The hostilities between the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, and his successor, Mr. Wille Obiano, have resurfaced as the state gears up for the governorship election coming up on November 6, 2021.
The Chief Press Secretary to Obiano, Mr. James Eze, fired the first salvo. In a piece he titled, ‘The Imo Debacle and Obiano’s Power of Turning the other Cheek,’ Eze alluded to the ongoing altercation between former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, and his successor, Hope Uzodimma, and concluded that Obiano suffered worse scenario in Anambra but did not move against his predecessor.
The media aide to Obi, Valentine Obienyem, replied Eze in kind, saying the full story of the scam that produced Obiano as Governor would be told in due season. He titled his own article, ‘Odogwu Awka Has Done Worse In Anambra Than Hope In Imo’.
Below are the full articles of both Eze and Obienyem.
The Imo Debacle and Obiano’s Power of Turning the other Cheek.
By James Eze
Although we may never admit it but the recent naked dance of power in Imo State has amplified the power of silence of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. And when the history of modern Anambra State is finally written, Obiano will be remembered as a kind man…a leader who always turned the other cheek.
Indeed, the more we contemplate the somewhat embarrassing tragicomedy in Owerri, the more we appreciate Obiano’s quiet strength. As governor of one of Nigeria’s most top-heavy states, Obiano has carried the weight of his office with admirable dignity. And this is no exaggeration. There is no other governor in contemporary Nigeria who has shown so much humility and meekness as to tender a public apology to his predecessor for simply doing the job he was elected to do. Nigerian governors don’t say “I am sorry.” Throughout history, power is known as the most potent intoxicant. Rarely do people in power admit their errors; not even in private. But Obiano brushed aside his ego to tender a public apology in full glare of the world. He did that with full awareness of his power as governor and that the instruments of coercion are on his fingertips. And for his humility, he got cold shoulders in return. Did it worry him? No. Obiano is a master in turning the other cheek!
Of course, it is not an overkill to say that no governor since the creation of Anambra State has absorbed unearned insults and ridicule with as much dignity as Willie nwa Obiano. The very man to whom he had publicly apologized has retained a pack of hack writers who draw monthly allowances to run Obiano down on social media, deride his achievements, undermine his public image and cause him grave psychological discomfort. In furtherance of their mission, the unruly team has fabricated cruel death rumours against Obiano’s wife, hung the foul news of an undisclosed terminal illness around his neck, accused him of selling Anambra State without naming the buyer, planted stories with the intent of insinuating mistrust into his marriage, called him names and defamed his character. But not for once did Governor Obiano retaliate. Instead, he ordered his media team not to return fire; observing in a formal address to mark one of his anniversaries that social media criticisms had served as the sharp edges that had kept him firmly focused on achieving his vision of a better Anambra State.
On the other hand, his adversary has never missed an opportunity to take a dig at him. His public lectures, and they are many, are never quite complete without phlegms of sarcasm spat with virulence in Obiano’s direction. His media appearances are laced with snide remarks at him. And yet, not once has Obiano answered back. Nor has he expressed discontent at being constantly heckled. There is power in silence. A menacing kind of power. And Obiano has mastered it!
Meanwhile, across the Amansea River is the neighbouring Enugu where former governor Sullivan Chime had run the man who handed power over to him out of town. Further subterranean moves had crippled all his businesses and left the once bubbly Ebeano Estate a ghost town. And the sky did not fall. It wasn’t until Governor Ugwuanyi came to power that Nnamani was allowed to breathe again. Governors have enormous powers. Every governor chooses how to use his. Sullivan Chime and Hope Uzodinma have shown how to use theirs. They did not turn the other cheek!
Obiano’s most recent act of grace happened a few days ago when his adversary once again circulated a false story that he was prevented from leaving the US for undisclosed reasons while the governor was already in Anambra State, holding crucial sessions with his commissioners. He remained unruffled by that childish mischief which was intended to create the false of impression that he had a run in with the law in the US. Again, the power of silence. He slays dragons with silence!
Just last year, a group of royal fathers broke protocol and went to Abuja on an ill-advised and ill-motivated mission to incite the presidency against Obiano. It was one incident which would have made some governors exert the full weight of their executive powers to make a point that nobody should trifle with them. The outcry against them was overwhelming. Ndigbo from every corner of the world condemned the treachery of the royal fathers. Writing with so much anger and disappointment, the feisty columnist, Comfort Obi described the affront as “disrespectful to the traditional institution of the state and Igbo land. Traditional rulers should carry themselves with more dignity than has been exhibited in the instant case. And what they did should be dismissed in one word: Disgraceful!” She further argued that no traditional ruler in the North would have dared what the errant royal fathers attempted in Anambra. “He would be deposed. Ask the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He was deposed on a mere suspicion of dabbling into politics,” she thundered.
