On Peter Obi, Sam Omatseye was wrong, very wrong

By By Sunny Igboanugo on 28/11/2017

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Obi

Ikemba Nnewi, Amuma N’egbeigwe and Dikedioramma Ndigbo, the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, had a way of putting it. To those who doubted his place in the heart of the Igbo people, he had a way of asking them for a common test – Test of Popularity or as in the Kegites Club – Test of Kariability.

It is simple. Let us meet at Ogbete Market in Enugu, Otu Nkwo Market in Onitsha or Ariaria Market in Aba. Walk through one path, while I walk through the other. Let us compare the outcome. To all those to whom that challenge was thrown, I don’t recall of anyone who picked it up.

I recall this in the light of what Sam Omatseye, versatile writer and one of the most respected and influential public figures in the Nigerian media today, wrote of Mr. Peter Obi, a few days ago. Why should anyone bother? That Omatseye’s position on national discourse, is captured in the A-list, is not only as a result of his deep, cerebral and high intellectual offering, he is also the Chairman, Editorial Board of The Nation, one of Nigeria’s most influential newspapers today.  So, in essence, the public is concerned and needed to be fed correctly for the good of the society.

You can now see why whatever comes from him, cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hands. He is indeed a powerful figure in terms of information dissemination, mentoring and opinion molding, particularly in Nigeria. But, he is also human. And because every human is susceptible to errors, errors of all kinds – misstep, misinformation, or and misjudgement, he could be acquitted, in the event that his assessment of Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, is a genuine error and not borne out of mischief.

I really hope that the former is the case, especially in the context that a man who was not there when a corpse is buried, when asked to exhume it, starts from the leg, as the local saying goes. Omatseye, could therefore be exculpated because he is neither an Igbo man nor from Anambra. So, his information about onye Igbo, is limited. He may not know how an Igbo man behaves and what informs his decisions.

Whilst capturing his views on the Anambra governorship election of Saturday, November 18, and the loss of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Osaeloka Obaze, the established writer, saw it as the death-knell on the political coffin of Obi, seen as the main sponsor of the candidate, and by extension, the one that ran the election.

In a short post at the bottom of his main offering in his regular Monday column, entitled Obituary, he had this to say: “For Peter Obi, the soft-spoken former governor, is Obituary in Anambra State politics. Willie Obiano’s victory is Obi’s political death knell. He installed Obiano, but now Obiano is presiding over his funeral. Obi, a decent man though, is now a statesman without a state. He is in a state of what Buddhists call Bardo, or Catholics call limbo. Will he look like the characters in the Booker-winning novel, Lincoln in The Bardo by George Saunders, where Abraham Lincoln meets with his son in the Afterlife? Obi’s candidate could not even flatter him with a second position. Obiano buried him in a landslide. Adieu, the girl-voiced warrior.”

No doubt, the last part was meant to mock. I don’t know if his title of Obituary was also a coinage from Obi, as in Obi-tuary. Perhaps not. But what is evident from his conclusion is that he must have read and relied on the other side so much that he forgot that politics is like a coin with two sides.

Certainly, Obi would be sad, just like thousands others, who supported Obaze or any other of the candidates outside Obiano, but to assume that he is dead politically and that there would be an obituary, is far outside the mark in all ramifications.

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Omatseye

First, Omatseye, in that outing, was referring to Okwute Ndi Igbo (The rock). That appellation did not just fall from heaven. It was earned, not elsewhere, but the political turf. Instructively, Omatseye, was kind enough to acknowledge the role Obi played in making Obiano. But that is not all. The making of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), could also be attributed largely to his immense capacities, beyond what is known in the open.

Many, including those who are believed to know, would readily swear that APGA cleared all the states in the entire South East after the 2003 governorship election. But while all other candidates fell by the wayside, or offer, at best, some very feeble resistance, Obi, was the only one who could recover his mandate.

If that alone was not a big feat, that he was able to return to power after surviving an impeachment hatched and executed by the all-PDP Anambra State House of Assembly, remains a big imprimatur of his capacity and ability.

Now, the biggest, appeared his tenure interpretation battle, he unseated an existing governor, Andy Uba, in just 11 days, which saw him, returning to power after 2007 governorship election, after winning a major battle at the Supreme Court.

Certainly, all these could not have been forgotten so quickly so soon. They cannot also be the trait of one whose political nunc dimitis, would be sung so quickly, because “he” lost one election, in which he was not even a candidate. It is quite saddening that Omatseye, appeared to have glossed over them in such a haste.

Besides, we are talking about one of the 8,000 richest men in the world of tens of billions of people. That feat also did not come by quitting because of one disappointing outing. The stuff with which many in Obi’s class are made, goes beyond the superficial. Rather, it is a function of a potpourri of several variables and factors, including occasional failures and disappointments.

Rather than weaken men like Obi, disappointments of any hue, seem to energise them and cause them to go back to the drawing board to restrategise, as has done in his political career so far and as could even be gleaned from his engagements since the election.

In fact, few hours after the results of the election was officially released, Obi, was already in Lagos, keeping to his speaking engagements. The reaction of the audience at each of those for a in no way suggested one, who was pummelled to submission or whose political obituary was being marked.

There are so many factors that gave rise to what happened in the Anambra election in question. Recall that a coalition of civil society organisation, with a lot of experience in election monitoring, led by Clement Nwankwo,         Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), did not mince words in describing it as the worst since 1999, because of the role money played in buying voters.

Of course, before long, all other factors will continue to emerge to tell the true story of whatever transpired during the event.

But, beyond that, in four years, Obiano, who is being celebrated today as Obi and Chris Ngige, were once celebrated, would join the league of ex-governors. What then happens, when he would no longer have the resources to cajole civil servants, induce town union executives or threaten traditional rulers, when he would have lost the proverbial palm frond, which the goat usually goes after? Would he be able to take the Onitsha Market walk with Obi? After all, how many of those who celebrated in 2015 of President Muhammadu Buhari's vanquishing of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan are doing so today?

Obi never minced words as to the reason for wanting Obiano out. This was a man who made a show of his frugality and distaste to any form of wastage in government, being assailed with stories and perhaps, evidence of wanton and needless reveling in government. This was a man, whose penchant for saving became almost legendary, witnessing the resources he claimed to have left for the state so massively dissolved into official inanities. This was a man who had promised that he was going to be in the forefront of removing the governor, if he misbehaved, fulfilling his promise, out of his convictions. What else would make a man move?

Yes, he may have miscalculated. He may have misread his compass and the barometer in gauging the feelings of Anambra people, but to say that the same people would forget so quickly the impact he made in their lives, is indeed to misunderstand the Anambra, nay, the Igbo man.

They have spoken in this instance, they will also speak in other instances, in which Obi will be a player. That is when the likes of Omatseye will know the mistake they have made.

Igboanugo, a journalist, writes from Abuja     


 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on November, 28 2017

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