The announcement came gbawam! like a thunderbolt, that Ohaneze had finally adopted the PDP and its presidential and vice presidential candidates, Atiku and Peter Obi, apparently because of their son, Peter Obi, and secondly because of Atiku/Obi’s commitment to the restructuring of Nigeria.
The announcement triggered a wave of jubilation among most Igbos in Nigeria as well as the Diaspora Igbos. The National President of the highly celebrated Enugu Progressive Social Club of Nigeria Chief Ken-Lolo Ofordile had to virtually close down Nike Lake Resort for two days while celebrating the announcement with his teeming members and friends. Although he does not know Peter Obi in person, or even if he knew him, he did what he did because of the Igbo spirit in him.
To my utmost surprise and shock, it was the governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi’s successor of all people, who quickly opposed the Ohaneze resolution to the extent of confronting the National President of Ohaneze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and allegedly calling him an idiot, although the governor has denied calling him an idiot and rather said that his ire against Nnia Nwodo was that he fixed Ohaneze meeting the same day Zik’s mausoleum was to be commissioned by Buhari which showed that Nwodo had no respect for Zik despite all that Zik did for the Nwodo family. Lol.
Governor Obiano also made the case that members of Ohaneze didn’t come to the commissioning of Zik’s mausoleum. On the day of the commissioning, Obiano invited all traditional rulers and Presidents General of town unions in Anambra State as well as few religious leaders in the State to an interactive session with Buhari at Obi’s palace. It was remarkable that not one catholic or Anglican bishop was present at that event. At the start of the event, Governor Obiano announced himself as the M.C. After praising Buhari extensively for releasing money for the second Niger bridge, Obiano personally pointed three people to speak, one PG, one traditional ruler and one religious leader, those he apparently pre-arranged to sing Buhari’s praises. Surprisingly, each of the speakers showed true Igbo blood by frontally accusing Buhari of marginalizing the Igbos, including their non-inclusion in the national railway project. I saw the embarrassment in governor Obiano’s face who was visibly uncomfortable, but the whole Igbos present applauded each speaker, including Igbo APC members.
When it was time to go for the unveiling of Zik’s mausoleum, I watched as Obiano and some government officials left the venue with Buhari, while the PGs, traditional rulers and religious leaders continued with refreshments at the Obi of Onitsha palace. Since Obiano took the commissioning so sacrosanct, why did he not insist on everybody including Obi of Onitsha going along to the commissioning. Tell me why then would he berate Nnia Nwodo for not attending the event.
This is a mausoleum that was initiated by late Gen. Abacha over two decades ago, now completed by Buhari, both from the north. If Obiano loved Zik so much, what effort did he make to add to the building of the mausoleum even if not completing it. After all, he built all those flyovers in Awka and Amawbia as Federal projects, to be reimbursed later. Why did Obiano not do the same for the mausoleum, if he was so full of love for Zik. If Obiano loved Zik so much, why did he not declare a public holiday in Anambra State the day Zik’s mausoleum was commissioned to enable all Anambrarians attend the event?
Since Zik died, his wife Uche lived virtually at Onuiyi Haven where she and her husband lived all his life. If Obiano loved Zik that much, why has his government never remembered his wife and children?. If Obiano loved Zik so dearly, let him tell us how many times he visited Zik’s widow to ask how she and her children Umunnakwe Azikiwe and his siblings have been faring? Yet it was the same Nsukka people where Nnia Nwodo came from that continued to give Zik’s wife and children all the love, comfort and hospitality that made them to remain in Nsukka after Zik died. If members of the Nwodo community were hostile to them, would they not have returned to their Ontisha home? Now Obiano is accusing Nnia Nwodo of disrespecting Zik.
I wish to appeal to Governor Obiano and his fellow Igbo governors to take heed the way they are selling Igbo birthright for a soup of porridge by supporting Buhari against our own kith and kin. He may have his way today. But what of tomorrow. I remember the days of Ukpabi Asika in the then East Central State, when he pitched battle against great Zik of Africa. One of those days, Asika was passing through the DMGS round about where Zik’s statue was erected. He stopped his convoy, alighted from his car, walked to the statue and knocked it with the baton he used to carry and ordered that the statue be demolished immediately and the order was carried out with dispatch. On returning to Enugu, he was about to give a similar treatment to Zik’s statue at the secretariat quadrangle but before he could execute the plan, words secretly reached Gowon of the plan and he ordered against it.
