Okechukwu Buhari And Nigeria’s Stomach Politics

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union newspaper

Last Tuesday, one advertorial in the Daily Sun newspaper caught my attention. It was Elder Mrs Eunice Uzor kalu (Oduko N’mba) congratulating President-elect, “General Mohammadu Okechukwu Buhari (Ogbuagu 1 of Aba, Abia State) on your hard and sweet victory, which is victory for Nigeria.” Eunice is the mother of the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.

Just as I was still trying to download the import of the congratulatory message, I saw a front page news story the following day in the same newspaper with the headline, “Kalu’s mum, brothers join APC…Party leaders woo ex-Abia governor.” Even the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, was reported in the same newspaper to have endorsed APC for Abia, Imo governorship polls.

I wondered how  the Ohanaeze that endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party could turn around so soon to endorse the All Progressives Congress. But I later realised that it was a splinter group led by Ralph Obioha that issued the statement and not the one led by Gary Igariwey.

The truth is that the last presidential election held on March 28, 2015, has caused the wind to blow and expose the rump of some of our politicians. In Plateau, Kogi, Niger, Imo and some others, erstwhile PDP leaders are singing ‘chaange’! They are now APC members.

Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) is one of them. Former National Legal Adviser of the PDP and an ex-governorship candidate of the party in Ondo State, Olusola Oke, is another.

Overnight, some of these characters have transformed themselves into friends of Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential candidate who won the election. Some others have become emergency advisers, advising the president-elect on how to be an effective leader.

I pity Buhari. These new-found lovers will bring him doom if he is not careful. They are not joining the APC because of any strong ideological leaning. In fact, they have no principles. It’s all politics of the stomach. The United States where we copied our presidential system from does not practise democracy this way. There are two major parties in the US – the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Their leaders do not jump ship because they lose elections.

This is why I now have more respect for Senate President, David Mark, and the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu. In spite of the mass defections, these two leaders have stated categorically that they are not ready to leave the PDP.

Aliyu said, “I would rather resign from politics than defect. Those defecting from the PDP, based on the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, lack principles of integrity and morality; they are, indeed, stomach politicians.”

I cannot but agree with Aliyu. Many politicians have no ideology. They have no shame. All they are after is how to exploit every situation to their selfish advantage.

Look at what is happening in Ekiti State currently. The APC legislators, who had remained silent and redundant since Ayo Fayose returned as the governor, have now found their rhythm. They have threatened to remove the governor from office. The governor, in the same token, is battling for his survival. He has called the lawmakers jesters and has used or caused to be used, security agents to block the gate of the assembly.

It serves him right, you might say. Fayose, during the presidential campaign, published front page advertorials repudiating Buhari and saying he might die in office like Umaru Yar’Adua and some other North-Western leaders.

Our brand of democracy has no match anywhere in the world. The other day, it was the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, who threatened the Igbo to either vote the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, or perish in the lagoon.

The Oba was quoted to have said, “On Saturday, if any one of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me…I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode… If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you, if you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”

This hate speech was preceded by some other invectives from the staple of both the PDP and the APC. The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, for instance, used some harsh words against Buhari and the APC during the campaigns. Rather than lose, Buhari became stronger and went ahead to win the election.

In the same token, the threat by Oba Akiolu may end up working against his preferred candidate. And who told him that those Igbo who came to see him and pledged the support of Ndigbo for Ambode represent the Igbo in Lagos? Igbo people are republicans in nature and don’t really kowtow before any king, real or self-styled. The so-called Eze Ndigbo in Lagos or elsewhere speak only for themselves  and members of their families. The Igbo have their town union meetings where they take a collective stand on any given issue.

Sadly, what is happening now will only rubbish the noble legacy President Goodluck Jonathan wants to  leave behind for Nigerians. He lost the presidential election and quickly conceded defeat. But for this singular act, this country would have been plunged into a needless war.

My happiness is that there are still many well-meaning Nigerians around. A lot of people and groups, for instance, spoke against the threat of the Oba against the Igbo. Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, reportedly asked him to apologise. Socio-cultural groups like Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Aka Ikenga and Oodua Peoples Congress have condemned the threat.

Like the former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, who enthused after the peaceful presidential poll, that Nigerians had shamed their detractors, I pray that we make another positive statement by coming out en masse tomorrow to vote peacefully for a governorship candidate of our choice.

As for General Buhari (I never knew his name is Okechukwu), I can only say, beware of sycophants.

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2 Comments »

  1. 1
    Augusta Maduegbuna Says:

    Vintage Casmir. Keep your creative juices flowing!


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