It is a common logic that when a people of common origin and ancestral history come together under one umbrella, they have almost everything at their disposal to do and undo. With their influence, they can do exceedingly and hypnotize even their enemies to their own camp. Nevertheless, when the reverse is the case, what you get is a direct opposite—a feeling of betrayal, of being excluded in the scheme of things and at its height, a feeling of subjugation and marginalization. Such a people end up becoming vassals to those who understand the ostentatious value of the word “Unity” and how indispensable a tool it is in the game of politics, the level of their civilization notwithstanding.
Without any equivocation, the entire Igbo race fits perfectly into the latter group described above. My father will always refer to a man who has so many sons but yet hasn’t an outstanding one among them as Odi Ukwu enwe Nnekwu which means, “having large numbers but without a superior”. Also, Ndigbo by their acts and inactions have shown since after the war that they are a prototype of a people who despite their huge number and influence, their wealth, their ingenuity name them, but yet have failed to single out a person who they look up to as the face of Ndigbo. Don’t tell me a thing about the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike.
Whether they are consciously or unconsciously acting in line with the age-long axiom which says: “Igbo enwe eze” (that Igbo’s have no kings) or not, somebody may want to tell me. The average Igbo man sees himself as a king in his own compound/house and doesn’t seem to care about what happens in the clan generally. Whether they do, or do not, it is only but a matter of time before they are written off in the poli (tricks) of this country if they/we refuse to change the status quo. Pardon my pessimism.
Except for the days when the Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was still alive, the entire descendants of ‘Nri’ as myths and legend will have us belief, have never again laid claims to a single political figure that will be their voice and mouthpiece unlike the Yoruba’s and Hausa Fulani’s west and North of the divide respectively. For the average Igbo man, he does not care. He is more engrossed and ensconced in his container on the high sea, his customers coming all the way from Chad or Niger Republic to do business than he is in the politics of the South East. He fails to understand that the number of sales he makes cannot correct the decrepit state of the East-West road or lead to the flagging off a second Niger bride or perhaps an international Airport in Anambra state and many other dividends of governance lacking in the region today. He prefers to board an airplane and land on another man’s land and then board a bus back to his country-home on roads which are hardly motorable. A conflation of the foregoing and many more, leaves people like me wondering where the so-called intelligence the Igbo man is adjudged to have, lies? Does the weakness of the Igbo race lie in their strength? Here am I wondering, looking up to the heavens to reveal that.
That Ndigbo has or have been “denied” a chance at the plum job of the presidency, is no index of how the region has been marginalized as is been pedaled among some feeble and gullible minds who have no time to sift between what they conceive and what they do away with. The only time the region came close to securing that pristine position, was way back in 1979 during the Shagari era which saw Dr. Alex Ekwueme as the vice president and since then, we have only wandered like itinerants on the corridors of power (the same way the Fulani herdsmen scamper for greener pastures with their cattle’s) without going any close to where the seat lies and without any prospects of doing so at least not in time soon.
It is true that we are a nation (even though the artificial lattice used in bounding us together, continues to wear out at the pass of each day) and such should not concern ourselves with where the president comes from but should rather be concerned with electing a leader who will rule us in the manner true leaders do but it is also rational that for a region which constitute the Big three and whose blood some people say has been used as the sacrifice to keep Nigeria one, ought to have produced a president since after the six months reign of Major General JTU Aguiyi Ironsi in the dark years of military rule but the converse has been the case. Ndigbo has indirectly denied themselves accession to the seat of power and have chosen to become vassals and minions to those who thought better than they had done despite their supposed intelligence. What shame!
The five SouthEastern governors as far as I know have failed to establish little or no synergy among themselves as opposed to the unity and level of cooperation that thrive in the south western states where the Asiwaju of Yoruba Land, Chief Bola Tinubu is seen as some sort of a demi-god in the eyes of the technocrats and also the electorates as opposed to the Ngige’s, the Nnamani’s, the Nzeribes and Orji Uzor Kalu’s who have ‘ignorantly’ continued to treat the symptoms, forgetting about the remote causes of Ndigbo’s continuous exemption in the scheme of things at the center. It is not surprising that today the defunct ACN has wrestled the former PDP states and won them over to the newly formed APC even before the merger and has today, made the South-West to be a tough contender for the presidency and a thorn in the flesh of the ruling PDP. That is what unity does and that is what the south eastern states lack and that is unfortunately why the presidency may still be beyond our reach for a long time except by the twist of providence, until we go back to the drawing board and chart out a new course.
