Ngige: Instead the Yoruba, Igbo marriage will collapse, let the the keg break

By Sunny Igboanugo on 24/07/2020

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At the family of Nduka Oduko that bright evening his elder brother Mbadugha’s voice rang like velvet as he blessed the colanut in the freshly manicured living room. A man of immense wisdom and gifted speaker, his dexterity with the prayers accompanying the breaking of colanut was put on display in a special way. Why not, it was the beginning of another good tiding in the family. Nwakaego, the daughter of his younger brother was about to consummate her marriage to Nwokike and it was supposed to be a great day for many reasons.
Such was the power of his words that it qualified for the type that practically brought down the gods. He beckoned on the heavens and the earth, supplicated that the kite and eagle must allow each other to perch and whomsoever complained should lose its wings. He prayed that the animal tracking the footsteps of his audience, its own legs should become a delicacy in their wives’ pots; that anyone seeking their destruction, tragedy in his own house should not allow him and that anyone seeking their lives, should use the ground as his umbrella.
Before his arrival, Nduka had provided his own drinks as is expected in such an event. That of the would-be in-law, was supposed to come later, as the parents of the bride would pretend they were not aware of the mission. It has to be done after the colanut ritual to welcome them.

After Mbadugha’s voice from the accolades over his colanut-breaking ritual prowess had died down, it was the turn of Ejike, from the other side. But he had to introduce his mission by presenting palmwine. This he did. He had first drunk his firs glass and would be given a second one because he had two testicles and because he had to taste his own wine first before others.

It was in the process of pouring out the second glass that Onyeka the talkative noticed that part of the drink was escaping on the floor and quickly raised an alarm. On instant scrutiny, it was discovered that the keg had broken and wine was sipping through the minor crack. Immediately that was discovered and ascertained as the true picture, Mbadugha, picked his walking stick, stood up and walked out of the room without tasting the wine. That was the end of the show. Marriage had come to an abrupt stop.

Nwakego was inconsolable. But there was nothing anybody could do to make the supposedly dream marriage to Obele, her childhood love come true. Nduka, the father explained the situation to her. Mmanye ga esere ogo n’ogo okwu tiwaa n’uzo. (That drink that will bring dispute to two in-laws should break on the way). It is a bad omen in Igboland for such an early warning of catastrophe to be ignored no matter the circumstances.
This is my response to Yinka Odumakin in his open letter to Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, where he tried to toe the line of ethnicity on the issue of the suspension of the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), a development that is at worst one of the episodes in the serial sordid revelations currently assaulting the sensibilities of the Nigerian, nay, the global public, home and abroad.

Bringing it home, let me state it clearly once again: That drink that would lead to a marriage collapse between the Yoruba and Igbo should break on the way. I say so, because of the way things are panning out regarding the development. What ought to have been a purely administrative matter to be handled at the government level, is tapering towards the dangerous dimension of ethnicity and politics, as is wont with virtually all developments in Nigeria, which is substantially the reason for where we are as a people.

The issue has suddenly become three-pronged – governance, politics and ethnic. However, I have elected to deal with the politics and ethnic side of it, leaving out that of governance for those who know much about the nitty-gritty of government policies and administration.

I couldn’t help but notice Odumakin’s attempt to struggle with his sentiments and how he tried to sound altruistic while leaving out the tell-tale signs in his choice of words, which clearly betrayed his real intentions, which is to rubbish Ngige while defending his people and perhaps presenting them as saints.

I mean, if the intention of this wordsmith who strings his words as beautifully and delicately as a weaverbird, was to call Ngige to order in line with the new marriage attempt between the Yoruba and Igbo, why would he bring in Okija. What place does the recalling of that revolting episode, which has diverse interpretations have in the issue in question?
Now, Odumakin, was able to calibrate the number of Igbo employed in NSITF during Ngige’s era as evidence of his ethnocentric proclivity in his handling of the agency which is under his ministry. But this revelation, could be stretched further. There is no doubt that the figures he brandished came directly from those he is defending their interest, because it is given that they would be the ones in possession of such a document. But is that all there is to it?

Assuming, but not conceding that that is the true picture, wouldn’t Odumakin have gone further to tell his audience the number of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo Stratification in the agency in line with the Federal Character demands of every government agency? That definitely would have put paid to the issue of whether Ngige was merely favouring his people or trying to create such a balance as best as he could. After all, is it not a notorious fact that the Igbo are crying everyday about being marginalised in Nigeria?

Let me illustrate. One of the policies and landmarks of former President, Goodluck Jonathan was to build a Federal University in every state of the federation. I’m not sure how many he built in the South East. But some zones got more, even if he did. He certainly did not build one in Anambra because Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), is already in existence. In fact, virtually every state in the South East, had a federal university at that time. Does it then mean that building such institutions like Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOE) and others in the North, which got a chunk of the projects was marginalising the South East? Was it balancing or favouritism?

Now, let me come to the politics of it. If you are friendly with any good policeman, he will always tell you that there can never be a perfect crime. Criminals will always leave a loophole that would give them out. It is the same in political plotting. I’m sure you listened to James Faleke, the failed Kogi governorship contender. You saw how he was building up what looked like an iron-cast case against Ngige until he gave himself away by his unnecessary and largely infantile recourse to politics.

They must have plotted either in the home of Femi Gbajabiamila, as the leader of the Yoruba caucus of the National Assembly or that of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the undisputed political leader of the Yoruba today. They must have ironed and rehearsed the strategy with which it would be carried out including who’s to say what. But then, the bubble burst. They may not have prepared for Ngige’s response. Now, the war has broken out on many fronts.

Now that the masquerade seems to have been unveiled and everyone seems to recognise the identity, because of the recklessness of its followers, it may well pay everyone to learn from the lesson therein that as one is pointing a finger, the remaining four are returning the gesture to one. Justice has no colour, just like truth.

I remind Odumakin and his brothers after Ngige, a fowl that perches on a rope will neither know rest just like the rope. Let them check the meaning of ngige. If Nigeria and its salvation is what we’re all after, let nobody take sides yet on the NSITF matter until It's concluded one way or the other. After all, this won’t be the first of its kind under this government.
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are just the few in recent times. There may be more.

Whilst we’re at it, it may also be aposite to caution on the political side of it: If the marriage between Ndigbo and the Yoruba, as being hyped by Odumaki is such that a Yoruba man is projected to become President in 2023, may that keg of wine break on the way. Let there be no marriage!




Posted on July, 24 2020

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