By Amanze Obi
Hon. Emeka Ihedioha – the man who has been sinned against – turns 55 today. His 55th birthday, coming at a time he was removed from office as governor in controversial circumstances, takes us back in time. It reminds us of his momentous ascendancy to the office of governor.
Ihedioha happened on Imo State with freshness and appeal. He came at a time the state and its people were in dire need of rehabilitation. As an accustomed hand in statecraft, Ihedioha knew what to do. He did not have to grope in the dark.
He set sail the moment he assumed office as governor. No sooner had he assumed office than a certain newness set in. In fact, for the people of Imo State, the Ihedioha touch approximated to a new day.
It obliterated the ugly past that they just emerged from. It marked a bright, new day. With that, the atmosphere in the state turned electric. The people felt a sense of relief. They were happy that they had come to the end of the long night of drudgery. In the seven months that he spent in office, he cleaned up the landscape of a state that was left to rot. His “Rebuild Imo” agenda was the soothing balm that the state needed.
But there was a sudden eclipse. Enemies of the people came on the prowl. They took over the runway. They turned impunity to statecraft. The watching world was shocked to the marrows. But they did not care a hoot.
But what rankled the most was that they got the highest court in the land to execute the dastardly assignment. The Justices threw away the hallow that distinguished them from the rank and file. They fell for dirty lucre. That is the ultimate tragedy of our sick fatherland.
The process of atonement would have begun had the sinners felt some remorse. But rather than be humbled by their sinful act, the violators are putting .up a bold face. They are working hard to set up a new standard of sinfulness for us. They want their fraudulent indulgence to become the accepted way of life.
Rather than hide their head in shame, they are strutting about with ignominious swagger. But the civilised world has refused to be provoked by the effrontery. Rather, decent minds are pitying them.
In all of this, Ihedioha has shown the stuff he is made of. He has taken the violation with equanimity. He has been able to shepherd his large stock neatly. At every turn, he has made statements that portray him as the civilised man that he is. He has handed over the matter to the maker. That is statesmanship. That is maturity. He is fast turning his adversity to strength.
William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest dramatist, certainly did not have Ihedioha in mind when he, in one of his plays, “As You Like It”, espoused on an inevitable human condition- adversity. In the pastoral comedy, Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English Language, had written thus: ” Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”
Even though the works of Shakespeare, reputed as England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”, mirrored the English society of his time, his messages have universal appeal and significance. Who would have thought that the immortal lines written in 1559, some 461 years ago, would resonate with eternal truth in Nigeria of our time?
We do not need to return to the dirty details of the violation that took place in Imo State on January 14. Suffice it to say that the event of that day marked the darkest spot in our democratic experience. It was the day Nigerians realised, without any shadow of doubt, that our courts have gone to seed.
It was the day the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court of Nigeria was desecrated without qualms of conscience. On that day, the world stood still in disbelief, wondering how Nigeria, a land of promise, ended up as a wasteland. It was the day that Nigerians finally came to the conclusion that their country is a joke.
With the event of January 14, Nigeria no longer has a tomorrow. It was the day the faith of young Nigerians in the country was blown away by the wind. With that development, the youth of the country are convinced beyond measure that their tomorrow in this God-forsaken land does not exist. Their future has been sold to the vultures. The country has no values to pass on to the coming generations.
As I noted earlier, a little relief would have come our way as a people had the sinful ones embraced the window of remorse that presented itself. Rather than do that, the Supreme Court toed the path of short-sighted arrogance. It chose to persevere in sin. It threw the merit of the case before it overboard and suffused the air with the balderdash that it is the final court and as such cannot review its own judgement.
Rather than salvage itself and the image of the country, the Court chose to remain in the pit of disrepute. Today, we are being treated to the mellifluous game of self-righteousness.
Unfortunately for the violators, their effort to deodorize this dog shit has failed. They look pitiable each time they try to lead us by the nose. Sophistry, whatever deceptive stuff it is made of, has failed them.
The Ihedioha we know has always been a wise man. But his present condition has even made him wiser. At 55, he has been confronted with the worst oddity in Nigeria’s electoral history. But he is certainly not deterred. The experience has made him a stronger man. It has internationalized his image.
The chicanery that we were treated to has taught him particularly that the road to greatness is , more often than not , strewn with spikes. As a politician, he has, before now, weathered a lot of storm. But little did he knew that revisionists have been lurking menacingly in the shadows.
But as a man gifted with the power of reflection, Ihedioha has approached his travail with philosophical calmness. He knows the value of introspection and he has deployed it brilliantly in his present circumstance. Were Ihedioha made of a simpler stuff, he would have been howling. But he is not. He is approaching the issue with arresting calmness. The lessons of adversity have taught him that the battle is not his. It is the Lord’s.
As he attains 55 in this moment of adversity, men and women of goodwill identify fully with him. They know that he has been wronged. They are aware that state power which is always put to wrong use in Nigeria, has left the level of transgression. It has become a mortal sin. Ihedioha and Imo may be the worst victims for now.
But what matters here is that the eyes of the world have been opened to our new level of lowness. Fortunately, the strength of an Ihedioha makes all the difference. With him and through him, we have come to learn. As he firms up for the battle for the soul of Nigeria, the rest of the country, except the misguided, are with him.
We are consoled, even before we fall into similar “shitholes”, by the fact that there exists people like Ihedioha who see jewel in the ugly head of the toad. He is the shining light. And he is poised to show the way so that the people will follow. I wish him well as he undertakes this divine assignment.
Happy birthday, the people’s governor.