The President did the right thing yesterday at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka when he refused to endorse the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, Tony Nwoye. Buhari merely told the APC candidate “Good luck, young man”. This is the second time a sitting president has refused to endorse Nwoye as a governorship candidate. Four years ago, President Goodluck Jonathan declined endorsing the controversial candidate when he was running on the platform of the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Jonathan told Anambra voters to “vote your conscience”. Nwoye has ever since been blaming Jonathan for his failure in the 2013 polls. After this weekend’s election, he is most likely to blame Buhari for his defeat. How Nwoye has become so controversial and unelectable is a story for another, even though it is common knowledge. It will never cease to beat the imagination why the APC chose Nwoye of all persons as its candidate. Much as Buhari has declined endorsing Nwoye, certain truths about him and his party remain eternal. Let us examine them.
After avoiding the South East for the two and a half years he has been in office, the only geopolitical zone in the country to be so blatantly discriminated against, President Muhammadu Buhari finally decided to visit Ebonyi and Anambra States. In a facebook post on Monday night, the President said that he was coming in connection with the infrastructural development of the area, mentioning specifically such projects as the Second Niger Bridge, coastal railway, electric power development and East-West Road.
On the face value of it, the visit could be seen as a positive development. However, a careful examination shows clearly that it is not informed by noble sentiments. It owes to a strong desire to use Ndigbo for partisan purposes. This is why there was no excitement about the visit, especially in Anambra State.
It is truly doubtful that the President has the development of the South East at heart. Otherwise, he would have known that the East-West Road he mentioned in his facebook posting on Monday is not in the South East but in the South-south. It is a major project which connects oil-bearing states like Delta and Bayelsa and Rivers states. The fact that the President confuses a long-standing project in the South-south with a phantom project in the South East reveals a lot. He is not keen on the project and on the two geopolitical zones.
The entire people of Anambra State are strongly convinced that President Buhari is coming purely to campaign for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 18 gubernatorial election in the state. To justify asking the people to vote for a party which has done absolutely nothing for them since it came into power on May 29, 2015, President Buhari had to create the impression that he is interested in the development of the South East. Consequently, he had to go to Ebonyi State first to commission some projects and then end up in Anambra State at a campaign rally.
It is self-evident that both the APC and the Buhari Administration have been discriminating against Ndigbo because of their hatred for the people. A few days after he assumed office, President Buhari announced that he was adopting a policy rewarding those who gave him 95% of their votes and punishing those who gave him only 5% of their votes. Only about 5% of registered voters in the South East voted for him.
He has more than kept his word. On August 31, 2017, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) made 55 executive appointments, and not a single Igbo person was deemed qualified to benefit from the appointments. Lest we forget, Buhari is the Minister of Petroleum Resources, and how he could go to bed satisfied that a key section of the country which contributes its maximally to the development of the country should be discriminated against so brazenly is a puzzle.
The injustice is taken even to the individual level. For instance, even though Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu is the Chairman of the NNPC Board and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, steps have been taken to ensure that he is less relevant to the system on account of his Igbo origins. Dr Kachikwu is thus privy to neither appointments nor contracts in the NNPC. Yet, this is someone who passed with distinction from the Law Faculty of the University of Nigeria, from the Nigerian Law School and from Harvard Law School, and has since excelled in the international petroleum industry, rising to the position of regional chairman of the world’s greatest petroleum company. Must Nigeria waste its best talent on account of ethnic origins?
Is it sheer coincidence that none of the Igbo ministers under Buhari is assigned a portfolio which will enable him to empower his people? Can the Ministry of Labour and Employment given to Dr Chris Ngige to superintend or the Ministry of Science and Technology assigned to Dr Ogbonnaya Onu to supervise be equated with those of Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau (Interior) and Brigadier General Mansur Dan Ali (Defence)?
We are constrained to assert that if not for the constitutional requirement that a Minister come from every state Buhari would not have made one single Igbo person a Minister. Is it fortuitous that though the Igbo are a major ethnic group, they are the only group without one of their own in the Armed Forces Council? How did Buhari feel when the Armed Forces Council held on November 9, 2017, the Armed Forces Council held its first meeting in three years without one single Igbo person there? Is Buhari just? Is he fair to Ndigbo and even the South-south?
President Buhari and his APC may pretend that the Igbo and even the Niger Delta region do not matter, yet they would not hesitate to look for Igboland and its people to be used for difficult jobs. Shortly after Buhari was sworn in, he sent the most hardened
Boko Haram fighters to the Ekwulobia Prison in Anambra State? Why not any other geopolitical zone in the country or any APC-controlled state? When the Boko Haram was extremely tough, the APC-led government wasted no time making General Victor Ezugwu the General Officer (GOC) of the newly established 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Borno State. In the same manner, it did not hesitate to send General Lucky Irabor to the war front as the Theatre Commander, and he did a fantastic job like Gen Ezugwu.
It has become clear to the Anambra State people the kind of plans the APC has for them by the kind of people they want to lead Anambra State in the 21 century. Anambra State cannot be subdued. Nor can we allow our beloved state to be messed up like Imo, Kogi and Osun states where workers are hardly paid.
- Nzeribe is Nigeria Renewal Congress-elect, South East Branch