By JUDE NDUKWE. Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com
The recent declaration by Nigeria’s minister for Transport and former Governor of Rivers State Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi that the Igbo should forget about the presidency in 2023 “for refusing to support the APC…” is both reckless and hypocritical.
It must be treated as the rant of a drowning and diminished political gladiator. Such asinine statement can only come from a man who has been dealt a political sledgehammer blow by his own people, led by Nyesom Wike, in Rivers State at the last general elections.
Nobody should blame Amaechi for making such a statement concerning the Igbo and the 2023 presidency. Nobody is subjected to the kind of humiliation he endured in the hands of his own Rivers State people and remains the same! He must have looked to the Igbo for his medicine to recover from the post-election trauma and depression he is suffering from, unfortunately, he is not asking nicely.
While it is criminal and tyrannical to attempt to deny a people their legitimate aspiration to the highest office of the land as enshrined in the constitution, Amaechi should be told in clear terms that Ndigbo have never succumbed to such blackmails as he is currently peddling and will never succumb to it. Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, Junaid Muhammed, a former legislator, Yari Shettima, president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, all northerners, and several others, had spoken in a concerted manner against the idea of the presidency returning to the south in general in 2023 as expected.
The Igbo cannot be threatened with the presidency. They are so wired in a way that they so cherish their independent-mindedness, that they can never trade it for anything, not even the presidency. They have rights and they must not be subjected to puerile threats of a presidency that has brought the worst curse upon the people whose son currently holds it. As a minister of the Federal Republic, Amaechi ought to know that even with little or no federal government presence in the Southeast over the years since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra (1967-1970) war, the Southeast has remained more developed, more advanced and fares far better in every area of life and indices of development compared to all the regions of the north where the current president hails from.
It is puerile and preposterous for any right thinking Nigerian to attempt to threaten the Igbo with Nigeria’s presidency that has brought more curses to the current holders who grind their teeth in tears, chuckle in sorrow and swim in blood even when almost all of Nigeria’s security architecture are also concentrated in their hands.
From Awka to Nnewi, from Enugu to Onitsha, from Abakaliki to Aba, to Owerri etc, the Southeast is far more developed than northern regions that have produced the presidency over the years. Or has Amaechi not heard of Abiriba in Abia State, fondly referred to as ‘Small London’ because of its exotic architectural masterpiece and breathtaking greenery that dot its landscape? While fellow citizens from the north still have dwarf mud houses with thatched roofs as their prized assets, living in unbelievably squalid conditions, you can hardly find such mud houses anywhere in the East. Yet, the Igbo have not been president of Nigeria since over fifty years ago. And when one considers that Ndigbo were reduced to nothing after the civil war, their properties seized all over the federation and made to start life all over again with a meagre £20, coupled with a deliberate scheming backed by infantile excuses like that made by Amaechi for them not to be president, one cannot but wonder how they have been able to rise, like the ancient Phoenix, from the ashes of life, to soar so high far and above those who boast about a presidency that is of no benefit to its supposed beneficiaries.
How come the regions of the north that have produced the presidency time and time again are the most backward, the most illiterate, the most diseased and the most poverty-stricken region in the entire country? Is that the kind of presidency anyone should be threatening Ndigbo with?
The fact is that Ndigbo have never lost in their choices of political leadership since 1999. They have always won and will always continue to win, whether at elections proper or afterwards. Where they seemingly lose as a people in their support for any candidate, they eventually turn out to be the ultimate winners as events unfold. For example, although former President Olusegun Obasanjo is Yoruba Christian, the Igbo rallied round him and gave him their total support in 1999 and 2003. Obasanjo did his best and his legacies are still there for everyone to see up till today. After him came the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, a Hausa/Fulani Muslim, the Igbo gave him their full support and he emerged president.
Reasonable people will agree that Yar’adua was a sincere and detribalised leader who was already making good progress until death snatched him away from us. Then came Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw Christian, upon whom fate bestowed the unenviable task of leading the nation after the demise of his boss. When he sought to seek leadership through the ballot, the Igbo also gave him their full support both in 2011 and 2015. Today, barely four years after, Nigerians wished they never ‘voted’ him out. In 2019, the Igbo aligned with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a Hausa/Fulani Muslim who has gone to court to possibly reclaim the mandate he believes Nigerians overwhelmingly gave to him.
All the while, Amaechi’s current boss, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) had contested for president thrice and for those three times, the Igbo roundly rejected him while they gave their support to his opponents in the PDP. In 2015 when he eventually won the election, the Igbo still did not vote for him because they are blessed with the clairvoyance to see beyond where the likes of myopic Amaechi see. Today, even Buhari’s backyard is writhing under the threats of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists who, almost on a daily basis, raid villages, sack communities, kidnap community leaders at random and for ransom and kill innocent Nigerians at will. The situation is so bad that emirs that used to be conservative in their reactions to such issues especially when they have ‘one of their own’ as president, are lamenting and lampooning, even Islamic clerics are loudly bemoaning the brutish situation as the military and the police are obviously helpless as criminals operate freely in most of the northern region.
The situation is so bad that while Governor Yari of Zamfara State got so frustrated he openly threatened to resign as Chief Security Officer (CSO) of his State, Governors Shettima of Borno and Masari of Katisna, Buhari’s home state, wept openly. Are these not the reasons the Igbo rejected Buhari and refused to support him at the polls? He may have ‘won’ the election in defiance of Igbo votes but is he not justifying the reason the Igbo did not vote for him with the parlous security situation in the country? Why must anyone think that the Igbo must vote in a particular way before they can have a shot at the presidency? For anyone that ‘wins’ an election without Igbo votes, such a person will only end up justifying the Igbo’s stand against him in due course. And it is already happening. Until the nation learns to toe the same line with the Igbo in making their political choices, she will continue to be worse off for it.
Finally, Amaechi cannot play God over the Igbo or any other person or group of persons. As a mere mortal man, he is quick to forget how he became governor of Rivers State. He also seems to forget so quickly how Abubakar Audu died as he was about rolling out the drums to celebrate his electoral victory in 2015. All these are to remind Amaechi that God plays a role in the affairs of men, and when He decides that it is time for a person or group of persons to take power no matter how insignificant they might be, no powers can stop such a divine decision.
Amaechi in Igbo literally means “Do we know tomorrow?” His other name, Chibuike, in Igbo also means “God is the All Powerful”, in other words, power belongs only to God and He gives it to whomever He wills no matter the conspiracy of men in high places.
APC does not own Nigeria and is not the only party in Nigeria, and as such it is an insult to the sensibilities of others for APC chieftains to claim ownership of the presidency and arrogantly arrogate absolute powers to themselves in determining who becomes president and who does not. Ndukwe contributes commentary to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica international magazine (print). His Twitter is @StJudeNdukwe