By Tony Okoroji
You probably do not know how much it has become dangerous as an Igbo man to say any good thing about Muhammadu Buhari, the man elected by a large majority of Nigerians to be their President. If you are not careful, you will be declared a sell-out or a saboteur! How can you find anything good in that man? You must have collected big money from the powers-that-be or you are an APC apologist.
“Mba!”…”Tufiakwa!” “What is wrong with this man?” Can he not see how Nigeria has scattered since Buhari took over? The economy has dived into recession. The Naira is now worse than toilet paper and everything is now so-so expensive. Can this guy not see that Buhari hates the Igbos and wants to eliminate all of us? He is a Muslim fundamentalist and wants to Islamise Nigeria. That is why there is no Igbo Minister! This his corruption fight is a ruse! He is punishing those people with money who buy things from Igbos. Do you know that no Igbo man is allowed to get close to Buhari? Look at all the people visiting him in London: Tinubu, Akande, Saraki, Dogara. Lawan. Did you see any Igbo man there? That is why we must have Biafra now. Enough is enough!” You remind him that Rochas Okorocha also visited Buhari and he sighs, looks at you with pity and asks, “Is Rochas Okorocha an Igbo man?”
If you think that I am exaggerating, then you don’t know what is going on. My people are incredibly worked up. A lot of the young people and the uninformed from my part of the country are being systematically brain washed by Igbo political contractors. The political foot soldiers have been told and retold that one Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for everything wrong with their lives. It is so pathetic that if you make any effort to engage them in any conversation based on facts, you run the risk of being punched in the face. It is sad that the people who are shouting that my people have been enslaved are at work enslaving the brains and minds of my people.
I actually tried to have a conversation with a brethren whom I thought went to school. With bulging red eyes and his fingers pointing menacingly at me, he asked why Buhari did not appoint any Igbo man as a Minister. I said to him that even if President Buhari wanted to do such a thing, he could not because the Nigerian constitution says that there must be a minister from each state of the country. My guy lashed at me with “You see… why then is he breaking the constitution? Is he bigger than the constitution?”
I quietly asked my guy if he knew that Geoffrey Onyema, a fine Igbo man from Enugu State, is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of the most important ministerial positions in any country and that Ogbonnaya Onu, former governor of Ebonyi State is the Minister of Science and Technology and Chris Ngige, well known former Governor of Anambra State, the Minister of Labour and Productivity. He was uninterested. I reminded my guy that Okechukwu Enelamah from Abia State is the Minister of Trade, Investment & Industry, a very important area to many Igbos and that in Buhari’s cabinet are such names as Onwuka, Ibe, Amaechi…
My guy fired back at me: “Why did the Igbos not produce the Senate President this time. After all, we used to have Evan Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Adolphus Nwagbara, Ken Nnamani and even Pius Anyim?” I tried to explain to him that we Igbos may have shot ourselves in the foot by our fanatical support of the PDP, a party that has nothing to show for our fixated support. I asked him to name the APC senator elected by the Igbo people who would have become Senate President in the Buhari dispensation. My guy’s retort was that Buhari could have fixed it if he wanted to.
I verily believe that wherever you come from, east, west, north or south, we are all children of one God. I do not choose my friends based on tribe. They come from everywhere. It is however clear to me that there is something in the genes of the Igbo person that makes him resilient. Take us to the desert and plant us there and we will sprout, grow and bear fruits. Sometimes, it makes people unnecessarily afraid of us.
I have never depended on any godfather to do any of the things I have done in life. I have simply powered on with that unique engine that the Almighty has installed in the hearts of every Igbo person. Where other people see failure, we see success. Where people say, it cannot be done, we say ‘yes we can!’ Where others are afraid to go, we go. From a civil war, which we emerged without a penny, we are today Nigeria’s true Ministers of Commerce. Whether it is Alaba, Sabongari, Dugbe, Otuocha or Ariaria, we practically control commercial activities across the Nigerian nation. We have done this based on nobody’s handout but on our self-belief and unparalleled resilience. Even where there is no level playing field, we level the field ourselves and triumph.
I know that there are a lot of Igbos who genuinely like Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan not just because of his soft smile but because he was seen as the closest thing to an Igbo man being President of Nigeria. The 2015 election is long gone. The Igbo political contractors betted on Jonathan’s re-election. GEJ attained the presidency without any strong constituency and tried to get one by paying a pretty penny. The Igbo political contractors loved that. But they betted and lost. Buhari is not the kind of guy to ‘settle’ any of these guys who get stupendously rich for doing no work that any Unclad eyes can see. The Igbo political contractor is what is wrong with the Igbos today. He is self-centred, a spoilt child who collects and eats alone. Now that he cannot get his hands on any more ice cream, he is yelling like mad and it is all Buhari’s fault.
I am a very proud Igbo man. I do not agree with everything Buhari does but I do not hate Muhammadu Buhari, maybe because I am not a political contractor or because I will not allow anyone to enslave my mind. Yes, there are big problems in Nigeria, but when you look at it closely, Buhari is trying to do what the Igbos like. He is trying to level the Nigerian playing field so that in the Nigerian ‘workchop’, everybody can chop according to his work. What is wrong with that?