USAfrica: Nollywood actor Kenneth Okonkwo’s misguided hustle for Buhari

By Attorney Jane Ikezi
Special & Exclusive commentary for USAfrica [Houston] and
A controversial political video by Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo has been making rounds in the social media.

In the video, he endorsed the non-performing and overwhelmed President of Nigeria, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 election. Okonkwo said, “I am an ambassador of good governance…he (President Buhari) is committed to good governance. You can’t get a better person than President Muhammadu Buhari….”

Ordinarily, I would have simply said to myself that “Silence is the best answer to a fool”; but a lot of fools rule the world because people kept silent.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Mr. Okonkwo has a platform, which he has been blessed with through acting, with support from the Igbo for many years throughout his acting career. This is particularly true given that he is known primarily for his Igbo language films, which brought him to fame in Nigeria. Especially, the movie called Living in Bondage.
Lest anyone be deceived or suffer from amnesia, let me enumerate some of President Buhari’s failures and atrocities:
– Brutal attack of unarmed civilians
– Outright refusal to recognise the right of self-determination of the Indegenous People of Biafra. This is an internationally recognised right.
– Increase of economic hardship throughout the country. People are starving.
– Increase in mortality (particularly with young children).
– Mortuaries are filled to the brim and families lack money to claim bodies of the deceased.
– Increase in joblessness due to lack of opportunity. Yet, Mr. Buhari refers to Nigerian youths as “lazy.”
-Citizens are brutally dealt with for simply expressing their political views, as Mr. Okonkwo is doing).
– Medical and Academic institutions are in disarray and squalid conditions. Is that not the reason President Buhari travels to Britain for medical care and his children are educated abroad?
– Increase of Internally Displaced People in Nigeria, due to Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen activities.
– Nigeria has not met its Millennium Development Goals, whereas other least developed countries that were on the same point, have surpassed their target.

The list goes on and on… Why must people lack in the land of plenty?

Moreover, let us remember that President Buhari’s order of Operation Python Dance, a brutal military operation, left many dead and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB and his parents remain missing.

Additionally, let us not forget the brutal Civil War fought against Biafra from 1966 to 1970, resulting in the horrific and calculated death of millions of Biafran civilians, especially Igbos. That was a genocide. The same President, who Kenneth Okonkwo praises, played a role in that war.

It is a shame that Kenneth Okonkwo, an Igbo man, would choose a path in direct contradiction with his heritage and existence.

A while back, I read an article or a letter in which Mr. Okonkwo expressed his disagreement with the latest Biafran struggle. I disagreed with him (and still do) but like the French say, “chacun à son goût” (to each, his own). Nevertheless, I too have my “Red Line.”

I do not believe that Mr. Okonkwo should be condemned for exercising his freedom of speech in support and praise of President Buhari. On the contrary, the condemnation or criticism must be focused on the content thereof.

Earlier this year on TMZ, the U.S. television show, Kanye West (a musician) made derogatory statements about fellow African Americans regarding their history of slavery. Kanye West received a lot of backlash and repudiation after his statements, and rightfully so. He has a responsibility stemming from his ‘stardom’.

Whether he accepts it or not, his statements, albeit unfortunate, are heard by many people. Like Kanye West, Kenneth Okonkwo has a social responsibility to his people and that includes all Nigerians. In exercising his freedom of speech and civic duty, he should not loose sight of his social responsibility.

Kenneth Okonkwo, as the Igbo adage states, “use your tongue to count your teeth.” Is this the legacy for which you want to be remembered?

•Jane O. Ikezi is the New York-based contributing analyst for USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston.