Before dabbling in this piece permit me to pay a deserving tribute to whom it is due. Penultimate week, Prof. Chinualumogu Albert Achebe passed away in a blaze of glory in the US after a brief illness. At 82 the ‘African Shakespeare’ could not have been said to have died an untimely death given the life expectancy of an average Nigerian — which is less than 50 years old. But he died with his dream of a great Nigeria governed by men of character and honour still hanging in the balance. My enthralling encounter with “Things Fall Apart” was when I was in college in Benin city many years ago and after reading through I came out fully inspired, aspiring to become a writer. Today, decades after cataloguing what the trouble with Nigeria was, that of leadership, we are still dancing to the tune of leadership mediocrity, ruled not by our very best but by men and women whose vision for a better Nigeria has always been tainted with corruption and moral deficit.
While Achebe’s global literary legacy shall live on from generation to generation we are consoled by the very fact that before he took the inevitable “plunge into nothingness”, as J.P. Sartre had described death, an absolute break from the land of the living to the domain of inanimate things, he had achieved immortal greatness for his generation, his Igbo origin and his country and continent. The struggle for the enthronement of a noble leadership for our nation continues. Fare thee well, Chinualumogu (may-God-fight-for-me)! May the Almighty God, who created you with literary greatness in your blood, accept your soull!! Adieu big brother!!!
The year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen is two solid years away but the political permutations for the presidency post-Jonathan are in the horizon already. Alliances are being formed, friends are being made in the political circles and projections are being bandied about and around who succeeds Jonathan. The PDP may not say no when GEJ seeks for yet another term for ‘continuity’ sake. Nigeria does not have a modern Nostradamus to predict what will happen two years hence; only God knows who amongst us will see that year in sound health and sound mind. Forget about Prophet TB Joshua and his trial and error prophesy!
When President Jonathan expectedly declares his intention to vie for a second term there will probably be another round of tension in the land given the alleged ‘zoning’ claims of the north and their belief that a northerner should occupy Aso Rock come 2015. Zoning or no zoning we hold that the best man prepared for the task ahead should be given the chance to preside over a disintegration-threatened Nigeria of the 21st century. One does not give a damn (apology to GEJ) about where the next president hails from as far as he is the best man for the top job.
Before 2015 Nigeria can still be saved but we must urge collective vigilance and profound efforts in the resolution of the Nigerian project crisis. The best way to go about it remains, in our patriotic reckoning, the immediate convocation of the much-neglected Sovereign National Conference (SNC). This great idea of an SNC and the recurring calls for its convocation never started today nor with the advent of the Jonathan lacklustre presidency. Great statesmen who should know better have voiced out their support for the call. The late Chief Anthony Enahoro, (peace to his soul!) was one of such great patriots who never minced words about that being the ultimate solution to our complicated federal problems.
Former vocal FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Niger Delta high-profile militant Asari Dokubo were united in the recent past in calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to resign if he could not solve the generalised insecurity confronting the nation. One believes convincingly that the Ijaw-man living and working in Aso Rock is apparently carried away by the splendour of the Villa and overwhelmed obviously by the huge presidential responsibility placed on his lean shoulders. He is therefore incapable of fixing Nigeria and bringing back nostalgic feelings of the good old days in the psyché of majority of Nigerians.
While some northern rabble-rousers like Alhaji Lawal Kaita has been issuing threat upon threat to the effect that the only condition for Nigeria to be one is for the presidency to come to the North in 2015 it is utterly irresponsible for anyone to think that the north still holds the dice and the ace to determine how Nigeria is run. Indeed, time has changed and Nigeria of 1960 and 1970 is no longer the Nigeria of today. Democracy is here to stay and those half-illiterate northerners who enrolled enmasse into the army with the sole intention of intimidating and dominating governance by military or civilian gang-up must be demobilised now.
That was the same menacing tactics employed by one Alhaji Adamu Ciroma before the presidential election of 2011. The northern uncircumcised elements in the form of Boko Haram have since heeded the threats of these old spent forces by using extreme violence to make the country ungovernable or something near that. But one must tell Alhaji Kaita that one does not share such sentiment of the presidency moving over to the north except the northerner they are talking about is one Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. I think Buhari is the only northern leader who can bring Nigeria back from the corruption morass consuming her presently. He will most definitely rebuild a broken nation whose soul has been hijacked nay kidnapped by reactionary forces.
The major problem now is whether Jonathan will even lead Nigeria till 2015, that is finishing up his mandate, given the ubiquitous security challenges and econo-social turmoil in some parts of the federation. Personally I wish the President well but many people unfortunately wish him otherwise. The Bayelsa man is trying his best but his best is not good enough. GEJ is too embroiled in the siege-mentality of “business-as-usual” for any meaningful change of tactics to take place. Presidentially he is tactless and clueless but one blames him not for where he finds himself today is never his making.
