By Chuka Ogbonna
I have watched the heated race for the Senatorial Ticket of Anambra South with bemusement and worry. I am bemused at the war of words that has been going on since the aspirants finally drew a line in the sand to signal the beginning of the contest. Well…politics is a war by other means necessary. A war of words hurts no one in the end. It is all politics. But I am worried. I am worried that the arguments and counter arguments have taken our attention away from what we must consider in choosing who will replace Andy Ubah in the Senate. Yes, Andy Ubah has served his term. He did not serve us well. He has earned his rest. We have a duty to ensure that he gets this rest. And we shall tell him “goodbye” with our votes!
Now, with Andy Ubah safely out of the way, what shall we do with Nicholas Ukachukwu, Iyom Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu and of course Ifeanyi Ubah? As far as I know, these are the only aspirants in the race. But even so, Ukachukwu, a man of immense Nicodemus propensity, has shown his lack of readiness for the game. He confirmed the fears of APGA chieftains when he picked up the PDP nomination form by proxy. So, he has Nicodemusly shut the door on himself with his own hand!
That leaves us with Bianca Ojukwu and Ifeanyi Ubah. Make no mistakes about it; these two aspirants have earned the respect of Ndigbo. They have earned the respect of Nigerians too; even that of their worst enemies. Ordinarily, they should present a difficult choice to the electorate. But when we look closely at Bianca and Ifeanyi, we shall have no doubt as to who should represent us in the senate.
1. Sense of Entitlement vs Solid Achievements: It is not Bianca Ojukwu’s fault that she was born into a wealthy aristocratic family. But the only trouble with this is that Bianca has been insulated from the pains of the ordinary man from birth. She has never had to break sweat to get anything she wanted in life. She had the privilege of the best London education and the superb support of her family to enter a beauty pageant. Bianca’s life of privilege continued when she got married to Ikemba Nnewi. That’s fine. It continued even after Ikemba’s death when she was appointed Nigerian Ambassador to Spain. What we see is an interesting profile of someone whose palm kernel has always been cracked by a benevolent spirit. Splendid! However, this is not an impressive profile of someone who seeks to serve as a representative of the people. For having always led a life of privilege, what does she possibly know about the grim realities of ordinary Nigerian life? Has she walked in the shoes of the poor masses? Has she struggled with the payment of children’s school fees or the payment of rent? Has she ever travelled on Okada or Kekeh or the ramshackle buses that litter our roads? What does she know about being ordinary, powerless and helpless? Can such a person understand and champion the cause of the poor? I don’t think so. But Ifeanyi Ubah came straight from the streets. The son of a poor teacher, there was not enough money to send him to school. He became apprenticed to his master; learned wisdom in the streets, drank from the glorious Igbo communal spirit that has helped our people dominate commerce. Ifeanyi clawed his way to the top by dint of hard work. He had no rich parents or rich in-laws, no godfathers or dream-makers. He is a self-made billionaire. And he knows what it means to move from ashes to classic. He has a perfect understanding of the feelings of the grassroots, their pains and agonies, their dreams and aspirations. He will speak for them with a louder and more convincing voice in the Senate.
2. Igbo-centrism vs arrogant aristocracy – Bianca Ojukwu carries herself as the queen of hearts who has quite successfully made the transition to the queen of Ndigbo. This is no mean achievement. She is an aristocrat by birth, by marriage and by natural inclination. Her holidays are spent in the South of France. The blinding lights and opulence of such sceneries are entirely hers. That’s her world. Her birthdays are spent in exclusive resorts where supple palms massage her in the weak autumnal sun of Europe. That’s her life and we are happy for her. But when you are elevated so high above your own people, the best advice is to stay there at the top. The trouble is that Bianca wants to come down her high horse and do exactly what? Speak for Ndi Anambra South? This is where Ifeanyi Ubah has a clear advantage. No one in recent times has sought to connect with the people and Ndigbo in general with as much zeal and commitment as Ifeanyi Ubah. This young billionaire has touched our passion-points again and again. His enthusiasm bubbles over when he is working behind the scenes to bring Ndigbo and the Yoruba to a roundtable in a ‘handshake across the Niger.’ His enthusiasm is even more infectious when he is driving ‘Afa Igbo Efuna’ to save APGA from imminent death. Ubah is pointedly Igbo-centric. His philanthropy is said to be legendary. His social investments are there for all to see. His efforts to give a new life to youths through sports are something for a scholarly enquiry. Ubah has proven to be just like us; simple, down-to-earth and flaming with a passion to bring out the best in us. There’s no better man or woman to speak for us!
Sincerely, if all it took to represent the masses in nascent democracy like Nigeria were the ability to speak Cambridge English and an arrogant, aristocratic lifestyle that isolates the masses from their leaders, the race for the Senatorial Ticket of Anambra South would be Amb Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu’s to lose. But sadly, it is not. The Legislature is the engine-room of democracy. Whoever emerges in the race to the legislative assembly must be an aspirant that the people have chosen themselves. It must be a true reflection of the will of the people.
And because Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah has no misplaced aristocratic airs, because he does not live in an artificial bubble of privilege that isolates him from the common folks, because he understands the tears and joys of Nigeria’s disposed, I choose to stand with him. And I ask you to stand with him too!