Atiku, Ojukwu, Iwu, and the culture of expediency

Columnist: 
Okey Ndibe

The time has never been riper for the emergence of a formidable opposition force to dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power. Yet, there are disturbing signs, once again, that Nigeria’s opposition parties are looking for every means or opportunity to surrender to the PDP – or to sell their prospects for a mess of porridge.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is, from several accounts, on the cusp of returning to the PDP. That would not be so bad, for Atiku’s natural habitat is within the moral jungle of the PDP.

 Atiku was part of an initiative to form a so-called “mega party.” With his looming exit, that bad idea appears decidedly stillborn. For one, the potential constituents of the opposition behemoth never seemed able to offer a comprehensive critique of the PDP. Nor did they seek to define their vision, or to tell Nigerians where they intend to take the country if given power, and how.

 There’s also the fact that many of the ambivalent founders of the “mega party” were once, like Atiku, in the sanctuary of the PDP. Like him, many of them still belong, in mind and spirit, to the PDP.

 Atiku represents the kind of unprincipled, me-first-and-last politics that has kept Nigeria in the doldrums. Last Sunday, Thisday quoted one of Atiku’s lieutenants as saying that “even with the mega party being formed, even if the electoral reforms is concluded on time before the next elections, it will be difficult to oust PDP from power. That is a fact. I say this with all sense of responsibility, because with their rigging machines all out, with people like Iwu still in office, and with all the money they have, I think we will have a battle on our hands.”

 So what does Atiku do? Jump ship – and enlist with those determined to employ their rigging machines to sabotage Nigeria’s democracy. Perhaps, Atiku is at home precisely in that company.

 The original impulse to form a mega opposition party represented a fundamental misconception. The PDP was deemed a party – to adapt a Nigerian saying – of “no shaking.” Consequently, the party’s opponents concluded that they must create an equally gargantuan force in order to have a shot at wresting power.

 To be true, the PDP is a giant, but one whose feet are made of clay. There’s no denying that the PDP’s roster boasts the largest collection of the kind of men and women known in Nigeria as “stakeholders” or venerated as “prominent Nigerians,” but who, in reality, are criminal raiders of the public treasury.

 The PDP may be the most bloated “sumo” party in the country, but it’s far from strong in real terms. Its chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, has served notice that the party plans to rule (translate that word as “ruin”) Nigeria for sixty years. It’s the party’s plan, and one not shared by Nigerians. In order to realize the plan, the party must thwart the democratic will of the Nigerian people through a logistics called electoral fraud.

 Since 1999, the PDP has established itself as a master rigger. It goes without saying – but we’ll say it – that a party in power resorts to rigging principally because it recognizes that there’s no clean way to win.

 My point, then, is that it does not require a mega party to rout the PDP in an election. No, it takes two things. One is a party with disciplined organization, a commitment to a set of laudable socio-economic goals, and the focused ability to communicate its message to the Nigerian people. The other is a culture of credible elections, a transparent polling system that, above all, demonstrates that the wishes of the electorate are paramount.

Elections are as credible as the system that produces them, and the men and women who run that system.

 The wishy-washy effort to form a mega party rests on diseased reasoning. It’s sad to see those who want to unseat the PDP waste their energy trying to acquire the ruling party’s pathologies. What they should do – assuming that they’re up to it – is to push the case for sound electoral reform and the appointment of men and women of unimpeachable moral mettle to oversee the country’s elections. Once these are in place, the opposition should then offer Nigerians a clear-eyed dissection of how the PDP has mortgaged, and still pawns off, Nigeria’s best interests.

Last week, elements of Nigeria’s opposition parties appeared to use every opportunity to display their poor judgment or myopia.

 A headline in last Sunday’s edition of Thisday told a disappointing story: “Ojukwu Roots for Iwu’s Reappointment”. The report, filed by Christopher Isiguzo, stated that Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the leader of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), “gave his support for the reappointment of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Maurice Iwu for another term in office.”

Ojukwu’s endorsement, according to the paper, “was based on the transparent manner the Anambra election was conducted.” On account of that election, which Ojukwu reportedly categorized as “the best so far in the country,” he saw “nothing wrong in allowing Iwu to continue in office provided he would not derail from the feat he achieved in Anambra.”

One’s immediate response was that Ojukwu should know better. He should know that, if the February 6 governorship election in Anambra represents the best Iwu has to offer, then Nigerians are in deep trouble.

