Many years ago my late friend, Aaron Agbatekwe, was a regular columnist for the Guardian. One day I asked him why an Estate Surveyor and Valuer should spend so much time writing columns for which he was not being paid and which not many people read. He said he wrote out of interest hoping at least some people would take note. Later I changed to reading the Vanguard and enjoyed reading the late Pini Jason avidly. He is now gone and may God bless him. On 16th April, 2015, a title caught my attention. It was `When Igbos shot themselves in the foot’ by Omorotionmwan. I was tempted to ignore it but later wondering why people should pollute the pages of newspapers with poorly thought out ideas decided to take him on. I wrote my piece and sent it to the e-mail address supplied. But it bounced back – maeler daemon! In frustration I sent a copy to Ocherome Nnanna who had a piece on the same page. The result was the same – maeler daemon. When I remembered that a rejoinder I had sent to Chioma Gabriel some months earlier had suffered the same fate it dawned on me that these brilliant columnists just write what they want and put fictitious mail addresses so that nobody will take them on! So they have a licence to write whatever they like!

As a student in London, during the Nigerian Civil War at the time it was clear that Biafra was on the losing end, I remember a British journalist, possibly Frederick Forsythe who later became a great novelist, prophesying that Igbos would be eating humble pie for the foreseeable future. As you may know, before the war the Igbos were on the ascendancy in most areas of life in Nigeria.  But the war turned the Igbo society and indeed the Nigerian society upside down, destroying the well organised Igbo way of life, leadership and morality, impoverishing them and enthroning the dregs of the Igbo society, erstwhile layabouts who became suppliers of Igbo girls and contractors to the soldiers, making them the new elite. 

The Igbos were helpless when States were created thus short-changing them.  Indigenisation was carried out when they were still prostrate. Obasanjo played his part during his stint as president for eight years from 1999 when he made it impossible for Igbos to see him or do anything with government without going through some characters, fronts, including school dropouts and erstwhile lorry drivers whom he had enriched and enthroned as Igbo leaders and mouthpieces. He did nothing to develop the south east – after all he was the `great’ war commander who accepted the surrender of the Igbos, the all-conquering hero! Recently an Igbo man was sacked from his job as head of the Census Board because he mouthed the obvious truth that previous census figures were cooked up. Nobody cared. After all he was an Igbo man, dispensable. The humble pie is still the Igbo man’s menu.

I see the puerile view point expressed in Vanguard of 16th April, 2015, as part of the humble pie.  That one is a regular columnist does not mean that he, obviously seeing himself as a well informed individual, should not be more thoughtful in what he writes. To him Igbos `shot themselves in the foot’, because an Igbo would not be President of the Senate since they did not have the sense to vote for the APC, in particular, Ngige! If they had voted for APC one of them would have `been invited to come and chop’- remember what Afolabi told Bola Ige during Obasanjo’s reign. Ige, instead of shutting up and taking his share of the national cake was rocking the Obasanjo boat. We all know what happened to Bola Ige. An Igbo man would have been able to, quote him, `…handle the gavel and shout at the top of the voice….’ He would then collect the whopping share of the national cake that Senate Presidents, Senators and members of the National Assembly collect, find jobs and contracts for his relatives and cronies and grow fat. Igbos have committed the abominable and refused to come and chop from the APC table! To him that is what the tens of millions of Igbos are losing.

So, to him, not voting for APC is how we `dispatched our first eleven to the dust bin!’ So those who vied on the platform of the APC are the Igbos `first eleven’.  To him, if there had been no rigging Ngige, one of his first eleven, would have won his Senate seat. Who told him? Please note that the PDP used the security agencies and INEC to rig the Anambra State elections and `win’ the three Senatorial seats. APC is not popular in Anambra. Another statement about the need for `Ndigbo to do the bidding of their hosts’ in Lagos is most shocking coming from a supposedly enlightened man! I live in Lagos but Oba Akiolu is not my host and cannot send me or other Ndigbo packing from Lagos. It is claimed that he made the statement as a joke to some people who call themselves `Eze Ndigbo.’ In his position he should not be making such a joke. We are citizens of Nigeria and can live anywhere we want. And he said Jimi Agbaje told Ndigbo that he would build a palace for their Eze equal to Akiolu’s palace. Well, if he believed that he can believe anything! Please note that these `Eze Ndigbo’ have no relevance to the millions of Igbos labouring for three square meals a day in Lagos.

