By Odimegwu Onwumere
Insisting that the Igbo will not settle for anything less than the president in 2015, in September 2012, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu stressed that it’s the turn of Ndigbo to produce the country’s president.
Kalu’s love for Ndigbo drove him to the Prof. David Ijalaiye Annual Lecture tagged, ‘Leadership: Key factor to a Better Nigeria’, at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. This is the place that he lavished his known love for Ndigbo.
Kalu calls for a free and fair election in Nigeria, but especially in 2015. He makes it succinctly that the period of mounting police and army officers at polling centres during election by the authorities to intimidate perceived rivals have gone.
He is of the philosophy that Ndigbo and by extension Nigerians at large, are wiser today; they are prepared to take the bull by the horn in making sure that leaders of their choice are duly elected and not, selected by the powers that feel they are.
Such nobly objective of kalu is commendable as he is speaking up for the betterment of the Igbo, unlike many who are speaking down on the Igbo for their self-seeking purposes.
Kalu has always addressed the problem of Ndigbo in Nigeria without fear, not minding any political establishments that are suppressing Ndigbo. His antics are unforgettable with many splendid antecedents to his credit.
Contrary to critics, Kalu is fighting for Ndigbo’s cause to obliterate their political enslavement. He asks Ndigbo to be alert and watchful though, and that all hands must be on deck as they are optimistically moving forward.
All the jobs he does for Ndigbo are grandly meticulous and big step in the right direction. Kalu continues to educate his people that they must be diplomatic and slight, while fighting for their political independence.
He believes that this diplomacy he implores Ndigbo about, will definitely bring the eyes of the international community on the plight that the Igbo are fighting for. His exemplary love for Ndigbo pushes him with a lot of diplomacy in all approach and engagements.
Political rivals think that Kalu does not understand anything other than money, but here is a man who is pushing Ndigbo forward from their back pew to the front political seat and is recording events as they unfold, without turning the table against anybody or group.
Nigerians know it and are saying that Kalu is not a cheap meat that can be inexpensively ingested on Igbo case. He is not afraid of the truth and don’t treat who wants to suppress truth with the kid’s glove.
To the fascists, they believe that Kalu’s diplomacy without guns will not make a difference for Ndigbo. But he is too big for the nuisance. Many Igbo people doff their caps for Kalu on this, for his ingenuity and for his always thought out plan for Ndigbo.
Kalu is a man who knows where to go with the Igbo’s political struggle, because he does not want his people to be permanently destroyed as a people in Nigeria. Nigerians love Njiko Ndigbo, since it was established, which is the only organization on whose platform that Kalu was invited to the British House of commons to speak on Igbo struggle for the first time in history.
Many Igbo are supporting this no-less organization, because of the level it is achieving things for Ndigbo within the short period it was established, opening enough room for contrary views in the public space to orate and have different takes on issues that bother on the Igbo cause.
Kalu’s love-gong for Igbo people to produce president of Nigeria in the 2015 elections is clanging. The reverberation is deafening the ears than any other gong clanging contrarily. The echo of the gong for this assignment is heard from Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
He is restating the need the Igbo should produce the next president of this country. His tireless campaign for this reason illustrates that there could be something going on within the powers that are, against the Igbo in the forthcoming elections. And with a persona like Kalu, who knows Nigeria and the inner-circle too well, any attempt to shortchange the Igbo from actualization this, may not hold any water.
Is it not an insult that Nigeria is still keeping the Igbo to be playing the 3rd fiddle forty-two years after the civil war? Against this influence, Kalu believes that the Nigeria/Biafra civil war has not come to an appropriate end till he sees the Igbo become a noteworthy president in Nigeria; not any other time, but in 2015.
This is coming on the hills when some Nigerian Jacobic quarters are saying that the Igbo are not organized; hence they cannot produce the next president. On the contrary, Kalu has been asking whether other tribes that have produced president had two heads. On the other hand, he wants the maximum support from other tribes to make the Igbo president of this country.
