Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 12, A Disaster For Nd'Igbo - Alaefule

By Enyeribe Ejiogu, Sun News


Sixteen years ago the government of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12 Election of 1993, which was won by late Bashorun Moshood K. O. Abiola, in the country’s first free and fair polls. That decision set off crisis that forced Igbo people in Lagos to flee en masse to the South East as the Yoruba people embarked reprisal attacks against them in a manner that brought the country close to civil war.

They blamed the Igbo the annulment of the election because the National Electoral Commission was headed by Professor Humphrey Nwosu, an Igbo man.

In the mad rush to return to the South East, many Igbo people died on the way through accidents; hundreds were robbed of their money, goods and other property. Shops of Igbo people in Lagos were looted. In it all the most painful part was the loss of family in the crisis. June 12 always brings back painful memories of dear family members lost in that mindless crisis.

In this interview, Dr Uchendu Alaefule, a medical doctor born and bred in Lagos, goes back in time recalling the sad things that happened during those dark days of Nigeria’s political history and reveals how he lost two cousins to the crisis.

Interestingly, the date June 12 has come to symbolize something positive for him: his daughter was born on June 12, 2010 and will celebrate her first birthday this morning. Excerpts

Whenever any situation happens in the country, it tends to affect Igbo people in one way or the other. One thing that affected Igbo people negatively was the aftermath of the annulment of the June 12 election. Can you recall what happened at the time?

Prior to the June 12 crisis, most Igbo people had come to see themselves as Lagosians having lived in the city for so many years. For me I was born and bred in Lagos. I went to school here and spoke Yoruba more than Igbo language.

At point when we had started to believe that we were Lagosians everything suddenly changed when the crisis occurred. It was as if the whole thing was against the Igbo man – probably because Professor Humphrey Nwosu who headed the then National Electoral Commission was an Igbo man. They felt that it was Nwosu that annulled the election. Nobody bothered to see that it was actually Ibrahim Babangida who annulled the election – they just failed to see that Nwosu was just acting out a script.

The Yoruba really made us know that Igbo in Lagos were not Lagosians. The magnitude of the crisis was such that they targeted Igbo people, and looted the shops of Igbo traders. So many things went wrong. At that time there was much campaign for Igbo people to return home. Some state governments in the South East provided vehicles, free of charge. I remember that my own state, Imo, sent vehicles to Lagos for indigenes of the state.

Some communities and town unions contributed money to charter buses people that were willing to go home. Even some South East bus operators gave their free-of-charge to Igbo people to enable them leave Lagos and return to the East. In short, Igbo people were encouraged to leave Lagos because the situation deteriorated so much that you could not sleep with two eyes closed.

I particularly recall that I was still in medical school at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Enugu, but came home (to Lagos) where my family was residing because all schools were closed before the election. So I was in Lagos at the time of the June 12 crisis. When this crisis happened, a lot of people died on the way, going back to the South East. I remember some cousins of my who decided to go home.

One thing I can remember vividly was we heard stories of armed robberies on the road against people traveling back to the east. Vehicles were stopped, the people robbed and in several cases simply killed. There were several fatal accidents on the road. A lot of people never got to their destinations. In fact I remember two of my cousins who we never got see again – we don’t even know whether they died in accidents or were killed or fell into the hands of ritualists. Till today we have not seen them. It was like a case of running away from one trouble and ending up in another trouble. A lot of people were missing at that period. Many sustained serious injuries; many became maimed.

A lot of people lost their jobs. I remember my father saying that people were told that if they left their jobs, they may not come to have them again. He was working with the Nigeria Ports Authority at the time, but he is late. Now with the benefit of hindsight, my father took a wise decision that his family would stay back in Lagos and not join the Igbo exodus out of Lagos. So he advised us and were watching the situation to see what would happen.

As the days went by, the situation got worse. It was like there was going to be real civil war because the Yoruba clamored that Igbo people in Lagos must go. All the mayhem that happened in Lagos then affected Igbo people. Honestly, it is not something to be remembered. So many people still cry till today; many people lost their family members still shed tears when they remember June 12. A lot of people lost their business, money and other properties. For the Igbo man, June 12 was a disastrous experience. It was a loss-loss situation from every angle. Many became maimed due to accidents. Many are still depressed because of June 12. Life just turned upside down for many people when they came back to Lagos after the crisis.

