No matter your attitude to his politics, one thing you can’t gainsay about the current crusade of former Abia State governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, for a president of Igbo extraction in 2015, is the large-mindedness of it all. Being a non-partisan campaign for now, and coming from a dyed-in-the-wool politician, it is altruistic, unselfish, and even self-sacrificing, to a large extent.
Except for about six troubled months, when Gen J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi, was head of state in 1966, before he was murdered in a military coup, the best an Igbo man has moved near the country’s leadership was when Dr Alex Ekwueme was vice president between 1979 and 1983. Since then, power has been but a story told for one of the country’s largest ethnic nationalities.
And towards 2015, Kalu has formed the Njiko Igbo, which is a broad-based, non-partisan movement, designed to rally the Igbo nation to seek the presidency with a united front. Quite legitimate, even laudable. He says of the group: “We do not belong to any political party, what we are doing is to unite Ndigbo, and make them a bundle of broom.” Njiko Igbo seeks the harmonisation of different political interests in the South-east, and the facilitation of a common position on national issues within the zone. You need a platform like that, considering the republican nature of the Igbo, and their penchant for pulling in different directions, particularly where the power game is concerned. Remember the last gubernatorial race in Anambra?
About 57 aspirants emerged from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alone, and none would step down for the other. Surely, the Igbo nation can never approach the power game at the centre with such attitude, and that is why they need a movement like Njiko Igbo. The nascent group equally seeks to build bridges across political tendencies in the country, and also rekindle the spirit of political participation among the citizens, particularly at the grassroots level. Very good. To get to power in a broad, diverse country like Nigeria, you need to build a national coalition that will become like a moving train, which nothing can stop. The Igbo nation is really getting serious.
With the death of the PDP zoning arrangement in 2011 (killed also largely by the Igbos), I’ve always maintained that any part of the country that will get power henceforth must struggle for it. Power will never be delivered on a platter to any region in this country again. You will have to strategise, scheme, and jostle for it.
And that is what the Igbo nation has started to do, with Kalu as one of the arrowheads. For a man who ran for president in 2007, and who has always stressed that he wants the country’s number one job, to subordinate personal ambition for collective good, is something worthy of commendation. But no drummer ever pleased all dancers, and that is why it was no surprise to see the antics of some small minds from Abia State recently, who stormed the national headquarters of the PDP in Abuja, protesting against the alleged plans of Kalu to return to the PDP.
Before we talk further of these political tyros and catechumen, let me reiterate my conviction about political carpet-crossing. In line with our constitution which guarantees freedom of association, a man can belong to any party he wishes. I don’t like the PDP, simply because I believe it has not served the average Nigerian well in its 13 years in power at the centre, but I don’t begrudge anyone who thinks the party is the best way to advance his or her political interests. But then, I’m resolutely against any person who moves from one party to the other frivolously, while holding tight to the mandate he won on a former platform. It is immoral, debauched, degenerate, and that is why if you open my Black Book today, you see names like Isa Yuguda, Ikedi Ohakim, Mahmuda Shinkafi, T. A. Orji, and others, boldly inscribed in it.
These were men popularly elected on one platform, and who defected, while still holding tight to the prized mandate. They are reeds tossed to and fro by the wind, irresolute, inconstant people, men I will not trust farther than I can throw them. Such men are dangerous. Am I saying a politician should rot in his political party, even if he is being trampled under foot? No. Olusegun Mimiko dumped first the Alliance for Democracy (AD for PDP, and then PDP for Labour Party, when his rights to contest for governor were circumscribed in his former parties.
Sure, he could, as he held no mandate on behalf of the other parties. But if he had dumped Labour Party for the Action Congress of Nigeria, as demanded by the latter, while still holding a mandate won on Labour Party platform, I would have kicked, and like a wild horse too. Morality must have a part to play in our politics. In 2007, at the tail end of his tenure as Abia State governor, Orji Kalu was technically kicked out of the PDP by Olusegun Obasanjo and other power mongers, who came up with a harebrained re-registration policy, which they used to exclude their political opponents from the party.
