Wednesday, July 1, 2020 1:02 pm
By EC Ejiogu
Any mindful observer of the goings-on in politics and other realms of public life all over Igboland today would not have to look hard at all to notice that the entire place is being provokingly throttled with the spectre of mindless feudalism dangling over it. This is without exception. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about the affairs of the various state governments throughout Igboland, their segmental units, or the infinitesimal few segmental units of government that are associated with the unitarists federal government that are located in Igboland, which include the universities and their ancillary units. Everywhere, wherever you go, or look in Igboland the story seems to be, if not similar, it’s the same.
In each case, the wielders and drivers of the said spectre of mindless feudalism are the individuals who found their respective way in as state governors in the five Igbo states. It has gotten to the point where those individual state governors take the liberty to do whatever they like—which includes running roughshod on people—and because they have gotten used to getting away with whatever they take the liberty to do, anybody who dares, or who they imagine—dares raise an eyebrow to their unbridled behaviours is quickly made into a target that must be repressed to compel the one to shut up, or even get the one killed outright. Yes, it’s that serious!
Some of these state governors have arrogated to themselves the unbridled power to determine who they deploy by illicit means to get appointed respectively as vice chancellor, or medical director as the case may be, in the federal universities and teaching hospitals that are located in Igboland. The outcome of that includes the shame that as soon as those ‘vice chancellors’ and ‘medical directors’ ascend into office, they quickly morph into emperors that run those places in a culture of fear where subservience and mediocrity take front stage.
These Igbo state governors have countless numbers of minions and special assistants who are all over the place, executing their masters’ biddings to keep everybody mum and scared stiff while caged in a culture of fear.
In situations like this where these state governors are beholden only to the unitarist rulers of Nigeria in Abuja who manipulated them into the citadels of power in the first place, and sustain them as governors, they show no regard for good governance given that the responsiveness that they rightly should owe to the people of their state whose affairs they claim to direct as governors, is completely misappropriated by Abuja, which in turn assume the liberty to routinely whip them in line with regard to kowtowing to unitarism.
In Imo state, the peace-loving people of the Ezinihitte Clan are still reeling in worry and concern from the recent unexplained incursion of a band of herdsmen and their animals—which they bravely managed to successfully rebuff—into their homeland,that has the finger prints of Hope Uzodinma, who straddles their affairs in Owere, the state capital as governor, all over it.
Still raging hot at this moment in Ebonyi state is the determined resolve by Mr. Dave Umahi, who as sitting governor in the state is hell-bent on making life unbearable for Mr. Abia Onyike whose singular crime is his participation as a panelist on a talk radio programme during which he expressed opinion critical of Umahi’s high-handed patrimonial style—alongside his wife and family members—of running the affairs of Ebonyi state that borders on mal-governance and abuse of office.
For just that, Mr. Umahi got so incensed that he embarked on an over-kill mission that includes corralling some individuals under the employ of the Ebonyi state government to team up with others from Mr. Onyike’s clan, Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area, LGA to place a full-page advertorial in a newspaper in which the latter was given 48 hours to apologize to him Umahi, or run the risk of ostracism and banishment from the state. The same advertorial was also broadcast on the Ebonyi government-owned radio.
When all of these didn’t seem sufficient, Umahi then ordered the Nigeria Police command in Abakaliki to arrest and detain Mr. Onyike for not paying tenement rate tax on his residential property. To realize that, he had directed one Mr. Stanley Okoro who he appointed commissioner in charge of internal security, border peace and conflict resolution to author and sign a petition to the Police against Mr. Onyike for economic sabotage and tax evasion.
When the COVID-19 inter-state lockdown order was put in place, Umahi ordered that Mr. Onyike, a practicing journalist and publisher of a newspaper, The Eastern Outlook, be quarantined at home and subjected to a COVID-19 test for venturing into near-by Enugu.
All of these have been because an Igbo adult male found legitimate cause to say his mouth in a way that irked a state governor in a supposed democratic setting.
This is the spectre of mindless feudalism that mustn’t be allowed to stand in Igboland.
Being a state governor does not imbue anyone with the power, or authority to institute feudalism in any part of Igboland. Or does it? I say, not at all.
*EC Ejiogu, the author of The Roots of Political Instability in Nigeria: Political Evolution and Development in the Niger Basin (Ashgate, 2011 and Routledge, 2016) wrote from Maryland, US