Would you say that it was a replay of what happened in 1967, just before the civil war started?

In some sense I say that; also I experienced the 2000/2001 Sharia riots in Kano. As a medical doctor I saw the rioters killing people. I heard of cases where would put somebody in a well and close it. The only thing was that June 12 situation was more like a case of chasing Igbo people out of Lagos. And Igbo actually wanted to leave because they thought there would be another civil war.

This was also fueled by strident calls from relations and kinsmen in the East asking their family members to return home as if Nigeria was going to break up.

Do you share the view that the June 12 experience of the Igbo people helped to make MASSOB blossom?

As an organization, MASSOB had existed but nobody knew them. For people like us who were born shortly after the civil war, we never got experience of the war. Even at that we never knew anything about MASSOB until 1993. I think the June 12 experience helped to make MASSOB grow because they saw it as an opportunity to make the Igbo remember who he is and connect deeply with his roots. Many of us that were born in Lagos actually believed that we were Lagosians.

Then I could barely speak Igbo in those days. Because I was born in Lagos, and I speak more of Yoruba; it was the same thing with so many young Igbo men and women. So MASSOB brought back that Igbo consciousness in us. And that was when I began to know more about my Igbo roots. In words, I think the June 12 experience helped in making me connect with my Igbo origin.

How did June 12 impact on town unions?

The experience gained from the unfortunate events of that period has helped strengthen cohesion and affinity in South East town unions outside Igbo land. Anywhere in the world the Igbo man is a receptive human being. He is the only man that can easily receive you as brother in the Diaspora. I remember the day I was traveling to Abuja and the vehicle broke down in a village close to Lokoja. So we got down to stretch our legs and have a drink in nearby shop. Not far from the shop was patent medicine store.

The owner turned out to be an Igbo man. The moment he heard me speak Igbo, he exclaimed ‘Nwa nna, kedu ki emere’ (My brother, how are you?). Excitedly too, I asked him what he was doing in that village, and he responde that he was running a business. Seeing us was gave joy and momentary reconnection with the eastern homeland. That day we had to sleep overnight in that place.

He accommodated us and took care of us as if he had always known us. And the next day he escorted to our vehicle. And we were all so happy and for the short time, we were like his brothers, there in the ‘diaspora’ so to say. So the Igbo man is very receptive. And experience of June 12 really helped to show that – honestly many towns provided money to charter buses just to take Igbo people back to the East. It goes to tell a lot about the Igbo man.

In what other way did June 12 impact on the Igbo man?

I heard that just before the civil war started, Igbo men who lived for too long in the North and other parts of the country but didn’t have houses at home faced accommodation problems when they were forced to return home. Similarly, when June 12 crisis came up, and Igbo men returned home they had the same challenge of accommodation. The experience humbled the returnees and made all Igbo men see the need of remembering home and the necessity of acquiring land and developing properties at home.

Today, the average Igbo wants to build a house in his village even he may not spend more than two weeks in it annually. It does not matter if he has a chain of houses outside Igbo land, he values the house in the village more highly than his mansion in Lagos. The direct effect of this is that the pace of real estate development in the South East quickens every year. There is a silent competition going to build aesthetic mansions in villages across the South East.

This has brought socio-economic development and a high degree of modernization to Igbo communities. Such homes are equipped with all the amenities (DSTv, borehole, generators), which these people are used to in the urban centres. The elite also push state governments to provide rural electrification connected to the national grid. Most villages in the East are now developed. Really June 12 helped in this regard.

Nigeria Has Not Been Fair To My Father - Hafsat

Hafsat Abiola-Costello

By Ademola Adesola, The Nation

Hafsat Abiola-Costello, the eldest daughter of the late martyr of democracy, Chief MKO Abiola, in this online interview with Ademola Adesola, reflects on the issues confronting Nigeria 13 years after the death of her father

Another anniversary of June 12 is here, has the country been fair to your father?