Is it so difficult for the southeastern politicians to form a force that must be reckoned with? The late ezeigbo gbururu, left a legacy behind by forming a political party that will be the ticket of Ndigbo and the wagon with which they will pull resources together and ride to the presidency in time to come but ever since the death of the iconic leader, things have continued to fall apart and the center refusing to hold. Vintage Ndigbo.
Only a few weeks ago, the internal strife in APGA was settled between the Umeh led faction and the Maxi Okwu led splinter group, but just few days into the euphoria of that victory, Governor Rochas Okorocha, defected to the newly formed progressives and sticks out his chest to say, he has no regret. Of course he may have no regret since we are experimenting a democracy where liberty is the cardinal principle but then that is what happens when a people fail to grid their loins and put their house in order. APGA no doubt failed to do what it ought to have been doing and indirectly gave Rochas the leeway to defect to the merger party without an official intimation to his former party not even at the risk of being almost a ‘nobody’ in his new party. That is what disunity can do and let me be quoted anywhere that except for Peter Obi’s respect for the late Igbo Leader, he would have today, defected to the PDP. Thank God people like him still have human conscience.
In the last couple of years, the PDP dominated the south western states save Lagos state not until in recent past that we saw an almost ‘unopposed’ Bola Tinubu bit by bit, reclaiming the states back into the broom sweeping ACN and this no doubt, drew the merger parties CPC and ANPP into that merger vision with the ACN that has now become a reality—that is what unity does in politics. It makes a people conspicuous and thus, woos people from without, within. People from the outside are lured within by the unity/synergy set in motion and are most likely to be forced into joining forces with you. Me thinks, that’s what played out in the defunct ACN that has today metamorphosed into the APC and the very fact that the merger group retained the logo of the ACN, speaks volume of how much influence the Yoruba caucus of the party has, and when they present a Hausa/Yoruba candidate for the presidency, you can only imagine how much votes they will pull in a free and fair election, not the type Mugabe’s Zimbabwe just came out from.
My grouse is: why couldn’t the southeastern governors replicate same in the southeast? Why couldn’t Obi/Rochas pull their resources together to win over Elechi’s Ebonyi state, Theodore Orji’s Abia state and Sullivan’s Enugu state and possibly some south-south states just in the way the ACN won over Oshiomole’s Edo state to their side. But where is the unity to broker that deal? It is even worse among the electorates who have divided interest with their votes. The novel truth is: had APGA won over the south eastern states, they could have possibly joined the newly formed progressives and the south east will be assured of producing a presidential candidate of Igbo extraction in a rotational or zonal presidency which the APC are bound to be guided by to ensure smooth internal democracy.
Today, the south west no doubt has gotten their voice in the political debate of this country and is getting better than they were yesterday bit by bit. Who knows, it’s only a matter of time before they lay claims to the presidency once more. Where is the south east? We still don’t know where the rain began to beat us neither are we going to know where and when the rain will stop beating us. My greatest fear is: once the GEJ days are over in the PDP, the north will reclaim the topmost job there. The votes of the south east will only be used as a consolidation and I don’t see the PDP presenting a south easternern anytime soon as its presidential candidate or even as a vice-president hopeful and I hope I am not expected to explain why. This ‘disunity’ on the part of Igbo politicians I repeat, continues to be the albatross to their political aspirations and not any marginalization been pedaled across borders. Nobody is marginalizing anybody here; if anything, we have surpassed that stage. Igbo’s, must come together, form a front and be a force that must be reckoned with and only then, will she be taken serious for the seat at Aso Rock Villa.
If we must be taken serious and not to be seen as a people whose votes are/is used as a means to gratify the selfish end of others, we must come together to form a regional alliance at the state executive level, and be able to replicate same at the state and National assembly’s as only thence will we be getting our eyes fixated on the presidency. It takes beyond being captains of industries and building business empires both far and near. Success in the public domain is not and can never be enough compensation for failure at home.
Bertolt Brecht, German doctor, poet and philosopher was right when he said, “the worst illiterate is the political illiterate because he does not seem to know that the price of beans or flour and other dividends of governance depend on his active or passive interest or participation in politics”. Ndigbo must not fit into that equation. Ala Igbo ga’adi nma. (Igbo land will be better).
The writer is on twitter as @yung_silky
Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?
Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.
In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.
In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.
In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.
As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’
Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.
The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.
On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.
In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.
With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.
The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.
Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.
Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.
PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye
We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!
So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.
Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A
Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.
The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?
The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.
He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….
The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.
Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”
It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.
My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.
Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.
Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.
I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.
The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.
“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.
In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.
In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.
Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.
As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.
‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.
And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.
To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.
So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.
But Sanusi was still talking.
Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.
I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.
Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
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