By Olaniyi Olanike
“Ojo Maduekwe was also as wily as they come in the politics of eating one of his own to pave way for himself… In essence, a few pro-Igbo policies of the Obasanjo era were lost in the din of tribal self-hate Ojo polluted all around the Villa. Recall that it was Ojo that called his own people – the Igbos idiots and all that, and he never apologized”. This is contained in an article by James Osunbor, titled, “Ojo Maduekwe is a drag on Nigeria's foreign policy”, 25 September 2009.
So, I was yet to believe that it was Chief Ojo Maduekwe again that wrote the article published in the ThisDay newspapers of October 31, 2014, (after many wreckages he had caused Ndigbo and everyone around him) where he disparaged the personality of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State, for the exaltation of the incumbent, Chief Theodore Ahamefule Orji, not until I read a rejoinder to it published in the Daily Sun edition of November 5 2014, titled “Ojo Maduekwe and his Abia tale by moonlight”.
Maduekwe who was using referrals in that article to debase Kalu made me believe the opinion of Kalu in another forum that, the elders of Abia State and other well-meaning persons in the state are now on their toes, cowed to navigate to anywhere the compass goes, without holding to their own opinion about the state. Suffice it to say that the governor has made everybody to become afraid of his or her life. Talking about some persons summoning the courage to speak out against the evils of the government is a big story for another day, just as Maduekwe has exhibited.
I’m sure that Maduekwe was cowed into airing such views against Kalu that lack in substance, much as they lack in truth. Maduekwe, without doubt, needs a serious transformation. He wanted to get publicity by that jaundiced article of his, but he will not get it. Rather, we have to remind him that Nigeria is moving forward from politics of controversy which is the second name of Madukwe. We have to remind Maduekwe that it takes clean hands to go before equity. Why disparage the innocent Kalu, Maduekwe? Now I believe the maxim that some Nigerians prefer “Stomach Infrastructure”.
Since 2001, Maduekwe has been rapping Kalu for no fault of Kalu. However, Osumbor throws light into that, writing: recall also that the main reason Orji Uzor Kalu (as Governor) engaged Ojo was because vintage Kalu, fighting for Igbos (and the masses) like he always does, could not suffer witches lightly. Beyond that, Ojo was more like a warlock that turned into various winged monsters at night to suck the life-blood of his own people. Orji saw through it all and decided that the only option was to stop the man from winning any election in their native Abia state. Orji was in good company because much of Abia people and entire Igboland have since reckoned with the sort of self-hating breed Ojo was made of and thus had no problem in handing him defeat after defeat at all the elections he contested.
In some quarters, people have been fighting for Kalu. One Rudolf Okonkwo was among the numerous people who have thrown their weight for the truth. Okonkwo on Monday, February 26, 2001, published an article, titled, “To Ojo Maduekwe, I say, tufiakwa!” Although, he said that he was not a fan of Kalu, Okonkwo wrote: Ojo Maduekwe is a living symbol of all that is wrong with Igboland. He is more patriotic than the parrot. He speaks French more than the French. He is forever excited about the authority of his master that is at his disposal. He has no sense of tomorrow and the history of the past means nothing to him. He speaks Latin, a dead language and thinks he speaks in tongue. He is just a butterfly that thinks himself a bird. People like Ojo Maduekwe needs to know more before they know how little they truly know. You find them everywhere Ndigbo gather. Either they are ‘lost in the confusion of their understanding’, or you see them ‘lost in the understanding of their confusion’.”
What was the problem? Maduekwu who believed that power was not transient till he was disgraced out of the political equation at the federal level and remains nobody at the state level had said that there was no Igbo Republic. This was in the event that Ndigbo were pressing for Igbo presidency in 2003. Because Maduekwe believed that he was reaping much from the government of that time, sold Ndigbo, his people, less than 30 pieces of silver just for the lucre of power.
Okonkwo argued that, this lack of recognition of the existence of Igbo Republic within the bigger Federal Republic of Nigeria is at the core of Ojo Maduekwe’s malady. And it is not just Ojo Maduekwe. There are so many Igbos like him. This was the same oversight Zik had. Zik had the illusion that Nigeria was one big pot that its whole content will melt if he begins by melting himself. Unknown to him, the salad bar that Nigeria is won’t be turning into that dream melting pot any time soon.