MKO Abiola was a man that united the whole country. In the June 12 election, he won more votes in the North than he did in the South. On June 12, 1993, Nigerians voted en masse for a man whose platform was a promise that Nigerians would say “farewell to poverty”. Eighteen years later, 70% of Nigerians have less than a $1 a day and 90% live with less than $2 a day. You ask: Has the country been fair to my father? I ask you: Has the country been fair when the issues that demanded they pay the supreme price still stares us in the face? What a journey it has been and how instructive it is on the nature of struggle that we are here 18 years later still so far from our destination. The simple answer to your question is “no”, the country has not been fair to him or been fair to the ideals which he died for.

The 2011 election was adjudged as credible by local and international observers. Is it comparable to the one that got your father the mandate he was eventually denied of?

I think what we can say is that the April 2011 election was probably the most credible since the return of democracy in 1999. But is it as credible as the June 1993 election? I can’t say. Certainly, I hope that the 2015 election will be even better conducted than this recent past one. There were problems still and there’s room for improvement.

What is your opinion on the debate about making June 12 Democracy Day in Nigeria as against May 29 as it is being advocated by some people?

I think when we are confronted by a government that is confused about its raison d’ĂȘtre, easily distracted with the trappings of office and not with what the position is meant to achieve in the lives of 150 million Nigerians, if we, citizens of this entity, begin to talk about symbolic dates, then we run the risk of pushing too many issues onto the table before a community of people who already have a propensity to become distracted from their main assignment. So, it is important that June 12 be given a pride of place; it is important that MKO Abiola be honoured appropriately as the father of the current democracy we are experiencing. But for now, we must simply focus on the main point – the desire and just demand of the Nigerian people that they see an end to poverty. That’s the prize that we need to keep our eye on.

Are you interested in politics to the level of contesting election for political office?

Yes, I am! I think public service is the most important career that well-meaning citizens can pursue in a country like ours where there is such need and where, because of the weakness of controls, so much depends on the abilities and integrity of the people holding office.

Let’s talk about your mother. What do you really miss about her?

My mother was a lovely person. She was kind and graceful, intelligent and principled. I miss everything about her. The way she was driven by ideals to the point that she would set aside her own interests and the way, whenever we were coming home from school, she would cook jollof rice with so much pepper that our tongues would cry for water.

How do you view the present situation of the trial of her killers?

I actually do not follow that particularly actively.

Are there particular reasons why your siblings are based abroad?

Globalization! Khafila married a Welsh man who has a company in New York and Moriam married a Jamaican who also works in the US. Hadi, the baby, just graduated from college with a dual degree in Economics and Accounting and was given a great job in DC. And in my case, I married a civil servant in the European Commission and have moved with him and our kids on his different postings. To be sure, for all of us, home is best but inclination must intersect with opportunity for us to come home.

Let’s talk about your project, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND). What are the major impacts and achievements that it has recorded since inception?

KIND has trained over 3000 young women in service-leadership since 2001. We have also impacted several women politicians at the local level with skills to enhance their service delivery. We were deeply involved in mobilizing the womenfolk to participate actively in the electoral system. Since 2006, we brought the Vagina Monologues to Nigeria to raise serious awareness about the prevalence of gender- based violence and to also raise funds for organizations working with victims of gender-based violence. For several civil society organizations, we have provided the necessary linkages and support in accessing support for their work and providing an active mentoring network.

Would you really say the feats achieved thus far are encouraging enough to keep on with the vision?

Definitely yes, and that is what informed our plan to open a KIND’s Women Development Centre in our nation’s capital. We are excited to embark on this new phase of our journey – helping women seek leadership positions in order to contribute their quota to nation-building. We have commenced outreach efforts to seek support towards a fund raiser that will coincide with the 60th posthumous birthday of my mum in August.

How has life been with your immediate family?

Life has been kind. We are all healthy and of my mum’s 7 children, 6 are married with 13 children between us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Igbo were not prepared for Biafra -- Metuh

By Ajibola Abayomi, Daily Independent



National Vice Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South East, Olisa Metuh, believes the realisation of Igbo presidency is not far-fetched. In this interview with Acting News Editor , Saturday, Ajibola Abayomi, he speaks on issues affecting the growth of PDP in the region. He also speaks on other salient issues.


nite With the indifferences within the South East over the National Assembly (NASS) leadership zoning, do you not think this may igcrises within the PDP in the region soon?