What’s there to celebrate in an election where most of the voters couldn’t find their names on the voters register? Or where ballot material and electoral officials did not show up at many polling centers until several hours past the due time?

While many people in Anambra and outside are satisfied with the announcement of Governor Peter Obi as winner of the election, that fact is far from a good criterion for measuring Iwu’s performance. All told, Iwu and his electoral commission gave a terrible account of themselves. In a serious nation, the moment Iwu pledges, henceforth, to patent his Anambra performance, he would be fired on the spot. Unfortunately, Ojukwu was too happy with the outcome of the Anambra election to recognize Iwu’s woeful performance.

Let’s be clear: the removal of Iwu from his INEC perch will not guarantee credible future elections. We also need an improved electoral system, vigilance on the part of the citizenry, and a judiciary courageous enough to reverse glaring cases of electoral theft. But Iwu’s retention at his post would be a grave mistake. With his record of overseeing and then defending fraudulent elections, the man has come to personify the miscarriage that was the 2007 elections. In fact, he has inspired the term iwuruwuru in our political lexicon.

 
Iwu is, as far as elections are concerned, bad news. If he stays at INEC, it would be a clear signal to the world and to Nigerian voters that rigging has been recertified as the central element of our forthcoming elections.

It is obscene enough that Iwu is still entrenched in the seat he’s degraded by his incompetence and shamelessness. It’s an affront on Nigeria’s democratic aspirations that Iwu is going around, like a politician, to recruit big-name endorsers like Ojukwu just as his cronies orchestrate “pro-Iwu” rallies.

Goodluck Jonathan should fire Iwu – the sooner, the better.

 
 
 Okey Ndibe(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

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Okey and his band of arm chair critics.You only need to be politically wise to realise that if Atiku believes he has anything to deliver as President,he needs to be president first and the only way to achieve that in the Nigeria of today is to be a member of the PDP.AC with two states can give him the presidency.If you like,speak turinchi from today till eternity,that is the rtruth.

@ deri,iam a very proud ibo man and if you want me tender an apology for that , you will wait very long.when we toil u wait for the right moment to spoil.let that be your job.the only thing that unites you nigerians is the hatred of the ibo.the `abandoned`properties have been recouped and they are back in the hands of their bona fide owners.i forgot to include that we build in cotonou, lome , accra,banjul, yaounde and those ones are outside the reach of spoilers.today the the oil resources are suffering the same savagery we thought was only reserved for ibos.there is absolutely nothing wrong in not wanting to belong to nigeria.i hold nothing against you, i am your african brother after all.i like when we discuss issues,not throw tantrums.

I love the way Kennedy okonkwo replied Mr stanley ogboru.
I am worried that people have not realised that Prof. Iwu is not the problem to good elections in Nigeria but the so called senate/senators who have never thought of reforming the electoral laws and the process.They all want to be able to rig and stay back as senators or be appointed to political posts. As for the executive arm at the moment,'no comments'.
As for Nigeria; it can only be two ways....TBC

hi okey, i have always followed your articles through the years, i remember your days at Guardian Newspapers, your little stint in Sun Newspaper and your current exploits here in SR. yet on Iwu, i beg to disagree with you. period.

I love the way Kennedy okonkwo replied Mr stanley ogboru.
I am worried that people have not realised that Prof. Iwu is not the problem to good elections in Nigeria but the so called senate/senators who have never thought of reforming the electoral laws and the process.They all want to be able to rig and stay back as senators or be appointed to political posts. As for the executive arm at the moment,'no comments'.
As for Nigeria; it can only be two ways....TBC

I have gone through certain comments on this blog and some like the one posted by OKONKWO make me feel like throwing out. Its thoughts like his that created the abandoned property issue in Rivers State-Okey in his article spoke the mind of millions of Nigerians. And for a couple of educated ethnic fools, to turn it into an Atilogu and Owambe dance party, makes me think the earlier we tow the fine lines suggested by Gaddafi, the better for us all.If those who own 75 percent of d properties in Nigeria, believe its their right to further enslave me in my OWN zone, then the hope of us, ever having true patriots reforms our smelly, greedy ethnic thoughts, is just a pipe dream. When we say we shld quietly Gaddafi NAIJA-the SAME PPL wld secretly hide under the regional cover of the UMYAS to say Nay to our quest.Yet they talk here.The fear lies in their property market may be- just may be.

