LET me state from the outset that both former and current governors of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano (Akpokuedike), FCA, respectively, share some degree of acquaintanceship with me—I have restrained myself by not calling them my friends (which is what we are really) lest I am uncharitably and mischievously accused of name-dropping! It is also apposite to add that I have a blank invitation from Chief Obiano to visit him in Awka any weekend I come to that part of the country. I have not had time to honour that privileged invitation on grounds of my multifaceted engagements in Lagos and overseas. I intend to see him immediately after his second inauguration, hopefully.
This is the second and last time I will comment on the face-off between the “Obis”. It seems I am the most embarrassed by this viral feud fought exclusively on the pages of newspapers and new media technological platforms. I am the most embarrassed because of my unique experiential background in this unfolding brawl.
At the risk of immodesty, let me also point out that, on account of our relationships, I have benefited from both men almost immeasurably. It is on this dispassionate pedestal that I responsibly make my submissions here expecting that there would be no misconceptions of my standpoint. It is an arduous task that most columnists would avoid instead of unnecessarily bruising the tiger’s tail.
I do not know why these squabbles are peculiar to the South East. In other zones, there may be disagreements between governorship predecessors and their successors, but they are never pronounced or sustained after the initial euphoric noise. In Igbo land the journalistic bedlam continues interminably. Of course, media patrons like feasting on such salacious stories till gastronomic satiety and constipation deviancy of gluttons.
Sometime ago, it was Chief Ifeanyichukwu Jim Nwobodo and Dr. Chimaraoke Nnamani, both former governors of Enugu State and lately Barrister Sullivan Chime also of the same state. It was almost becoming a cancerous manifestation until the celebrated and most popular emergence of the current governor, His Excellency Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who is busy transforming the state and has no time and other resources for querulous initiatives that reek of pettiness and witch-hunt, usually.
The most shameful of all these executive squabbles in the South East was the one between Dr. Orji Kalu and his political nemesis, T. A. Orji. I have written volumes on this template of amnesic ingratitude which T. A. Orji signposted that I will not want to bore readers with any rehash.
I cannot rationalize why this is always and only happening in the South East. Beyond the instances mentioned above, there were other cases that were not as pronounced as the foregoing reference subjects. Take the South West for comparative purposes. Apart from the initial brouhaha in some of the states in this zone by governors and their predecessors, the issues die naturally soon after they are thrown up.
During the build-up to the last election in Lagos State, the former governor and now super-minister with three critical portfolios, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), never wanted “Candidate” Akinwunmi Ambode—endorsed by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC)—to succeed him for undisclosed reasons.
Predictably, when Governor Ambode took over, inevitably and unstoppably, he began to expose and deconstruct the entirety of Fashola’s years in Lagos using the social media efficiently and effectively to unearth copiously what we did not know about BRF and Lagos. Shortly after the serial exposure, Jagaban Borgu intervened and the ensuing thriller ended abruptly. If it were in the South East, the sordid public spectacle will continue till rapture!
This kind of crisis in the South East is worsened by scurrilous media aides of the combatants. The overzealous information managers issue all manner of statements on behalf of their principals. And because there are no retractions, the public tend to believe most of the cock-and-bull yarns attributed to the executive pugilists. I say this authoritatively based on first-hand information from some past and present governor-friends of mine.
There would always be political engineering disagreements, especially over fiscal matters. What is paramount is how they are profoundly addressed and not turned to a kamikaze affair as is playing out between the Obis. It is also untidy to be reading that this person or that person lied at that level. It is even worse for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to thoughtlessly declare that Peter Obi is now history! How can that be? Even Gov. Obiano knows full well that this cannot be true. Blackmail, spurious allegations and counter-allegations beg the question in these controversies.
It is also wrong for anyone to assert that Gov. Obiano has not performed creditably—nobody can even say that about T. A. Orji, as bad as he was, let alone quintessential Working Willie, a man with a robust pedigree of professionalism and career distinction.
Last month, I called the Special Assistant (Media) to Governor Obiano, Mr. James Eze, a thoroughbred journalist and communication therapist, to find out what really were the issues before I do today’s column having heard from his counterpart to “Okute”, Barrister Valentine Obienyem. James, in his characteristic style that smacks of needless haughtiness, particularly to emeritus editors and his professional seniors, never took my call nor did he call back.
Most colleagues of mine have this same unfortunate perception of James. The essence of calling him, instead of bothering the governor, was to get a balanced view of these matters. Perhaps, he erroneously thought I was going to ask for favours from his principal—certainly not him (James)! A columnist needs unimpeachable insights other than newspaper publications. I don’t understand James Eze’s cold shoulder, just like the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Ambode…what’s that his name again?
In these matters, those you expect to intervene and call the antagonists to order are busy taking sides depending on who butters their bread more and not based on any moral code or existential compass. The immutable architecture usually has financial complexion devoid of integrity, justice, public health, equity, fairness and fear of God.
Among all the stakeholders/elders in the Anambra political imbroglio with regard to governors and former governors, the name that readily comes to mind is Chief (Sir/Dr.)Victor Umeh, OFR, who in just two select meetings with different groups of senior Igbo editors in Lagos that I participated in—one at the instance of Ex-Governor Obi and the other Governor Obiano—I came out of both sessions wondering whether it was not the like of Chief Umeh who fuels these crises, going by his tidal—nay contradictory—submissions on both occasions!
As I mentioned in my article before this, Governor Obiano should address any issues he has with his predecessor modestly and not on the pages of newspapers and the social media. Governor Obiano’s age-long occupational (Fidelity Bank) relationships with his predecessor transcend the murkiness of political tiffs. I enjoin Working Willie to ignore those fanning the embers of discord between him and his friend. There is life after the currency of political power intrigues and manipulations.
I do not want Governor Obiano to go the dastardly, beastly, malicious, demonic, devilish, wicked, ungrateful, vicious and vituperative way of Ocheonwu of Abia State (name withheld)! Anambra State can only be “better today, greater tomorrow” if these gentlemen sheathe their swords.