By UCHE EZECHUKWU
Last week, I discussed how Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, the ruling APC’s new national chairman, who became a national icon through his activist activities as a national labour leader, and who through that pedestal joined politics and became elected a state governor, has amply proved himself to be a political disaster in his current role as the chairman of the ruling party that is currently enmeshed in crises of confidence and is, therefore, in a dire need of healing. I had posited that at a time when APC is in need of leaders that are capable of bringing about healing within its ranks, it had unwittingly saddled itself with a new leader that is sowing greater dissension than the party can ill afford now, in the near future.
My thesis was that it is seldom that people who had distinguished themselves as activists are able to make political marks when they matter. It appears increasingly obvious that the ruling APC is more replete with activists, pretending to be political actors than in the other platforms in the country, to the extent that their current and ongoing activities portend more losses than gains for the party.
Take the antics of Senator Umar Sani of Kaduna State as an example. Buoyed by his pro-democracy activist antics during the military days, he earned such popularity and public acceptance that had helped him to build up a political capital and clout that catapulted him to the high pedestal of a senator in the politically strategic Kaduna State. But, like many activists before and after him, Comrade Umar Sani misconstrued the success as a labour or pro-democracy activism as a guarantee for success in politics. Again, because activists believe that because combativeness and cantankerousness, which are the hallmarks of their trade business, would, ipso facto work in politics, they usually import diatribe into it, and are promptly punished with failure.
That was Senator Umar Sani’s sore mistake in Kaduna politics in the way he has, instead of building-up and solidifying political acceptance, had rather opted for confrontation with Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who had steadily and systematically continued to build himself up the North’s slippery political stairs. And where has Umar Sani’s activist left him, if not on the bottom of the political ladder?
Having allowed his trust in his activist credentials to get the better of him, Sani has continued to make disastrous political miscalculations, without thinking them through, in the way of deft political actors. One of such was his recent multi-speaks over the defection of his fellow APC senators to the PDP. His subsequent antics, thereafter, have neither shown him off as a politician who knows what he is doing, nor is he still an asset to his party or to any other platform he might soon opt for.
Perhaps, the greatest harm that is being currently wreaked on the APC is the activities of some individuals in the South East, who, in the dishonest attempt to prove their loyalty to the APC, are in fact, driving the longest nails into the casket of the party. These are some new APC ‘converts’, now pretending to be more Catholic than the Pope, in their maladroit and hollow attempts at drumming up support for APC, and worse still, for the re-election of President Buhari in 2019. Every kindergarten child in the South East knows that anybody drumming support for the president, under the present circumstances, is less senseless than a goat.
Yet, that is what some people who have distinguished themselves in other areas of endeavour are making of themselves, in their attempt to translate their activism into politics. It is so sad to watch people one had admired for their achievement making a goat of themselves through their maladroit political involvement. Two examples immediately spring to mind.
Success in the Nigerian movie industry, the Nollywood, has remained one of the best and most assured channels of achieving popularity and public acclaim in the South East, like in some other parts of the country. That is why, one young man, Kenneth Okonkwo, who played the lead role, “Andy”, in the pioneer Nollywood movie, Living in Bondage, became an instant hero in most parts of the country. In fact, even though he has since become a lawyer, most people know the Nsukka-born actor as Andy, his stage name in the movie that created his brand. Until last weekend, ‘Andy’ was one of the most loved personalities among the Igbo people in Nigeria and everywhere else in the world.
This week, the same Kenneth Okonkwo has become the most hated Igbo person alive, so much so, that it might no longer be safe for him to walk around without security even in his own Enugu State. The cause of this true love that has suddenly ‘turned into inveterate hate’, as Shakespeare would say, is the circulation of a video clip of Okonkwo’s speech at a recent political function, where the actor was announcing his intention to run for the gubernatorial position in Enugu State, under the banner of the APC.
The video clip which instantly went viral through the different formats and platforms shows ‘Andy’ excitedly labouring to convince the people of the South East why they must support Buhari in 2019, because according to him, the president’s ‘good governance’ should make Ndigbo have no choice than to follow him like a herd of sheep.
If Kenneth Okonkwo’s video immediately had gone viral, the vitriolic reactions from Igbo people from all walks of life and from all over the world, also in video formats have become more viral in their unprecedented in their portrayal of the actor, as well as the man he was seeking to promote, as a disaster. The contents of most of those anti Okonkwo and anti Buhari reaction are clearly unprintable and my personal campaign against hate speech would not let me to utter anything further, as that might amount to advertising the hate speech which Okonkwo’s failed outing elicited. Had the actor not tried to import his acceptance in the movie field into the slippery arena of politics, he would have spared Mr President the copious bashing that are being presently heaped on him, for no real fault of his.
Of course, the ongoing strident, if insincere, drumming for support, by Chief Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK), for President Muhammadu Buhari is wreaking more havoc on the ruling party and the president than the APC leaders and members could ever imagine.
But then, the APC need not take my words for it, but, if I were among leaders, I would request these ‘do-gooder’ activists in the hue of Kenneth Okonkwo and my friend, OUK, to restrain their involvements to areas they are better conversant with and abandon their current path of treading on political minefields.
Failing that, the ruling APC will have itself to blame for the daily soiling of their reputation while oiling their opponents’ fortune in the South East and South- South.