By Chukwudi Nweje The Nigerian Third Force Movement has rolled out its action plan for the 2019 general elections. Prominent members of the group include former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, Tafawa Balewa, and Prof. Pat Utomi….
In one of my preceding articles I had offered sincere prayers for the quickest recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari, but to my dismay some readers wrote back to call me names. One particular reader unfairly called me a ‘sellout’ while another characterised me with some names I am uncomfortable to reproduce here. ‘Sellout’ because I prayed for the good health of the president?
As a leader, President Buhari would have stepped on toes of some fellow citizens who cannot understand why he deserved our prayers for good health, having, according to them, superintended the Shiite Muslim massacre, the genocide by instalment of the people of Southern Kaduna, the brutal extermination of Biafra agitators, the Agatu Benue killings, the criminal invasion of Enugu and Abia State by Fulani herdsmen, the continued unlawful detention of Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB, Alhaji Zakyzaky of Nigerian Islamic Movement and Retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, despite judicial pronouncements granting them freedom. They still cannot understand why they must pray for a president who can afford billions of naira at the expense of tax payers for his medical tourism, whereas families abound with health and hospital distress that cannot afford N5,000 to procure basic medications.
I am not the one to make excuses for President Buhari’s intransigencies, as I am not one of those that voted him into office in 2015.
Since the end of the civil war, no leader has subjected our citizenship to so much strain, no leader has treated Ndigbo in particular with so much contempt and indignity like President Buhari. His leadership is guilty of several violations against Ndigbo ranging from the violation of the right for political freedom which include the right to self determination, social equality, economic freedom and freedom of association.
But shall we on account of these return evil for evil or wish him dead for that matter?
Whatever are our political difference, I insist President Buhari needs our love, empathy and prayers. He deserves good health like every other person, more so that he can see no one indispensable including himself, so he can see transition waits for no one and how good his deputy looked, acting the President. For the period he deputized, Prof Osibajo stole the heart of millions. He said and did the right things: Dollar depreciated against the naira for the first time in two years, acting CJ Onnoghen was confirmed the Chief Judge of the federation, Nigerians protested bad policies and mis-governance by the administration without getting killed, the acting President visited and held meeting with Niger-Delta states. He visited Imo and also visited southern Kaduna. Rivers experienced the first peaceful election as no military was sent to disrupt the will of the people.
For the first time in two years, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief as peace and calm gradually returned across the nation. I need the President to see how his enormous power could be put into good use for the common good of all. I wish him good health so he can see the futility of being opposed to a restructured Nigeria.
No one with a chance of repentance should be allowed to perish a sinner. As Christians we are enjoined by the Holy Book to pray for the sick and love those that hate us. Love and empathy remain our strongest weapon and greatest hope in this confused world. This is a fact I want fellow citizens to imbibe.
We the Igbo must see Buhari’s violations against us as a blessing in disguise. At least he made it possible that we are rallying around and talking seriously again for the first time since after the civil war on how we can pull together to develop the land of our fathers.
Nelson Mandela said of the man who led his defence team, Bram Fischer, SC, (a Boer) that he was the greatest South African. When he was asked why, Mandela explained that unlike himself, Bram Fischer fought his own people, adding, “it is easy to fight others but the greatest battle in life is a fight with your own people.”
As Ndigbo we must also look into the mirror and confront ourselves with some home truths. Getting our youths committed to Brexit or death, to recognise that a restructured Nigeria is a chance we must take is one hard thing I have attempted doing in recent time. Perhaps harder is getting our people to accept that we have our fair share of blames for our woes due to our dereliction to hold our political actors accountable.
It is not the fault of the Hausa-Fulani that we are not blessed with an exciting leadership since the advent of this democracy. We have no good reasons for letting our governors escape with daylight robbery of the scant resources accruing to us. In Akwa Ibom I witnessed the transformation undertaken by Gov. Akpabio. I also marveled at the miracle of Gombe by Dankwabo and of course, the transformation of Lagos by Babatunde Raji Fashola , a legacy being sustained by Ambode. All these great achievements happened inside Nigeria with all its imperfect arrangements.
According to Jerome Okolo, one of the Igbo greats in a contribution made to the Igbo Intelligentsia Forum , ‘’the WHO in 2016, came out with statistics pointing out Onitsha as the most polluted city on earth on account of PM10 pollution’’ But before we argue on the veracity of WHO claims, we can at least attest to seeing our unfortunate brothers, sisters and uncles dying of bronchitis and pulmonary failure caused by pollution. Some of us have noticed the creeping commonness of cancers, caused by our polluted environment. Yet we are doing nothing about achieving a clean and safe environment.
“This 2017, WHO again, came out with a report that pollution is far worse in its devastation than Ebola and AIDS combined. How many of us would still remain calm and indifferent if 500 brothers were injected everyday with HIV virus – deliberately?
Yet, we poison our people – including mothers and our most precious and vulnerable – babies-People who live with Chinese insecticides (as mosquito killers), otapiapia (as rat killers), germs and viruses in stagnant water that they wade through every day as they step on human and animal fecal matter, while they breathe the dirtiest air on planet Earth. We should be terrified about what we are doing to ourselves and outraged at the auto genocide of our own race. The Hausa-Fulani hasn’t killed anything near the number we have killed by living in the kind of places we have allowed to carry on existing due to bad leadership.
The level of urban decay which Aba and Onitsha typify compels me to advocate that we drag our past governors that ruled from 1999 to an open market square and whip their bare buttocks for hugely disappointing us. Maybe 24 lashes laid on each of their bare buttocks will assuage our anger and drive some sense of urgency into the brains of our current and future gate keepers.
My point in this write up is that we must make no excuse for bad leadership. We must not waste a 4-year term with any mediocre governor with no sense of urgency for physical transformation. We need rapid development, so we can attract thousands of Ndigbo in the diaspora, who are now peaking in numbers as they come to retirement and have lots of money in America and self-investible retirement pots of money in the UK.
These people typically have access to millions of dollars but virtually none of them would physically stand the idea of retiring to present day urban squalors of Aba and Onitsha.