Season of Reconciliation

by Chris Ngige 

My embracing Gov Obi at Ahiajoku Lecture

I don’t know what is being reconciled, I don’t agree with the man’s type of governance and I told him so. He didn’t like it and he went on media assault, brought out all the arsenals, you know he has the radio and television stations of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, they started using them to abuse me and some rascals and political thugs after his instructions were writing things and putting them for broadcast.
Well, I am a politician, if you are not ready to take the dirt you don’t come out for politics, if you are not ready for your body to take some heat, you don’t enter the kitchen. So, I was not ruffled and he saw me at the Ahiajoku Lecture and in the spirit of our being from the same state and he being my successor he said oh, you are here, he said that I didn’t notify him that we would have come together and I said well, you didn’t notify me too that you were going, that was what happened that you saw. And he now said that during his last flag off of some roads that he said that people who are above 50 years should leave governance for people who are below 50 years, people who are in their category. And that Obama had shown that it is people in that category who should govern the world and I told him no; so, that was what you saw there at Ahiajoku.

I told him no because age is not a parameter for knowing who will govern well and who will not and that there are certain things you can only acquire by ageing like experience; as inexperience is mainly associated with youthful age. So, when people like Obama come out, it is one in a million; governance is not giving people baby milk for growth, it is something that should be enduring. That was why I was gesticulating to him; I said no, there was no reconciliation to be done because we had never ran into trenches, it was to me just light skirmishes, but when the actual tackles start I may then decide to run.

Atiku visiting Obasanjo
Yes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a founding member of the PDP, a very strong one for that matter; he was one of those who were bankrolling the party at that early stage. I am also one of the founding members of the PDP, we together with Dr Alex Ekwueme formed a network in the South-East here and joined the PDP, Prof ABC Nwosu was there, Onyeabo Obi, the late Senator Emeka Echeruo and some others, but I was in the forefront with Dr Ekwueme and others. It is not only Alhaji Atiku that is being wooed, they are also talking to us, but that doesn’t mean that we will jettison the party which we are in now.

If you had listened to my comment before now I did speak with Alhaji Atiku two hours after he came back from Abeokuta to see the former President and he gave me the brief of what transpired between him and Obasanjo. So, as far as I am concerned it is a personal affair because Alhaji Atiku is entitled to go to a social visit to anybody he pleases to associate with. He did not go on that journey as the flag bearer of the AC; he was there on social grounds.

Whether that social journey is necessary or not is another kettle of fish. It is not for us to judge because our judgment could be different from his. However, he is at liberty to hold social or religious interactions with Obasanjo, but on the political level, Obasanjo cannot help anybody. Obasanjo is an expired product and cannot help him neither can he help anybody. So, if you look at it from the political angle he was just giving Obasanjo resuscitation, a face-lift for somebody who is down and out politically.

The Ahiajoku Lecture
It was a good assemblage of people this time around, the quality of people in attendance, the quality of the quest lecturer, the discussants and the government of Imo State did a very good work and we expect that it continues like this because if it continues like this, it will then become a unification platform for the Igbo and an annual ritual too, whether you are from Abia, Imo or Anambra or Ebonyi, Enugu, it will then become a place to do a sort of stock-taking by Ndigbo.

Achebe’s lecture
That lecture was more of a celebration; it was an occasion to celebrate Things Fall Apart, a novel that has broken the barrier of language, race, creed and everything. It stands on over 50 languages I am told. It is now being used in about 400 countries of the world, it is everywhere the world over and embraced by Christians and Moslems, including those who don’t believe in any religion. So, you can see that Achebe is an enigma and there is every cause for us to celebrate him and his talk was more of parabolic talks, he spoke to us in parables, idioms and these are the things that make literature tick. So, the Igbo has an adage that says Atuola omalu, omalu, atuala ofeke otinye isi na ofia; so, these are the things Achebe brought to the fore and in his conclusion he read some passages from Things Fall Apart, passages that depict that you must ask yourself questions, that you must tell your own stories, that stories abound everywhere and then capped it up by asking Onye ka ozuru? Oweru onye ozuru, meaning nobody is self-sufficient in this world, nobody has it all. So, he gave us the lecture in a parabolic manner and also celebrated with us for supporting Things Fall Apart.

