I had cause this time last year to embark on what looked like a long, almost mournful, complaint. It was on the occasion of the birthday of His Excellency, Emeka Ihedioha, who had then just been removed as the governor of Imo State in very controversial circumstances. The country had then been thrown into a blue funk by the pit of darkness that our temple of justice had become. While reflecting on the development, I donned the garb of a Puritan preacher warning of moral decay. I drew attention to the rape and desecration that had taken place. There was despondency in the air.
The lament was about a country whose values had been thrown to the dogs. The situation was akin to the fall of man in John Milton’s epic poem, “Paradise Lost,” in which Earth felt the wound and Nature gave sighs of woe that all was lost. The incident was truly woeful and mournful. But we found consolation in the philosophical reflections of William Shakespeare on the uses of adversity.
Beyond that, we, like Bruno Webb in his book, “Why Does God Permit Evil,” raised questions on and about what had happened. Why did God allow the violation that took place in Imo State? Why did He make that unfortunate reversal possible? Untutored minds will easily jump at these questions and begin to dish out answers, however thoughtless. But those who are schooled in philosophy and reflective analysis will do otherwise. They will remind you that these are philosophical questions. You will be made to understand that they do not admit of easy answers or solutions. Instead, they tell us something about the mystery of God and the existential condition of man. Our world, as humans, have always been beset by hatred, murder and war, among other evils. All of these are traceable to the sins of men. But in situations such as these, it is not only the wicked that suffer. The innocent are equally afflicted. So, we are wont to ask: why does God allow the innocent to suffer from these human foibles and inadequacies? The answers to these questions hardly come easy. But our reflections on them help us to make sense out of suffering and give us strength to bear it.
In the case of Ihedioha, we have had a surfeit of this. In our reflections, we have come to have a more composite view of life. We have encountered humans in their very raw state. Decent minds, charlatans and howlers are all there. You could be disappointed or encouraged by what you experience. But whatever you feel is a factor of the value you cherish. Unfortunately, in a degraded world such as ours, reflection is a huge luxury. Mankind is largely ruled by fatalism. We easily give up on situations because we erroneously believe that certain things are destined to happen. Those who are swayed by destiny theories will tell you that we should not split hairs when electoral roguery takes place. They see it as the will of God. But nothing can be as fallacious as this. Mr. Peter Obi, who was governor of Anambra State from March 2006 to March 2014, waited for nearly three years to reclaim his stolen mandate. While he was fighting the good cause, many, including the clergy, told him to give up the fight. They told him that whatever happened was the will of God. But Obi rejected such deterministic outlook and fought on. If he had given in to the shallow thoughts of the unthinking publics, he would have fallen by the wayside. The Obi example is a lesson in perseverance.
No doubt, Ihedioha has persevered. He has belied the expectations of those who thought that he would cave in under the situation. As a matter of fact, he has proved to be stronger than we ever imagined in a situation of adversity. In fact, time, the great healer, has taken control. It has lifted our spirits. We have joined Ihedioha to persevere, not in sin but in fortitude.
However, the situation remains regrettable because the sinful lot have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. The rat race for iniquity has gone berserk. The road to redemption remains light years away. But the more liberal-minded ones have continued to approach the situation with equanimity of spirit. However, what has encouraged some of us the most is the Spartan disposition of Ihedioha, whose loss we consider our loss. Since the unfortunate incident of January 14, 2021, the man has remained self-restrained, simple and laconic. Brevity of speech has been his watchword. Contrary to the expectation of those who set out to undo him, the man has, since leaving office, been riding the crest in a manner that has left his detractors gaping.
From all indications, Ihedioha is waiting to exhale. His mission to Douglas House may have been cut short but the setback will not endure. What is gratifying at the moment is that his vision remains enduring. It has not and cannot be preyed upon by political adventurers and buccaneers. In fact, the present state of affairs compels recollections on the part of some of us who believe that his bottled up energy will, sooner or later, find expression in a way that mankind will find remarkable. We can rely on his momentous ascendancy as governor of Imo State as a guide. It should be recalled that his victory heralded a new day. It put the people in a celebratory mood. For the people of Imo State, the victory was more than ordinary. It amounted to a supernatural intervention. It was as if Providence was introduced into the Imo situation to solve a difficulty. The people believed that a rescue had taken place. They were excited because the emergence of Ihedioha woke them up from a bad dream. That explained the goodwill that heralded his governorship. It is a story that will be told over and over again for a long time to come.
Looking back, it will not be out of place to say that Providence carved out a testy role for Ihedioha. Since God works in very mysterious ways, we cannot, in our limited understanding, see the end from the beginning. I believe that Ihedioha has the flexibility to brace up for this tricky outcome. To succeed, he must, like Caesar’s wife, be above board. Like a Romantic Hero, he must rise above the common herd of his environment. He must assume the big role: that of shepherding his flock. Nature has thrust him forward to bring down the Berlin Wall of Imo politics. He has a responsibility to destroy the strongholds and convert Imo into a huge vineyard where a good wine will know no bush.
At 56, Ihedioha remains a bust of energy and possibility. His political exploits have continued to resonate across the country. Even those who upstaged him are scared stiff. They know that he has the capacity for an eruption that will send them scampering for cover. They have made a feeble attempt at containing him. But the effort has since boomeranged. The man has come out of his travail stronger, and this is to the consternation and amazement of his traducers. There is no doubt that he will, in the days ahead, become the mustard seed of Imo politics. Like the biblical mustard seed which is smaller than all seeds but which, when grown, is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree where birds of the air come and lodge, Ihedioha promises to be the mustard seed of Imo politics on whose shoulders many will rest and depend on.
Happy birthday, His Excellency.