“The most powerful tool of a sycophant is eulogy.” – Shaheer Rafi. And ”The Fifth Columnists are the dysfunctional chameleons.” –Mohammad Mustafa
It is necessary to determine early in this piece the two most worrisome viruses holding down Igbo leaders and their politics. They are the sycophants and traitors, saboteurs or underminers. Their character is often unctuous, often disgusting towards someone important to gain an advantage. The fifth columnists are groups or individuals who by their utterances and mien undermine the group’s or national interest from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or another nation for self-gain.
Also, it is necessary to explain that being in opposition or having contrary views is no problem at all. You become a fifth columnist and or a sycophant when you decide to make yourself a slave boy to undermine your people. It is egalitarian and a measure of sophistication and dynamism to have varying views on issues.
On the contrary, fifth columnists, like sycophants, are directly linked with treachery, bad faith, duplicity, perfidiousness, double-dealing, and breach of trust. It is more related to betrayal and sabotage. Fifth columnists and sycophants are the direct antithesis of progress and development. They undermine public good because they are largely driven by self and greed.
Do the Igbo have them? Yes, they do have them in large measure. The coming question then would be, why should anybody want to undermine his people? The reason for such a loathsome attitude is varied, it could be for pecuniary gains. It could also be a security measure to keep a job held at the mercy of someone or to seek favour for a particular gain. Either way, they remain selfish and should be shunned.
Perhaps, the most visible Igbo fifth columnist or sycophant today is one Nnewi-born man who on finding favour with Lagos political ruling class has chosen to keep his favour, thereby being anti-Igbo in many ramifications. The Igbo, by their nature, will never discourage their people from mixing up with others, being one of the most travelled tribes in the world. This is probably why it is said that anywhere you cannot find an Igbo, run, run away, for there is fire on the mountain. But is there any place on earth that is uninhabitable to the Igbo in the pursuit of commercial gain? The Igbo with such proclivity always encourage their people to mix up both horizontally and vertically, but must always think home. East or West, home is the best, according to a popular adage. What Ndigbo blatantly detest is doing anything directly or indirectly that may undermine the fortunes of the homeland in any way. Because of this “think home” mentality, the South East bloc is always saturated with activities during the Yuletide, particularly Christmas and New Year. The most sophisticated villages in Nigeria today are in Igboland because of “think home.”
Notwithstanding these positives, we still have underminers in our midst, who insidiously erode and attenuate the effectiveness of their people. The reason they exist is that the rest of the country has ganged up to keep the Igbo out of political power and has dubiously taken advantage of compromising the fickle-minded ones within to undermine their origins. Some of them may not be compromised properly but lack the courage to stand by the people who are not dispensing favours.
After such a long denial of political power in the country, many Igbo have been caught up in an inferiority complex which has now eaten deep into them. Under every regime, we note them as they say unrealistic things, often injurious or unhelpful to the collective cause just to please the ruling class or new political benefactors.
Otherwise, how can one explain this provocative eulogising of Muhammadu Buhari at the tail end of his anti-Igbo regime by no less a person than the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu?
Buhari does not deserve any ingratiating or grovelling by any Igbo leader worth his salt, he unapologetically refused to respect Ndigbo as a viable part of the nation. Instead, he denigrated Ndigbo as a dot in a circle. Despite that, Iwuanyanwu in the vexatious and pesky utterance said this of Buhari: “When he took office, we were not happy, but today at the point of departure, things have changed, and we are happy…we are very grateful, and I want him to realise that he is an Igbo man, and our son.”
Surely, Buhari was embarrassed by the undeserved compliments because he knew the unspoken truth. While the Buhari presidency is now history, the pain he left behind in the election that threw up Tinubu remains regrettable.
As if Iwuanyanwu’s blunder [way more than a mistake] is not worth forgiving and never to be repeated by anybody, the Governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Soludo, recently jumped up to announce Bola Tinubu’s era as the best for Ndigbo, even said that it has never been so good and they do not deserve what they got. Here is the Professor of Economics, former World Bank wizard, and former Central Bank of Nigeria governor sycophancy, thumbing down his people in his understanding of politics. By his assertion, the South East does not deserve anything from Tinubu because the people did not vote for him. This is outside the time-tested political wisdom that division ends with electioneering.
