Friday, November 28, 2008

Anambra State: Parochial Interests Versus Nigerian National Interests?

Anambra State: Parochial Interests Versus Nigerian National Interests?


Paul I. Adujie

New York, United States

The events of last week in Anambra state has prompted me to wonder and I have been asking the following questions, where is the World Igbo Congress? Ohaneze Ndigbo? MASSOB? Where are the juggernauts? Why the deafening decibels of silence?

Anambra state, last week witnessed the unbridled display of animal and primordial instincts by some politicians and their sponsors! (Also known as godfathers!) Anyone who has read about Anambra state’s tales of extreme political brigandage and woes, would be forgiven if she draws too many similarities with organized crime like the notorious Mafia gangs!

Mafiosi and Mafioso do not like to be made to look ridiculous! Their specific instructions must be obeyed to the letter, or heads would roll! The godfather? sponsors a political candidate and wants the commissioners he has hand picked, and the governor or beneficiary wants to renege on the deal? Disobeying the Boss’s orders? Lookee herre! Its payback time! Is Chris Uba a better judge of flawed and imperfect elections? Are Brigands better than flawed and imperfect elections? A symbol of the people in a state in Nigeria is abducted and kidnapped just like that?

What happened in Anambra state is more egregious and better than organized crime tales! And even better than fictional tales in novels and the movies! Some Nigerians are already asking whether political godfathers as we have had in Anambra state in the last four years and the sour turn of events of earthquake proportions of sorts? Is last week outrage, a localized idiocy in Anambra, or whether it is replicable and can be extrapolated by factor of 35 more states?

Political contributions and underwriting the financial burdens of political candidates are legal in most parts of the world, and specifically in Nigeria and America; which are two countries that I am very conversant with, In America, there is this endless and perennial debates about campaign finance reform, and the necessity of imposing a limit as to the amount and magnitude of resources that a single individual or corporation can contribute to a candidate and or political party (political contributors seek to affect public policy slants or plum jobs and or such other favors?) Therefore, political patronage is not unusual phenomenon worldwide.

Perhaps, Nigeria needs to, as the Americans? Begin this debate, in connection with strict rules and parameters or criteria for campaign financing and contributions in earnest! How much is too much? For the purpose of monetary political contributions and undue influence? When does political support and financing becomes corruptive influence? When and how should Nigeria determine conflicts of interests that are likely to arise from unfettered political sponsorship, campaign finance contributions and the overbearing godfather antics and brigandage akin to what Anambra has just experienced? A whopping 3 Billion Naira! What is the annual budget of Anambra state?

How much political patronage is too much? How shall Nigerians measure state and national interests against contractor politics? If you pay for my elections, I shall give you the keys to the government house? And you shall have veto powers over national security issues? You will appoint my advisers? Personal Assistants? Commissioners or Ministers?

There are some good things that have come out of the events in Anambra! Key among them, is the seeming unity and cohesion with which all Nigerians have rejected and repudiated the apparent gangster attitude of those who carried out the abduction and kidnapping of Dr. Ngige, a seating governor of Anambra state! The fact that all the governors of the remaining 35 states of the federation, regardless of political party affiliations, regardless of region and religion, ethnicities and the usual divides etc, have reaffirmed their faith in democracy in Nigeria (even if self-serving?) The unison repudiating these criminalities of those who perpetuated these act, is a source of comfort, in the midst of these political hijackings and chaos in Anambra state!

Recently, it have been the case, that different parochial organizations have sought to usurp national unity and cohesion, by taking over political discourse and making national issues out to be ethnic schisms, by reducing Nigerian issues to ethnic hegemony, dominance, marginalization and resource control! These, instead of looking at our Nigerian national issues from the prism of one nation, one country and one people, facing challenges together and seeking workable solutions to these challenges, as one collective and one united people! (Too many have been beating drums for disintegration and war!

Too many Nigerians have in recent times, sought to exploit, negatively, what ought to be the benefits, mutual benefits of Nigeria’s diversity! I have in recent times read statements from the flamboyant World Igbo Congress, Ohaneze Ndigbo and MASSOB etc, dealing with Nigeria’s national issues solely, from their "assumed unfinished business" of Biafra!