mr d.litt oghre.my God what a name!.ojukwu is our hero and we all love him. there is nothing you can do about it.dont start to educate us on how we were led into destruction.we love him.we lost the war but we are rebuilding.the five states of the east own 75percent of properties in abuja.sure we are rebuilding. the south east has the least number of illiterates in nigeria compared to the other zones according to recent UN statistics. we are rebuilding. ibos own more than 40percent of all investments in every state capital. we are rebuilding. we lost the war mr oghre.if this is what losing wars is all about, then its not too bad mr oghre abi?. we are not nigerians

Atiku can decide to join any party he feels that he is comfortable with, that is his choice.Does he have anything to take Nigeria and her people to a greater level, that will be decided by nigerians in a free and fair election.The days when parties seduced Nigerians with money, got their votes and forgot them after they rig themselves into power will sooon be over in Nigeria.Ojukwu has a right as a Nigerian citizen to free speech, that does not always meean that whatever he says is right, like saying that there will be another civil war if Andy Uba is imposed on Anambra State.

There was a leader who once said 'read my lips' in reference to a double speak. Ojukwu hailed the young Etiaba and Uba when these paid him such a visit earlier but in the end supported Obi. Read his lips for he posited that as long as Iwu was on target for a repeat of his mind-changing act in the Anambra election, he is willing to support him as the INEC chairman, but the 64K dollar question is, will he? We should therefore focus on more pressing issues and not continue splitting hair on the irrelevant. GJ knows what to do!

@ stanley ogboru,i agree with you that it does not matter where a president comes from.however,it matters to me when there is a policy which says he should not come from a particular place.

@mr stanley ogboru.your vituperative attacks on me and my brothers who happen to disagree with your nigeria is a confirmation of a hidden agenda to silence our people in order to continue to exclude them from the running of this fraud called nigeria. the unbridgeable gaps between our opinions reflect the very disparity that vindicates my opting for an igbo nation where the vitality of healthy debate can thrive.very unfortunately, instead of using this forum to advance your limited knowledge of the methods of interaction and what they entail,you remain adamantly stuck to the infamous ways of area boys.we are not allowed to defend our leaders anymore because you were fed with, and fell woefully to the western propaganda that ibos do not respect elders. you must be in a sad dilemma as an ibo defending an ibo must be such a paradox.we are not nigerians

Thanks Okey for this incisive write-up. The PDP is just a "giant" by the mouth of the likes of Ogbulafor and his thieving ilks who were imposed on the people of Nigeria at all levels. If there is a semblance of fair elections even Yar'Adua would lose his own ward, like Obasanjo did in 1999, 2003 and 2007, but in the later case Iwu and his INEC mischievously cancelled the votes!

Look, I come from Delta state and I can assure you that even the smallest party, unknown in Delta before 2007, called DPP trounced thief Ibori's sourrogate- Dr Uduaghan of PDP- in the governorship election of April 2007, but crooked Iwu and his INEC stopped Deltans from ridding the state of the PDP plague. Same story across all Nigeria. PDP is dead!

@Ndibe,
Your views are great and I acknowledge them but please(biko) spare Dimgba Odumegu Ojukwu.
He lost faith in Nigeria so many years ago just like other tribes especially Yorubas
are losing faith in Nigeria today.

The truth is that Ojukwu in his heart doesn,t care how election goes except in Igbo Land.
@patman,reveal your your tribe before you start insulting Dim Ojukwu.

Come to think of it? What has Ojukwu done for Igbos? To lead you blindly into a war and run away when the heat was on only to return to live old age? What about those who were killed as a result of his ill-thought out plan to free his people. Moses led the Israelites safely from Egypt but Ojukwu left you all stranded. In the better Nigeria that Okey Ndibe and I dream of, our children will feel comfortable living and achieving their dreams in Nigeria without feeling like second class citizens. And this process starts with the power to vote in and vote out people based on our individual assessment. Let me advise you to go back to school to do some more work. You may have dropped out way too early.

Mr. Nigerian Hercules or whatever you call yourself, comments like yours do not deserve a response because you have shown yourself to be no more than an ethnic chauvinist without brains. If you're so confident why not unveil your true identity(name). Why hide under one pseudonym to abuse obviously more well endowed people. It is the likes of you who have brought Nigeria to its knees with illogical reasoning. I pity you and your generation if that line of thought is what you will bequeath to them. You will remain a mediocre for life most likely hiding in another man's country which has been developed by cerebral people like Prof. Okey Ndibe.

