By Henry Ekpe
The Politicking for 2023 general election has commenced. And prominent sons and daughters of Igbo extraction must participate in the exercise.
While some of them jostle for political positions at the National level, others will also get involved at the States, including those to be voted to move as People’s representatives at the National Assembly.
Recently, three prominent sons of Igboland namely His Excellencies Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Hope Uzodinma and Peter Obi have been in the news for different reasons.
While Obi is gunning for the Presidency, Uzodinma is the incumbent Governor of Imo State, and Ihedioha is a former Governor of Imo State, and now a private citizen.
Obi as a Presidential candidate of a political party, Labour party, has all the reasons to be trending now.
Uzodinma as a sitting Chief Executive of a State ought to be current because of his position.
So, why is Ihedioha who is a former Governor, and not running for any position now, be occupying the Media space with these other two? It shows something significant. A gold fish has no hiding place!
Currently, there is the news making the rounds about Ihedioha’s visit to the United States of America USA, linking the former Governor to the prospect or otherwise of Mr Peter Obi, and his Presidential ambition.
A Prof Uzodinma Nwala was alleged to have circulated a short script where he wrote that Ihedioha visited USA to market the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubaka, instead of selling Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party who is Igbo.
However, Ihedioha has denied that allegation. He made it clear that he went to USA to meet the people of Mbaise Nation in Diaspora, particularly those in USA.
His mission Ihedioha maintained, was to thank them for their support, before, during and after his seven memorable months as Governor of Imo State. And to also remind them that he did not forget their previous supports and therefore appealed for such supports in the future, should he call on them.
Corroborating Ihedioha, some other prominent fellows present at the occasion have also said that at no time did Ihedioha deviate from the major thrust of his visit: thanking Mbaise Nation in USA.
However, this is a political period when all manners of politicking takes place.
Both those in the ring, and spectators are out to unleash the tactics for which the game is known for. Much as it always said that politics is a dirty game, we still have seen people play it with decency and decorum and still reach the height made for them by God.
Ihedioha is the league of the rare gems who have reached certain level in their political careers without carrying too many ugly luggage.
Therefore, trying to link Ihedioha with Peter’s Obi Presidential ambition is obnoxious and frivolous. It holds no water, and very illogical.
First of all, politics is a game of interest, where people of like minds congregate to pursue their set goals under one political platform.
Emeka Ihedioha has been a member of PDP since the party came into being in 1998. Even though many known political Heavy weights in Nigeria have ported from one political party to the other, Ihedioha has been rooted in PDP.
Ihedioha has remained in PDP, where he rose as a member of House of Representatives, to Chief Whip, Deputy Speaker and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively and then Governor of Imo State.
Therefore, Ihedioha could be described as a partisan politician, who is a member of a given political party; PDP. And he has not denied that yet.
In that case, it would sound stupid and silly for anybody to think that should Ihedioha meet an audience that is favourable for him to expose his political leanings, he should not sell himself and his party, PDP.
Yes, Mr Peter Obi, the former Governor of Anambra State is now running for Nigerian Presidency under the Labour Party. He was the former Vice Presidential candidate of PDP in the last election. It is his choice, nobody should hold that against him.
Today, he has left PDP, and joined Labour Party, where he is executing his personal ambition to be the President of Nigeria.
Obi, as I know, does not want anybody to ascribe his project as that of only Igbos, because he is running a Pan Nigerian election, which cuts across age, region, religion and all.
I am also aware that before Obi joined the race, there was no concerted agreement from Ndigbo that they were sending him out to vie for the position for Ndigbo.
And neither have Ndigbo arrived at any agreement that all their children must be in one particular party.
Therefore, it will be disastrous to Obi for anyone to give his Presidential ambition ethnic bent. And he has repeated that in various fora.
Indeed, Obi remains an Igbo son, no doubt, and if he wins the Presidency, will become the President of Nigeria.
But it must be realized that as Obi guns for his ambition, it doesn’t stop other Igbo sons and daughters from pursuing their own political targets, in whatever political parties, since it is first a personal interest before being a collective interest.
