Connect with us


OPINION: Is Umahi also Igbo?



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

YES, he is. A bonafide Igbo for that matter. After all, he was a two term governor of Ebonyi, one of the five states in the south east of the country. And south east is the core of the Igbo nation. It really does not matter that some elements in Ebonyi state do not really see themselves as Igbo. There are many dialects of the Igbo language.Sure. But there is something common in the dialects-almost all Igbo people understand and comprehend themselves no matter the dialect they speak. However, there is a particular part of Ebonyi state who, when they speak their dialect, the typical Igbo person from outside their community will never make out any meaning from their words.

This assertion is not designed to exclude or make any part of the south east less Igbo. No.But it is the reality. It is a fact. It is what it is. But Ebonyi state is Igbo land. I can’t vouch for it, but from his utterances, associations, alignments and mannerisms, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, a former chairman of the South East Governors Forum, could be grappling with identity crisis, a man who is still struggling to make a meaning out of his Igboness. He probably still regards his being Igbo a burden or a yoke that should be removed, one way or the other. Umahi may be struggling with the same dilemma confronting the cousins of the Igbo in parts of Delta, Edo, Kogi, Benue, Rivers, Cross River states, among other states. Some of these people who bear unmistakable Igbo names, including the elaborately corrupted names, feel that identifying as Igbo deprives them of opportunities and privileges in Nigeria.

Some feel that they will lose contracts, scholarships for education, promotions in the civil service, the armed forces and sundry places if they identified as Igbo. Others fear that their careers will be stunted if they be associated with the Igbo nation. l will not begrudge such people. The Igbo were defeated and virtually crushed in the civil war of 1967-1970. And the spoils of war belonged to the victors, not the vanquished. No pun intended on the former Head of State Yakubu Gowon’s hollow slogan of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ which he proclaimed at the end of the war in January 1970. We can illustrate with one instance when an identity denier became a beneficiary of a high and sensitive post in the Nigerian security structure. Chief Mike Mbama Okiro served as an inspector-general of Police between 2007-2009. In the 60 odd years since the first Nigerian, Louis Edet, acceded to that position in 1964, only one Igbo man, Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo 2009 to 2010-had attained that post. The first Igbo person actually should have been Onovo’s predecessor, Okiro. But in the books he was not Igbo. Okiro hails from Egbema in Imo state but from the Nigerian official records, he is from the part of Egbema carved out of today’s Imo state and awarded to Rivers state. The part bears crude oil. It was part of the plot to decapitate the Igbo nation as a consequence of the Biafra-Nigeria War that that part was carved out and ceded to Rivers state. Counting the present occupant, Nigeria has had 21 inspectors general of police with only one Igbo person making the cut.

Back to our subject-David Nweze Umahi, the reigning minister of works-whose Igboness we advisedly queried in the headline above. The motive is not to deny him his dues or who he is. In relation to the headline, I verily believe that Umahi, probably an Assemblies of God practicing Christian must be conversant with the Bible Book of the Gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew in chapter 16, verses 22 & 23. The verses read: “ThenPeter took Him [Jesus], and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But He [Jesus Christ] turned, and said unto Peter, get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men”. For context, you may need toread the whole chapter. Peter was a preeminent disciple of Jesus Christ,yet he was addressed in the manner Jesus did.

READ ALSO:OPINION: Why Tinubu is afraid

As with Apostle Peter, something works inside of us that sometimes we are not conscious of. The same can be said of Umahi. On May 1, he practically called for the arrest of Peter Obi and the placement of the Igbo nation on the watch list of the regime of the President, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Umahi, claimed without any shred of evidence that Obi, an Igbo like himself, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party [LP] in the controversial 2023 presidential election was inciting the Igbo against the government of Tinubu. The contention was over the construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway which has drawn flaks from some critical voices in the country. In fact, it was the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who first raised objection to the project. He said correctly thatthere was no competitive and transparent bidding; that the terms of the construction was opaque; that the estimated cost per kilometre for the road was outrageous; and, that the whole project was nothing short of a highway to fraud.