But even in the face of such extreme provocation, Obiano’s reaction was measured. Rather than outright dethronement of the royal fathers, he merely announced their suspension for only one year. And less than six months after that, the errant traditional rulers were forgiven and their full honours restored. These are people who had committed a sacrilege. But Obiano merely chided them in a manner that says “go and sin and no more.” Tell me about turning the other cheek one more time.
It needs also to be mentioned that it took the forgiving nature of Willie nwa Obiano to restore erstwhile governor, Chris Ngige to the official memory of Anambra State. Chief Ngige who had risen to power through the backdoor was flushed out through the court and stripped of the halo of all former governors. But Obiano has restored his pensions and his official portrait in the executive chambers of Anambra State. It does not matter that the same Ngige now wakes up every morning with a word of reproach for Obiano.
All things considered, Governor Willie Obiano has shown that leadership is about the people…that power is intoxicating but transient and that any leader who fails to keep an eye on tomorrow is doomed.
This is Obiano’s silent power that has sustained the social balance of Anambra State!
Odogwu Awka Has Done Worse In Anambra Than Hope In Imo
By Valentine Obienyem
I read snippets from a number of e-rats of Agu Awka on how saintly Odogwu Awka is for not dealing with Mr. Peter Obi the way Hope dealt with Okorocha.
At the commencement of the so-far wasted seven years of the on-going tenure, some highly-placed Anambrarians invited me to their houses just to know how Mr. Obi was faring considering the way Odogwu Awka was treating him. I informed them that Obi, being conversant with human nature, did not allow such things to affect him. One of them almost shed tears, telling me that he was not likely to survive the kind of treatment meted out to Obi by Odogwu. He knew what he was saying because he was part of the negotiations that saw that incompetent being foisted on everybody! The full story of the scam that produced him will be told in due season!
Now, between Okorocha and Obi, who has suffered the worst, taking into cognizance the person undergoing the merit of his mis-governance?
Odogwu Awka was asked to come back for governorship campaign from overseas at a time he was begging to be made a board member in Orient Petroleum. Having used his retirement benefits to buy a house in the USA, he was living in penury. It was the likes of his present Chief of Staff that ensured he did not die of hunger. It was Chief Okey Ezibe that paid his air fare to Nigeria.
The least persons sponsored for elections can do is to have their own money for small expenses. Back in Nigeria, Odogwu Awka did not have money to purchase a car or even hire one for his own use nor could he afford to lodge in a hotel or engage in the pleasures he loves so much. All this, as well as the Nomination Form, were paid for him. He was practically parading Government House soliciting funds from those he saw to “feed and run around”.
During the campaigns, he delegated his Deputy (Running Mate) to sign for all monies released to him for the election.
On the day he was sworn in as Governor, Odogwu Awka did not even see Mr. Peter Obi (his immediate predecessor and benefactor off to his car, despite the urging of Senator Uche Ekwunife that it was also part of protocol aside from expressing gratitude for what Obi had done for him.
During his first Executive Council (ExCo) Meeting, OdogwuAwka told those present that he did not want anybody to mention Peter Obi’s name for any reason; that by his second year in office Obi would become a past tense. He often threatened to sack his Commissioners if they ever referred to Obi in whatever they said or did. In fact Chief Joe-martins Uzodike was sacked because of that. He is alive and can confirm that.
This is coming from a man who was elected 100% on the strength of Obi’s performance and campaign for him. Even today, when the likes of Arc. Callistus Ilozumba, Chief. Barr. Joemartins Uzodike, Dr. Patrick Obi and Prof. Stella Chinyere Okunna recall the gory tale, one could see goose pimples all over them.
A few days after Odogwu Awka was sworn in, he invited some important stakeholders and asked them to tell Peter Obi not to come to Anambra State again. His exact words were: “Two kings cannot be in the same kingdom”. He had actually requested security agencies to stop Obi from entering the State, but they could not carry out an order they probably considered as ridiculous and lunatic.
Odogwu Awka commenced governance by contracting the removal of posters and bill-boards of Obi from Anambra State. He would come to the ExCo meeting and tell them that he smelt misappropriation of funds and charged members to look for anything possible that would indict Obi. To that end, he sponsored over 25 petitions against Peter Obi to the EFCC, but each of them lacked merit, and wound up ignobly.
Psychological torture is worse than physical torture. Tortures are also measured from the circle it is coming from. Imagine an Okorocha that did not have a hand in Hope’s emergence and an Odogwu Awka that did not contribute anything, not even words towards his election; an Okorocha alleged to have enriched himself and his cronies from the coffers of the State and an Obi whose prudence enabled him to save billions of Naira that have since been stolen and squandered.
One of Odogwu Awka’s early moves in office was to sell off Obi’s dollar savings for the State.-eyed, he shamefully started denying having met any money in the Treasury. Seven years after, all the people hear is that all inherited contracts shall be completed.
The wicked antics of Odogwu Awka are deadlier than whatever Hope has done.
