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Overview:

Columnist Benjamin Achi examines the disruptive influence of those he labels political scavengers in the Southeast Region.

BENJAMIN ACHI frowns at those he calls political scavengers of the Southeast who enable continued marginalisation of region.

Scavenger is a very common word that I’m sure most people wouldn’t need the aid of any lexicon for it. We all know the category of animals referred to as scavengers. They not only feed on dead, (sometimes rotten) left overs, they often get so given to it that they get so lazy and would hardly go for their own game.

We have always turned our gaze and directed our anger at the Hausa/Fulani and sometimes the Yorubas (as was the case during the civil war), for what has been our unfortunate lot since the advent of self rule. But we forget our own kith and kin whose complicity has been the primary enabler of the anomalies we have continued to bemoan

Ben Achi

That, I think, is an apt description of those bunch of scoundrels that wear the unmerited toga of political elites in the Southeast Region of this country. In no other part of this country would you get a band of men without character or class and as mindless and integrity deficient as you’ll see in the Southeast. The region, without any fear of contradiction, can boast of the most despicable of characters in the Nigerian political space.

This is a region that has been shortchanged and marginalised and has been at the receiving end for the past 62 years of the country’s independence. This is a fact so glaring that even the Pan Yoruba organization, the Afenifere, as recently as a couple of days ago, had to acknowledge it in clear and categorical terms. Afenifere had to jettison primordial tribal sentiments to throw their weight behind Peter Obi, the frontline presidential candidate of the Igbo extraction in the up coming elections. Regrettably however, we have continued to goof in our appreciation and analysis of this bad situation. For the greater part of the time, we keep accusing external actors of these crimes, leaving off the real culprits.

We have always turned our gaze and directed our anger at the Hausa/Fulani and sometimes the Yorubas (as was the case during the civil war), for what has been our unfortunate lot since the advent of self rule. But we forget our own kith and kin whose complicity has been the primary enabler of the anomalies we have continued to bemoan. A friend once contended when this conversation came to the table, that “no one would ever marginalise or attempt to shortchange you until you have done that to yourself first”. I believe him. Like the Igbos would say: “onye kpọọ ọba ya mkpọkọrọ, agbatobi ewere ya kporo ahihia”. It’s as simple and as straightforward as that.

There is no intention to make this piece longer than necessary. So let’s go straight to it. Just take a look at what is playing out in our political space in the build up to next year’s general elections and you’ll catch the drift of this writer. For the first time in the history of our nation and especially since the beginning of the current democratic dispensation 23 years ago, we have a presidential candidate of the Igbo extraction who is commanding nationwide acceptance and following. This is not necessarily because of his tribal affliliation, but because he embodies in his person and has demostrated through his track records, that he represents the yearnings and aspirations of an average Nigerian who has suffered so much pain over the years as a result of maladministration.

While Peter Obi is not perfect by any stretch of imagination, it is still unarguable that the other two frontline candidates are no match to his candidacy, irrespective of the prism from which a dispassionate observer views it.

But who are the people that have refused to acknowledge this truth and have rather elected to lie even against their own consciences just for their selfish political interests? You guessed right: Politicians from his own region.

Was it not a certain Ike Ekweremadu who fired the first surreptitious swipe at Obi when he stated that the region is for PDP and that no other candidate or party would have the vote of the Igbo in the coming elections? What else in this world took Dave Umahi and Hope Uzodimma to the APC if not their own selfish political interests? Were they thinking of the interest of the Igbo when they did that? Have we not all been witnesses to their words and acts of betrayal since they chose to get in bed with the tormentors? In the build up to the PDP presidential primaries, who were the choice candidates of the likes of Okezie Ikpeazụ and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi? Did any of the duo ever support any of their own? What do you make of the fact that Chimaroke Nnamani, who is a senatorial candidate of PDP, is openly, boldly and unapologetically supporting Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC, even against the candidate of his own party? One should wager that even if he should choose to embark on such anti-party moves, it would have been at least salutary if he had thrown his weight behind Peter Obi. That would have gained him some credit as a man in love with democratic ideals and principles which Peter Obi, to all intents and purposes, so far represents.

The list goes on.

Now, just very recently, Emeka Ihedioha of all people decided to cap it all just yet. This is a man who, in the wake of the brazen theft of his gubernatorial mandate with the aid of an obviously compromised Supreme Court, won the sympathy of every right thinking person in this country including Peter Obi. Today, Ihedioha, obviously denouncing the Obidient Movement, has the effrontery, the temerity and the audacity to declare any citizen of the South East extraction who supports any other presidential candidate except that of the PDP, as a saboteur. Recall that in the midst of the outpour of support for Ihedioha in the face of that clear rape of democracy in Imo, Atiku Abubakar was among the very few notable voices who went the opposite direction, calling on Ihedioha to accept that robbery of his mandate orchestrated by the nation’s apex court. Today, the same Atiku Abubakar is the messiah whose gospel, Ihedioha is preaching to the people of the South East; the same people that decried the injustice metted out to him and threw their weight behind him throughout that period of his travail and even afterwards.

So when next we talk about the enemies of this region, please make no mistakes. Remember who they are: our political scavengers. It is towards them that our collective anger should be directed first.