By Casmir Igbokwe
The ‘Isi Agu’ outfit looked good on President Muhammadu Buhari. The Imo State government might have dressed him in this Igbo traditional wear to show some appreciation for his coming to the state last week to inaugurate some projects. The state might have also done it to give the impression that Buhari loves the Igbo and is part and parcel of them. But it was obvious, literally and figuratively, that the President wore a borrowed garb.
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State was the first to clothe him in this borrowed outfit. Umahi had prayed to God to give us another President who would be like Buhari in 2023. Speaking with newsmen after a meeting with the President last week, the Ebonyi governor prayed “that God will also give us the next President, who has good heart like President Buhari, for the good of this country. We need God’s own anointing for our own anointed President for the interest and unity of this country.”
Sycophancy is the second name of politicians with high ambitions. Umahi probably has half an eye on the 2023 presidency. It is not a crime, if one aspires to occupy such high positions. But there is a problem when one engages in some deceptive talks to achieve that aim.
Good enough, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, replied Umahi in kind. He wondered what had gone wrong with his colleague and if there shouldn’t be a psychiatric check on him. “It is unfortunate. May God help us,” Wike lamented.
One thing I like President Buhari for is that he does not pretend like many politicians. Recently, he stirred up a hornets’ nest when he described the Igbo as a dot in a circle. A few months ago, he warned all those who wanted the destruction of the system (a veiled reference to separatist agitators in the South-East) that “those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later.”
He had been hard on the South-East even before now. Allegations are rife that security agents indiscriminately arrest and sometimes kill innocent youths under the guise of hunting for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). In 2017, the military launched what it called Operation Python Dance mainly to checkmate agitators in the region. Some South-East youths were killed in that operation.
Besides, no South-East person was found worthy to head any security outfit in Nigeria. The President and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are probably not bothered that the heads of the three arms of government – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – are all from the North.
There are some other institutionalized discriminatory practices against the South-East. They include discriminatory admission policies into unity colleges and unfair number of states and local governments, compared to other regions. Buhari may not have had a hand in initiating these policies. But he has not done much to correct such injustices in the Nigerian system.
A former military administrator of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (retd), put it succinctly when he regretted recently that the Buhari administration had so far exhibited poor skills in its management of our diversity.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, went further to ask for inclusive governance to address the contentious issue of secession in the South-East.
As the president-general of Ohanaeze, Professor George Obiozor, put it, “Mr. President, nothing is more important to the Igbo in Nigeria today more than the restoration of serious sense of belonging and the spirit of Nigeria’s founding fathers based on one nation, one destiny. And we believe this is possible through devolution of power and ensuring a sense of balance in our political system.”
It is not certain how or when the President will listen to these voices of reason. He merely said in Imo that it was unthinkable for any Igbo man not to consider himself as part of Nigeria. According to him, he would want to be remembered as the President who stabilized the country with regard to security, economic prosperity and triumph over corruption.
To be fair to the President, he promised to complete ongoing key projects in the South-East such as the second Niger Bridge and the railway lines. We thank him for that. He appointed some Igbo people like Dr. Chris Ngige as Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as the Minister of Science and Technology, Geoffrey Onyeama as the Foreign Affairs Minister and Dr. Uche Ogah as Minister of Steel and Mines. We are grateful for all that.
Nevertheless, the President should do more because the South-East is yet to feel the full impact of his administration. That is why, in spite of all efforts to convince them to the contrary, the people of the region embarked on a sit-at-home protest to show how they really feel about him.
The truth is that Igbo people are not fools. They can decipher genuine love from a fake one. They are republicans and independent-minded and can interpret both body and sign languages of leaders. They know when a politician is telling them the truth and when he is doling out lies to achieve some political aims.
It is not rocket science to woo a people and win their support. After all, Nigeria has had other Presidents like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua (God bless his soul), and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The South-East did not reject them as it has done to Buhari.
What will do the magic is good governance anchored on justice, equity and fairness. The late President Yar’Adua was a Fulani like Buhari. He was the one who instituted the Niger Delta amnesty programme to assuage the restive youths of the region. He did not threaten to talk to them in the language they understand. He did not indulge herdsmen with their destructive open grazing activities. He died a statesman with malice towards none.
