By Donu Kogbara
ON this page last week, I contradicted people who have a low opinion of Igbos and feel that they do not deserve presidential power.
The response to my article surprised me. It went viral and was shared on several online platforms in Nigeria and internationally. It was as if I had accidentally touched a super-sensitive raw nerve.
A gaggle of rabid, knee-jerk ethnic bigots crawled out of the woodwork to insult or query me for daring to say that it is extremely unfair to condemn the entire population of the South-East.
“If Igbos are OK, why are they so unpopular?” was a question I was frequently asked, either directly or on social media threads.
Meanwhile, many Igbos reacted as if they’d been sadly holding their breaths with tears in their eyes for decades – and waiting for an opportunity to exhale and publicly express frustration about the painful prejudice to which they’d been subjected by other Nigerians.
The thing that shocks me most is the fact that some unrepentant Igbophobes are young. One would have thought that Millennials (aged 25 to 40) and the Gen Z brigade (aged 9 to 24) would leave irrational and frankly primitive unkindness to old cargoes and focus on being modern, open-minded citizens of the 21st century.
Ah well. Never mind.
If we human beings were even one tenth as good as we could and should be, Heaven and Earth would be indistinguishable! So let us not be too amazed by the injustices that prevail in this mortal sphere.
Meanwhile, some (not all!) Igbos are absolutely convinced that those who dislike them are simply jealous because Igbos are, according to them, uniquely intelligent, entrepreneurial and affluent. I hate this kind of triumphalism because it is vulgar and immodest; but you know what? Annoyingly boastful individuals and ethnic chauvinists exist within every single tribe in this country.
And let’s be honest: Igbos have plenty to boast about because, thanks to their penchant for hard work and despite the penalties they’ve suffered since the Biafran civil war, they shine pretty brightly within academic, professional and commercial milieux. Igbos have certainly achieved enough to inspire envy in – or to at least arouse the competitive instincts of – Northerners and fellow Southerners who are interested in education and business activity.
Meanwhile, Fulanis are also very unpopular for various reasons, including rampaging herdsmen, the arrogant “born to rule” mentality that key Fulanis embrace and a widespread belief that Fulani leaders are unproductive and haven’t earned the huge benefits they enjoy.
Fulanis have a far from perfect reputation. But nobody runs around shrilly informing the world that Fulanis must never run Nigeria! Meanwhile, a Vanguard reader who wishes to remain nameless emailed me to say that: “Igbophobia, like anti-Semitism has no justification, neither will it ever end.”
I sincerely hope that this depressing and pessimistic comment is proved wrong because tribalism is completely unacceptable. Anyway, to all of the Igbos who thanked me for standing up for them and theirs, I can only say: “You’re welcome, ladies and gentlemen.”
A gracious godfather
I HAVE never given much thought to the outgoing governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano. But I now view him with respect.
Why? Because he has urged Anambra people to totally support the incoming governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo…whose victory would not have been possible without substantial help from Obiano.
Obiano issued this plea to Anambrarians when he joined the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Reverend Valerian Okeke, on a pastoral visit to St. Dominic’s Parish Agaja, Abatete in Idemili North Local Goverment Area.
The thing that has impressed me most is the fact that after he had thanked his constituents for voting for his candidate. Obiano told them that he reckoned Soludo – who will take over on March 17 – would perform better than he had.
In a country where the majority of political godfathers are egomaniacs who can’t bear the thought of being outshone by their successors and often go out of their way to choose mediocre or downright useless heirs, Obiano’s humility and genuine concern for his state’s future deserve the highest praise.
Soludo is a premier league technocrat and brainbox. Kudos to Obiano for giving him a chance. Many political godfathers would be intimidated by Soludo’s CV because it would make them feel inadequate. Many political godfathers are so ridiculously vain that they would regard Soludo as beneath them, even if he wasn’t.
Obiano is different and a big man who doesn’t have an inferiority complex or superiority complex is a big man after my own heart!
Let us pray that Soludo does not let Obiano down or let the electorate down. May he go out of his way to fulfil his potential and take Anambra to the next level.
Another unselfish godfather
SOMEONE sent me the following story from the former Borno State Governor, Shettima. He was talking about his successor: “I appointed him [the very able current Governor, Zulum] as Rector Borno State College of Agric; he did not build a house of his own. I appointed him as Borno State Commissioner for Reconstruction which l allocated N20billion to construct houses for lDPs [Internally Displaced Persons]. Zulum did not build his house but was still staying in his family house in Maiduguri.
I was so shocked that l paid him an unscheduled visit only to confirm it was true. I made up my mind that day that he was going to replace me; but I never informed him. 32 Borno State APC members wanted to succeed me in office; l was just laughing, knowing fully well that I had already chosen the most corruption free politician I have ever seen.
I brought the idea of him succeeding me; he vehemently rejected it and travelled out to Mecca. He came back; I asked him again only for him to tell me he did not have money to purchase even governorship form talk more of campaigns. So I personally purchased his normination form and provided funds for his campaigns.
Today I’m happy because I gave Borno State the best governor ever.” Bravo also to Shettima. I don’t know what word to use for someone who is a true patriot at state level. But Shettima and Obiano are it.