“What gains? All you have gotten is tokenism — one or two Negroes in a job, or at a lunch counter, so the rest of you will be quiet.”
Those were the words of iconic Black Activist, Malcom X in 1963 when he was asked to enumerate the gains of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Today in Nigeria, the governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Umahi has hit the road more that 50 years later to canvass that Ndigbo should embrace tokenism as a way of life.
For Mr. Umahi the Igbo people should be content with whatever crumb that falls off the dining table of President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government of Nigeria.
Umahi obviously does not see the five Southeast States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo as federating units with constitutionally guaranteed rights and benefits in the Nigeria project.
Therefore, in Umahi’s mind, we should be grateful for anything that comes to us!
In a recent interview in the Vanguard newspaper, Governor Umahi’s Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji reiterated his principal’s weird notion that Buhari’s government has benefitted Ndigbo in the last five years much more than the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway in Aso Rock Villa.
“I can say authoritatively that we have had a fair-play under this administration in terms of economic development and infrastructure.”
“The Akanu Ibiam International airport rehabilitation, the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Enugu Port-Harcourt expressway and other infrastructures. These are indications that this administration is helping a lot more than ever,” Mr. Orji told Vanguard newspaper in Lagos last week.
Mr. Umahi, since November 2020 when he carried through his lone ranger defection from the PDP to the ruling APC, has been propounding all manners of unfounded theories to support his defection as if anyone was quarrelling with his personal decision.
He has instructed all his political appointees in Ebonyi State to tell anyone that cares to listen that his decision to leave his former party, the PDP was due to “marginalization” of Ndigbo and “refusal” of the PDP to zone the 2023 presidential ticket of the party to the Southeast zone.
However, for the benefit of the public it has become important to place some facts before us all, just in case anyone took Umahi’s theatrics seriously.
It is baffling that Umahi, a man who was brought from political obscurity and nothingness to prominence by the PDP can now embark on a trip to discredit the same party that made him.
Umahi in his assessment of President Buhari as “the best Nigeria has ever had” as far as Igboland was concerned conveniently forgot where he was coming from.
The Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu (AIIA) on which he hinges his weird assessment was upgraded to International Airport status by the PDP government of President Goodluck Jonathan whose government remodeled and expanded the airport in 2010. The PDP government started the International Terminal of the airport which the Buhari Government has now abandoned.
Just to prove a point, Mr. Umahi who grandstands as the Chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum led the Aviation Minister to Commission an uncompleted AIIA and today all rehabilitation works in that airport is on hold, passengers and their relatives and loved ones are daily exposed to the elements while waiting for their flights.
It has been an open fact that over 55% of all containers coming into Nigeria end up in Onitsha. This fact perhaps informed the PDP-led government of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 to restart the Onitsha Inland Port, which was initially built in 1983 by the Shagari/Ekwueme administration. The job was completed and commissioned and ready for use when the APC government happened and all the lofty dreams that could have turned around the economy of the Southeast region was gone with the winds as the Inland Port was promptly abandoned by the Buhari administration.
Again, Umahi has quickly forgotten what Onitsha-Owerri road used to be before the PDP government intervened and totally reconstructed the road in 2012. Umahi’s selective amnesia also struck hard as he forgot that the PDP government established the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo, in Ebonyi State which is today the only functional university in the state he currently governs.
As at today, there are less than 15 medical doctors in the payroll of Ebonyi State Government and the over two million residents of Ebonyi State solely depend on the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) and its outstations which could not have been possible without the PDP government.
Perhaps the longest road in southern Nigeria, the Trans-Africa Highway which runs through Enugu (Enugu State), Abakaliki (Ebonyi State), Ogoja/Ikom/Mfum(Cross River State) to Cameroon, which cost N31 billion, was constructed by the PDP government. The road remains the most stable road in the Southeast till date.
In fact, the roads in Ebonyi state which date back to the time Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, some of which pass through the compound of Mr. Umahi, were all constructed by the PDP government.
The Alaoji Power Plant near Aba, Abia State was specifically conceived under the administration of the PDP to power the economy of the Southeast by rejuvenating the enterprising spirit of Aba though already completed under the PDP-led federal government has since been abandoned. The power project was already completed and was merely waiting to be energized, but as soon as the President Buhari-led APC government happened, the project was frustrated with billions of dollars invested by private individuals and organisation gone to the winds. Yet, Mr. Umahi believes that Ndigbo are now in an Eldorado!
Nigeria today is more divided than it has ever been since 1914. Not even during the Nigeria/Biafra civil war was Nigeria as fragmented as we are witnessing today, thanks to President Buhari’s government of exclusivity.
During the PDP years, it’s important to remind Mr. David Umahi and his co travelers that Ndigbo were indeed part of Nigeria and Ndigbo felt it that they were also Nigerians. It was during the time of the PDP that Igbo sons and daughters were given opportunities to contribute their quota in the growth and progress of their country Nigeria.
For instance, during the PDP years in Aso Rock Villa, an Igbo man emerged for the first time, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministers of Finance, Education, Aviation etc.
What more, within the 16 year PDP government of Nigeria, Maj. Gen. Obi Umahi (Rtd) was appointed the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigeria Army. Similarly, the PDP government further broke the jinx as Mr. Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo, an Nkanu man from Enugu State was in 2009 appointed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), a first proudly recorded by the PDP.
Under the Buhari-led APC federal government, no Igbo man or woman has been found worthy to occupy any strategic national office, not even in the National Assembly, Ndigbo, their elected representatives even in the APC.
Contrary to Governor David Umahi’s gospel of Eldorado, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has brought untold hardship on Nigerians as all indices of basic life-enhancing amenities have all broken down.
Today one British pound exchanges for over N600, while one US Dollar hovers around N500! Ndigbo are well known globally for their ingenuity in trade related matters, today under President Muhammadu Buhari, the economic power of Ndigbo have been shrunk to the abyss of nothingness through the evil stifling monetary policies combined with uncontrolled inflation that have headlined the Buhari administration in last five years. But then Mr. Umahi will not even look that way because he thinks in cement and gravel!
Just last week, Umahi’s colleague, Mr. Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State was brutally attacked by AK47-weilding “herders,” just as they (herders) took over the expansive premises of Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Abakaliki. Insecurity pervades Nigeria today, the Eldorado Umahi whishes that Nigerians remain in.
Nigeria is now home to perhaps the deadliest terrorist group in the world. Bandits, kidnappers and armed and brutal herdsmen are over running all parts of the country, yet Umahi believes that Ndigbo are now living their best lives.
The prices of commodities have all risen beyond what an average Nigerian can afford – petrol now sells for between N175 and N250 per litre, the power sector is prostrate, just like the health and educational sectors have all completely collapsed, yet in Umahi’s mind Ndigbo now lives their best lives in the history of Nigeria.
It is important to remind governor David Umahi that posterity beckons as there is life after government house. The Nigerian constitution already guarantees freedom of association for all Nigerians and he (Umahi) has chosen what association he wishes to belong to – the APC. He should move on and let those who have chosen to remain in the PDP be.
Nigerians are already counting down to the exit of this Buhari government- less than 700 days already!
We urge Nigerians to keep faith and remain undaunted because as a nation, we are stronger together, we cannot be broken and soon, very soon, Nigerians will go to the polls to recover their country from the cankerworm called the APC.
SSA, Media and Publicity to the National Vice Chairman, PDP, Southeast Zone
March 24, 2021
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