OBJ speaks English with a thick okra-consistency Yoruba accent, yet he is very capable of expressing himself. OBJ is a surprisingly competent public speaker. Charles Soludo has an Igbo accent almost as strong as the akpu he probably eats, yet he makes sense when he speaks. Umaru Yar'Adua has a strong accent, Babangida has a strong accent, most Nigerians have strong accents - it's a reality. The case of Kalu was not one of accent, but one of a dearth of ideas. Chxta's analysis is on point.
A politician who cannot tell us what we, as an electorate, get for our vote should move to the backroom. We don't all have to be governor, or president, or senator, we can be advisers. As matter of fact, a leader is only as good as his closest advisers. If he can tell some apparatchik in Igbo, or Hausa, what his ideas for the state are, then fine. If Kalu wants to help Abia state, fine. But don't put his mug on the BBC, and then insult me by telling me this is the face of Abia state.
People in Nigeria forget that English is not just a colonial imposition, but is the egg that binds Nigeria together. I cannot think of anything else Nigerians have in common. The arbitrary colonial borders do not bring Nigeria together, as there are still vastly varying customs, languages, landscapes, an inexhaustible list of differences. This is Nigeria: a vast piece of land, around which Lord Lugard and his people drew a line, and then asked all the people within that line to speak English. It's the story of Africa, and now we have to deal with it.
The Rainbow Nation, South Africa, has 11 official languages, and eight non-official languages. But South Africa has 47 million people, while Nigeria has 140 million. India has 23 different official languages, and its own unique way of giving those languages some usage in system of government communication. The reality is that English and Hindi trump all in the usage stakes. Believe it or not, but even God's own country, the United States, does not have an official language at federal level. It is, however, the de facto language of communication. So wherefore Nigeria?
In Nigeria, nobody is formally educated in any local languages. Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba are part of the curriculum, taught as foreign languages; rather than science, history, or maths taught in any of those langauges. People fail, or worse, don't do Nigerian languages for O'levels. It's Nigeria's loss. But everything is done in English, yet we are supposed to forgive politicians that cannot interact with us in the only way in which we should all collectively be able.
For those that say, "English is not his first language". I say that is no excuse. In essence, if someone has grown up in Sokoto, and goes to live in Abia state, they will in effect be disenfranchised. They may be within the same country, but they're not being communicated with because Orji Uzo Kalu, the state governor who should have the interests of all residents of his state, regardless of background, has failed to express himself to one of his citizens - as is his duty.
This is not a tirade against indigenous languages, or a declaration of love for Elizabeth Regina's English. I kick myself all the time for not being able to speak Igbo, and I pat myself on the back for the little Yoruba I can speak. The Yoruba that I speak was not as a result of living in Lagos, but came from slugging it out in a boarding school in Ondo state where the language was second nature to everyone. I have never been ashamed of my Nigerian heritage. This is about dealing with the reality of Nigeria as it stands today.
So those who want to forgive our politicians for not speaking English, good luck to you.