Defection by politicians from one political party to another has become a common feature in Nigeria’s political landscape since the beginning of the 4th Republic. It gained so much traction that it was a source of worry for parties who lose their heavyweights to rival parties just at the drop of a hat.
To curb this rather unpleasant political phenomenon fueled mostly by greed and driven by personal interests as against the interest of the people, the national assembly took the bull by the horn by passing a law that gave some conditions that must be passed before a defection could be recognised in law all in an attempt to curb the unwholesome development.
This has however not stopped politicians from defecting to other parties at random especially as elections approach; the embrace of what they perceive to be the best party through which they can achieve their parochial ambitions just keeps driving them even if the new party bears every contradiction to their own personal philosophies, beliefs and political ideologies. And no matter how they try to paper it, the ambition is almost always the same: personal and parochial!
A performance poet, Dike Chukwumerije, once captured the scenario most aptly in one of his Facebook posts when he wrote:
“None of the defections was in protest of the many things that are going wrong in the present administration.
“Nobody decamped for Leah Sharibu. Nobody decamped for Anka or Rabbah or the blood that flowed in Gwer East.
“Nobody decamped for the illegal detention of Zakzaky, for the illegal retention of Dasuki, for the outright disappearance of Kanu.
“Nobody decamped for the jobs that have still not been created, or the power that can still not be distributed.
“Nobody decamped for the brothers we lost to hospitals we cannot depend on
For the mothers we lost in labour to derelict wards and empty medicine cupboards.
“Nobody decamped for the unpaid pensioner and the soldier stuck on permanent rotation in Gwoza
For the teachers who work for months without pay and the litigant that cannot afford the cost of Justice.
“Nobody decamped for the children who beg to clean our windshields… See? Nobody decamped for them,” Chukwumerije wrote.
Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is the latest to be caught in the web of defections afflicting our political space.
The astute politician, oil magnate and consummate industrialist is one man who has the drive to succeed in whatever he sets his heart to do. His love for the Igbo, his race, is incontrovertible and unflawed. He has demonstrated his unbridled commitment to the Igbo cause in several ways more than many Igbo billionaires in his class have done.
Beyond words, the Nnewi-born Senator has committed enormous resources for the advancement of the Igbo cause. And no one can even argue that. He not only talks Igbo, he walks Igbo, eats Igbo and breathes Igbo. Ifeanyi Ubah’s Igbo-centrism is too obvious and copious to be debated.
For example, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah sponsored almost singlehanded several initiatives for the progress of the Igbo race worldwide. Such initiatives include a grand convergence of both Igbo and Yoruba leaders and elders on The Base Event Centre, Independence Layout, Enugu for an event themed “A Celebration of Igbo/Yoruba Friendship Beyond Brotherhood” under the auspices of Nzuko Umunna, a leading Igbo sociocultural organization, which held on January 11, 2018.
The initiative was for the widening of space for the collaboration of the two major ethnic groups for the joint advancement of the sociopolitical and economic progress of their peoples.
A similar initiative which he sponsored almost singlehanded was the one organized by Igbo Bu Igbo (IBI), another foremost Igbo sociocultural organization, at Oakland Hotel, Enugu on December 1, 2018 with leaders of the region generously gracing the occasion. The IBI event was themed “Ndi Igbo Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. The two events gulped millions of naira and were bankrolled almost singlehanded by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah without batting an eyelid.
Also, Igbo Bu Igbo (IBI) which Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is its Board of Trustees’ Chairman bankrolled “A Blueprint for Alaigbo Development”, a product of painstaking processes and brainstorming sessions by a think-tank team of Igbo leaders, elders, industrialists, diplomats, technocrats etc. The well-thought-out blueprint is still available at the secretariat of the organization for any serious political leader in Igboland to tap into for the development of the region.
Ifeanyi Ubah is also a go-getter. Emerging a Senator of the Federal Republic under the umbrella of one of the least known parties in Nigeria, defeating candidates of the more popular and bigger political parties like the PDP, APC and APGA, is no mean feat and can only be a result of unalloyed commitment to a cause.
But, like everyone, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah also has his weaknesses and moments of gaffes, one of which was his comments after his recent defection from the YPP to the APC.
While speaking shortly after the defection, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah had said:
“I want to be sincere, it has always been difficult for the Igbo people to key into the national party because of our sentiments and emotions.
“Since our president has emerged and I put that challenge to each Igbo man today in Nigeria, 70 percent – 80 percent of them derive their wealth from the legacy that the president has left in Lagos.”
That’s one gaffe that’s capable of pushing into irredeemable obscurity all that Senator Ifeanyi Ubah stands for and has done for the Igbo nation.
How can anyone attribute the wealth of 70 – 80 per cent of Igbo people to one man, simply because the man was Governor of Lagos State from 1999 – 2007? Did the globally acknowledged Igbo nation start producing billionaires in 1999? Ifeanyi Ubah, as widely travelled as he is, knows full well that the making of wealth by the Igbos transcends persons and places, not to talk of someone of the recent era.
It is disheartening that a man of his status would, for whatever reason, make such a declaration, thereby downgrading the sterling entrepreneurial capacity and capabilities of a whole nation, his own people. It is even more worrisome that the declaration was politically motivated. It was placing logic and history on their head and a futile attempt to subjugate and sacrifice the principles of hardwork, intelligence, audacity in taking business risks and daring to tread where others dread with which Ndigbo are renowned for universally on the altar of his own political ambition.
That is not an act any Igbo man or woman would take lightly. Ubah cannot throw the people under the bus just for him to appear politically correct.
Ndigbo did not start being billionaires in 1999 when President Tinubu started holding sway in Lagos as governor. The people have been producing billionaires out of a dink of hardwork, academic excellence, business acumen, scientific and technological inventions and entrepreneurial innovations both at home and abroad. Just as their wealth, they are everywhere in the world working smartly and sustaining their reputation as one of the most diligent races of the world. To cocoon them and their prosperity to the tiny enclave of “Tinubu’s legacies” is not only a joke taken too far but is an assertion that is both misleading and mischievous.
No doubt, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah has what it takes to continue to contribute his own quota to the relentless rising of the sociopolitical fortunes of Ndigbo in Nigeria and abroad as he has demonstrated in the past, and Anambra will be very lucky to have such a go-getter as Governor. He should however go about the pursuit of his ambitions with the highest level of decorum without dragging the collective destiny of Ndigbo into the mud by tying our prosperity to the apron string of any one man.
Jude Ndukwe, a public affairs commentator, sent this piece from Abuja. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org