If Hope met the type of money Odogwu Awka met in the Imo treasury, he would be celebrating Okorocha. Odogwu Awka had billions, no outstanding debts in salaries, pensions and payments for contracts done!
The first meeting Odogwu Awka had with Obi after he became Governor was at the Onitsha Lodge. Though the meeting was strictly between two of them, two days later, one group tagged “Omambala Brothers” placed an advertisement in several newspapers warning of a meeting where demands for campaign money were made and so on and so forth. Between Obi and Odogwu Awka, who could have been responsible for such a hateful and vicious imagination?
What Peter Obi has borne from the venomous attacks by Odogwu Awka are incomarable in Nigerian politics. We thank God for making Obi strong. I know a lot of insiders that broke down while feeling for Obi such that Obi was even the one consoling them. He often tells such people that God allows everything to happen for a purpose.
Beyond threatening his ExCo, aides and cronies, how can one explain Odogwu Awka committing half a billion Naira for one Egbuna Amuta to produce video clips on Peter Obi and distributing them freely across Anambra State and to his friends and cronies? Furthermore, many Nigerians observed with dismay the vehemence with which Odogwu Awka fought against Peter Obi becoming the Vice-President of the country. It is on record that he “invested” millions of Naira from the State treasury in that hate campaign; using the likes of Ulasi from Nnewi as anchor.
How many Nigerians know that in the early months of his tenure, Odogwu Awka wrote to the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan requesting that Peter Obi be removed as a member of the Economic Management Team and a member of the Agric Committee and be replaced by himself. When it was explained to him that Obi was so appointed on his personal qualification and not as Governor, Anambra State, Odogwu Awka ignorantly insisted that he too was qualified for that strategic appointment.
Going further, it also beats the imagination that about 80% of Odogwu Akwa’s over 2,000 assistants (e-rats) were appointed because they shouted “Obi is a fool” on Facebook. Many more of such e-rats are being engaged with a singular purpose to vilify Peter Obi. Some years back, the back and some inside pages of Newspapers earned millions of Naira from the Anambra State Treasury by providing space for hack writers, including Odogwu Awka’s present Commissioner for Information, to pour obloquy on Peter Obi.
When it appeared that Obi was unfazed by the attacks against him, Odogwu Awka took the battle to Obi’s home town by conniving with the then Chief Judge of the State to relocate a Court meant for Agulu to another town. He also abandoned all on-going projects in Agulu; he only managed to complete the Agulu Lake Hotel, while abandoning its accompanying infrastructure. Interestingly, funds had been set aside by the Obi administration for the project’s completion.
Odogwu Awka has been fanning the embers of disunity in Agulu by manipulating the process of electing a President-General (PG) for the town with his Caretaker contrivance. How he thinks that will affect Peter Obi also beats the imagination as he has no idea of the nature and resilience of the people. If he likes, let him even appoint caretakers in all the villages in Agulu and get them continue shouting “ we are searching for peace”, in a town that has remained peaceful.
It is on record that the Obi administration completed all the projects it inherited from the Chris Ngige administration. Alas, Odogwu Awka has neglected practically all the worthy projects he inherited from Peter Obi, including the strategic Awka and Nnewi Malls that are currently being taken-over by the private sector.
With the on-going altercation between Hope and Okorocha in Imo State, many discerning Nigerians ask why Odogwu Awka’s aides are drawing comparisons between their principal and Peter Obi. They even made allusion to Obi’s often empirical and scholarly presentations. Why are they so unhappy over presentations Nigerians look forward to everyday? In five incarnations, Odogwu Awka would not be able to replicate one among those almost routine presentations of Obi. I follow some of the speeches they write for him, where interjections such as “Ana akukwa aka n’ ebea” (There is supposed to be some clapping at this point) always form part of his speeches. Can’t he even think for himself?
In his seven years as Governor so far, Odogwu Awka has been craving and paying for some of the exact awards Peter Obi received, without replicating the toils that attracted those awards. For instance, soon after Obi won Thisday Governor of the Decade Award, Odogwu Awka’s aides are seeking an organisation that will give him something similar by the end of the year – for a huge price, of course.
Indeed, what Okorocha is supposedly going through at the hands of Hope in Imo pales into insignificance in comparison with the sustained, vicious attacks of Odogwu Awka and his cohorts against Peter Obi in Anambra State. Now on the verge of paranoia, who would be surprised to hear that it was Obi who instigated the USA authorities to stop Odogwu Awka from travelling the day he planned.
An objective character appraisal of Odogwu Awka and Hope of Imo will be very revealing.
With his tenure running out, Odogwu Awka and his aides might well be wondering how to explain the 5%-completion stage of the various “roads” he flagged off with fanfare. Would they count them as liabilities or assets?
These and more are all coming from a man who supposedly rendered a public apology. The silliness of man shall be revealed in the fullness of time.