STILL ON JONATHAN AND OHANAEZE NDIGBO
On November 12, erudite columnist, Femi Adesina, fed his avid readers with half-truth on the title above. He was economical with the truth in the piece. However, reading him was quite interesting, but his inability to give details on the issues he raised, as regarding the support of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by Ambassador Raph Uwechue, for President Goodluck Jonathan and Igbo presidency in 2015, exposed his ignorance of goings-on in Ohanaeze.
Adesina got it all wrong when he, without mincing words, rather used abusive language against the Ohanaeze leadership and Ndigbo in general, when he described them as 'simply living in a fool's paradise.'
It would have been better if Femi put his energy to ensuring that the factionalised Afenifere is reconciled instead of abusing Igbo leaders, and I am sure he will be irked should any writer outside the Yoruba race, address the leadership of Afenifere factions in like manner.
It is important to inform Adesina and his cohorts that before Ohanaeze endorsement of Jonathan, the South-East Governors' Forum under the chairmanship of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, had endorsed Jonathan 2011 presidential aspiration. Also, the South East Speakers Forum equally endorsed the president.
Therefore, it is not just about Ohanaeze and its leadership; it is about Ndigbo and what they want, which they think is good for them and Nigeria. And they have spoken in the same direction as their leaders—the governors, speakers of the five Igbo state Assemblies and Ohanaeze. If politics is all about interest, Ndigbo must have considered what their interest is, before endorsing Jonathan.
It is very important to note here that majority of Igbo people have expressed their joy and willingness over the Jonathan presidency and his presidential ambition in 2011. They are ready to vote Jonathan. If anybody doubts this, let him/her go round and see or hear it him/herself.
When Americans, before Obama election, were shouting Obama, Obama, we applauded them for their courage and political will to prefer a black African-American like Obama as president to any white American.
If we hailed the Americans for their political will to choose Obama as president, why should people resort to abusing and scorning Ndigbo and their leaders for declaring for Jonathan?
Adesina accepted the fact that the Igbo nation has been given the short end of the stick in the Nigerian federation. He added; 'For too long, they've been marginalised, circumscribed, treated as second-class citizens. This is unconscionable.'
Now the question is; who was in charge, or which part of the country was in charge, in the years that the Igbo were treated as the writer noted?
The answer to the above question will provide the answer to the issue of trust, which he also raised, regarding the Igbo and 2015 presidency.
I am sure that Adesina is aware that some Abuja based political rascals of Igbo extraction, under the aegis of Igbo Political Forum, (the same group is also known as South-East Political Forum), said that they are supporting the north in 2011, so that by 2015, the north will support them to ensure that an Igbo person becomes president.
This group acknowledged that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with the North to that effect. Signed agreement? On behalf of Ndigbo? Who did they consult? In what capacity did they sign such agreement? Who are the northern leaders that signed for the north? And who are the people that signed for Ndigbo?
Now, Femi, you are not an Igbo man, but can you imagine that a group of politicians, who are not in any way elected or appointed to speak on behalf of the Igbo at the moment, went and signed an agreement with some northern politicians including some presidential aspirants, without consulting the governors, Ohanaeze or even the elected representatives who are in the national assembly.
Which is more grievous, the endorsement of Jonathan by Ohanaeze, governors and speakers, or the endorsement of the north and signing of agreement by some individuals?
Again, Adesina asked a very pertinent question, 'who says Jonathan can keep any (agreement), particularly one that is not even documented?'
I will ask again, who among the Northern presidential aspirants will do one term and handover to Igbo in 2015 since the constitution allows them to do two terms? Yes, some of them, including those that 'stepped aside' have promised doing one term, which in their innermost soul they know they are not telling themselves the truth.
In case you don't know, the north has made such promise to Ndigbo in the past, but they never fulfilled any. They have never hidden their contempt for Ndigbo, they are holding on to the primordial thinking of 'born to rule', even when it is obvious that their 38 years of ruler-ship in Nigeria has not been favorable to their own people in the north. There is more hunger, illiteracy and general backwardness in the north than any other part of the country.
How can a people who failed to be fair to themselves be fair to another? I will allow one of the pronounced and respected Igbo leaders, a legal luminary and traditional ruler, who was the first President-General of Ohanaeze, HRH Ezebilo Ozubo, to share his view with you.
'I told them (Igbo-Abuja-based northern campaigners), if the northerners are asking you to help them put up a candidate for that office, we will ask many questions. The north has ruled this country for so many years, what do Ndigbo as a people have to show for that? What is the presence of federal government in Igboland as it is in the north? It is only the South-East that has five states while other zones have six and seven.
'I have run Ohanaeze, then, the northern governors agreed with me that we meet once in a while, 19 of them agreed that an Igbo man must be president of this country but they never put their words into action. I don't trust them. And I have reasons not to trust them. They promised Alex Ekwueme that he was going to be president of this country, when the time came for them to fulfill that, Ekwueme was pushed out and they brought in Shehu Shagari.' That was Ozobu in a very recent interview.
It is important to note here that one of the major reasons northern soldiers toppled the Shagari administration early in its second term was to ensure that the promise of making Ekwueme become president after Shagari was frustrated. The north, after the coup, held on to power for 14 years successively from Buhari to Babangida to Abacha and Abdulsalami.
Talking about zoning, it is not written anywhere that zoning is between north and south. There are six geo-political zones in the country and since the return of democracy in 1999; offices have been shared along this line. That was the reason Olusegun Obasanjo, a southerner from south-west was President, several other southerners from south-east held on as Senate Presidents.
Also, Atiku Abubakar, a northerner from north-east was vice president, and Aminu Bello Masari, a northerner from north-west was speaker of the House of Representatives.
Until his demise altered the calculation, Umaru Yar'Adua, a northerner from north-west was president, David Mark, a northerner also, from north-central is the president of the senate. While Jonathan, a southerner from south-south was vice president and Dimeji Bankole, a southerner from southwest is Speaker of the House of Representative. This shows that rotation is among the six zones and not between north and south.
It is most important to note here that by the time Jonathan's tenure ends in 2015, the South-East will be the only zone in Nigeria that has not produced a Prime Minister or Executive President of Nigeria for more than the few months of General Ironsi's administration aborted by northern soldiers. Therefore, equity and fairness demand that the South-East be given its rightful chance after the South-South.
Odingwa writes from Lagos.