By Fr Gerald Nwafor
I am not so much interested in the division of who governs the country. But I am very much interested in the partisan politics played by some elites in Nigeria.
The politics of Nigeria was fashioned by the Easterners, developed by the west because of the privileges accorded them by the colonial settlement in Lagos, and was ultimately given to the North by the colonial masters. The Igbo adage had a saying about giving a cup of water to someone and the difficulty of getting the cup back.
We know the founding fathers of Nigerian politics, who did what and when. In the East it was Azikiwe, in the west it was Awo, and in the North, it was the Sultan of Sokoto. This group of individuals had a date with history in the politics of Nigeria and Nigeria will not forget them in a hurry.
We want the best person to sit on the seat as the president, but when one or two groups of people are parading themselves like the wise men of the political class in the last 52 years and nothing has changed, should we not ask the question and look for answers. Should we not change gears and wait for the expected acceleration. Only a fool does the same thing always and waits for a different answer.
From 1966 to 2022 it was the north and the west and the little 4 years of Jonathan from the south-south who have controlled the affairs of Nigeria, and no progress has been recorded since 1966 until today. We should not gloat over the region of the presidency but when a particular region has failed for so long a time it is only sensible to make a change and try a new region so we can have a sense of belonging from that particular region.
Since 1999 the new democratic dispensation was born and the west was given 8 years because they felt that their son Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the election of June 12, 1992, was unjustly denied and killed. Many Nigerians agreed to that. I agreed to that also, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was elected to power in 1999. The west should be grateful that the Nigerian public voted for their son who was languishing in jail.
Though the story of Joseph in the bible sounded like a fairy tale, the story of Obasanjo will confirm for any doubting Thomas that it is a possibility to move from prison to palace. The Nigerian former head of state Sani Abacha accused Chief Obasanjo and friends, Yardua Shehu, of conspiracy against his government and decided to do away with them. The rest is a story for the west to savor.
In the quest for power, the west abandoned the political party (PDP) that gave them the mantle of leadership and decided to dine with the north in order to get power back after 8 years.
I am not against political machinations and horse-trading, but when it is done in the bid to backbite and malign a group of people it is evil. Obasanjo, who should be grateful to God, connived with the north to destroy a party that gave him life and fame, should not be going around telling us that Buhari is not competent.
Buhari is a long-time friend of Obasanjo, so they know what each can do and not do. Obasanjo destroyed his PDP membership card in the public forum and encouraged others to do the same. If someone sold you a bad car, who should be blamed? The seller or the car? Your guess is as good as mine. So, the politics of the west is the topic of this write-up.
Now Tinubu and many western politicians are saying that it is their turn to govern Nigeria. I may ask the question if the predicate of their argument is that the north has been in power for 8 years and power should come back to the south, why south-west? In the south, we have three zones: West, East, and South. Should the east be so much insignificant because they were defeated in a war 50 years ago?
Why can’t the west and the south-south come together and support the South-east to produce the president at least once in a lifetime? In 1992 the southeast voted MKO, in 1999 the southeast voted Obasanjo, and in 2011 the southeast voted Jonathan. The south-east has always given their helping hands to their southern neighbors but never once have we received political help from the west.
Finally, let me remind the southeast that they need to get their acts together and present a candidate who is formidable, not those shenanigans and political thieves who had in the past rubbished our states and patrimonies. As I look into the arena what I am seeing from the southeast is like the proverbial two knives in the poor man’s house:
“The sharp-knife has no head, the blunt one has a head.” (Mmana abo di be onyeubiam, nke di nkoenweroisi, nkenweluisiadironko). The qualified persons in the southeast do not have deep pockets to buy their way through the electorate, and the unqualified persons are the ones who throw around a lot of cash because they have milked their states dry and now they want to milk the country empty and disgrace the Igbo people in the name of zoning the presidency, ‘MBAA’ God forbid bad thing. (Katama manwuumunwayi, sirapuba).
(Fr Gerald Nwafor is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, and writes from the USA)