By Emmanuel Aziken
The offer of a soaked slice of bread made by APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at the party’s presidential campaign rally on Wednesday has been enmeshed in controversy.
Once your correspondent heard of it, he took time to listen to the whole speech of the APC presidential candidate at Okpara Square, Enugu.
Tinubu was in reality referring to APC stakeholders in the state, nay, region, as he welcomed the national vice-chairman, Southeast, Emma Eneukwu.
He said: “you have represented well, the national chairman of our party but nobody will give all of you any credit, you are working hard, you are sweating now, we want you to sweat well for this party until Bola Tinubu became (sic) the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will not give you but a slight clamp or a soaked slice of bread.”
Given the difficult task in comprehending Tinubu it was difficult for many to understand who the offer of a soaked slice of bread was really for. Was it for Eneukwu, or the APC stakeholders from the Southeast or even for Ndigbo as a whole?
Whatever, the assertion subsequently drew sharp comments from stakeholders from within and outside the region. A story in GWG.ng titled (Tinubu’s Slice Of Bread Stirs Storm After Enugu Rally https://gwg.ng/2023/01/12/tinubus-slice-of-bread-stirs-storm-after-enugu-rally/) aptly gathered twitter reactions on the issue.
Given the difficult relations between the two dominant ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria, it was not difficult for the issue to turn into a little ethnic war as the GWG story reported.
While several Yoruba took sides and defended the APC candidate and the Igbo took the other side, it was remarkable to note an increasing breach of the ethnic divide.
Your correspondent observed that a number of Yoruba who have for one reason or the other taken position against their kinsman, that is Tinubu, were quick to identify with what they saw as a slur against the Igbo.
This breach of ethnic solidarity is reflected in the way that some leading Yoruba, including the pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere have identified with Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party as against their own son, Tinubu.
Some have now said that the loss of ethnic solidarity among the Yoruba for Tinubu could be the reason for the increased offer of a soaked slice of bread up from the normal dry loaf that the APC presidential candidate had supposedly been offering to Ndigbo.
It is easily remembered that when Tinubu toured the states with goodies in the tow across the country before the presidential primaries that he did not visit the Southeast. The Southeast delegates of the party were asked to meet him in Abuja.
To be fair to Tinubu, the same amount of goodies was provided for the Southeast delegates of the APC. However, the goodies were delivered through some of their controversial leaders. Your correspondent reports that only few days ago that stakeholders in Enugu State complained that provisions made for delegates had six months after the presidential primaries not been delivered.
In neighbouring Anambra State, the Tinubu goodies were reportedly channeled through a major and controversial stakeholder who told the delegates to go to hell!
While some have fumed that Tinubu could not have gone to the North to offer their stakeholders a soaked slice of bread, some also argued that the offer of a soaked slice of bread was a remarkable improvement from the dry slice of bread they may have gotten in the past.
Few would forget that associates of the APC presidential candidate had in the recent past threatened to throw Igbo who refuse to bend into the lagoon.
Whatever, it is remarkable that Tinubu said he would offer the stakeholders a soaked slice of bread. But what was not said was if the slice of bread would be soaked in honey or in water.
What is remarkable is that for APC stakeholders in the Southeast, their response to the offer of a soaked slice of bread is laced in confusion. It is remarkable that some of the leading stakeholders of the party including Senator Ken Nnamani, Chief Sullivan Chime, Okechukwu Osita among others boycotted the Enugu rally for Tinubu.
Their boycott was on account of the alleged encroachment of the state chapter of the APC by Senator Hope Uzodimma, the Imo State governor. Uzodimma is accused by stakeholders in Enugu of foisting former PDP members on the state leadership of the party including the governorship candidate.
The protest of the stakeholders to the national leadership has been to no avail. Uzodimma is also alleged to have foisted his acolytes upon the leadership of the party in the four other states with the notable exception of Ebonyi where Governor Dave Umahi holds sway.
It is for this reason that whether Tinubu gives Ndigbo a dry morsel or a soaked slice of bread they really may not have an option because they operate as a divided house. Who would forget that not too long ago that Senator Orji Uzor Kalu was campaigning that Senator Ahmad Lawan was destined to be president despite the preponderance of arguably better materials around him within and outside the APC.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.