By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
Don’t make a man your Hero except a dead one for the living can disappoint. This best describes Dr. Chris Ngige who at a time was considered a ‘hero’ for starring god fathers in the face and at the risk of losing his high office elected to work for the people rather than service the parochial interest of god fathers.
He became an overnight Igbo leader and the only politician with cult like following outside Dim Emeka Ojukwu.
Today , the Ngige factor has dimmed. I doubt if the common man will still fund his election as they did some years ago. I doubt if he still will command the followership that he once commanded. I also doubt if he still speak for the people.
Ngige lost his flavour saying the wrong things. A leader is the voice of his people and does the will of his people. Against the political temperature of the Igbo Ngige embraced ACN .To impress his new masters he justified the deportation of some Igbo from Lagos. Worse was that his rationalization of Fashola’s anti Igbo policy which angered many came at a time Fashola himself was being apologetic of his discriminatory policy.
Ndi Igbo has suffered persecution, pogrom and genocide from across Nigeria and like every wounded people , Fashola’s deportation touched a raw nerve. Ngige and Joe Igbokwe’s effort at rationalising a very bad policy contributed to the Igbo rejection of ACN and by extension APC as a political party.
Following the ACN experience one would expect Ngige to show better discretion when he speaks on Igbo issues knowing full well that the worse battle you can do is with your own people. The tongue is meat in the mouth but we do better than not chewing on it.
Ngige is guilty of the Igbo sin which is lack of discretion as posited by Reno Omokri when he said this of the Igbo ‘’As a general rule, to the Igbo, all strength is physical. They do not seem to realise that strength is your ability to assert your will on earth and that ability may not always be physical. The proverb-discretion is the better part of valor-is not understood by the Igbo. They tend to be reactionary and consider pausing to study a situation before you respond (not react) as cowardice”
Ngige again fell into this trap of Igbo lack of discretion when he spoke to the press at the commemoration of fifty years of Biafra. He spoke as if he is the only Igbo man that voted for Buhari. He claimed that his efforts to persuade the Igbo to wisely invest in Buhari’s presidential bid in 2015 failed because of lack of co-operation by many South-east leaders, who threw their weight behind former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sadly Ngige’s statement, reinforces the much criticised statement of President Buahri at the onset of his administration that more focus would be on geopolitical zones that supported him than those that did not. Buhari journey to failed presidency began from the mindset that those that voted Jonathan must be mistreated, marginalised, deprived and made to regret being part of a democratic Nigeria.
According to Prophet Ngige “Before the government of Jonathan failed, I went to all the Igbo fora to tell them that the Jonathan government will fall.
“I went to our Ohaneze ndi Igbo in Enugu twice. They could not even reply to a letter written by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, seeking for a meeting with them,”
The minister, who accused some Igbo leaders of playing a cat-and-mouse game with Buhari during the electioneering period, said he went to Lagos and convened an Igbo stakeholders forum in William Nwodo’s house in Ikoyi, Lagos in 2014, where he analysed the voting pattern in Nigeria and told them that even if they did not want to support Buhari, they should give him 25 per cent of their votes.
The minister added: “They refused to listen to me, and to make matter worse, there was no voting in most of the areas in the South-east; they just allocated 5 per cent to APC.
“It was that bad, it is too late to cry when the head is off. Politics is business in a way, you invest in business and you reap profit.
I am ashamed that Ngige crossed the line once again by being wrong about the 2015 election. It is base and too low for him to say the Igbo didn’t vote Buhari except himself and at the same time claiming Buhari was allocated 5% of votes.
Despite my finding Ngige’s statement offensive I will not get as low as the former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK) who called him a devilish dwarf for saying that ndi Igbo should not complain about marginalisation because they didn’t vote for President Buhari.
Though wrong Ngige is still my elder , my brother, my former governor and once upon a time my hero. So I cannot descend as low as FFK to call him a little pygmy, a village idiot, a compound fool and an unrepentant slave. I also do not think he has sold his soul to the devil as FFK suggested. I therefore caution FFK to mind his language and avoid crying louder than the bereaved.
From hindsight Igbo people are right by not voting for Buhari whose leadership has become not just an embarrassment but a huge disappointment to those that even voted for him. The Buhari regime is a failure on all fronts and I doubt if those that voted for him in the South West and North will enthusiastically vote for him again in 2019. He is not just capable but also unfit. If he loves the country as he professes he ought to resign now rather than making the presidency a hospice.
It’s unfortunate that Dr. Ngige thinks little of Igbo marginalisation because as the only man who voted for Buhari from the South East he has made his profit by being appointed to the Position of Minister of Labour and Productivity. Need I remind him that politics is service not business even though governance is business because it requires organisation, commitment and seriousness.
As Minister of Labour he ought to have seen evidence of Igbo marginalisation across the South East where Nigerians of Igbo origin manufacture all manner of products that begin from Letter A and end with letter Z. “In Aba alone, they produce over 1 million pairs of shoes. In Nnewi, we have more Manufacturing companies than they have in Nigeria’s largest geo political zone, the Northwest. “Yet, both Anambra or Abia do not have an airport even though their citizens are the heaviest commercial travellers in Nigeria “Yet, some states with little or no commercial activity have not just an airport, but a fully functional international airport.
What Ngige failed to understand is not really about how the Igbo voted but what Buhari and his fellow oligarchs think of him. They think of him as they think of the rest of us an “outsider,” a “marginal group,” or “socially dead people” in the Nigerian society. The Buahri government in particular views ndi Igbo as slaves with no rights to participate in political decision making by considering us as people who can only enjoy social activities fewer than those enjoyed by his people.
It is what is fuelling the agitation for Biafra. If a referendum is conducted today, I am certain that no fewer than 80% Igbo will vote to exit Nigeria because no one willingly will want to remain in enslavement. Nigeria has a choice to provide answers to the Igbo agitation. It is no longer enough for anyone to pontificate on Nigeria’s unity being irreversible. A broken Nigeria is possible if we fail to reform.