Emeka Obasi

By Emeka Obasi

British Monarch King Charles is home in Nigeria and knows so much about happenings here. In 2018, while still a Prince, he interacted with Peter Obi, now Labour Party presidential candidate. Both men met in Abuja and deliberations centred on a wide range of issues.

The new King expressed concern over the security situation right in the presence of the British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright. So much was also discussed about the economy and Obi took notes while the meeting lasted at the residence of the diplomat.

Arkwright left shortly after that meeting. His successor, Catriona Laing, sought out Obi as she familiarised herself with her new posting. The British High Commissioner visited Obi in his Onitsha residence in 2019. Among points raised in that meeting was the economy.

Obi is recognised in the United Kingdom as much as he has followers at home. In May 2022, the former Anambra State governor was at the 10 Downing Street office of the British Prime Minister.  Boris Johnson who held sway at the time, received Obi warmly and their discussions centered on trade and investment.

This development is cheery because Obi has his eyes on the presidency and this could happen during the reign of King Charles who also visited when Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo was inaugurated as president in May 1999. The former military Head-of-State received Queen Elizabeth when Abuja hosted Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2003.

I am watching with keen interest. It appears to me that King Charles will affect Nigeria more positively than all his predecessors. This is because a man who spent 70 years in training is fully equipped to tackle all challenges that must have come from the mistakes of the past.

King Charles is different. Instead of staying at Buckingham Palace to receive formal education, he went to school outside of it. As a Prince, he spent one year in Australia in pursuit of that training. And above all, mark this, the King is a Historian.

With a degree from Cambridge, King Charles will not be misled by bureaucracy. He understands Nigeria more than many of those in the British government. The monarch started visiting Africa even before some of them were born.

I will not join my sister Uju Anya to bewail the treatment of Biafra in the years of Queen Elizabeth. Yes, so much happened and we could be right to hold the British government responsible for some of the atrocities committed.

Queen Elizabeth was too young to understand how  some of those who worked in the colonies chose the wrong part in fulfilment of selfish desires which could have run contrary to her feelings as a mother. King Charles, on the other hand, is old enough.

Tubman Goldie was more of a criminal. He neither knew nor served God. The Charter of his Royal Niger Company which stole our territory was forged because there was no Act of Parliament backing it. The monarchy at the time did not know.

Frederick Lugard was a failure. The man could not get into the Indian service even when he was born there. It took him a crash programme in eight weeks instead of two years to graduate from Sandhurst. It showed because as an officer he failed to fight in Afghanistan with Fredericks Roberts and in Sudan with Garnet Wolseley.

During the Civil War, the British High Commissioner, David Hunt was all out to witch hunt Biafra. Against the advice of the Deputy High Commissioner, James Parker who understood Eastern Nigeria so well, the boss fed London with white lies.

The same Brits gave us much to cheer. In 1948, the year Queen Elizabeth got married, Sir Arthur Richards who oversaw Nigeria on behalf of her father, King George, threw racial discrimination into the lagoon by turning European Club to Ikoyi Club. European Quarters became Government Reserve Area.

Before that, there was Mary Slessor who abandoned Scotland and chose Calabar instead. She saved twins from painful extinction. Thanks to her, we got the Hope Waddell Training Institution that moulded Drs Nnamdi Azikiwe and Akanu Ibiam.

How can we forget Bishop John Weeks. From Nigeria he relocated and became Anglican Archbishop of Sierra Leone. One of the twins he saved in Igboland, an Okoroafor, became maternal ancestor of Robert Wellesley Cole.

Cole was the first West African Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. His sister, Irene, found herself back in Nigeria where she married Samuel Ighodaro, the first Benin lawyer and High Court judge.

Next time Obi will meet King Charles, I am sure there will be so much to discuss in continuation of that chat in Abuja three years ago. Imagine a situation where the Presidency favours Obi and he finds himself in Buckingham Palace.

If it is History, the British monarch will tell Obi how the Queen visited in 1956. The parley is likely going to centre on how to make Nigeria work. The British created it and have the power to make the country breath for the good of everyone.

One lesson for our leaders. I hope they saw how King Charles moved about freely, from Wales to North Ireland and Scotland back to England. He shook hands and exchanged banters with the young, the old, just everyone.Here, the ruler is detached from the people.

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