Other victims included people like Atiku Abubakar, Audu Ogbeh, Abubakar Rimi, Tom Ikimi, and many others. So, Kalu was justified to have formed the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). But back to the Igbo small minds. They first showed their hidden hostile hands when they caused some inconsequential so-called stakeholders in Bende Local Government and Igbere chapters of the PDP to pass a resolution that they do not want Kalu back in their fold. They were beefing so badly about a man who had not even signified any intention to return to their fold, and who, incidentally, was one of the founders and financiers of the party in 1998. The masters behind the political apprentices in Bende and Igbere chapters of PDP became evident, when a week later, they stormed the national secretariat of PDP in Abuja. The ‘mob’ was led by people like T. A. Orji, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Col. Austin Akobundu, Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe, Nkechi Nwogu, and others.
Wale Sokunbi of our Editorial Board described them in her column on Wednesday as “comical” and “infantile,” and I almost died of laughter. I laughed till my sides ached. Yes, very comical, a combination of Baba Sala, Aluwe, Samanja, and Mr Ibu they are. Clowns, fighting against the shadow of a man who has moved far ahead politically, while they are stuck, cabined and cribbed in infantile politics. They said they did not want Kalu back in PDP because the man has no electoral value anymore and that Abia people even hate him. I like Sokunbi’s response to them: “But, if the former governor is so hated in the state, and is a little ant of no electoral value in the area, why is the governor and his ‘crucify him’ entourage so enraged and determined to keep Kalu out of PDP?
Why are they having sleepless nights and are no longer at ease at the thought of Kalu returning to PDP? Why is the governor raging, shaking and has abandoned important state responsibilities to personally lead a team of people, who should be busy attending to matters of state, on this frivolous journey to Abuja? “If Kalu is truly hated by Abians, should he not be left to the mercy of the people who will deal with him at any time through the ballot box? Why is Orji sorely afraid of Kalu in PDP, since he believes the former governor to be a political paperweight who is hated by Abia people?” Very well said. But then, see the hypocrites. (Jimmy Cliff calls them “stinking hypocrites,” adding: “You gonna pay the price someday). What was Vincent Ogbulafor’s original party? All Peoples Party (APP, now ANPP). Yet, he’s in PDP today, and has even been national chairman of the party.
T. A. Orji? His first party was PPA, brought into politics by Kalu, who campaigned and won election for him while he was in prison. He then joined All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), then later PDP. Enyinnaya Abaribe? He was Kalu’s deputy as Abia State governor in 1999, and when they fell out, he joined ANPP, where he ran for governor in 2003. Today, he’s back in PDP. Nkechi Nwogu was also in ANPP. Most of these people were received into PDP by Kalu, who was then Abia State governor. Now hear their juvenile choruses today. ‘We don’t want him in PDP.’ Hypocrites! You gonna pay the price someday. In 2015, the problem of the Igbo would be the Igbo.
Whether an Igbo man would be president that year would be decided by the Igbo themselves. But with small minds like T. A. Orji, Akobundu and the like, I have my fears. I’m sure they are among those described as “Jonathan-drunk” by my colleague, Dr Amanze Obi, in his column last week, and they will gravely undermine the quest for Igbo presidency in 2015. Said Obi: “Those who want to wait for the president to decide (if he will run in 2015 or not) can go to sleep. They can remain Jonathan-drunk for as long as they wish. But they should make allowance for a different tendency. They should let those who have a different formula try their hands on what they believe…
The quest for Igbo president must move from the realm of convenience to that of a struggle.” True, very true. Any region that will produce the president will struggle, and struggle hard to get it. But with small minds like T. A. Orji, Akobundu and Ogbulafor, it’s time to fear, to really fear for the Igbo. The minds of such people are so pint-sized because of their antipathy towards one man, and they are never able to see the bigger picture. From such, save us o Lord.
