Monday, 10 August 2015


Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu
There is a certain friend of mine from the south-western part of Nigeria who keeps drumming it into my ears that an Ibo will never be the president of Nigeria again. When I probed to know why, he simply says the Ibo people are ‘selfish and self-destroying’. Though we always laugh over it, there is some truth in that statement. Our friends from other ethnic groups in the country know too well the vulnerability of Ibo politicians in a country where they should have been treated as ‘champions’ because of their unmatched ingenuity.

However, I would like to remind some Ibo politicians who possibly must have forgotten what happened when the position of the senate president was zoned to south-east by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led government from 1999 – 2003, during former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure. It is on record that before Obasanjo ended his tenure, almost all the states in the south-east produced a senate president for lack of oneness and cohesion. Though there were some manipulations from different quarters which were not resisted by the people of the zone and became a laughing stock because of inordinate ambition of some individuals.

It should beat the imagination of the people of the south-east that former senate president David Mark, from Gboko, Benue State served eight years without any interlude. Apparently, Mark could not have been an angel or holier than his predecessors in the senate, but we never heard of any senator from the north central who for once, decided to edge him out, peddled fictitious stories to discredit him.

Having said that, it appears another scenario is systematically and gradually presenting itself in the choice of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government. Since about two months, grapevine had it that Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was tipped to serve as the SGF. Since the rumour began circulating, nothing has been heard of it again. Instead, information had it that the governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, had submitted three names to Buhari, and that one of them was his in-law.

The question I want to ask is when will politicians from the south-east ever learn a lesson when it comes to issues of national appointment? When will they learn to support good materials and by extension, learn to support a candidate of Ibo extraction that has been deemed fit for national duty? When will politicians from the south east appreciate each other and give unalloyed support to a candidate that has no skeleton vying for higher political, academic or social positions in the country?

I think it is high time that right thinking politicians of Ibo extraction showed their support for Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as the SGF, especially now that top leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are apparently appealing to Buhari to appoint Dr. Onu, who has also served as the first elected governor of Abia State and national chairman of the defunct ANPP, to that position. The issue here is not that an Ebonyi indigene had just left as SGF, but the concern should be whether Dr. Onu is fit for such an office? The answer is yes. Dr. Onu is intelligent, a politician with charisma, reliable and humble.

Even in political circles, Dr. Onu is known as a trusted politician. In fact those politicians trotting and navigating from East to West and North to South trying to discredit him are not really his match in politics. When he became the governor of Abia State in 1991, some of the present-day politicians were still hustling in some quarters as ‘errand boys’. Late Professor Chinua Achebe in “Things Fall Apart”, said: “Those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.” This should be a message to some Igbo politicians who are after and against Dr. Onu’s choice as the SGF.

Don’t get me wrong, if people learn to appreciate others, good will always follow them. The good I mean here is not converting public funds to personal gains, but it could be in the form of good health and long life. Politics in Nigeria, especially in the south east has become something else. There is no respect and honour to whom it is due. Dr. Onu is a man of honour in many respects. For instance, this was a man who never decamped from one political party to the other because of ‘stomach infrastructure’ which has been the habit of many politicians. I believe that even without being the SGF, Dr. Onu will still be prominent in Buhari’s government, but I think honour should be given to whom it is due. On the other hand, it is believed that the president would like to work with Onu whom he already knows as a trusted ally and capable of delivering. Apart from being a former governor and national chairman of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP), he had served as the first chairman of the conference of elected governors, among other positions. (Thisday)