AS I was writing this piece, I was full of rage about the Nigerian personality and much about the political culture, which encourages citizens to continue to act the same way and do things even when the outcomes suggest that change in attitude and operational methods is inevitable. I have in recent months re-read history books especially those related to the development of more prosperous nations. I discovered that it is only Nigerians who wallow in the ugly pastime of walking the discredited path repeatedly. When Americans, English, Russians, Chinese, even Malaysians and Singaporeans felt a particular behavior or system was not worth keeping, they resolved and did away with it. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was about changing old habits and replacing them with new traditions appropriate for achieving a modern society. If our nation is bad, it is because for years leaders who should be symbols of good conduct, rather choose to be examples of everything bad, greed, robbers, talebearers, hijackers of what is not theirs, agents of impunity and imposition. No wonder our space has characteristics similar to that of the animal kingdom.
Today’s discourse is not about the trouble with Nigeria. I have only touched it because it has relevance with the issue in focus. Today’s topic is on nomination into boards. For those of us who have kept an eye on the political scene, we have wondered why our dynamic president seems not to be in a hurry to constitute the boards. Our concern was predicated on the knowledge that the more hands available, the more the ideas; great societies are not built on the ideas and contributions of one man, it is about collectivism. Last weekend what many of us expected began to happen. The presidency sent to the Senate for the customary confirmation exercise, the names of members of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). It was a good development, and I am sure that in some quarters it elicited excitement, but for us in Abia State, particularly Asa indigenes of Ukwa West Local Government, it was ash in the mouth. Instead of joy, the nomination of one Donatus Enyinna fouled the atmosphere, provoked a level of tension that threatened to spill into violence. That it did not was because great sons of the soil like us who strongly support the president enlightened the people that violence only beclouds issues, and that in Buhari we have a president that is ever willing to right the wrongs wherever it is found, and given his posture recently he is ready to remedy any marginalization in any part of the Niger Delta. It worked like an analgesic.
The nomination of the so-called Donatus Enyinna is not a product of any consensus; the people knew it is the outcome of greed, insensitivity and natural wickedness. A section of the elite knew that the mistake was not from the president rather everything pointed to a mischief, which the president unfortunately fell for. This is instructive. Oil politics in Abia is a very peculiar one in the sense that only one local government area, Ukwa-West, peopled by persons of Asa stock produce all the oil for which Abia State is known as an oil producing state; Asa people suffer direct aftermath of oil exploration especially of environmental pollution and degradation. Farming and fishing which are the main occupations of the people have gone nearly extinct as a result of nutrient loss and pollution of rivers. It is to arrest this situation that NDDC was established to act as an intervention force, so in the Abia case taking away the task from an indigene would amount to injustice on its own. So giving the job to a man who Ukwa West people later discovered is an Ngwa man and hails from an area (Osisioma) that has nothing to do with oil, is a misnomer and an act against natural justice. More importantly, NDDC Act 2002, Article 2 (1) B expressly prescribes that representatives to the board must come from oil producing areas of the state in question. It is possible that the framers of this law knew the Nigerian character and could predict that one day a Nigerian who is full of impunity, very insensitive to events around him and shameless would attempt to act the interloper, as it is the case in this matter. From the point of legalism the appointment is illegal. Morally, it constitutes an affront on the psyche of the people, who love this nation and have given so much to sustain peace in their own side of the Niger-Delta.
I would not blame the president because what happened was a clear case of mischief carried too far. The nominee is strongly believed to be the incumbent chairman of the APC in the state and he has been a two-time member of the Abia State House of Assembly, during which period he was known as Donatus Nwamkpa, but for the purposes of this exercise his masked sponsors submitted his name to be Donatus Enyinna, a case of middle name becoming the surname. I would not say much except to insist that such a twist is not in line with the change our president envisages; this nominee cannot be at the same time an arbitrator and a beneficiary, it is true he has rights but his appropriation of such rights especially in circumstances should be based on sound equity in this instance disclosing his intention to take his right, so his place can be properly defined. It was not so in this case, he kept his uncanny game to himself and ended up not only corrupting the process but ridiculing a president who means well. The way the drama turned out may not have been intended but that it happened at all is offensive, it should be punished because not only was a lawful process subverted, someone wanted to gain at the expense of another, in this case the president and the ruling party.
The ugly behavior touches on the age-old relationship between the Ukwa and the Ngwa people and even for the Ngwa, I am sure they would not like the inordinate ambition of any of their sons to conflict with the cordial relations they have maintained with the Ukwa people for over a century. Moreover, on the equity scale Ukwa has always bent backwards to ensure that the relationship works; it is true that every deputy governorship position that went to old Aba zone went to the Ngwa people. As at today, a credible Ngwa man is the governor, persons of Ngwa extraction are the Speaker and senator representing Abia South in the Senate, the latter is on the third missionary journey. I am however glad and grateful about his positive position on this matter. It could be full atonement if by his help this matter ends very well. It is my expectation that other Ngwa leaders would prevail on their sons to walk off this path.
I urge the president to withdraw the nominee and replace him with one taken from among members of APC in Ukwa West Local Government Area. If the party loves consolidating its victory, with regard to this matter, it will find out that it has very distinguished members who can turn around the political fortunes. Among them is Hon. Chinonyerem Macebuh, a two-time member of the House of Representatives, who proposed the NDDC Act, a great achiever, whose asset is integrity. Myself and many other quality minds are members of this party. So let the party look downward.