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The Obi challenge

By Esin Suji

One of the facts of nature [and this includes humanity] is that error would eventually float on the surface. For several years, a pack of murderous opportunists and predators held Anambra State hostage, frustrating the aspirations and rights of the majority of the people to good governance.

After all their subterfuges and pretensions to loyalty and patriotism, they were eased out of Government House by divine intervention, using Mr. Peter Obi, in March 2006.

Governor Obi’s profile is public knowledge, but will bear repetition here. A man without pretensions, he was born into a responsible family and enjoyed good breeding. In and out of school, he went through the mill, with demonstrable successes at every rung of his journey. In the private sector, he was easily a role model of best practices in business management – attracting commendation locally and internationally.

Aside from his university degree and top management training, his membership of cream professional bodies is revealing: Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Nigeria Chartered Institute of Bankers, Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), West African Business Committee (WABC), British Institute of Directors (IOD), British Nigeria Business Council (BNBC) and Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACC).

When he opted to run for the post of Governor in his home state, Anambra, many people wondered what manner of man he was [In local parlance: Which kind person be this Peter Obi sef?]. As a man of vision, he had a focus for the State, but the predators would have none of that.

As a matter of fact, some of the old guards and their cohorts warned him openly to steer clear of the political scene. All the way from his declaration of intent to run for governor, Peter Obi has been the target – and at times, victim – of vicious assaults by entrenched interests that had long held the State and public treasury in a vice-grip. Then the trip-wires were laid for him at every step of the way. Examples abound, but a few are recalled here:

Peter Obi contested and won the 2003 elections, but victory was wrongly awarded to the PDP candidate through abuses of state apparatuses. His mandate was restored to him some 22 months later – indeed after a dogged legal battle. He became the first person in Nigeria to unseat a serving Governor through due process.

Early on his assumption of office, he was confronted by a transport union boss with the open warning to stay away from the motor parks [a major source of internally-generated revenue, which was in private control] if he [Obi] desired to run his full tenure in one piece. He laughed off the threat, but a few months later, the opposition-dominated State Legislature was instigated by the predators to impeach him. As an adherent to the rule of law, he challenged the illegal impeachment and was reinstated after about three months. Such is his large heart that he retained his Deputy who had taken over from him but was reckless in that capacity. Interestingly, her son who had served in the administration is now one of the rabble-rousers masquerading as a governor-aspirant.

With the April 2007 general elections, the predators conspired to abort Peter Obi’s tenure, from which they had stolen about three years! They went ahead to conduct the elections into Government House and awarded the post to one of theirs. But the Good Lord is always on the side of fair play, and the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that Peter Obi had to complete his tenure. That judgment marked a watershed in Nigerian politics!

Then came the orchestrated saga of security vote allegedly diverted by the Governor. In spite of being given a clean of health by those who should know, the predators – at home and in Abuja – have been desperately grabbing at straws to indict the Governor. In the meantime, their house is in disarray; nay, near-collapse.

Recently, at the burial of elder Statesman, Chief Christian Onoh, Governor Obi was konked [given a hard knock on the head] by a member of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra [MASSOB]. It was only the grace of God in the Governor that saved the assailant from being shot by his security officers.

A man cannot rise beyond the limit of his intelligence. Neither can he appreciate value-added initiatives if he lacks vision and focus. Without these, parochial pursuits would hold sway as manifested in the primitive accumulation, cronyism, nepotism, megalomania and bestiality of the past. Does anyone see such persons projecting into and planning for their society’s future? This is where Peter Obi has made the difference.

As is well-known, acknowledged and appreciated, the deepening sanity in the conduct of government business and public affairs has upset a lot of people whose predatory interests have been adversely curtailed. Many people were shocked to learn that the Governor does not own any land in Awka, the state capital. As a matter of fact, he gave out a piece of land he was offered to a retired civil servant who had put in over three decades of service, but owned no land.

Obi’s resilience and successes in office are obviously of divine origin. With his devout Catholic background [two of his siblings are a Reverend Sister and a Reverend Father], his unobtrusive spirituality has given him an inner strength, which his adversaries cannot fathom. How can one explain his over-coming the trip wires laid for him at every step of his tenure?

Indeed, his tenure so far is unprecedented in character and context. What else but the Hand of God has intervened in the affairs of Anambra State?

Mr. Suji, a public  affairs analyst, writes from Owerri, Imo State.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.