Conceivably, it’s because the Igbo have not produced the president of this country significantly that has led to majority of the roads in any areas the Igbo have as their homes not tarred resulting to the dampening of the eco/socio lives of the Igbo. Social infrastructure in Igbo-land is a story for another day.
Politics in the area has been the dictates of Abuja, whereby such names as “Abuja politicians” and “home base politicians” are heard, as if politics has become a football club, where names like ‘international players’ and ‘home base’ are heard.
And Kalu didn’t mince words when he said: “It has also been shown that those who boot-lick presidents in Nigeria since independence never do well; they don’t even tar the roads, they don’t give free education, they do nothing to salvage their states because they believed the president is their boss; if the president asks them to go and put their house on fire they will go and do it, which I feel is not in consonance with democratic concept.”
The above could be the reason elections have been rigged in this country, because the powers that are in Abuja control the Army, Police, Navy, just the Force, and are ready to make or mar, for anything they gun to get. They are ready to give backup to any “Abuja politician” to defeat any “home base” in an election.
Nigerians once saw this played in a South-East state where a sitting governor was molested and latter was abducted in a broad daylight and the powers that were in Abuja gave maximum support to the ‘home base’ political gangsters, who were shamelessly parading themselves as godfathers and godmothers of the state’s politics, leading to a notable Igbo son from the state rejecting a National Honour that was awarded to him, even a second time.
Have Ndigbo not been manipulated enough in this country? How long shall the powers that are continue to divide Ndigbo against theirselves? Kalu is squabbling today that this habit and sundry are advised against in the future elections. He stepped down from contesting in the 2011 presidential elections he had shown full blown interest in, when it was obvious that majority of the Igbo personalities and organizations had shown interest to support President Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw-man, who was murmured, had an intention for one term and later, it would be the turn of the Igbo.
But the darling of power seems has entered Jonathan’s marrow and the same murmurings, are making the rounds today that he has the interest to be president beyond 2015. Ndigbo from all walks of life, no matter their residences, gave President Goodluck Jonathan their maximum support in the 2011 elections, and it is expected that the president will in turn, give them his support to be president in 2015. So, was Kalu right when he said that it would be an insult to the Igbo for anybody to feel that they cannot produce president in 2015?
It is obvious that Kalu is fighting for the unity of this country against his own businesses and family for too long. He has always come out openly to call injustice by its name when others are clamouring for the debris they will get from the government. Somebody may be thinking that why Kalu is fighting for the Igbo to produce the next president is because he wants to be president. This is far from being the truth.
Kalu has only declared that injustices that are being meted out to Ndigbo since the colonial rule to date can only come to an end, when the Igbo becomes the president of this country. This is the reason Nigerians should rally round Kalu in making sure that this purpose is actualized, because injustice is not monopolistic.
Who knows whose turn this injustice will turn to by tomorrow, if it is not nipped in the bud today? One thing with Kalu is that he has a humane heart. Those who have such a heart know that he has come out openly in recent times and said that Nigerians will get it right this time even if they could have made some mistakes in the past. What do people know as an apology if not this? Or do certain persons want when he comes and prostrate? In earnest, he has pleaded for the peace and unity of Nigeria.
Kalu’s attitude to saying that things will be right this time shows the Igbo adage that says, “Peace is for the elder to initiate”. And Kalu is suing for peace which should not be misconstrued for cowardice. No. He is doing this because of his love for this country. This is evident when majority of Ndigbo said that Kalu is a man of peace and will lead them more than the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu did. And the late Ojukwu and Kalu have something in common – fearless and outspoken. Hence, Kalu is diplomatic and is much relevant in the Nigeria’s politics than certain bunch of political jobbers that spread across Nigeria.
