By Comfort Obi
According to Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba, Member, House of Representatives, (Ehime Mbano/Ihitte, Uboma/Obowo), for at least, two reasons, the South East should be happy with President Muhammadu Buhari.
One, contrary to the general belief in the zone, Nwajiuba says Mr. President does not hate the Igbo. He loves them. You know, when the Nigerian President loves a people, it is a big deal. He remembers them when the national cake is being shared. They will not be victims of the 97%/ five per cent sharing formular of 2015, irrespective of who they voted for. They will be like Abuja residents who the President told this other day that even though they didn’t vote for him in the 2019 Presidential election, he would not punish them for their audacity. He would look after them, he promised. So, you see, the Igbo have a reason to celebrate.
The second reason, Nwajiuba revealed is that, again, contrary to what the Igbo think, it was not the President who shut them out from being part of the National Assembly Leadership. The President, he insists, from the bottom of his heart, sincerely wanted an Igbo to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Proof: He spoke to former Imo state Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to allow a level playing ground during the APC Primary to the House of Representatives. But Okorocha, can you imagine this, ignored the President. Okorocha’s candidate, Chika Okoafor, won the primary, defeating the President’s preferred candidate.
That candidate is Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba.
As Nwajiuba puts it, if Okorocha had complied, the President would have crowned him, Nwajiuba, the Speaker.
Meaning: the Igbo should blame Okorocha, and not Buhari. Hmmmm!
The Honourable made these revelations in a full page advert, entitled: “Appreciation To All For Your Support” which he placed in the Vanguard Newspaper of June 16, 2019.
Even though he decamped to the Accord Party, ran the election, and lost, the Court has since given him victory. And, even though he got the victory under the Accord Party, plans were still on to package him to be the Speaker. But the plan fell flat – to the extent that on June 11, when the House was inaugurated, Nwajiuba’s name did not even come up for nomination.
You may have read Nwajiuba’s advert, but for the purpose of this write-up, let me quote the relevant part from it. He wrote: “I wish to urge restraint by some persons and groups in the South East who are quick to attack, unjustifiably, Mr. President over the current state of events. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“Mr. President does not hate Ndigbo, and has no reason to. As a matter of fact, it was the President’s sincere wish to have the Speakership emerge from the South East, and his attempts for that to happen were thwarted.
“As a matter of fact, the Presidency urged the then APC governor of Imo State, to allow a level playing field for the House of Representatives primaries to facilitate the zoning of the Speakership to the zone. The governor refused. His attempt at imposition, and the resistance that ensued, destroyed the cohesion of the party in the state, undermined the primaries, leading to its nullification by the court.
“I was, thus, compelled to seek agreement with other aggrieved members of APC to contest the Okigwe South federal seat on the platform of Accord Party.”
I know Nwajiuba. He is serious-minded. He does not talk carelessly. He is deep. So, I believe his story on the ‘wayo’ that was the APC primaries in Imo state. If it was not for the collective effort of Senators Hope Uzodimma, Osita Izunaso, Benjamin Uwajimogu, Ifeanyi Ararume, Nwajiuba himself, the dogged, never-to-be-forgotten former Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, and a number of others, Okorocha’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, would have clinched the APC governorship ticket. He, perhaps, would have been the governor today, given Okorocha’s unorthodox method of winning. Look at how he has, inspite of everything, been sworn in as a Senator! Consider that Nwosu just crossed to the AA, took its ticket, and using the Okorocha method, got a decent number of LGA’s.
But, I don’t believe Nwajiuba that the President sincerely, and/or seriously wanted the Speakership to go to the South East. In fact, Nwajiuba’s assertion that the Speakership was denied the Igbo because Okorocha played him out during the APC primary is provocative. It is a collective insult on the Igbo race. And does no good to the President.
I am, at once, both shocked and at pains, that the President would turn his back on a whole zone because of one man. No doubt, Nwajiuba is a core Buharist. No doubt, he is extremely loyal to the President. No doubt, the President would want his core loyalist to be the Speaker. No doubt, Nwajiuba would have made a good Speaker. He is well-grounded. And not given to frivolities.
I did not support, in any special way, any of the three foremost serious candidates to that office because I know all of them. In my heart, I was like: may God’s will be done. But when Nwajiuba’s name cropped up, I put up a prayer for his success.
But Nwajiuba has mis-spoken in this advert. In so doing, he has, excuse this cliche, insulted the sensibilities of the Igbo. He has, also, looked down on all the loyalists of the President from the South East. And he has planted serious doubts on the sincerity of the President to give the office of the Speakership to the Igbo.
Here is why.
Nwajiuba is not the only loyalist Mr. President has from the South East who won a seat to the House. There are others. He was not the only one from the zone who showed interest in that office. In fact, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha gave her best shot in a bid to occupy that position. She had loads of supporters. But the Presidency and the APC leadership disappointed not a few, including this writer, by not backing her in her quest. They forced her to step down.
Not only is she qualified and experienced, she would have been a bright star for women in the all-men NASS leadership. In the calculation of the APC, it does seem that women do not matter.
If the Presidency was serious over the South East, Onyejeocha would have clinched the post. They would have used one stone to kill two birds – accommodated the South East and accommodated women.
Why was she not supported? Her loyalty to her party and the President is not questionable.
The general opinion is: the South East was deliberately shunted out of the four top positions in the NASS. Otherwise, why didn’t Nwajiuba or Onyejeocha get the office of, even, the Deputy Speaker?
Having said all those, I should add that the Presidency and the APC still have a chance to accommodate the Igbo in the remaining NASS key offices.
There are the positions of the Majority Leaders and Chief Whips and their deputies. Give the South East two of those, one of which should be that of the Majority Leader.
But back to Nwajiuba. In the advert, he had said: “We in the South East must realise that if today we feel left out, it is because of the political actions by our leaders.” I agree. The roles played by some Igbo leaders during the recent Presidential election confirm. Many of them are worth ten for a kobo. They gossip. They sell-out. They betray their own.
He also said: “We are a major stakeholder of this country, and deserve to be recognized and treated as such.”
Absolutely true. But, dear Honourable,tell them, please, tell them.