By Law Mefor
Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the chairman of Capital Oil, wants to go to the Senate and how seriously he would be needed there! The reason is: the Nigerian federation is now so rickety. The crookedness has to be straightened only through a series of constitutional amendments and negotiations that can be made possible by men and women with zeal, reach and capacity.
The 6 regions (or zones if you like) have divergent needs and views of what Nigeria ought to be and nearly half of the skewed country does not mind if the country remains awkward and unprogressive as it is. Both restructuralists and unitarists need to talk and keep talking.
Let it be known that the 1999 Constitution bequeathed by the reluctantly departing military is far more unitary than federal and deliberately made so to ensure guided democracy, and all attempts to make it into a truly federal one as agreed to by Nigeria’s founding fathers have so far yielded very paltry results. More work needs be done. Each zone must try to push forward to the National Assembly – this time – men and women who have the capacity to negotiate and truly represent and push through the position of their people through negotiations. Democracy is give and take, what the Igbos call, egbe belu ugo belu.
One Igbo man who has shown such capacity and sagacity is Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Chairman of Capital Oil. Many of his peers are weary of him because he appears to have a head start without political powers and may fear he could become eclipsing if permitted to wield political powers as well. This fear is unfounded. Ifeanyi Ubah has an indomitable vision for common good, which will even enhance the steads of these men working to whittle down his influence. Only the deep can call to the deep.
From a distance, it is difficult to understand this enigma called Ifeanyi Ubah. Unlike most Nigerian politicians, Ifeanyi Ubah is not in politics to make money. He has made all the fortune and climbed to apex of wealth where he could afford anything money can buy as upper-upperclassman. But as a classical psychologist Abraham Maslow explains, Ubah’s quest is Self-actualization, a stage in life when a fully successful man or woman seeks to better his society by giving back. Ubah understands the Igbo man’s problems as well as that of the Nigerian nation.
Like any servant leader, he seeks power to be in a position to serve a greater number of people and greater needs. When he sought to become the Governor Ubah hoped to establish Anambra State as the gateway to the South East. Now that he seeks to become a senator representing Anambra South flying the flag of the Young Peoples Party (YPP), his main aim is also to fight from federal level for the reopening of the Eastern Economic Corridor closed since the Nigeria-Biafra War.
Ifeanyi Ubah can be understood from this singular legislative interest: to reconnect the Igbo business to the world as he simply puts it. Most Igbo businessmen and women do not know this; the Eastern Economic Corridor was shut down during the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967, and since then, has been kept so with propaganda and criminalization of the region. This well-orchestrated and sustained economic policy forced the Igbos out of the Eastern zone to Lagos, Kano and Abuja as well as overseas in search of business access. Up to half of the importers through Lagos Ports may be Igbos who would have been glad to import through Eastern Ports but cannot do so because Port Harcourt and Calabar Ports are shut down and even branded as militancy- and pirates-infested.
Though it is closer to import into Nigeria from Europe through the Eastern Ports, importers are forced to go to Lagos. Around 2005, Atiku Abubakar made efforts to reopen Calabar Ports and was called to order by the Obasanjo administration when the move bubbled and he retraced his steps to let Lagos be, even if it means Lagos collapsing under its own weight.
The South East needs men like Ifeanyi Ubah in the Senate to push through these barriers and free the zone economically. Only the deep can call to the deep. This phrase “deep calls unto deep” consists of communication through prayer, from deep within the heart/mind of a man appealing to the deep recesses (a secluded or secret place) of the heart/mind of his God in a time of dire need and possibly suffering at the hands of enemies (waves and billows or tempestuous times) as Ndigbo face today in Nigeria.
Ifeanyi Ubah is a power shovel in business, politics and power play. As senator, the fierce and consternating contestations for zonal interests at the national assembly will find Ubah at home in such a tough turf. The place does not hold much promise for the lily-livered that may not be able to take roughshod to get something out of the push-me-I-push-you politics prevalent in National Assembly of today.
Ifeanyi Ubah is a unique person, grew to become a self-made billionaire without being involved in government contracts. His concerns sprawl like an octopus to encompass top-of-the-range businesses – oil and gas, communication, education, sports and more. He took Nigeria football by storm, imported Brazilian footballers and made a mark within the first season of FC Ifeanyi Ubah joining the Nigeria professional football league. Today, Ifeanyi Ubah is the only Nigerian to own a CAF- graded stadium and at an advanced stage in developing the first Sports University in Nigeria and perhaps in Africa.
What made him an enigma since years ago was not really his huge business success and overarching philanthropy. What made Ubah the political juggernaut he is was his deft push with Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), with which he dramatically revived Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s ailing and woebegone presidency.
Ifeanyi Ubah is therefore an established top hand in Nigeria politics and has made all the contacts possible, which he can deploy as a senator for the good of Ndigbo. What is more, his legislative interests are second to none. Ubah has his sight set on use of the position as senator to make the South East an Economic Tiger that it is destined to be. He believes that the future of Ndigbo lies not in independence from Nigeria but in true restructuring to free the zone from the shackles of underdevelopment. He identifies the eastern ports, eastern rails and an international cargo airport as well as pushing electricity to Concurrent List as some of the development projects that must be pursued for the East using law making.
For the reason that he also believes that restructuring is possible through constitutional amendment and by playing the right politics and doing sufficient lobbying for other zones to see reason on why Nigerians will be happier together in a true federalism, his quest for the senate is perfectly in order and will lead to dramatic turnaround for the South East and indeed for Nigeria by inspiring synergy.
Those still in doubt of Ubah’s political sagacity and capacity should recall that he also led the campaign for Ndigbo in Lagos to fight for their rights in 2015, and today, a number of them are in the House of Reps and Lagos House of Assembly representing constituencies in Lagos. He did all these without political authority, relying only in his resources and charismatic powers.
What has always blighted the National Assembly since 1999 and underdeveloped South East and indeed Nigeria is that it has more benchwarmers than legislative activists. Anambra South should watch it this time around and give us the rare gift,
Dr. Law Mefor, also from Anambra State, is a Forensic/Social Psychologist, and writes from Abuja; e-mail:email@example.com.