The leadership of the party that cuts across the country, within the rank and file of our party, is talking; elected legislators too would have their say. At the end of the day, we would come up with something that is best for the country and the party. Controversial views are necessary for democratic development. Yes, some are not happy about what they assume about the NASS zoning order, but we would resolve whatever it is at the end of the day in the interest of our party and the country.

Are you not bothered that some Igbo leaders like former Governor of Anambra State, Emeka Ezeife, are beginning to call on the people to dump the PDP for another party in their own interest?

Chief Ezeife has never been a member of PDP. I am not saying he cannot comment on issues as a citizen of this country, but it is not for him to tell PDP what to do in its own affairs. When we have differences in the party, we have a channel of communication of reaching out to our leaders. We can table our matter before the President as a party man or the acting national chairman of the party. I am not bothered about people making comments to gain relevance; after all, the Igbo were led to Biafra. We were not prepared for it. Check for yourself, whether the reason for that was wrong or right. A discussion with leadership of the party is much more rewarding than to be crying wolf. Through that approach, we can negotiate or agree on several things.

Other concerned Igbo have criticised those who claimed to be the eye of the zone in PDP. Frankly, would you say you people have let down the South East zone in the party’s sharing formula?

I don’t want to make any categorical comment on this for now. Recently, I attended a meeting with South East governors and we are already making some moves that would be rewarding. I want to keep that to myself for now. So far, I am impressed with the way the governors are handling the matter, whether they negotiated before they gave their support to the President is a matter for discussion for another day.

Going by the way PDP in the South East lost some of the seats it won during the 2003 elections, don’t you think that the opposition was right to have accused your party of rigging?

In 2003, the PDP won virtually all seats in the South East including that of the governors. The trend did not really change during the last election. The only thing was that we lost the governorship election in Imo State. Again, if you recall, we didn’t win that in 2007. Right now we have over 85 per cent of the elective seats in our zone. What else do we want? We are on course; in Imo State, we are in the majority in the House of Assembly and in Anambra we also have a good showing, which in any case have now silenced those who think we have been rigging elections in that state. We are leading other parties with wide margin with the number of seats we have won so far.

Talking about the national chairman of PDP, why is that even among the governors, there were divisions as to whether the zone should have it?

The truth is that when the last national chairman of the party resigned the feeling was that another person should be nominated from the South East but for some reasons our leaders never bothered about that. Nature does abhor vacuum, the constitution of the party allows for the deputy chairman to become acting chairman and he has been performing creditably well. The party is moving and whenever the leaders decide to have a national convention another chairman would emerge. Apart from the leadership of the party, there are lots of things that are bothering our people in the South East that we must articulate in our own interest. For instance, the position of permanent secretary has been eluding our people. Apart from the ministry of transport and labour, the other sectors numbering about 13 have no Igbo representation. When you even rank these sectors in whatever category, our people are not in any of the leading ones. We shall make a strong case for that. Our people have been constantly denied opportunity to grow in the civil service. Other zones have six states and we have five states. People from other zones have been heading several ministries while our people have been denied clear opportunities. We would no longer close our eyes to that. In Abuja for instance, what is bad if an Igbo man becomes the minister of the Federal Capital Territory? Our people have contributed about 70 per cent of the total development in the city. We have the worst road network in the entire country when you take a sample of federal roads. Let them give us minister of works and see maybe that road would not be repaired. The Enugu-Onitsha road is the worst I have ever seen. Something must be done to correct all these. In terms of erosion, our people are seriously affected. What is bad to have minister of environment from the East?

Your agitations bother on the impact of the Federal Government in the South East and your party has been in power at the centre since 1999, is that not a failure on the part of the PDP not to have met the infrastructure demand and the call for equal representation at the federal cabinet?

It is not a failure. It is a neglect of the zone because these issues have been highlighted several times, even before I became the national vice chairman of PDP in the South East. I also championed this cause when I was a youth leader of PDP. All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and several Igbo groups have also agitated for these including former governors. So, we have been neglected.

So who is to be blamed for the neglect, is it Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) or which party?

