It is good to learn some lessons from your boss especially when the boss is older and more experienced than you, as is the case between former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, and his boss, former President Shehu Shagari. It is possible that Ekwueme had learnt some lessons from Shagari, but it is apparent that he did not learn the most important lessons. Otherwise, he will not be talking about Igbo President. It seems that the tragedy of descending so low from Zik Africa to Owelle of Onitsha is not yet over in Nigeria.
The Sun, an Igbo-friendly Newspaper reported that “former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, has called on Igbo to take up the fight for the President from where he stopped in 2003… Ekwueme said he took a shot at the Presidency twice but did not succeed. He expressed hope that Igbo would take up the gauntlet and ensure that the dreams and aspirations of Igbo nation in producing a President were realized (Daily Sun, February 13, 2017 P6)”
Ekewueme may have his reasons for saying what he said, especially with the popular stupid argument by some people that the 1983 coup against President Shagari was organized to block him (Ekweume) from succeeding Shagari. That it was safer for the Northern establishment to remove Shagari and replace him with his kinsman, General Muhammadu Buhari.
But Shagari became President on merit because he wanted to be a Senator but his colleagues in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) insisted that he must go for the Presidency because he was going to be an easy sell to Nigerians. And an easy sell he was. Undoubtedly, Shagari is a good man.
But would Shagari have been accepted by Nigerians if he were talking about his “Fulani race”? Imagine, even after retirement from active party politics, Shagari is to be quoted as saying, after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, that the next President must come from the North for the region to complete its tenure. Of course, Shagari would not have said that because he is a statesman and is trained in the art of politics and administration.
One of the problems of Nigeria is that many people assume important public offices without tutelage, which has been defined as “the teaching and instruction that one person gives to another… the state of being protected or controlled by another”. If he stands tall, a world acclaimed scientist, Albert Einstein, argued is because he stands on the shoulders of giants.
Let me give you an example on how people benefit from tutelage. The late Abubakar Rimi told some of his associates that when he was sworn-in as governor in 1979, he went and told Malam Aminu Kano about his plan to take another wife. The process, he told Aminu Kano, was almost completed but he suspended it because of his gubernatorial election campaign. Mallam Aminu was furious and told him to go and cancel the plan. “What are we going to tell people, that few days after you were sworn-in as governor, you are going for another wife. Is this what you promised the electorate?” Rimi apologized, left and cancelled the arrangements.
Also, Danmasanin Kano, Alhaji Maitama Sule said that any time they were in the Parliament, he would go and greet Chief Obafemi Awolowo. One day, the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, said to him that he was suspicious of his romance with Awolowo. “I am doing it to portray the good training you gave us. You always admonish us to respect our elders no matter our differences with them. But if I’m wrong, I will discontinue”, Danmasani said. Tafawa Balewa replied. “Allah ya yi maka albarka (God bless you).”
Danmasani also cited an incident when Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna ignored Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the latter tried to inquire why the Sardauna behaved the way he did. The Sardauna said it was because one of the Awolowo’s disciples saw him (Sardauna) and refused to greet him. Awolowo sent for the disciple and dressed him down. He also directed him to go and kneel down and greet the Sardauna. If you know Awolowo, you will know that it was not corwardice or fear. No. It was tutelage in action.
I am always irritated when I hear an otherwise responsible person who has held responsible national positions talking about his “Yoruba race” or “Igbo Nation”. God bless Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He must have made many offensive statements. But you will never catch him saying “we the descendants of Oduduwa”, or, “our Yoruba race”. Such statements are for the insecure small minds. Not Baban Iyabo, he had his tutelage during the short period of General Murtala Muhammed as Head of State. It was a short period, but the best in the history of Nigeria in terms of focused and knowledge-based nationalism. Virtually all the products of the era such as Genarel Shehu Yar’Adua, General T.Y. Danjuma, Alhaji M.D. Yusuf talk as Nigerians, not ethnic irredentist .
The success of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna in training their disciples in the art of politics and administration always show in the conduct of the disciples. They stand out from the subsequent politicians who emerged from nowhere with their money and assumed leadership positions.
If Ekwueme has problem in learning from his boss, there is much he can learn from some of his younger brothers like Chief Rochas Okorocha, the Imo state Governor. Okorocha won election as Governor under APGA, an Igbo party. He later realized the futility of continuing with the delusion called Igbo Nation and crossed over to APC, under which he contested another gubernatorial election and won. It is interesting watching Okorocha working hard to be seen as a Nigerian, without sacrificing his Igbo identity which qualified him to be a Nigerian. The two are not mutually exclusive. I believe that Nigerians will vote him, when it is his time.
Interestingly, unknown to the Ekwueme’s, Nigerians are now more united in crime than ethnic nationalism. Consider this: “The goods[arms] importer Oscan Okafor, the clearing agent Mahmud Hassan and Sadique Mustapha, the man accompanying the goods to the destination were all apprehended, according to the report on the recent customs discovery of 661 rifles being imported into Nigeria.” (Daily Trust 13|2|2017 page 48)
Dikko wrote this piece from Abuja.
If you are happy to be contacted by a Daily Trust journalist please leave a telephone
number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will
be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state
otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures,
video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others,
take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the
terms and conditions.