How Ndi-Igbo Blew A Very Good Chance Of Producing Nigeria's President (2)

by Bode Eluyera

What does Ojukwu really stand for?

What is one supposed to make out of Ikemba of Nnewi’s second declaration? Are we to understand this to mean that the civil war hero is suffering from amnesia when he made this statement since he had previously declared his intention to be the resident of Aso rock to all Nigerians come May 29, 2007? Or is one to interpret this statement to mean that the Oxford trained General had abandoned his presidential ambition in favour of ‘Athiefku’, a northerner? Or did it really mean that the man was just confused?

Many questions, little answers.

Other relevant questions still beg for answers as far as Ojukwu’s declaration of support is concerned. They include the following:

(1) Whom among prominent Ndigbo sons, daughters, organizations and businesses did Ojukwu consult with before making such a very sensitive declaration?

(2) What was their response? (a) Mild objection. (b) Strong objection. (c) Indifference. (d) Mild acceptance. (e) Strong acceptance

(3) Was Ojukwu’s declaration a unilateral declaration?

(4) What was Ojukwu, the S.E. and the Ndigbo in general promised in return for supporting Atiku’s presidential bid?

(5) Why did Ojukwu decide to support another presidential candidate despite the fact that he was also a contender?

(6) Why did Ojukwu decide to support a non-Igbo candidate, and not an Igbo candidate?

(7) Why did Ojukwu decide to support a very controversial figure like Athiefku out of the 34 presidential candidates?

(8) Was Ojukwu aware of the fact that Athiefku was indicted for fraud when he declared his support for him?

(9) If Ojukwu was aware of Athiefku’s indictment, why did he go ahead to declare his support for him?

(10) Did Ojukwu believe that Athiefku is corrupt?

(11) If yes, why did he (Ojukwu) go ahead to declare his support for Athiefku?

(12) Why did Ojukwu declare his support for a candidate who was not a member of his party?

(13) Did Ojukwu assess the chances of Athiefku winning the election before declaring his support for him?

(14) What percentage of the Ndigbo did Ojukwu expect to vote for Athiefku?

(15) And last, but not the least, why did Ojukwu go on to contest despite the fact that he had already made a pledge to Athiefku to deliver the S.E. and Ndigbo votes to him?

As intelligent as Ndigbo are, they should know that among all the Ndigbo that showed interest in the post of president at the initial stage, Ukiwe had the best chance of giving other candidates, most especially from the North, a match at the polls and a run for their money. Ukiwe has to his credit an impeccable military service, his uncompromising position as the no.2 citizen during IBB’s reign and his popularity across the country in general. Ukiwe is regarded by many Nigerians as an intelligent, liberal and well-educated military officer – a reputation rarely accorded to Nigerian military officers.

Perhaps, it is quiet possible that on paper, academically, Utomi, theoretically might be a better candidate compared to Ukiwe. However, in terms of popularity, reality and peculiarity of Nigeria‘s politics, in my humble opinion, Ukiwe stood a much better chance than Utomi. Unfortunately, those who claimed that Utomi’s popularity was limited to Lagos only might be right. But the same can not be said of Ukiwe.

If elections were limited only to Nigeria‘s intelligentsia, Utomi, most likely, stood a much better chance compared to Ukiwe. Unfortunately, most of Nigerian electorates are still mainly semi-illiterates, stark illiterates and/or politically ignorant.

The congress held by Ndigbo in the U.S.A with the sole purpose of choosing a single candidate at the early stage of the presidential campaign, where potential contenders made their presentations at the congress, was a right step in the right direction. It was not a surprise that Utomi being an academic carried the day with his flawless presentation. If Nigeria was a democratic, civilised and enlightened country, undoubtedly, Utomi is the ideal candidate. However, as we all know, Nigeria is far from being a civilised, enlightened and democratic country.

The delegates to the congress made their choice based on Utomi’s excellent academic presentation. Unfortunately, what the delegates forgot was that Nigeria is not America. It seems to me that most of the attendees have lived for so long in America that they had forgotten about Nigeria‘s political reality. The bitter political reality is that most people in Nigeria do not cast their votes for candidates based on his excellent academic records, impeccable professional background, brilliant debates, presentations e.t.c. If they do, Falae and not Obasanjo would have won the 1999 presidential election.

The bitter and unconsoling reality is that an average Nigerian electorate uses other criteria which are comprehendible to him alone. But, whatever the criteria could be, I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubts that as far as the April 2007 presidential election was concerned, Ebitu Ukiwe was the best candidate among the Ndigbo that showed interests at the initial stage. They should had rallied around him and support him with everything needed to win the election. Poor Ukiwe was frustrated out of the race for lack of support before the real battle even started.

Personally, I strongly oppose retired and useless (and redundant) Nigerian military officers not only from taking part in elections but being appointed as well to government civilian posts. I still strongly hold the belief that the military and the North due to their visionless, reckless, insincere and fraudulent reign plunged the country into its present state of economic, social and political catastrophes.

However, Ukiwe to me, is an exception to the rule. I would have voted for him with my two hands and legs respectively if he had taken part in the elections. He stood out among all Nigerian officers with his intelligence, erudity, vision, honesty, courage and uncompromised principles. He was far from being your typical Nigerian military officer. I remember vividly well, as a school boy, watching Ukiwe took part in economic, social and political discussions on TV. The impression is indelible. From the way he spoke, you could see that he was not just a very brilliant officer, but he equally had a complete understanding of the country’s problems and had real and workable solutions to them. Undoubtedly, Ukiwe could had done a lot for the country if the evil genius had not double crossed him. He could had being Nigeria‘s Jerry Rawlings.

By not rallying around Ukiwe, Ndigbo have not only wasted him but have also blown a real chance of producing the president. At large, the country and its citizens were denied the opportunity of having a dedicated, patriotic, honest, competent and brave leader. What a pity.

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1 comment

agogo July 16, 2007 - 2:52 pm

Bode, very true comment!!! Its their penalty for lack of unity and the inability to speak with one voice on national issues. Thanks 4 Ur comment on the Orlando article.


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