Today, two issues which I consider of significant importance competed for my attention for this space. The first is the fight between Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and his immediate predecessor and now a senator, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. There was a nasty altercation in Owerri last weekend in which Okorocha was not only humiliated but worsted. Yes, issue of corruption seems to be an angle to it, but the way things went it would appear political vendetta is high if not the highest in the rank of motives. There were procedural errors on both sides of the contending divide. That matter deserved deep examination because of the consequences it obviously would have on a nascent polity like ours, given that a sitting governor and his predecessor, who is also a senator are leading characters in what is emerging as a show of shame.
Then, we know that the insecurity in the land has turned monstrous; it is taking our focus but there is a particular fall out, which we must recognize and deal with for the reason that it contains seeds that could complicate our search for solutions to the security challenges already wearing the garment of intractability. It is about shifting blames, diversionary tactics designed to divert attention away from the root causes of current security issues. People and groups now give so much emphasis to side matters like ethnic profiling. The common refrain now is “don’t profile us” and “crimes are not about ethnic groups.” Some are blaming the media for talking too much and talking our society into bigger security mess; it is as if the media organisations create the problems or that what is happening is not real. What goes around comes around. The 1966 military coup was profiled “Igbo Coup” on account of which northern leaders went on destabilization orgy which by the time it ended, Igbo army officers were killed alongside thousands of innocent Igbo civilians who were oblivious of power play between the ruling elite. This matter needs deeper review but that won’t be done today and the reason is that at the Senate last Tuesday, a senator left his Olympian heights to fall into the dumpsite. It was by all standards an inglorious fall into infamy.
The good thing was that the Senate was dealing with matters concerning insecurity in the land, it was both a timely and most relevant topic given the situation at hand. Deliberations went very well until Senator Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi West took his turn to speak and contrary to the high standards already set, went off on a vain journey of political ingratiation, talking about how late Sarduana of Sokoto Ahmadu Bello, Head of northern region after independence ruled so well and catered for everyone to the extent that people found satisfaction and avoided crime, then how governors are not working; then he picked on the governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and labeled him “champagne drinking governor.”
I found the speech not only out of point, it was diversionary and unduly patronizing, it is more so when it is said to be a retaliation for similar unsavory mention of Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who incidentally hails from same local government and senatorial zone as Governor Ikpeazu. The recourse to Sarduana by a core Yoruba in 2021 gives a glimpse into the mindset of Senator Adeyemi; it is especially seen if one knows the extent his state governor went and what motivated him to cast his lot with Adeyemi who already, under the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), had entered the records as two tenured senator. Governor Bello an ethnic minority from Igbirra kowtows unreservedly to his benefactors, the Fulani hegemony, so he taken the linkage and cheap recourse to Sarduana becomes very clear for what it is.
What comes out very clearly is that Adeyemi’s vituperations hinged on vendetta, hatred by connection not by direct encounter, he was out to fight for a man who broke protocols to give him succour, what a cause to fight using state apparatus. It is very unfortunate that everything in our society has become about connectivity including hatred; someone will just hate you for no apparent justifiable reason, just because somebody close to you said or told you something or acted in a particular manner. This is a growing tendency in the land today and clearly part of the reasons for an unwarranted personal attack on a governor who may not have shared very close moments with Senator Adeyemi. It is evil to want to shave a man’s head in his absence. Governor Ikpeazu is not a senator neither was he available in the hallowed chambers for issues of any kind. The matter at hand was not about Ikpeazu or governance in his state. There are allusions that Abaribe made similar disparaging remarks about Bello; Abaribe has said there was no time he made reference to the Kogi governor, that was in circulation was a computer simulation designed to achieve an objective. If this is the case there ought to have been verification and even with that nothing should warrant retaliation. We know Senator Adeyemi was a onetime national president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. Journalists in power are builders, re-conciliators not destroyers.
The worst kind of pain does not come from those one can predict what they can do. It comes from those one holds in highest esteem, to maintain highest levels of ideals no matter the pressure. It is in this area Senator Adeyemi failed many of us, who loved him the most. His name is smart but it will seem pressures of prebendal politics became too much and he lost intelligence. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to explain why a former NUJ national president would choose to run on a tract meant for low and mean people. One is also surprised he was not called to order to stay on the issue under discussion beyond the feeble statement, “mind your words, avoid crude words.” Senator Adeyemi should have been be called to order when he left real issues and ventured into the smelly arena of gratuitous insults on a leader of a state who did him nothing. Governor Ikpeazu is not alone in this, if truth be told it is an insult on nearly five million citizens, who make up Abia State population and majority of whom in a legal election made Governor Ikpeazu their choice for leadership.
Picking street gossip, pushed by political opponents and holding it high as golden truth is detestable, no sane person would like that and no serious society of sane people should welcome such a trend. It should not be the way those trusted with state responsibility should go, especially given the time we are in. The choice should be the pursuit of higher ideals; that is what engineers positive transformation. Short cuts and pursuit of inordinate ambitions is what has brought calamity to our society and it is time to change. Who are better placed to lead this change other than those we have handed over our destinies?
Some of us have known Governor Ikpeazu in very close quarters and long enough to know he does not run an addiction. He is very humble and loves people around him when he is free. I guess his humility is reason for the abuse because I can’t fathom Adeyemi talking to Bello the way he went very personal, to make such unpleasant things. Ikpeazu’s reticence on this matter should not be misconstrued, even the people of the state are not in the least happy including many Nigerians of goodwill. In the interest of national cohesion one would advise Senator Adeyemi to promptly apologize to the Senate for desecration of the hallowed chambers, then to Governor Ikpeazu and people of Abia State for his act of great indiscretion.
Someone made this quote and I gift it to Senator Adeyemi and others of his school of thought: “Sometimes you have to eat your words, chew your ego; swallow your pride and to accept that you are wrong. It is not giving up; rather it is called growing up.” Senator Adeyemi has a chance to use this moment of great indignation against him to grow up.