Poverty has neither state of origin nor political zone. But it is just that political office holders, with no exception, have long occupied themselves with all sorts of corruption and evil practices, mpu na aruruala and therefore lost trust and glory. This explains why citizens have resorted to ‘‘the devil they know’’, especially the type that comes from within, from their states and zones.
It has not been possible for Nigerians, nationally and on the state level, to trust politicians outside their region. Yet, politicians still keep proving them damn right. Yours sincerely is never an advocate of political office zoning. Once the elect can deliver the dividends of democracy, he or she is a member of my zone, irrespective of state of origin and tribe. Gaskiya!
Zoning breeds mediocrity. However, in a country as divided and complex as Nigeria, one can understand the sentiments. But what about on the state levels? Will there be a time in my lifetime when Nigerians will definitely realise that there are just two ethnic nationalities in Nigeria? I mean the Poor and the Rich? When will they cast their votes to prove indeed that the Rich also cries?
In the south-eastern zone, Imo State for example, Igbo communities make up the demographic, almost at one hundred per cent, irrespective of any other considerations. While the rest of Nigerians have failed to understand Ndi-Igbo and their social strata, it is worthy to mention quite an important attribute of them here.
In the world of Ndi-Igbo, their highest level social organisation or government is Town, which we now refer to as autonomous community. An autonomous community is headed by an Eze or Igwe but administered by a President-General, much like a prime minister in Great Britain style. It is made up of villages, which compete subtly amongst themselves in order to firm up the Town Union.
Town Unions all over the Igbo nation compete favourably in terms of developmental projects, number of wealthy men, divine worships/elements of culture, scholarships, specialist medicine men, distillers, etc. And wherever Ndi-Igbo live, they establish this nexus.
It was Town Union system of government, which is more grass-rooted than local government, that helped Ndi-Igbo to measure up, square up and overtake their contemporaries, who turned around to envy them. Town Union government satisfies all attributes of both horizontal and vertical administration, upward mobility and the distribution of commonwealth. It stimulates ambition and the struggle for survival.
Ndi-Igbo are fine with these! Ndi-Igbo are just wonderful. Despite that he embraced it with amazing grace, one can therefore appreciate the frustration of an Igboman, when circumstances foisted upon him the local government, state government and national government levels of organisation.
Yours sincerely wasn’t one of those teenage boys, who hanged about and sandwiched fisted rubber comb in their blown out afro hair while they were growing up. I was among the age bracket who gathered and debated between Mercedes Benz and BMW cars which were faster machine. That’s, if we were not talking about the bottom cheeks of any passing girl or girls in general.
Ehen? Yes, we did it. You too did, if only you can be brave to admit it.
We could end up furiously arguing about ‘‘Chief Okeke’’ and ‘‘Chief Okafor’’ who is wealthier, even when we were not privy to their bank account balance or their investment portfolios. When we argued, our voices raised.
To be sincere, our generation really broke even. In the generation when ‘‘Chinua Achebe was a school boy’’, men could gather and chat away their time on frivolities. Men argued on top of their voices about the different distillers or palm-wine tappers from their respective villages. They placed bets on whose palm-wine was more intoxicating and whether the intoxication depended on the skill of the tapper or on the local herbal leaves used in the tapping. They even argued that the real medicine to alcoholism and binging resided in the strength of the tapper instead of on the power to say no. So you can now see the improvements in the different idle times?
Thankfully, when we grew up like most teenagers, I was able to buy ‘‘BMW’’.
In 1996, while we were on the third floor of our academic complex, as we awaited for the next lecture, my friends and I talked about Nigeria and its major nationalities: Huasa/Fulani and Yoruba and Igbo. We reasoned that there is this subtle competition amongst them as in Igbo Town Unions. And when you cross-check it, there is indeed this competition that bugs the heart.
In time, when Chief MKO Abiola, from the West, floated Concord airlines, and Alhaji MA Dankabo, from the North, responded with Kabo airlines, Chief EC Iwuanyanwu, from the East, replied them with Oriental airlines. Aare-Ona-Kakanfo Abiola came up with Concord newspaper. Ahaejiagamba Iwuanyanwu replied him with Champions. As soon as Abiola tried to steady his guess on the man, who started off business with just £20 capital a couple of years before, and gain upper hand with the introduction of Abiola Babes Football Club, Iwuanyanwu bought Spartans Club of Owerri. He renamed it Iwuanyanwu Football Club, Owerri.
This is Igboman for you. This is Ahaejiagamba! He doesn’t come last. On that day in 1996, come and see. I was so proud. Chief Iwuanyanwu and I are from the same clan. He never paid my bills; he never knew me from Adams, but I was so proud of him. In fact I was only to meet the wine-red-lips mogul, one to one, five years later in his office when as a young engineer, I had gone to repair his broken telephone lines. I met the entrepreneur, who, like others as him, positively influenced the aspirations of young Igbo men and women. Such men and women, although their revenues accrued to their private pockets, have been our inspiration. This is the life wire of an Igboman. Very important!
There is another man like Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, aside Chief Arthur Eze, n’Ukpo (from Ukpo). Chief Orji Uzo Kalu is his name. We heard from gossip circles that Professor Jubril Aminu, another Nigeria’s finest, warned him in the wake of 1998 not to dabble into politics. Chief Kalu is an astute businessman, whom Professor Aminu spotted so early in life. Chief Kalu indeed experienced politics and nearly lost his entire fortune, when he locked political horns with as-strong-as-steel Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s president at that time. Chief Kalu suffered a big setback in business.
At that time when Chief Kalu was trending gracefully in the business world, fate presented another scenario, like that of Chief Iwuanyanwu and the other two ethnic nationalists. From the West, Chief Mike Adenuga was looming whereas Alhaji Dangote, from the North, had become a household name.
These three personalities knew Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, a one-time military president and lifetime important factor in Nigeria. Alhaji Dangote went on to become the richest African, although the trio are listed by Forbes. Had Chief Orji Uzo Kalu hearkened to the voice of his former Vice Chancellor at the University of Maiduguri, with similar incentives that Adenuga and Dangote received from Nigerian government, he would have long emerged amongst the first twenty in the world by Forbes. It wouldn’t even matter if he received incentive or not, because Igbos are shrewd.
Today, once again, the political train has moved in earnest in Imo State. Imolites are in desperate move to emancipate themselves, willy-nilly, through various templates. One important template is the Anambra State example, where the governors (past and present) have made the state an envy of her generation.
Imolites want to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, from the claws of rogue and thieving politicians who have long mismanaged state resources. As a member of the commonwealth of Imo State, it is important I join the moving train, especially through Imo Network Group, which wants to identify, support and elect a credible technocrat as governor of Imo state come 2019.
One of the technocrats being profiled for the top job is Chief Leo Stan Eke, the astute businessman and owner of Zinox Technologies, among other companies. On top of his personal ambition, Imolites want to cajole him into running for the top job. As patriotic and attractive as this noble idea seems, Ndi-Igbo can’t afford to put ‘‘everything’’ in one ‘‘political shopping basket’’.
Lest we say good-bye to some aspects of us, Chief Eke is Igboman’s sharp eye in the information and communication technologies’ (ICT) world. This role is very much more important to Ndi-Igbo than the governance of a chunk of Igboland – namely, Imo State.
If this doesn’t make real sense to you, don’t bother about it at the moment. When you get home today, at your quiet time, after a good meal, try to rewind it. Rewind it again. It might probably make a lot of sense. Otherwise we might as well say good bye, we-fare-thee-well, to our leadership in ICT.