Dear Brother Chekwas Okorie (Ojeligbo),
I had wanted to avoid commenting on your latest political alignment, but key and respected leaders in Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) have urged otherwise. They advised that my comment on behalf of ADF was necessary in view of the fact that you had fraternized with ADF at the very early days of its formation.
I still remember the theme you and I had agreed as the subject of your paper presented at the 2014 International Colloquium on the Igbo Question in Nigeria: Before, During and After Biafra. That paper was captioned “The Role of the Party System in the Resolution of the Igbo Question in Nigeria” (Chapter 26 of the IGBO NATION: History and Challenges of Rebirth and Development, vol. 1 pp. 559-575 published by Kraft Books Ltd, Ibadan (2015)
In that paper you brilliantly showed that Political Parties carry out the function of articulation and aggregation of social and political interests within the wider society.
The question then is whose social and political interests do political parties articulate and aggregate within any given society?
In our political science classes, we were taught that politics itself is power struggle among social forces. Experience, however, teaches all through the ages that, in a multi-ethnic society, the most potent social forces are ethnic nationalities not individuals.
This reality is clearly captured in your Colloquium paper where you gave account of the formation of various political parties to advance the interests of the competing nationalities in the Nigerian Federation, viz-
I. The Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) – under the leadership of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto which articulated and aggregated the interests of the Fulani caliphate. The NPC was later replaced by the NPN
II. The Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) led by Aminu Kano that championed the interests of the Fulani-dominated Hausas (Talakawas). The Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) later took the place of the NEPU.
III. The United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) led by Joseph Tarka for the protecting and advancing the interest of the Middle Belt particularly the TIV.
IIII. The GNPP led by Waziri Ibrahim for the interest of the Kanuri.
V. The Action Group, AG (later the UPN) was obviously formed to protect and advance the interests of the Yoruba.
VI. The NCNC, though it started its journey as an idealist pan-national party, eventually settled as a party dominated by Igbo interest. It later replaced by the NPP, truly to defend and advance Igbo political interests.
VII. We are aware of the emergence of big alliances of political parties such as Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) that brought together the NPC and the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), as well as the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), that brought together the Action Group and the NCNC. In each case there was no doubt as to which of the Alliance partners was in charge.
VIII. Today we know who is the master among the alliance-partners in the APC, even though it is a pro-Caliphate and a pro-Yoruba coalition.
IX. The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), which you played a key role to midwife, was ideally meant to defend the interests of Ndigbo in a multi-ethnic Federation.
According to you, APGA was also meant to be an instrument available to Ndigbo, in your own words, for “political resurgence, dialogue, negotiation, reconciliation and economic relevance. Our internal cohesion, unity and respectability in and outside Nigeria are equally dependent on our pragmatic pursuit of the Political Party System”.
When you lost your place in the APGA, you formed the United Peoples Party (UPP); a move we considered as an act of political courage. But now, in the light of the above, where does UPP stand? I mean in the APC coalition, for what purpose – personal or Igbo interest?
Some of us have maintained that politics in Nigeria is like the Game vampires play. And it is increasingly becoming vampirish by the day. In such a situation the society, especially Alaigbo need exorcists. You met us on the tuff of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) attempting to play the role of exorcist in our political terrain. And as such, those who see political parties as trading companies (a la the immortal Ikenna Nzimiro) are bound to feel strange within it.
When the news about your present political alignment came to us, those who do not know that political party game in Nigeria is the game vampires play or that what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) register are mainly political trading companies came to me shouting Eh tu Brutius Ojoleigbo!
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) has already stated her position on the 2019 Elections, giving reasons why the Buhari ticket cannot be endorsed. Among the grave reasons that border on the security of Alaigbo and the rest of the Federation, there is the equally frightening case of the resurgence of the Boko Haram insurgency together with the frightening admission of President Buhari that his regime is incapable of defeating the Boko Haram forces. When you further add the fact that his regime has released, retrained and recruited condemned Boko Haram insurgents into the Nigerian military, then you will agree with us that we are suffering two composite disabilities that add up to a state of total failure of governance, total anarchy.
The story is told about those days during the Vietnamese war with America, and because it was a war situation, the Vietnamese soldiers – the Vietcong – had to resort to the highest level of ideological purity and commitment to defend their people. America was fighting and physically decimating the Vietnamese soldiers – the Vietcong, just like the Vietcong were doing the same. Often the Vietcong would capture the American business men, those referred to as the imperialists or capitalists, the great enemies of their people. When they do, they would be offered bags of dollar by their American captives in exchange for their release.
The poor Vietcong freedom fighters would receive the bags of dollars. In front of them, they would pour fuel on the bags and set the whole money ablaze. After that, they would still kill their victim. In order words, for Vietcong to accept the money, the bribe money was an abomination, evil, aru!. To them, no quantum of dollars could be exchanged for their peoples’ freedom.
An average business man or even any less ideologically mature person from anywhere could reason, why not accept the money and still kill him. It appears that the Vietnamese ideological spirit was as strong as the spirit of Ofor ndi ebeanyi.
As long as our commitment to the liberation of our people is dominated by the spirit of izu okwe, iwere nka irie nkaozo, we shall be going no where. As long as it is dominated by the spirit of those oracles in our society which had become bastardized, especially during the slave trade era in our history, when the oracles, especially the Long juju of Arochukwu had became instruments of slavery, we shall continue to run in circles, engaging in useless propaganda, while the enemy continues to decimate us physically, economically and politically.
Perhaps Ojeligbo, you were too busy during the period of your sojourn in ADF to understand that it is the fundamental belief of ADF that the freedom of our people cannot be exchanged for anything not even billions of naira or dollars.
The ADF advocacy of Regional Autonomy (or an Independent Republic) surely goes with the existence of Regional Political Party that is an organizer of the people and an instrument of political and economic struggle and resurgence, and not as a trading company guided by banal pragmatism.
There is a brother I met during our recent visit to the US. He is a man full of ideas and gets on very well with the low and the mighty. Our brothers Christopher Okoli and Ezeji Alozie Aguwa know him. Each time he writes a piece for the attention of his friends, he ends up with chew on this! I think what he means is like Herbert Ogunde’s Yoruba Ronu!
Ndigbo, Uche Unu Odikwa Nihe Naganu Ugbua!
Umuigbo chew on this development – the recent political alignment of Chief Chekwas Okorie, alias Ojeligbo and others in the current political dispensation. Brother Chief Chekwas, please chew on it, given the realities of our political predicament that have never changed since the days of APGA.
Finally, let me quote the words of brother Chekwas in the paper he presented during the 2014 ADF Colloquium, According to him,
“The Role of Party System in the Resolution of the Igbo Question In Nigeria,” has agitated my mind for a long time. The apparent lack of interest or ignorance or knowledge of the role of a political party in any democracy in advancing the cause of a people, protecting, promoting and defending their political interest by pioneer Igbo Political Leaders who preferred to be joiners instead of founders of Political Parties is most scandalous.
Please Ojeligbo (what a title!)
Chew on this!
Prof Uzodinma Nwala is the President of Alaigbo Development Foundation