Sambo’s Challenge to Jega



“Who do these toughs represent? They don’t represent the so-called South-south because there is no such political division in Nigeria known to law,” one Bini chief wondered while laughing away Asari Dokubo, Tompolo and co’s threats. They threatened to sink Nigeria if President Goodluck Jonathan is rejected at the polls. Their bravado does not bother me because they are empty vessels.

Former Vice President Alex Ekwueme created South-south in his proposal to Sani Abacha’s constitutional conference. I proposed eight regions in my piece before his, which Ken Saro-Wiwa then described as a “magnum opus” and circulated it at the United Nations and beyond. Certainly, the old Mid-west is not part of the South-south. The so-called Niger Delta militants are upstarts feasting on a broth prepared by Itsekiri women protesters who were agitating for jobs for their children and the cleaning of their environment.

The Ijaws are not predominant in Rivers State, not to talk of the so-called Ekwueme delineated South-south. People from Bonny and Opobo speak Igbani. Like the Ogonis, they trace their descent to Ghana. They are no Ijaws. The people of Yenagoa in Bayelsa are not Ijaws. The Ikwerres, Etches and Andonis are not Ijaws. Only Kalabari and Okrika could be linguistically linked to Ijaw but with wide dialectical differences. Jonathan is not Ijaw. He is Ogbia.

The Itsekiris, Urhobos, Okpes, Isokos, and Ukwuanis in the former Warri Province are not Ijaws. All these groups have well-meaning representatives, many of who were front-runners in the fight for Nigeria’s freedom. Edwin Clark does not lead any Delta crusade.

It is high time we deflated the South-south balloon, which is now being flown by fake leaders to rake money for selves from the people’s float. How could Ijaw Clark be leading a South-south when his people are still locked in a mortal fight with Itsekiris on who owns Warri, the latest example being the Gbaramutu episode during which some journalists were maltreated by Tompolo’s thugs, a thing impliedly supported by the presidency? The Itsekiris have more oil wells than Ijaws and are more sophisticated in their struggle for relevance in the Nigerian nation. Small as they are in number, they have produced many leading men and women in all human endeavour. Are they a people who would assign rough-riding Clark with little or no finesse in public delivery to lead them?

In discussing the so-called South-south, I have left out the Edos that produced Michael Imoudu, Tony Enahoro and others, from the scene. Remember they ran a sophisticated empire that was felt all over the Gulf of Guinea and which had consular representation at the Vatican, Lisbon, The Hague and Salvador, former capital of Brazil. They co-founded Sao Tome with the Portuguese.

The Enuanis and Ikas now grouped in Delta State produced Dennis Osadebay, Nduka Eze and many prominent black men of historical reckoning, not reckless gold diggers. So leave out also the Efiks, Ibibios and others.

So who were Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom and the other thugs speaking for in their threat to sink Nigeria? War is not riot? It has been my unfortunate lot to see war in many theatres in Nigeria and outside these shores. If I may quote Samuel Ogbemudia during the Nigeria Civil War, “bullet has no address”.

Nigerians’ main concern now should be the mess made of our election preparation by an absent-minded professor who has been unable to perfect simple registration of voters. He did not disappoint me because I did not expect anything better from talkative Attahiru Jega. I have not got my PVC, but Nigerians seem to paper over an allegation made against him by vice President Namadi Sambo that the presidency at no time starved INEC of funds.

It is pertinent to ask what INEC did with the votes appropriated in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. It might be false accusations and that is why INEC should make a clean breast of the allegation to be above board like Caesar’s wife.

People heard how two women fought over the properties of a former director of INEC, including houses in Abuja and Lagos. Some former electoral bosses became dollar millionaires. But I would make bold to say here that Michael Ani, Victor Ovie-Whisky, Humphrey Nwosu and Ephraim Akpata walked that route without blemish. There may also be others.

This is why Jega should reply the accusation by the nation’s number two citizen against the organisation he leads. Does he want the people to take to the streets before he acquits himself of any blame? The electioneering fervour has dampened people’s interest in probes, but they are being disenfranchised by INEC, which the presidency said has been given all the tools needed to do the job.

If it were not true, usually taciturn Sambo would have not bothered to spill the beans. And Jega is silent. As much as I do not advocate that the presidential poll be postponed, I will not shut my eyes to issues that are denying me of my civic rights. Why did Jega fail to get PVCs ready at least six months before the election? Was he not given the wherewithal for the project? On what did he spend the money allocated to INEC? If we demand accountability from the President and other public officers, the electoral umpire should not be exempt. Without prejudice to the February 14 polls, Jega should tell Nigerians on what he spent his votes that he could not get ready their cards. This is the billion-naira question Jega must answer, and also the media that praise him to high heavens.

Justice Akpata, one of my cousins who have graced the Supreme Court bench, once explained the clause on literacy in the Nigerian constitution. He said it was for INEC to determine broadly the literacy of any candidate. They have passed electoral law, specifying qualification. That law is inferior to the constitution. There are Supreme Court decisions on this subject. The electoral law has not amended the constitution. That involves a completely different process.

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