Thursday, July 8, 2010

As South East Governors Unite…

By Nnedi Ogaziechi, Daily Independent

“Coming together is a beginning

keeping together is progress

working together is success”

- Henry Ford

For once in a very long time, the South East Governors of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Ebonyi put behind them the negative politicking that has kept the zone down for a while now as they collectively gathered in the ancient city of Enugu for the reception of the new Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo. Despite the divisionist antagonisms of hangers on, the two (outsider) Governors (by virtue of their belonging to a different political party), Peter Obi of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and his new colleague, Theodore Orji of Abia defied all odds to attend.

The South East geopolitical zone has had the bad fortune of underdevelopment since the end of the civil war about four decades ago. For so long, the zone has cried out about the neglect it has had to endure from the Federal government for both infrastructural and human developmental stagnation. To a large extent, some politicians from the zone (undoubtedly those that arrived after the Ziks, the Oparas, the Akanu Ibiams etc.) have been at the engine room of this mischief as they had consistently placed self over communal good.

The setting aside of egos (and men do politicians have huge egos!), party sentiments and the obtrusive pull-him-down syndrome might just be the tonic the zone needs to kick-start a regional rejuvenation. For too long, the ‘marginalisation’ mantra has been dangled across the world. It is time indigenes reinvigorate the ‘igwe bu ike’ (there’s strength in unity) of Ndigbo. Let’s not continue with the illusion that having some positive regional parapoism is anti-national integration. Charity, as they say, begins at home.

It is good that the respective governors are realising that party affiliation cannot be divorced from the democratic obligation to the greater number. For long, selfish individuals whose personal and professional pedigrees are monumentally questionable have held the zone by the jugular and have severally betrayed the voiceless number in the South East.

There have been individuals who seizing the rare opportunity of political visibility had colluded with dubious individuals from other regions to shortchange Ndigbo while reveling in their assumed popularity as ‘ Abuja ’ politicians. These are individuals who pride themselves in the vanity of being ‘known’ to the so-called ‘ Abuja ’ political big men. Their stock in trade is generally the destabilisation of the zone and priding themselves as the only cocks that crow in the region. Their myopic perception does not give them the advantage of the bigger picture.

The sad part of their activities is that they were almost succeeding in labeling the people of the South East the most disorganised set of Nigerians. Because these individuals usually lack the requisite intellect and character needed to galvanise and serve the people, they hide in far away Abuja and grandstand about oftentimes-illusory ‘leadership’ and put in so much effort at destabilising the home front when they feel their ‘relevance’ is threatened. They are the ones whose stock in trade is causing the most ignominious political and electoral confusions in their effort to remain relevant.

The Peoples Democratic Party has been notorious since 1999 for making false promises for the economic rejuvenation of the South East with our so-called sons and daughters in the party being prime cheerleaders. It is hoped that the Nwodo leadership of the party would open a new vista for the people irrespective of party affiliations.

Equally gratifying is his recognition of the redemptive role he is expected to play as the chairman of the biggest political party on the African continent. It is good that he is very aware of the kind of image his party has in the country. Coming from a zone notorious for political brigandage (remember the Mbadinuju-Ngige-Obi-Etiaba-Obi debacle in Anambra, the ebeano hooliganism in his home state, Enugu, the 2006 PDP-money primaries in Imo State etc.) the whole world expects the new chairman to clean up the mess.

According to Nwodo at the reception, “let the message be sent that we have come to a stage where we look at merit, where we look at dignity, not a time where leadership is based on tribe or religion.” Hopefully coming to the table with a fair sense of purpose and a solid professional and political history, Nwodo would remember the saying that to whom much is given much is required. Having made a pledge before the people and being a core Igbo son, one only hopes he won’t go the way of his predecessors.

The Governors of the five states that make up the zone must be given credit for taking the bold step of teamwork to rescue a zone that is almost at the edge of the precipice. Economically, the zone is at its worst. Socially, the admirable social cohesion and cultural ethos of the people have been on a downward spiral. The crime rate is amazing and the male population is largely illiterate as there is too much apathy for education. No people without modern education can comfortably key into a modern economy that is technology driven.

The interdependence of the five states whether the Governors acknowledge it or not makes one state’s problem a problem of the rest. Playing the Ostrich in the name of ‘different party’ sentiments can only be like cutting one’s nose to spite the face. Let the normal communal spirit of Ndigbo that has been renewed at the reception be kept alive for the good of all. Any advice to the contrary must be seen as coming from the usual enemies of progress.

As the new PDP Chairman promised, let the next leaders be people of unquestionable moral pedigree who have development at the heart and not those who seek political office as a means of livelihood or a means to launder a dirty image built over the years. The umunna system of electing family heads ought to be the guiding principle. Here, family pedigree, character, professional achievement and integrity are the watchwords. Leadership to the Igbos has never been about naira and kobo. The deviation from the noble and core values of the Igbos is what has kept the zone down for so long.

The governors have seemingly put the hands of development on the plough and there should be no looking back. They must see themselves as trailblazers and jettison any advice to do the contrary because definitely those who feel they would lose out if there is no chaos would fight back for the status quo to remain. They should realise that political parties are just a means to an end and not an end in themselves. The people is the reason for the party in the first place

Women In Politics, What Lessons?

Penultimate week, some female politicians had a rally at Eagle square in Abuja. Speaker after speaker wanted the males to actualise the promise of a thirty per cent slot for the womenfolk or even better, a bigger percentage. Prominent in the crowd were women who are already playing some roles at both the executive and legislative arms of government.

Looking at their radiant faces, one could not but ask how far a majority of these women has used their positions to uplift fellow women who are unarguably the ones who bear the brunt of bad leadership? How far has their conduct made them admirable role models to the younger women? What contributions have they made to advance the education of the girl child? How many have their female home helps in school? How far have they campaigned against child marriage, maternal and child mortality? The future is for the educated. Methinks the campaign skews unfavourably in favour of the status quo. Women being majority of the voters have the power to put more women in power. Really, the men are too enamoured by their ‘success’ to bend to pleas. Education for women is the key.

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