By Amaechi Ugwele
The President of the Federal Republic, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is visiting Enugu State. Although it is supposed to be a PDP affair, the entire people of the South East geo-political zone of the country, home and abroad, are happy to receive him.
And for us, his visit reminds us all too clearly the significance of his political journey as a leader from a minority ethnic group, in a country where some have apprioprated leadership as of a right even when what they have had to unleash upon us were disastrous mediocres that ensured all those while Nigeria became nothing more than a scorched waste land; a giant hopelessly on its knees; a place where everything was arrested and in endless comatose, with little or no sense of National pride nor patriotism on the part of over sapped citizens.
And then fate intervaned and Jonathan became the President. We all knew the epic political farce that played out before his ascension to the exalted seat of the presidency. They conjured every trick in their book of mischief and invented new ones, stood the constitution on its head, held everybody to ransome to exclude Jonathan from a position both God and man had so appointed him into. Why? To perpetuate a narrow cabal and regional power mongering interest, made all the more imperative to the executors because of where Jonathan came from.
To them, a Jonathan presidency was a political sacrilege, a haram that must not materialize. How could an Ijaw man, who should have been much better off drowned in the ocean, become the President? But then the rest who for too long had been held down, in a sudden surge of courage, rose to the occasion. Whoever didnt want the right thing done might as well got lost with his cattle in the desert!
Similar scenarios have for too long played out before us in Enugu state. It makes one recall with pain the dychotomy that existed in the old Anambra State where the people of present Enugu and Ebonyi States were marginalized and cruelly excluded from everything about the state by the minority that consisted of the present Anambra State. It was so obnoxious that people like the late Cheif CC Onoh and Dr Akanu Ibiam devoted the remainder parts of their lives then waging war against it and struggling for a new Wawa State.
And as it were, by the time Babangida gave us Enugu State, things were so pathetic that almost all government offices were empty of personel as Anambra people left. Those that remained were messengers and junior clerks. Then I was privileged to engage the late Justice Nwodo (Nnia’s wife) who was then a magistrate in a discussion. She had told me as Anambra people left there were just two of them left in the bench as magistrates in the whole of Enugu State. And dont forget she came from Anambra and was thus an Enugu indigine by marriage. A beautiful, inteligent and humble lady, she had denounced the situation as unconsciounablely unfair to the people of Enugu.
We moved from marginalazation from Anambra and have since been saddled with that of Enugu where Nsukka is the butt everyone has been kicking with all pleasure. And after enduring this, we come home in Igbo Etiti to be futher kicked more viciously, spiced up with hot slaps, before being shoved aside by Ukehe and Aku, with Ukehe manning the door, making sure we remain shoved aside for good.
As President Jonathan visits, as we welcome and cheer him, we should remember that there is much to be learned from his political experience as a people. He is a symbol of hope against oppression to all minority people of Nigeria. Ohodo has much in common with Otuoke where Jonathan jails from. Apart from near similarity in names, they are both neglected and oppressed by larger groups around them. Much more common is that both are producing persons soon going into leadership positions endowed uncommonly to effect a much desired change. While Otuoke, in Ogbia Local Government of Bayelsa State hosting the first oil well in Nigeria (Oloibiri) is giving Jonathan to Nigeria; Ohodo, among first communities to host pipe borne water in Nsukka, of Igbo Etiti Local Government of Enugu State is giving Professor Simon Ortuanya to Enugu State.
These are gentlemen of history with so much in common in humility and passion for the good of the ordinary citizen. It is while presdent Jonathan is presiding that Nigeria’s economy for the first time grew to become the biggest in Africa! Even if it is on paper as some cynics argue, its still a no mean fit. But its not on paper. The effect will soon begin to trickle down to micro level where the man in the street will feel the impact. On his part, it was while Prof. Ortuanya held sway as a commissioner in Enugu that nearly a hundred citizens got employed into various permanent positions in the state. Before him in the immediate past, others from Ohodo had served. They went, saw nothing, did nothing and came back with nothing except enhanced capacity to drink to stupour and then sleep the remainder of the productive period of the day away.