I instantly fell in love with the house I got into by accident.
A house becomes a home when the host makes everyone feel at home. I had never met him in my life but in no time whatsoever he shattered all my past ideas about the impossible pomposity of Nigerian politicians. Hon. Paschal Agbodike, PhD., Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly deserves celebration as a rare breed.
How I got into Deputy Speaker Paschal Agbodike’s home in Awka, Anambra State, is a stuff fit for fiction. I was standing by the roadside, waiting for a Keke when a clean SUV suddenly pulled up in front of me. The man behind the wheel wound down the glass and asked: “My friend, where are you going to?”
The good man happens to be my new friend in Awka, Dr. Paul Ifeanyi, a respected technocrat in the trailblazing education sector of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration.
Before I could put out an answer, Dr. Ifeanyi followed up with yet another question: “Is it not to Chuka’s office that you are going?” He paused, and regarded me for a while as I entered the car.
He shook his head and said: “So you cannot walk a distance of just 200 meters? You are not well o!”
“I have too many Keke-driver friends and big men like you to carry me about town,” I said and he laughed.
The Chuka’s office he talked about is that of Sir Chuka Nnabuife, the MD/CEO of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, publishers of the newspapers National Light, Sportslight, and the only Igbo language newspaper Ka O Di Taa.
Dr. Ifeanyi had served as the chairman of the book launch committee of which I was a member when Sir Nnabuife launched his three books, namely, Homeland Catalysis – More Than Anambra Narratives, Mbize – Rage of Red Earth in Igboland, and The Nigeria Civil War (1967-1970) – Holes In Our Bubbles on Saturday, April 24.
Once inside Sir Nnabuife’s office, there was hardly time for the exchange of pleasantries when the matter on the front burner became a scheduled visit of Dr. Ifeanyi and Sir Nnabuife to Deputy Speaker Paschal Agbodike’s house.
Being not a great fan of politicians and their antics, I said I would not follow them to the house of a man who does not know of my existence. They insisted I must accompany them on the trip and I eventually agreed.
The security was remarkably relaxed when we got to the Deputy Speaker’s house. The man popularly hailed as “Mmiri Oma” was even more relaxed in his shorts, ushering us to comfy armchairs and uttering piquant Igbo proverbs.
What struck me immediately was the manner Deputy Speaker Agbodike offered his apologies, to wit, that he would have wanted to personally attend Sir Nnabuife’s book launch save that on that day he had accompanied Governor Willie Obiano with other dignitaries to the newly-built first-of-its-kind Anambra State International Passenger and Cargo Airport at Umueri.
Unlike other politicians who would always regale one and sundry with tall tales of how they were born at the very top, Agbodike said that he started out life from scratch.
A brilliant lad, he could not pursue university education after passing out of secondary school and had to make do with trading via the Igbo apprenticeship scheme.
As they say, “goldfish has no hiding place”, and thus Agbodike’s sterling qualities could not go to waste as he was steered towards university studies.
Of course, he has a doctorate degree to show for his efforts.
In the course of his life, he would not want other intelligent students to suffer the deprivations he had to go through. He helped hundreds of students to earn admission into the university, even paying their engagement charges. It was indeed impressive that he was doing all of this in Imo State. All comers from his native Ihiala local government had his listening ears and ever rendering capabilities.
It was in 2015 that he took the decision to throw his hat into the political ring. He underwent all the primaries without any godfather whatsoever, and defeated all the other aspirants despite some multiform subterfuges.
Chief Allen Onyema, the doyen of Air Peace, of whom I had written elsewhere should be made the flag carrier of Nigeria lived up to his word to support any candidate who emerged.
Paschal Agbodike was an unbeatable candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance Party (APGA) that dusted all the other political parties.
He marched on, in the footsteps of Christ, “from victory unto victory”, and today he is the highly respected Deputy Speaker of the Anambra House of Assembly.
It was cool by me having drinks in his home until Sir Nnabuife exclaimed that the scent of native soup was wafting through his nose.
Deputy Speaker Paschal Agbodike served us the delicious meals, and I told him that I would always come back here.
“Any day,” he replied, with his personable smile.