OPINION: Jonathan’s re-election , Igbo leadership and the scout for Igbo votes come 2015

jonathan-igboNo one knows Goodluck Jonathan’s true intentions come 2015, but the evidence is overwhelming that Mr. President aspires to return to Aso Rock Villa for a second term.

While it is his constitutional right to do so, he also realizes he would need the vote of the Igbos in order for this dream to be actualized. In an attempt to achieve this, and having enumerated his “unaccomplished” accomplishments within the Igbo enclave, Jonathan is using his emissaries to convince the Igbo’s that they will be better off with him than any other presidential aspirant.

This campaign to “bring back Jonathan in 2015” was recently taken to a new height at the recently concluded World Igbo Congress (WIC) in Houston, Texas where WIC purportedly adopted Jonathan as the Igbo candidate for presidency come 2015. While it is not illusive to buy into “the devil you know is better than an angel you don’t know” ideology, are the Igbos going to support Jonathan simply because his Igbo lieutenants have adjudged him the closest to the presidency an Igbo man (or woman for that matter) could get?

By the way and assuredly so, his other names are “Ebele” and “Azikiwe”, names that are resoundingly Igbo, but has he indeed done more than any other president and head of state of the recent past for the Igbo’s or are we simply acting on emotions in our support for his re-election bid because he is one of us or purports to be?The evidence that GEJ has been the best president for the Igbo’s is not convincing, but this is, however, intriguingly debatable. Jonathan has appointed a number of Igbo men and women to political positions, but so has he done for other regions. In fact, it is arguable that the Igbo’s have been short-changed after proper and objective analysis of portfolios assigned to people of Igbo extraction within his administration.

Having said this, is it not in the interest of our fledgling democracy to appoint qualified Nigerians to political offices where their skills, knowledge and abilities would be most utilized to help the president advance the cause of our nation, no matter the appointees’ ethnic, religious or political persuasions? Politics interestingly shares two things in common with fortune-telling: hopes and promises. Promises that the days ahead would be much better than the days we have left behind and the hope that ones political stock would rise with the election of a particular candidate or success at the polls by a given political party. But how high has the political stock of the Igbo’s risen since Jonathan’s election as the president in 2011 when the Igbo’s overwhelmingly voted for him, sometimes crossing party lines?

Yes, Mr President has made numerous promises to the Igbo’s, including addressing the challenges in the Eastern states in the areas of federal road rehabilitation, as most federal roads in the east are best described as death traps. Yes, Mr President has promised a second Niger bridge to help ameliorate the challenges faced by commuters due perennial traffic congestion on the bridge and to advance commercial activities East of the Niger. But these among many promises are rather still mirageous, but Reuben Abati as Mr President’s spokesman would want us to still have hope and believe in the president and his promises. Surely and understandably, he is paid to do so!

There is no shortage of political sycophants within the Igbo enclave and WIC is not spared of same. No so called self-acclaimed Igbo leader or concocted socio-political association such as Ohaneze Ndi Igbo or WIC should hold the Igbo nation hostage or emotionally blackmail those who do not share in Mr. Presidents unfulfilled promises. Most of these so called leaders either have access to the corridors of power or have had such privileges as elected or appointed government officials at all levels, but instead of using such privileges to advance the cause of their electorates, they abused the power and privileges by siphoning millions of dollars out of public coffers, monies that could have been used to improve the lot of the common man.

It is an anathema that these same people believe they speak for the same lot they have abused, used and neglected. It is an affront on democracy to impose a candidate on Ndi Igbo because a group of people believe it is the right thing to do whether it is based on merit or not. Jonathan is the president of Nigeria and not of the Ijaws, Ibo’s, Hausas, Yorubas, PDP and its sympathizers or any similar ethnic or political association. He has a moral obligation and the constitutional responsibility to extend the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians, regardless of party affiliation or ethnicity. By the way, accountability through good governance is the wheel that propels sustainable democracy. One can argue that Mr. President has faced enormous security challenges with Boko Haram, a movement in which some of his own associates are allegedly sponsors, but Boko Haram is not enough excuse in and of itself to absolve the president of complicity in the tumbling lot of the Igbos.

Just last year, Mr. President led a massive 600-man delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the world’s largest with a total price tag of close to $30 million dollars. In fact the delegation was more than that of China that has a population of over a billion people! Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bashir Wali himself confirmed recently that the size of Nigeria’s delegation was “embarrassing”, adding that “ 80% of the people in the delegation had no business being on them, and did not add value”. Reuben Abati then claimed the allegation by Saharareporters.com was “lacking in substance, scurrilous and baseless”. He went further to defend the presidency saying the delegation was “less than 30”. The 69th General Assembly opens tomorrow September 16 in New York and there is no doubt Jonathan will once more swell his delegation with irrelevant, valueless inner circle and Reuben Abati will once again lie and defend this flagrant abuse of our collective resources.

My view is that these millions of dollars wasted on delegates that add no value to the UN deliberations could help maintain few kilometres of road in the East or elsewhere. Mr President and his security operatives have enough evidence to refer some members of his inner circle for prosecution within Nigeria and internationally for crimes against humanity because of mounting evidence that they are sponsors and sympathisers of Boko Haram. However, this is not in the offing because he doesn’t want to rock the boat in the north and lose his chances in 2015. If one cannot take the heat, it is foolhardy to seek employment in the kitchen! In politics there are no permanent alliances and Mr. Present should know this, especially if he is willing to put the interest of the nation ahead of his political aspirations. Igbo people should be allowed the head space to evaluate their political stock and to see who is best suited to serve their interests regardless of these unbridled sentiments on party politics, religion or ethnicity. No self-adjudged Igbo leader or a collection of such should make a proclamation in Houston and impose such on the Igbo electorates in this 21st century.

Across Igbo land, there are perennial challenges that continue to confront ordinary men, women and children who have no spokesperson within the corridors of power. From bad roads, lack of steady power supply, access to affordable and quality health care, to youth unemployment and insecurity, who truly speaks for the ordinary Igbo man, woman and child within their sphere of hopelessness? Instead of flying to Houston as official and unofficial envoys of GEJ, these so called Igbo leaders should impress upon the political leadership within the Igbo enclave as well as the presidency to help ameliorate the hardship faced by the same people whose votes they are canvassing for to advance their political interests.

As an Igbo leader, you cannot afford to be scouting for rats when there is imminent inferno at your backyard. At home and in the diaspora, there is a common belief that our self-adjudged Igbo leaders deliberately stand in the way of development and progress in order not to lose their political bargaining chip for relevance. Until Ndi Igbo begin to appreciate the truth, denounce “God-fatherism” and say “No” to empty promises, progress will remain elusive. By the way, can an Igbo man or woman for that matter not aspire to become Mr or Mrs President? This is a topic for next time, but in a democratic dispensation and within an organised structure, there should be no mountain too high.

For now, the future of the Igbo’s come 2015 and beyond lies in the hands of Ndi Igbo, and more importantly in the hands of the youth many of whom are interestingly so myopic that they only trade on hopes and unfulfilled promises while supporting the same old, corrupt brigade. My view is that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan may well return to Aso Rock Villa come 2015 not because of what he has done for the Igbos or his power of incumbency, but for the fact that other presidential aspirants may not be credible alternatives for the Igbos or for Nigeria as a nation.

 Dr. Pedus C. Eweama , is a physician and political commentator of Igbo extraction

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