Going by the major appointments in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) a fortnight ago, it is obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari is not going to caress any federal character equity in the weeks ahead. The semblance of ethnic balancing in the exercise is simply fluky on a closer examination. The NNPC critical/preferred positions are still domiciled in the core north. This is most likely to be the pattern in other spheres as we move on.
In Nigeria’s democracy, contests for elective offices are political warfare. The winner takes all—the balderdash about “all-inclusive” government is sheer rhetoric. There is nothing like that in reality. It is only a deceitful narrative for those who allow themselves to be hoodwinked. Spoils are never shared with oppositional forces.
The second element of our peculiar civil governance is that it is incontrovertibly a window of investment and a sure source of prospective streams of income because of the diversity of channels of recoupment. Self-service (or, preferably, aggrandizement) comes first before the utopia of public service—if at all!
Magnanimity in victory is subjective despite all the pretensions to the contrary. In the last dispensation, President Buhari was accused, persistently, of promoting nepotism which was antithetical to the federal character principle. In spite of the brouhaha generated by the ethnic imbalance in appointments, President Buhari seemed justifiably unperturbed.
In the build-up to the recent presidential election, the diligent governor of Anambra State, Dr. Willie Maduaburochi Obiano, threw his weight behind President Buhari based on his personal convictions. Some people were shocked as they had expected that Gov. Obiano should have backed the oppositional candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose running-mate, Peter Obi, incidentally, handed over the reins of government to Working Willie.
Pursuant to Gov. Obiano’s declarative stance on the 2019 presidential poll, a superfluity of charlatanistic interjections ensued as if he had committed sacrilege—when, indeed, he took the best decision not swayed by emotive considerations because an indigene of the state and his predecessor in office was involved. The issues involved transcended such primordial inclinations.
In fact, based on their estranged relationship and for no other reason, Governor Obiano was not under any compulsion to back his predecessor who ran with Atiku. The point is, even if it had been another vice-presidential candidate, Gov. Obiano’s special relationship with President Buhari—I will not expatiate—is such that there is no way the governor would have pitched his tent against President Buhari.
When I read in the social media not long ago a bovine-headed post by a supposedly senior journalist that what happened to Chief Ukpabi Asika vis-à-vis the latter’s soured relationship with the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and the celebrated curse will also befall Gov. Obiano I was embarrassed and furious. How can any sane fellow equate the Zik-Asika betrayal with the unassailable decision by the Anambra State governor to believe in President Buhari?
The assiduous Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, also found himself in the same line of attack as Gov. Obiano for opposing the clandestine and non-consultative candidacy of Peter Obi. Most Igbo people had preferred a ticket involving Atiku and the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo. The choice is no longer relevant in the post-election circumstance.
For the 16 years that the PDP was in power, there is nothing to show for their poverty of governance in the country generally and the South East particularly. The level of underdevelopment and impoverishment in this part of the country is scandalously unbelievable, yet most of our people are inexplicably obsessed with the party.
When you go to other zones of the country and see the level of individual and collective transformation, you will be shocked to stupor when juxtaposed with the degeneration and absence of federal presence in the South East. It is unfathomable to me how some states in this axis are still being governed by governors on the platform of the PDP—with the illuminative exception of Engr. Umahi of Ebonyi State who has revolutionized the previously backward state and unprecedentedly redefined leadership paradigms.
In the last polls, the Igbo voted massively for Atiku and left President Buhari with marginal votes! These same people will tomorrow blame President Buhari for not appointing their sons and daughters to head strategic ministries and other plum appointments. The Igbo will also go ahead and vociferously lament the lack of federal social infrastructure in the zone.
My people will crown their ludicrous position on the bizarre theory that anyone who wins after a presidential election should see himself as the father of the nation! If this does not sound preposterous, I do not know what can be more absurd. National politics and our peculiarities do not work like that.
As Christians, God enjoins us to offer the second cheek when slapped on the other and to give our enemies food and water whenever they are hungry or thirsty and that by so doing we heap charcoals of fire on their heads. I ask: how many brethren comply with these injunctions?
Let me equally ask the Igbo electorate who always go for the PDP, do they sincerely want President Buhari to be happy with them, forget the electoral sore they ripped and lavish them with juicy appointments and federal social infrastructures? It does not work like that and it will not be peculiar to President Buhari—any other person in that position will give due consideration to pre-election voting profiles. The question of “theoretical national fatherhood” (whatever that implies!) after polls had been won and lost is remote in these matters if the truth must be told. We are not dealing with objects. Human beings with emotive dispositions are involved in the stakes at hand. Those who were loyal to a particular candidate cannot be treated the same way with political infidels! There is a natural law, after all, that whatever we sow we shall reap. Disloyal voters will perpetually get the crumbs.
Most of us from the South East have never got our politics in Nigeria right and when visionaries like Governors Obiano and Umahi want to change the ways we play our politics, some buffoons and ignoramuses pelt them with mud in the name of stupid politics and vituperative journalism on grounds of irresponsible freedom of speech!
I take off my hat to Governors Obiano and Umahi for not flowing with renegades, but standing firm on truth and foresight. History—not current Ndigbo political tragedies—will vindicate both of you at the opportune time.
Truth—not parochial and surreptitious meetings—will liberate Ndigbo. Since Nigeria’s political evolution, we have never gotten our politics right hence our continual second-fiddle role.
Enemanna writes from Lagos.