From observations on Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s movement that the Igbo should produce the next president of Nigeria, he is not saying that the person must come from his village in Igbere. No. So, it is important that those asking about the state the Igbo president will come from, to put down the lid of their mouths. Such statement is divisiveness than it is a mere question. This is because the Igbo are Igbo no matter their different geographical enclaves. The State does not really matter; after all, States are created to divide the people the more. For example, the present day Rivers State was created in 1967, at the pick of the Nigeria/Biafra war.
Rivers State was created out of the old Eastern Region controlled by Biafra in order to weaken the strength of the young republic in that case. Those who clamoured for the Rivers State creation, on seeing the actualisation, started to sing a discordant song from that, which they initially were across the world singing alongside with their Biafran brethrens, and things fell apart. This is from where Nigerians of today learnt to say that they are from this state or the other state, without holding renowned grip to their aborigines.
Some people feel that they are save when they say they are from Anambra State, Imo State or the other, than when they say they are from Igbo. Just as was experienced among the people that were carved into the then Rivers State; they habitually say that they were from Rivers State, and not from Biafra, particularly anytime they were confronted by the then belligerent Nigerian Forces. Hooey!
Kalu is one man who has stood a tested reputation by saying that he is a Nigerian when others were grabbing ethnicity, and this belief cost him a lot during his eight-year rule, as governor of Abia State, under the presidency of the Owu generalissimo, called Olusegun Obasanjo, who is Yoruba.
People must learn to respect their heroes. Kalu did not move against the Third Term agenda of Obasanjo, because he’s Igbo; but because he’s a Nigerian, who meant well for the wellbeing of all Nigerians. Thus, why should the proponents of the Third Term that Kalu was in the forefront against now lengthening it against the Igbo from becoming the next president of this country? This is the bane!
And, Kalu, from his bravado is not pleased with the Agenda that the Igbo will not be president in 2015. This is not a tribal sentiment! And if there is any sentiment in Nigeria, it is not from the Igbo, but from those who have made it their duty that the Igbo will not produce the president of this country.
Anybody who does not see that Kalu is making a point is really making a mistake. He had enlightened, “We have enough as a country to feed our 200 million people; we have enough in human and material resources to make our roads better. People are not being given what they bargained for because they are not genuinely elected; these results are written, supported by the army and the police, these people are shameless. They will never do it again. It is going to be one man, one vote and no army man will carry any ballot box again in Igboland or in Nigeria, we will not accept that. It will not happen again. Even if he is general to heaven, we will fight him and fight his whole family. If they do what is unconstitutional, we will repeat what will be unconstitutional too because that is the only way we are going to check this rubbish.”
This is a strict statement. Come to think of it. This is a country where many regarded as leaders are not thinking properly for the future. The only crowns they wear are poor performance and attacks on critics.
Some leaders in this country are just being lucre. Kalu is today asking the Igbo to learn from the past. Majority of the people are supporting Kalu for this rightful cause, because they could not see any magic those who come from other tribes have done as president, hence the Igbo should be given a chance, and also the foreign powers should leave Nigeria alone. Let Nigeria have faith in the Igbo, who have ever shown that they have confidence in themselves and always, have supported the cause of people from other tribes.
For example, Kalu’s corporations are for-the-most-part manned by people from other tribes. This does not mean that he hates the people of his tribe. Rather, he always wants to lead by example that the Igbo are not haters of people from other tribes.
Conversely, Kalu should let the past be in the past, and continue with the crusade for the actualization of the Igbo presidency in the 2015 general elections. Every Nigerian should give him the maximum support that this crusade requires and deserves. This is the time the Igbo should be waiting for. No matter the party differences, all Nigerians should come together, and think about how the Igbo have been much humiliated in this country.
Other tribes have achieved much leaving the Igbo to their industrious fate. Let the Igbo comeback to their senses and respect Kalu. He is speaking up for Nigeria. Without people like him, the actualization of this will be a tall dream. He is not a man that can be bought with money. His scuttle with the Third Term agenda is an epitome of what many have been talking about: when some men sold out, he remained unbendable.
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.