With Mr. SKC Ogbonnia hope waxes eternal. His hope in the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration knows no bounds. His other undying belief in the omnipotence of opposition in a democratic government buttressed by his faith in God-like PMB leads him to make statements that are beyond belief and sets a standard of expectations that are impossible to achieve. The Igbo should be wary of Mr. Ogbonnia or they will be lured into a sleep that would quickly turn to a coma from which the Igbo may never recover.
Mr. Ogbonnia’s essay may be summarized by two overarching thoughts:
a. PMB will save the Igbo from decadence and self-destruction
b. The Igbo are crooks and completely responsible for their underdevelopment. One can call this “blame the victim and exonerate the villain.”
I will come back to these belief systems and point out why they are dangerous and ultimately false but first a little diversion. I agree with Mr. Ogbonnia (SKC henceforth) that a government with opposition is better than a government without one. A one party government leaves the nation in a room without an exit door. In an emergency with the only door blocked all the people in the room perish. An opposition is the exit door when things go awry as they are wont to do. I however vehemently disagree that the Igbo are made up of crooks and scoundrels. All I can say is that Igbo are Nigerians, no more and no less.
Here is SKC on his “High Horse”
1. Strategically and economically, the Igbos stand to gain big time under Buhari’s government regardless.
2. For a change, a leader is determined to recoup the funds looted from vital projects in Igboland towards completion.
3. Finally, due to intrinsic knack for the Diaspora, the Igbos are bound to benefit regardless of the direction of the different policies and programs.
4. What else epitomizes a silver lining than the very point where the era of impunity in Igbo politics is finally seen to be coming to an end, thanks to the fear and hope of Buhari?
And here is SKC on his “Low Horse” of blaming the victim
5. But if the truth is told in full, which this report is set to accomplish, nowhere was the problem of looting project funds more prevalent than Igboland.
6. To this end, Igbo politicians were always spoon-feeding the helpless masses with vain rhetoric on dividends of democracy.
7. It is worthy of note, however, that these projects were reduced to mere money-spinners for individual bank accounts while Igbos manned the positions of Senate Committee Chairmanships on Works and Aviation, Ministers of Aviation and Finance—with the Secretary to the Federal Government as well as the adopted son in then president, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan—all in tow.
8. Suffice to say that these power projects received zero attention despite the fact that Igbos produced consecutive ministers of Power in the last regime with that of Petroleum Resources at a stone throw.
9. The very Constitutional Amendment was funded to the brim by successive governments but cobwebbed in the past eight years at the den of a senator from the South-East. (This is a reference to senator Ekweremadu [Aduba])
10. In fact, the records show that the South-East in particular boarded dead last in capital projects despite a commanding presence of appointees from the zone. Today, there is nothing concrete on the ground even for the few projects that came its ways apart from cascading tears of marginalization.
Let me declare here that I am not qualified and am not holding brief for the Igbo. They have some Igbo with solid pedigree to speak for the Igbo. My job is simply to point out dangerous and impossible hopes the Igbo are being led like a sheep to the slaughter to believe in PMB. My other job is to try to place responsibility for the uncompleted projects in SE and indeed all other zones in Nigeria where it belongs This responsibility is squarely on the Federal Government of Nigeria. The failure to rebuild SE since after the civil war is blamed on the Igbo just as SKC is doing once more. I hate it when a victim of rape is blamed for “asking for it.”
Items 7 and 10 above prove the point that the Igbo are fervent believers in one Nigeria. They show that despite their strong presence in FG the Igbo did not treat Igboland with greater favor than other zones. These servants deserve credit for fairness.
To get back to my first job which is to point out the dangers in placing an unreasonable faith on PMB’s Administration I state that there is no basis for these hopes. SKC did not offer one reason. PMB was elected six months ago but has had complete control of FG for four months. This period is so short that nobody has discerned the direction PMB is/will be taking. But there is nothing in PMB’s antecedents or his present body languages to give the Igbo hope. His inaugural address deliberately omitted significant Igbo personalities (Okpara, Aguiyi Ironsi for example) and omitted completely Igbo history. It was like the Igbo did not exist prior to amalgamation. There is nothing in GMB’s administration to give the Igbo hope. Most Igbo just see Ekwueme in Kirikiri and Shagari at home in his mansion. The former was a VP without power and the later was in charge of everything. Hope like trust must have a basis or it becomes a recipe for disaster. Those surrounded by a possible enemy must not sleep; they should be vigilant. Onye ndi iro gbara gburugburu gana eche ndu ya nche mgbe nile.
In December 2010 through January 2011 I was in a delegation of USA philanthropists that toured all the six zones of Nigeria from Lagos to Maiduguri and Ibadan to Ogoja. SE is as developed (or more) as any zone in Nigeria even with the civil war destruction. According to the team’s report kudos were awarded to Cross River and Anambra for development. The developments came from the federal allocations and from internally generated funds. If the Igbo are the worst looters how come that state and local government roads in SE are of much more higher caliber than the federal roads? How come those local schools are constantly producing higher level graduates and therefore higher cut off standards for university admission? How do you explain the fact that industries spring up in communities where power supply is in short supply and are generated by private generators? Have you been to Nnewi or Aba or Onitsha or 9th mile Enugu recently? Why are the funds for these projects not stolen by the fast fingers of Igbo politicians and bureaucrats?
SKC is enthusiastic that the Igbo coming into PMB’s administration will deliver unlike the Igbo before them. What magic wand does PMB have to turn water into wine; to change looting tendencies of the Igbo into patriotic Nigerians?
The Igbo will still be around after PMB no matter the way PMB goes. They will outlive PMB, but the Igbo should not believe that PMB is the messiah The Igbo must cooperate with whichever government is in power and make her needs known and use all legitimate means to get the needs. If they are successful more grease to their elbows, if not wait for 2019.
God bless Nigeria!
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts