Politics Of Bitterness, Cause Of Crisis In Igbo land; Way Out —Igbo Stakeholders

Igbo should reject self-serving, greedy politicians

•Less emphasis should be laid on money politics — Bishop Onuoha

•INEC should play according to rules —Ahamba, SAN

•Winners, losers should embrace dialogue — Abia CAN scribe

•Winners take all should be discouraged — Cleric

•S-East should go for only men of honour — Ex-commissioner

•Politicians should know they must return to the people after political tenure —Enugu monarch

•Politics should not be seen as do-or-die affair — Ebonyi monarch

By Anayo Okoli, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Peter Okutu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka

IGBO SOUTH EAST (VANGUARD) -- The security crisis in Imo State and by extension, the South-East region, has unarguably been narrowed down to be politically induced. From some confirmed accounts of political disagreements and power tussle among politicians and bad governance from the political leaders, it is safe to conclude that the cause is rooted in politics of bitterness.

It was, however, unfortunate that some traditional rulers were caught in the crossfire in the fight between politicians and they became part of the victims.

Perhaps, it could be as a result of their sycophantic nature; playing politics against their prescribed role of being apolitical. As we approach another political season and election year, what would Igbo politicians and people do to get it right and avoid politics of bitterness, see it as game not a do-or-die affair?

According to a prominent Ebonyi monarch, Eze Moses Okafor Ngele, the traditional ruler of Ishiagu Kingdom, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, politicians should not see and treat politics as do-or-die affair but a friendly battle between brothers and sisters. If it does not favour you this time, it could be your luck next time.

‘Politics should not be seen as do-or-die affair’

“We need to be careful and play politics with wisdom and the right counsel from the elders. Politics is an important aspect of humanity. Through the game of politics, leaders at different levels emerge at various seasons and times.

“We should oppose the politics of do-or-die. We are all brothers and sisters created by God in His own image. We should play politics with the mindset that one day, we will also return and reside among and interact with those we have led.

“As monarchs, when politicians come to us stating their political ambition, our own is to advise and pray for them. There is need for us to be apolitical.

“Many crisis and killings going on in the South-East could be seen as politically motivated. So, we need to be careful and play politics with wisdom and the counselling of the elders,” Eze Ngele said.

A clergy, Pastor Brutus Edafe, in his view, faulted the manner some politicians go about the business. He said some of them employ high-handedness, overbearing nature and nefarious activities in their art of politicking, actions that most times, put them at logger heads with their people. He advised politicians to know that there is life after politics.

“We are encouraged to join politics so that we can contribute to leadership and development and cause a change in our society. However, politicians need to play the game according to the rule.

“Some politicians can no longer travel to their respective villages and states because of the evil they committed while playing politics. Politicians need to know that their people are watching them.

“So, they need to know that there is life after politics. 2023 election is not the end of life or the world. There is no need for killing, kidnapping and other evils associated with politics, to be unleashed on the electorate.

“I advise them to be cautious of their actions, be mindful of their language and avoid anything that could cause crisis in their communities, local government areas and states because of the approaching 2023 general elections,” Edafe admonished.

Misplaced priority

The Methodist Archbishop of Okigwe Archdiocese, His Grace, Most Rev. Biereonwu Livinus Onuagha, in his response blamed the problem on misplaced priority, saying that Nigeria has made politics the easiest way to become rich, doing little or nothing. He lamented that Nigerians now see politics as the most lucrative and easiest job anyone can do in Nigeria.

According to Bishop Onuagha, because of that, anybody, including criminals and idiots do everything possible, foul or fair, to go into politics as they see it as the only way they can make money quickly and effortlessly, for that matter.

“Unfortunately, almost everything in Nigeria is possible; through any dubious means, one can become anything. Academic excellence is no longer tolerated, it is no longer valid, because a politician can come up tomorrow within one or two years, he becomes a lawyer, becomes anything people struggle and read for years to become, just because he can throw money around. So there is no more regard for excellence in this nation, and that has affected our political landscape terribly.