I have to say I now agree with people like 'Omo Yoruba'. Nigeria is like a blind & stumbling elephant. It doesn't matter what is tried, who is appointed, nothing will work until there's a realistic split. Nigeria is not a real nation so looting & expediency is the name of the game. A proper split as Gaddafi suggests is the only way forward. After that you can regulate education, religion, the economy and everything that makes a nation a nation. Gadaffi isn't mad incidentally. See: http://www.algathafi.org/html-english/index.htm where he discusses so many issues at a level most Nigerian leaders can't even comprehend. The looters would never discuss separation. So Nigerians should contact Gaddafi direct to sack all our looters and start the practical work of building many nations from this illegal British construction called Nigeria.

I have said it several times here that Nigerians would not stop amazing me the way they either tribalised, or sectarianised or politicised issue of national concern. We in diaspora are the worst culprits. Who is a madnan now between Gaddafi , Mark and each of us that are tribalising issue here in this blog ? Is Gaddafi not right when he said that Nigeria should e broken into pieces along ethnic diversity. Perhaps if there has been a Biafra, Iwu would have been the best for them or if there had been Arewa nation, Atiku would been the messiah and if Oodua nation had existed perhaps OBJ would have been the best that would have happened to them. We can now agree on what Gowon said on July 19, 1966 that the basic for unity of Nigeria is not there or its badly rocked, not only once but several times

Mr Kennedy Okonkwo why is it that anytime you open your mouth on issues the stench is so unbearable? We must learn to get it right and not tribalize issues at the slightest opportunity. Is the Ikemba of Nnewi god that he cannot be talked about mr. selfish wicked leader? I don't care where who steers the affairs of our great nation in as much as the individual is upright and people caring, and delivers to the benefit of all. We must call a spade a spade regardless of what soil it dug. Let us throw away that attitude of my brother must be governor or president into the dust bin of shame and elect good people into offices. For all I care, let the next president come from chad as long as he does the right thing nobody will see any reason to consider ethnic, religious or regional domination at any stage.

I think Atiku or any Nigerian for that matter deserves the right to join any political party they wish to be affiliated with.That is the choice they make as individuals.It's up to the Nigerian electorate to embrace their choices or reject them outright, in a free and fair election.This is why the politics of mass seduction with money will become obsolete come next election.Nigerins are now smarter, they will chop your money but vote for the right leader.Anambra demonstrated this fact, and Nigerians in all local govts. of our country will demonstrate this too, come next election when they will route P D P with their Fake money.Ojukwu deserves the right to pass on the good word for Iwu, but his words are not law.

@OKEY
please you should leave OJUKWU out of your bitterness, he never appointed Iwu and has no power to retain him so why dragging his name to the mud.please allow the old man to enjoy the respect and peace he deserves, i take God beg u.OJUKWU is not a name that should be toyed with, hope u know that.

untill you u give us an igbo president, you have no moral right to condemn people like hercules.you always want to speak about fairness as if igbos are not entitled to that fairness.all your opposition parties and mega party experiments are destined to drown because they dont address the plight of ibos.you just begin to see the likes of tinubu, buhari, atiku and babangida.come to think of it, only the pdp has an arrangement that remotely promises an ibo president.we are tired of your beautiful speeches.igbos have a good representation in the pdp and which of your `peoples` parties can boast of a plan to sell an igbo candidate in order to at least prove that the pdp is not representative oriented?.the pdp demonstrated political savvy by supporting obasanjo, just to appease the yoruba. it is gradually getting to our turn and what do we hear from the western controlled media?.the zoning arrangement is suddenly being attacked from evey angle

@NigerianHercules:
Sometimes, I can not understand people like you who go out of your ways, defending issues or individuals using indefensible reasons, such as ethnicity or religion.
Prof Ndibe said the obvious, concerning Iwu (ewu). The fact that Iwu (ewu) is an Igboman, and INEC chairman has not added value to the Igbos. Iwu (ewu) is indeed a disgrace and shameless person who has destroyed our Igbo character of forthrightness due to his criminal conduct as the INEC Chiar. What evidence do you need to understand that Iwu supervised the worst election in the history of elections in 2007?
Is that the kind of Igboman you are , or want to be proud of and defend? You should commend Prof Ndibe rather than castigate him for showing the true character of Igbo by condemning Morric Iwu (ewu) irrespective of the fact that he is also Igbo. We are proud of Prof. Ndibe.

