“Coming at a time when many Igbo who are not even in politics would rather not write about Uwazulike’s incarceration for fear of being labelled pro-Biafra. And equally at a time when some of his peers would rather not, in their thinking, dent their image with Ralph Uwazulike, Obiorah did otherwise”.
Anambra State Needs Ikechukwu Obiorah (2)
In Part 1 of this series, we noted that throughout the crisis that beset Anambra State 1999 to 2009, one politician has been there from the beginning but has managed to stay above the fray- He tried to reconcile Mbadinuju and Emeka Offor/Chris Uba between 1999-2003; He subjected personal ambition to the wider interest of Anambra State and shunned chris Uba’s poisoned chalice in 2003 and refused to contest against Mbadinuju; He is the factor behind Chris Ngige’s success in bringing good governance to the grassroots between 2003-2006; and till date, he has been the stabilising force between Peter Obi and the PDP controlled Anambra House of Assembly; that person is Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah (PDP) Anambra South.
Today, as the pending rollercoaster of a political whirlwind brewing in Anambra State creates unlikely political bed partners salivating to consummate unholy and undesirable alliances (like we see between Soludo and Anenih), many ask, who is Ikechukwu Obiorah and what does he bring? Simply put, what are Obiorah’s antecedents?
According to a brilliant article, penned by Obunike Ohaegbu on the Nigerian Village Square on January 20, 2009, this PDP Senator representing Anambra South was a very young lawyer in 1992 when he was overwhelmingly elected to represent Nnewi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
It is very instructive to note that at the time of Obiorah’s election, Anambra State was controlled by SDP Governor, Ezeife while Mr. Obiorah was elected on the platform of NRC. His performances and role in the short lived National Assembly are verifiable facts.
Again, in 1999, he was massively voted to represent Anambra South Senatorial Zone on the platform of PDP. Unfortunately, while he was busy co-ordinating his election, Dr. Eriobuna was issued with the PDP ticket on the eve of the Election Day.
Funnily, while people queud behind the the posters of Ikechukwu Obiorah and voted for the PDP, Eriobuna was declared the Senator due to Emeka Offor’s antics.
The role of the billionaire and Obasanjo’s friend, Chief Emeka Offor in that saga due to Mr. Obiorah’s refusal to mortgage himself to any godfather is a pointer to his character.
In fact, on his wedding day, Emeka Offor, that self-appointed god-father of Anambra politics that terrorised Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju sent the mobile Policemen to arrest him; Ikechukwu had to abandon his wedding reception to run away.
Mr. Obiorah was eventually appointed a Federal Commissioner to represent Anambra State in the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Abuja.
In addition, he contested for the Anambra South Senatorial seat in 2003 and had a tremendous support from the people. I believe that what happened during the 2003 elections in Anambra State is still fresh in our minds to avoid repeating.
However, in 2007, he was elected a Senator representing Anambra South senatorial zone in the National Assembly.
The critical question to be asked is how “people oriented” was Mr. Obiorah as a Senator of the Federal Republic. All who followed the activities of the first term Senator representing his zone in the Senate will remember that the first thing Mr. Obiorah did as a Senator was to fight for the re-opening of the Ibeto Cement Factory closed down by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr. Obiorah championed the fight until President Yar’Adua graciously ordered that the Factory be re-opened.
However, as far as Mr. Obiorah was concerned, his fight did not stop with the re-opening of the Factory. He used his legislative privileges to canvass for compensation for the shareholders of the factory for the loss they suffered during the period of the closure.
In a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Industry titled “UNLAWFUL CLOSURE OF IBETO CEMENT FACTORY BY OBASANJO ADMINISTRATION: BUDGETARY PROVISIONS FOR RESTITUTION” dated January 17, 2008, he requested the Committee to make budgetary provisions for the sum of N1.85 Billion to compensate for the losses suffered by the factory during the period of closure.
Furthermore, Mr. Obiorah manifested his willingness to sacrifice his personal gains/comfort for the fight of whatever he believes is just.
Thus, at the risk of being branded a member of an ethnic militia, he took up the fight for the release of the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazulike; this is at a time when almost all the Igbo in elective positions avoided Chief Uwazuluike like you would a lepper!
Obiorah formed a very strong partnership with Uche Chukwumerije. The duo worked very hard to get Chief Uwazulike released. They took the matter to the National assembly where their motion was stood down. They went to the Presidency and when the result was not forthcoming, they went to Court.