“Politics in the truest sense of it is to serve the people and not to serve individuals. Unfortunately, Nigeria politics is self-serving or serving few individuals and not the people.

Only few states in Nigeria are serving their people, the rest are filled with people who are serving themselves and unfortunately too, they are clinging to power without letting go.

“The worst part of it is that our traditional rulers who are supposed to be custodians of traditional principles, are bought over by these greedy and money-minded politicians and they simply compromised and could no longer exercise their traditional authority over the politicians.

The politicians threaten their thrones with all manner of insults, ranging from suspension and sack which ordinarily is not in the powers and duties of politicians. That is why what is happening in Imo State is politically-masterminded.

“When people accuse the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, of having hand in the crises in Imo State and other states in the South- East, I laugh. I have to tell you this that IPOB is 100% free from whatever is happening in Imo State and other states in the South- East. I say it again that IPOB is 100% free from whatever is happening in Imo State; what is rather happening in Imo State is just politicians who want to hold sway, feeding their boys and arming them to keep them perpetually in power. They saw IPOB agitation for the restoration of the State of Biafra as an opportunity and propaganda to cover their evils by pointing accusing fingers at IPOB. But their accusations are no more tenable, they don’t hold water any longer as they have started exposing themselves and the roles their compromised security personnel are playing in the crises in Imo and other South-East states.

“IPOB has long defined their aims and objectives; and that is simply, agitating for the restoration of Biafra and they are not for political activities. Even when you talk about governorship and everything, they don’t want it; they will rather ask their people not to be part of it. You talk about Presidency, they don’t want it, so anybody who is talking about IPOB having a hand in what is currently happening in Imo State is only trying to blackmail Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.

“Every right thinking Igbo man will always understand and have already understood; that it is a game plan by those greedy and money-minded, power-drunk politicians to accuse IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu as a cover, to get whatever they are looking for in the states and at Abuja. Unfortunately, it will surely boomerang one day; some people say it is already boomeranging.

Less emphasis should be laid on money politics — Bishop Onuoha

“So, for me, if there will be peace or if they want peace to reign in Imo State, South-East and by extension, Nigeria, less emphasis should be placed on money politics. America plays money politics but it has not destroyed democracy; it does not destroy individuals, communities and their states. Everybody who is into politics in America is there to serve the people and when you don’t serve the people, you are removed immediately. But in our own case, whatever you do in office as far as you are loyal and friendly to the powers-that-be in Abuja and throw money around, you are there untouched and free to commit anything unlawful and unacceptable, you are covered.

“They have employed divide and rule tactics and sowed seed of discord in the various tribes. Unfortunately, they have divided us to the point that anybody trying to get us together will be seen as an enemy and non-performer and therefore, it will be difficult for us to come together again. But one day, Nigerians will come together against those greedy and self-serving politicians, and that is the day our emancipation will begin.

“However, for the people in Imo State and politicians in Imo State and South-East at large, they should think and work for the people otherwise, I urge the people to sack them. The Imo people, if they know what is good for them and their state, should sack all those politicians causing them sleepless nights, they do not deserve the offices they are occupying.

“Power is in the hands of the people and they should use it against bad politicians, those bad eggs occupying seats in the states and at the federal level; they have the weapons in their votes and they should use it wisely against the politicians and render them perpetually powerless. If they allow the politicians to take away the powers in their votes, they will become slaves forever in the hands of those politicians, if they want to remain slaves to the corrupt and greedy politicians in Imo State and Igbo land, let them continue to remain slaves,” Bishop Onuagha charged.

INEC should play according to rules— Ahamba, SAN

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ahamba, in his opinion, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be strict and follow diligently its rules in conducting elections and avoid anyboy manipulating them.

