Right of Reply:
I have read the ‘non-political’ open letter you addressed to your governor, His Excellency, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, ostensibly designed as your kick-off campaign strategy. I would like to praise your ingenuity in contriving a talking point, having failed to find any other straw to clutch on. Permit me therefore to publicly share my thoughts on you and your singular fixation, even as you continue to admire Government House from the fence.
Let me begin by acknowledging the beauty of the opposition in deepening the democratic process. Democracy can only come full circle through the dialectics of logically confronting issues which may seem to be opposed. It was on this basis I teamed up with you and other well-meaning Abians to oppose the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015. But unlike me, you belonged to the PDP and also hob-nobbed with the party’s leadership in Abia.
Prior to the time you decamped (about 4 months to elections) you were an integral part of the madding crowd cheering the PDP as the largest party in Africa. In your bid to brow-beat other governorship aspirants of the party, it is on record that you regaled your audience with tales of your intimate relationship with the then governor of the state. You only took up the gauntlet when your repeated attempts to buy your way through was cordially rebuffed, and it dawned on you that your running ambition was on head-on collision with the party in Abia. Thereafter you began to excoriate the PDP, as your warm-up strategy for migration to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the APGA.
And this brings me to the internecine warfare presently raging between you and Sir Chinkwe Udensi for the control of the APGA bridge-head in Abia. I’ve often had cause to ruminate over your political trajectory and the sober lessons derivable therefrom. We all know how you bared your financial fangs, brushing aside every other contender queuing ahead of you on the APGA platform and commandeering the governorship ticket to yourself in 2015. The Talmud has it that ambition is ruthless, and you left no one in doubt of your Machiavellian antics which sent Mr. Udensi home sulking.
But what do we see today? How come you’ve lost whatever is left of APGA to Mr. Udensi? All your senatorial candidates in 2015 are now pitching tent with your rival, and I hear they are not even on talking terms with you… in spite of all you did for them, in spite of your money. This reminds me of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in the book I gave you: “money devoid of love is like salt devoid of savor,… good for nothing. True neighborliness requires personal concern. The Good Samaritan (in the Bible) came down from his high horse and used his own hands to bind up the wounds on the body of the robbed man” I could write a whole book on this, and you know what I mean. Based on personal experience, I will not be surprised if Mr. Udensi defeats you at the primaries. Secret balloting is a matter of the heart.
Going through your letter, my attention was drawn to how you quoted copiously from the Quran. I’m told you belong to the same Christian denomination as your governor, i.e. the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the issue in focus was an internal Abia matter. So, who were you trying to ingratiate yourself with? Put differently, have you ever heard of a Muslim faithful writing a fellow Muslim and resorting to quotes from the Bible? So what are you not telling us?
Permit me therefore, to inform those who may not know that you have literarily forced APGA into an alliance with the APC, and will in due time adopt the incumbent president for a second term. With Anambra election over, and with Governor Okorocha squarely in charge at Imo, the only compensation for which APGA is trading off its image and reputation is Abia where you hope to rely on the APC’s federal might to re-enact the ‘Ekiti scenario’.
Is it by accident that you are the only politician from Abia who has been dodging endorsing or commending the State House of Assembly for enacting a law prohibiting open grazing in the state? Is it by accident that the presidency would come to commission projects in Abia and tell the whole world that the project was made possible by you (a member of another political party), and even assure us that more goodies would come our way through you? Is it by accident that you are the only columnist of Thisday Newspaper that has not taken a definite stand on the insincerity and gross violations of our constitution by the APC-led federal government? All the South East governors have just raised their voice in unison against the continued malnourishment of their region by the Buhari administration.
Now that you are fronting for the APC having arm-twisted APGA into a weird alliance, you must be prepared to shoulder the burden of leadership and explain to our people what they stand to gain from an APC-led federal government that is unabashedly opposed to the integration of Ndigbo into the epicenter of our national life.
It is not enough to tergiversate, you should go the whole hog and broach the news of how you would tango with the python (egwu eke) and go scot-free. Yours therefore seems to be a good case of the proverbial cockroach wanting to rule over the chicken, and then proceeding to hire the fox as a bodyguard.
You will agree with me that the name of the one thread linking all your efforts to occupy Government House, Umuahia is desperation. Right from the day you conceived of that still born child, you’ve been going through the labour pangs of delivering your egocentric child. You‘ve had to change nativity…, you’ve had to change residence…, you’ve had to change dialect…, you’ve had to change political party…, you’ve had to change chieftaincy titles… and you’ve had to change even your voting location… And you may probably be on course towards more fundamental changes. To a discerning mind, you are no longer the Alex Otti that took Abia by storm.
After a hard and dispassionate look at all your efforts so far, it seems to me most certain that you are primarily driven by your aversion to an Ngwaman contributing his leadership quota to the development of a state in which he too is a stakeholder. And you’d like to prance around as the man who ‘single handedly put a stop to that’.
Yet the truth which you know but continues to shrug off is the fact that you are swimming against the tide. Abia’s foundation is rooted in brotherly love and nurtured by the principles of reciprocal concession. It may not be codified as law, but the beauty of the dog play lies in the humility of the one falling for the other. You alluded to this when you told us that your father in-law at Mbaise on learning that you were contesting against Ngwa people recommended you to a psychiatrist. And I was also told that the elders at Amuvi (Arochukwu) cautioned you against precipitating ‘Ngwa-Haram’. There was also the wise counsel from Abia Guardians of Equity. The list could go on.
My point of departure with you was on moral grounds. There was no moral coefficient in our continued condemnation of a hardworking governor who was relentlessly fighting hard to redeem the time lost in the past, just because we wanted to take his place. It doesn’t jell in my conscience. None of us who opposed the emergence of Dr. Ikpeazu in 2015 ever believed that what we see today could be possible. A roll call of those who have left you and rejoined the PDP in Abia just because of the governor’s performance perception should be enough to get you thinking.
It’s been a long letter and I would like to cut it short, for the time being. One of the Oriental philosophers harped on the need to travel well, rather than focusing on arrival. But to a desperate man there is nothing like God’s time, there is no morality, and there is no advice to the contrary. The only fixation is the end. And herein lies the misery of not allowing our heartbeats to synchronize with God’s own rhythm and tempo. You’ve made yourself a foxhole for every aggrieved Ukwa/Ngwa man, while at the same time functioning as the leaking bucket for those of us with critical self-appraisal, and a sense of history. The trouble with men of bloated ego is that they invariably fail to come to terms with reality and only end up bitter, blaming others to soothe the same ego.
As a Christian and as an Ngwaman, my advice to you and to those who always seek to upstage the apple-carte is recorded in Mathew chapter 7 verse 12: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’. Those who minimize the importance of involving the God of justice in their affairs and aspirations often end up writing their own epitaphs as words of caution for others to learn from. The thrills of cliffhanging and rabble rousing may endure for a while. But in the end what matters most is whether we are leaving behind a respected name, the very legacy for which your late father is still adored even in grave. Unfortunately, virtue is not hereditary.
Let me therefore end this letter by publicly reiterating what I had earlier told you. There is a tide in the affairs of men… I do not think this is your time. It’s just my opinion, my candid opinion though.
Moses Ayo Orji
An Ngwaman and a former ally of Dr. Alex Otti sent this piece from Umuahia