Ndigbo cry out: Igbo governors keeping S/East down, scheming to be VP
THE recent meeting by the Southern governors hosted by the Governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has further painted a clearer picture to the people of the South East region and aided them in rating their governors.
Except the host governor, the other governors in the region namely, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Hope Uzodimma of Imo, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi and Willie Obiano of Anambra absented themselves from the meeting.
In fact it was the opinion of many Igbo people that Ugwuanyi would have also absented himself if he was not the host. More worrisome was the fact that while three other governors sent their deputies to represent them, Anambra State was not represented at all.
Surprisingly, most of the governors from the South West and South – South were at the Enugu meeting, thus underscoring the importance they attach to such meetings in the present day Nigeria.
Some Igbo people said they were taken aback by the failure of the South East governors to attend the meeting, which was properly scheduled after its previous one hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo –Olu of Lagos State. In other words, the Enugu gathering was not an emergency meeting as all the affected governors knew the next venue,” they argued.
Also, all the South East governors, except Hope Uzodinma of Imo, attended the earlier meeting hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State in May this year. The Asaba meeting was significant because that was where the Southern governors resolved to ban open grazing in the entire southern states. However, when it came to their turn to host the meeting, they chickened out.
There were insinuations that the governors’ lukewarm attitude towards issues that are of better interest to the region is as a result of their future individual political permutation. While some of them are beaming their searchlight at the center after their tenure as governors, others prefer to take the back seat in championing Igbo course, apparently out of fear of anti graft bodies.
. For instance, some people argue that the South East governors have not appreciated the dire need to tackle insecurity in the region because they do not want to offend some people who might play a role in determining their future political careers, saying that it was for that reason that the South East security outfit, Ebubeagu, fizzled out shortly after it was inaugurated, while its South West counterpart, Amotekun, is gradually securing the South West.
Also, while even many northern states have publicly opposed the continued existence of open grazing, governors in the South East are afraid to talk about it. Take the issue of Anambra State for example: a law for the abolition of open grazing was introduced for passage into law, but was immediately stepped down and to date some of the lawmakers do not want to speak on why the state does not want to pass the bill.
Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, wife of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in a trending report in the social media on the failure of Igbo governors to be part of the Enugu meeting, described them as a group of people who lack commitment to better the lot of those they govern.
In the report, with the question, what have Ndigbo done to deserve this caliber of lackadaisical leaders?, Mrs. Ojukwu said: “Governors from the entire Southern Region of Nigeria convened a crucial meeting in Enugu, Igboland. Other governors came all the way from their respective domains in the South West and South- South. Where were our own?
“Critical issues like enactment and implementation of the anti-Open Grazing Laws, Regional security outfits, fiscal federalism, VAT, amongst others were deliberated. Again, where were those in whose backyard the meeting was held and whose people are likely to be most affected by the crucial issues under consideration?
“This is a testament to the level of commitment and sincerity of most of our Igbo governors. Are these matters discussed at the meeting not deserving of their attendance in person? These are issues that are critical to the survival and advancement of Ndigbo. Why are they toying with the future of the Igbo race? What hope is there for our people?”
Similarly, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Aligbo Development Foundation, Igbo leaders of thought and other notable pan Igbo groups expressed disappointment at the South East governors’ action, describing it as rudderless. According to them, the governors’ lack of cohesion was affecting the Igbo cause, particularly at the present nick of political struggle to actualize a Nigeria President of Igbo extraction.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it feels bad about the divergence and differences among the governors in pursuit of Igbo agenda, adding that if the governors were allowed to continue in their separate ways, the Igbo would definitely land in a big quagmire.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia said there is no other time the governors needed collaboration more than now.
He said: “It is worrisome; the point is that in Ohanaeze we are not happy. We felt bad that only the Enugu State governor, as host governor, was present at the Southern Governors meeting.
“If there is any time that the South East people need cooperation among themselves and collaboration with other governors of the southern regions, it is now. If there is any time that our governors need unity and cooperation among themselves, it is now. Therefore, Ohanaeze feels bad that only the host governor was present.