I won’t say that PDP as a party has neglected the South East but I can say it over and over again that the South East has not been treated well. We are beyond the issue of House of Representatives Speaker. What we are asking for is beyond that. We are bothered about equal representation and equitable distribution of national wealth.

But you are not going to table the agitation of your people before the government of the ACN or Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). If you can’t get anything for your people under the PDP, where else do you want to go?


The PDP has never failed the people of the South East but has failed to have a role in governance. The truth is that for the past 12 years the party has never had a position on governance in the country. The past Federal Government failed to have a clear role in governance. All you hear was that the politicians should not have a role in governance. They were saying the parties should concern themselves with organising congresses and settling disputes. The new leadership of PDP is now canvassing for the participation of professionals and party men in governance by charting a new course for the nation.

To what extend have you engaged the governors of the South East in ensuring that the dividends of democracy are provided for the people to start with at home?

In 2008, good politicians and the governors of PDP in the South East ensured that I was elected as national vice chairman of PDP. I would ever remain grateful to them for that honour. The issue of my influence over them as national vice chairman has been minimised. In 2010, I assisted the President to win the party’s primaries as well as all the governors in the South East. We were there for them during the planning of their election campaigns and manifestoes and we mobilised resources for them, so whatever favour they have done for me, we have repaid them. We also assisted our candidates who vied for House of Assembly and National Assembly polls. So now is the time to start the business of working for our people in ensuring that the dividends of democracy get to them. The most important thing for us is to swing into action within the first two or three months because if we fail to plan with them within the first one year in office, we may never have control over them.

There have been controversies as to what the South East PDP leaders negotiated with President Goodluck Jonathan before leading the people to endorse him. What did you demand from the President on behalf of the people?

I was never involved. The governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo were involved in that. When I challenged the governors that they have not been carrying the leadership of the party along all through the negotiation with the President they apologised and promised to involve everybody and since then we have resoled to work together on that.

How long do you think the Igbo can wait to actualise the dream of producing an elected president?

When the environment is right and when our people understand what leadership is all about. For now, our people do not understand what leadership is all about. God appoints and gives leaders to the people based on what they deserve. It would happen when our people stop infighting, work together and be united as we are doing right now. Then God would smile on us and say this is the time to produce the president of the country. We don’t want to produce a president that would be stopped by court injunction from performing his duty. Our people are becoming more matured and exposed about political happenings now. Maybe now God will continue to consider us but God was right in the past.

It is said in some quarters that the Igbo have settled for the post of vice president come 2015. How true is it?

We are focused now with what we shall get from the current dispensation under President Goodluck Jonathan. Our approach is that we don’t bother him too much such that he would be distracted from performing his duties as president. If you help to produce somebody and he gets elected as President, you should not bother him too much. If you elect a man in Jonathan’s posture, all you need is to trust him and allow him to work. If there are things to discuss or negotiate with him, then we will do that diligently by involving all those that matter.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My E-Correspondence With Ikedi Ohakim


I had bumped into Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of Imo State, at Facebook and we became friends based on the network’s prescription of connection. Not only were we just Facebook friends, Ohakim was the governor of my home state, Imo, one of the 36 states in Nigeria, lying to the South of Nigeria with Owerri as its capital. It’s known to be the heart of Igbo land. Browsing through his (Ohakim’s) page on Facebook and reading notes he occasionally publishes, I found out he was not facing too many challenges since his friends tend to have been opportunistic, job-seeking, vulnerable and gullible Nd’Imo (Imo indigenes) based on the kind of comments I saw about his notes which relates to the well-being of Imo State and Ala-Igbo in general because his three thousand plus so friends at that time came from all around Ala-Igbo and elsewhere in the country. The comments were disturbing when one takes a look at how questions of conduct couldn’t be thrown to the governor. A people subdued.

So, too, going through President Goodluck Jonathan’s Facebook account, everybody seems to agree with what he says. I’m not sure if that is heathy for any democracy. But as it happened, after reading some of Ohakim’s note, I decided to send him a message so I could ask him questions on what he was talking about. I requested for a Q & A Interview. He Okayed it and said I should go ahead and send my questionnaire.