They pleaded with Justice Nyako to grant the custody of Uwazulike to them.
Writing on this issue in November 2007, (published on Nigerian Village Square), one Ossie Ezeaku correctly observed that Mr.Obiorah’s interest in Uwazulike’s case was “…amazing. Coming at a time when many Igbo who are not even in politics would rather not write about Uwazulike’s incarceration for fear of being labelled pro-Biafra. And equally at a time when some of his peers would rather not, in their thinking, dent their image with Ralph Uwazulike, Obiorah did otherwise”.
When the court granted bail to Uwazuluike, Obiorah rallied round and provided his LANDED PROPERTY DEEDS to fulfil the bail requirements.
Further still, Mr. Obiorah at the risk of being sanctioned by his Party, the PDP, cried out when he believed that there were “a grand design to edge out” people from the Southeast from meaningful positions in the country. The Guardian on Friday, June 20, 2008, among other national dailies quoted Obiorah to have been “shocked beyond belief” that the number of the board appointments given to the Southeast was the least, 104 as against 120, and 140 in the other zones. In Obiorah’s words, it was “totally unjustifiable, its one of those acts of marginalisation or if you may, obliteration because that is what we are facing right now in this country”.
Ikechukwu Obiorah took very serious issues with less than one year duration of a south-eastern as the Head of Service. The orchestrated attack of calumny against the Governor of Central Bank, Prof. Soludo received the Senator’s bashing.
Another opportunity for Senator Ikechukwu to champion issues that matter to him at the risk of hurting his political aspirations occurred at the nomination of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, the present Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development, asked Yar’Adua to adhere to the principle of Federal Character in the appointment of Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s successor.
He drew the attention of Mr. President to the fact that Sanusi’s nomination offends the federal character principle.
In opposing Sanusi’s nomination Mr Obiorah wrote President Yar’Adua “I am therefore compelled with the highest sense of responsibility to advert your mind to the fact that the other two heads of the finance sub-sector to wit: Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, the Minister of National Planning; and, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, the Minister of Finance, are both from Kano State. The appointment of another person from Kano State to head the Central Bank of Nigeria will therefore offend the letter and spirit of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution, which mandates the compliance with the Federal Character principle in the composition of Government or its agencies or part thereof.”
Even when the senate reached an agreement that in screening Sanusi, members should not question him on the Federal Character issue arguing that it is not the remit of an CBN governor to implement federal character, Obiorah still managed to chip in a question on the issue to Sanusi during the screening, only for his question to be shut out by the Senate President – Obiorah’s simple question was: “although it is not your remit to implement the federal character principle, what are your thought on the fact that your appointment appears to breach the constitutional provision in the Nigeria finance sector”?
To which David Mark replied: “My Obiorah, I believe “we” agreed that the issue will not be brought up, next question please”.
The issue of Federal Character in other appointments being made by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also caused ripples in the South-east, as the federal lawmakers representing the zone raised objections on the recent nomination of judges from different parts of the country preparatory to their elevation as justices of the Court of Appeal.
Obiorah, under the aegis of the “South-east Caucus”, protested the exclusion of judges from the zone among those slated for elevation. Together with the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. CID Maduabum, they disclosed that out of the 62 serving justices of the Appeal Court, only eight are from the South-east zone. They pointed out that with the latest nominations, the zone would be further marginalised; a situation he described as “unfair”.
The questions Ndi Anambra should ask are: Who are the candidates vying to be Anambra governor and what are their political pedigrees?
The above were just a few instances Mr. Obiorah as the Senator of the Republic has manifested his selfless and people oriented services. The projects he attracted to the
Senatorial zones are there for everyone to see.
He communicates on regular basis with the all the town unions within his senatorial zones on his activities in the Senate.
He is by all standards a very comfortable young man but extremely humble. According to Mr Ezeaku (quoted above”,”…those who know his (Obiorah’s) background would agree that he has taken his late father’s qualities-empathy and uprightness into politics. In a few months in the legislative chambers, Ikechukwu Obiorah has assertively identified himself with notable Igbo causes”.
In all honesty, those of us from Anambra South Senatorial Zone couldn’t ask for more. Anambra South Senatorial Zone, knows Ikechukwu Obiorah, It is time for the whole state to benefit from the selfless servive of this young man!
Coming soon; who are the contestants?
Read also Anambra State Needs Ikechukwu Obiorah (1)