At a time, he taunted Zik with the infamous “Onye ube lulu, olachaa,” to which Zik responded with the famous wise crack, “No condition is permanent”. History has the rest of the story.
Asika’s pears soon finished and he and his wife went into oblivion with Asika ending up in a wheel chair. The day he fell from the wheelchair became a brief saving grace for the traumatized couple as the fall attracted public attention that led to President Obasanjo’s intervention by appointing Asika’s wife Chinyere Special Adviser on NEPAD, to help the ailing ex East Central State Administrator. No one knew when both of them died.
Then look at Umahi who forced traditional rulers in Ebonyi State to endorse and declare support for Buhari even though he is a PDP governor. All in a bid to frustrate Peter Obi becoming Vice-President. He did not stop there. He went ahead to ‘donate’ N5 million to the APC campaign organization in Ebonyi State. This was in addition to directing Ebonyi youths to paste Buhari posters in Ebonyi State. Can you imagine the open anti-Igbo stance.
The same Umahi went public on radio to challenge Ohaneze for fixing a meeting on the day of Buhari’s visit to South East. No doubt, he made this open challenge for the purpose of courting Buhari’s favour. Otherwise he knew in advance about the date of Ohaneze meeting and could have quietly discussed the fixture with those concerned since he had access to them or their phone numbers. So why play to the gallery?
Do these governors ever think of tomorrow?
Do they ever think of the power of the Igbo spirit and the curse they could incur for betraying their own people?
Do they ever think about the prospects of their children standing for elections in Igbo land in future?
Igbo politicians of the past never sold out their fellow Igbos for all the politics in the world. Recall 1979 when Zik, then NPP presidential candidate was sued for alleged failure to pay his tax as and when due. At every sitting, Igbo politicians of different political parties stormed the late Justice Araka’s court in solidarity with Zik, including Professor Odenigwe, Joe Nwodo and other NPN bigwigs.
Before then, when Zik was sued by colonial masters during the first public over his involvement in the African Continental Bank, with Professor Eyo Itah, Mbonu Ojike and others appearing as witnesses against Zik, K. O. Mbadiwe who earlier led the Zik must Go campaign with his good friend KolaBalogun, quickly mobilized Igbo politicians, including Ojukwu’s father, and mobilized resources to secure Zik’s victory. They were also able to draw Mbonu Ojike out from witnessing against Zik. That is the spirit of Igbo brotherhood.
At times, many of these governors behave as though they think we are all fools. I have said it severally that these governors are all working for Buhari, forget the make-belief Owerri solidarity rally where they merely came to answer ‘present Sir’ as we used to do during our primary school days. If they are not working for Buhari, how many Atiku/Peter Obi bill boards have any of them mounted in their respective states. How many times have any of them joined their campaign tour? How many of them have openly condemned any of many illegalities perpetrated by Buhari so far, especially where they adversely affect the collective interest of Igbos?
So soon after that announcement of Ohaneze adoption of PDP Presidential ticket, the entire Igbos in Nigeria and the Diaspora rose in unison to commend Ohaneze. But has any of these governors who should be the direct beneficiaries of Ohaneze declaration uttered a voice to commend Ohaneze or confront Obiano from APGA for attacking the Ohaneze declaration? Not one. Okay, let us forgive Obiano because he is APGA and not PDP. Ditto for Okorocha. But what of Ikpeazu? What of Umahi? And what of Gburugburu?
And let’s say this. Peter Obi as a governor demonstrated the highest respect for Igbo interest and respect for Igbo leaders and till today remains a shining example of Igbo patriotism. Throughout his tenure as governor, Peter Obi treated Igbo statesmen with the respect and reverence they deserved. It was Peter Obi who did the ground work for the appointment of Bianca Ojukwu as ambassador by former president Goodluck Jonathan, to keep the legacy of the Ikemba alive.
