OKOROCHA: SUPPRESSING THE IGBO VOICE

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Legal luminaries from across ethnic and political leanings have come out to condemn the very curious decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission to withhold the Certificate of Return from His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who was duly elected and returned as Senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District. I had argued in an earlier offering that should the INEC or any other person sustain the cheap blackmail that the obviously compromised Returning Officer, Izuchukwu Ibeawuchi declared the result under duress, then we can as well believe that the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakoub declared President Muhammadu Buhari elected, under duress. Because there is hardly any difference. As President, Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the different members of the Armed Forces and other security agencies surrounded the Presidential Election Collation Center, while Yakoub reeled out the results. Anyone could argue that the guns pointed at every corner of the hall and within the premises of the Collation Center were meant to force the INEC Chairman to declare President Muhammadu Buhari, winner, while these security agents were there to provide security for the INEC Chairman and all those involved in the collation process. In Orlu, Imo State, where the Imo West Senatorial District collation took place, there was adequate deployment of security personnel from the police, army and other security agencies. Ibeawuchi had enough security cover to perform his legitimate duties, but couldn’t have had the cover to perpetrate criminal felony. His attempt to steal away to Owerri in order to doctor the results of the election was deservedly stopped and if we were in a nation where professionals merit their tag, Ibeawuchi should have been providing answers to security agents. But, the thief is now playing the victim and the umpire is the stooge. The refusal by INEC to give Okorocha his certificate of return is part of a wider conspiracy against the Igbo people. Unfortunately, some Igbo bastards are the henchmen of this grand plot against the Ignore nation. This will be a discussion for another day.

In a multi-ethnic nation like ours, every ethnic group requires voices of different pitches to survive in our very unusual political environment. We need the intellectual voice, the economic voice, the radical voice, and the religious voice. We need all these voices from time to time to be able to negotiate on our behalf when issues of who gets what in the ‘scatterred assemblage of sharks and oil drinkers’. We cannot delude ourselves by thinking that we need to save Nigeria before saving our own part of Nigeria, because in all sincerity we need to save our part of Nigeria, so that Nigeria can be saved.

The biggest beneficiaries of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic are the Yorubas. The Yorubas took the first short at the presidency from 1999 to 2007, have produced a Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and today, they have the Vice-President and are still not satisfied. They look good to clinch the Speakership of the House of Representatives, in the coming legislative session. How did they achieve this? Are the Yorubas more populous than us? Do they have more billionaires or more intellectuals than the Igbos? We will get to that later.

All the different subdivisions in the North seem to have got more patronage in the Nigerian polity, in the last twenty years than the entire Southeast, which used to be a formidable and an indispensable in the political sharing equation of Nigeria. For more than 55 years before 2015, the Igbos have never been completely shut out from the Nigerian central government as they have been since 2015 and looks to be further blanked off, post-2019. The different subdivisions in the North, especially, the most pronounced, Muslim-Christian divide have had their interests adequately accommodated, but the Igbos are busy fighting themselves to death while strangers inherit their rights.

It is only a political novice or a dyed-in-the-wool denier-of-reality that would not agree that the Igbos are under severe political attacks from outside Igboland. Our brothers from the other divide have always looked for ways to suppress the Igbo man politically, but they didn’t succeed for more than fifty years, even after a civil war had been waged against us, economic blockade promulgated against us and hunger used as a tool to cow us into subjugation, but our forebears stood their grounds, they retained the pride that make us Igbos and held their own against every other group. Our leg, in the tripod upon which Nigeria stands was never broken till we took a very dangerous decision to adopt President Jonathan as an Igbo son and traded off our political rights to an Otuoke man. The reality of this mistake was to Dawn on us when in 2015, the PDP lost power and the Igbos were nowhere to be found. The only man who stood up for the Ignore interest was Governor Rochas Okorocha. He bargained for the Igbo man persistently. He pushed for the Igbo man to be a principal officer in the national assembly on the platform of the APC, but was shot down with the argument that APC did not elect any ranking member to either the House of Representatives or the Senate from the Southeast, he asked that the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation be ceded to the Igbos, he was shot down as well. He went home to govern his State and prepare for 2019.

From 2017, every arsenal had been primed to shoot down Okorocha, the strongest voice from the Southeast who could be fearless, stubborn and even radical in pursuing the Igbo interest. To those who desire to cut Igbos off the central government, what was paramount was to cut Governor Okorocha to size, to humiliate him and push him to a position where he would hardly be able to fight for anything. These conspirators wanted to send a message across that anyone could become Nigeria’s President without the Southeast, hence, the Southeast does not need to make so much noise about their importance to Nigeria. They have almost succeeded in making that statement. They pushed the Imo governor away from playing a central role in the presidential campaign, knowing that with him, the Southeast would have been delivered to President Muhammadu Buhari. They didn’t want him to take such credit and they didn’t want the Igbos to have any strong negotiating chips. They want us to see whatever we get from the next dispensation as a kind of gratis rather than a wage for job done. They want us to grovel instead of grappling for any right of ours. To them, whatever we shall get in the next dispensation should be seen as a privilege and not a right.

Fortunately, this conspiracy against the Igbo man didn’t start today. It had always been experimented with. The target of these conspirators have always been to strike down our strong voices. Anyone who tries to stand up in defense of the Igbo interest or anyone who is seen as a threat from the Southeast is targeted for political demolition through persecution, blackmail and starvation of political meat; relevance.

When Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu shone brightly from the East, he was deliberately targeted for demolition. He was put in a position where he couldn’t do any other thing but to defend his people against the pogrom of the Nigerian government. He held up for more than thirty months of intense bombardment, hunger and blockades, and went into exile in order to save his people from a total wipe-off from the surface of the earth. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Aguiyi-Ironsi before him suffered similar fate with the latter paying with his own life in the most gruesome manner.

Today, the strongest and brightest voice the Igbos have at the national government is Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the controversy of his tone, sometimes, is a needed decibel to put our interests across more prominently. Our oppressors know that suppressing Okorocha’s voice is the best way to suppress the Igbo interest, maybe, not forever, but certainly, for now.

Let me chip in that the successes of the Yorubas in the last twenty years of the Fourth Republic did not come by mere luck. The Yorubas understood how to deploy different talents towards the realization of their common goals. They support their economic voices like Mike Adenuga, Otedola and others to grow, they protect their radical and even militant voices like Gani Adams, Frederick Fasehun, from unnecessary persecution from the system. Here, I sincerely apologize for my opposition to Nnamdi Kanu in the past. Going forward, I shall present myself to assist him vigorously in pushing for the Igbo interest. The Yorubas protected and supported their political leaders, like Bola Tinubu and others, not because these men were not without faults, but because they understand the peculiarities of our nationhood which require that every ethnic group is as powerful as its champions.

ONWUASOANYA JONES

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