A former Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries Plc and immediate past Chairman of the National Population Commission, Festus Odimegwu, has written a lengthy article endorsing the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, and explaining why he is the best man for the nation’s top job as Nigeria grapples with political, security and economic challenges.
Mr. Odimegwu was an appointee of President Goodluck Jonathan after he helped rally the organised private sector to support the enthronement of the Umaru Yar’Adua presidency in which Mr. Jonathan served as vice president.
He remained close to Mr. Jonathan, who appointed him chairman of the National Population Commission. He however left the position in controversial circumstances after he made comments considered critical of a section of the country.
He has kept a distance from the Presidency and the administration ever since.
In his endorsement of Mr. Buhari Saturday, Mr. Odimegwu said, “Countries without the likes of Buhari in power ultimately perishes. There are really no other options to greatness than through great leaders. Buhari has the qualities. And he has a date with destiny in the Nigerian presidency from 2015 – 2023. May God give him the right vision and guide him.”
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The topic of this intervention recommended itself as it is very evident that Nigerians want change. It is also very clear to the discerning that majority will vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to save Nigeria from bad leadership and an under-performing administration. The contrived postponement of the election also attests to this. And the international community supports this. This is good for our democracy in many ways and good for Nigerians.
President Goodluck Jonathan is therefore better advised to conduct a free and fair election. Any other planned election manipulation projects should be shelved, as the dark forces lurking even within the administration can hijack and truncate the nascent democracy and tip the current groundswell in the country into avoidable crisis. The inclination, alluded to in some quarters, to take the country down, than lose honourably, is not necessary. And any rigging that denies Nigerians their need for change, will have the same effect. The only sensible option is to allow the will of the people to prevail; support free and fair elections without further manipulations and let every vote count.
The second introductory issue worth raising in this intervention is the erroneous assumption that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable even when all evidence show that Nigeria is never united. Has never had unity. How can one sustain what does not exist? A lot of people make a lot of noise about unity even while doing things that keep the country severely divided. Unity can never be achieved by rhetorics, or as a wishful thinking or by force but can only be a reality if we all work on it, with our political actors leading by example. It can be an outcome and not a given as some un-informed delusionists assume, claim and posture with.
My full name, for instance, is Eze‘kulie Festus Anthony Boniface Oha Odimegwu Okonkwo Nwa-Uboh Ikpendu Ndieze Umuozo Okanadiji UbiriElem…Nnemiriukwu-Chukwuabiama. This bloodline extends almost 1000 years ago, into perpetuity. Within its Obidigboness, the central issue here is that Odimegwu, who was born in 1868 and died in 1969 at the ripe age of 101 years, was born a proud Igbo man and not a Nigerian, as Nigeria did not exist then. My Ancestors into perpetuity from Odimegwu were Igbos. Never Nigerians. Nigerians is what the British want us to be from 1914, a mere 100 years ago.
I can be a Nigerian from proud Igbo extraction, but only under an agreed basis that is irreversibly committed to and maintained in reality. This Unity in Diversity with other nationalities is only possible under certain conditions. It is not as automatic or to be assumed as me being Igbo. And the basis of this, as enshrined in our Constitution, is that our Union must be built on Truth, Justice, Equity and Fairness to lead to unity, peace, and sustainable progress. This progress within Nigeria must be better than progress within the ethnic nationalities to make it attractive to all participating nations. It is only under such conditions precedent that it makes sense to become fully and happily a Nigerian. Otherwise it will be to your tents for every one irrespective of what anyone or any nationality thinks. And understanding this simple idea by all participating nationalities and persons, no matter who, is essential for progress.
