Opinion: The charlatans among the Igbo elites

by Ebere Wabara

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It is only in South East that 37 aspirants—mostly nincompoops and frauds—will jostle for a governorship position in a particular state.

There is unmitigated charlatanism among the political elite from the South East axis. They conduct themselves in a spineless and inarticulate manner that you wonder if they know anything about political philosophy, ideology and strategy. For them, anything goes especially when there is lolly. My people in politics do not stand for anything—wherever the wind blows them they go sheepishly. This explains why other ethnic nationalities play games with them, endlessly!

The charlatanism and opportunism cascade from the National Assembly to political appointments, state governorship, aspiration for political offices, local government administration, and contributions to national political discourses and re-engineering. Apart from 2015 gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, whose only function in the Senate is to justify their jumbo pay and allowances, the highest in the world, you hardly hear or read any critical intervention from the Igbo caucus as individuals or as a collective. The same horrendously disappointing scenario plays out in the lower chamber even with some of them as former editors that should have been very vocal in the parliament. Their counterparts from other parts of the country make vibrant contributions in the hallowed chambers. Membership of committees which someone tried futilely to impress on me is so rudimentary as to constitute a key performance threshold. As far as I am concerned, there is so much parliamentary docility informed by naivety on the part of South East representatives at the National Assembly. It should not even be a surprise if consideration is given to the pedigree of most of these lawmakers: suspected drug barons, notorious scammers, nondescript businessmen of questionable antecedents, nebulous academic profiles of some of the legislators and other unwholesome characterisations! Parliamentarians from the other parts of the country obviously are doing far better than their Ndigbo colleagues in terms of legislative activism! No longer do we have the calibre of the Oyi of Oyi, the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, a respected, highly cerebral, colourful and pleasantly intimidating senator.

You take ministers and other appointees from this zone. Most times, the best are not considered for such offices because the power brokers, particularly governors, nominate their acolytes and lackeys for such national assignments. So, at the end of the day, performance is below expectation and at the slightest opportunity, they are dropped ignominiously, usually. This is despite the fact that we have a superfluity of professionals with profound competencies and robust experiences.

The state governors of today are worse than their immediate predecessors in office in the history of the South East. The Abia State Governor Theodore Orji has spent all his time fighting his former eight-year boss and predecessor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who, single-handed, enthroned him! Dr. Kalu, in his own time, tried to civilize the obdurate and vindictive Otta bully, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and consequently denied the state federal developmental initiatives it needed greatly. If traitorous Theodore Orji is not busy abusing Dr. Kalu, he is clownishly clamouring for President Goodluck Jonathan’s encore on account of Dame Patience Jonathan’s college relationship with the governor’s wife—not because of Jonathan’s credentials! Meanwhile, nothing is happening in Abia State except “Ochendu Vanguard” whose only official duty is all-day propaganda using a surfeit of buses like gangsters!

If this is not taking place, the governor’s son and alternate-governor will be busy terrorising Abians with police vehicular entourage longer than those of three governors put together! Of course, journalists in the state have been brainwashed, while the state media operatives perpetually indulge in round-the-clock hero-worshipping! Professionalism is crap to them! The roads in Abia State remind one of post-Samuel Doe worn-torn Liberia. As you read this, Theodore Orji is preparing to be a senator after his disastrous tenure as Abia State governor! This further confirms the despicable quality of parliamentary representation from the South East. A man mocks around tragically for two terms as governor and proceeds to the senate thereafter in anticipatory retirement from active politics!

And for the maverick Imo State Governor and defection exemplar, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, if he is not defecting from one party to another, he will be in Lagos or Abuja attending social events in conjunction with a superfluity of aides. When he returns to base, he engages his Abia State colleague in a childish combat over right of way! Rochas has so trivialized governance that you wonder whether politics is a charade. For him, any slight vehicular mishap results in medical tourism!

The Ebonyi and Enugu state governors, Martin Elechi and Sullivan Chime, respectively, are so drab and tepid that most times you forget who they are! Just like their boisterous and garrulous colleagues, there is nothing to distinguish them apart from taciturnity. Scarcely do you feel them by any measure except, perhaps, when issues pertaining to their health come to the fore or disagreement with Abuja-based politicians from their states.

Of all the South East governors, it is only suave Peter Obi of Anambra State whose sterling and incontrovertible performance reminds one of the glorious days of the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe as governor of the old Imo State. Ever since De Sam’s exit, the South East has not known superlative leadership at the state level anymore apart from Obi’s manifest efforts at recreating such developmental paradigms. Obi’s fading clan of critics will tell you that my assessment of him is jaundiced because they, naturally, have issues with him. Give it to such people, too. But on a comparative note, Obi is not on the same pedestal with his South East colleagues in terms of physical accomplishments and unprecedented epochal cordiality with President Goodluck Jonathan for fruitful zonal transformation: he clearly towers above them. If you doubt me on Obi and, indeed, the foregoing subjects, let us embark on independent/self-sponsored facility tours of the five states as an evaluative team and equally hold interactive sessions with the indigenes on ground. Lest I am misconstrued, Obi is not perfect—as no human being is, anyway—but he immeasurably betters South East colleagues of his.

It is only in South East that 37 aspirants—mostly nincompoops and frauds—will jostle for a governorship position in a particular state. At the presidential level, too, zone the office to the region and risk multitudinous aspirations. Everyone wants to be the president even when there is ample evidence of emptiness of almost all the contestants, who cannot even qualify for councillorship polls! What is the matter with Ndigbo? Why can’t we get our act together?  The misperception by other ethnic groups that we are slavish to money which affects our disposition and attitudinal inclination must change.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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