Customarily I would not be the least interested in what Emeka Ojukwu Jnr does or don’t do, neither would I waste any sleep worrying about the many so-called Igbo political stalwarts who have decamped to the APC.
However, I get offended when I hear them give as a reason for joining the party the need for the Igbos to have a chance at getting the Presidential ticket for the 2023 elections as if it is a given, guaranteed, and with an electoral victory for such a candidate assured. Let me issue a spoiler alert. It may not happen and even if it does, there is no guarantee that a majority of the Moslem North will vote for an Igbo presidential candidate not if they have a Northerner running for the same position in another political party.
There are some who may argue that my assertion has no basis in reality since Jonathan won against Buhari in 2011. Well, that’s a good point but let us not forget that Jonathan was not only a former Vice-President but also a sitting President with all the powers of the office behind him. More important he was not considered a core Igbo candidate by the North.
In my opinion, the chances of an Igbo candidate winning the 2023 Presidential elections will be greatly assured if both the PDP and the APC present Igbo Presidential candidates. But then what prevents prominent Northern politicians from abandoning both parties and forming a new one as they did with the emergence of the APC in 2015 when they left the PDP in droves despite all efforts by Jonathan to please the North. What prevents some northern military elements from instigating a coup or create a national crisis that necessitates a state of emergency before or right after the 2023 elections so as to forestall an Igbo Presidency? Remember it has happened before hence the 1993 Buhari coup that toppled the Shagari Presidency was suspected in part to forestall the possibility of Ekwueme succeeding him. We Igbos seem to underestimate the distrust and dislike for us amongst a sizeable population of the two other ethnic majorities. All you need to do to ascertain this deep animosity is to look at Facebook comments by many non- Igbo Facebook users when issues relating to Biafra, Igbo marginalization, restructuring etc are posted.
The other reason some of these Igbo political interlopers to the APC have given is that the Igbos need to vote for the ruling party so as to benefit from federal government largesse in the form of federal infrastructural development of the South East, Federal appointments etc as if the South West that did so in 2015 have seen such benefits in the two-plus years of this administration. As we have seen, not even TInubu who championed their cause has been spared the humiliation from the people he helped gain power. The Vice-President himself was reduced to what the Aso Rock cabal termed the “Coordinator President” denying him the full powers of an “Acting President” so much so that he has been kept out of some meetings, disrespected by Security Chiefs when they refused to honor his request for a meeting with them or being bypassed when important documents were sent to the President in London to sign on his sick bed, the NNPC contract being a case in point. The reality is that in a true functioning democracy, who you voted for should not determine what benefits you get. Every region or citizen of a country is entitled to the same treatment irrespective of their voting preferences or political choices. We are beating a path to political perdition when we let our Government base its wealth or infrastructural distribution decisions on political affiliations and electoral support.
For me, it is rather unfortunate that the Igbo nation now seems to be in the business of negotiating its place in Nigeria like little children who need to play nice so as to be compensated with a piece of candy, a candy which may or may not taste nice. Besides I have a problem with people like Emeka Ojukwu jnr and his ilk declaring their support for a President and a party that is unwilling to embrace modern attitudes on ethnicity, social justice, and economic fairness. A President who has failed to remedy but has instead intensified the economic unfairness on the South Eastern states by a policy that has placed strict restrictions on available foreign exchange purchase by Igbo importers while same is made easily available to Moslems going to the Hajj in Mecca. A President who has imposed a policy of mandating foreign ships to discharge their cargo at the Lagos port instead of Calabar or Portharcourt ports much closer to the South Eastern importers thereby creating for them more expense in transportation costs, not to mention the seizure and emasculation of Ibeto cement business so as give Dangote legs up, an advantage or possible monopoly in the cement business. The list goes on and on.
By mentioning the budgetary allocation of 10 Billion Naira for the completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge 2 plus years into his Presidency as commendable as it is, in my opinion, is like flashing a shiny object before our eyes so as to get our support for 2019. He may be right to have suspended the contract so as to review the cost but two and half years is a little too long to complete such a review and resume the construction considering the importance of that bridge to the economic health of the South Eastern States and the national economy as a whole. It is very disheartening to see politicians generally and not just the President start making fake promises, flagging off constructions projects, visiting construction sites, awarding new contracts with no proof of budgetary allocations or availability of funds very close to their re-elections. But unfortunately as the gullible voters some of us have become, we tend to fall for them and the politicians know we can be fooled because as events have shown we have become a population suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome”, a condition whereby after years of abuse, the abused victim falls in love with the abuser and is grateful for any little act of kindness received.
