For today’s discourse let me take off on a pan-Nigeria note. Our country must critically review her federal structure if our intention is truly to create a nation in which life will be abundant. The agitation is gathering momentum and I believe it will be in our best interest if our leadership class would climb down from their high horse and listen to the people for once. There seems to be so much sense in the clamour restructuring. I have heard people dismiss talks of restructuring the country on the grounds that it is a tribal agenda, they are right but my question for them is: would there have been a Nigeria without the component parts?
When the western world invented federalism what was it they were trying to cure? The truth is that the challenge of pluralism can only be adequately addressed by a recognition of the special needs of a particular people within a union and finding answers to them and not just doing so but executing it with respect for the people and of course their leaders. Without the leaders, a people can do nothing. Recently some of my friends were talking about revolution but I had to educate them on a vital point, which is that revolutions don’t take place except there is in existence a critical vanguard. Our traditional subgroups know this and that is why we often see them express concerns about the political direction and behaviour of leaders within their group. I must say that some groups in Nigeria have managed their relationship with their leadership class far better than others.
The best is the north. They understand the strength in diversity. The north is hegemonic in philosophy and political orientation; in reality the north has tried to run along that line but there is an important lesson they know and that is association beyond their lines by their people can never be of harm to their collective interest. This was why politicians like Aminu Kano and Ibrahim Waziri of blessed memory could break ranks, form political parties that won elections in strategic states like Kano, Kaduna and Bornu and yet were allowed to operate.
Core northerners have always been found in all political parties irrespective of their colouration. I have had cause to tell friends that if President Buhari were to be from the east by now he would have still been abiding alone in his party because the people will keep insisting he is nobody to form a political party and what he has is a family affair deserving no attention. I will skip examples but am sure we know a lot about this.
The west has also done well in this regard. Chief Awolowo and his party received attention. Till today the Yoruba have not forgotten the man and his legacies; to some extent his philosophy and structure are still shaping the politics of the Yoruba. Everybody seems to have agreed that Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime was the most ruthless at that time but see who controlled the regime – the north had largest share, followed by the west, the same people that criticized the regime the most. The political sense in all of this is that while making the administration uncomfortable, they were still part of it to get for their people any good thing that was available. In practical politics, this is called “political pragmatism.”
It is helping the north and it has helped the west to move from opposition politics to mainstream national politics. If the west were not pragmatic, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not have been, how much more winning the presidency. Bola Tinubu would have been branded a traitor and politically destroyed but political liberalism allowed them to watch Tinubu and see what the outcome would be. This is not political prostitution rather it is being politically sensible and I recommend it for all.
Orji Uzor Kalu is one leader I like from the Igbo hemisphere and like I said in a recent article I did on him not long ago, he is a young man who has so many things going for him. One of it is political wisdom. I have been with him and can say his political wisdom comes from God; he is one politician from the East that understands our country very well and that influences his politics. I have heard political neophytes accuse him of political infidelity and I have always consigned those talks to the dustbin because I know they are products of deep ignorance especially in these periods when the young ones lack ability and strength for research. If they did, it would have been easy to find out that Kalu was a member of the PDP and only left to form a party with his friends when they were forcefully de-registered during the of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; it was supposed to be a temporary answer to a bad situation, his attempt to rejoin the party he helped to form in 2013 was ridiculously thwarted when a delegation from Abia State PDP prevailed on the national leadership not to register him. It is no surprise that when Kalu wanted to revive his political career he found APC the most suitable ground for him and if I were to offer my opinion I will say his entry into APC is serving the Igbo interest very well.
Kalu secured commitments before he laid down his cap and among them was the issue of road infrastructural turnaround for the South East; any keen observer would agree that the Buhari Administration has done far better in road reconstruction in the South East in two years than the preceding administrations in recent times. Abia where Kalu comes from is benefiting, those who took the Umuahia-Ohafia road this Christmas would have observed that the potholes were professionally covered. I am sure people in Isiegbu Uzoitem, Igbere, Ugwueke Ezeukwu and Lohum Mkpa are happy with what has happened to their roads courtesy of the federal government via Kalu. Not many know that Kalu was the most prominent Igbo politician to visit Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in prison at a time everyone was afraid to do so and his interventions led to the issue of bail for Kanu.
People of uncommon character are usually not common players. They play underground and manifest in very critical moments. This kind of attitude is both a plus and a minus. People cheer what they know and will abuse to the absurd when things seem to go wrong and they appear not to know why. That is the cross Kalu carries. He has powerful enemies who talk always but the unfortunate thing is that why they are quick to give labels. Kalu has been engaged posting achievements albeit quietly. In Abia for instance, it is difficult to see a prominent politician who did not pass through Kalu’s political college; his companies employ thousands of Nigerians many of them Igbo.
The Sun newspaper has projected the interest of Ndigbo than any other news media in the whole world. The truth is that Kalu is an asset and the Igbo love him but I think the time has come to lift him far beyond where we have always seen him so that together we can transform our fortunes.