2019, Yoruba interests, and Osinbajo’s vaulting ambition (IV)
NOW, are the Igbo marginalised in the scheme of things in Nigeria? On the economic front, they do not appear so. Despite the bitterness of many Igbo against Awolowo’s 20 pounds policy after the Civil War, the Igbo are today at the commanding height of Nigeria’s economy. This is not to say they had it all smooth-sailing, though; how about the vexed issue of abandoned properties even in parts of present-day South-South? In other facets of life such as in academics, the professions, sports, entertainment, industry, the Igbo are a force to reckon with. In fact, their prowess and ingenuity in improvisation and inventions is second to none. They may not have won the Nobel but that does not in any way diminish their outstanding achievements as well as invaluable contributions to society.
It is in the political or leadership field, then, that the Igbo have never tired to cry marginalisation. But consider that they were the first President of independent Nigeria, even if ceremonial. As argued in the earlier series, Nnamdi Azikiwe could have been Prime Minister but for the fall-outs of the “Cold War” between the Igbo and Yoruba. Nigeria’s first military coup was led by an Igbo – Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu. The coup failed partly because of the tribalism displayed by some of the Igbo officers who killed the leaders of the other tribes but allowed theirs to escape. Our first military Head of State was Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, although it is regrettable that his government was short-lived. No one may excuse the counter-coup, the pogrom, and the events that led to war even if it appears some of these events have been turned on their head and or have faded in the consciousness of many Igbo.
All the same, they were sad events which should never have been allowed to happen. But consider, also, that apart from the lop-sidedness of the first coup led by Igbo, some of Ironsi’s actions were also excuses for the counter-coup. It is sad but instructive, therefore, that the more the number of books written on the subjects, the more the controversies surrounding who did what and why.
Defining Igbo or Biafra territory is another vexed issue over which everyone is not agreed. When it suits some people’s argument, they claim it covers present-day South-South and South-East. At other times when the topic is the creation of states and they want what is mischievously called parity with the Yoruba, they limit it to the South-East. Whichever definition we adopt, the East generally has not been totally excluded from leadership positions, be it military or civilian. Under the military, we have had, after Ironsi, Ebitu Ukiwe, Augustus Aikhomu, and Okhai Akhigbe as Number Two. Under civilians, after Zik we have had Dr. Alex Ekwueme as vice president and Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan as president. The East has also produced Senate President many times over; Speaker, House of Representatives; Minister of Finance; Coordinating Minister of the Economy; Governor of the Central Bank; Chief of Army Staff; Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Head of Service, Chief Justice of the Federation, to mention but a few.
Notwithstanding, a core Igbo person – if I can call it that – deserves to be president of Nigeria. That the Igbo already control commerce and trade does not mean they should willy-nilly be excluded from Nigeria’s topmost political leadership for whatever it is worth. Should the opportunity present itself, therefore, I shall be of the opinion that the Yoruba support the Igbo to produce the president of this country in 2023 rather than fan the embers of unhealthy competition that the VP, Yemi Osinbajo, tried to kindle between the Yoruba and Igbo. My reasons: An end must be brought to the age-old acrimony between the Yoruba and Igbo and I counsel my own people to take the lead because, as they say, charity begins at home. Two: The Yoruba have already occupied the summit that the Igbo are clamouring for, even though there are many Yoruba who regard this claim as dubious or preposterous. Finally, struggling for the presidency is not the most urgent task before the Yoruba who, today, live on the past glory achieved for them by Awolowo. We have lost virtually the head start we had in Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s. In the professions, commerce, trade, industry, inventions, ingenuity, education, name it; we have been pecked back by the other tribes.
Today, we do not even feed ourselves. Our politics is tied to the apron strings of others. Walk our streets – they brim with area boys and girls; yahoo boys and cultists where the Igbo boys and girls are learning one trade or another. The “jeun s’oke” culture inflicted upon Yoruba land since 1999 has begun to bear disastrous fruits. The legacies of Awo all lay in ruins. At times like these, we need in Yoruba land serious and committed leaders – not rabble-rousing “politricktians.”
We need true leaders who will come together, think together, work together, understand our problems together, proffer solutions together, and march resolutely together as one man to extricate our land and people from the miry clay into which we have sunk. Yoruba have regressed terribly. We have been told that Nigeria is the new poverty capital of the world: The epicentre of this “Wretched of the earth” may soon be Yoruba land. Yet, our leaders, like Nero, fiddle and pander to self-serving and self-satiating political orgies that undermine our collective destiny as a people. They mortgage their birthright and crave after just a morsel of porridge like biblical Esau! Oh no! We have a serious race to run to catch up with the others and recover our lost glory.
