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Buhari’s Visit to the South East, Ohanaeze’s Endorsement and Ndigbo

By Fred Chukwuelobe

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President Muhammadu Buhari went to the South East to ask for votes. He used the occasion to commission the graveyard of the nation’s first president, late Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owelle-Osowa-Anya of Onitsha, affectionately known as Zik of Africa for his Pan-Africanism.

The graveyard is popularly known as Zik’s Mausoleum. The president described Zik’s Mausoleum as “a symbol of unity” which “was not built for Azikiwe but for Nigerians, to show that Nigeria remains indivisible”.

The Mausoleum was started 22 years ago and even “our brother”, immediate past president Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, could not complete it despite being named after the great Zik. Buhari completed it and commissioned it. Therefore, kudos to him.

How I wish our president drove to the commercial city of Onitsha through the deplorable Enugu-Onitsha expressway. How I wish he had visited the site of the second Niger Bridge, which the revered Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe confirmed is being built. Igweeeeee!

Okay. Let’s move on.

On the day our president was commissioning the graveyard, the apex socio-cultural organization of Ndigbo, Ohanaeze, met in Enugu and endorsed the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, whose running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, hails from the South East.

The endorsement is trending. Some see it as a “masterstroke”. Others see it as a “tactical blunder”. I have my opinion. But it is not the subject of this brief rambling; I want to write on the president’s pronouncement that he appointed his service chiefs “based on merit”. All those service chiefs, except one, are from the North and mainly of the president’s ethnic stock. None is from the South East.

Now, if you are Igbo, no matter your political affiliation, you should feel very insulted by the president’s pronouncement. It means that none of your people in the whole of the military and paramilitary is qualified. None is qualified to merit the headship of any of these government agencies. None! Those with slim chances are retired prematurely because their juniors who had been programmed to man such posts, are appointed and cannot superintend these marginalized officers.

And the reason they are not qualified to head any security post is because they are denied promotion when due. They are not sent on courses when their mates are sent. They are not allowed to man strategic posts. They are placed and supervised by their juniors in some cases. They are allowed to stagnate on levels when their juniors are promoted and empowered.

So, naturally, when vacancies become available, those who stagnate them for a reason, find reason to pick those they have empowered to become members of the powerful Security Council. The disadvantaged Igbo officers lose out in the power play.

True or false?

So, Mr. President, I beg to disagree with you. You appointed these officers because you don’t trust our people. It is not because they don’t merit such appointments; they are tactically subjugated for a reason and the reason is so that they are adjudged unqualified by the supervising or appointing officer.

Send them on courses when their mates are sent. Give them strategic positions to man. Send them to attend strategic courses. Promote them when their mates are promoted. Then give them such sensitive assignments that their mates are often privileged to get. And I bet you, you would find out that those you appointed are no match. Or at best will perform at par with them.

This is how I see it. Daalu, our president.

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