My encounter with Ikedi Ohakim:

March 14, 2010

Subject: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

I would like a scheduled interview with you on a wide range of issues as the state’s Chief Executive. Imo Diaspora would greatly appreciate your kind gesture in letting them know the goings on in the affairs of state. I will send a questionnaire for your response. Let me know the possibilities of this request at your convenience.

Best wishes,

Ambrose Ehirim
Imo Diaspora
Los Angeles, CA

March 19, 2010: From Ikedi Ohakim, Imo State Governor

Many thanks for the message. Kindly send in detail to my email: ikedi.ohakim@imostste.gov.ng

March 31, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

Attached are the questions for you from Imo Diaspora and it would once again be appreciated if the answers are detailed to your utmost best. My attempt to reach Dr. Julius Kpaduwa did not come through as a result of his visiting home. We’ve been in touch every now and then.

Best wishes,

Ambrose Ehirim
Imo Diaspora
Los Angeles, CA

Wed. March 31, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Ehirim,

Many thanks for the mail. Will get back to you soon.

God bless!

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://www.imostate.gov.ng
This email is intended solely for the recipient in the header of the email and may contain confidential or privileged information. If you have received it in error please notify Imo State Government immediately and permanently destroy the email. You must not copy, distribute or take any action in reliance on it. Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with Imo State Government unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement, letter or facsimile signed by zn authorized signatory of the state government

The Attached Questionaire for Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State:

1). What got you into politics and what motivated you?

2). In your own view as Chief Executive of Imo State, is your administration performing as required by the people of Imo State who elected you into office? Tell us why your ratings should go up.

3). You told the people of Imo State that “the outstanding Imo State University Teaching Hospital will be completed this year. The School of Nursing at Owerri and the School of Basic Midwifery at Aboh Mbaise will also be equipped and reaccredited this year”. Based on what you are saying, that’s a becoming conduct required of the state’s chief executive; but we are hearing it’s all political talk. What do you make of what the critics are saying and all the negativity about your administration?

4). On the disturbing scenario of armed robbery and kidnappings that is now pervasive in the state, we hear that lack of creating jobs by your administration for the youth and college graduates has been the backbone to what is now akin to a state of empire and anarchy. That if jobs had been created with opportunities, that the crime rate in the state will drop dramatically. What’s your take on that?

5). Several indigenes of the state have complained about infrastructures in the capital city – that more roads are needed to alleviate the traffic jams, that not much has been done by your administration since you took the oath of office three years ago, for example the construction of an overpass or underpass for through traffic in and around the metropolis and especially by the busy Alvan Ikokwu College of Education. What’s your take on that?

6). Despite the fact that you have been praised for your Clean and Green Initiative to clean up Owerri Township, we now hear that program is going down. What happened?

7). In your recent speech delivered at Igbo Leaders Forum in Owerri, you said “our people are getting tired of too much talk and little action.” Weren’t you referring to yourself and some of your Igbo-related colleagues since your ratings seem to be dropping way beyond expectation?

8). On revenue allocation to the local governments meant for infrastructures, maintenance and improvement strategies to improve basic needs in the areas, such as accessible roads, farming subsidies, equipping the schools, providing adequate medical care by way of establishing dispensary centers and other social programs, we hear no such thing exists and that whatever that was left by previous military and civilian regimes have either decayed or vanished, that the federated accounts is not showing in any of the local governments. How do you hold the local government chairmen and their councilmen responsible for misappropriation of funds?

9). And how are the funds disbursed to the local governments?

10). On World Igbo Congress, it has been obvious the “Igbo Umbrella” has not done much in protecting Igbo interests. Based on that how would you rate World Igbo Congress, and what was your experience like as a keynote speaker in its 2007 convention in Detroit, Michigan?

11). On Igbo Diaspora and its enormous human capital coupled with the ‘brains’ living in advance nations, how do you encourage them to come back home and put their experience to work in building a profound civil and organized Igbo nation?

Be well and good luck!
April 14, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

Just a reminder to see if we are still on track regarding the above subject-matter. I look forward to your response and it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Ambrose Ehirim,
Los Angeles, CA

April 15, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim
Ehirim,

I have replied your questions. Will forward once I get back from my trip.
My apologies.

God bless.