“In politics, you don’t get what you deserve but what you bargain for with votes. Given the totality of votes we contributed from the South East and looking at the ministerial portfolios, we may not have the basis to begin to demand “juicy” portfolios, but the president graciously gave us one of our finest and best.”
Recall that Soludo who is now singing the Tinubu hosanna did not look his way during the electioneering when his political clairvoyant misread the politics and directed him to dump his brother Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Tinubu to embrace PDP’s Atiku Abubakar. He went further to say that his brother was wasting time and should jettison his ambition. That did not happen. Instead, his party was dumped in his state with him on the gubernatorial saddle and none of Atiku’s men won anything. Now, he has switched to Tinubu, believing that through him his second term would be sealed and delivered.
Why should he border with the voters for his second term when the new sheriff in town is showing that grabbing and running away with power is possible without the people? What does it take, enough dollars not valueless naira for INEC, security operatives, and of course the judiciary to cement it? People do not matter in the emerging dispensation and Prof Soludo can’t wait to join the winning team irrespective of the method.
Prof Soludo may be a wizard in Economics but over time he has proved to be very deficient in political wisdom. His first attempt of wanting to be Governor of Anambra under the PDP platform had seen him return to the state, arrogantly clutching an endorsement from the then godfather of PDP, the late Tony Anenih in Abuja, who had then fixed him as the next governor. But he received a shocker from Anambrians who dumped him. He eventually got it when he came home and embraced the people but on getting it he moved again in search of external power disregarding the people. Whether or not Soludo agrees, his decision to attack Obi has fatally damaged his politics. Tinubu whom Soludo now worships and describes as godsend for the South East appointed 48 ministers and South East got just five while other zones got a minimum of seven and above. As the Senate rejected three of the 48, leaving 45 and two more appointed bringing it to 47, South East was still ignored despite a promise of intervention from the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio to prevent South East legislators’ public protest. Yet, in all this and the way appointments have been going, Soludo believes Tinubu is the best to happen to the Igbo the way Iwuanyanwu adopted Buhari as a true Igbo son for a good job.
The question is how did we get here. The obvious answer is, we have been made to believe that political power is not within our reach…that we must remain subservient. Some believe that when the giver of the power decides to look the way of the South East, it will come to those who worship and adore them and not the person with mass following.
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu one of Nigeria’s most disciplined politician followed them all through his political life and got dumped in the end. Dave Umahi received a promise and even dumped his party to join them and still got dumped like Dr Onu. If you are playing the fifth columnist against your people, how do you feel you can be trusted by the people using you? If Peter Obi with all his populist following is so treated because he is Igbo, you without your own people’s support are expecting to be treated differently. The best you can get is a smokescreen job as given to Umahi who as Minister of Works will only be a project inspector, as contract award and payment will be handled by Lagos cabals in the Aso Rock Villa. If I were Umahi I would try to take a tutorial from one Igbokwe who has been running errands for the Lagos mafia and who is at present clearing gutters in Lagos. To summarise, the Igbo should stop bringing their people down in the name of currying favour from the current helmsman. The only ethnic group that can exist today without the government is the Igbo because they know how they engage themselves. The Igbo have a second address, politics is secondary, not primary. When you hear them say the Igbo do not know politics, they can’t build bridges, its because they do not see them loitering around them begging for appointments. Why should you be a carpet-sitting boy if your agenda is to serve the people? Why should you, if you have something to contribute that the people want?
History is a witness that all fifth columnists lose in the end because you cannot eat your cake and have it. No! If you fail to stick to your people and feel that undermining them is the best political strategy, look back at history. All those who sabotaged Igbo interests ended up in regret. History has always favoured the faithful, those who stick with their people through thick and thin. Look back at all those who sabotaged Biafra when most Igbos endorsed it during the civil war. How did they fare?
There is a spirit in Igboland that abhors sabotage. Remember Ajie Ukpabi Asika and his offspring? Let’s stay strong with our people in good and in bad times because no condition is permanent, including the plight of Ndigbo in Nigeria. God help us.