By Mazi Omife I. Omife
Most Igbo men and women have lost confidence in Igbo governors. The way current Igbo governors have treated Igbo matters since they came into office has led to this loss of trust in them by Ndigbo. They and most Igbo governors before them have only pursued their own interests and not that of Ndigbo.
Was it not former governor Theodore Orji who sacked all Igbo workers that are not from Abia State, leaving workers from other non-Igbo states? Tomorrow, he will expect people from outside Igbo land to listen to him when he speaks for Igbos.
If not the way former governor Peter Obi, the then chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, handled the matter, Theodore Orji’s action would have caused untold crises in Igbo land.
Was it not the current chairman of South East Governors’ Forum, Engr Dave Umahi, who vehemently opposed the siting of Police Zone 13 in Anambra State?
Umahi went to the extent of saying that he preferred the zone to be sited in Cross Rive State instead of South East. Yet this is the chairman of South East Governors’ Forum. Tomorrow, he will expect Igbos to listen to him when he speaks to them.
At another time, former governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and former governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State engaged in shameful public exchange of words in the public domain, saying things we as their subjects are not supposed to hear or to know.
At another time, it was Gov Umahi again exchanging or rather hurling unprintable words at Obiano over renaming of a street in Anambra State, which could have caused a serious war between the two states but for the maturity and restraint of former governor Obiano.
These governors mistake the praise-singing by some Igbo people as a mark of love, when it is only because of the poverty in the land caused largely by the insensitivity of governments to the plight of their citizens. It is when their tenures end very soon that they will realize that Igbos have never regarded them as leaders. Let’s watch and see.
Many Igbo governors had come and gone from 1979 to date. I respect only four of them: Sam Mbakwe of old Imo State, 1979; Jim Nwobodo of old Anambra State, 1979; Peter Obi of Anambra State, 2006, and Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, 2007.
Of all the current Igbo governors, with the exception of Professor Charles Soludo of Anambra State who has just come on board, I have great respect for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as a governor with true Igbo blood.
About two years ago, one of the pro-Biafra organizations planned a remembrance day programme in all Igbo speaking states of Nigeria for all Igbos that died during the Biafra-Nigeria war. For this purpose, they declared a one-day sit-at-home in Igbo land to pay respect to their fallen heroes.
As usual, the Igbo governors led by Governor Dave Umahi opposed the holding of the event on the grounds that it was no longer necessary since it has been a long time since the war ended. This created a serious tension in Igbo land as Igbo youths insisted on going on with the event, in spite of the rumoured plan by Igbo governors to use the army and police to counter the programme.
There was fear and apprehension everywhere as people feared that any serious clash between Igbo youths and security agents would likely result in widespread killing of Igbo youths.
As the tension became stronger, the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, came out with a statement saying that Anioma people of Delta State would observe the remembrance exercise. He said that the remembrance day for fallen heroes was a world-wide practice as a mark of respect for people killed during a war which is part of Igbo culture and tradition.
Following Okowa’s statement, governor Umahi and his follow-follow South East governors bowed to pressure and joined in the event in remembrance of our brothers and sisters who died in the war. That was how Okowa cooled down the tension and preempted the much anticipated violence which could have possibly led to the death of many Igbo youths.
I was personally in support of the remembrance day event and so were most Igbo leaders. I remember the day we visited Ikemba at his Enugu residence to congratulate him on the election of former governor Peter Obi under APGA – myself, Hon. Dr. D.A. Jideofo and Chief Francis Akpamgbo, younger brother of former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Clement Akpamgbo, under the umbrella of Anambra State Development Unon (ASDU). Ojukwu said among other things, that the greatest thing Peter Obi would do for him is to organize a remembrance day for all Biafrans who died in the war.
It was former gov Obiano who eventually organized the Igbo remembrance day which was held in a stadium which didn’t go down well with people like me who believe that the governor should have asked various communities to perform the event in their communities with a little government financial backing. Why I did not blame him much was because he said the remembrance event was done on behalf of all Igbos.
So I was happy when the idea of a memorial programme for Igbos who died during the war was muted because I also lost my elder brother, Godwin Chiaghanam Omif, during the war and this would be an opportunity for us to honour him in death.
Unfortunately, Governor Umahi and his co-governors tried to frustrate the programme AS IF THEY DID NOT LOSE ANY LOVED ONES DURING THE WAR. Thanks to Governor Okowa who gave his support to the plan, saying that he too lost some relations during the war, a move that forced Umahi and co to retrace their steps.
My question is this: If governor Ifeanyi Okowa was able to play this role in supporting a remembrance day programme for Igbos killed during the war, even when other governors of South East were in opposition, which of the governors demonstrated the character of a true Igbo son? Governor Okowa of course.
Honestly, Governor Okowa has surprised me. If other Igbo governors were like him, the issue of Igbo presidency would have been a fait accompli. In fact, I suggest that the name South East Governors’ Forum be changed to Igbo Governors Forum so that Okowa can always attend their meeting to give them political sense and direction.
For instance, the first ever meeting of southern governors had as its top agenda the sothern president and menace of Fulani herdsmen. The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for South East governors to canvass Igbo presidency and the issue of Fulani herdsmen under the umbrella of southern governors, more so since Igbo governors lack the courage to talk to Buhari on such issues.
To my shock and utmost surprise, none of the South East governors attended the meeting. Okowa was the only Igbo governor in attendance and also hosted the meeting.
This shows that Okowa has more concern for the problems of Igbos than the South East governors, who must have absented themselves for fear of being rebuked by Myetti Allah leaders who promised each of them separately the post of president come 2023 for attending the meeting. Each of the governors believed them.
Who Knows? Had Okowa not attended the meeting or agreed to host it, the meeting would have omitted the South East in the resolution for the presidency which was a core agenda at the meeting.
The more annoying thing is that at the next scheduled meeting of southern governors held at Enugu, the Igbo governors except Gburugburu all ran away. Shameful. Thank God Gburugburu managed to be present as host.
And somebody will tell me that Okowa is not Igbo! In fact, all this has shown that governor Okowa is 110% more Igbo than all the other governors put together. And that’s why he is the only Igbo governor Igbos should listen to.
Mazi Omife I Omife, Mbuze Mbaukwu firstname.lastname@example.org