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Why Obasanjo's minister Mrs.Dupe Adelaja should
apologize to the Igbo nation and Nigerians for herbigotry
By Joe Igbokwe
Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
During the struggle for June 12, in Nigeria, I did not hear (Mrs.Dupe Adelaja's) voice or that of her husband. I did not know whatMrs. Adelaja is capable of doing because I cannot recall anyseriousachievement ascribed to her name. She has no political antecedents.But this is Nigeria for you where the sick does the work of a healthyman and the blind does the work of the people with eyes. It is onlyin Nigeria that people can come from nowhere to become our leaders.In a proper political setting where leaders are chosen because ofwhat they have done and what they are capable of doing in future.Mrs. Dupe Adelaja will not be near to the seat of government talklessof being a Minister. Mrs. Dupe Adelaja called the entire Igbo race"traitors "because they fought to defend their honour, dignity andintegrity. We were receiving truck loads of dead bodies in Enugu andOnitsha, we were receiving refugees, we also received the dead bodiesof pregnant women whose wombs were ripped open and the babies killed.
Monday, December 10, 2001 is a day the Igbo nation will not forgetin a hurry. It was a day Igbo nation was officially provolced bysomebody whose duty, is to protect and defend the territorialintegrity of Nigeria, and she gets paid every month with tax payersmoney. It was a day Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, the Minister of State forDefence (Navy) set aside to insult the sensibility and integrity ofNdigbo. It was a day Mrs. Adelaja told the nation that theNigeria/Biafra war has not officially ended. Mrs. Adelaja's pressbriefing to mark the year 2002 Armed Forces Remembrance day was setaside to ridicule and humiliate the entire Igbo race.
Mrs. Adelaja had in her address, described the pardoned ex-Biafrasoldiers as traitors who did not deserve to be paid pensions.According to Mrs. Adelaja. It is a bad stigma that you are a traitor." After this Mrs. Adelaja added the stinker, "Yes, you can be doingyour buying and selling."
Now, before I go further on the implication of Mrs. Adelaja'sprovocative and unguarded statement. Let us first of all try to knowwho Mrs. Adelaja is. Mrs. Adelaja is the daughter of Senator AbrahamAdesanya, NADECO leader a chietftain of Alliance for Democracy (AD),the leader of Afenifere and the Yor~ha nation. C'hicl AbrahamAdesanya is fearless, outspoken and highly principled.
It was 76 years old Senator Adesanaya who served as a principalleader of other Nigerians to confront the late General Sani Abacha inthe years of locusts and dictatorship. A serious attempt was made onhis life by the Abacha goons and the man survived that attack. Iremember one of his famous statements in those days, "I am notsomebody who retire in the face of evil. If I try to change thesociety but the society is not willing to change, I will continueuntil the end of my life." He is a courageous leader who can hold hisown without looking back. Senator Abrahan; Adesanya was a hero in thestruggle for democracy and Justice in Nigeria. He is a greatpersonality who is still standing tall above his contemporariestoday. President Obasanjo knows it and many Nigerian leaders knowit.
So when General Obasanjo (rtd) was clectecl the president ofNigeria in l 999 without the support of his kinsmen in wards, localgovernments, states and regional level he was not happy about it.Home support is a must for any good politician. Although Afenifereand AD opposed his candidacy those who chose him for us insisted thathe should be president. The votes from the South East, South Southand the North made him the President. President Obasanjo as anexperienced politician needed desperately, the support of his peopleto run the government.
To achieve this President Obasanjo needed the support of senatorAbraham Adesanya by all means. And what he did in order to win himover was to appoint his daughter Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, an unknown namein Nigeria into his cabinent as a junior minister in the DefenceMinistry. Mrs. Adelaja got the post not because she merited the postbut because President Obasanjo wanted to use her to get the supportof her father and Afenifere. I do not know Mrs. Adelaja before. I didnot know what she was and what she was doing before she was appointeda Minister.
During the struggle for June 12, I did not hear her voice or thatof her husband. I did not know what Mrs. Adelaja is capable of doingbecause I cannot recall any serious achievement ascribed to her name.She has no political antecedents. But this is Nigeria for you wherethe sick does the work of a healthy man and the blind does the workof the people with eyes. It is only in Nigeria that people can comefrom nowhere to become our leaders. In a proper political settingwhere leaders are chosen because of what they have done and what theyare capable of doing in future. Mrs. Dupe Adelaja will not be near tothe seat of government talkless of being a Minister. Mrs. DupeAdelaja called the entire Igbo race "traitors "because they fought todefend their honour, dignity and integrity. We were receiving truckloads of dead bodies in Enugu and Onitsha, we were receivingrefugees, we also received the dead bodies of pregnant women whosewombs were ripped open and the babies killed.
If General Gowon refused to implement the Aburi Accord. Revenuedue to the Eastern region was confisticated. Again, what GeneralGowon called police Action was full scale declaration of war onNdigbo. Now, did Mrs. Adelaja know all this? Did she know anythingabout the Nigeria-Biafra war? How old is Mrs. Adelaja when the warstarted? Has she been born then? Did Mrs. Adelaja understand themeaning of the word, traitor? Do you force people to live together inany nation where there is no justice and fair play.?