Mr. Ndibe, I have a lot of respect for you, but your article was an oversimplification of the way to move Nigeria forward! I also appreciate the emotions of people like "NigerianHercules": because of the ethnic and religious domination, exclusion, and deprivation, upon which leadership in Nigeria has been based since independence. His comments on your singling out Igbo leaders for attack, are also valid. OBJ told the world that he made Yar'Adua president, that at the time he didn't think it right for a Southerner to succeed him! Notice he made no mention of Iwu or the electoral process, why? Because he was able to manipulate it outside Iwu. Removing Iwu has nothing to do with credible electoral process in Nigeria, but if each regional power broker will threaten the PDP and police their own area from rigging, then the elections will succeed!

Brilliant! I have always wondered why some Nigerians think Atiku is worth our time. The man was a customs officer reputed to have only walked the straight and narrow when it is advantageous to him in the short term. As far as legitimacy is concerned, he has no explanation for his wealth. Those of us in the north east know how he almost single handedly rigged elections in that region for PDP in 2003. We also know that he has done virtually nothing to improve the terrible road from Gombe to Yola, electing instead to fix the road from Yola to his village, which has no justification in terms of commerce or demographics. We know how moribund Adamawa State was, because his stooge (Boni) had to make substantial returns from the State's allocation to this man. He is bereft of principles and morals. He's not worth our time.
By the way, I think the Hercules fellow should be ignored. His comments betray his myopia.

@Harcules, people like you are those drawing Nigeria back. Nigerians are wise enough to know those who have performed and those who have failed. Iwu is one of those Nigerians have termed FAILURES.If you doubt, take a poll or do a referedum. When people bring ethnicism into objective and critical issues that border on the prgress of Nigeria, today and tomorrow, it simply shows how short their horizon is, and you are one of those. I can assure you are not near anywhere the respect alot of Nigerians have for Okey Ndibe. He is one of the finest commentators Nigeria boasts of. You are a retrogressive fool!

It is unfortunate when we prevaricate without calling a spade a spade.When you protect a relative engaged in broad day robbery surely a day will come when all that you have worked so hard for will disappear before your very eyes.Ibos are proud of their honourable sons and daughters like our sisters Dora Akunyili,Ngozi Oknojo Iweala,Ezekwesili,Ken Nnamani(ex-Senate President),Emeka Anyaoku & Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu etal.As you can see,Maurice Iwu does not belong to this premier league.If what happened in Anambra is replicated in the other 35 states of the republic obviously there will be outright breakdown of law and order.Nigeria does not need IWU in the INEC saddle anymore - period.

It is unfortunate when we prevaricate without calling a spade a spade.When you protect a relative engaged in broad day robbery surely a day will come when all that you have worked so hard for will disappear before your very eyes.Ibos are proud of their honourable sons and daughters like our sisters Dora Akunyili,Ngozi Oknojo Iweala,Ezekwesili,Ken Nnamani(ex-Senate President),Emeka Anyaoku & Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu etal.As you can see,Maurice Iwu does not belong to this premier league.If what happened in Anambra is replicated in the other 35 states of the republic obviously there will be outright breakdown of law and order.Nigeria does not need IWU in the INEC saddle anymore - period.

@stanley Ogboru: you sure say no be iwu sponsor am to ameerika?

That was how he irrationally took the Ibos to war without any preparation, without any well-thought out plan, and without diplomatic cover or military allignment. He just dabbled into the war that led to the killing of millions of Ibos. And by the way he ran away. In the end, the condition of our people is worse than what it was prior to 1966. Before that date, the Igbo nation was a formidable group which could never be sidelined in any issue in Nigeria. Today, we are just picking crumbs from the other ethnic groups all because of Ojukwu's irrational, dominiaring and hasty approach to issues. I am not part of this. Only people like "Nigerian Hercules" will accept any trash from people like Ojukwu. Hercules my foot!

These days I can hardly fathom where Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu belongs. I can no longer distinguish between him and Arthur Nzeribe. He does not talk like a statesman. A stateman weighs issues before speaking out. But Dim Ojukwu will just speak anything that issues from his mouth without realising the political/moral implications.

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