Okonkwo said that we should Ojo Maduekwe: “There is no Igbo Republic. What we have is a Federal Republic of Nigeria. So whoever wants to be President can only be a Nigerian president, even if of Igbo extraction. It is idiotic to speak of an Igbo President, a Nupe President, a Yoruba President, when we should be thinking of working for the greater glory of a nation. Ndigbo wants a better deal in the Nigerian polity, not a nominal title that would give the ignorant masses a false feeling of relevance.”
In that stead Maduekwe was classified with traders, those that are in Ariara Aba and Onitsha Main market. Okonkwo positied that according to the brain-damaged Ojo Maduekwe, the Nigerian government has not tried to heal the wounds of the Civil War, 30 years after. Maduekwe who had said that Nigeria has not done much to heal the wound of that war, has not and never been doing anything to heal that political chaos in his home state of Abia, except to throw tantrums against Kalu in favour of Governor Orji.
Okonkwo reminded us that there lay Ojo Maduekwe’s beef with Orji Uzor Kalu, (when he was the Governor of Abia State). Okonkwo said that for Orji Kalu, Ojo Maduekwe was ready to wear the mask of Bakassi Boys. Hear Ojo Maduekwe: “If he (Orji Kalu) wants war, he will have it. Because we are the original Bakassi Boys.” Then, he went on to say that “… there is a history of dealing with such rascal.”
Okonkwo was asking of what history was Ojo Maduekwe talking about? Is it the NPN election manipulation history or something else? Maduekwe then warned that Ohafia spirit will rise and with it cometh the Igbo spirit and together, they will sweep Orji Kalu out of office. According to Okonkwo: “I once listened to Orji Kalu and Ojo Maduekwe talk at the World Igbo Congress convention in Dallas. Orji Kalu said that an Igbo minister should give the federal government of Nigeria 50% and give the other 50% to Ndigbo. He boasted that if he were a minister, he would have made many Igbos millionaires.... Ojo Maduekwe on his part simply stood up and said that Obasanjo sent him. The whole world knows he has the ears of Obasanjo, has traveled with the president round the globe. But the question remains, what changes have he brought about? For me, there is no middle way of serving Nigeria. Either you go the Kaduna Nzeogwu way or you abandon the sinking ship all together.”
Over the weekend, a recent visitor told me about the exploits of Bakassi Boys. I was told they carry about a knife that breeds blood when it gets close to a murderer. The Bakassi Boys (the modern one, not that fake one Ojo Maduekwe belonged to) also have a charm they put around the neck of a suspect and make him confess. I was told that if the knife breeds and the suspect confesses, Bakassi Boys will kill. Did I hear you say, yucky? One of the things that crosses my mind as I listened was why the Bakassi Boys have not taken the knife 100 miles near the likes of Ojo Maduekwe, Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo and co? Why haven’t the Bakassi Boys put their charm round the neck of Ojo Maduekwe and lets hear what he has to say then?
In the article titled “Ojo Maduekwe is a drag on Nigeria's foreign policy” by James Osunbor, 25 September 2009, gives us a clear picture of who Maduekwe is. Osunbor writes that back in the day when Abacha held sway and during periods when the frustration level of Nigerians with his government was at the highest pitch, Ojo Maduekwe was part of the kitchen cabinet that churned out much of the nasty policies Nigerians and the international community railed against. Whether in the mean-spirited intellectual pursuit of NADECO and other pro-democracy activists or with rendering of advice to government on how to get meaner with the masses or in making reckless public remarks that riled to no end, Ojo was there – the epicentre of all that was wrong with the much dreaded Abacha regime.
The observer goes further to elucidate of how then Madukwe found some favour with PDP at its formation was the ultimate poser to many; but discerning minds were quick to figure that besides his many unsavoury traits, Ojo was also as wily as they come in the politics of eating one of his own to pave way for himself.
The story goes further that it happened that he survived many purges of the Obasanjo era, owing largely to the rumour that he spied on his fellow Igbos and garnished what he learned all the way to the Villa, dressed as intelligence. Thus, in essence, just like Ojo was part of why Abacha remained unpopular throughout, he was also why Igbos never trusted Obasanjo and accused him of stoking treachery. In essence, a few pro-Igbo policies of the Obasanjo era were lost in the din of tribal self-hate Ojo polluted all around the Villa. Recall that it was Ojo that called his own people – the Igbos idiots and all that, and he never apologized.
(Mrs.Olanike wrote from Umuahia.)