Re: Buhari and Boko Haram
Buhari/Idiagbon regime remains a benchmark in ethical and political governance when compared with the leadership brands Nigeria has been bedevilled with. Nigeria under Buhari’s watch came very close to being truly independent, but lost the opportunity to the treacheries of mercenaries. However, my reservation hinges on a tinge of ethnic bandwagon pitfall, which Buhari should avoid to sustain a time-tested and unassailable reputation.
Steve Okoye, Enugu, 08036630731
Only Jonathan can stop Boko Haram
It is only President Jonathan that can stop Boko Haram. If he thinks that Gen Buhari will help him, he is making a very big mistake. Let Jonathan do what God wants him to do. To handle Boko Haram is one of the reasons God allowed him to be president.
Solomon U.C. Okezie, 08032634142
For the sake of the innocent
Honour is the reward of excellence, and it is given to the just. No doubt, Buhari’s personality is woven around the above expression. He already occupies a wide space in the nation’s hall of fame. Let him accept the honourable job as offered by Boko Haram, if only for the sake of the innocent Nigerians who are paying the supreme price daily.
Godwin Ihebinike, Owerri
Cheap political point
I have read some unintelligent and myopic arguments in the media, trying to link Buhari with Boko Haram, on the mere mention of his name as one of the mediators. Such desperate attempt cannot stand the test of logic and good thinking. If Buhari accepts the nomination, it could be used as an instrument to score cheap political points by his adversaries. Thank God he declined the invitation. Taiwo Kehinde, Lagos
Our next president
Frankly speaking, throw away politics, Nigerians know the honest ones. Buhari is one. Let the General accept to lead the dialogue with Boko Haram, as anyone that can demystify the sect will be our next president.
Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Observers of Good Governance Performance Initiative, Mbaise
Who or what shall separate you from the love of Buhari? Is it criticisms, prejudice, sentiments, insults or name-calling? Nay, in all these things, you are more than a conqueror-writer. Sammie Boat, Ondo State
Enemies of the masses
Most of those who carry rumours about Gen Buhari are enemies of the masses. They don’t want the masses to enjoy the fruits of democracy.
Alhaji Danladi Yaro, Sabo, Ibadan
He’s my hero
Even the devil knows that you can follow Buhari blindfolded into battle. In Nigeria, people naturally detest the truth, and prefer falsehood. Buhari has nothing to prove to shallow minds, he’s my hero. Ndiana, Uyo
Thank you very much for the piece on Buhari. He is the credible leader we are missing. Joseph, Jos
They owe us apology
We Igbos have suffered deaths and destructions of our property in the North. Those who did it will never escape the judgement of God. Buhari or no Buhari, the North owes us apology Chief J.J. Ibeka, Lagos
This is a good piece. You are consistent in your love for Buhari for life.
You have a right to your choice. Knowing who you are very closely can only mean that Buhari must be good. However, the negative opinions about Buhari shows that the people who matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter. Dr Olayinka Oladosu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Truth will prevail
If Buhari is the sponsor of Boko Haram sect, truth will prevail because there is nothing hidden in God’s agenda.
