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Between Ohanaeze and Jonathan, By Elvis Akuchukwu

By News Express on 20/02/2017

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•Ohanaeze President-General Nnia Nwodo.
•Ohanaeze President-General Nnia Nwodo.

I read with utter disbelief, the recent comments credited to the new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, impugning on the character of the immediate past President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR.

As an experienced politician and a man with an analytical mind, Chief Nwodo is expected to examine any subject of public interest critically before making comments. This is particularly pertinent when he speaks as the leader of the Pan-Igbo body, Ohanaeze, as his comments will be assumed to reflect the sentiments of the Igbo.

In the Vanguard edition of February 12, 2017, Nwodo said that Dr Goodluck Jonathan was not sincere – pointing to the second Niger Bridge, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Enugu-Makurdi Road, as proofs. If he were the former president, how would he feel about such unsavoury comments? With his comments, Nwodo shot an invisible, poisoned arrow at a head of state under whose tenure the Igbo had the best deal in post-civil war Nigeria. The facts are crystal clear.

Nnia Nwodo and his likes should ponder the following, among other, questions:

From the 1970s to the advent of the Jonathan administration, how many Igbo held strategic positions in the Federal Government? How many times did other past-presidents and heads of state of Nigeria visit the South-East geo-political zone, and with definite commitments? How many past heads of state accorded due protocol to such Igbo elder statesmen as Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Dr Alex Ekwueme with a son’s reverential love for the father?

It goes without saying that it was Jonathan that restored the identity of the Igbo in the Nigerian polity and society. It was under Dr Jonathan that Igbo, for the first time since the civil war, became service chiefs, namely: Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff and Comptroller-General of Immigration. Do we have such short memories to forget that under Jonathan, Igbo were afforded the opportunities to serve as Ministers of Power, Finance; heads of AMCON, Securities & Exchange Commission, the Stock Exchange, among a number of other strategic positions. What is empowerment in the Nigerian polity, if not through such appointments? How does the current status of Igbo compare to the Jonathan era?

The second Niger Bridge is one of the greatest legacies of the Jonathan administration, and for good reasons. In the first instance, it was Jonathan that summoned the political will to get the project into the national scheme of things. His administration conceived the project, flagged it off and paid the initial N10 billion for work to commence in earnest. He was committed to completing the project, but could not for the simple reason that he lost the 2015 election, which he conceded with commendable grace and statesmanship. Even as Nwodo chose to vilify Jonathan, it is indeed remarkable that his successor considered the project a worthy investment to pursue and conclude; and the ball is now in that court.

As the president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was close to the Igbo – as he was to other geo-political zones. Under him, quite a number of enterprising Igbo people were afforded platforms to explore and express their talents and competencies. A case in point is his timely intervention in Innoson Motors’ spat with Nigerian Customs case – compelling the ill-advised Customs to reimburse the entrepreneur all he lost from their high-handedness. Alas, such is human nature that some of the beneficiaries of Jonathan’s administration have joined in vilifying him after he left office. Thankfully, people of integrity like Innoson Motors still acknowledge the active support that administration provided to indigenous entrepreneurship.

As the president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, would not hear about the second Niger Bridge or even upgrading the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, to an international gateway. However, as Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu revealed, Jonathan gave approval for that strategic international gateway to the South-east. The same Jonathan started the International Terminal of the airport, which is now completed.

Regular commuters and transporters would concede that former president Jonathan invested substantial work on the roads mentioned by Nnia Nwodo. As has become the albatross of public projects, some influential leaders of the Senate from the east appropriated most of the funds voted for the reconstruction of dual carriage roads in the east and diverted it to the building of the roads to their villages. This is a matter for another day.

Through his gestures to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Jonathan boosted the dignity of the Igbo and their sense of belonging. While alive, Dim Ojukwu was visited thrice in his Enugu residence by then president Jonathan. When he fell ill, the president sent a representative to see him in hospital in London, even as the Nigerian High Commission paid almost a daily visit to him there. Has any other Nigerian head of state done such for us?

At his burial, Dim Ojukwu was accorded full military honours as a General - with Generals as Pall Bearers. Indeed, Jonathan had to travel through the regular airport wing, because the Presidential Wing was used to receive the remains of Ojukwu.

Beyond the Igbo, Jonathan did a lot to unite the South-East and South-South geo-political zones. Today, the pronouncements of authentic leaders from those zones demonstrate the depth of unity and cordiality among them. We should consolidate on the unity, acknowledge the role of Jonathan and reject efforts to degrade him.

Dr Jonathan is a source of pride to Nigerians, and will surely live to become one of the greatest African leaders. The future holds pre-eminence for him. His traducers, like Chief Obasanjo, know this, but their malicious machinations to demean him will end in futility.

Jonathan is our own and we must guard him jealously. Rather than join in diminishing him, Ohanaeze leadership should try and consolidate the new vistas of relationship his presidency engendered between the South-East and South-South.

Akuchukwu, a post-graduate student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, can be reached via voxpopuli1980@gmail.com.

Source News Express

Posted 20/02/2017 2:30:56 PM

 

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