When I was growing up, there was this song that we used to sing to lampoon, mock or deride the big fool, the big-for-nothing, the brute, the uncouth, and the bully. It went thus: Gongoshu, Edidaare/Bi o se gun nal’o go to/Gongoshu, Edidare. I don’t know the meaning of “Gongoshu” and “Edidaare” but they must be abusive words and or uncomplimentary terms. Translated, it means “As tall as you are, so also are you foolish or stupid. Or, your foolishness and or stupidity are as tall as your height. It must mean, then, that the subject being referred to must be a tall person (like the biblical Goliath of Gath) but, unfortunately, his imposing height bore no relevance to his intelligence. Replace “height” with“massive frame” and you have something like: Gongoshu, Edidaare? Bi o se tobi na l’o go to/Gongoshu, Edidaare. Translated, this means: As massive as you are, so also is your stupidity and or foolishness. In other words, your massive frame does not ooze out intelligence but is bereft of it; a big-for-nothing fool!
Ordinarily, there is no way Chief (Dr.) Engr. Emmanuel ChukwuemekaIwuanyanwu should fit into the description or category above; unfortunately, a moment of temporary [indiscretion] when he was caught pants down – and on tape – as he made his “political rascals” statement at Gov. ChukwumaSoludo’s one-year-in-office event at Awka, Anambra State on Saturday, 25th March, 2023, has made him the butt of cruel jokes. Since he spoke concerning the General elections and events in Lagos state in particular and other parts of Yoruba land in general, with respect to the spat between the Igbo and Yoruba, who were the “political rascals” that Iwuanyanwu referred to: All Yoruba or those Yoruba who rose up as one man to denounce and vigorously protest the Igbo description of Lagos as “no man’s land”? Prominent Yoruba political leaders who considered it their bounden and sacred duty to rise up to the Igbo in-your-face challenge – just as Iwuanyanwu, a prominent Igbo leader, considered it his duty to defend Igbo interests, if need be, with the last drop of his blood? Is he, therefore, an Igbo political rascal, seeing that he is (was?) a frontline politician who had once contested to be president of this country? Whichever way that unfortunate statement is later rationalised, it denigrates the Yoruba and should never have been made –least of all by a personality of Iwuanyanwu’s status and calibre – a holder of three National honours of MFR, OFR and CFR and an octogenarian to boot! He has recanted and we take note. Our elders, I mean Yoruba elders, say someone who abused you behind your back but denies saying so before you is not worthy of your attention. But rather than deny and defend the indefensible, clutching onto straws and grasping the wind, Iwuanyanwu should have plucked up the courage, done the honourable thing and apologized. But we must admit that not everyone has what it takes to do that.
Iwuanyanwu’s insults to the Yoruba apart, what do we make of his threats that they, the Igbo, have contributed so much to Nigeria and are not going anywhere? Nobody will drive them out of Nigeria, they keep saying! But who is driving them, if I may ask? Are they not the ones driving themselves? They are the ones fighting bloody and dirty to have their own Republic of Biafra, with their Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, NnamdiKanu, on trial for treason. On the question of “One Nigeria”, the Igbo speak from both sides of the mouth. They want Biafra; yet, they also want to remain in Nigeria and be its president! They will have their cake and eat it! Truth be told, it seemeth to me that what they want is to dominate. They expose their hand every now and then, the recent one being during the just-concluded elections when they celebrated too early in Lagos and their victory turned pyrrhic. Since then, they have had to contend with ashes in their mouths. The Igbo should make up their mind what they want: Nigeria or Biafra. Until they do, Nigeria’s presidency, over which they are crying themselves sore and trying desperately to bring the roof down over everyone’s head, will continue to elude them. You cannot run with the hare and also hunt with the hound and expect to be taken seriously by reasonable men and women. Who will entrust a project as important as Nigeria into the unstable hands and unsettled hearts of rabble rousers?
I always wonder whether some people understand what they say when they boast that they are the ones that developed Port-Harcourt; they are the ones that developed Abuja; they are the ones that developed Lagos; they are the ones that developed everywhere except their own place of origin! This is a fallacy! If you came to Lagos or any other place for that matter with only bathroom slippers, the shirt on your back and a polythene bag and years after you are now a millionaire, it is not you that have developed the place but it is the place that has developed you. Leveraging on the human, material and capital resources available in the place, it is the place that has raised you from grass to grace and not the other way round. When they say “but we pay tax; it is our tax bla-bla-bla”, I wonder if they do not have the simple understanding that tax is just a fraction of what they make in or from the place – and, that is, if they pay tax at all! It is not their tax that is developing the place; rather, it is the abundance of human, capital and material resources in the place that is developing and making them prosper. If they doubt this, let them relocate to their own place of origin. If it is their business acumen, their industry, bountiful energy and what-have-you that is doing the trick, let them go and exercise all of those in their own place of origin! Why travel over land, waters and seas in search of what you have in your own backyard? When you “japa” from Igbo land to Yoruba land, like out youths ”japa” from Nigeria to foreign countries, it is in search of greener pastures. If the pastures are not greener here, they will not come. In other words, if the pastures are greener in your place, you will stay there.
For some reasons, I will limit my comments on Chief Iwuanyanwu. First, he is one of us, being the Founder, Executive Chairman and Publisher of Champion newspapers. “Dogs don’t eat dogs” is one of our maxims in the media. We must commend him for his foresight and sacrifice in starting the Champion newspapers. One of the doyens of the Nigerian media, Prince Henry Olukayode Odukomaiya, a Yoruba man, helped Iwuanyanwu to start and nurture Champion newspapers to maturity. Many of my colleagues worked and earned a living there. I still remember Feyi Smith, Bisi Olaoye, Bisiriyu Olaoye, and Simon IroIbe. Simon and I were classmates at Ife (1982 set); when I became editor of PUNCH newspapers in 1992, I facilitated his employment with The PUNCH as a Correspondent and he worked without airs and without any feeling of inferiority complex. When, in 1994, he had crossed over to the Champion newspapers and was the chairman of its Editorial Board and I, a self-employed person, he requested that I help them source for a worthy candidate as their “Man of the Year”. I got a governor of one of the south-Western states to pick up interest and everyone was happy about the success of the event. The money they made from advertisements and endorsements helped them to tidy up one thing or the other. The Managing Director, who was a daughter of Chief Iwuanyanwu, had a very pleasant personality. So, I would like to let my subject off the hook lightly today! Dear Sir, go, and sin no more!
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