The third introductory issue, another fallacy and delusion, shared by most of the predatory ruling cabals in Nigeria, is the wrong notion that they understand Nigerians as gullible and naive people who can always be divided along ethnic and religious lines and therefore incapable of rising up in revolt over predatory leaders. The insult of postponing the elections, with belief of no consequences, is the most recent example. The examples of impunity and massive looting of public treasury, without fear of consequences, is also ongoing. The emerging conspiracy to scuttle the election altogether is another: one reads of coups, interim governments, at least six weeks open ended postponement, and from the same characters of the June 12 annulment, the same dynamics that led to the death of MKO Abiola and even Sani Abacha, the possibilities of an unsigned press release that annulled June 12 etc.
The dark forces that have held Nigeria down over 100 years now are rearing their ugly heads again, double-speaking, contriving, unable to give clear answers to simple direct questions and all for personal and self-serving reasons, for continued exploitation of Nigeria and Nigerians that are already laying prostrate. The Arab Spring examples recommend themselves for all. Muammar Ghadafi of Libya was extracted from a waste pipe. Mubarak of Egypt, the lost Pharaoh, was put in a cage in Egyptian courts. The wise can learn from examples like these. The corrupt leaders of Nigeria should let Nigerians be!
And the Federal Government, as distinct from the ruling party, must take steps to secure the life of General Buhari as these intrigues thicken. Nothing should happen to him. He may not be a saint. Even the late Nelson Mandela rightly said he was not. No one is. But he now personifies the new hope for Nigeria. Nigerians need him. Nigerians need change. What happened to Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, MKO Abiola and even Sani Abacha must not happen to him. Nigeria may not survive if it does. And the Federal Government should keep on a straight and narrow path to avoid boxing itself into a corner that can be hijacked out of its control. Deductive reasoning and good sense of applied history recommend this caution, given in the overall interest of our country.
With these introductory advise, let us put the challenges before President Buhari in historical context. The important question here is: what is the unedited story of Nigeria to date? In summary the narrative is as follows: History and papers in the colonial archives have it that, Britain colonised Nigeria and ran it for their interest from 19th century to 1914 when they amalgamated the poor North with the rich South with an obnoxious concept of Northern husband and Southern wife of means in a new creation called Nigeria and held the colonised captives without their consultation or agreement. 1914 to 1960 represented 46 years of exploiting the amalgamated protectorates according to the wishes of the British Crown. And this, unfortunately, should be expected. On their exit at independence they found it wise to impose a fraudulent census data on Nigeria that enabled them to rig the elections and hand over power to the northern part of the union in preference to the troublesome (enlightened) southern part: in their continued self-interest.
The first republic was soon showing signs of un-informed leadership, with no clear national vision for the young nation and it is not surprising that the centre could not hold sooner than later. The regions were antagonising themselves in absence of a capable and independent leader at the Federal Government level; the prime minister reporting to the Northern Premier as it were, violating basic principles of organisation. And entrenching the interest of the Caliphate against pursuing a national vision of greatness.
Young crazy army officers struck in 1966 but killed political leaders of Northern origin more than from other regions but the coup was significantly quelled under an Igbo head of the army, who himself was also not particularly well educated. Northern officers labelled the coup an Igbo coup for convenience and butchered Igbos in their thousands including the Head of the army that had also become the Head of state for about six months. The savagery of this pogrom is not yet matched, even in modern terrorist enclaves. In self defence and to avoid genocide against them, the Igbos retreated to Eastern Nigeria and hastily declared the Republic of Biafra, where all Igbos could have a safe haven: A Home land since Northerners do not want them in the North and the seat of Federal Government, now managed by also uneducated northern army officers, was in Lagos, western Nigeria.
An accord was reached in Aburi between the antagonists, where the new nation of Biafra was led by its Oxford University trained Head of State with an upper-class mien and confidence that seem to have raised envy, hatred and the general Nigerian “let us deal with him” antagonism. On return, the Nigerian side was now educated by their supporters that what they agreed with the state of Biafra is not good for implementation as it will prevent continued exploitation of the rest of the country by the new northern overlords.
