APGA, Anambra And The Igbo Question
Regarding the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra, I am rooting for APGA; and I am rooting for Anambra North to produce the State's next governor. This article wraps up the reasons behind my choices. Democracy, in the last analysis, is all about choices; stark choices that go beyond the spectrum of outright politicking and extend to the basic freedom to hold and express personal opinion.
On paper, the November 16 election is to choose who governs Anambra State. More fundamentally, the ballot is about the right of Ndigbo to political choice, the right of Ndigbo to a voice of their own, the very right of Ndigbo to reject machinations aimed at converting them into political eunuchs.
Mark the distinction between being a slave and being enslaved. The Igbo nation, through history, was never slave territory. But Nigerian post-civil war politics have rendered Ndigbo systematically enslaved. They are blessed with abundant deposits of crude oil and natural gas. But these may never be mined, lest they benefit from the paltry percentages vomited by derivation. They produce some of the best footballers around and some of the best musicians. But woe betides any ambitions of national leadership from their quarters. Censuses must never properly enumerate them. Above all else, they are sacrificial lamb to be incessantly led to the slaughter, the most massacred ethnic group on the African continent.
Most of us long declared our democratic right to a full and final stop to these injustices. One good way of reiterating our insistence on justice is to return APGA to power in Government House, Awka. No ethnic or linguistic group anywhere in the world has the slightest chance of survival, let alone thriving, which has no voice. There are a dozen political parties in the Anambra governorship contest. Bar APGA, none of these other parties speaks for Ndigbo. In none of the leading national parties does any Igbo politician hold an office higher than janitorial. Who ever saw a janitor in a boardroom arguing for the benefit of his kind? Did such effrontery not earn the manual labourer a few bashes on the temple with his mop handle?
The critical message must not be lost. An APGA defeat in the Anambra ballot will extinguish the political voice of Ndigbo until further notice. True, APGA has had its ups and downs in its decade of existence. But no rationale human being argues because of protracted famine that the head of cocoayam is preferable to his mother's head. There are politicians from outside the South East who, bereft of constitutional backing, have been screaming that President Jonathan cannot run for a second term. How can these characters have the nerve to dictate who our governor must be? This amounts to indiscreet petulance. During the campaigns that preceded the unconstitutional governorship ballot of 2007, Chief Obasanjo – a president who awarded the “contract” for the 2nd Niger Bridge on amplitude and frequency modulated wavebands – had the temerity to announce from our state capital, that his ward was the man to govern Anambra State! Why? Because the would-be governor had served him for seven years, whereas Igbo traders settled their apprentices after only five years of tutelage!
The scenario has become even ghastlier. We now have, amongst the cacophony prattle of interlopers, the duo of Alhaji Nasir el Rufai and Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu dictating who the next Governor of Anambra State must be. Ndigbo resolutely declaim this petulant indiscretion, which is an outcome of the recent political marriage of strange bedfellows named after an obsolete analgesic. How can the epitomes of deafening silence in the grotesquery of the Sunday-in-Sunday-out bombing of our people in their places of worship presume to impose leadership on Ndigbo? When did we ever dictate the occupants of the Government Houses in Borno, Dutse, Kano, Lagos, Minna and Sokoto?
I authored a book in 2007 entitled The Case for an Igbo President of Nigeria. In it I argued that Nigeria's presidency was not solely for Obasanjo and the Hausa-Fulani. Inherent in a presidency circulating around the rest of Nigeria was a logic that should propel it to the Igbo country! The very arguments in the book are applicable to the call for the next Anambra governor to come from the State's North Senatorial District. Fortunately, APGA's candidate, Willie Obiano, is from Anambra North and, from all indications, possesses the dominant infrastruture of great political leadership. Something tells me that a man with impeccable academic credentials who rose to the apex of the Nigerian banking industry before retiring with an unblemished record should command the attention of Anambra's electorate.
I am yet to meet Obiano. His running mate, Dr. Nkem Okeke, is a friend. It is crucial to note that no one ever accused this duo of suffering rustication in their university days. Nobody ever accused them of cultism. No quarters ever accused them of decorating their names with the prefixes and suffixes of unearned academic qualifications or dubious royalty. No Inland Revenue boards accused them of posting false tax returns. They are no mobsters.
Pointedly, they didn't number in the “tried and tested” Anambra politicians who justified the recent deportations of their kith and kin. It is general knowledge that, more than any other ethic group, Ndigbo were responsible for Jonathan being inside Aso Rock today. Ndigbo did it while Jonathan's party was not in charge in Anambra State. Ndigbo can repeat the feat on an even grander scale in 2015 with Obiano inside Government House, Awka.
We have been in the crucible and have, like gold, been tempered by fire. With heads held high, we shall demonstrate on November 16 that we have little problem choosing between our head and a head of cocoyam. Anambra State will not be a stepping-stone for the consolidation of the political marriage of convenience aimed at permanently burying the Igbo leg of the tripod of Nigerian politics.