" />
Published On: Sat, Oct 28th, 2017

(Profile) Joe Igbokwe: What manner of a crusader?


On Joe Igbokwe’s Facebook wall are several articles promoting and defending President Muhammadu Buhari, and at the same time, lashing out at those opposed to the president. His latest is a diatribe against Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary who he described as “low, timid and crude.”

In another, he insists that his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) must do all it takes to win the upcoming governorship election in his home state, Anambra.

As the Publicity Secretary of Lagos APC, Igbokwe punches beyond his weight. His tirades resonate across the nation, and he has been at it for a relatively long time.

It was 2013 and the then governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola had dumped hundreds of Igbo ‘destitute’ at Onitsha head-bridge in Anambra State. It was an act that triggered a series of angry backlash from the Igbo community at home and in the Diaspora. On social media, the Igbo and the Yoruba were at each other.

At the thick of the controversy, two Igbo sons: Dr Chris Ngige, then senator representing Anambra Central zone and Mr Igbokwe who doubled as General Manager of the Lagos State Infrastructure & Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), and publicity secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) came out in defence of Fashola, insisting that his action was justified. Both men were strong members of then ACN. The former had been elected senator on its platform, the later was appointed by the ACN government in 2006.

In a well circulated article, Igbokwe said there was no way Lagos government would accept influx of beggars from all over the country, and that for those deported, it was for their own good.

“Most of these people picked up are mentally retarded, terribly abused, sexually dehumanized, hungry, weak, and memory lost. What Lagos does is to pick them up and take them to rehabilitation centres,” he wrote.

“Some of them after recovery may decide to engage themselves by joining skill acquisition centres we have all over Lagos, some may decide to join their kits and kin in their States of origin. After interrogations and investigations those willing to go are taken to a central place close to their towns to find their way.”

But on the contrary, most of those affected said they were forcefully picked up and deported against their will. As expected, both men attracted anger and commendation, depending on which side of the divide one was in the argument.

Fashola would eventually put the matter to rest by apologising, but it had telling impacts on the political lives of both individuals. Ngige’s position contributed greatly in costing him his senatorial seat in 2015…he had been a popular political figure prior, beating the late Prof Dora Akunyili to the Senate in 2011, but his fortunes dwindled rapidly after his remarks on the deportation.

READ  Massive sell-off hits insurance sector

For Igbokwe, it helped to shoot him up to national limelight, and to cement the part he has chosen…the part of a crusader, a campaigner for whatever he believes is in his interest. And when such interest collided with that of his Igbo ethnic group, he never hesitated to protect the former, and berate the latter.

He has established himself largely as anti Igbo, or simply anti any interest that does not promote his own political or personal interest. He has not looked back, and fortune, it must be said, has smiled on him.

As a crusader, it is hard to pin Igbokwe down to any particular beliefs or principles. His, it seems, changes with new realities. He had started his life as an activist in the 90s first by highlighting the marginalisation his Igbo ethnic group suffered in Nigeria, which according to him, had continued since the end of the civil war in 1970. And second by aligning with the famous NADECO movement formed in the aftermath of the June 12 debacle.

He spoke out loudly and vigorously campaigned against that unfortunate cancellation of 1993 election. He stood firmly against political injustice, and was all for the restoration of MKO Abiola’s mandate. The prevailing political opinion within the NADECO rank at the time was restructuring and true federalism. Igbokwe was all for it and spoke for it with as much vigour as he demanded that Abiola be allowed to govern.

In 1995, he wrote his first book, titled “Igbos: 25 Years After Biafra,” a book described as being “of mediocre quality” and its analysis as “a wash,” by seasoned writer and lecturer, Obi Nwakama. But Nwakama admits that the book did its job of putting across the message he intended to pass… the message of Igbo marginalisation. The book must have done well financially too, for Igbokwe said he became a millionaire after its launch.

NADECO birthed the Pro Democracy movement which later metamorphosed into the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Igbokwe was part of it all. He was discovered by the new sheriff of South West politics, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and it has been a rollercoaster ride.

In 2006, Tinubu made him pioneer General Manager of LASIMRA. That same year, he became the Publicity Secretary of Lagos Action Congress. A job he has kept even as the party changed to Action Congress of Nigeria and now All Progressive Congress (APC). Having spent over 10 years at LASIMRA, in 2015, the new Lagos governor, Akinwumi Ambode moved him to Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority Apapa where he now serves as chairman.

