There is one immutable fact I have come to cherish so much, especially of late, and it has to do with the divine connection in the affairs of all mortals. Certainly, it is only a fool would say there is no God. Some people, out of their vaulting, selfish desires, nurture unrealistic dreams and make unachievable plans. Even the morbid desire by some people to remain in power at all costs has been traced to lack of fear of God.
If we believed there is God, it then means it is He alone can decide what happens and how it affects the people He created. And so it is with the political life of Nigeria. Can anybody doubt the capability of God to alter what we humans had already decided? In the sight of men, what will happen in 2015 has long been decided. It is touted that those that will contest for political offices in 2015 and those that will not have already been decided by those who have control over our collective patrimony. That is beautiful! But have such usurpers of power spared a thought about what God thinks. Remember God’s ways are different from man’s ways, and his thoughts higher than our own thoughts.
Yes, we make our own plans, but God, definitely, has the final say. This is what I really believe whenever I am involved in any contest. I recall what happened in 1994, when I first mooted the idea to contest for the position of governor of Abia State. Some people did not give me any chance. In fact, I was written off as an underdog in the midst of the supposedly intimidating political giants that were showing interest in the office. However, deep inside me, I was confident that in the end, it was God’s will that would be done, not man’s. So, I was focused, determined and undeterred to pursue my aspiration to its logical end. Let me quickly clarify one point here.
Those that allegedly wrote me off in 1999 were the political elite that constituted a very small percentage of the real voters and hardly came out to vote on the day of election. These people were in the minority. Even though I consulted a few of them, my major constituency was the mass of the people – who decide who governs them. They have the votes; they have the number. On the day of the governorship election on January 9, 1999, I won with over 70 per cent votes cast. It was one victory that aroused hilarity and excitement in Abia State.
I was, nevertheless, not carried away by the euphoria of my electoral victory. Rather, I was so determined to hit the ground running that I had little or no time for undue formalities. My style of governance was to mobilize the people to work with government to develop our state in strict compliance with the covenant I had with God. Throughout my tenure as governor, I was conscious of this covenant and stuck to its tenets religiously. The enormous difficulties we encountered in our effort to put things right did not deter me from doing what I should do to move our state forward.
The most challenging task then was how to raise the initial capital needed to keep the government running and attend to some pressing needs. Not wanting to fail, I sought the face of God. In the end, I was guided to source resources in my personal capacity to award contracts for four major roads in Aba, pay workers arrears of salary and meet other exigent obligations. Because it was God that chose us to lead, we made personal sacrifices and worked conscientiously to make our state better. Thank God, in the end, everything worked out as God had willed it.
Then enter Obasanjo’s tenure elongation plot in 2007. It was a battle royal. He mustered all the resources in his arsenal, but in the end he lost the battle. Even his position as President, including his foot soldiers and acolytes, could not save the day for him. If it were by Obasanjo’s might, surely, his dream would come through. But it ended the way it did, because God did not support his pet project. Up till date, I am sure he still marvels at what happened, for he thought that it was going to be a smooth ride. Who wouldn’t be confident, when he controlled all the paraphernalia of power? This particular case showed to the whole world that all powers belong to God. Those that know me too well can attest to the fact that I have never achieved anything on my own. Who am I or what can I do without God? He has always been my shelter and fortress; in Him I put all my hope and trust. I defer to Him in everything I do and seek his guidance in all the decisions I take. If it were for man, I would not be governor.
If not for God, how could I have become the youngest bank chairman Nigeria has ever produced? The little achievements I have recorded in the few decades of my life would not have been possible without God. This is why I use what He has given me to serve Him and help humanity. It is, therefore, preposterous to hear what detractors say about me. They engage in unnecessary theatricalities and create obtuse impressions about what I plan to do and what I do not intend to do – all in an effort to smear my integrity and cast me in bad light before some people. But who cares.
What guides what I do is my conscience. Once my conscience is at peace, nothing bothers me. It is an unwarranted attack by some people to ascribe certain behaviours and utterances to me when, as a matter of fact, I never nursed such intentions. The ongoing campaign to destroy me started the moment the media carried the story of my alleged plan to return to the fold of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – a party I, in conjunction with other notable Nigerians, contributed enormous resources to found. Some of the people that call the shots in the party currently, especially in my state of Abia, were either not in politics or were in other political parties when we founded the PDP.
As far as I am concerned, such people are usurpers and political turncoats. Indeed, some of them that make the loudest noise are the charlatans whose stock-in-trade is pull-him-down. What have I done to warrant the tirade and umbrage? To be true, if I decide to go back to PDP tomorrow, it is entirely my own business and choice. And nobody can stop me. After all, those kicking against my supposed return are just political lightweights that cannot withstand any serious political contest. Indeed, their constituency does not go beyond their immediate family compound.
I find it ludicrous that persons who ordinarily would not have been able to win an election in their kindred are the same people casting aspersions on my person. Wonders shall never end. I must not fail to state unequivocally that I am not bothered a hoot about their cantankerous and garrulous dispositions. Those who know them are sufficiently aware that they survive only by backbiting and trying to destroy another person. Nobody knows them beyond their immediate environment. I have made it abundantly clear that my primary concern for now is how to bring the campaign for the emergence of an Igbo President in 2015 to fruition.