There are those who have sought to portray the challenges in Nigeria, as if, it is all the faults of other ethnic groups only! It is my view instead, that the biggest challenge we face and perhaps will continue to face? Is this pervasive and permeating attitude among some Nigerians, which presupposes that members of their family or ethnic group are perfect and flawless, whereas, the Nigerian malaise is the fault of all other ethnic groups, but theirs! If only their ethnic group was in-charge of the central bank or the presidency or NNPC and whatever else! The truth is, no Nigerian ethnic group is guiltless!

Some Nigerian Southerners, have become so accustomed to blaming their woes on the Nigerian Northerners! But now, perhaps, it is time to ask, whether the fractious Enugu House of Assembly and their imbroglio of the last four years, that saw factional and parallel House of Assembly of Enugu state, meeting in Enugu and Abuja simultaneously? Had anything to do with Resource Control? Marginalization? Or is it the proverbially powerful Hausa/Fulani or Yoruba hegemonies? Hegemonies and dominance where is thy sting? Is human greed, political greed universal to the Nigerian political class?

Too often, Hausa Fulani Oligarchy is blamed or accused of causing desertification in the Northern parts of Nigeria and also accused of excess rainfall, erosion and flooding in the Southern parts of Nigeria, but currently, no one has pinpointed (the seen and unseen hands) of the Oligarchic Hausa Fulani in the sorry state of political affairs of Anambra and Enugu states in the last four years of Nigeria’s revived democracy! (You will think that the most intelligent, and industrious parts of Nigeria? That is unfairly denied federal political opportunities, hence appellation of being the most marginalized parts of Nigeria?) Would at least manage their unit or neck of the woods, admirably and demonstrably well? As proof of what it could have been? For the entire peoples Nigeria? Had the citizens of the very marginalized parts been in-charge at the center? Or at the federal level in Nigeria?

What has marginalization got to do with these events? Bickering factions, fractious behaviors and coup plotting against seating governor? Shall we now talk about Nigeria as one entity or continue to pretend that one side is superior and the other side is responsible for all Nigeria’s problems? What do we do now?

What has Hausa/Fulani or Northerners got to do with these shameful developments?
Did everybody not insist? That Nigeria is where it is, because of Hausa/Fulani Oligarchs?

Is Chris Uba not an indigene of Anambra state? Is he not Oligarchic Ndigbo-man? What do we now make of this Anambra fractious political magic? Only those who lack respect for democracy, rule of law and due process will engage in abduction and kidnapping or the barbarity of coups! Power drunk? Money intoxication? Above the law! Blame others?

Why is it, always other peoples’ faults? Nigerians must begin to see national problems as such! In all states, challenges abounds, Nigerians must begin to fathom solutions for Nigeria!

Some Nigerians have been insisting and keep insisting, that everything is okay in their ethnic group and home state, except "the other ethnic groups" except the other "states"?
The people of my hometown are angels!!!!!!!!?????????

Now, do some Nigerians still think that Nigeria’s national imperfections are caused by particular ethnic groups or by all of Nigeria’s political leadership class, from East, West North and in-between? Is it ever possible that political opportunism exists all over Nigeria? I hope the holier than thy ethnic group will stop? So we will tackle Nigerian issues? Or is it not clear that, it is just the political class who are essentially struggling to apportion limited resources for themselves and their personal use and aggrandizements?

As I have written in the past, all Nigerians would do well to start to work individually and collectively in efforts to resolve the challenges that we face as one country/nation, Nigerians must learn anew, to exemplify the benefits of our diversities, instead of the futility and shoot yourself-in-the-foot attitude of emphasizing our differences!

It is almost one week since the unsuccessful criminal enterprise of abducting and kidnapping of Governor Ngige by his own people, where in the world are the public statements of ringing endorsements or condemnations of these sad, shameful and embarrassing events by the usually very vocal World Igbo Congress! Ohaneze Ndigbo? And their equally very angry and "revolutionary" MASSOB compatriots?

I take the view that we have one country, one nation with challenges and cultures and systems and processes needing reform and fine-tuning! Pointing fingers at other groups as the imperfect ones would not help to change Nigeria into what we all want! All Nigerians at home and abroad, citizenry and leadership need new political culture, imbibing national unity, democracy, due process, enthroning the rule of law!

All Nigerians must channel and rededicate efforts and energies for One Nigeria!

July 2003

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