Serves CJN Onnoghen right?
They are never in short supply: Men and women like Arthur Nzeribe, Abimbola Davies, Daniel Kanu and Justice Bassey Ikpeme. Remember them? They scuttled June 12 and threw the country into a tail spin. The latest addition to the base tribe is Denis Aghanya, the man who reportedly appended his signature to the petition with which Presidency goons hoped to unhinge Walter Onnoghen, the CJN they reluctantly allowed to be appointed in the first place. But they must be hare-brained indeed not to see that this plot is dead on arrival; yea, brought in dead!
First, it shows the low quality of men taking critical decisions for the Buhari presidency. Secondly, it reveals their desperation to remain in power. Thirdly, impunity hallmarks the Buhari presidency. Onnoghen is evidence they care nothing for due process, rule of law or public opinion. Finally, it is a measure of how fat they have grown in confidence they can get away with blue murder. If Nigerians do not quickly decipher that this has nothing to do with the usual selective anti-corruption war but one of the final acts of crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s of election rigging plans, then, the goons will pull it off effortlessly. They want Onnoghen out so as to replace him with a pliant Muslim/Northerner; they have just selected another Muslim/Northerner as IGP, wasting the career of Southern/Christian officers. They make no pretence at all they do not trust Christians/Southerners.
I hope Onnoghen and others like him have learnt their lessons. You don’t compromise with dictators. Conciliatory or appeasement moves only serve to embolden them. That bitter lesson the world learnt with Adolf Hitler. The teeth the Code of Conduct Tribunal wants to use to skin Onnoghen alive was sharpened for it by Onnoghen himself when the Supreme Court over which he presides declared the tribunal a court of superior records. Informed legal minds in their own interpretation of the law did differ. That Supreme Court pronouncement was “political judgment” meant, assuredly, to pander to the wishes of the Presidency. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was the target then; today, it is Onnoghen. Tomorrow it will be someone else. Dictators come after victims one after the other. If not for the sake of the larger interest of society, I would have said Onnoghen’s current travail serves him right.
…But is he guilty as charged?
Having known and said that the so-called anti-corruption war is a ruse and first-class deceit; having admitted that it is a scantily-concealed victimisation and oppression of political opponents; having seen an avalanche of evidence that corruption at, perhaps, a grander and more grandiose scale than existed under Jonathan/PDP thrives right under Buhari’s nose; having noticed that the timing of the corruption charges against Onnoghen is most suspicious and inauspicious being damned too close to the February/March general elections; having witnessed the automatic alacrity with which the APC administration has rigged one election after another since the Edo election debacle; having observed Buhari’s desperation to cling unto power by all means and at all costs – having taken judicious notice of all of these – we must necessarily return to ask the question: Is Onnogen truly and actually guilty as charged? There is something I have noticed – and this I call the beauty of corruption – a single individual in power cannot single-handedly engage in corruption. Corrupt acts are usually perpetrated by a group of people. There is the person demanding or offering. There is, therefore, a giver and a receiver. There is usually a retinue of aiders, abetters, and helpers all the way: Those who prepare/perfect the paper works; the leg soldiers who move the files; the couriers/money launderers, etc.
There is hardly any corrupt act that is not known to multiple sources; damning evidences often abound. The snag, though, is that, often, the collaborators are also beneficiaries and, thus, accomplices. So, they keep quiet. Another beauty of corruption is that this silence often does not last forever; especially so in our queer political system with shifting alliances and dubious loyalties erected on quicksand. Yesterday’s bosom friends could, in the twinkle of an eyelid, become today’s inveterate foes. When that happens, tongues begin to wag; cupboards of skeletons are prised open and the lid on the Pandora Box is taken off.
True, then, is the scripture: There is nothing hidden that shall not be made known. We must get to the roots of the corruption allegations against Onnoghen and other judges someday and at some point – but certainly not now and never by the Buhari administration. The time is not auspicious and Buhari or any of his attack dogs cannot be trusted to do a disinterested job in this regard. A nation can limp along with a corrupt executive and rogue legislature but not with a compromised judiciary, which is the only arm of government constitutionally invested with the powers of life and death over each and every one of us. To whom much is given…