I have mapped out strategies on how to spread the gospel of Njiko Igbo – a platform for the galvanization of Igbo, at home and in Diaspora – for the attainment of this all-important project. Let nobody deceive you: the Igbo Presidency project has come to stay. Those who make fruitless effort to distract me are those who have never wished Igbo anything good. It is not the intention of this piece to discuss the merits and demerits of an Igbo Presidency. I have done that in a two-part serial I wrote some time in the year. Nevertheless, I will posit that Igbo deserve the slot this time round, because of their numerous contributions and sacrifices for the sustenance of our nationhood.
And there can never be any fulfillment for Nigeria until an Igbo has assumed the leadership of this country. Justice and equity support it, the gods of our ancestors are solidly behind it, the entire people of the South East geopolitical zone desire it, God Himself has blessed it, and the people of Nigeria will benefit ultimately from it. Contrary to the wicked insinuations by some political neophytes and Lilliputians, I have no personal interest in championing the cause of my people. Watchers of Nigeria’s political development will agree that I took a special interest in the Igbo cause as far back as 2000, culminating in my globally acclaimed “Wake up call” address at the Igbo Summit on January 19, 2001 in Enugu.
Since that day, I have never hidden my desire to work for the emergence of an Igbo President to redirect our nation from its continual drift to self-perdition. Therefore, those angling for cheap publicity, by making false claims against me, will soon know who the real lover of Igbo is. My stand for the emergence of an Igbo man or woman as the President of Nigeria in 2015 does not diminish the long-standing fact that I am a pan-Nigerian. I have always stood for the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria. This is why I have invested a sizeable chunk of my resources in doing business in Nigeria, promoting mutual relationship among our peoples and fostering humanness and humanity in the service of our fatherland. As far as I am concerned, 2015 belongs to God.
He knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. It is only He who can author and finish our faith. It, therefore, amounts to an exercise in futility for any mortal to arrogate to himself the power of deciding the fate of others, politically, as far as 2015 is concerned. It is within the realm of speculation for anybody to attempt to speak about 2015 – what will be and what will not. This is why I have an open mind on it, still believing and praying that the will of God come to pass. Let me state unequivocally that whatever I do toward 2015 is borne out of a genuine desire to protect and project the interest of Igbo. I have no personal ambition whatsoever for championing the cause.
The only propelling force is the desire to do what is right at all times. I do not mind one bit the cross that may come in the pursuit of this agenda. After all, I have never shied from the unassailable fact that the road is going to be very rough and bumpy. I regret to state that some of the people masquerading as champions of Igbo cause do so out of sheer self-aggrandizement. They do not have an atom of love for Igbo or mindful of their plight.
They pretend to be fighting for Igbo cause when, in fact, they are working for their pockets. Such people bring opprobrium and shame on the Igbo race. It is important, however, to observe that majority of Igbo are committed to the project and are ready to work for its actualization. The time has passed when Igbo were easily swayed by subterranean forces that manipulated their collective destiny for as little as a pot of pottage. Forget what some detractors insinuate that Igbo can easily be bought over with money. Who does not like money? Probably, what people should say is that the wrong application of money is where the problem lies.
In my thinking, it does not really matter who emerges from Igboland as the candidate. All I am interested in is for an Igbo man or woman to emerge as President to give Nigeria a new life and exterminate the ills that draw us back. In all honesty, the Igbo Presidency project will materialize in 2015 if we bury our differences and work collectively as a people. Past efforts to attract the coveted office to Igboland failed because some powerful people were opposed to it.
By so doing, they sowed the seeds of discord and planted tares among the wheat. At the time of harvest, the wheat will be separated from the tares! The tares are then collected and thrown into a burning furnace! Those working as moles against the interest of Igbo, should desist forthwith and turn a new leaf before it is too late. Posterity will not forgive such men or women of dishonour. Let me advise my brothers and sisters from Abia State that have succumbed to the subtle intimidation and arm-twisting of the rulers of darkness to watch out in order not to regret later. They should not allow themselves to be used to achieve cheap political points.
Their visit to Abuja last week (under the sponsorship of the government) was totally uncalled for and a waste of scarce government resources. How could any sensible person have gone to Abuja to protest my so-called return to PDP when I currently do not belong to any political party? My major preoccupation for now is the coordinating role I play at Njiko Igbo. We are mobilizing Igbo all over the world to speak with one voice and pursue the Igbo Presidency project with all their minds, their hearts and everything they have. If we failed to lead the way in the struggle to reposition our race in the nation’s socio-political life, then nobody else will do it for us. Our destiny is in our hands.
The struggle we have embarked upon is beyond party, religion, clan or status. It is a struggle for which every bona-fide Igbo should be proud to identify with. If, for whatever reason, any Igbo should allow himself/herself to be coerced or cajoled into abandoning this singular opportunity to make the difference, then we will be sentenced to another 50 years in limbo. By that time, many of us would have joined our ancestors. A stitch in time saves nine (sorry for the cliché).