Obi and Ohakim: Governors Without Godfathers

by SOC Okenwa

The shameless Nigerian political class are at it again. Reputed to derive joy in squandermania the new public office holders have begun the march again towards stunning profligacy. The present set of political office holders are showing the early signs that they are no different from those we have just bade farewell. Or how else does one justify the decision by Mrs Patricia Etteh, the Speaker of the House of Representatives to throw a birthday bash in far away America? Or her approval for the renovation of her official residence with that of her deputy for a whooping 628 million naira?!

Madam Etteh is very happy with herself and her exalted office it seems! One doubts if she understands the responsibility and importance attached to that high office. If she does then her actions and carriage since her anointing was achieved through the Obasanjo forces leaves much to be desired.

You see for almost a decade I have been travelling and living abroad those women or girls who work in the hair-dressing salon or restaurants or nite clubs and bars are the cheapest of women, they are seen as women of easy virtues! Mrs Etteh may not be a woman of easy virtue since she is an ‘honourable’ and a Speaker at that but her face somewhat betrays an unserious woman engrossed in moral debauchery.

Mrs Etteh’s antecedents (including been an accomplished hair-dresser!) may well be far from scandals but it is only charitable to say that the way she rose to become the Speaker of the House must have been a reward of hard work traceable to her capacity to ‘play well’ with those who matter in Nigerian political establishment and her seducing features. Her mother had asked critics to ‘leave her daughter alone’. Of course we shall let her be only when she shows empathy with millions of Nigerians who go to bed hungry and those who die daily from the death traps that are the federal roads. Her uprightness will let us leave her alone.

In Nigerian politics godfatherism is a hallmark of a successful politician. Etteh has her own godfather in Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president who is also David Mark’s godfather. The Senate President would not have ascended to that high position that provoked much controversy if not for Obasanjo’s intervention. Ibrahim Babangida holed up in Minna Hill-top mansion commands the godfathership of many retired general-militricians, some as senators and others governors.

Perhaps the greatest godfather operating from the western state is one and only Lamidi Adedibu who boasted the other day that the political power of Oyo State is in his dirty hands! We have a responsible powerful godfather in Kwara State in the person of Senator Olusola Saraki whose son Dr Bukola presides over executive affairs of the state. In Edo State Tony Anenih is competing for godfathership with the likes of Tom Ikimi, Samuel Ogbemudia and the Igbinedion dynasty.

Past governors are not left out as they single-handedly installed their favourite successors; we have Rivers’ Peter Odili, Delta’s James Ibori, Goodluck Jonathan’s Bayelsa and Orji Uzor Kalu’s Abia. These ex-governors more than any other altruistic purpose did this for self-preservation; they sought out people who would cover their corrupt tracks as they leave office.

In Anambra and Imo States the two gentlemen elected truly as governors are not doing badly in public opinion polls. I admire both men: Governors Ikedi Ohakim and Peter Obi. They have certain traits in common. But the most remarkable thing about them is that they are governors without godfathers! God, more than any body or force, put them in their respective states’ government houses!

While both Ohakim and Obi are God-fearing good christians their style of politics is in sharp contrast to the normal politicking in Nigeria where filthy lucre and other odd gains supercede service to the people. Governor Ohakim upon his miraculous election in April declared that God is his godfather! A praying and fasting Governor Ikedi has appointed people that will aid his realisaton of the new Imo of his dreams. He has recently launched a “Clean and Green” environmental campaign in Owerri and its environs aimed at restoring the former cleanest city in Nigeria to its past glory.

Governor Obi on the other hand is turning Anambra State around. An unfortunate state that was almost destroyed by regenage elements aided and abetted by ex-president Obasanjo Obi is gently cleaning up the Augean Stable without making noise about it all. Anambrarians like myself are applauding his leadership qualities.

Ikedi Ohakim was elected governor as a result of the Ifeanyi Araraume/PDP saga in Imo State. Using the Orji Kalu’s PPA political platform Ohakim was catapulted to power even against his expectation by the sheer providence; and he has been humble enough to admit the mighty hand of God in his victory against formidable opponents and gladiators. Ohakim could well be another Sam Mbakwe in the making.

Governor Obi has become a hero of democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria. Cheated out blindly in a gubernatorial poll he won convincingly through the APGA party in the 2003 general elections Obi sought help from the law courts and reprieve came his way after years, he claimed his stolen mandate from Chris Ngige. The same stolen mandate was again stolen from him this time through the manipulated instrumentality of the state house of assembly; he was controversially impeached but he bounced back to reclaim once again his mandate after the law courts intervened to restore order and the rule of law. Not satisfied with the fact that Ngige and the electoral robbers that rigged him out had spent much of his 4-year tenure Obi headed to the Supreme Court to have his full term restored. And he was not disappointed as the eminent Jurists saw reason with his argument.

When Governor Obi paid an unscheduled visit to the PDP-dominated Anambra State House of Assembly last week Thursday he had sought to dispel rumours of friction existing between him and the lawmakers. According to him: “As the 31st member of the Assembly, I urge you also to remember that the society we abuse today will take revenge on our children tomorrow and will even do worse to our children’s children”. That is sound statement from a sound mind!

For Peter Obi and Ikedi Ohakim, the governors without godfathers, I say may God strenghten you and guide and guard you aright. Long live the dream in Owerri and Awka!

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