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Friday, August 25, 2017

BOMBSHELL: No to Peter Obi’s stooge - Chief Okafor (PDP Stakeholder)

There is only one reason why ex-Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State appears to be frantically pushing Oseloka Obaze, his Secretary to the State Government, to run to become the next Anambra State governor: Obi probably wants a puppet. 

Obaze is nothing other than a surrogate candidate. He knows it and cannot afford to deny it. If he does, the denial would not be taken seriously because everyone knows the truth that Obi desperately wants a surrogate in Government House. This is the truth and nothing but the truth.

Obaze was not really the person Obi wanted to be our governor after he finished his second term in 2014. The person he wanted was Dubem Obaze, Oseloka Obaze’s younger brother, who was Obi’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. Obi realised that pushing his powerful commissioner would boomerang badly for reasons I do not want to state here, and so dropped him like a hot potato. To compensate Obaze, Obi asked the former’s elder brother, Oseloka, a career diplomat, to return from the United States and assume the office of Secretary to the Government. Obi’s ultimate agenda was to have the senior Obaze succeed him as governor. The senior Obaze is a fine gentleman, refined and urbane. Moreover, he is from the northern senatorial district, making the odds look somewhat in his favour. Yet, Obi did not find in him strong material to lead Anambra State. Obaze was dropped.

So, how is it that Obaze, considered unfit to be governor only in 2014, despite years of tutelage as the Secretary to the State, is all of a sudden gubernatorial material? The only explanation is that Obi wants a third term. He wants a situation of the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob. He wants Obaze to hold the cow while he milks it. He wants someone who will answer governor in name but the real power rests with him. He wants to be the power behind the throne. In other words, Obi wants to be the new godfather of Anambra politics.

Obi should perish the thought. It is not in the interest of Anambra people that any person should be parading the corridors of Government House as the state’s political godfather. The last time someone tried to play the godfather, the state suffered severely. Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, was taken to the notorious Okija Shrine in the dead of the night to swear an oath of perpetual allegiance to the godfather and his cohorts. He was then the governor-elect. Ngige was forced to sign all manner of contracts and cheques, surrendering power to the godfathers who were as ruthless as the Mafia in Sicily, Italy. The self-styled Anambra State godfathers insisted on appointing all the commissioners and advisers.

When Ngige tried to assert his authority, he was kidnapped, and the Mafia people announced on radio that he had resigned. It was a failed coup led by the late Ralph Ige, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the South-East zone. As Ngige was determined to liberate the state from the stranglehold of the vipers, they launched mayhem in the state, burning the judiciary, the House of Assembly, the Anambra Broadcasting Service and Government House, Awka, as well as the Governor’s Lodge in Onitsha. It was a particularly dark period in our history as a people. All the state legislators and other stakeholders resolved that on no account would we ever allow our dear state to be hijacked by a cabal in the name of being the godfathers who put the governor in office.

Against this background, history will not forgive me or other stakeholders in the state if we allow Obi to have his way by installing his suspected puppet as the state governor. Our ancestors will never allow it. The God we serve will never allow it. It is the streak of godfatherism, which made Obi abandon, in the middle of nowhere, one Chinedu Idigo, a Lagos-based lawyer, whom he brought into the gubernatorial race in 2013. The same streak accounts for his battle with the current governor, Chief Willie Obiano. He thought that Obiano would be a weakling. He miscalculated big time! Obiano is a very strong and stubborn character. He has a mind of his own.

Obi should have known long ago that Anambra people do not follow any leader blindly. If you are doing the right thing, they will follow you. But when you are on the wrong side of history, they will abandon you even beyond the realm of politics. For example, the Hero brand of lager beer produced by the South African brewery giant in Onitsha was dominating the Anambra beverage market by 70 per cent. Obi is closely associated with it. But when Obi joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which most Ndi Anambra consider very opportunistic, Hero lost the market drastically. Life, produced by the Nigerian Breweries, also in Onitsha, has since replaced Hero as the dominant lager beer in the state. Obi should reflect on this development.

I do not like what our former governor has been doing of late, which has been costing him social capital. Social capital is the stock of values like trust and loyalty, which a person has. I am sorry Obi’s stock has been depreciating alarmingly in recent times. He sat on the fence throughout the long period Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff were fighting to a finish for the PDP’s soul. He took no side, gave no counsel and made no effort to assist the party in any way. But the moment the Supreme Court declared Makarfi the authentic PDP leader on July 12, 2017, Obi issued statements saying strange things. Among the wild claims was that the Makarfi victory would now revive Nigeria’s economy. How this victory would resuscitate our mono-product economy remains a mystery that only our former governor understands.

Godfatherism is dead in Anambra State. Neither Obi nor any other person should be indulged to delight in the fancy of reviving godfatherism. As the PDP in the state prepares to hold a primary to choose the candidate who will contest in the November 18 gubernatorial election on its platform, there are good candidates like John Emeka, former Minister of State for Transport, Dr. Alex Obiogbolu and Senator Stella Oduah, who should be considered. They are from Anambra North and are acknowledged party operatives who are also team players. They will not serve as anybody’s stooge, if elected Anambra State governor. No person should be allowed a third term in Anambra under any guise.

• Chief Okafor, a former member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, is a PDP stakeholder in the state.

This story first appeared HERE

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