He was of the view that politicians who could not win elections forced themselves on the people by bribing INEC officials to write results for them. The senior lawyer said if the INEC officials refused to be induced with bribes, it would go a long way in curbing the excesses of politicians.

“What I can say, you remember that some people say there will be no election in Anambra State and there was an election. When the time comes, the situation will sort itself out.

“If you are playing and if you see the election as a game, you must stick to the rules for it to be peaceful. The people playing the game and the referee which is the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, must act according to the rules.

“Once that is done, there will be no problem; even when somebody knows he is not good enough; he knows he will not win, what he does is to go to INEC, to write results and declare him winner.

“The point is that if people can play according to the rules, and the law dealing with people who do not, then we don’t need much time to get it to what we all desire on how it should be done right,” Ahamba said.

Contributing, the Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Abia State chapter, Dr. Okey Mgbeahuru, called for the spirit of brotherhood among politicians, urging winners and losers in every election to embrace dialogue to resolve differences between them.

Winners, losers should embrace dialogue —Abia CAN scribe

He explained that the winner-takes-it-all syndrome has continued to bring bitterness and rancour between contenders in every election. To boost peace and smooth governance, Mgbeahuru called on the winner to extend a hand of fellowship to the loser who should also embrace such a gesture and assist the winner in governance.

He further charged the political class to always play politics by the rules and shun violence in a bid to acquire power.

In his word: “In every political game, there must be a winner and a loser. The winner should extend a hand of fellowship to the loser, while the loser on the other hand, should embrace such a gesture and assist the winner in governance, rather than resort to war and strife. We should remain one even after elections because no one has the monopoly of knowledge. No one should be thrown away in the scheme of governance, for two good heads are better than one. We should play the politics of today to see tomorrow.

“The year, 2023 is another remarkable year in the annals of our country, Nigeria. Its significance is not just the number, but it is an election year. It means that Nigeria has successfully completed another four years of democratic rule and set for another general election to elect leaders from different political parties.

“This change in leadership is solely determined by the people. Regrettably, the context of general election in Nigeria is practised on the contrary. The political class heats up the polity with animosity, hatred, malice, bitterness and rancour.

“The assumed elite political class stops at nothing to ensure that their desired objectives are met. In a bid to acquire power, they sponsor thugs who resort to destruction of lives and property of their opponents. But they forget that, according to the scriptures, leaders are made by God. This is evidenced by His choice of leaders during the Old Testament era in the Bible.

“Leadership, politically, is now a do-or-die affair in most countries of the world, contrary to the tenets of the game. Democratic leadership should be the obvious choice of the people and not through the use of force.”

Also, a renowned politician and chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Chris Ejike Uche, believes that only men of honour can see politics as an opportunity to serve and not a do-or-die affair and admonished that such men should be elected to govern the people.

S-East should go for only men of honour — Ex-commissioner

Uche, an erstwhile Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development in Imo State, described as worrisome what he termed political animosity in South-East Zone, and charged the people of the zone and Nigerians in general to go for professionals with proven track record of leadership training and honour, saying that it is the only way the political narrative could be changed in the region.

“The dice is cast and the political shenanigans are ongoing. The present situation in the South-East is disturbing. Many see politics as a do-or-die affair. They don’t see it as service. I am calling on them to sheathe their swords.

“If we want Igbo Presidency, then we should come together. We can’t get it by being in disarray. The animosity should be shelved and we should know the right person and support him.

‘Life will surely continue after the elections’

“We must appreciate the fact that we are brothers and that life will surely continue after the elections. We need people with deep knowledge of the economy and international relations.

“Nigerians should be wary of robbers camouflaging as politicians. We don’t need people with no record of leadership training; we need technocrats. We don’t need professional politicians, what we need are professionals in politics, men of honour. That is the only way the tension can reduce and the narrative changed,” he submitted.

In his contribution, the traditional ruler of Iggah Ancient Kingdom in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Herbert Ukuta, has cautioned against politics of rancour and bitterness ahead of 2023 elections.

