You must have heard how the former media aide to erstwhile president Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, the self-called pastor and founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Centre, embarked on an ill-advised and futile attempt at lecturing the Igbo nation on diplomacy in reaction to a statement credited to Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, on president Goodluck Jonathan.
It is most unfortunate that Omokri would take a statement by Nnamdi Kanu as a statement by the Igbo, and weave same to make it look like the Igbo met somewhere as a nation, concluded on what to say about Jonathan and detailed Kanu to speak on their behalf.
Having served at that level of government and run a self-found church for this long (most probably without any anointing), one would have thought that Reno would be circumspect in his approach to such matters rather than blow it out of proportion by apportioning it to the Igbo while using that opportunity to run a web of tirades against the Igbo who were as shocked as anyone else by Kanu’s statements.
Even if anyone should want to say what Kanu said about Jonathan, the general belief in Igboland is that it should not have come from a brother anywhere between the South East and South South. But then, Reno, who was anonymous, lame, and ineffectual in his days as media aide to Goodluck Jonathan to the extent that he and his colleagues allowed the opposition to literally run the government of Jonathan aground and out of town but for the intervention of people like Femi-Fani-Kayode, which, though, came late, but was nevertheless so effective that the opposition got distracted from Jonathan and faced FFK squarely, threatening fire and brimstone, and court cases while Jonathan’s rating rose so high within the period FFK joined his campaign.
If Reno had been just even one per cent as effective as he is now, running after every Tom, Dick, and Harry who says anything about Jonathan, when he was media aide, the opposition would have had no space to run their propaganda, half-truths, and outright falsehood against the former president. The impression Reno creates now is that he was so comfortable enjoying the perks of office and a very sure income that he cared less about his job and its sensitive nature to the image of the person and government of Jonathan.
Of course, we all know that church business is no longer as lucrative in America as it used to be, that country is fast turning its back on the church, so the pastors there, especially those like Reno, who called themselves to church business as a means of livelihood, can hardly make ends meet. The income is low for the Renos of this world, and to shore up whatever little they get from there, they have to try to remain relevant by spewing gibberish against a people in the name of defending Jonathan.
While it is unacceptable to some of us to describe Jonathan in uncomplimentary remarks, we still remember very well that the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, an Ijaw man like Jonathan himself, said that Jonathan’s six years as president was a waste. While we condemn Dickson for such insulting remark, it would be wrong for anyone to claim that it was the Ijaw that spoke through Dickson. Those of us who condemned Dickson for such remarks, condemned him as a person, and even though he is the governor of Bayelsa State, we would still not arrogate such malicious remark to the good people of Bayelsa. So, why would Reno ascribe Kanu’s remarks about Jonathan to Ndigbo and not ascribe Dickson’s to the Ijaw?
What lesson in diplomacy does Reno want the Igbo to learn when the region is peopled by some of the finest diplomats, ladies and gentlemen that can be found anywhere in the world and have risen to the height of their respective callings, towering above many others. From Emeka Anyaoku to Alex Ekwueme, Onyeka Onwenu, Cardinal Arinze, Nwankwo Kanu, just to mention a few.
It is on record that Wole Soyinka once made reference to Jonathan as the inglorious King Nebuchadnezzar of biblical days and described Patience Jonathan as “mere appendage of power…” and other unsavoury things he had said then about the former president and his family. But Reno then operated like a sickly fowl just saved from lightning-induced electrocution: helpless, weak, incompetent, and ineffectual while the Soyinkas, Lai Mohammeds etc had a field day against his principal.
How come Soyinka’s statement was not arrogated to the Yoruba then?
One can only imagine how the Igbo would have been bashed if it was an Igbo man that described Jonathan as clueless. Of course, the traditional media would have gone gaga and the social media would have gone haywire. The statement would have been “the Igbo lack diplomacy, they lack respect, they lack courtesy” etc. But because it was somebody from the other side of the divide that said it, it could be forgiven, it could be forgotten. Not so, never so for the Igbo man. He must not talk or else he is labeled. Such nonsense!
