By Dele Sobowale
“Some are born great; others achieve greatness; some have greatness thrust upon them.” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
First of all, accept my very sincere congratulations on your election as the President of Ohanaze Ndigbo worldwide. By God’s grace, you have now acquired legitimately the right and privilege to help shape the destinies of millions of fellow Nigerians, not just Igbo, now and in the future.
Few human beings are ever as fortunate and as burdened as you are now. The Almighty God in his infinite wisdom will be your guide first, second and last in every decision you take and everything you do.
“Leadership is always somewhat mysterious. Leadership can be summed up in two words: intelligence and integrity; or its synonyms – competence and character.” US Congressman John Brademas.
VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS VBQ, p 125.
Honestly, I was extremely happy when you emerged as President. The Igbo people have made my task much easier.
They have given me a leader I can follow – almost blind-folded. With me, that is not always easy. Only three Nigerians have achieved that status.
First is the Publisher of VANGUARD, our own incomparable Uncle Sam. Until I got to VANGUARD, I averaged two years in any company for which I worked. I spent 14 years with Uncle Sam – even though the salary was the worst ever.
There must be a reason. Second is Obong Victor Attah, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State – the Father of Modern Akwa Ibom State who I signed on to follow long before we met.
An incredible leader and an alumnus of Columbia University, USA, like you. The third is the President of my class at Igbobi College, Yaba – St Sir Segun George, KJW. If asked to name one miracle of God’s redemption of a former sinner, I will not hesitate to name St Segun. He will enter heaven as surely as the thief on the right side of Jesus.
I am by nature very rebellious. That would give the impression that people like me are difficult to lead. That is not totally correct. We are both the most difficult and the easiest followers a leader can have; if only he demonstrates intelligence and integrity virtually all the time. We can easily see through pretences and hypocrisy and we reject leaders exhibiting those characteristics – openly.
Prof, it requires a lot of intelligence to attend Columbia; I studied in the USA myself as an ASPAU scholar. So, at least you have the intellectual experience and the career exposure to lead Ohaneze at this time.
I have asked around and the endorsement of your character has been unanimous. So, like Obong Attah, you are assured of my full support in one, and perhaps the most important, item on the Igbo agenda – Igbo President in 2023. There might be one or two others from the South East. But, I am convinced you have the national and international network to build a coalition of Nigerians from all the ethnic groups – known and still to be documented – to bring about a Nigerian President who is an Igbo.
Of course, you know I am not an Igbo person; none of my parents and grand parents was Igbo. Ordinarily, that should not make Igbo Presidency my business.
But, I have made it my business for reasons to be explained soon. Making Igbo Presidency in 2023 my goal and you as President of Ohaneze have made us allies in that quest for justice. I welcome the partnership. Here is why.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, 1929 -1968.
In almost thirty years of writing this column, few issues I had advocated had been as strongly resisted as Igbo Presidency by people from other ethnic groups. Even many of my own people in the South West are adamant that an Igbo person cannot or should not be President for various reasons. The most pervasive are: they are too tribalistic; he will work to create Republic of Biafra, they have no candidate acceptable to all Nigerians and all the major appointments will go to Igbo.
This is not the forum to refute all the bogus accusations one by one. I just want to extend a handshake across the Niger. But, today I will take on one of the objections to Igbo Presidency 2023.
A group of 34 gallant men – called G34—formed the nucleus of the Peoples Democratic Party. The thirty-four were: Dr Alex Ekwueme, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Chief Solomon Lar, Malam Adamu Ciroma, Dr Tunji Otegbeye, Professor Jerry Gana, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Dr Iyorcha Ayu.
Others were Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Col. Abubakar Umar rtd, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Alhaji Mohammed Arzika, Alhaji Sule Kumo, Alhaji Lawal Danbanzau, Malam Iro Dan Musa, Alhaji Farouk Abdulazeez, Alhaji Musa Yakubu, Mr Steve Achena, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Chief Oyeabo Obi, Chief Francis Ellah, Chief Emeka Echeruo, Major-General Zamani Lekwot, Mr Basil Ukaegbu, Mr Isaac Shaáhu,Malam Mahmud Waziri, Mr Dangana Nfayako, Dr Usman Baguje and Obong Victor Attah.
The G-34 were not only among the most courageous Nigerians in the last decade of the last century, Dr Alex Ekwueme was brave beyond words.
Anyone would have thought that an Igbo man who was in detention under the draconian rule of Buhari would stay clear of the demonic Sani Abacha. But, Ekwueme rose to the occasion and led 33 others to demand that Abacha should quit. He was well on the way to becoming the presidential flag-bearer of the PDP until the military intervened, woke up “Lazarus” and imposed Obasanjo.
We are all suffering the consequences of the unfortunate military measure today.
In 1998, I was not the only one praying for the success of Ekwueme; millions of Nigerians from all ethnic groups were. Was it because we were not privy to the negative comments about Igbo people? Not at all.
The man stood head and shoulders above everybody else in contention at the time. Patriotism and logic dictated nobody else.
For me, there was another reason just as sacred and valid. I strongly believed that the election of Ekwueme would have in one stroke healed all the festering sores of the civil war. Gowon’s declaration of “No victor, no vanquished” would have acquired concrete meaning.
I still regret we missed the chance in 1998/9. I am happy to be alive today and to still have this forum to continue the campaign started 22 years ago. I hope we succeed this time; so I can move on to something else – God permitting.
To be continued…
COME OVER TO MASSEY AND HELP THEM
“If no one does it for you, JESUS will do it for you.”
Massey Morning Daily Praying Band, Lagos Island.
The inter-denominational prayer house was formed in 1939 by six women attending Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Catholic Churches in Lagos Island. They all had one thing in common – their husbands or brothers were drafted by the British to fight in World War II abroad.
It was a traumatic experience. My mother was one of them. My father was in the same Royal Air Force unit with late Dr Tai Solarin in Burma. With no other helper they turned to Jesus every morning for the safe return of those who faced death.
Miraculously, all the combatants from our area of Lagos returned safely. My Daddy was one of them.
The prayer house remains opened till today; but, for years most of the members have been old people from my generation. At 76+, I am not even the fourth oldest member. However, since 1990, I had undertaken to print a calendar each year for the members – until this year. On account of a combination of accident, eye operation and operation for prostate cancer, as well as COVID-19 financial melt-down, it was impossible for me to print the calendars for 2021. Consequentially, I have never seen so many unhappy old people in my life.
Incidentally, copies of the calendars go to General Hospitals, Old Peoples Homes, prisons, and Motherless Babies Homes. We have received calls from them.
I am not asking for rice, cooking oil or palliatives. They don’t want those; only your help to print 1500 calendars and distribute to those who treasure them more than money.
Consequently, there are two options. You can print 1500 calendars and send to us; or, you can help with money to print the 2021 calendars. Either way, please call 0708-137-2829.
Somehow, I will resume with the 2022 calendar – God sparing all our lives. Thank you very much in advance.