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://imostate.gov.ng

June 30, 2010

From: aehirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

Mr. Governor,

I have been wondering if we lost touch regarding the subject matter when you said over two months ago that your response was in order. Now, a whole lot has changed and Imo Diaspora, including Nd'Igbo all over the globe are not speaking well of your administration, and I am yet to be critical of what I'm being compelled to take on, from around the goings on in Imo State -- the widespread spooky case of kidnapping.

My questionnaire is already old since a whole lot has popped up from the time you Okayed the interview. Let me know what your take is and we can revise all the stuff from the beginning.

Be well!

Ambrose Ehirim,
The Ambrose Ehirim Files
Los Angeles, CA

July 02, 2010

From: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
To: aehirim@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Iked Ohakim

Ehirim,

Many thanks for the mail. There's need to forward a recent interview with NTA which was aired live on the network. How do I get it across to you? It addresses all the questions you raised and even more. Your reply is needed for my aides to forward a copy to you both for duplication and your information.

God Bless

Ikedi G. Ohakim
Governor,
Government House Owerri
Imo State, Nigeria
Email: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Website: http://www.imostate.gov.ng

July 03, 2010
From: ahirim@hotmail.com
To: ikedi.ohakim@imostate.gov.ng
Subject: RE: Q & A Interview for Governor Ikedi Ohakim

If the live interview with NTA is on disc, you can have your aides upload the disc on a computer and forward it to my email address for me to download, or you can have them mail the disc to me. And if it's already on the internet, you can have your aides send me the link.

I look forward to your immediate response and it would be greatly appreciated.

Be well and God Bless!

Ambrose Ehirim,
The Ambrose Ehirim Files
Los Angeles, CA

“Your reply is needed for my aides to forward a copy to you both for duplication and your information” -------Ikedi Ohakim in his last mail to me.

When I had sent the April 14, 2010 mail, he was part of President Goodluck Jonathan's entourage on state visit to the United States.

Well, apparently, what had happened was Ohakim and his regime in Imo State had collaborated with the ruling party, PDP, to have Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) use the questionnaire I furnished to the governor to respond in like manner, but only to be twisted in that NTA interview to prepare the governor for a second term. It did not happen despite all the PDP forces coupled with helps from former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan himself.

The people of Imo spoke; and it’s not yet Uhuru!

Ndigbo and the promise of 2015


By Chuks Ilogbunam, The Nation.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo did not support Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential bid in order that the Igbo would be rewarded with the position of Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. All those commentators claiming that both Ohanaeze and President Jonathan have betrayed Ndigbo will do well to get their bearing right. It is often said that those who miss a burial will start exhuming the corpse foot first, which is abominable in the Igbo worldview. Unfortunately, the Igbo jeremiad on the “missed” position of Speakership hasn’t come from those unaware of what went on; it is simply the noisy dissembling of the tiny fringe that got told, in effect, to shut up in the matter of which candidate Ndigbo must support for the presidency. We cannot allow this unpatriotic fringe to continue playing spoiler.

Witness: In arguing for Ndigbo to support Jonathan’s presidential bid, Ohanaeze Ndigbo articulated its position in the clearest of terms. The umbrella body of the Igbo in Nigeria and in the Diaspora took out copious adverts in the media to make its point. To cite two instances, page 21 of Saturday Champion of October 23, 2010, and page 23 of the Daily Sun of Monday October 25, 2010, carried the Ohanaeze Ndigbo advert entitled Presidential Election And zoning: The Position Of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Signed by the organization’s President-General, Ambassador Raph Uwechue, the 4th and last paragraph of the advert stated as follows: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo firmly believes in the reality and absolute equality of the six zones and holds the view that the topmost executive office in the land – Prime Minister or President – which has eluded the two geopolitical zones of the South-South and South-East since the birth of our nation half a century ago, should now go to them in turn in unbroken succession as a matter of national priority, before any other zone can justly claim the right to a second or third turn. In line with this position, taken after wide consultation over several months, among Igbo people at home and abroad, Ohanaeze Ndigbo confidently urges the Igbo Nation to support en masse a credible, new-generation Presidential candidate that has emerged from the South-South geo-political zone, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.”