“However, we are studying to find out what exactly happened, but as to whether we are sad, yes we are! But when we find out what happened, we will let Ndigbo know.”
President of Alaigbo Development Foundation, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala said even though it was a worrisome development and a matter every Igbo son and daughter should reflect on, what Ndigbo should do is to take their destinies into their hands.
“But you see, in a situation like this, the people have to take their destiny into their hands. If there is failure of leadership or government, people should take destiny into their hands and that’s what this period calls for.
“We don’t have to wait for governors, if they can’t provide leadership; that means they cannot and we can’t allow ourselves to be pushed into the dustbin because of lack of political leadership. The people can take their destinies into their hands,” Nwala said.
However, the Igbo Leaders of Though, ILT, has a different approach on the failure of the South East governors to provide directional leadership. ILT Deputy Leader, Professor Elochukwu Amucheazi described the behaviour of the governors as strange.
“It’s quite strange and this is the time that calls for concerted action, consultation and to reckon that they are not meeting, they are not talking, they are not facing the problems steering us in the face. It is quite disturbing.
Professor of Political Science at Abia State University, Professor Hatz Ofoeze was of the view that the present crop of South East governors are not working for Igbo interest, arguing that the governors are only after their individual interests, rather than issues of common interest to the Igbo race.
His words: “We now have the worst set of governors in Igbo land. I am not sure they are working for Igbo interest. They cannot provide the needed leadership.
“They are rather scheming to be Vice President, instead of galvanizing the region to produce the President in 2023. Even if they come out for VP, I don’t think they will get it because they are not popular among the people.
“They lack the strength of character. Since the herdsmen menace started in South East, has any of them made any categorical or serious statement against it? Has any of them ever said anything in defense of Ndigbo? If Igbo will succeed I don’t think it can come from them. I don’t know what they are afraid of.”
Ofoeze said the governors appear so self centered and myopic that they would not mind to work against the presidential aspiration of any Igbo in 2023 provided their individual interests were protected.
However, a two-time Minister for Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, did not think that open criticism of the governors for their perceived weaknesses would serve the interest of the South East geopolitical zone, noting that the governors could be privately corrected and advised on how to synergize for regional interest behind the scene.
His words: “In as much as I’m not happy, Ndigbo must stop bashing their leaders, including the governors publicly. Far from who showed up or who did not show up in Enugu, our governors must meet quietly and discuss as one family and not for headlines. We need quiet planning.
“When Uzo Uwani in Enugu State was invaded by herdsmen, they ought to have set up a regional security outfit since then. We set up Alaigbo Development Forum several years ago and it has published two volumes of economic blue-print for the development of Igbo land, but who is implementing it?”
Kalu expressed concern over the leadership failure and lack of proper coordination among Ndigbo which he regretted, had affected the people’s loyalty.
Former Deputy National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Chris Ejike Uche believes the indifference of the governors should not discourage the Igbo from fighting for their dues in the country, adding that there is consolation to be drawn from what Ohanaeze Ndigbo is doing.
Uche said: “The attitude of the governors can never deter us from clamouring for presidency and fighting other Igbo cause. The most veritable instrument the Igbo have for the expression of their interest is Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is the meeting point of the Igbo and they have made it clear that it is either a president of the Igbo extraction or nothing. So, it is the view of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that we take it seriously and not the views of the governors who we know how they came about.
“They are writing their own script and unfortunately for them, the people will mark the script. The governors already know the perception people have of them. They are trying to cover up spilled milk which is not easy. The wound is heavy in the people’s minds. So, we take solace in the fact that Ohanaeze is our able representative.
“On the anti-open grazing law, the position of the National Assembly members from the South East is consoling for us. We still have people talking. The lawmakers condemned open grazing.
“The governors can have their way for now. But whatever view they have is not cast on iron; it can be deleted.
“What about VAT? Have they said anything? They are not bothered because they are representing themselves and not the people. But there must be a way out” Vanguard