Biafra stood on Aburi: Nigeria stood on keeping Nigeria one: two positions that can be resolved at the level of creative synthesis, but the young hot heads on both sides, driven by idealism from the Biafra side and by regional domination from the Northern side and an avoidable war was started, first as a police action and later a full scale war against the Eastern part, now called Biafra and the rest of Nigeria.
The North procured Western support by releasing their leader from prison and later procured Eastern minority support, to sabotage the Biafra position with all sorts of promises that included taking over the real estate assets of their fellow easterners, Biafrans, at the end of the war. Almost two million lives were lost on both sides, but more on Igbo side; including the use of hunger and starvation as instruments of war, even if against women and children! After the war, no victor and no vanquished was declared and reconciliation, rehabilitation, and restoration announced. All have been observed in breach, with all rich Igbos reduced to twenty pounds, as the Igbo political marginalisation also continues till today, to the detriment of Nigeria.
The emerged, mostly Northern, army of occupation now operating as a full army of fortune, re-colonised Nigeria and established a corrupt political leadership class that rotates between the Northern military and civilian political wings. No thought was spared for Nigeria. The other Nigerians became onlookers as the Northern impunity held sway replacing one clueless government with another without even sharing with their collaborating western and conspiratorial eastern minority partners in the war against the Igbos, beyond the indigenisation timing and so called abandoned property execution.
Then a prominent and loved cosmopolitan Yoruba won the presidency, beating the north to their own game of deception. The election was mindlessly and thoughtlessly annulled and the Yorubas cried foul. The caliphate North said they were born to rule. The Yorubas refused. Brutality was deployed against the Yorubas by the North. Another Yoruba, a former military Head of State, was jailed. The military maximum leader from the North was himself cornered by colleagues he sidelined, inside his military Presidential fortress, and offered an unholy apple. And MKO then had to be honoured with an executive supervised tea service to return to ground zero.
Olusegun Obasanjo was preserved at this point as the North needed a trusted ally to calm things down before taking power over again, as their birth right. He was released from prison and taken to the presidency. The military continued in power by other means! The army of fortune that claimed to have fought to keep Nigeria one continued to exploit the country without let, united in sharing the oil money and the loot of war as they would have seen it. Learning nothing from recent happenings.
But Obasanjo was not quite like The Obasanjo before prison experience; he became his own man and grew into power as in office: The north refused and invented sharia to destabilise him. But he is a General and also experienced and well known internationally, having being a military Head of state that handed over to a northern civilian with an unbalanced mathematics. He even negotiated in desert tents and being who he is, that also made him survive in prison, he also survived these intrigues. He attended to the army wing of politics and executed a strategic handover that eventually enthroned a Minority in the Presidency. Jonathan emerged with a lot of goodwill and as a breath of fresh air: not from the Caliphate North, not an ex-military man, and not from any of the majority tribes. A younger man than the immediate past Presidents. And above all a University graduate. A PhD!
Nigerians were very hopeful that a new era that would be better than the British colonial era of exploitation from 1914 – 1960 and better than the caliphate North mis-rule from 1960 – 2010 effectively (Obj being a creation of the North) has started. A new era where an ordinary (qualified) Nigerian will truly enable Nigeria to practice democracy: a government of the people for the people by the people!
The President Goodluck Jonathan Presidency, is ultimately an Obj creation, even if not originally planned so. It is therefore very significant if this Presidency is rated low by its main promoter and its low performance rating then becomes comprehensive with the latest endorsement of Buhari by Obasanjo despite all the hedging. Other prominent Nigerians, with objective minds have also made direct calls that Buhari be supported and be voted for. From my detailed analysis and observations, I am aligned to that thinking.