Simon Peter, email@example.com
Height of myopia
I agree with you that in a more sincere country, Buhari would be well advised to lead the talks. But not in a country like ours where the more you look, the less you see. At least what is happening to Ribadu and the task force he chaired is a testament to this. It is the height of myopia for some to insinuate that the naming of Buhari by Boko Haram as their preferred negotiator exposes him as a sponsor. Thanks for the nice piece. Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Your reward assured
Your lamentation on Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was timely and educative. I have had endless quarrel with my friends on the competence and integrity of Buhari to provide a solid and sustainable foundation for the development and progress of our dear country. Your reward for standing for the truth always is assured with our creator. Umaru Yusuf, email@example.com
Thanks for your love for truth
It’s almost 1 a.m Saturday. Just finished reading your piece, Buhari and Boko Haram. Wish I’d read it before engaging a seemingly ignorant pastor friend of mine in a verbal battle over Buhari’s alleged but totally unsubstantiated connection with Boko Haram. Thanks for your love for and defence of the truth. The spiritually blind and mentally underdeveloped would blurt out: What is the truth? Simple answer-Jesus! My Catholic faith forbids me to bear false witness against my neighbour, even if I don’t like him but I must love him. Please keep standing for the truth always. God bless Nigeria. Hon. Juventus C. Ojukwu, former Member House of Reps
As a Nigerian, you owe no one apology for who you decide to associate with politically. Government is about development and development is about money. My advice to those involved in political Boko Haram is to look inwards, it would have made more sense if they were bombing because the money due to their state was not coming, than to bomb because your region is not in power. (Though there is no amount of provocation that justifies the killings of humans).
As far as I know, the 36 states governors still go to Abuja every month to collect development allowance for their states and since Jonathan became president no state has been denied its allowance. Should another person be sworn in, no matter the region he came from, the sharing will still continue and that is the main thing that unites us.
To cool tempers, I think those involved in constitution amendment should add a clause to rotate the presidency between North and South.
Rev. Monye J Gold, Mass Movement for Responsible Leadership
Hot and cold
No doubt, Buhari is a man of integrity but then, northern leaders have not been very vocal over this issue of Boko Haram. They blow hot and cold. Udeh Chiagozie, Awka, firstname.lastname@example.org
They have sinned
Mai Gaskiya is too honest and too sincere to be linked with Boko Haram, the murderous sect. I do not know Buhari in person, but I have been his follower since December 1983 when he took over the reins of government. I was in the primary school then, and my dad bought varieties of dailies, which I would digest as if I would write examinations on such papers. I was very angry when on August 27, 1985, IBB overthrew my ‘idol’ for no better or just course. I followed him as PTF chairman too. Buhari may not be a saint just like you and I, but I can authoritatively state that he cannot have any dealing with Boko Haram. Those who associate this most innocent elder statesman with Boko Haram have sinned against him and as a matter of fact must ask for his forgiveness. Damissah Den O. Ikeja, email@example.com
The people kicking against Buhari, the Mai Gaskiya (Onye eziokwu) know why they are all, irrespective of their political leaning, afraid of him. It is not borne out of any patriotism or sincerity of purpose but out of fear because to them, the dread or fear of Buhari getting into power in Nigeria is their beginning of wisdom. They’re fully aware that it will become the end for them, and the reparation of all they have looted from the country the moment he grabs power, hence they are branding him with all manner of negative names and attributing him with unfounded allegations. Was it Buhari that willfully and unilaterally took Nigeria into O.I.C membership? No! It was the evil genius Babangida, the one that they mingle with and that moves about freely, and is highly revered by the powers that control this country. Did that singular but heavy unpatriotic and subversive action of the evil genius not lead to his deputy Ebitu Ukiwe leaving that usurper government and he didn’t care a hoot about it? They’re frightened of Buhari becoming the head of this country, hence their resort to blackmailing him before the uninformed Nigerian electorate. Abuchi Anueyiagu, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08033205799.
Let him do it
Every good mediator between two enemies, most often, sacrifices what is very dear to him. Christ, the greatest of all mediators sacrificed his blood in order to reconcile man and God. So, if Buhari, the chosen mediator, could sacrifice a little of his integrity by leading the peace talks between Boko Haram and Nigerians, it will be much better. Yes, it will be much better to ‘ destroy’ his integrity than to see millions of men and women of integrity being slaughtered daily even more gruesomely than sacrificial rams. Let him lead the peace talks. Ndubuisi Ejikeme Okoronkwo, Ugba / Nkata Umuahia Ibeku, Abia State
Tears of sadness
But for sharp intake of breath, I would have succumbed to tears on sighting a tiny and pale looking boy of about seven years selling pure water. I quickly made a correlation between the suffering of Nigerians and what Buhari stands for; zero tolerance for corruption.