Thus, when an Igbo journalist or an Igbo political leader discounts the above and goes singing the jaded song of “betrayal”, it is obvious that insincerity is writ large. Ohanaeze Ndigbo did not tell the Igbo to support President Jonathan so as to get one of their own put up as House Speaker. What Ohanaeze Ndigbo said was and is this clear: Ndigbo will support the South-South in the “credible, new-generation Presidential candidate that has emerged from the geo-political zone, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan”, so that the presidency will thereafter go to the South-East “in unbroken succession as a matter of national priority, before any other zone can justly claim the right to a second or third turn.”

When Ohanaeze Ndigbo articulated this position, it drew the ire of an amorphous society dubbed the Igbo Political forum (IPF) which plastered the media with negative, but ultimately, ineffective propaganda against the umbrella body of the Igbo ethnic group. The IPF was non-existent until the run-up to the presidential election. As a body, the IPF is not known to have held another meeting or taken any position on anything since the landmark ballot. But elements of the body are clearly behind the current campaign to tar Ohanaeze Ndigbo with the brush of betrayal on account of a mere legislative office. When looked at critically, the IPF covets the same goal as the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to wit: the emergence of a President of Nigeria from the South-East geopolitical zone in 2015. The IPF is peopled by politicians who claimed that Atiku or Babangida or Buhari or Ribadu will serve a single presidential term and hand over power to an Igbo successor in 2015. On the contrary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo convinced the Igbo to take the Jonathan route to 2015. With Jonathan’s electoral victory, he is the only route to the Igbo dream of 2015. When people who should pursue this dream choose, instead, to lament a phantom betrayal, it amounts to chasing rats when the homestead is on fire. Therefore, a stop should be put to the ongoing media diatribe against the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

Key point: Igbo unity is preferable than their being fractious but producing Nigeria’s President. Yet, Ndigbo disunited can never make the presidency. As I said in a previous article, “All the wailing and lamentation regarding a ‘missed’ position of House Speaker should cease. The cynosure of all eyes should not dab their face in charcoal. Ndigbo should rather concentrate on those issues that belong to their eventual escape from the status of second class citizenship. This habit of appropriating the media to hector and holler at the drop of every hat, this shouting from the rooftops every twinkle of an eye cannot solve a thing.” The promise of 2015 will succeed only if Ndigbo present a united front. The time is ripe to solidify the previously shattered but now reengineered and rejuvenated esprit de corps between the South-East and the South-East. The time is ripe for the buried bones of the handshake across the Niger to rise again and shine. The time is ripe to look northwards, to explain that what Ndigbo seek can be wrapped up in three ideals: justice, equity and fair play.

The Nigeria of today should have no problems with the theme of justice. If Barrack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, can become the President of the United States of America, only bigots can still insist that the idea of an Igbo president of Nigeria in 2015 is insufferable. Ndigbo fought for this country’s independence. Ndigbo fought to build up this country. They have always been active participants in all positive aspects of Nigeria’s development, except at the apex of its leadership, where they have deliberately been kept out by prejudicial considerations. Therefore, Ndigbo have got to enjoy all the rights and privileges attendant to Nigerian citizenship. But Ndigbo must be united. Once all concerned appreciate and respect this imperative, the groundswell for justice in the matter of an Igbo president of Nigeria will gain ascendancy.

The late nationalist, Chief Anthony Enahoro, supported the idea of an Igbo President of Nigeria. (See the New Age newspaper of November 2, 2004.) The late Alhaji Wada Nas, a former Federal Minister from the north, supported the idea of an Igbo President of Nigeria. (See the Vanguard newspaper of Monday July 12, 2004.) General Yakubu Gowon, a former Nigerian Head of State, supports the idea of an Igbo President of Nigeria. (See the Daily Champion newspaper of November 3, 2004.) Dr. Frederick Fasehun, the leader of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), supports the idea of an Igbo President of Nigeria. (See the Daily Champion of Monday July 26, 2004.) Most importantly, the new generation of Nigerians, those who trooped out in the millions to elect Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria’s President, are irreversibly free from the shackles of prejudice and political bigotry. All this means one thing: If Ndigbo gets their act together, the promise of 2015 will be redeemed.

• Iloegbunam is author of The Case for an Igbo President of Nigeria.