However, I have not seen any one that truly captured why the Jonathan Presidency failed the hope of ordinary Nigerians. It is my conviction that all the failings of his Presidency emanated from one mortal leadership sin: the deliberate and sustained replacement of a presidential vision that should be good for Nigeria and Nigerians with a personal vision uncompromisingly focused on re-election! He sacrificed and was ready to sacrifice anything and everything, anyone and every one for re-election! He continuously saw himself as a politician instead of the President of Nigeria! This is really frightening and dangerous when the full ramification is internalised. Anything and everything that can lead to re-election is allowed no matter how wrong or unwholesome, and anything and everything that is good for Nigeria and Nigerians, but that has no immediate direct link to re-election can be traded for re-election! This is not leadership. This led to leadership failure including the Kano Governor taking over our Presidential villa to abort Nigeria having a credible and accurate census!
Analysing it further is not necessary for the initiated. Where there is no vision, the people suffer like we have also seen with the North currently at the receiving end of insurgency and displaced persons, including trafficking of children and heart-aching forceful slavery of about 300 Chibok young school girls. It is providential that APC provided an alternative platform. If not, a real crisis is possible, if the Jonathan Presidency, with PDP as a party, continued the current governance deception or charade.
And for APC to make change possible, like a done deal, Nigerians must thank the Jagaban of Nigeria, the last standing Governor of the 1999 class, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for unmatched vision and patriotic role in forming the APC. Nigerians must also thank General Buhari of CPC, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu of ANPP, Owelle Rochas Okorocha of an APGA faction and HE Atiku Abubakar, Turaki Adamawa for leading the New PDP team to reinforce APC. Special thanks to the Lion of the South South, HE Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi for being a man and a leader of character: committed to his people till death if necessary.
These are the great Nigerians, with their teams, that gave a platform to save Nigeria. The Good Lord has forgiven all their shortcomings and prepared a special abode for them in paradise. As already well said elsewhere, General Buhari is educated enough. Experienced enough and meaning well enough to be our President. No more unnecessary distractions. And the only advice one can give APC at this point is to make Tinubu the Party Chairman (forget zoning) so that he can build APC into an ANC type party, with internal democracy and where the elected President cannot dictate to the Party, and the Party can discipline an erring President. Where the Leader of the Party is the Chairman of the Party and not the President to allow for separation of powers, for checks and balances. PDP was ruined doing the opposite as an evidence of this need.
This short historical excursion shows that all Regions of Nigeria have tasted what it feels like to be under a country where things are not done properly. Overall, Buhari has remained above the rot and now positioned to save Nigeria. And Buhari himself said: “My dear friends, this is very important to note: it doesn’t matter if you are Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw,Hausa, Idoma, Efik, Ikwere, Urhobo, Igala and, no, it doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Muslim, Animist or Atheist: we need a new direction under a new leadership. The task ahead will be very challenging and daunting, but it is surmountable. This is what leadership is about; my only desire is to prove to you that Nigeria can truly work. Allow me to prove to you that in your lifetime, you can be proud of this country. Let me make you this promise today: we will protect your children; we will protect your wealth. We will make this country work again. This is why i am running for the office of the President of Nigeria. This is my promise.”The pertinent question is: Why General Buhari? I believe him because he is believable. I believe him because he has a track record of being a serious leader. I believe that General Buhari will do well as President of Nigeria and that he needs the support of all for seven reasons:
He has the personal example of honesty and integrity. He will not steal with compulsion.
As Fulani he can relate better with the Caliphate to help redeem its image of misrule and establish once and for all that where a leader comes from is not important. What is important is that he performs well for Nigeria and all Nigerians.
As a General he will relate best to the Nigerian military to help redeem their image of mis-rule too and show that our military is a worthy national institution and not army of occupation with soldiers of fortune.
He is committed to fight corruption and compulsive stealing. This is key now, with 5 and 6 as well.
He is committed to fight insurgency and can handle it better.
He cares about ordinary Nigerians and will serve them wholeheartedly.
He is supported by many prominent objective Nigerians, international objective media and the civilized world. He is dreaded by many that have looted Nigeria dry. And I am happy in this worthy company of free citizens of the world and institutions that endorses General Buhari and recommends him to all Nigerians.