Am I to understand that he is an advocate of a one-party state? That is what Nigeria would have amounted to if Ndigbo voted the APC. Even as it is we are heading in that direction. Note that to me, for now, until the APC proves me wrong the two parties are simply groups vying for the sharing of the national booty with no ideological differences. The Yoruba block formed APC in alliance with the North. It should have been obvious to any thinking person that the PDP, having ruled for sixteen years and having transformed majority of Nigerians into abject poverty was going out. But the PDP hoped that the security agencies and INEC could help rig it back into power but failed and is now in opposition and believe it or not, there will be defections to the APC and the APC might, sooner or later, conceivably have two thirds majority in the Senate. If not for the terrible rigging the PDP carried out in the South East and South South to `win’ most states there the APC would have won more senate seats there and we would have inaugurated a one party government on 29th May, 2015.

Perhaps to make him happy I, an Igbo man, can deduce that there may not be an Igbo President in the next twenty four years in this unenlightened society. Buhari does eight years – even though the story of his planning to run for only this term is getting louder in which case the North will want to complete their eight year quota – and the West will insist on the next eight being a major partner in the ruling coalition, then the North will insist on the next eight in this funny north-south arrangement. In an enlightened society who cares who is Senate President or President? George W. Bush was President of the USA, so was his son George Bush years after and now another son is strongly in the running to become President next year! Though I am not APC I voted for Buhari because I believe that he has the personal attributes to force a meaningful change. I voted for him twice against Obasanjo. He is the difference between the two `chop chop’ parties. I believe he can fight corruption. I hope his number one priority is electricity. The PDP took over when we were generating 1.7MW in 1999. 

After sixteen years of misrule and trillions of naira down the drain we were still only generating 4.5MW at the time they were shown the way out. Nigeria is a bonanza play area for enriching the Chinese. Virtually everybody has at least a toy Chinese petrol generator – I better pass my neighbour! Who can quantify the loss to this country? Mechanics, electricians, welders, cannot function. The industries are suffering and passing the cost to consumers, each must have a massive generator and a standby – sometimes a standby to the standby! What the ordinary citizen, especially the Igbo man, needs is good governance and that must include regular electricity supply, good roads, water and equity in the distribution of the national resources, security from kidnappers and robbers, employment opportunities. 

Will Muhammadu Buhari and the APC restructure Nigeria on the lines of some of the more sensible recommendations of the recent National Conference? Will the power at the centre be reduced? Will we have State police? Will we have a credible census with tribe and religion specified so that we can plan demographically? What really is Nigeria’s population? Buhari should be a statesman and postpone the 2016 census until we are in the position to conduct an acceptable one. Let us each have one biometric data to serve all purposes, banking, immigration, hospitals, you name it. In the USA all that is needed to trace somebody is his birth date, name, perhaps his mother’s maiden name.  Can we abolish the senseless pilgrim boards? Nigeria should have no reason to fund anybody’s personal quest for heaven. Can we reduce the scandalous expenditure on the National Assembly? Surely GMB has a lot of questions to answer and I wish him the best. But he must remember that he is President of Nigeria, not the APC and be fair to even those who did not vote for him. He will be father of the nation.

But coming back to the question of the Igbo being sidelined, were the Yorubas not sidelined from the centre for eight years? But you must know that they were virtually in control of everything else, commerce, civil service, construction, big business. But they bid their time, got their ethnic group virtually in one block and did the deal with the North which resulted in APC which now guarantees that they will also be `chopping’ from the centre.  Do not shed crocodile tears for Ndigbo! The Senate Presidency is not our problem.


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