Nigeria

2023: Igbo back on the same old perfidious path

NIGERIA’S national political turf is the graveyard of my Igbo kinsmen in politics and their politics. Their skulls and sundry ravaged pieces of their uninterred bodies litter pages of Nigeria’s political history as well as the vast, uncharted deserts of Northern Nigeria. I don’t need too many other evidences to hold my opinion. I am made to understand that this is also the same fate of our brother and sister politicians in the neighbouring South South geo-political zone of the country. This is a worry for some of us who watch our political leaders as they begin their quest for 2023 political laurels.

I feel sad that even in this well-lit dawn in Nigerian politics, the Igbo gladiators don’t seem to know yet the difference between a welcoming glance and mockery with the eyes. It was my mother who would always lament and declare that a person didn’t know the difference between “ányá é lèrè elé” and “ányá á ròrò àrò”. I admit that I got that a lot and now, I have learnt my lessons and grown above my naivety in many areas of my life. The way the Yoruba say the same thing is: “Mó ojú” and there’s a difference between when someone looks at you and when they mo e l’oju. When you get looked at it is different from when you get that look. The beauty of our languages as Nigerians is that we have much more than the English language can contend with. Let me admit my deficiency in this regard, but I know that we speak imagery with nearly everything.

The current jostling, positioning, posturing as 2023 scheming begin have, once again, exposed some of the politicians of Igbo extraction as though they have not learnt anything from the past. Many of the politicians still do not know the difference between a look and that look! They seem to be doing a kind of bird dance to attract a suitor’s attention, oblivious of the huge disdain and mockery with which the suitors hold them and watch their every step. What is currently playing out on the political turf is a shameful regurgitation of the age-long template to suck in potential political stars and perceived budding stars and destroy them with fake promises. Then, they are spat out like a chewed and sucked palm kernel. That is the same trap the Igbo are waltzing into preparatory to 2023.

It brings shame to any reasonable Igbo son or daughter when they are confronted with the challenge of the political mentality displayed by some Igbo political leaders. Of course the ‘if not me then nobody else’ attitude pervades, and that’s why it’s truly a hard one for onlookers to tackle when faced with questions like ‘if the presidency is zoned to the East, won’t about a million people troop out from the various corners of the South East as contestants?’ Àìfàgbà f’enikan ni ò j’aiye ó gún is a succinct way the Yoruba captured it. Confusion is when we choose not to defer to anyone among us. Will the Igbo politician acknowledge superior knowledge by showing deference? Take the protracted battle between Eze Dr Alex Anozie and Chief Aloysius Obi in Oyo State as a case in point. Over 21 years of their precious life have been spent on who is the leader of Ndigbo in Oyo State. And the beat goes on…

The early warning signs that are now like the biblical writing on the wall for Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State is the discordant tunes trailing his defection from PDP to APC. What should ordinarily be a celebration for him has left him and his handlers with a labyrinth to sort. There now seems to be a schism between him and some of the political big wigs in the state, his base. Engineer Umahi is crying betrayal, that some of the people that were supposed to move with him pulled back at the last minute. But some are saying Umahi too has betrayed a lot of people, especially the voting Ebonyi public. They are angling that the voters voted for PDP and not APC whereas Umahi wants to drag them to where they do not belong. By the time they are done with the bickering, Umahi would not be able to solve the pieces of the puzzle which his move would have become.

For those who are still wary of the awkward handshake from the North across the Niger, many of them seem to understand that “Ọgọ bịakarịa, e zie ya ikpata nkụ” (when an inlaw’s visits become unusually frequent, he would be sent to fetch firewood) They are placing Umahi in that unwanted position of a subservient inlaw… There are many others in the same boat as Umahi, and the ndi nwe ala are keenly watching them.

The talk about 2023 politics in the North is in sparse fits. What observers contend is that at the moment, they are identifying those who could ruin their plans in certain areas. They would draw such person out, destroy him or her and move on to the next person. By the end of 2021 or thereabouts, they would have given all their targets enough troubles to contend with, and each one’s battles are bespoke, they are tailor-made. Your trouble is made to suit you and you would also have your audience, specifically made for you to go with it.

That, some say, is the problem with Governor Umahi’s defection; that he looks back and finds nobody. Orji Uzor Kalu is still battling to save his name. Could it be that others would not learn lessons from this? Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe appears to understand the plot and has kept a safe distance. Abaribe understands that “Ebe a na-adụ nwa nwere nne ọdụ, ka nwa na-enweghị nne na-amụta ihe” (a motherless child learns from where a child with a mother is getting suasion)

For people like me who are wary of Greek gifts, we are also victims of our unbelief. “Agbogho hokaria di ya aluo ndi mmuo” (When a young lady is too choosy of suitors, she might end up being married by the spirits.)

But whose child am I? Who am I to address our revered leaders and speak with guile to them? I am the son of nobody, and as politicians and political appointees would usually blurt, ‘you don’t know anything.’ But I know we might be on the same old perfidious path.

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