After the years that the locust ate, a new dawn may have come upon Imo people. But with such dawns, we have to keep our watch lest we be seduced even in our wakefulness. One Okorocha is enough political tragedy to befall a people.
Perhaps, the new government is getting it right. The quality of the appointments suggests that the governor is about the task with disinterested dedication. And there are no feelings that the new regime of Emeka Ihedioha is concentrating power in the hands of cronies or family. He is coming in as broadminded as Imo people always have been. That much should be the minimum standard.
In a related development, one of the commissioners, Barrister Chijioke Nzekwe, was hosted by his community, Nkwerre, in Nkwerre Local Government Area. Nzekwe was effusive on the new regime of Ihedioha. For him, there is what he calls “The Ihedioha Doctrine for Development,” already active and alive.
In his words, “Ihedioha has come to scale up the heartbeat of Imo State. And this is in pursuit of accelerated pan-community development. The governor is thus calling on all Imo hands to get on deck. The development and empowerment of Imo is our common heritage in being Igbo.
“Already, and unlike others, Ihedioha is on open and transparent quest to tap on some of the best brains that Africa has produced. And a good number of these are Imo citizens, at home and abroad. The Ihedioha Doctrine is that a team of the best and brightest will not only do Imo proud, it will also inspire the rest to be the best they can. It will be so much that, under the Ihedioha Doctrine for Development, even ordinary people will be able to do extraordinary things,’’ Nzekwe concluded.
Shehu Sani, the North and the rest of us
Shehu Sani was a senator who lost his reelection bid. The circumstances of his loss are a bit colourful. But that should not bother us. The important point is that he is about entering a political eclipse. How long Sani’s penumbra will last will be seen as events unfold.
Meanwhile, in his ensuing dry season of powerlessness, Sani has returned to the practice of being something of a moral conscience. With his gift for metaphor, he has been as entertaining as he could be insightful. But lately there are conflicting signals from him on one subject. It is difficult to believe how he could be holding two apparently opposed positions in one moment. But things happen.
For example, a report states as follows: “A former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, on Monday, said it would be unfair to deny the South-West geopolitical zone the presidency in 2023 … Sani, a member of the 8th Senate, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to caution any politician of northern extraction against eyeing the presidency in 2023. Speaking with journalists in Kaduna on Monday, the former lawmaker argued that it would be unfair for the North after eight years to hold on to power beyond 2023. He said, It will be a serious threat to the future and peace of the country if the northern region continues to dominate the leadership of the nation because of its numerical strength. The South-West worked tirelessly to remove the PDP from office and helped to bring Nigeria to where it is today and deserves support from the North come 2023. If federal character is applied in appointments and other areas, it should also be applicable in the political space.” (https://punchng.com/its-unfair-to-deny-swest-presidency-in-2023-shehu-sani).
However, another report apparently of the same activity, goes: “The immediate past senator, who represented Kaduna Central in the Eighth National Assembly, Shehu Sani, has lampooned those suggesting the idea of the North holding on to power beyond 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari’s term. Sani, who said it would be ungrateful for the North to attempt retaining power in 2023, cautioned that southerners of Igbo extraction could not continue to be punished for the offence they were not architect of.’’ (https://guardian.ng/politics/north-cant-retain-power-punish-igbo-forever-says-shehu-sani).
Whatever is the truth of the matter, the following is clear. The North, as Sani rightly implies, has taken up against the rest of the country. But what Sani is missing is the point of the northern grand strategy in these matters. Whether Sani is aware of it or dissembling his ignorance, he did not say.
Whatever it is, the details are as follows: First, let us disregard the earlier Sani quote of gifting the South-West the presidency. That’s a twisted logic of “having worked tirelessly.” If fairness, federal character and quota are on Sani’s mind as he asserts, it follows that the South-West do not deserve it this time around. But Sani is a Nigerian politician.
Now, Sani’s implied observation is that the North has set up the Igbo as a people and zone to be put under political persecution and other punishments. Of course, that much is true and predates the Buhari administration. Its origins are with the policy planks of General Jack Gowon. In fact, Nnia Nwodo, president-general of Ohanaeze, got the grove of it when he said: “1999 Constitution designed against Igbo.” Historically, 1999 may be its highpoint but its origins are with the genocidaire Gowon. All Buhari is doing is to bring vengeance to Gowonism.
That said, it is even more important that the rest of the country come to knowledge as to the grand strategy of the North. And it is this: The North is just using the Igbo as a bogey to frighten away and distract the other regions and their peoples. While these other regions are distracted, the North gets about its policy of instituting itself as Nigeria’s sole and de facto veto power, institutionally. In other words, the North’s largely successful game is to turn the rest of the country into tributaries of the [core] North, one step at a time.
In misdirecting the focus of the other regions on the contrived misfortunes of the Igbo, the North “quietly” has long ago restructured the nation. They did this through their coup-maker soldiers. That was how the South-West got distracted while Lagos was given fewer local government areas than Kano. Meanwhile, the North misdirected the South-West and other regions with the German concept of Schadenfreude. It just asked them to be happy: your lot is better than those of the Igbo. And they were sold or really sold themselves out. In the end, the North succeeded to make Nigeria in the image of the North via the land tenure system, chieftaincy system, etc. Consequentially, Nigeria is actually run more like an Arab fiefdom than the titular American order we subscribe to. Why? It’s because, for the North, Arabism is the holy grail. And such [core] northern sobriquets or names as Balarabe, Sarkin Sudan, etc, attest to this. In other words, the North’s baiting up the Igbo is a political punt.
Nigeria, we could be a rainbow people
By the time you read this, the Sallah holidays would have come and gone. For many, it came with its lessons. This is especially so for Muslims for whom it is a time to rededicate themselves to holiness, neighborliness and moral cleanliness.
However, for the rest of us, there could be other lessons. And I learnt quite a world by being the guest of a leading Muslim in Nigeria. Abdullazzi Ude, the Odunejeogu of Abor, is everything a man would wish to be. A billionaire when the term was the preserve of a charming few, Ude, is a man who has been at the many great junctions of history.
And Ude is a scholar, one of the sharpest minds around. In fact, our getting to know is on the basis of scholarship. Trained in Oxford and Columbia, two of the world’s best universities, Ude at any encounter is a scholar “in residence.”
A rather self-effacing man, it is only on inquiry that you get to know that he had published, edited, guided or been “big brother” to nearly all our literary stars. From Professor Chinua Achebe to Dr. Chinweizu, from Dele Giwa to yours truly, Ude has had decisive influences. And Ude is Igbo and Muslim.
The import of his Sallah celebration is this. If we left out religion as a state affair, if we allowed men to worship as is their choice, ours would evolve into a beautifully variegated country. At that point it wouldn’t matter again if you were Christian or Muslim, etc.
To illustrate this is the crowd that came to celebrate with Ude. It was a full rainbow crowd and we all felt glad with one another, all citizens of one great country. Just as it is with nature, we were several shades coming together to give out incandescent white light, even in our distinctness. Among the guests, too numerous to name, were Ochiagha rtd. Ebitu Ukiwe, former Chief of General Staff, and Professor George Obiozor, former director-general, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.