Wise Men Still Come From The East – Femi Adesina Writes


At his incarnation, wise men gifted in astronomy came from the East, all the way to Bethlehem, in the south of Jerusalem, to worship Jesus Christ. They are today known as the Magi, who gave the newborn gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
There is a lot to say on the significance of each gift item, but that is not the purpose of the writing today. Maybe, another day, as the need arises. What we need from that nativity story is that the wise men came all the way from the East, following a star that led them to Bethlehem. In our country Nigeria, we have the geo-political zone called the South-east, and wise men still come from there. In plenty numbers. This week, it was brought out in bold relief.
President Muhammadu Buhari was in two states of the South-east on Tuesday and Wednesday, and what a delightsome, myth-shattering visit it has become. It is one visit that has torpedoed the negative narrative deliberately conjured by some mischief makers over the years, that President Buhari does not like people from the East, and neither do the people like him.
Now, that assertion is fiction, pure apocryphal, conjured and concocted by some people to serve narrow political ends. In his first shot at the presidency in 2003, who was Buhari’s running mate? Dr Chuba Okadigbo. Where did he come from? Ogbunike, town of the famous cave, in the South-east. And in 2007, candidate Buhari looked towards the East again. He picked Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, as running mate. And in 2011, I remember very clearly. Buhari was on the march again, and needed a running mate. Socio-political leadership of the South-east forbade any of its sons from being running mate to anyone. Their candidate, they said, was Goodluck Jonathan, who then was completing the term of Umaru Yar’Adua. So, Buhari looked westward, and picked the cleric, Tunde Bakare. But did he demonstrate any animus towards the East? Not at all.
In 2015, the man, easily the most colourful politician, greatest crowd puller of this season in Nigeria, threw his hat into the ring again. The East was still in bed with Jonathan, completely besotted, vowing to swim or sink with their brother, Ebele Azikiwe.
Buhari looked westward again, picked Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as running mate. A large part of the East was dug in, not minding to play what may be called ‘poor politics’ in the process. When the dust of the elections settled, Jonathan was holding the shorter end of the stick. Buhari coasted to the presidency, but the entire East had given him just about 180,000 votes, less than what some local councils gave in other parts of the country. To make matters worse, the East had refused to re-elect its own son, Dr Chris Ngige, as senator. If Ngige had been given a mandate, he would have effortlessly emerged Senate President, and see what the region would have benefitted. But the large number opted for self-immolation, voted Ngige out, and later began to scream marginalization. But if you ask me, it was a self-inflicted wound. Result of poor politics.
That was the background that some people twisted, and used to paint the scenario that President Buhari does not like the South-east.
But happily, there had been voices of reason from the region, pre-2015 presidential election. The Ralph Obiohas, Chris Ngiges, Festus Odimegwus, Fr. Ejike Mbakas, Orji Uzor Kalus, Osita Okechukwus, J.C Ojukwus, and many others, had warned their people not to put their eggs in one basket. And they have turned out to be wise men, being joined today by thousands of other wise people.
You know what the mistakes of 2015 did to Ndigbo? It consigned them to perpetual opposition politics, playing in the periphery. For such an illustrious and enterprising people, that was unfortunate, if not tragic. If they continued that way, there was no silver lining in the sky for the future.
Nigeria is configured in a way that the person who builds the largest coalition is the one who can emerge President. The Igbo should naturally produce the President one day, that is what fairness demands. But how would that ever happen, if they continued to play poor politics? If you continue to swim in small pools, you stand the risk of being submerged in bigger waters. But now, things are changing. The wise men are making a difference.
Back to Ebonyi, the famed Salt of the Nation, where we arrived last Tuesday. Governor Dave Umahi is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and he is also Igbo. If he were to play narrow politics, he should have nothing to do with President Buhari. But the Ebonyi State helmsman has proven himself a wise man from the East. He has cultivated a good relationship with the President, and achieved the feat of being the first state in the South-east to host the President on a State Visit.
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