NASS leadership: who is responsible for the Igbo political marginalization?

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The People’s Democratic Party, last night endorsed the candidatures of Senator Ali Ndume for Senate presidency and Hon. Umar Bago for Speaker, House of Representatives. This is against the arrangement by the APC NWC, anointing the duo of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as preferred candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives. While, one cannot be truly sure of which arrangement will carry the day eventually, it is certainly not going to be a stroll in the park for either of the arrangements.

While the APC NWC’s statement declaring supports for Lawan and Gbajabiamila sounded like some school headmasters issuing out instructions to its pupils, the statement of the opposition PDP, endorsing Ndume and Bago was a lot more respectful to the sensibilities of the individuals directly concerned and Nigerians in general. It is possible that the duo of Lawan and Femi may make better and even more independent minded presiding officers at the national assembly, but the rhetoric and circumstances surrounding their earlier endorsement got a lot of Nigerians shrieking with the fear that the APC is looking to having a rubber-stamp legislature, and this, is not good for any democracy. If the option of who should emerge speaker is thrown open to the electorate, I am sure, any other candidate would be voted for by Nigerians, except Lawan and Femi.

With all the acclaimed endorsement and counter endorsements, anyone would be deceiving himself if he thinks that the battle for the NASS leadership is already won and lost. It will surely be settled in the ring, and not outside it, and there will be lots of brinkmanships today as the NASS is inaugurated. It may be necessary to warn at this point, that the executive should not overstretch its luck by going outside the rules of the game in its attempt to impose a favorable leadership. We have already become a butt of jokes before the world, let us not further degenerate in our baseness.

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Getting back to the subject of this very essay; what is the interest of the Igbo in all this arrangement and who is most guilty for obvious marginalization of the Igbo in the present political arrangement in the country?

I am almost sure that our own Deacon Chike John Okafor would have been a prime beneficiary of the PDP intrusion, and he would have stood a better chance of emerging the Speaker of the House of Representatives than Umar Bago, if he had been on the list of those to be inaugurated today. There is no question of ‘if’ here, he would have most certainly been on the PDP card for Speakership. However, a fellow Igbo man offered himself as a cheap concubine to be used in torpedoing the chances of the Igbo man to be on the table where core issues that affect Nigeria will be discussed.

In case, we tend to forget the implications of what is unfolding before us, it is dire. The unfolding political scenario leaves those who have with too much more, and those who do not have at all, are mockingly deprived of any right to complain. The Igbo man, who used to be among the indispensable tripod in the Nigerian political equation, is today, taken so much down the perk, that even if 50 most powerful political leaders in the country are invited to a meeting, there won’t be a single Igbo among them. But, who did this to the Igbo nation?

It will be wrong to blame outsiders for our political woes. Yes, there are some hegemonists who would give their right hands to be amputated in order to ensure that the Igbo man does not get a good bargain in power, but those bigots cannot succeed if they do not have cheap sellouts among the Igbos.

For instance, Professor Innocent Ibeawuchi is an Igbo man, but it took his willingness to deprive the Igbos a serious chance at being seriously involved in the politics of constituting the Senate leadership. His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, if he had got his CoR as and when due would have most certainly not been a write-off in the bargain for the leadership of the Senate at some levels. Owelle has the charisma and reach that would have made it impossible for him not to be an integral part of the negotiations and even conspiracies leading up to the setting up of the NASS leadership. Jones Onyereri and Osita Izunaso who were used and still being used as pawns of the oligarchs to sabotage the Igbo interest, are both Igbos. The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo State, Professor Francis Ezeonu, who supervised what is arguably the most fraudulent election in the country, is also an Igbo man.

There were supposed to be 109 Senators to be inaugurated today, but it is possible only 107 will be inaugurated and if His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha beats the deadline to secure his accreditation, then, there will be 108 of them, but what is obvious is that there will not be any Senator for Imo North Senatorial District to be inaugurated today. The immediate implication of this is that Imo State will be the only State in the Federation whose votes will not count in the formation of the 9th national assembly leadership.

One of the key principles of power is that you do not stay out of the kitchen and determine how the broth is cooked. You must be inside the kitchen, so that if you cannot get it cooked to your taste, you may at least get it close enough or even add too much salt, so the broth becomes sour for all. With the present political arrangement, the Igbos are neither in the kitchen nor close to the storehouse of grains of power. We must give credit to the Igbo leaders of your, whose tact and wisdom saw us retain our place in the Nigerian political set-up even after fighting a civil war.

The current political, religious, intellectual and economic leaders of the Igbo, including myself, should be ashamed that our fathers survived more than 30 harsh months of constant bombardment, blockades and persecution to emerge stronger, politically, socially and economically, yet, we seem to have caved in at the half-witted political persecution of just four years. We must rethink our associations and reexamine our convictions, if we aim to survive what is coming ahead.

BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES, From Owerri

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