But Igbokwe is rarely known for his job at Apapa. He largely made his name as publicity secretary who speaks what he believes to be the mind of his employers. He has been very successful at it, and according to him, it has “opened the doors of the rich and poor… opened the inner ways, byways, subways, expressways and highways to the corridors of power in Nigeria.”

READ  2019 election will be credible, knowledge-driven-Abia REC

With his success, he admits, came new beliefs. He began to see the world differently. Whilst not much has changed with regards to the marginalisation of the Igbo in Nigeria, which was the subject of his book in 1995, Igbokwe no longer thinks it is necessary to talk about it. He has made his money, he is comfortable and as far as he is concerned perhaps, the marginalisation of the Igbo is no longer a big deal.

“He no longer believes Igbo marginalisation is an issue because of what he has gained from Lagos which the Igbo could not offer him,” notes Chidibere Anthony, an Abuja based legal practitioner. “He is indirectly seeking national relevance through the aforementioned propaganda.”

Igbokwe stood for political justice during his budding years in the 90s. He stood for equity, equality and importantly, he stood for true federalism. But today, he writes long articles to justify the marginalisation of the Igbo by Buhari because according to him, those who didn’t vote for the president deserves no justice, no equity and no equality. The talk of restructuring, for him, may also have largely become the talk of opposition.

“He is a person who has sold his conscience and personality for a morsel of porridge,” says Lagos based lawyer and analyst, Mr Ikechukwu Ikeji. “He speaks for his stomach.”

One cannot help but notice the contradictions in Igbokwe’s character. While the Buhari administration has relentlessly worked to undermine Tinubu, his boss, he does not seem to care either out of sheer ignorance of the prevailing political atmosphere, or he is angling for a new boss in Buhari.

It is common knowledge that Tinubu has been shut out of the government he worked so hard to enthrone. While the former governor’s boys in the media have largely turned against the president whose administration many say, has fallen short of expectations, Igbokwe sees no evil and hears no evil. For him the only truth is what Buhari’s spokesmen put out as ‘statements’.  If a scandal is unraveled, he insists that everyone must wait for the “official” position of government for therein exists the only truth.

“Igbokwe is not a character that should be taken seriously,” argues Bar Okey Ilofulunwa, former secretary-general, Igbo think tank group, Aka Ikenga. “He doesn’t have enough grasp of issues.”

About the Igbo nonetheless, he still accepts somewhat that they are still marginalised. In a recent interview with online medium, Sahara Reporters, he said: “Yes, Igbo have been marginalized in Nigeria since the end of the Civil War in 1970. It is a deliberate, systemic, and strategic marginalization.”

But it no longer pays him to make the marginalisation an issue. For it seems the only crusade worth his while is one that will directly or indirectly improve his income.




Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • Stop paying dividends, CBN orders banks with huge bad loans

    Banks and discount houses with non-performing loans above 10 per cent will no longer be allowed to pay dividends to their shareholders. The Central Bank of Nigeria gave the directive as part of measures to curb the increase in non-performing loans and to stop further erosion of the capital base of the banks. The directive […]

  • All recovered assets will be sold, says Buhari

    President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that all mismanaged and misappropriated national assets recovered will be sold off. In a statement issued on Monday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mr Garba Shehu, he also vowed to ensure that the proceeds of the sales are paid to the treasury for the benefit […]

  • Ortom explodes! Says attacks by herdsmen, a continuation of Uthman Danfodio’s 1804 jihad

    Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has described the ongoing killings by Fulani herdsmen in the state as a continuation of 1804 jihad by Uthman Danfodio, alleging that the Fulani are angry because the initial jihad led by Danfodio was halted in Benue and prevented from proceeding to the sea. The governor who bared his […]

  • Drug abuse is on increase among youths

     Frustrated and humbled by increasing difficult economic conditions, pervasive social anomie, breakdown of age-old value system and discipline, most youths now find solace in drug abuse, writes Adebayo Obajemu  Fadairo [not real name] is 24, at that age, his physical appearance is that of a man in his thirties, slurred and incoherent speech, hanging jaw, […]

  • 2019: Can the Jagaban save Buhari?

