APC’s Farcical Campaign Flag-Off – By Chuks Iloegbunam
Salvation was to befall Ndigbo! So went the media hype. Salvation’s landfall was slated for Onitsha. And once it set down, every Anambra indigene would be happy ever after. It was the APC campaign flag off for the November 18 gubernatorial ballot. Appropriately, the conveyor of the balm to turn Anambra from ill to glory was the Gombe-born Ibrahim Jalo-Waziri, APC’s Youth Leader. Given his eminence, therefore, it was with a swagger that Alhaji Jalo-Waziri found his way to the podium.
Given again that most of those in attendance were in their teens and twenties – as if they had been corralled from secondary and tertiary institutions – there was rapt attention and immense anticipation. The Youth Leader had hope to deliver. Most of those drowned in mire or shot dead for carrying Biafran flags and seeking self-determination were in the same age bracket as those Jalo-Waziri would address. Perhaps he would explain to them the rationale behind the heavy-handedness. The man cleared his throat. “Vote for APC,” he intoned. “Our victory will connect you to the big contracts of Abuja”!
“What a farce!” This scream from a disappointed rally-goer was followed by catcalls, guffaws and grimaces. Jalo-Waziri made no allusion to the APC creating employment opportunities for youths. If the party had ideas on promoting scholarship, he didn’t broach them. He betrayed no clues on how those under his “leadership” could be steered from vice and violence to positive engagements. He didn’t suggest to them that it was their place to redress the overhang of ethnic and religious bigotry entrenched by visionless elders. He simply demanded their metamorphosis into contractors playing at Abuja of the gargantuan contracts!
Jalo-Waziri probably had a point. Official figures show that the APC has – halfway through its blight – blown a staggering N1.6 trillion on capital projects, without anything on the ground for the victims of its 2014 change hypnosis. Still, this consideration hardly dampened the disappointment of listeners to the bastardization of the promise of youth.
The day had other farcical aspects. Party stalwarts had boasted that the President “himself” was to front the flag-off. But, when the “come came to become,” as the inimitable Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe would have put it, Buhari and family were far away in Turkey, chilling out. In fairness to the First Citizen, he deployed the Second Citizen as stand-in. But, how many people understood Vice President Osinbajo’s coded message? Dig this: APC’s flag bearer Tony Nwoye was recently on television alleging that, but for President Jonathan and Governor Obi, he would have won the 2013 Anambra governorship contest.
It is often said that what an elder sees sitting down, a child atop an iroko tree may not see. Wasn’t there something Jonathan and Obi saw in Tony Nwoye that pointed to other than a governorship material? Dr. Ngige, a leading APC member in the Igbo country, was at the rally. He never said, “Vote for Tony Nwoye.” Had he seen something denied uninitiated eyes?
Osinbajo had to speak. Don’t forget that the Vice President is not only a Law professor but also a church minister. He did not say, “Vote for Tony Nwoye.” He said, “Vote Wisely!” Doesn’t it make sense to conclude that Buhari’s representative at the campaign flag off had also reckoned with what Goodluck Jonathan, Peter Obi, Chris Ngige and many others had always acknowledged? Ndi Anambra are advised to use their tongue to count their teeth.
True, modernity long employed the vacuum cleaner to chase the broom out of the perfect cleanup. But that didn’t explain why most of those around had not bothered to show up with the party symbol, which the cerebral columnist Femi Aribisala once associated with witches and wizards. More shocks were afoot. A corpulent man with a ceaseless grin and the ubiquitous muffler mounted the rostrum. He hasn’t paid salaries, pensions and gratuities in twelve months. But his worry was lonesomeness. He asked for an APC Governor in Awka, so that he will not remain so alone. He claimed that an Anambra APC governor would connect the people to the “national grid.” Listeners were not so sure, given his dismal governorship record.
Nonetheless, the man has achieved a few things in the state that sired great politicians like Mazi Mbonu Ojike and Dee Sam Mbakwe. He had after all constructed the tallest Christmas tree in Africa. He had also ltraded handshakes with President Obama. Most recently, he had erected a statue (an effigy, really) of President Zuma, whose countrymen have asked to hold himself accountable for corruption.
Someone found it all too funny. “If we paid heed to this fellow and voted in the Nwoye chap, we could sooner find us erecting statues in honour of the likes of Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Ndabaningi Sithole,” he joked. But the flag off was far from a joking matter. Why was there not a single one of the five Yoruba APC governors in attendance? Why did diminutive Nasir el-Rufai, the turbulent Kaduna State Governor and an unregistered voter in Anambra, promise to be in the state during the election? To direct Federal might’s misrepresentation of voters’ preferences? Or to preside over election monitors and observers?
Meanwhile the spotlight fell on the day’s stocky and unprepossessing main man. Some expected to hear that he would advise Abuja to discontinue the charade tagged War-Against-Corruption. Others felt he might apologize on behalf of the one that demoted Ndigbo to a miserable 7 percent of national consideration. Instead, Tony Nwoye declared an intention to tell Abuja to tar the Enugu-Onitsha road! Well, PDP and APC governments have been tarring that 115-kilometre stretch for a decade now! The road was more decrepit four years ago when Nwoye was PDP’s governorship candidate. But it didn’t feature in his campaign. He has been a Federal legislator for two years now but has never raised the neglected road on the floor of Parliament. Aspects of that pivotal highway, and other Federal roads tarred by Governor Obiano, logged up a tidy of N43.8 billion. Yet, when Anambra APC bigwigs vowed that Anambra State would never be refunded the money, Nwoye didn’t condemn their unpatriotic stance. Little wonder that Ndi Anambra consider his sudden endearment to the road an election gimmick.
It was that ghastly, only a sanguinary bit more so. The farcical flag-off stuttered to a disappointing conclusion. Then a grisly spectacle symptomatic of the nightmare sure to follow an unlikely government by this crowd soon ensued. The convoy of the politicians who claim that, without them, Ndi Anambra cannot distinguish between fart and food orifices, careened off. Nsoanilurked at the Tarzan Junction where a young man in a Toyota Camry was too slow to get off the way of high-end automobiles and wailing sirens. A convoy truck screeched to a halt. Out jumped some uniformed men, one of whom raised his assault rifle, trained it on the Camry man’s chest and squeezed the trigger. The convoy zoomed on unconcernedly, leaving behind in Fela’s aching lyrics, “their regular trademark of Sorrow, Tears and Blood.”
l Iloegbunam is the Chairman of Governor Obinao’s Media Team.