Buhari should place the picture of Yar’Adua in his mind. Now that his tenure is gradually coming to an end, he should bother himself more with legacies that will place his name in Nigeria’s hall of fame. “Taabugbo” is an Igbo word. It means today is still early enough. There is still time for him to make some amends.
Re: Checking out of Nigeria
Congrats Mr. Casmir for turning 53 years ‘young!’ But your boyish look has deeply betrayed the fact of your attainment of 53 years on earth. Like you, I have no urge to leave Nigeria for whatever reason to anywhere, not even to the almighty U.S., aka God’s own country, whose July 4 Independence Day also doubles as my birthday. My faith in Nigeria remains sacrosanct and enduring!
Never in this country have we become more polarised as at the moment! Our President has a duty to bind the festering wounds of the country by giving a listening ear to voices of reason and agitations and making amends where he has evidently failed. Grandstanding or persisting in error is not it! Things can only shape up if we actualise what we preach. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammad, must admit that he has no moral standing to address those erring judges on proper handling of ex parte motions and professional etiquette, knowing full well that he himself is an embarrassing product of a very serious constitutional infraction. Was it not the same ‘ex parte application’ that was used to throw out former Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen? Though it was a mere academic exercise, didn’t the Court of Appeal in its suspiciously delayed ruling criticize the process of Onnoghen’s removal? A kettle must not be encouraged to address a pot as black.
-Edet Essien, Esq., Cal., South, 08037952470
May I wish you happy birthday and many years of good returns before I react to your article “Checking out of Nigeria.” Let us recall that Buhari toppled Alhaji Shehu Shagari because the NPN government introduced austerity measures. Between December 31, 1983, and August 27, 1985, when Buhari was military Head of State, we suffered more than biblical Job. From May 29, 2015, and now he is in saddle as elected President, we have been suffering. This is because Nigeria has become the headquarters of suicidal people, corrupt people, terrorist people, bandit people, kidnapped people, marginalised, oppressed and agitating people. In view of the foregoing, Buhari is hardship (ife isike), Buhari is suffering (afufu), Buhari is famine (Ugani), Buhari is sickness (Oya), Buhari is poverty (Ubiam), etc.
– Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno (JP), 08063730644
Dear Casy, it is sometimes good for wind to blow to expose the true look of a chicken’s anus. When the Aso Rock Landlord was on the 2015 hustings, I voted for him because I was carried away by his 1984 complexion. Friends and relations now taunt me because I had bets with them, after voting then, that, with Buhari of 1984 complexion coming into the fray in 2015, Nigeria’s political radar would re-direct the country towards salvation, but inaa! Little did I know that clannish influences had combined with extraneous factors to have the man’s hands tainted, nationalistic vision and mission blurred and amputated, respectively, thereby leaving the country groping and moving in circles. With this sorry state, why would one not seek to check out?
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Dear Casy, don’t blame Nigerians for checking out of the country. The top military officers and the political elite who hijacked political power through military coups and election rigging brought this evil to Nigerians. From Gowon to the present government, they hijacked power, distanced themselves from the masses, stole the public fund, created mass poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment and the present insecurity that has fuelled agitation from across the country.
– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495
Well, as it is now, Nigerians have seen it all. Mistakes have been made and we pray that the mistake will not repeat itself again in the 2023 general election. Nigerians should be wise to vote wisely in 2023.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535
Casmir, happy birthday! May the good Lord continue to beautify you. It’s a common experience to observe that even animals are friendly to anyone that is friendly to them. A country that protects cows more than the human population, a country that offers juicy positions to inexperienced officers to lord it over intellectuals, a country that believes that a student who scores 130 can’t get admission but one with 20 can, a country that preaches against corruption but doesn’t see anything wrong in appointing one ethnic or religious group into offices where other tribes or religious groups will be can never have amiable environment for its citizens.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Dear Casmir, as I earlier wrote, there’s nothing like citizenship by birth, naturalization or registration; what is obtainable is citizenship by interest. One can’t continue to be a Nigerian because he or she was born here; it’s if the interest is still there. Bob Marley sang Exodus as movement of Jah people and so shall it be for Nigerians, if care is not taken.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 13, 2021