Achebe’s anger over Anambra politics
Well, he is right; Anambra has been on the front-burner since 1999. As you know, the governor in 1999 was Chinweoke Mbadinuju who had a running battle with his godfathers; as it were they deserted him and he couldn’t get a second term. And probably he wanted to prove his mettle in the second term, which was not to be. I came after him and again the same conditionalities were on my way. As I battled with them, the then Federal Government supported them and we fought it because I needed to be with my people, I didn’t want to mortgage their interest for personal aggrandizement and interest, so that was why we fought the battle.

I didn’t fight the battle for myself, I fought for the liberation of everybody and the battle was so intense that even Achebe himself as a pure bred son of Anambra State and a proper Igbo man refused the national honour given to him by the Federal Government at that time. They called him, but he said no, I can’t take it from you, my home state Anambra is burning and rascals are attacking the whole place while the Federal Government was watching; so, you can see that he is a man of substance, he had cause to worry.

We fought to end dictatorship in the state and today nobody can come to talk nonsense to the rulers of the place in terms of saying that you are a godfather, you want to take money from the treasury or you impose people at will because you are the federal authorities, no, Anambra has gone beyond that stage. I am happy that God used us to do those battles and I think we have cleaned up the place.
The political gladiators for now, maybe people are pushing themselves, the tenure of the incumbent governor expires on March 17 this year and you know that nobody gets power by sitting down in his bedroom. So, people must come out to jaw-jaw, people must come out to indicate interest and show their manifestoes to the people. Probably the way it is being done is not so perfect, but it has to be done.

My consultations before accepting to run as governor
My last port of consultations will be with my people in America. Since 2006 I have been going there and staying with them and they form a large portion of my well-wishers, as well as friends and foes. So, I’m planning to go there to consult them and God’s willing my next medical appointment is around that period in March and when I finish my consultation with them around the end of March, I will come back and round up and make my decision known.

Now, the consultation is going on well. First of all, I met with the former members of my cabinet, about 80 per cent of them and I was surprised that they are quite happy even when I did not allow the stealing of government funds then. They were really happy, saying that the mission we started has not been completed. I have also consulted with politicians in my party and they all said that I should go and complete the work I have started. There are some others who are saying please come over to the PDP; we will support you 100 per cent.

Some others are saying oh, he did so well the last time, we have discovered that those monies you didn’t give to us were used for meaningful ventures. Our worries are that when you get there again you might do the same thing and we won’t have our way, so, we think because of that the ovation is loud, why don’t you now leave the stage and go for a federal position or appointment. They were talking from the bottom of their hearts. What I will do if I decide to run the second time as governor is close to my chest, there are so many problems to solve like road construction, making our schools to be good, reviving the civil service which I did the last time and paying up pensions arrears and gratuities, part of the problems that I inherited then. Some of them are still there which we are going to resolve if I decide to run, what they are doing now is just scratching on them, they are not yet running, they have done practically nothing in these directions.

I also consulted with some people who said no, no, no, we are from Anambra North Senatorial zone and this time around we think it is our turn to produce the governor; Central District has produced, Southern District had produced Mbadinuju and you are of the Central and Peter Obi is also of the Central District. When they say this I usually laugh and give them a counter argument which somebody else had even told them, I say Ukpabi Asika was from the Northern Senatorial District and he ruled and governed East Central State.

He reigned from 1967 to 1975 when the Murtala Mohammed coup took place, eight years, within which he did a lot of work even in the Northern Senatorial District with Onitsha as the Provincial headquarters then; even in Owerri, he did a lot of work in Owerri, his wife is from Owerri. So, when I reminded them of that, they will say no, it was a military regime and I say no, he was a civilian administrator. But even at that I am no longer looking at zoning when I’m talking about the right man to deliver for the people.

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