JONATHAN, NDIGBO AND SO ON…
BY CHUKS ILOEGBUNAM
WITH President Jonathan's swift annihilation of opponents in the recent PDP presidential primary contest, it is important to review the road we have traveled, in order to have a fairly clear idea of our destination. We must start from the Igbo country, if only because charity should always begin at home.
There was a load of rubbish published against President Jonathan and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the run-up to the primary election. The persecutors were Ndigbo who claimed the North had promised us the presidency in 2015. General Ibrahim Babangida would serve a single term as President of Nigeria and hand over the presidential baton to some anointed Igbo politician!
Of those who believed the fairy tale, it amounted to dangerous political naivety. This left some of us in a state of unmitigated embarrassment. First, it was obvious that the spreaders of the story were unquestionably dishonest because they certainly knew that the 'agreement' they were citing was meaningless, insulting and incapable of implementation.
Secondly, and standing on their dubious pedestal, they went ahead to vilify some of the more responsible and respected Igbo icons alive today, including Chief Raph Uwechue, and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that he heads as president-general. I telephoned some of those disorientating Igbo position on this year's general elections with a simple question: 'Why should a door slammed in Potiskum, Yobe State, shatter our fingers in Abakaliki, Awka, Enugu, Owerri and Umuahia?'
In the end, the voting pattern at the PDP primary showed that the machinations against the truth were futile. The delegates underscored the correctness of the position of Ambassador Raph Uwechue's Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The decision transcended ethnic and religious demarcations. Those who traduced Ohanaeze for selfish reasons should by now be licking their wounds. On our part, we knew all along that Ohanaeze's position was unimpeachable.
As someone in government in Awka who is in close and constant contact with the rest of the Igbo country, it was obvious to me that a vast majority of both our politicians and our people were rooting for the continued presidency of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. What I could scarcely get over was the nerve with which a tiny fraction of the Igbo elite kept hammering it on our collective psyche that our preference was for tired, Draconian and rudderless politicians and 'militicians'. We thought that, with the sidelining of Ibrahim Babangida, Aliu Mohammed Gusau and Bukola Saraki by Adamu Ciroma's Consensus Committee, the loudspeakers would stop belting their disingenuous rap, for our eardrums to have a respite.
Instead they relocated in Atiku Abubakar's camp to inflict on all of us the severest haranguing in living memory. These fellows pretended to be altruistic. They deceived no one on this score because they knew we knew that all their hot air was for the plump job and/or the payday. As the Igbo saying goes, we wear clothes for the outsider; every insider knows the shape of each other's buttocks.
A few of them coveted the position of running mate. In parenthesis, I should point out that I previously described this lot as 'perpetual vice-presidential careerists' in my biography of General Aguiyi-Ironsi. Others eyed the ministerial or ambassadorial appointment, while the third eleven among them jostled for the odd contract or the local government sinecure.
My research so far has not thrown up any other Nigerian ethnic group that its own denizens would so misinform, ridicule and negate for a mess of porridge. Elsewhere the Eagle Square disgrace of these characters would serve as deterrent against future misbehaviour. But like recidivists, I predict that they would sooner line up behind Nuhu Ribadu, a political upstart, and claim that the fellow has promised to be President for only 30 days, after which he would hand over power to an Igbo politician. In a word, these guys are chicken chasers; they know the lot of chicken chasers…
Coming to the Atiku-Jonathan square off, there are two inescapable conclusions. The first one is that the politics of old has given way to a new era of realism. As an elder statesman, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma was expected to espouse the political brotherhood of the Nigerian nation. But he chose to propagate the ethnic card. When voting day came, his consensus candidate was dealt the thrashing of his life.
The score line across state after state, apart from rendering Ciroma speechless, has shown that the new Nigerian politics is more about the politician's ability to deliver and the unity of purpose that will serve the rest of society's best interests than any other consideration. Ciroma's political Waterloo would have been even more decisively humiliating had Gusau, Saraki and Babangida been on the primary ballot. They would have been involved in an uncanny rearguard tussle for supremacy with the inimitable Dr. (Mrs.) Sarah Jibril. So much for the politics of antiquity and covetousness.
The second lesson is a plus for President Jonathan. We saw and clearly remember how contentious and fractious previous PDP presidential primaries were. But, this time around, things worked out in orderliness and transparency. President Jonathan has promised and reiterated that he would deliver free, fair and credible elections this year. He has been working at it.
He appointed a sensible and credible personality to head the INEC, a clear sign of his good intentions. He went further to ensure that all the tools and funding required for successful elections were promptly made available to INEC. I have since found out that the President kept all those involved in organising his party's primary election on their toes, insisting that he will settle for nothing other than credibility, fully conscious of the fact that a transparent primary contest can only presage a landmark general election in April . There is nothing more to ask for.
Mr. IIoegbunam is
Governor Peter Obi's