Atiku kicked against the obvious ethical issues involved given that the owner of Hitech Construction Company to which the contract was awarded is a business partner of Tinubu.He recently stated that Tinubu’s son’s membership of the board of Hitech raises grave ethical issues. Obi took a different angle all together in his disagreement with the coastal highway. He argued that the road could not be a priority in the present circumstances of the country. He counseled that instead of committing more than N15 trillion on a new highway that may eventually be abandoned, the administration would do well to recover, repair and possibly reconstruct numerous federal highways which litter parts of the country and which are in terrible conditions. Obi did not make wild allegations because he meticulously listed all the federal highways in the country’s six geo-political zones that are in bad shape. He went further to mention federal roads which have been under repairs and reconstruction for decades on end.

Perhaps, Obi’s crime was that he said that the coastal highway project will lead to massive loss of jobs at a time of high unemployment; will destroy businesses when other policies of this government had made business survival an uphill task [about 700 firms have folded up in the last year while another 300 are barely surviving]; and, that it will discourage both foreign and domestic investors from investing in Nigeria. One major business said to be on the pathway of the road, Landmark Beach Resort, was said to be owned by an Igbo person. Apparently, Umahi latched on this to carry out his hatchet job by inferring that Obi’s counsel that investors should be encouraged and job losses avoided was because of Landmark. The minister must be disingenuous and mean-spirited in this linkage. Many non-Igbo persons have also spoken in the manner that Obi spoke without them being accused of inciting their people against the regime of Tinubu by Umahi. For context, the Oxford Dictionary defines incitement as ‘the act of encouraging someone to do something violent, illegal, or unpleasant’. For any government anywhere in the world, the accusation of planning violence is akin to plotting to wage or levy a war on the country with the aim of overthrowing the head of state/government. It is treated as treason and the common punishment for those charged and convicted is death by hanging or firing squad. For the avoidance of doubt that’s what Umahi has done by accusing Obi of inciting Ndigbo against the regime of Tinubu. He is setting up Obi for arrest and putting the Igbo nation in the crosshairs of this regime.

The Tinubu regime is gasping for breath from self-inflicted injuries. It is desperate and it will not shy away from taking desperate, draconian and undemocratic actions to distract from its many colossal failings. The removal of the so-called subsidy in petrol was wrong-headed. The floating of the Naira has proved a disaster. The astronomical hike in electricity tariff is becoming the regime’s archille’s heels. Inflation, especially food inflation, is galloping away. Unemployment among the youth population is a ticking bomb. Transnational businesses are cutting and leaving the country in their numbers voting with their feet. Even Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, lamented recently that businesses are hurting badly. There’s no doubt that the heat is on this fumbling government. Otherwise, how does anyone explain claims of wins by the regime’s megaphones where there are no wins. Its claim that Qatar had lifted the travel ban on Nigeria and that it was restoring flight relations immediately turned out to be a flat and fat lie. This same regime claimed last week that Tinubu had secured a $600 million investment for our ports from Danish maritime giant, Maersk.

The company debunked the claim and said that the announcement of the deal from the Nigerian Presidency was strange and news to them. No explanations were offered to Nigerians by their government beyond the Presidency deleting its tweet on the bogus ports investment deal. The same was the experience with false claims concerning Qatar.Tinubu’s men are the worst purveyors of fake news and unrestrained abusers of the social media. The regime is also disdainful and contemptuous of Nigerians. Even as we write this on Sunday, the whereabouts of the President of Nigeria are unknown, six days after the end of the Saudi Arabia World Economic Forum which he had attended.

Umahi can serve his masters without setting up Obi, the acclaimed authentic Nigerian leader, for arrest and possible elimination. He can serve his masters even on the strength of the alleged promise made to him by the ‘owners of Nigeria’ to make him the first Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in this republic without exposing Ndigbo to the wrath of government. But as he does that, he should ask around how many other Igbo politicians have been made similar promise. The Igbo nation is still reeling from the externally induced instability, insecurity and bloodletting visited on them and their homeland under the watch the former President, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the undisputed Nigerian affliction. Umahi is a danger to Ndigbo and Nigeria. He should be reined in.


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

Join the conversation


Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism

Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.

As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.

If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.

Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.

Donate Now