Nobody heard Reno arrogating that balderdash against Jonathan in Segun Adniyi’s book “Against the Run of Play” to the Yoruba, and rightly so too. Segun Adeniyi may be Yoruba but he does not equate to Yoruba. The same goes for Nnamdi Kanu. One can only imagine what the Igbo would have been subjected to if that propaganda and hate-filled book had been written by an Igbo man.
While Jonathan faced acerbic and scurrilous attacks even from his own people in South South, the Igbo stood by him solidly. One can only thank God that Rotimi Amaechi is not Igbo, or Timipre Sylva, or Magnus Abe etc, the Renos of this world would have been convulsing with hate and use every opportunity available to spew such in-built hate against Ndigbo in the media.
It is even more nightmarish to remember that Jonathan lost the 2015 election majorly to image problem created by the opposition and unchallenged by the president’s media aides of which Reno was a prominent member.
The fact is that the Igbo love Jonathan even till tomorrow no matter what the Renos of this world try to make us feel or think. Apart from high ranking appointments, it was Jonathan who destroyed the plans of our common foes to keep Ndigbo perpetually inaccessible and locked out from the outside world when he declared the Enugu airport an international air route for Nigeria thereby opening the south east directly to the world. That was not a mean feat given the fact that it was done against the powerful wish of those who have held this country down for so long with their oppressive agenda.
That singular action by Jonathan has opened the South East to enormous opportunities that can only be appreciated not only now but forever.
However, the South East is also suffering for their support to Jonathan at the 2015 elections. Our businessmen in the oil and gas industry, auto-industry, cement industry, manufacturing industry, etc, are being hounded freely today by security agencies because of their open support for the former president. The reversal of some of Jonathan’s policies like that of the automobile industry was directed at the Igbo who were already making giant strides in that sector before the coming of Buhari. Today, our businesses suffer for our free democratic choice to support Jonathan. We have no regrets about that at all. We are never known to abandon our own even when the battle is fiercest, it does not matter what gossips and betrayers say about us. Our loyalty is always total and unalloyed.
The suffering assumed an official dimension and got the official stamp of the presidency when Buhari made the infamous and unfortunate declaration of 97% vs 5%! The good thing is that what the Igbo saw in 2015 while sitting, those who did not see it even while standing on the Iroko tree are now seeing it and wished they had towed the same line with the Igbo during the elections.
No matter what Nnamdi Kanu says, Jonathan will continue to enjoy the support of Ndigbo even till death. We will not betray him like some of his own people have done. Kanu might have said what he said, but the truth is, given another opportunity to choose between Jonathan and Buhari, Kanu, even Kanu would still choose Jonathan. He is not like Reno who is scoring a much needed goal only after the match has ended. Such a needless, meaningless and useless goal…
Rather than his diatribe against the Igbo, Reno would do well to come out from hiding, return to Nigeria and join in the noble task of tackling this oppressive and tyrannical government that has brought so much distrust among brothers and sown so much hate among neighbours. It is an act of cowardice to remain in San Francisco and keep picking on soft targets while the real despots in the country get away with severe and several acts of unconstitutionality.
Even if he decides to remain in distant lands, when next Reno wants to attack, he should choose his subjects carefully. Ndigbo are not Jonathan’s problem. People like Reno who think they can continue to be hypocritical in order to impress Jonathan should learn to deliver their messages as aides and not as slaves!
Lastly, Jonathan remains Nigeria’s hero of democracy. It is his meekness that has exposed Buhari’s gross incompetence and tyranny. If Jonathan had behaved like strong men behave in Africa, we would not have had the opportunity to know that Buhari is the worst president Nigeria would ever have.
Meekness is no weakness. It is the strong that let go. Jonathan let go to save the nation from the precipice, and today we have all learnt enormous lessons from that singular act of magnanimity.
I hope Reno, too, has learnt.
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.