By Jude Eze
The perennial resentment at their systemic political exclusion in Nigeria, by Ndigbo, is gradually getting demystified. Prior to the recent party national primary elections, everyone had believed that this tribal alienation which Ndigbo have lamented over the years was heightened by President Buhari’s apparent insensitivity to Nigeria’s delicate sociocultural and religious diversity. The blames were rightly shifted to the centre. It is always emotionally satisfying, to point fingers to external causes, for one’s misfortunes. So, the Igbos have since 2015 been taking respite in the convenient argument that Nnamdi Kanu, and all other secessionist crusaders (and the widespread bickering) within the zone were creations of Buhari’s stark seclusion of the people, and a just angst against national disconnect.
This belief had held sway till Igbo delegates to the party primaries, by their greed and selfishness, let off steam that the real enemies of the South-East are from within its borders.
As PDP and APC blatantly refused to honour the persistent calls of justice, equity and fairness to zone their presidential tickets to the South-East, all lovers of national equity expected that these parties’ stakeholders from Ala Igbo would beat a retreat. The world is aware of popular cultural nugget among the Igbos that “onye ajuru aju, anaghi aju onwe ya” – the rejected doesn’t reject himself. It implies that self stigmatization is the worst of all social abnegations.
But the over 300 Igbo delegates and stakeholders at the primaries betrayed that age-long shibboleth. They gleefully embraced the ignominy of dollar rain, where the two major parties chose Muslims to succeed Buhari, another Muslim who will be finishing his two-term regime by May 29, 2023. This was a punch in the very snout of the country’s religious diversity. While the North struggled almost through their noses to ensure both parties had northern Muslims presidential candidates, the Landlord of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, another Muslim from the South, as the highest bidder, took the ticket.
Igbos in APC saw nothing wrong with that decision. Same goes to Igbo big wigs in PDP.
Recall: Ndigbo spent their entire 23 years since the return to democracy nurturing and oxygenating PDP, only to be denied their due turn for the party’s presidential ticket, by those who have been crisscrossing between the Party and opposition.
By this time in 2015, all northern political elites have abandoned the Jonathanian government, and its party and openly switched allegiance to Gen. Mohammad Buhari and APC. Those left behind were only there as spies to ensure total capsizing of the ship. And six years later, having seen that Ndigbo had sustained PDP (which they thought was due for interment after 2015), with high propensity of giving its tickets to Igbos, they strolled back into the fold and infiltrated the party with vile-some fumigants to suffocate any chances of Igbo presidency.
Unfortunately, the South-East zonal caucuses of both parties were more interested in how the permutation will oil their traitorous palms and lubricate their bottomless pockets. Nothing else could explain their gang up against the only credible aspirants from their zone – Peter Obi and Dave Umahi.
The five executive near-simpletons of the zone, ganged up against Peter Obi and never pretended about it. And when Obi left PDP, they aggregated their supports around former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike.
All these happened underground. They were not vocal in their disavowal of Obi’s candidacy. Perhaps, most of them hoped for vice presidential (running mate) slot. But when Delta Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa got the nod, all hopes of South-East contingents collapsed forlornly. Then, to save themselves from the looming political oblivion, some of them (even the most respected) are currently coming out bare-facedly, campaigning against Obi.
Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in an interview, was the first to exhibit the illusionist theory that Ndigbo will not vote for Peter Obi and used the opportunity to clad Gov. Okowa in strange Igbo paternity robes. In fact, nothing scandalizes Obi’s promoters more than his lack of home supports. Everyone, including the controversial priest of Enugu diocese, Fr. Mbaka, were out to pull him down!
Like the CEO of Afri Forecasts, Mr. Ken Eluma Asogwa wrote: “given the nationwide unprecedented surge in support of Peter Obi’s presidential ambition, it is now getting clearer to the establishment, especially the economic locusts that have held Nigeria down since the 60s, that real danger is lurking around. Food is about to be taken away from the mouths of so many politicians and crumb-pickers who largely depend on Nigeria’s incongruous patronage system for survival. Politicians (especially from southeast) now fall over one another in the investment of efforts to puncture Peter Obi’s claims to prudence, and other sundry claims to his competence, in order to generate currency for their own campaigns. While doing this, they keep exposing how unprepared they are.”
Atypically, one of such Peter Obi’s latter-day traducers is Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State who, as we all know, is not in the ballot for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. Soludo’s new-found love for the criticism of Obi, I understand, is futuristic. Before the emergence of Prof. Soludo as the governor of Anambra State, Igbos have often been blackmailed by other ethnic nationalities with questions bordering on lack of “presidential materials” that could be presented to the Centre. Save for Peter Obi, who all along has emblematically been a lone voice typically crying in the wilderness, most of the (if not all) other Igbo politicians who straddle the national space are mere self-seekers, robed in borrowed garbs.
Soludo, hiding under the shadow of his Commissioner for Finance, has been busy discrediting Obi, giving out values of the over $12M investment, which Obi made for the state as being depreciative, judging by current economic reality.
In the words of Onwuasoanya FCC, “How do you explain a situation where a supposed expert in finance shamelessly tells you that the value of an investment made over eight years ago is determined by the current exchange value of the exact amount invested? One does not need to be an economist or an expert in finance to know that it is only a fraudster who would give out such silly analysis.”
Peter Obi bought a share, and a share is an investment, that is expected to yield returns. He invested funds, which have been yielding dividends. If Soludo’s finance commissioner passed his Economics at SSCE level, he should have kept mute over this than coming out to advertise his illiteracy with relish.
The Anambra State government is expected to tell Nigerians how much they have drawn from that investment and how much that share value is, currently.
From Chris Ngige, to Ekweremadu, to Soludo, to party primary delegates, it is obvious, there is avowed elitist conspiracy against Peter Obi’s presidential bid, among his kinsmen. You can imagine a gentleman like Valentine Ozigbo, the PDP flag bearer in the 2021 Anambra guber election, whom Obi gave all supports to ensure his emerged at both primary and main elections, taking a redundant seat of silence against Obi’s campaign. Everyone had expected him to be at the forefront of this project. Instead, it is a Yoruba man, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who like the three wise men (Matt. 2:1-2) saw the star in Obi and had crossed the Niger, offering his erudition and experience, to pay Obi’s ambition a befitting homage.
This is happening at a time other political heavyweights in the South-East zone had continued to fulfill the verdict of Christ that “prophets are honoured elsewhere, but not in their hometowns” (Mk. 6:4).
Apparently, 2023 is unmasking the real enemies of Ndigbo in Nigeria’s power struggle. Peter Obi’s candidacy has revealed more than we knew before.
Everyone would’ve thought that since Obi’s choice and overwhelming acceptance had gone beyond the whims and caprices of ethno-religious bearing, to a more competence-driven crusade, these men would have a rethink.
What is left to be seen is, if stakeholders of the other remaining five geopolitical zones would see in Obi, what the Youths saw in him, and accord him the supports they gave Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, when his Yoruba kinsmen rejected him in like manner, twice during the 1999 and 2003 presidential elections.
Jude Eze, a public affairs analyst can be reached via [email protected]