According to Abubakar Tsav, a retired Commissioner of Police in an interview few months back with ‘The Sun’ newspaper: “I do believe that Jonathan is being controlled, he is like a puppet. Someone else is running the government for him … rather than resign, when the time for the next elections comes, he should quietly allow a more suitable and a more capable hand to take over the affairs of the country”. Quite an honest opinion shared by millions of Nigerians if you ask me. GEJ beyond 2015 is akin to sentencing Nigeria to ‘death’; it amounts to a national suicide mission! He must be stopped!
Since Jonathan is not a core Igboman it is still hoped that one day an Igboman will be elected president of Nigeria. But before that happens in the distant years to come (forget 2015) we must put our house in order first. The Igbos do not have a godfather like Olusegun Obasanjo or Ibrahim Babangida who can influence the emergence of one of our own as president. Without Obasanjo’s influence and dictatorial ruthlessness Jonathan would never have emerged on the national scene. OBJ’s hatred of the Igbos is not debatable; he prefers to use and dump them at his convenience!
While there are qualified presidential materials from the south-east to succeed Jonathan in 2015 we hasten to pick just two prominent ones with declared interest in the top job. Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State is a gadfly whose presidential ambition is an open secret. But with corruption charges still dangling over his head from the EFCC coupled with his political party prostitution (from the PDP to PPA and now controversially back to PDP) Kalu should consider joining the APC merger party if he hopes to advance his presidential hopes now that the PDP in his home state are kicking strongly against his re-admission into the party. Again with the open feud with his successor, Gov. Theodore Orji, an ungrateful man he single-
handedly made Governor, leading to the recent embarrassing revocation of his ABSU certificate of graduation Kalu seems to be stewing in scandalous opposition from a native source, from some known quarters.
The Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is interested in being the President of Nigeria and he has made a smart move by teaming up with the APC merger party but he must perform and achieve ‘wonders’ in Imo state during his tenure to be considered as a serious candidate. He has got all it takes though to lead Nigeria and his prominent membership of the emerging APC could place him in a better stead to champion the eastern cause in the horsetrading for the presidency in the future. For now he appears to be focused delivering the dividends of democracy to his people. But he must always watch his back as the ruling party has marked him out for political ‘destruction’ given his audacious association with the organized opposition wanting GEJ’s fall. Besides he must avoid being involved in scandals like the unfortunate shooting and shouting incident with Senator Chris Anyanwu. To be a leader one must eschew messianic posturing and arrogance since power remains transient!
The major problem facing Ndigbo as regards the occupation of Aso Rock, however, remains the lack of hierarchical organisation. And yet another is dearth of politics of principles. Very many politicians from the east are corrupt and greedy; they are thus easily compromised by filthy lucre. Besides, lack of unity among prominent oriental politicians makes it very difficult to reach a consensus on any matter of vital interest like the presidency. Among the political jobbers and prostitutes in Abuja and elsewhere bearing Igbo cognomen you have Judases, fifth columnists and serial betrayers who are ever ready to ‘sell’ any idea or decision to the ‘enemy’ at any given time for some pecuniary gains.
The recent formation of a mega party (APC) by three opposition political parties and a faction of APGA (led by Gov. Rochas Okorocha and Senator Annie Okonkwo) has once again exposed the political disunity in Igboland. The discordant tunes emanating from Awka and Owerri were enough to paint the Igbo politicians as unserious breed with little or no independence in thoughts and ideas for the future of the marginalised zone. Whilst Okorocha and Okonkwo led other APGA party men to the merger talks Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State was leading the so-called APGA-PDP faction to denounce the inclusion of APGA in the merger preferring to be working with the establishment even though APGA ought to be an opposition party in memory of the late Ikemba Dim Ojukwu. Gov. Obi declared that his faction was not consulted and taken along in the merger process while Gov. Okorocha made it clear that Obi and his group were sold to the PDP to be taken seriously as an opposition political party worth its name. If Dim Ojukwu were to be alive today I believe he would have joined forces with APC!
One believes in all neutrality that the factionalised crisis-ridden All Progressives Grand Alliance would have been better off within the APC merger party in the works. But since Obi is a Jonathan ally and an appointee of the president it is impossible for him to join forces with those progressives hell-bent on dethroning the wobbling and fumbling administration he is part of. The Imo State Governor and Senator Okonkwo meant well by joining the meger party, for the interest of APGA will be better served within the group whose prospects for power acquisition in 2015 are quite bright. That is a smart move that would pay off as soon as the APC wins power at the centre. To be a strong politician one must be convinced of his stand in any given national issues aligning always with the people. It is not enough to sit on the fence afraid to rock the boat even when the boat is already ‘rocked’ Boko Haramly from within!
So is it impossible for an Igboman to live in Aso Rock come 2015 as President? No, it is not impossible but the time seems not to be right enough right now. Well, while one wishes that that happens sooner in our generation 2015 may not produce such good news for ‘Biafrans’ at home and abroad. An Igboman can still be the President of Nigeria but that can only happen maybe in 2019 or 2023 depending on the collective resolve of the Igbos to join forces and unite for the common purpose. But there is something good to be hopeful about: the next decade might witness the rise of a mobile incorruptible new e-generation of Igbos determined to right the wrongs of the past. To them we say: the time (for mobilisation) is not then, but now!