Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to agree with people and their beliefs to defend them from injustice.” – Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason.
Advisory emanating from my last two articles on this page feels that I was crying more than the bereaved or taking Panadol for other person’s headache but incidentally that oftentimes is the work of a writer or a journalist. The nature of journalism is such that you must scoop and pry into other people’s affairs while searching for information to better the society. In the said write ups, I had focused on the emerging poverty induced youth revolt in Northern Nigeria that has sent its elites scampering for cover.
I tried heaping the blame of the situation on the failure of leadership due to the selfishness of the Northern elites. Reactions to the two articles came in torrents most of them agreeing with the views expressed but some especially readers from the South wondering why I was crying more than the bereaved. One reader wrote:
“Ike, I share your worry but those concerned are they perturbed? The answer is no. My view is that the challenge in the North will not abate until they agree to the reality that in 21st century, children are made in relation to the strength of the family economy not to the ignorant and sheepish obedience to religion or culture.”
This week our attention is being drawn to the South-East region where members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are feeling psychologically down that their party does not consider the region part of Nigeria in the ongoing sharing arrangements. Even as non-members of this party we cannot sit and watch such obvious bias and sideline knowing the far reaching implications on the system generally. South-East is the only geopolitical area that had to approach court to get accommodated in the power sharing arrangement of the party.
This apparent quarantining of the region in the ongoing sharing of key national positions by the ruling party calls for concern for unity of the country. In his outgoing first term, President Muhammadu Buhari barely accommodated the South-East region in his administration using his infamous 95/5% sharing formula. Except for the mandatory appointments to the cabinet as demanded by the constitution, the region was visibly missing in the regime. At the National Assembly, the regime said then that Senate Presidency could have gone to the South-East but the party failed to produce a Senator.
The party then settled for Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) but the zone was unable to produce a person the President can trust so they lost out. Now there is sharing going on, the region has produced Senators and House of Representatives members from the party yet nobody is looking their way despite the repeated promise from the President that he was going to run an all-inclusive administration this time around.
As it appears now when this regime kick starts its second term on May 29, 2019, South-East would not be found occupying any of these topmost positions in the country despite being one of the six zones that make up the country and whose residents are one of the three major ethnic groups in the land. By the ruling APC’s power sharing plan, the President (North-West), the Vice President (South-West) Senate President (North-East), Speaker of the House of Representatives (South-West), Deputy Senate President (South-South), Deputy Speaker (North-Central), meanwhile the Chief Justice of the Federation, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court all of that arm of the government are from Muslim North. Even the SGF the next highest position in the executive is also slated for the North. What this translates to is that in the three arms of government, South-East or Ndigbo will not be found anywhere near the top eight positions in the country by protocol, yet the President has promised to run an allinclusive administration. A politician told me this story to illustrate the South-East plight.
There was a man who has six wives and seven houses and it was time to share the houses and each of them believed they will get at least one. Their eyes were absorbed on who the man will give the seventh house to after they had taken one each. But to their disbelief the man shared the house indiscriminately giving two to some and none at all to one. When there was a revolt in his house as a result of the injustice the man was askance wondering why he should not have peace.
One of his friends familiar with his story told him that what he has done and the peace he is seeking is akin to the behaviour of the man who brought home firewood infested with ants on dropping the firewood, the lizards rushed in to devour the ants and the man was angry. You cannot bring ant home and hope to stop lizard from coming along. Bringing the story home to our politics, Nigeria has seven top most political positions by a ruling government; they are the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Senate President, the Deputy Speaker and the National Chairman of the ruling party.
The eighth position which in hierarchy and protocol is indeed number three is the Chief Justice of Nigeria although nonpolitical. And as the sharing is going on now, no consideration is being given to the South- East region. A government that finished a disastrous first term as the most narrow and ethnically and religiously bias administration in the country’s history is kicking off a second term with this bizarre arrangement. But one thing is clear; no one beats a child and succeeds in stopping him from crying although that is exactly what APC is doing to their members in the South-East.
That is what APC members from the zone who have been shouting and going to court are doing, that indeed is the cause of the creation of an Nnamdi Kanu and his never say die Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) group. But who really can suppress an Igbo, Kelechi Madu is a Minister by merit in Canada, Ernest Ezeajughi is a Mayor in London, United Kingdom just after living there for 15 years, Kate Ekechi is the first black female Mayor in UK. The list is limitless of the reward of an Igbo in other land for their industry and other prowess but not in Nigeria.
The truth is that if Ohanaeze under Chief Nnia Nwodo is unapologetically insisting on restructuring of the country as the best option in the circumstance or if IPOB is fighting, it’s because a decision has long been taken under the late Biafra hero Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu that “as humans, we live, we fight; fight because the decision to be free is a decision taken freely and collectively.” But a Jewish writer Elie Wiesel was apt on this issue when he said: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
That indeed is what South-East APC is doing. These things are facts not fiction and African proverb teaches us that “If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.” If APC sows wind, they should expect to harvest whirlwind. God bless Nigeria.
Have you been opportune to watch a public fight where the on-lookers are all excited and wishing none of the combatants come out victorious or the fight be brought to an end? When brawl ensues between two persons tormenting a community, how happy the people although not sadists would be? That exactly is the feeling of Nigerians as Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Lagos and Nasir el-Rufai in Kaduna squares it against each other. I really have not found anybody who is unhappy about it and who desires the squabble to end soon. Not even President Buhari who would desire that these dangerous gladiators around him to cancel themselves. How I wish they don’t realize this.
Written by — Ike Abonyi