He cautioned violent and bloodthirsty politicians to bear in mind that they would return to their people at the end of their political career, warning that it would not pay them to kill and maim those they were supposed to be leading just to grab political power.

He also frowned at recycling of old politicians in different offices, adding that there should be level-playing field for all political aspirants to contest elections in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation and harassment of any sort.

The monarch also urged the Federal Government to stop interfering with the politics of different states and allow people their fundamental rights to freely choose those that would represent them in political offices.

“What is the point of being violent with your brothers and sisters during elections? It is either you win or lose. If you force yourself into political office, it becomes violence.

“Politicians should remember that their positions are tenured, and that at the end of it, obviously, they must go back to their people. How are they going to live with them if they are turned to enemies in order to force themselves into political office?

“To stop political insecurity in Nigeria, the Federal Government must stop interfering with the politics of the states. Let the elections be free and fair so that the electorate, the people at the grassroots would have a voice because they are the people that suffer the effects of bad governance.

“Another thing that can breed political violence is the politics of recycling political leaders. Nobody has the exclusive right of occupying political office for life. Our politicians should allow level- playing field for all political aspirants because nobody knows who God wants to use for the liberation of His people in politics. Our old politicians should give the younger ones a chance to showcase their political prowess in an atmosphere devoid of intimidation of any kind.

“The violent stock is not supposed to be in politics because one cannot be killing and maiming those he is supposed to be leading. We need serious political orientation in this country for things to work out well. The Ministry of Information and the National Orientation Agency are no longer at their best in their respective duties.

“INEC should also go back and study the meaning of being independent. It cannot continue writing election results in the parlor of any politician who bribed the commission, thereby stealing the people’s mandate; that is another cause of political violence, especially, if the people knew that they didn’t vote the person who was declared winner,” the monarch explained.

‘Politicians should sign a peace agreement’

The Co-Chair of Interfaith Peace and Dialogue Forum, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, stressing on the Imo situation, said there is need for President Muhammadu Buhari to summon all political gladiators in the state to Aso Rock and compel them to sign a peace pact as part of measures to lessen the killings in the state.

The cleric who described the killings as senseless and unacceptable said time had come to hold the political elite in the state accountable.

His words: “These killings are evil and unacceptable. I call on the President to invite all the political gladiators in Imo to the Villa, and not allow them to leave until they sign a peace agreement.”

Bishop Onuoha also challenged faith leaders with unquestionable character to step in and broker peace among the political warlords in the state.

He argued that since the gladiators are members of various faith organizations, faith leaders should help to call them to order.

Still speaking on Imo situation, the National President of the Prime Ministers Association of Nigeria, High Chief Uche Akwukwuegbu, appealed to politicians in Imo to sheath their swords especially as the election come nearer.

He also urged the political players in Imo State to allow the incumbent Governor Hope Uzodinma, a chance to govern, arguing that there can be only one governor at a time.

“The political elite should give the governor a chance to rule. You can’t have two governors at the same time. They should allow him to govern and complete his tenure no matter how he came in”.

Chief Akwukwuegbu advised politicians to eschew politics of rancour and bitterness.

Renowned political scientist, Prof Obasi Igwe, in his opinion, urged politicians to shun hiring youths for political thugs and embrace free and fair election to maintain peace and progress after elections.

He also tasked the youths to learn to hold leaders accountable, condemn and refuse to participate in cultism, bribery and corruption, kidnapping and other social ills.

“Register to vote and be voted for and ensure that the vote counts. The youths must spearhead the struggle for a modern democratic secular state of equal civilized laws and equal applications, a single judicial system based on Common Law and insistence that crimes of any sort, especially those that are electoral or related to corruption, life and property, are severely punished.

“Above all, short of a violent revolution, the youths must insist on good governance, including free and quality education, and well remunerated jobs, as the ultimate guarantors of security in any part of the East and beyond”, he said.