A RESPONSE TO JONATHAN'S IGBO INTERNET WARRIORS
I am getting increasingly worried at the ability of a number of supposedly educated people to comprehend, let alone interpret, basic ideas communicated even in the most elementary of ways. The immediate context of this worry is the combative reactions of a couple of Internet warriors to a recent posting of mine entitled “Jonathan's Igbo Internet Thugs Are A Disgrace To Humanity”.
The commentators claim that I took a swipe at “all Igbo people” for supporting Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's outgoing president. What could make any literate person arrive at this awful conclusion? The people I criticized are not in doubt because the article's caption says it all: Igbo Internet thugs. The body of the article details those who constitute Internet thugs, namely, Igbo elements who collect hefty bribes from a self-professed Igbo hater, Femi Fani-Kayode, Jonathan's director of media and publicity in the electioneering campaign; those who circulate the picture of a bridge under construction somewhere but claim it is the 2nd Niger Bridge with a view to deceiving the Igbo into believing that work has progressed impressively on the 2nd Niger Bridge; those who forge medical reports of a non-existent hospital claiming that Muhammadu Buhari has prostrate cancer; those who write and distribute the false and malicious report that Buhari collapsed at a campaign rally in Calabar and was rushed to hospital even when the same peddlers of this information were simultaneously commenting on his personal activity in the ongoing electioneering campaign; etc.
Perhaps unknown to my so-called critics who are roundly lazy, they are suggesting that all Igbo people are Internet thugs working for Jonathan and, by extension, involved in forgeries and disinformation and other forms of profoundly inelegant conduct. This is how low some chaps have got.
I know of decent Igbo people who support Jonathan for various reasons, including party loyalty and solidarity. By no means can any sensible person regard them as Internet thugs. They do not forge medical reports , nor do they circulate false pictures of development projects in their homeland with the intention of swindling their own people. Such decent people are at liberty to support any person who catches their fancy. And they are at liberty to express their choice in public, just the way I am free to make my views on the outgoing administration known to the public. There is no way all Igbo people can be rooting for a particular candidate or political party. It is not possible. Therefore, I find it strange that some Internet warriors could have the temerity to hawk such ignorant opinion that I am opposed to the exercise of the freedom of speech and freedom of association by Igbo elements who are favourably disposed towards Jonathan.
The Internet warriors have attempted to rationalize their working in cahoots with Fani-Kayode as an example of the fact that there are no permanent enemies in politics but permanent interests. This sophistry is from elements who regularly shout from the rooftops that the Igbo are the Jews of Africa. When the Jews discovered that Kurt Waldheim, a former UN secretary general, was involved as a teenager in the Nazi movement in his native Austria, they came after him. Even as Austria's elected president, Waldheim became practically a prisoner, stuck at home. Despite that he was opposed to the Nazis, Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict never had easy relations with the Jews. His offence? He served briefly in the Nazi military, though by conscription and never fired a shot. Frankly, if Jonathan had much respect for the Igbo he would not have made Fani-Kayode, an admirer of Hitler's Mien Kempf, the propaganda head of his election campaign.
It is truly amazing how some Igbo elements have become fanatical over Jonathan whose development record in Igboland is embarrassingly poor. On August 30, 2012, Jonathan announced at a town hall meeting in Onitsha, Anambra State, that he would go into exile if the 2nd Niger Bridge is not completed in 2015! As you are reading this article, the bridge remains mythical. Frankly, any person who promotes the likes of Arthur Eze and Abia State governor Theodore Orji as role models cannot but be an arch enemy of Ndigbo. Eze assumed the chairmanship of Premier Breweries, the third largest brewery in the country, and destroyed it completely. He assumed the chairmanship of Orient Bank and naturally ruined it, forcing Paul Ogwuma, then the Central Bank governor, to issue a directive banning him from ever being on the board of any bank. Eze was awarded the $110m African Development Bank contracts for rural electrification and rural water supply in old Anambra State and the building of an industrial development centre in Awka, but did virtually nothing. Following Abacha's death he went into exile in the UK.
Jonathan recently rewarded him with a national honour! Jonathan also conferred a high national honour of the outgoing governor of Abia State, a man who made Aba, once the pride of the whole nation for its technological and manufacturing ingenuity, look like a city ruined by barbarians. This is the governor who about three years ago sacked all people of Igbo extraction who are not indigenes of Abia State from the state's public service, yet there are thousands of Igbo public servants in places like Lagos State. It says a lot about the quality of the current Igbo political leadership that a character like Orji is now the chairman of the Conference of South East Governors, a position which should be occupied by a person who symbolises Igbo unity and strength.
Internet warriors who do scandalous things in the name of defending Jonathan because” he is Igbo” do not know the grave violence they are doing to the Igbo destiny. In the next few years when the campaign for “Igbo presidency” resumes, the rest of the country will certainly tell you that you have had your day with Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, whom you have declared to the whole world as “our own beloved son”! As the great Chinua Achebe has powerfully reminded us, very few things unite Nigerians, including the Ijaw, as much as the anti-Igbo sentiment. A number of our elements are not strategic in their thinking and utterances, so they end up shooting themselves in the foot. Besides, Jonathan's performance is so mediocre that it should never be considered a sign of how the “Igbo presidency” will be.
A Nigerian president of Igbo extraction will give Nigerians a powerful sense of dynamism and direction, as the Great Zik of Africa did from the 1940s to 1960s, as he led Nigeria in the struggle for independence and national unity; and in the process established Nigeria's first indigenous university and first indigenous bank, among other legacy achievements. We campaigned vigorously for Alex Ekwueme to become the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party after he provided scintillating leadership at the Constitutional Conference in 19944/5 and in the bold struggle against Sani Abacha's malevolence in the late 1990s as well as in the formation of the PDP in 1998 and its subsequent emergence as a national mass movement. What is more, Ekwueme's personal accomplishments are stellar.
It will never cease to confound many that a number of Igbo elements have yet to reconcile themselves to reality. Jonathan's Igbo Internet warriors pour invective on every person who does not share their emotions. You can hardly see people from Jonathan's Bayelsa State or the Niger Delta Delta as emotional as these Igbo folks. For instance, in an open letter to his Urhobo people and the rest of the Niger Delta under the title “Shine Your Eyes Bros, Buhari is Coming” on December 21, 2014, Abraham Ogbodo, editor of The Sunday Guardian, stated: “It is time for serious strategy and less of buffoonery. .. I can't see any (joker) against the planned onslaught of the APC. …The days of the invincibility of the PDP are almost gone”.
Jonathan has reached the dead end. It is now time for serious strategising among the Igbo political elite.
***C. Don Adinuba is head of Discovery Public Affairs Consulting.