For the past two or so months, we have been watching with dismay, some of our Igbo leaders dancing naked in market places, washing their dirty linens in the public square. These are people who we have put our hope on, people we look up to be in the contest for the much talked about Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023.
First, we read about the altercations between billionaire businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, and former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, calling each other all sorts of names, and employing both the traditional and social media platforms to denigrade their personalities. We shuddered.
The battle between Arthur Eze and Anyim Pius Anyim had hardly died down when Arthur Eze, again, took on Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. He enlisted some twelve traditional rulers from the state to help him fight the Governor. The Governor in return, fought back. He took Arthur Eze head on, and also got the twelve recalcitrant traditional rulers suspended from office for twelve months. We marvelled.
Somehow, a former Governor of the State and currently, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, got himself entangled in the fight, and began to spray his bullets on all directions, which hit both Arthur Eze and Governor Obiano. But Arthur Eze would not stomach it. He fired back, and called Chris Ngige “accidental minister.” Ngige returned fire and called Arthur Eze, “AGIP” – Any Government In Power. The fight is still going on. We were bewildered.
Yet, another battle. This time, between First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, and a former Governor of the old Anambra State, Senator Jim Nwobodo. Amaechi called Nwobodo “unserious politician”, while Nwobodo fired back and said that Amaechi had never contested nor won any election in his life, even a councillorship position, and that Amaechi had never governed any people. We were downcast.
Paradoxically therefore, as we march towards 2023, among our top Igbo politicians, it is fight, fight, fight: dogs eating dogs, prominent Igbo people attacking and criticizing each other, with none believing that the other has anything to offer. They publicly would attack and criticize each other, and even attacked our elected state governors and other political office holders.
Need we talk about the many insults being poured on the leadership of the pan Igbo sociocultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, by some of our youths? Or how these Igbo youths would occasionally physically attack some prominent Igbo politicians, or mark them out for future attacks?
All these go to portray the Igbo nation as a divided house, as people not united, as people not at peace with themselves, and as people who are not serious or ready to take up the challenge of political leadership of the country.
It is not that other ethnic groups in the country have all their politicians and businessmen as angels and saints. No. They know some of their people to be weakling, or as not so clean persons, yet they will not expose them, or throw them up to public ridicule or opprobrium. They will not let the public know about their weaknesses, and about the character deficiencies.
Thus, we have not been reading or hearing how politicians from other ethnic groups have been criticizing or attacking each other in the media, or calling themselves despicable names. It is not that they do not have disagreements among themselves, but that they have learned how to manage their own disagreements without putting them up to the public domain. They learn how to be decorous and respectful to each others’ sensibilities.
If, as it now appears, that the Igbo people do not believe in themselves, based on how they currently attack each other in the public, do they think that other people will equally believe in them? Again, when the Igbo people are talking about being marginalized and about being hated by other ethnic groups, are they not the ones who actually marginalize, and who hate themselves, based on what we are currently seeing and hearing?
“Onye kpoo oba ya mkpokolo, umu ntakili ejiliya gwuo egwu”. Whatever you call your dog so will other people also call it.When we do not respect our own people, when we denigrate them, or destroy them publicly, other people will also not respect them.
In other words, when the Igbo would have succeeded in destroying themselves, rendering each other politically impotent by negatively exposing themselves in the media, when the chips are down and they are also rejected by Nigerian people, they would have nobody to blame, but themselves.
As you make your bed, so you will lie on it. Therefore, let’s be very careful and cautious about we throw stones in the market place.
Dr. Dons Eze