Peter Obi made Ojukwu’s son a commissioner in his administration. When Obiano came on board, what he could do to show his respect for Ojukwu was to appoint his son an ordinary caretaker committee chairman for Nnewi north. After two years, he was sacked. He now ran to the APC and Buhari appointed him as chairman of a Federal Board. Obiano did not spare Ojukwu’s widow, Bianca, either. Recall how he made sure her attempt at senatorial candidature of APGA was botched under the studied eye of governor Obiano. It was Peter Obi who did the ground work for the appointment of Bianca Ojukwu as ambassador by former president Goodluck Jonathan, to keep the legacy of the Ikemba alive. If not for the love Bianca has for her Igbo tribe, she might have also crossed to the APC and would have been made a Minister by Buhari as a bait to get Igbo support, knowing the reverence Igbos have for Ojukwu. But instead of reverence, Obiano has continued to show spite for Ojukwu and all he stands for. Too bad.
The only institution named after Ojukwu in Anambra State was made by Peter Obi. When Ojukwu died, it was Peter Obi and other Igbo leaders who did the diplomatic leg walk that ensured a state burial for the Igbo hero which the Federal government almost played itself out of. Peter Obi did the same thing in the case of late Chinua Achebe. When some politicians from Anambra State wanted to rubbish late Dr. Ekwueme and drag his personality to the mud, Peter Obi, in a counter move, organized a nation-wide birthday party for the elder statesman to buoy up his image.
But why should Obiano be fighting Peter Obi. If anything, Obiano should have been the person defending Peter Obi even if every other person is against him. And this for all the reasons in the world. Most people in Igboland, nay Nigeria today know that Peter Obi made Obiano what he is today as governor, whatever Obiano or anybody may say. Talk of political maturity.
Late last night, Obiano sent a notice of emergency meeting to all Presidents General and traditional rulers in Anambra State to come to the Women Development Center, Awka for the sole purpose of frustrating Peter Obi’s scheduled rally at the Holy Trinity field today. Is this not mean? This is the same man blaming Nnia Nwodo for fixing Ohaneze meeting on the day of Buhari’s visit to Anambra State.
I have said it before and I am saying it again. Peter Obi’s vice-presidential candidature is not about Peter Obi as a person. It is about the collective future political interest of Igbos. It is about decades of Igbo marginalization in the economic and political affairs of Nigeria until now. It is about a veritable opportunity for Igbos to gain a foothold in the Nigerian political chess game as a gateway to making Igbos become relevant in Nigeria.
Now see how our Igbo governors reason. They tell us Buhari will hand over to Igbos after his eight years in office. They forget or pretend to forget that Obasanjo was in office for eight years before now and that after Buhari, Osinbajo will inevitably take over for the next eight years for Yoruba land.
As for Obiano, it is just about three or less for him to become an ex and join other Igbos either as politician or businessman or whatever. But Peter Obi’s candidature is about the future and posterity of Igbos present and unborn. Those telling us that Buhari has changed or will hand over to Igbos are only dreaming. Has he ever mentioned it anywhere. And let me ask, what does Buhari need the Igbo man for again in his second term? Is it to vote for him as Senator when next there is an election or to do what? Even while he is engaged in his campaign and wooing Igbos for votes, the same Buhari has tactfully edge the highest ranking Igbo police officer out of office and appointed his northern kinsman as IGP. If Buhari has changed, why did he not use the timely opportunity of the retirement of the former IGP to demonstrate his new love for Igbos by using his veto power to appoint an Igbo into the nation’s security council?
During his campaign rally in Enugu a few days ago, Buhari publicly insulted Igbos by telling them in their own home how the Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amechi, nearly brought trouble for him by promising Igbos a share in the new national railway project, without tabling the issue at the Federal Executive Council. In order words, Buhari intentionally did not want Igbos to benefit from the very important project ab initio. Fellow Igbos, am I communicating? Still they tell us Buhari has changed or will hand over to Igbos.
This is the man Obiano is rooting for, forget about the ruse about APGA presidential candidate, the one they call Gbor, who is merely a smokescreen for Obiano’s campaign for Buhari. For the avoidance of doubt, I took the pain to travel to Gbor’s country home in Benue. And believe you me, there is nothing like APGA presidential campaign office, not even a befitting Apgaoffice save a decrepit one room hall, near his home, and a few posters around the vicinity, with two people, one old man and a middle-aged lady who could not communicate in English language, not even pidgin, as the only party officials. And here is Obiano spending Anambra money on a phantom project that is dead on arrival.
As I have said before, these Igbo governors are the greatest enemy of the Igbo man. We shall ever regret it if we lose this golden opportunity to have our son at the country’s seat of power and posterity will never forgive these governors.
Mazi Omife I. Omife