    Challenges for Tinubu over the re-election bid By Obinna Ezugwu On Tuesday last week, pictures of President Muhammadu Buhari posing with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Chief Bisi Akande, interim national chairman of the party filled the country’s media space. Both Tinubu and Akande had gone to […]

  • Kings of Broad Street: GT, ZENITH, UBA, ACCESS

    BY OKEY ONYENWEAKU As the banking industry gets tighter with narrowing operating margins and tougher competition for retail customers, the big four financial institutions are revising their strategies and setting up camp to fight an unconventional warfare. The new terms of engagement are moving from terrestrial combat to digital battlegrounds. ‘Banks will increasingly need to […]

  • Massive sell-off hits insurance sector

        FELIX OLOYEDE As the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) changes its rules about the maximum price that stocks could dip below their nominal book values of 50 kobo per share, Insurance sector stocks since last week have taken a free fall. David Adonrin, managing director, Highcap Securities Ltd has been holding Royal Exchange Insurance […]

  • War has been provoked between Yoruba and Fulani- OODUA Redemption Alliance declares

    War has been provoked between Yoruba and Fulani- OODUA Redemption Alliance declares OBINNA EZUGWU At the end of its security summit held in Ibadan on Thursday, the OODUA Redemption Alliance resolved to end what it called gradual incursion into Yoruba land by herdsmen who they accused of continuing the Jihad of Usman Danfodio. The group […]

  • It would be utterly irrational for Nigerians to vote for Buhari again- Junaid Mohammed

    Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed has noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has performed poorly in office and it would be irrational for Nigerians to vote for him in 2019. Dr Mohammed who made the assertion in an interview with Vanguard on Saturday, also criticized Buhari for being a poor reader who according to him, […]

  • Bayelsa tour: Obasanjo lays foundation for refinery

    Former President Olusegun Obasanjo continued his visit to Bayelsa State after inaugurating some projects of the state government on Friday. The former president continued his tour of the state on Saturday with the laying of the foundation for the establishment of Azikel Refinery. The refinery is owned by Dr Eruani Godbless, a prominent businessman and […]

  • Quite notice, hate speeches and President Buhari’s Northenisation/Islamisation agenda by Professor Ben Nwabueze

    Quite notice, hate speeches and President Buhari’s Northenisation/Islamisation agenda by Professor Ben Nwabueze NATURE OF HATE SPEECHES In the aftermath of the divisions in the country caused by President Buhari’s Northernisation/Islamisation Agenda, as manifested in his lopsided strategic appointments that unfairly favour the North as against the South, and the complete exclusion of the South-East […]

  • Chief Adeniyi to Tinubu: Withdraw your support for Buhari or risk losing influence in Yoruba land

    OBINNA EZUGWU Veteran columnist and elder statesman, Chief Adetola Adeniyi has warned former Lagos governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu against supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term bid, as according to him, such could mark the beginning of the end of his influence in Yoruba land. Chief Adeniyi who led the Global Intelligentsia for Buhari, a […]

  • Killings: Buhari condemns action, sends Defence Minister to Zamfara

    President Muhammadu Buhari has strongly condemned Thursday’s massacre of innocent persons in Birane village, Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The President stated this in a statement issued on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, following the death of at least 18 persons as a result of […]

  • Obasanjo visits Jonathan at Bayelsa residence

    Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday visited former President Goodluck Jonathan at his home in Bayelsa State. Dr Jonathan welcomed the elder statesman who was in his home for a private dinner, in company with his wife, Patience. Earlier before the visit, former President Obasanjo inaugurated a government specialist hospital in the state and unveiled […]

  • NNPC dispatches 29.058m litres of PMS to 13 states

    The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it supplied a total of 29.058 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol to thirteen Northern states in three days. In its report on daily dispatch to filling stations made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday, it named […]

  • Lagos will bring about world class childhood disability intervention-Joyce Onofowokan

    An area in which different levels of governments in Nigeria have remained loudly silent and painfully indifferent is childhood disability. Children with disabilities and their parents have over the years ridden on waves of disillusion, despair, and decay. They constitute a tribe of the silent minority that the society has conveniently allowed to disappear into […]