President Buhari’s recent visit to Anambra state was very instructive and illuminating. It gave deep insight into the true nature of politics and what it means to be in control of power in Nigeria. Security helicopters flew around the Onitsha metropolis in droves. It reminded one of the dark days of the Nigerian/Biafra civil war.
There are great lessons to learn from the way Buhari’s visit was handled. Buhari came to fulfill all righteousness. At the palace of the Obi of Onitsha, President Buhari made it clear that the lopsided, skewed, clannish appointments he has been making was based on ‘merit’. And since the sons and daughters of Ndigbo lacked the requisite knowledge and expertise for appointments into key positions of authority in his government, the better qualified Nigerians from the Fulani/ Hausa ethnic extractions were always called for service. Of course, Buhari told his listeners how he went to commission the Zik Mausoleum which previous administrations had neglected. I was wondering the significance and import of commissioning the mausoleum to the Igbo nation.
There are no remarkable edifices or any architectural masterpiece to indicate that something extraordinary was done by the present government. The fact that the project started during the Abacha era was the only one he commissioned in the state speaks volume about his development imperatives for Anambra state. President Buhari thereafter went to the Holy Trinity ground where he addressed the Anambra people. The Press reported that Buhari ‘begged’ for votes from the people. He had a few words to say because there was actually nothing he had in store for them. He spoke about yet to be built Railway station that will go through Port Harcourt to the heartland of the Igbo land and once again reminded the people that he had just commissioned the Zik Mausoleum. As usual, he talked about the Niger Bridge, a ready reference for mocking Ndigbo and for reminding them of their second class status in Nigeria. Then his Igbo lieutenants took the stage and unwittingly exposed Buhari’s deliberate marginalization of the Igbo people. It was a show of shame and odious self mockery. Ngige enjoined Ndigbo to vote for Buhari so that the good job he is doing to better the living condition of people would continue in his second term. He failed to mention what the president has been doing for the state that should spur the people to vote for him.
Andy Uba talked about the unseen projects which Buhari administration has been citing in Igbo land. He was concerned that those projects, even though he failed to mention them, were not being appreciated by the people. There are so many of such projects that it would be entirely unnecessary to begin to give details. What the people needed to know was that the nameless projects are ongoing. He pointed to the Enugu /Onitsha road, a death trap for years. Just because the Umunya/Awkuzu axis of the road, less than three kilometers, is being rehabilitated, Andy Uba cited it as one of the major projects being undertaken by the Buhari administration. Certainly, the road rehabilitation will soon be abandoned after the presidential elections. His listeners waited to hear about any other ongoing projects. None were mentioned. The proposed railway station that would go through the heartland of the entire southeast was enough for Ndigbo to be forever grateful to Buhari.
When I got home, I cried profusely. I cried for the lot of Ndigbo in Nigeria. I cried more for the hypocrisy of Igbo politicians than for the realities of Ndigbo marginalization. I cried for the British conspiracy against Ndigbo which subjected them to hegemonic stranglehold of the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. I remembered Buhari’s claims that his key appointments were based on merit, appointments that excluded Ndigbo. I cried because Buhari said it right in front of our people and nobody could challenge him on the spot.
I cried when I remembered that out of the 27 newly appointed judges of the Court of Appeal, no Igbo man was considered worthy enough, while 23 Northerners were selected on ‘merit’. I cried after I realized that no Igbo Man could be appointed as one of the service chiefs because Ndigbo are intellectually, technically, professionally and educationally inferior to Nigerians of the Hausa/Fulani extraction occupying all the key security positions in Nigeria. At a point I stopped crying and started bemoaning Ndigbo’s dilemma in Nigeria.
I soon realized that it is better to cry than to bemoan one’s tragic circumstances. Crying purges one of bottled up emotions. When you cry, you experience a kind of spiritual catharsis that is soul stirring, enlivening, soothing and emotionally satisfying. You just cry for the moment and never to be deeply burdened or consumed by a lingering sense of forlornness.
But, when you bemoan your ugly situation, you remain entangled in a vicious cycle of bitterness and recriminations. I resolved never to bemoan the Igbo conundrum in Nigeria. My resolve was strengthened by the fact that Ndigbo’s problems are all the more aggravated by their selfishness and not entirely as a result of the determination of their oppressors to hold them in continuous captivity. Ndigbo seem to have been watering the ground for a veritable exploitation by other Nigeria’s ethnic extractions.
But, when I remember that the history of the struggles of the Igbo people, is one full of heroic incidences and the triumph of the human spirit against all odds, my low spirit rises up again in the hope that our people would one day get up from the ashes of today’s ignominy to become the pride of the black race.
Today, Buhari is at liberty to tell Ndigbo, direct to their faces, without qualms, that all his key appointments in which he had excluded and sidelined them were based on merit.
Suddenly Ndigbo has become a bunch of incompetent, slight, ‘unmeritable’ fellows while their Hausa/Fulani counterparts are new breeds of distinguished, accomplished, exceptionally brilliant Nigerian patriots meriting appointments to positions of power and authority. You can imagine the audacity of power!
Nonyelum writes via [email protected]