I was modestly but deeply involved in the election of ChiefMoshood Abiola as president in 1993 and when that free and fairelection was annulled by IBB, I felt that a grave injustice had beendone to the Yoruba nation. I am one of those who put their lives onthe line to ensure that IBB never got away with the annulment. IBBwas disgraced out and so was Chief Ernest Shonekan. General Abachahad to die i n office. General Abubakar ruled for only nine monthsbefore President Obasanjo took over in 1999. Now, if the June 12struggle had degenerated into a full-scale war between the rest ofNigeria and the Yoruba nation and consequently, the Yoruba weredefeated, will I call the Yoruba soldiers who fought the rest ofNigeria traitors? No, I cannot. I saw what happened. I saw howleaders of the Yoruba nation were being hunted by Abacha and hiscohorts. At a time their first class leaders were either killed,jailed or sent to exile. When Senator Abraham was nearly killed atSampson Street Lagos, I remember I issued a statement, warning otherNigerians not to pretend that they do not know what was happening inthe South West. I remember said that tidal waves from the AtlanticOcean may hit Lagos first but there is no guarantee that Abuja andNnewi will not feel the impact. This warning was reported . in mostof Nigeria's leading newspapers including an international magazinebased in London (Africa Today). Many Igbos including Ndubuisi Kanu,Ebitu Ukiwe, Pini Jason and my humble self said in our silent momentsthat it will be dangerous to allow the rampaging oligarchy thatdefeated Ndigbo, defeated the Ogoni and humiliated the Middle Belt todefeat the Yoruba nation. Those who came to the launching of my book.Heroes of Democracy would have noticed that almost all the eminentleaders of the Yoruba nation were physically present at NTIA Lagos.It was a . pay day for me. Senator Abraham Adesanya the father ofMrs. Dupe Adelaja was there. Governor Tinubu was there with all hiscommissioners. Governor Segun Osoba was there. Chief Bola Ige was thepresenter. Morin Babalola was the master of Ceremony. Alhaji GaniyuDawodu, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ayo Opadokun the late pa Onasanyaand many others were there. The point is that l am at peace with theYoruba nation. We have been throwing as many bridges as possiblebetween the East and the West in order to make the iron curtain ofdichotomy irrelevant. Mrs. Adelaja's nonsensical effusions may putspanner in the works, If she is not called to order.
When Mrs. Adelaja told the ex-Biafran soldiers to go and continuewith their . buying and selling business, I needed no English masterto know that she was referring to the Igbo nation as traders. Mrs.Adelaja's scurrilous drivel had been the mindset of other Nigeriansespecially in the South West. Today every Dick and Harry including,baby politicians from other parts of the country use the baselessassertion to ridicule the Igba nation. But the truth of the matter isthat Igbo run the engines of Nigeria. I have been privileged to readLee Iacocca's book to learn that real wealth is under the engineswhere hands are made dirty and not in banks or insurance companieswhere round tripping is the in-thing.
Dr. Philip Emeagwali, abright Igbo son from Onitsha developed a complex computer that solved3.1 billion problems in one second. The point is that one PhilipEmegwali is worth more to the world than 20 million good-for-nothingfellows who steal people's money in millions to earn a living. Somepeople in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja sit down in their mansions to makecertain comments that are not in any way, the true position ofthings. Some people who have not left their domain to other places toearn a living and try to understand other people. They sit in theirdomain to say what they do not know. A silent revolution has beengoing on in Nnewi in the past 10 years and some people are not payingattention. Very soon, emphasis will not be on oil but technology andlike Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore the Igbo nationwill prove themselves.
The history of what led Ndigbo to buying and selling business inNigeria and . beyond is well-known to all and sundry. Theconspirators conspired after the civil war to give any Igbo accountholder in Nigeria before the civil war just 20 pounds simply to makesure that Igbo will not rise again. Again, Nigeria was sold mainly toa section of the country during the indegenization programme in 1973when our peoole were just coming out of the war. We know those whobought almost all the companies.
There was no 'Marshall' plan for the reconstruction of Igbo landas practised in civilized countries of the world. Mrs. Adelaja knowsalso that the Igbo nation is the only nation in Africa that fought acivil war of self determination, lost the war, lost all herbelongings, lost almost one million souls and yet the people wereable to work themselves back into the system through dint ofhardwork. If other Nigerians should work as the Igbo, move and livein other places like the Igbo, Nigeria would have been a better placenow.
I am still at a loss why Mrs. Adelaja chose the Christmas period aperiod of peace to do this damage to the psyche of Ndigbo. Is shespeaking the minds of those in power? On whose benefit did Mrs.Adelaja engage in this exercise that was meant to belittle a dynamicrace like the Igbo? I take solace in Isaiah 5:20-23, "Woe unto themthat call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, andlight for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in theirown sight. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudentin their own sight. Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, andmen of strength to mingle strong drink which justify the wicked forreward and take away the righteousness of the righteous fromhim!"
I am therefore challenging every Igbo son or daughter who knowshow to put words on paper to throw more stones or missels to Mrs.Dupe Adelaja's glass house until she deems it necessary to go to theNational Television to tender an unreserved apology to the Igbonation.
Her inglorious remarks have been an object of discussion anywheretwo or more Igbo people gather and what I hear them saying is thatMrs. Dupe Adelaja has turned out to be the number one enemy ofNdigbo. If she were the Minister of State in the army, Igbos wouldhave been calling for her removal because her hatred for Ndigbo cancause her to deploy soldiers to clear the people from the surface ofthe earth.
Finally, let me share with Mrs. Adelaja what a famous school ofthought says: When you get to the top too quickly you find out thatthere is no other place to go except to go down .
Igbokwe, a commentator on public events and policies in Nigeria isbased in Lagos and Abuja.
Reaction to Adelaja's comments will be published atUSAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper
USAfricaonline FEEDBACK: CONTINENTAL AGENDA These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
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