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Local politics is the real deal

Tinubu
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Citizens across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory go to the polls again on Saturday, March 9, to choose representatives closer home. The Governorship and State Assembly elections are as consequential as those of last week featuring the choice of Mr President and Abuja-bound legislators. As all politics is local, the closer to the locality the more intense and significant it should be.

Elections for federal seats ended on February 23. It threw up many issues. Congratulations to Muhammadu Buhari for the INEC declaration that he won the elections.

The Igbo voter remained a central figure in the narrative of Elections 2019.  Last week in Lagos and across the land, APC treated him with contempt. During this week, the APC Lagos gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, continued the path of persuasion less trodden by his party. He arranged a meeting with the Ohanaeze Lagos where he sought and got endorsement of the Igbo in Lagos.

In “No to apartheid in Lagos”, I pointed out former governor Bola Tinubu as the one stoking the fire. The Lagos State Commissioner for Information who is a former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Tinubu says other factors are responsible for Tinubu’s outburst. He blames Ohanaeze and even mentions Jonathan for the unfortunate statement of his boss and defames Ohanaeze President John Nnia Nwodo. Here is his response, first published yesterday as letter to the editor.

Chido Nwakanma and the Tinubu Doctrine 

Chido Nwakanma argues in his article, No to Apartheid in Lagos, in BusinessDay of February 28, 2019 that the incidents that took place in significant Igbo residential neighbourhoods during the presidential and National Assembly on February 23, this year were executed in pursuance of a Tinubu Doctrine which he defined as an attempt to blackmail the Igbo to support the All Progressives Congress.

He lied. The narrative that defined the context in which the incidents took place did not start with the address to party members by APC National Leader and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday February 20, 2019.

It started the day the dominant faction of the Igbo political organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo formed an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party to deliver the votes of the Ndigbo to the party at the Nike Lake Resort on November 14, 2018. This was forcefully articulated again on January 24, 2019 when its president-general, Dr. Nnia Nwodo pronounced the Nwodo Doctrine as follows: “The nomination of our son, Peter Obi as the Vice-Presidential Candidate has given Ndigbo an opportunity for inclusivity. Ndigbo must seize the moment”.

The second excuse for handing over Ohaneze to the PDP was an alleged pledge of the PDP candidate to restructuring. According to Nwodo: “That the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has made an avowed commitment to the restructuring of the federation”.

The fallacies in these propositions were quickly exposed by the secretary-general, Uche Okwukwu who contended that Nwodo used Ohaneze to make a deal with his friend, Abubakar rather than to protect the Ndigbo.

Okwukwu argued that it was best to “seize the moment” with a candidate such as Kingsley Moghalu, an Igbo running for the presidency, or at the least, support Muhammadu Buhari, who appointed Igbo such as Ibe Kachikwu and Chris Ngige ministers and whose second term tenure is more viable to provide opportunity for Ndigbo to run for presidency on the APC platform in 2023 than the wild goose chase Nwodo was taking the Ndigbo on by supporting a potentially two-term candidate.

Indeed, APC senatorial candidate in Enugu State, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagu summed it up as follows: “It is now clear that the organization has stopped representing the common interest of Ndigbo and as such ceased to be the mouthpiece of the Igbo nation.”

Allegedly empowered with a 300million pocket money, the Nwodo faction suspended dissentients such as Okwukwu and launched a ferocious campaign of intimidation to force Ndigbo in the heartland and other parts of Nigeria to abandon their individual right, guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution, to choose candidates of their free will. As Churchil Nnobi has argued, this was unnecessary because Igbo already knew Peter Obi as their kinsman and did not need the Ohaneze’s coercion to do the right thing.

Nwakanma is active in the Igbo movement. He knows that the Ohaneze works through the town unions. So, he should be aware of the threats issued at such meetings. These include the threat that those who didn’t comply will have to shoulder the burden of taking the corpses of their late relatives’ home and that their shops in markets controlled by Igbo leaders would be shut.

There is no doubt that this hiring of Ohaneze by the PDP posed strategic difficulties to the APC in Lagos State. The party’s precursor, Alliance for Democracy began as a coalition of ethno-geographical forces and civil liberty associations against the annulment of June 12, 1993 election. At various times, several Igbo groups including Aka Ikenga and Amaka have allied with the party to sustain a positive environment for the promotion of the economic interests of the Ndigbo.

But this ruptured during the Jonathan for President Campaign when traditional allies of the party among the Ndigbo switched camp and made a deal with the PDP which upset the existing power relations and expectations. The party diagnosed this development as the result of inadequate integration of the Ndigbo and other non-Yoruba elements and adjusted appropriately by opening opportunities for “inclusivity” in the party structures and elective offices.

In Oshodi-isolo Constituency II, covering Isolo and Ejigbo, this policy led to the sponsorship and election of Ohafia-born Grace Okere as the councilor for Ifoshi ward. In the March 9, 2019 election, the APC is sponsoring Hon. Jude Idimogu from Imo State as its candidate for the House of Assembly. As a nationalist, I played significant roles to make these happen to create a truly cosmopolitan community where love and brotherhood are not undermined by the promotion of tribal bigotry.

The Tinubu doctrine, which Nwakanma quotes copiously and derides as “blackmail” is based on the principle of reciprocity. If indeed, landowning families of Lagos welcome non-Yorubas by trading off their lands: if the governments put in place by the party have created the environment that has enabled the exercise of rights and acquisition of priviledges; if the Lagos APC has integrated the Ndigbo into its political system by presenting them on its platform, it deserves their support. The Tinubu doctrine demands that the citizens and residents of Lagos of Igbo extraction be allowed to vote according to their conscience, in appreciation of the progressive developments which make Lagos their destination of prosperity and not in fear of the coercive threats and intimidation of the Ohaneze.

It is a doctrine that urges Ohaneze to revert to its socio-cultural status as a common platform for the Ndigbo irrespective of the partisan interests of members and not to be hired to the highest bidder to undermine the political interests of fellow Igbo by its current mercantile leadership. –Kehinde Bamigbetan

Chido Nwakanma

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