Except for ethnic jingoists, looters and some religious bigots, every attempt by political therapists to paint Buhari with tar will amount to nothing. His public life is exemplary and antidote to looting, plea bargain and personalization of our national wealth. Maitasine fundamentalists suffered in Buhari’s hand. Same would have happened to Boko Haram if he were in government. I write with tears of sadness. People who ordinarily should be in jail for crime against Nigerian nation are getting publicity and looking for Buhari through all means to crucify. In death, they will readily call him ‘THE BEST PRESIDENT NIGERIA NEVER HAD’. Now that he is living, they block him in the belief that the blacksmith will take them to the furnace. Men of steel like Buhari can guarantee institutions to fix the destiny of our nation. Let the Buharis of every clime occupy our assemblies and government houses, and we will see if people will wallow in poverty with two million barrels of oil sold daily. A blind and deaf Helen Keller said: “The greatest tragedy to befall a person is to have sight but lack vision.” Let Nigerians be finally wise. David Nkem Orafu, email@example.com
You’re a learned Nigerian
I read your piece on Buhari and Boko Haram, and surely it was so inspiring. Haba, why is Nigeria filled with bunch of hypocrites, we just hate thinking. University of Jos have only three (functional) buses, on them is written ‘’PTF.’’ Even to paint the buses has been trouble. You’re really a great writer.
A country of conspiracy
Thank God for people like you, though very few. We are living in a country were people love nothing more than conspiracy, that is why dubious churches thrive and flourish in Nigeria because the people are told only what they like to hear. So, it’s no longer news the national conspiracy against Buhari, it’s all about stigmatization. For a man that has contested election since 2003, only to be dragged into Boko Haram affair, insinuating that he is a possible sponsor of the group. Their former conspiracy was that he is a religious bigot who will do anything possible to Islamize Nigeria, and so many trumped up allegations. They have so brainwashed poor thinking Nigerians that the poor, the average, the rich, are all afraid of Buhari presidency. Only God will change the orientation of ordinary Nigerians form this gullibility. Chinaka Daniels, Abuja, firstname.lastname@example.org
You made my day
Femi, you made my day. Keep it up…
Hillary Eze-Anochie, Ebonyi State, 07063783395
Giving a dog a bad name
All these are 2015 stratagem from those who reason that Buhari can’t be the president of this country. With such barbaric thought, their last antic or ploy is to resort to a tale of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it. So we are used to their antics. Since 2003 when well wishing Nigerians opted for Buhari presidency, we’ve seen headlines like; ‘Financial impropriety in PTF,’ ‘religious extremism’ etc. So, for me, I ain’t surprised with their dirty Boko Haram issue.
EKP Isong, Calabar
I pray the ‘deaf’ will hear
What you wrote about our Gen. Buhari made me cry because Nigerians will continue to embrace darkness and we will remain where we are. Continue to talk; I pray the deaf will hear.
Ebele Adigwe, Okpanam
A just man
Thanks for reminding Nigerians the stuff Gen. Buhari is made of. It is the attitude of Nigerians not to recognise the good qualities of their leaders while alive. Buhari is a man that needs no campaign before winning elections in this country, but the Sambalats and Tobias in this country will not allow him. If Boko Haram sect can recognise him as a just man that can be trusted, what are we waiting for? His house in Daura does not look like an abode of a past Nigerian leader. He is modesty par excellence, he practices religion that pleases God. Every right think person knows Buhari will not accept the nomination of the Boko Haram sect, how I wish he accepts, we would have seen a man whose modus operandi is honesty.
Revd S. A. Adetayo, St John’s Anglican Church, Ikotun, Lagos