bombed and routed by our fighter jets and military troops, suspected herdsmen who plunder, rape, and kill across Igbo Land with impunity are never apprehended or even seriously reprimanded. Osita was quick to say that Biafra is dead, but dares not condemn the herdsmen menace or condemn the total sidelining of Ndigbo from Security Council, as they are not considered good enough to head the Army, Air Force, Navy or Police or Civil Defence Corps.
One can go on and on, but a word is enough for the wise. Osita can envy or abuse Ekweremadu or talk down on Ndigbo the way he wants, but he should bear in mind that the butterfly will never grow into a bird.
Ozor wirtes from Enugu