By Dr. Chike Amobi, MCIArb (UK)
The recent viral video of the Nollywood actor Mr Kenneth Okonkwo, boldly proclaiming his support for President Buhari, and the consequential backlash which followed the publication of the video has brought to the fore, the worrisome and increasingly popular politics of hate and bitterness that has crept into our political space. And quite unfortunately so.
The young man took the microphone and expressed, with factual support, his preference for President Buhari as the best presidential choice in the forthcoming elections. That’s all he did. At least from the clip I saw. And then followed the rainstorm of hate speech on him. Mostly coming from our brethren of the Southeastern extraction. They rained insults on him. Abused him. And called him all kinds of names. Sell out. Lost. Misguided. Living in Bondage. Bastard. Et cetera. The name calling is not my problem. After all, politics is a “contact sport” and anyone who gets in the ring should expect to get hit. I’m fine with that.
However, what I found constitutionally reprehensible and morally hypocritical is the unabashed ascription of Mr. Okonkwo’s support of PMB as making him inherently anti-igbo in his political convictions. That, in my opinion, is a most self righteous and fallacious stance to assume in political matters. Different people have different political beliefs and ideologies. There are very reasonable and sensible people in all political parties. Better still, there are very intelligent and reasonable men and women of Igbo extraction in the All Progressives Congress (APC) who have unapologetically stood with President Buhari in past elections and will still do in the forthcoming one. And the APC itself, has a long list of Igbo men and women from its fold who have commendable political sagacity and gravitas, and who ceaselessly advocate for the best interests of Ndi Igbo at all times.
It is therefore an uncharitable attempt to intimidate and muffle Mr. Kenneth Okonkwo by mischievously misconstruing his constitutional freedom of political association to be analogous to an anti Igbo political agenda. And to unleash such unholy tirade of hate speech on the man.
In one of these circulated Gbue-Kenneth-Okonkwo speeches, one of these hate mongers went as far as suggesting that the souls and blood of Biafran casualties, which was “shared”(sic) during the Biafran War, would haunt Mr. Okonkwo. How pedestrian! First of all, there are a lot of good and well meaning Igbos who do not necessarily subscribe to the Biafran Separatist agenda. While many of them do advocate for some form of Restructuring, a lot of them stop short of supporting a total rebirth of the Republic of Biafra. And understandably so. Secondly, it is shameful manifestation of the highest form of “herd mentality” to presume that the name President Buhari, should evoke hate in every red-blooded Ndi Igbo. For no other reason than just being Igbo. And this is worrisome in light of the fact that some of these internet tigers are not able to specifically articulate the nature of the beef they have with the President.
Mr. Okonkwo pointed out FACTS which made him believe Buhari is a good man. Indeed the best man for the job. The best way to shut him up would have been to state FACTS which suggest otherwise. Rather than clouding the World Wide Web with emotional and ethnocentric gibberish that does not contain a scintilla of Facts to support. Essentially trying to silence all prospective supporters of President Buhari from the Southeast.
Biko ka mmadu nulu unu ife. Abeg!