Omehia The Soul Of Ndi-Igbo

by Odimegwu Onwumere

While a lot of people who gained financially from the leadership style of former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, are praising it as the best, many a people in the state he led for a good period of eight-years are crying foul and blue murder. While Dr. Odili was a renowned ‘Father Christmas’ to these people, the fate of the common person in Rivers State was in melancholy.

Albeit, I was unable to write about Dr. Odili when he was in power because of my tight schedule then, but I have been an ardent critic of the Ndoni-born ‘benevolent uncle’ leadership style (even though some people said his government was the government of Ndi-Igbo) because it was hard to see the transparency then without the aid of a microscope.

Dr. Odili congested Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, with all his multi-million naira projects to the detriment of the rural areas. Other close neighbours to Port Harcourt were bereft of good roads, electricity, pipe-born water, while his wife, Justice Mary Odili made noise with her Adolescent Project christened Acquisition Centre that was situated at Iriebe in Obio.

Odili indigenized Rivers State that before any non-indigene got a job from any company operated in the State he or she must pass through the eye of the needle of the host community before admittance could be given. Dr. Odili’s name sounded nice outside and inside the State as a good servant but well-meaning people of Rivers State hardly sensed his service.

Now, Sir Celestine Omehia is one of those who inherited his legacies, and as a child of destiny, he became the new governor of Rivers State.

I was with one man the other day that claimed to be a pastor. The man was saying that he was Omehia’s pastor when they met in a pilgrimage in Israel in 2006. The man sent epitaph of Omehia to the minds of his listeners saying that Omehia he knew does not belong to any secret cult. He was not only a devoted Catholic but also a Christian with exemplary features. He elated Omehia that he was the only man in the pilgrimage that took it his sole duty to go and call up perceived occult members who were hiding to come for morning devotions conducted by the Christians. “If Omehia pray for you, you will know that he is a man of God”, the self-acclaimed pastor enthused.

As that may sound sweet, but there is no similarity from one being a ‘man of God’ and a ‘man of Christ’. Did Omehia not know that the election that brought him to power was characterized by fraud and immense irregularities? Albeit, Omehia is yet to constitute his cabinet but observers know that the development in the House has importantly positioned the riverine area in the evolving political leadership in Rivers State.

While every Rivers indigene might boast of the State, there should not be any behaviour of consternation that would be meted out to the so-called “non-indigenes’ of which are Igbo majority.

Ndi-Igbo should be recognized in the new government piloted by His Excellency, Bar. Omeha. Because, Ndi-Igbo have shared bi-lateral relationship with Rivers people since the creation of the State, as a circumstance of the Nigerian-Biafran war, in 1967.

Sir Omehia should do this by appointing an Igbo commissioner. It happened in Lagos State, under the governance of Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu. I don’t think it will be new in Sir Omehia’s administration. By doing this, it will elicit the much professed amiable and affability mind of the Governor because Ndi-igbo have contributed in no little ways to the development of Rivers State.

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1 comment

Peter June 26, 2007 - 2:39 pm


I find your piece to be very appalling; not only for it intellectual shortcomings but also for the gross misrepresentation you displayed without remorse. Prior to revealing my point of view, I must indicate that I am a Rivers man (Non-Igbo), and I do not belong to any political party of group. Although I have my reservation about our political leaders, their actions and sometimes their motivations; how dare you suggest that ‘Odili indigenized Rivers State that before any non-indigene got a job from any company operating in the State he or she must pass through the eye of the needle of the host community’. The man did what is best for his people; ask the governor of your state to do the same if it irks you. Do not chastise the man for attempting to look out for his people.

Regarding the recent governorship elections; election irregularities was not only in River State. In-fact compared to other parts of the country Rivers State with or with out irregularities would still have voted Omehia into office. He had no competition and he is widely seen as a man of great values- as your rightfully recalled. I will suggest you give him the opportunity to rule the state before you start evaluating his actions or suggesting what he should do. If you wanted to fix the state you should have ran for office like he did. So until he appoints you as his political adviser, please keep your advice to your self or file it in file cabinet-13.

You want an Ibo commissioner in River State because you got one in Lagos; what else will you ask for- move and oil well to Imo state?. Please commissionership is a privilege accorded those who have been tested and have something to offer society. It is not a matter of Igbo man or non-Igbo man.

I will suggest you stay away from such advocacy if you wish to reside change the dynamics or the current state of affairs between Rivers state and Igbos



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