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When a higher call to duty beckons

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By Jasper Uche

BLACKMAIL, unfortunately, is one variant of the struggle for power. In Nkeiruka’s case, no dart was spared. Indeed, seemingly inescapable booby traps were lined up.

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Nobody gave her a chance, except the ‘wretched of the earth’ who saw her emergence as their lifeline. Her traducers basked in euphoria of her anticipated eclipse from political limelight. They made jest of her, and swore by their ballooned ego – that she was a goner. Jaundiced political permutations confined her to an underdog, but they were dead wrong.

God made nonsense of the wiles of mortal men and principalities, and rewarded her with an unassailable victory to consolidate her good representation of Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives; to the chagrin of anti-democratic spin doctors.

Though the ruling APC was not strongly rooted in her state, and in the entire South East, but her movement from PDP to APC brightened the fortunes of the party in the last election, and is turning to a launching pad for Ndigbo in the incoming ninth Assembly.

At the present eigthAssembly, which would come to an end by early June 2019, not a few believed that she is eminently fitted, by ranking and cognate experience, to occupy the highest position slated for the South East (deputy minority leader), but she was denied the position.

As a corollary, the South East zone lost a strong voice in the present leadership of House of Representatives. Be that as it may, the destiny of a daughter of Zion cannot be truncated. The offspring of a lioness (a cub) can never take grass for supper. So, she remained upbeat and undeterred. She moved on with exceptional gusto. She built bridges across party divides and geo-political enclaves. Her re-election was a multi-party agenda. Empowerment of human capital became a defining stuff in her political trajectory.

Her passion and capacity to take hundreds of youths out of the streets projected her as one with a Midas touch, in a nation where nearly 100 million people are living in extreme poverty, and where ‘youth bulge’ is fast becoming an existential threat to democratic consolidation. Besides, thousands of women who take refuge in her works of charity, like the biblical Dorcas, turned to her prayer warriors.

Progressively, her personification of the struggle for gender mainstreaming in a male-dominated environment has become a dosage for strategic fence mending and moderation of ethnocentric fault-line in the country. Hence, her support base is burgeoning beyond the traditional catchment areas.

Nkeiruka Onyejeocha’s quest to operate from the driver’s seat in the ninth Assembly is turning into a silver lining for Ndigbo. She is filing out to demand, and interrogate the contrived exclusion of Ndigbo in the national political economy. The APC apparatchiks think that Ndigbo do not deserve a stake in official allotment of key national offices in the three arms of government.

They are re-inventing the post-2015 97% vs 5% wheel, forgetting that the country, more than ever before, is in a great need of national solidarity and cohesion. Even the colonial masters did not lose sight of the tripod make-up of the country in all strategic calculations and horse-trading towards their disengagement. But our today’s victors want to gloss over the incendiary injustice against Ndigbo.

Yes, Ndigbo largely voted for PDP, but what of those in APC that checkmated a massive harvest of votes against APC in the South East, which could have countered the gains from the far North? Is it just a fluke that APC did better in the 2019 elections in the South East? Experienced politicians are aware that electoral victory is a factor of either amassing as many votes as possible or frustrating the opponents in their areas of strength and popularity.

For me, it is an act of political shortsightedness, lack of sensitivity to national mood or outright impunity to deny Ndigbo the headship of any arm of government on account of poor electoral output for the ruling APC from the zone.

To think that APC can move on without accommodating the South East will engender ‘peace of the graveyard’, and strengthen alliances among the ever widening marginalized groups across the country.  The expediency of sidestepping the South East in power balancing carries the seed of its own destruction.

As exemplified in Zamfara’s political tsunami, erecting an aesthetic structure on a quicksand leads to an inevitable great fall. In many respects, Nkeiruka’s aspiration is a justified struggle (Oguejiofo). Her candidature is an Igbo project. Her ambition transcends party cleavages. Like an episodic amazon, she is suffused with the conviction that it is better to join the trenches, and engage those intending to reduce Ndigbo to second class citizens.

Nkeiruka’s political brinkmanship represents a brand for confronting the status quo. She raises her voice for the oppressed. God raised her from a humbling background to intervene for those who suffer all forms of injustice.

She is not among the class of those who would rather rule in hell than serve in paradise. She is campaigning for a pan-Nigerian mandate to enable her bring a feminine touch to the hydra-headed governance deficit in the country. She has the guts and masculine agility to fend off the pomp of power.

She speaks her mind. She has a good education and comportment. She is seasoned, cosmopolitan in thinking, and parades the quality of a bridge between the old and young.

Our country’s two decades of democratic experiment can be spiced up with a female speaker from Igbo extraction. That would be one of the greatest legacies of APC-led Federal Government. The nation cannot afford to be at odds with itself. The present crop of federal parliamentarians have a historic duty to give women a pride of place in public affairs.

They need to keep the centrifugal forces at bay by ensuring political inclusiveness. Nkeiruka is an illustrious daughter of the South East. She will not let our country down. She is a pride to womanhood. The youths draw inspiration from her footprints. Let us give her a chance. That is the way to go.

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