This brings me back to Ihedioha. Now, should Ihedioha dump PDP, where Peter Obi was before now, and move to Labour Party, or even APC, when his conscience has not told him so?
In the same vein, while Peter Obi sells himself and his party, should other Igbo sons and daughters not also do same for their parties?
When Ikemba Ojukwu was in All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, were there no other Igbo prominent sons and daughters in PDP and ANPP?
When Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the Leader and Presidential candidate of Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, were the likes of Dr Chuba Okadigbo and Dr Kingsley Mbadiwe not in National Party of Nigeria NPN?
For sure, for anybody to link Emeka Ihedioha to the success or failure of Peter Obi’s Presidential election is lazy and wicked argument. Peter Obi is our brother, and is free to pursue his political ambition , while his other brothers and sisters are also free to seek elsewhere for political survival.
It must also be stated here that PDP, abinitio, had reserved the Vice Presidential position for Obi, no matter who emerges PDP Presidential candidate, provided such a person is not from the Southeast.
Many people had also wondered why the PDP chose a Northerner as Presidential candidate.
It must be noted here that since 1999, apart from the few years Yarauda spent on seat as President, the South had occupied Aso Villa more than the North since the inception of PDP. He who preaches equity must first check if his hands are clean. After President Yaradua died, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took over, and then Dr Goodluck Janathan. All from the South.
And again, as a political party in opposition, what concerns PDP more is how to win back power in 2023 and then the issue of Zoning will resurface.
When going to battle, you don’t bother about the place of birth of the best General in your Army. What should be important is which among them will win the war.
Where those rooting for Igbo Presidency should have directed their gaze is at the All Progressive Congress, APC, the ruling party, which made it clear that its Presidential ticket will go to the “South”.
As a ruling party, it is more easily realizable in APC, because the party controls the power at the centre, and in most States.
Rather than cede the ticket to Southeast, the party still went to Southwest, even as the Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo is still in office for Eight years. Leaving the Southeast abandoned.
The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma instead of backing Igbo Presidency, was the one that submitted the form for Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, when Ogbonnaya Onu from Abia State, Emeka Nwajiuba and Okorocha from Imo State were all running for APC Presidential ticket.
None of the Imo State Aspirants got a vote. And now, Gov Uzodinma has turned Senator Ahmed Tinubu’s Spokesman, defending him which led Reuben Abatti to attack the Governor and attracting Odium to Imo State and its citizens.
A few days ago, Uzodinma also promised President Buhari that APC will deliver in all the States they already have incumbent Governors.
How many Igbo people have asked Gov Uzodinma why he is openly supporting a Yoruba candidate when an Igbo man is running for Presidency in Labour Party?
Can you blame Uzodinma, when his party has a Presidential candidate too? You want him to leave Tinubu and campaign for PDP or Obi of Labour Party?
Therefore, those going after Ihedioha for expressing his fundamental Human Right of Association are missing the point and are ignorant.
Politics is not played with emotion. Politics is a game of interest, where you will be recognized. You don’t join a particular party because your friend, mother or father is there.
Chief SG Ikoku challenged his father, Alvan, in an election and heavens did not fall.
Follow whom you want to follow. It is your right. And also allow others to exercise their own right too.
Ihedioha since 1999 has a political party which many know is PDP. Under PDP, his political stock rose, and has continued to rise till date. And he does not want to leave the party. It is his personal decision and must be respected.
I am sure that if Peter Obi had consulted Ihedioha before leaving PDP he would have advised him otherwise. And since Obi did not even participate in the PDP Presidential Primaries, it is therefore an assumption for anyone to say that Ihedioha would not have advised Imo Delegates to vote for him.
It therefore, remains in the realm of imagination of what would have happened.
Therefore, Ihedioha has neither offended Obi in any way nor Ndigbo, since it is Obi that has decided to abandon Ihedioha in PDP and charted a new course elsewhere.
What should concern us is if Ihedioha’s pedigree has dwindled.
Is there a criminal case hanging on his head? Has he lost his followership and Industry as a politician? Has he ever disgraced Igbo Nation?
Was there any time all Ndigbo agreed to be in one party and Ihedioha reneged?
In this case, some elements are trying to cause mischief. And they have failed.