Obinna Ezugwu: On Joe Igbokwe’s Misplaced Concern For The Igbo


It was gratifying to read a recent article by the immediate past spokesperson of All Progressives Congress, Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, who thanks to the magnanimity of Governor Akinwumi Ambode, is now living comfortably as the Chairman of Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority in Lagos.

In the said article, Igbokwe expressed worry over what he called Igbo ethnic bigotry and hate campaigns. Truly, aren’t the Igbo all ethnic bigots?

It felt good to know that he is still concerned about the state of the Igbo nation to which he belongs. For him to have shown this deep concern as illustrated in his write up, less than a year after declaring that he no longer cared about the Igbo and that President Muhammadu Buhari was right to neglect them since they failed to heed his advice to embrace the him and his party prior to the 2015 election shows that blood is indeed thicker than water.

Notwithstanding, there is something tricky, if not outright mischievous about Igbokwe’s concerns. It is probably true that the Igbo have refused to let go after their favoured candidate, Goodluck Jonathan, was defeated in that bitterly contested election which more than any in our recent history, aggravated our religious and ethnic fault lines. Indeed, it was a miracle that the country did not slid into major crisis as seen play out in other African countries.

However, it is rather unfortunate that while we thought the worst was now behind us, it is beginning to appear as though we are not yet out of the woods by any chance. As Igbokwe rightly pointed out, the Igbo are throwing venom on Facebook. But it is not just the Igbo who are doing so. Hatred and verbal abuse on social media cut across all ethnic groups. Thus trying to suggest that it is the making of the Igbo is playing to the gallery. That is why I sincerely believe that Igbokwe’s concerns are misplaced. If indeed he is worried about the unfolding ethnic animosity in the country, then he should be imploring all and sundry to embrace peace. Trying to accuse the Igbo exclusively of bigotry in this regard is being dishonest.

Truly speaking, since Igbokwe has found a new life in Lagos, his treatment and regard for the Igbo has been disdainful and condescending. For him, the Igbo must be dictated to from the comfort of his room. They must support Buhari and APC; if not for anything because he feels so. If they don’t, it is because they are disobedient and like every disobedient child, they should be whipped or coerced into line.

Over the years, it has become convenient for Igbokwe to sit and pour spittle on the Igbo in this regard. Who could forget his much publicized article, “The Efulefu Biafrans and the Ethnic Card Show?” That was an excellent response to the massacre of Igbo youths in Onitsha, Aba and elsewhere.

Igbokwe, who was once a hardcore champion of the Igbo course and had written extensively on the marginalisation of the Igbo in the Nigerian polity since the war ended, has since switched gear. But this switch is rather surprising when you think that not much has changed for the Igbo between then and now. Well, you could say that a lot has changed for Igbokwe himself. He is now a big man in Lagos and because he is a big man, it would be stupid for anyone to tell him that the Igbo are still being marginalized, nay, for them to complain about anything.

Igbokwe is an interesting character. Once he is comfortable; no one should be justified to complain. It is rather ironic that while it is common knowledge that Buhari’s clannish and anti-South tendencies is largely stoking the fire of ethnic distrust as we have now, Igbokwe would rather blame it on the Igbo.

His is typical of a man whose little brother cried home to inform that a bully outside had beaten him up, but instead of squaring up to the bully, he, out of cowardice, turned against his own brother and started blaming him for going out in the first place.

It is obvious that the Igbo are being treated by this administration as though they do not exist for none other reason than personal vendetta. Buhari had ostensibly divided the country into the 97 percent and the 5percent groups according to votes for him in the last election. Of course, people like Igbokwe will applaud him. After all, that’s politically fair. However, must everyone be of the same political party? Must every zone be in the APC? Certainly not, and trying to visit people with vendetta simply because they didn’t vote for you in an election is extremely childish, unreasonable and dangerous.

Having said that, let’s not forget that there were a few Igbo like Igbokwe himself who supported Buhari, but what has been their reward? Crumbs at best!

If Mr. Igbokwe is truly concerned about the state of affairs in the country, his energy is better served advising Buhari to be the president of the whole Nigeria, and not that of the North. The discordant tunes are not only those sung by the Igbo. Ask Agatu people in Benue State, the Niger Delta Avengers or even Christians in the North.

He should not forget that the toxic atmosphere in which we now live was essentially caused by the APC and its supporters during Jonathan’s regime. It would be dubious to blame the Igbo for it. Igbokwe will of course look away while the military shoot and kill tens of unarmed pro-Biafra Igbo protesters and even blame them for getting shot. That was the aim of his initial article. The recent one, of course, is blaming them for what he called bigotry. For him, the Igbo should sit back and take whatever is thrown at them, be it using herdsmen to destroy their lives and crops, use of excessive force to quell the slightest resistance from them as well as abuse on social media. That way, he can relax and dance “Owambe” every Saturday.

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