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The People’s Man of the Year …2009

Gov. Peter Obi, Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, Man Of The Year, 2009, and Chairman of the Peoples Choice occasion, Hon Justice Obiora Nwazota, Chief Judge Emeritus, Anambra State.
Gov. Peter Obi, Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, Man Of The Year, 2009, and Chairman of the Peoples Choice occasion, Hon Justice Obiora Nwazota, Chief Judge Emeritus, Anambra State.

By Emma Okocha
‘’We live, at present,  with our fellow -men as they are. If these volumes have shown what a wonderful world we live in – no creed, establishment, race, political organization or group of teachers, researchers, writers and artists has a monopoly of wisdom or morals- our editorial group may have done a little to help the next generation or two to live with our fellow-men as they might gloriously, and ideally, be.’’

– James Fisher, Aldus Books in the Growth of Ideas, Doubleday, New York: 1965.
The world’s most influential magazine, the TIME does not carry weekly editorials. But when the story is extraordinary and the event unprecedented, the TIME will carry an instant editorial. It did when the US went to the Moon .There was a TIME editorial, when President Kennedy was shot. When the Israelis went to war against the Arabs. When the Tsunami nearly tsunamised the paradise islands off the coasts of Indonisia.

Like its Editorials the TIME do not play Russian roulette with its selection when it comes to making the call on who is the TIME’s Man Of The Year.  Good or bad, it has to be the Man or sometimes the Woman who overwhelmed the convention , or the fellow who through his work or invention added to civilization. Elsewhere, it is the character who in being part or prompting some events totally brought the earthquake to the newsroom. And kept the reporters scrambling for more and for a long time seized the camera for himself .

These are artists, scientists, philosophers, jurists, politicians , activists; geniuses who through their magnificent acts of insight, inspiration, brain wave , conviction, overthrew the world and from their new perspective provided an innovation that ultimately proved so compelling, that we are forced to change our former positions and toe their paths.

Last year we saw the last days of Chief Gani Fawehinmi . He was the seminal figure of the Nigerian law society who for many years published the Nigeria Law Report .  He championed the cause of the underprivileged and believing in the true legal mantra of Rule of Law, he confonted any lawless group or government with the same passion he employed fighting for the poor.

His was to many and at last, his body succumbed to scums of the establishment. He should be turning in his grave presently, following the outcome of everything the law has become since his demise. His rich legal vocabulary, pathos, gravitas, gravity, high rhetoric and arresting coloquialism are unrivalled qualities that he took to the grave.

He is the leading candidate for the People’s Man Of the Year.  There is the underwear suspect bomber, Farouk Mutallab. Still missing in action the Commander In Chief , President Umaru Yar’Adua may yet wake up from his hidden hospital and claim the prize!

The Woman of the Year? The enduring First Lady,  Maryam  Babaginda, the woman whose rare Niger River beauty, continue to cause civil wars amongst Nigerians. Following the bitter feud that followed her ‘’first purported death’’ the newspapers were very careful when eventually, the Press went to town with her painful passage. She was indeed the first Nigerian Lady to die twice.

Whoever is your pick, remember our procedure. A simple  innocent mail to me and if you have more people voting in your man or woman of the year or your Governor of the year,  the annoncement is made . Simplicita! Last year we gave the Governor’s award to the Lagos Governor and his counterpart in Delta. Who is your Governor of the Year?
Below we publish the letters of Justice Peter Umeadi, the Peoples’ Man Of The Year 2009.

On 1/1/2009 I started receiving messages on my text phone.  The messages were that I had been named man of the year.  I soon got the first of the many calls asking me to fetch the Vanguard Newspaper and see that I had been named Man of the Year 2008.

It did not add up.  I could understand the rave reviews that followed the unanimous judgment of the Election Petitions Tribunal no.1 at Benin City, Edo State, delivered on 20/3/2008 and upheld by the Court of Appeal in November 2008.  Man of the Year? I thought.

That was never in contemplation.  I was overwhelmed.  I bought a copy of the Vanguard Newspaper and behold there was my name on page 17 as Man-of-the Year 2008, anchored by Emma Okocha, the columnist who writes from USA.  I must say that if anyone had asked me in which Newspaper I would prefer to be so named, I would say the Vanguard Newspapers, of course.

I buy the Vanguard regularly as my newspaper of choice.  The next thing I did was that I sent text messages to the Hon. Judges with whom I sat at the Tribunal.  I told them about the publication in the Vanguard and assured them that even though my name was mentioned that undoubtedly the award belonged to all of us equally.

I salute the Vanguard Newspaper for doing us such a great honour.  I consider the Vanguard Newspaper as an independent, respected and colorful newspaper. I followed Pa Samson Ororo Amuka-Pemu, OON, from the Punch to the Vanguard and have remained with the Vanguard ever since.  I salute Mideno Bayagbon, the Editor.  I also remember Frank Aigbogon, former Editor, with his crew cut and well cut suits.

I salute Peter Okhiria, Deputy Editor, Daily Vanguard.  My favorite in the team is Dr. Joseph-Jacob Bamiele A. Sobowale, the self-proclaimed President of Area Boys.  On 4/8/2008, I went to the office of the Vanguard at Ontisha and bought his book, Vanguard Book of Quotations.

I hope I will catch him someday to  autograph it for me.  My curtsy to Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor, Life with Treena Kwenta, the fun loving but hardworking single parent; and Bunni Sofola, who is busy answering questions about life.  I greet Pa Animashaun, the lucid Prince Tony Momoh, Douglas Anele, the philosopher, and Owei Lakemfa.  My regards to Onochie Anibeze, the unseen FIFA board member for African and Nigerian affairs.  I salute Hon. Emma Okocha who writes from DC in the USA.

The lot fell on him to break the news to the world. On a trip to Lagos I bought his book Blood on the Niger, an untold story of the Nigerian Civil War from Glendora shop at Falomo Shopping Center Lagos on 15/6/2000.  There is the refreshing laureate Obi Nwakanma, the prophetic Ochereome Nnanna and Tony Edike at Enugu, amongst many deserving others.  I thank you all.


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