Since you walked the red carpets as a beauty queen, many of us have followed you. Though beauty contest is a mere competition that has traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, most contests have evolved to also incorporate personality traits, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges’ questions as judged criteria.
So, becoming the African queen of your time, and even now, was no mean feat. It comes with real beauty, brain and brawn, no doubt.
You really didn’t need any contest to prove you are one of the most beautiful women to walk the face of mother Africa. Ikemba, while still wooing you confirmed my position when he said in the book, Because I am Involved, “To say that Bianca Onoh is beautiful is like standing before the Eifel Tower and be shouting that the building is tall”.
You later became his wife and sadly, now his widow. And here lies the reason I am writing you. I am of a very considered view that Emeka Ojukwu’s widow does not need partisan politics. You do not have to agree with me. But the bruises you so easily suffered since you ventured into partisan politics were not a coincidence.
Politics is like that. It is adversarial in nature and takes no prisoners. Even being the widow of Emeka Ojukwu will not be armor strong enough to shield you from its vagaries. And that is why many people who may want to serve still shun it; certain persons occupying certain positions do not go into contests for political positions also. They don’t need the heat, so they stay away from the kitchen.
Like observed already, partisan politics everywhere, not just in Nigeria, is deep murky waters. Nobody swims it and comes away clean. And because we are living in an imperfect world, there is always a nasty story to tell about someone, especially when they are determined to tell such a negative story. And to show how inescapable, these stories do not even have to be true to be believed. That is why, in politics especially, facts and truths are not exactly the same.
If you recall, when Femi Fani-Kayode made a reckless amorous claim against you, many of us rallied and fought him off. He apologized to you, and because his claim bellied your stay in UK or something like overseas studies, some of us insisted it shouldn’t count.
Many naturally gravitate to your rescue and defence in such hostile circumstance not so much for you as it is for Emeka Ojukwu and here is why. Let us face it: Ojukwu lived and died the symbol of the Igbo race and the struggle for the emancipation of Igbo people. He played certain inimitable roles culminating, ultimately, in leading the Biafra struggle and heading the Republic of Biafra for 30 solid months.
While the Biafra war lasted, it was so brutal that genocidal measures and actions were clamped on Biafrans. Otherwise, what was the intendment of hunger as war weapon used by the federal government against Biafrans during the war if not for their extermination?
In a deft response to the attendant starvation, many Biafra women took harrowing risks to keep the soldiers, their husbands and children alive (watch the documentary ‘Afia Attack’ produced by Ujuaku Akukwe and refresh on this).
Your late husband and arguably the greatest Igbo man ever lived, Emeka Ojukwu, bore all that on his then young shoulders, barely 33 at that time. The need for the survival of Ndigbo and Biafrans at large deprived him much of his youth and full settled life until you came to fill the vacuum and provide him the much needed succor. He was driven into exile and he stayed away for 13 years. Later he returned, having been pardoned by the Shagari government.
When Ikemba returned home, many of us also were of the opinion that he shouldn’t join politics and that if he must, he needed to join forces with NPP. Ikemba joined the ruling NPN instead and gave his reason as the need to lead Ndigbo back into the mainstream Nigeria polity and politics. He got thoroughly messed up and demystified, to the point that it was claimed that one nondescript Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe(no offence intended) defeated him in a mere senatorial election. Sometimes I wonder what image Ojukwu would have carried if he did not go into politics.
The rest, as they say, is now history. And that is politics for you and a further confirmation that certain persons for some circumstances should not join partisan politics. Or are you not aware that the Queen of England and her family do not vote let alone contest for offices?
Recall also that in the wake of the present democratic dispensation, 3 legacy political parties emerged – PDP, AD and APP (as it then was; it later became ANPP). Soon after, some Igbo leaders felt there was a need to raise a political party where Ndigbo could have unfettered access and expression. By then, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme of blessed memory had been manipulated out of the PDP presidential ticket (I will do a full piece on the emergence of APGA in due course).
I believe the reason APGA was formed, not necessarily as Igbo party, but one where Ndigbo can beat their chest and say it is one they inspired into existence, made Ikemba to accept to be the APGA presidential candidate. As at the time Ikemba joined APGA and became its flag bearer, his majestic and emphatic entry into the fray was such a welcome development and symbolic gesture. He came third in the first presidential poll. Not that Ndigbo deluded themselves that Ikemba would win.
As shown in the relatively paltry number of votes garnered by Ikemba, many Igbos who loved and revered him didn’t even vote for him. They followed their head or heart and entrenched interests in the PDP. Many more Ndigbo, as usual, did not even bother voting at all.
What am I saying? I am only drawing your attention, o our queen mother, to the rugged nature of the struggle, which you now symbolize. It is a role imposed upon you by both choice and destiny. The moment you accepted Ikemba’s hand in marriage, you equally accepted, wittingly, to share his fate. He didn’t co-opt you. And departing, he left the rest of the struggle, as it were, to you.
You can see why I cried when I heard you were contesting to go to the senate? If you were not the widow of Ikemba, may be. But you could see how the race abruptly ended for you, for the very reason I have tried to draw out here.
Whoever advised and goaded you into the risky senate race was unkind to you and demeaned your exulted position. A queen mother cannot bring herself so low as to contest with her subjects. Forget how young you are. It is beyond age. It is about the stool you sit on as Ojukwu’s widow. The more you contest (and lose or even win) you end up debasing your hallowed stool the more.
In APGA, your place ought to be assured. Anything short of chairman Board of Trustees is not for you. But do you really need additional position? I don’t think so! You are Bianca Ojukwu. No position is higher than that in the eye of the Igbo man and woman. Kindly regain this perspective and hold the dream and promise Ikemba left behind.
- Dr. Law Mefor is a concerned APGA member. +234-803-787-2893; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.