By OBINNA EZUGWU
For the umpteenth time, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on social media – if she still holds that portfolio – Lauretta Onochie, has found time to lash out at the Igbo nation, her convenient whipping child. The only group he finds easy to insult to justify her position as an official internet troll, which of course media aides are mostly about.
Onochie continues to feature regularly in the gossip sections of newspapers for having not much else to say but attack individuals of Igbo extraction and the Igbo nation in general. Certainly, she only features in the gossip sections because more often than not, her words make but nuisance value.
Onochie apparently has nothing of substance to offer to the Buhari government. True is the assertion that one can only offer what one has. So, because she really has nothing to offer, she resorts to periodic name calling and abuse of Igbo people.
Her motivation, apparently, is the general belief that Buhari doesn’t like the Igbo – and on the flip side, that the Igbo don’t like Buhari. Thus, to endear herself to the president, she has to keep up with the tactics of using her tirades against the Igbo for cheap recognition.
Obviously, the key motivation for most pro-Buhari people on social media who swarm around her handles, is a certain dislike or even phobia for the Igbo. To maintain their admiration therefore, and to keep them swarming around her, she has to, every now and then, attack individuals of Igbo extraction or the Igbo nation in general. It doesn’t matter how empty, and even daft her arguments are, her followers would often amplify them, and hail her as a star. And then she can go home satisfied that she is some sort of champion. I heard she even calls herself a star. Well, as we say in those days, a sheep knows not that her female organ is mere meat.
She has a rich history, already, of attempting to undermine perceived Igbo interest. When Chief Allen Onyema, the CEO of West Africa’s leading airline, Air Peace, was indicted by the US government for allegedly moving money into the country without following due process, she was the first to run her mouth against the gentleman. She suggested that Onyema airlifted hundreds of Nigerians stranded in South Africa in the wake of the xenophobic attacks in the country because he had something to hide. How base! This was at a time when most Nigerians irrespective of religion or ethnicity were calling for his protection in the interest of the nation.
Her reason then was that the US only goes after law breakers. Well, how else can one display acute ignorance, if not insolence? She didn’t know – or chose not to know – that the US president, Donald Trump, is still facing accusations of tax evasion. And that indeed, he was only recently impeached by the country’s House of Representatives for abuse of presidential powers. Yet, he still has the support of his Republican constituency because unlike her, the Republicans understand that there is no perfect system anywhere and that nobody is guilty just because he has been accused, even by the US authorities.
Even so, a Chinese phone maker, Huawei is being accused by the US government of sundry infractions. The company has actually been banned from the US and other Western countries and its CEO, Meng Wanzhou, arrested in Canada. But the Chinese government has since thrown its weight behind the company and is currently engaged in a diplomatic row with the US over the development. This is again because, unlike her, and indeed the mass of unexposed people who think like her, the Chinese government understands that it is primarily about national interest and as far as it is concerned, Chinese interest comes first just as America’s come first for the American government.
Regardless, the horde of the ignorant countrymen suffering from the worst form of inferiority complex and to whom Americans are infallible gods, the accusation against Onyema must be gospel. For them, American interests supersedes that of Nigeria and Nigerian citizens.
Her latest blab which prompted this intervention, has to do with a piece attributed to her, which is presently circulating on social media. In the piece she argued, among other things that, “the issue of underdevelopment in my South South is similar to that of the South East. Federal projects are rarely executed by those who nominated them as constituency projects.”
She proceeded to say that, “Funds for these projects, are diverted to live luxurious lifestyles in Abuja, Dubai and elsewhere, leaving the communities these projects were meant for, high and dry.”
As usual, the write up which is bereft of reason is being celebrated as a masterstroke by her followers who, like I suggested, are always willing to latch on to anything anti-Igbo to find a reason to feel good about their inadequacies. This, I think, is also partly as a result of inferiority complex. For of course, people tend to hate what they can’t conquer.
The write up was, as usual, informed on ignorance – if not even mischief – because as someone who has travelled to most states of Nigeria, I know for sure that South East states are not the least developed in the country.
She went on to argue that that constituency projects projects are not executed as if it’s the reason the South East is not “developed.” And as though every other federal government project elsewhere came through constituency projects. She pretended not to know that the issue of legislatures misappropriating constituency projects is a national menace and not peculiar to South East. But then, anything to discredit the South East is welcome.
She might also need to be reminded that the South East continues to emerge tops in almost all developmental indices in the country. For successive years, the zone has emerged tops in all national exams with all five states always in the top ten. In terms of literacy rate, the zone also has some of the highest in the country. Same, I’m afraid, cannot be said of the states and zones of her heroes and champions. At the same time, poverty rate is also minimal there compared to other zones. So, what exactly is Onochie’s point?
Her mischievous attempt to suggest that the Igbo are holding Buhari responsible for not developing the South East cannot also falls flat on logic. What the Igbo have continued to complain about is the lack of federal government institutions in the South East. She should know, even if she knows nothing else, that only federal governments can build federal institutions. I must also inform her that the only roads that are very bad in the South East are federal roads not state ones. South East governors have done well in terms of road constructions. A number of them like Willie Obiano and Dave Umahi are actually doing federal roads.
I must also thank President Buhari for intervening on a number of the federal roads, not minding the slow pace of work. The president has also done more serious work on the second Niger Bridge than any government before his. Nonetheless, beyond that, what the Igbo want from Buhari is inclusion in government, but even more importantly, good governance.
I can say with a measure of conviction that most Igbo people who criticize the Buhari government do so to the extent that they think he has not performed to their expectations generally. Whether in terms of the economy, security or in other fields. Then, there is also the unfair treatment of pro-Biafra agitators who are killed at will for holding flags and marching in the streets. This, by the same government that pardons “repented” Boko Haram members and treats murderous herders with kid gloves.
Onochie had said time and time again that she is not Igbo, even though she is from Ika, Delta North in Delta State, an area generally regarded as the Igbo part of Delta. Yet, she cannot let the Igbo be.
I, for one, gladly accept that she is not Igbo. Even though she bears Onochie which is an Igbo name, there is not much else linking her to the Igbo. The Igbo nation is known to produce quality individuals, and most especially, outstanding women.
Let’s compare her, for instance, with other Igbo women who have held positions in government at the federal level in recent years. There is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a proud Igbo woman from Delta North like her. She was two times Minister of Finance who remains a person of great repute having worked at the highest levels at the World Bank.
There is Aruma Oteh who served as Director General, Security and Exchange Commission. There is Chinelo Anohu-Amazu who was DG of PenCom. Both women, having been relieved of their duties unfairly in Nigeria, have since been poached by international organisations that value substance.
There is, of course, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, another ex-world bank economist and former minister. She remains a voice to be reckoned with in Nigeria and globally. Her positions are headline news in major media organisations.
Let me also mention Buchi Emecheta, one of Africa’s finest novelists and a global icon who passed away a few years ago. Buchi was a proud Igbo woman from Delta North like Onochie. She was a worthy Igbo daughter who flew the Igbo flag wherever she went.
Now, how does Onochie compare with any of these women and many others I have not mentioned? Before you joined the Buhari government, what was her job? Who knew her with anything?
Certainly then, she cannot be Igbo. And it will do her a lot of favour to focus her attention on whatever ethnic group she identifies with and leave the Igbo alone. .