Back to Emeka Ojukwu Jnr, it was really heart wrenching for me to see this pot-bellied Pygmalion dishonor the memory of his father and everything he stood for granted it is his right to join any party of his choice just like any other Nigerian. After all the late S. G Ikoku was a key leader in Awolowo’s “Action Group” while his father the legendary Educationist Dr. Alvan Ikoku was an NCNC stalwart. But then there is a difference which was ideological. The same cannot be said of Emeka Ojukwu Jnr who in my opinion is devoid of any core ideological beliefs or mooring. His decision to join the APC and express support for the President is not only a gross betrayal of his father’s memory but also a clear manifestation of his stupidity, foolishness, and ignorance of what his action says about his father’s legacy and place in Igbo land and whose cause and ultimate survival his father championed and fought for. When I saw Emeka Jnr shake the hands of a man who was once quoted as not only describing the Igbo’s as the 5% that must be ignored, who approved the military invasion of the South Eastern states with his Operation “Python dance” resulting in the death and humiliation of hundreds of young Igbo youths and who once said in an interview that he was willing “to kill more Igbo’s to keep Nigeria one “, I was not only revolted by the sight but also repulsed by the ignominy of it all.
It is true that one time enemies can be friends and past misdeeds forgiven. It is also true that anyone is capable of redemption and past grievances set aside-but then for such reconciliation to have any meaning and to endue they have to be genuine and heartfelt, something I’ve not seen from this President considering his actions, utterances, sectional preferences in his appointments etc. It is true that during the President’s recent visit to the South East, he has made some very complimentary, calming and reassuring comments but unfortunately, in the context of Nigerian politics, words mean nothing, instead look at their actions or non-actions which provide a true window into their heart. If Emeka Jnr believes this Leopard is capable of shedding his spots, then good luck to him but then I doubt he believes in the redemptive powers of this President, rather my guess is that it is all about political gratification and the drive to stick it to his stepmother, Bianca who is bent on carrying on the political crusade embarked upon by her late husband, the Ikemba under the auspices of the APGA party. The truth is that there is a degree of long- festering dysfunction in the immediate and larger Ojukwu family, some of which I was privy to because I once worked for the Ikemba as his Personal Assistant. But theirs is no different from what obtains in prominent families of this nature, however, it is rather unfortunate that this young man who was more like a prodigal son with no personal accomplishments of his own seems to always want to thrive on his father’s name while at the same time debasing his legacy.
This is a man who failed as the Sole Administrator of Nnewi, a position he did not earn based on his personal antecedent or accomplishments. A young man who was widely acknowledged as a drunk and had a notoriety of being a carouser and philanderer. As much as I do not make these comments with liberal condescension on his person, let me say my heartbreak dwarfs my anger. If I sound bitter, I am because I knew his father, worked for him, respected him and never found him to be a purveyor of disloyalty or sycophancy. He was a man who was principled and had core beliefs. A man who would never sacrifice the interest and welfare of the Igbo people on the altar of personal expediency or gratification. Unfortunately, I find his son to be a self -serving fellow for whom logic, loyalty, and moral consistency do not occupy any space in his resume. Let me repeat Emeka Ojukwu Jnr has the right to join any political party of his choice, but this time he is doing so for the wrong reasons and solely for his personal benefit.
As 2019 approaches I believe the APC has come to the realization that the Southwest will not be easy picking for them electorally hence they need a new bride in the South East, and the Igbos have become their new cheap date to take to the dance with the promise of a couple of drinks. But to achieve their goal, they need a bunch of Igbo political charlatans and prostitutes who will sell their souls for a morsel of bread in the form of appointments, contracts, Ambassadorships and for people like Orji Uzo Kalu, a chance to be the APC Presidential candidate come 2023. These are not men of any moral conviction or burning desire for Igbo advancement and as such should not be taken seriously. Political parties in developed democracies are judged by their policies, and ideologies, not by their membership because if the reverse is the case I doubt anyone will want to vote for the APC because people like Gov Okorocha, OUK, Emeka Jnr and a host of others are members. However, I find it hilarious when I hear some APC apologists, crow over the decamping of Emeka Ojukwu Jnr to their party. The man is of no consequence. He has no political following after having lost elections of his own in his hometown. Other than the symbolism of his membership, the APC I regret to say has absolutely nothing to gain from his membership. The APC has to redeem itself in the eyes of people from the South East. The President still has the chance to redeem himself too if he chooses to do so. A thousand Igbo self- proclaimed political leaders will not do it for them and I don’t think they can do so before the 2019 elections. That notwithstanding they will hurt their brand and their redemptive prospects if they try to use security officials to interfere or rig the coming Anambra state elections in their favor. Talking about the Anambra state Governorship elections, I am willing to bet on the victory of Obiano, not because he does not have any administrative failings or failures in leadership, rather he will win because he is the most qualified of the bunch contesting and has shown proven and verifiable accomplishments as Governor unlike his counterparts in Imo and Abia states. More important, he is a principled politician who remains loyal and steadfast to the party under whose platform he got elected. I wish him well.
Nnanna Ijomah is a New York City resident.