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2023 and Ndigbo: Understanding Doyin Okupe’s diatribe and burden of distorted history

By Law Mefor


When recently Doyin Okupe feebly declared he would contest for the office of the President in 2023, most Nigerians didn’t take note or take him seriously. To draw sufficient attention he challenged Nigerians to shoot him if he failed to end insincerity in 2 years as President of Nigeria, and also touted his closeness to two past great Nigerian Presidents as aide. He presented that intimacy as his ultimate political exposure and his main credential.

Yes, Doyin Okupe, a medical doctor turned politician, served Olusegun Obasanjo as Special Assistant on Media. He was also about the first aide to be fired by Obasanjo for reasons less than noble, which was celebrated by the media. The scandal therefore needed no rehashing here even for emphasis. Let nothing detract from the main object of the effort of this treatise.

President Goodluck Jonathan gave Okupe another chance in the same capacity as an assistant with Reuben Abati, as adviser on the Media beat. In that new appointment, at the incipient days of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Okupe described the emerging behemoth political party as ‘Janjaweed’ and declared that he would go on exile if APC won. APC won and Okupe is still domiciled in Nigeria 6 years after.

Today, he has declared for President of Nigeria and challenged Nigerians to shoot him should he fail to end insecurity in Nigeria in 2 years. Of course Okupe will not become President and nobody will shoot him. Not that he is not qualified to contest but the power dynamics in Nigeria hold him an outsider in the equation and therefore without reckoning for 2023. Otherwise one would have feared for Okupe’s life. The reason is that banditry could end in two years as Okupe had promised if its political dimensions, especially the political will, are well put in place. However, it is doubtful that terrorism will end even in a decade due to politicization, which provided the leeway for its amalgamation with ISWA and al-Qaeda to form the deadliest and most brutal force in the world.

What is more, the asymmetric nature of the Boko Haram terrorism is only deepening with things like the policy on the reintegration of the so-called repentant to terrorists into the civil populations. Additionally, the mutations of terrorists as bandits and herdsmen are believed to be going on too. All these show that ending insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria is no longer what can be done in such a determinate manner as Okupe pontificated in his interim manifesto.

So, in Doyin Okupe’s declaration for President and wishing terrorism away, one can easily see that he was merely talking and playing politics with national security. After all, didn’t the APC ask Nigerians to stone them if they fail? Haven’t they failed and have Nigerians stoned them? Political rhetoric and reality are polar opposites.

More importantly, days ago, Okupe took his indiscretion to Ndigbo, reminding them that their dream of governing Nigeria is not realizable for the reason that some soldiers of Igbo extraction killed Sadauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and that the Fulani are yet to forgive them for it. Summarily, Okupe said the Igbos must go and beg the North if they must have the Presidency because they killed the Sarduana of Sokoto.

Okupe’s claim is not new. The 1966 coup has been tagged an Igbo coup without logic and sustained for political reasons that the former presidential aide wanted reinforcing. He has merely gone for the same tool to pave the way for his unrealistic presidential ambition or for the interest block he opaquely represented.

Come to think of it, since Okupe knows he will not become President of Nigeria – at least not in 2023 – and yet took his suicidal swipe at Ndigbo, what then could be his real motive? Hazarding an informed guess, one believes that Okupe is most likely working for a bigger interest that may be South West, South South or Northern based who are beginning to see the rising potency of the agitation of Ndigbo to be given a chance to govern Nigeria in 2023. The idea is likely to demonise and demoralise Ndigbo by reminding them that it is not yet time for them to aspire to be the Nigerian President until may be, as we hear, after 100 years calculated from 1966.

So, to Okupe and his cohorts, Ndigbo must wait till 2066 and by then, no Igbo who was around when Sadauna was killed and the resultant civil war would be around, only their descendants. That’s what is uncannily sinister about Okupe’s treatise – that sad reminder of the label as murderers hung on the neck of Ndigbo like the sword of Damocles – that allusion of the imminent and ever-present peril faced by Ndigbo in Nigeria since 1966.

Doyin Okupe’s masturbation of history needs to be corrected. And the issue of who killed Sadauna and others must be resolved as well. To set that crooked record straight, these questions must be urgently answered: Did Ndigbo conspire to kill Sadauna? Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu no doubt from Ika (Igbo) whose mother was a Tiv was born and bred in Kaduna, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna was an Onitsha (Igbo) man but Major Adewale Ademoyega was a Yoruba man. These three and two others carried a coup in which Sir Ahmadu Bello was killed. Why is the Igbo ethnic group labeled and blamed for an action carried by some misguided soldiers who were not under any Igbo political or cultural influence?

Psychologically and culturally, Nzeogwu was more of a northerner where he was born and raised than Igbo. One may also ask: did Igbo leaders inspire or decide on the coup or the killings? Why are the Yoruba not blamed as well? Is Major Adewale Ademoyega no longer a Yoruba like Okupe? Blaming Ndigbo for the killing of Sir Ahmadu Bello and wiping out 3m mostly Igbos for the same reason during the civil war in the rage of passion for vengeance is just a case of giving a dog a bad name to hang it.

Does Okupe not also know that if Nigerian culture were matrilineal, Nzeogwu, though an Ika Igbo man, would be Tiv, his mother’s side, like Jerry Rawlings whose father was a Scot yet a Ghanaian and once that country’s President?

If Okupe actually wanted to be helpful, he should be advising the North that it was time to end such baseless acrimony, bitterness, hate and unforgiving spirit so that the nation can unite and move forward. Instead, he chose to scrape a possibly healing wound so that the sore may continue to fester and Ndigbo bearing the brunt. This way, he probably hopes that the far North will resume their bemoaning of the death of Sadauna afresh and probably bay for more Igbo blood and deny their presidential aspiration justified acclaim.

Doyin Okupe should be reminded that Ndigbo will not backpedal on their quest to govern Nigeria in 2023. It is an inalienable right. No amount of emotional blackmail will deter them. If the reason for stopping Ndigbo in 2023 will be the 1966 coup, let Okupe and others who are like him note that the 5 Majors came from South South, South West, and of course from South East. What this means is that the entire South Nigeria should go beg the North for the death of Sadauna, not just Ndigbo alone, if Okupe were to be taken seriously. Though, nobody advised that this be done for Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan to become Presidents of Nigeria since their kinsmen from their zones were part of the 5 Majors who staged the most ill-advised coup in Nigerian history.

Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is now or never. Or, may I ask: if not 2023, when? If not an Igbo man, who? If not here, where?(Apologies Jesse Jackson). Ndigbo have no other country to call their own except Nigeria, a country in which they have made the most investments than group else. They are either part of Nigeria or they are not. Let the Doyin Okupes of this world note.

• Dr. Law Mefor is an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist; email: drlawmefor@gamil.com; Tel.: +234-905 642 4375; tweet: @LawMefor1.

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