Peter Obi may have sealed his own fate the day he accepted the appeal court ruling which upturned the ‘election’ of Chris Nwabueze Ngige. By accepting and rejoicing over the belated ruling, he may have danced on the grave of his political future having accepted what many at the time regarded as a poisoned chalice.
He faced battles on many fronts from day one, some of which he did not start and this may have affected his ability to perform in the state. However, in asking for geduld (patience) from Anambra people, he forgot that Ndi Anambra had already reached their maximum endurance point. They had become battered and abused by the empty promises and broken dreams, they didn’t see Anambra as home for all anymore, the big masquerades had taken over and were now owners of those that own the state.
Peter Obi stepped into the giant shoes left behind by Chris Ngige; a product of destiny and a special candidate of the gods; this same Chris Ngige that Peter Obi derided every step of the way all through his brief stay at agu Awka was to later lead to his ultimate downfall.
For some people, Peter Obi behaved like the proverbial lizard who after overdosing on a meal of pounded yam and egusi soup challenged his chi to a wrestling contest. Contrary to the clean cut ‘good guy’ image which he used to charm Anambra voters in the 2003 elections, he still has not revealed the pacts that he entered into with the state’s power brokers as pre-conditions to his occupancy at the hottest political office in south eastern Nigeria. Such agreements may well not be in the magnitude of the one that Chris Ngige entered into but later reneged on but have remained subjects of media speculations.
Peter Obi is a container importer and millionaire and he doesn’t hide it, this seems to be his favourite line at every speaking engagement. He always alluded to the fact that his investments in Fidelity bank is now worth over 3 billion naira and that he wouldn’t recourse to public funds. Well, sing it to the birds now your ‘Excellency’. Maybe another song may have served you better as this one that you chose was already well worn out. Where were you expecting to recoup all your election expenses from, which probably have crossed the billion naira mark?
Politics is a game played for the highest stakes. A politician knows how and when to deploy his survival tools, some of which include communication and negotiation skills (Peter Obi lacked this and chose to neglect and deride the state’s legislators rather than reach out to them), propaganda (he said he hates it), bandwagon (he failed to ride on Chris Ngige’s road construction coat tails), political dexterity (he is more adept at financial and business matters), political bridge building (he was always a man out on a limb, at war with his party members and opposition state legislators) and finally some Machiavellian tendencies which have kept many politicians alive today.
In the end Peter Obi couldn’t save himself from the inevitable, it was always going to be difficult for him to survive in a state populated by opposition party members in the legislative chambers. Jideofor Adibe’s argument in the essay Does Peter Obi Really Deserve Our Sympathy places the Peter Obi saga into perspective. I personally do not subscribe to the sentimental argument that Anambra people would be worst off from whatever is going on at the moment. Peter Obi had the opportunity to disprove cynics but his slow start after being sworn-in reduces further any sympathy votes he may have won from Anambra people, who having not tasted development in over a decade got a feel of what that word actually means in the days of Chris Ngige.
Peter Obi knew that the odds were stacked highly against him and yet when he was appointing his state commissioners, he blew a big opportunity of introducing disunity amongst the ranks of the PDP dominated state assembly, he could have appointed a couple of them as commissioners to create the way for possible carpet crossing, he sure did not show any signs of understanding the intricacies of political survival by this daft move. He appointed his state commissioners from the academia some of whom were no longer in touch with reality. They forgot that theory and practice are miles apart from each other. While defending his choice of a mass communication professor as the commissioner for information, Peter Obi said that Professor Stella Okunna was not the type given to propaganda and gimmickry (an obvious reference to Chris Ngige), an obvious mistake considering the information battles that was to later face his administration. Since Anambra state does not yet have a basic functional website, It was always Peter Obi’s words against those of Anambra people on whether his government was passive and docile or not.
Even Anambra people that could have been his last line of defence and buffer were also in the receiving end of his snobbish behaviours. On several occasions he flaunted his wealth before them, he told them of his huge bank account balances but all that talk were not translated into tangible dividends of democracy. Stripped bare, Peter Obi probably was just all puff and no substance. How long does it really take to make a difference in a state if one is determined?
And then President Obasanjo came calling and Peter Obi the businessman turned politician placed the final nail in his political coffin, what a difference a month makes. He misunderstood the rage of the young lawmakers for youthful exuberance and forgot the Igbo adage that a neglected small pot could indeed over boil and extinguish the fire. Having previously sang the praises of his new found friends in Abuja during a meeting with Anambra indigenes in London, Peter Obi forgot that in politics, people don’t keep permanent friends, rather they maintain permanent interests. He also forgot that Obasanjo’s gifts to the state during his visit could also be likened to a Greek gift including the reported 3 billion naira that Mr President re-imbursed Anambra state for federal road projects constructed by Chris Ngige. This may have been Peter Obi’s parting gift.
As an Igbo man, Peter Obi forgot the Igbo saying that the woven basket always comes down whenever vulture eaters congregate. During Obasanjo’s visit, Peter Obi tried as much as possible to sideline the state legislators from having an audience with Mr President and took the glory for whatever little progress that was visible in the state at the time., in so doing he neglected the works of Chris Ngige and allegedly claimed credits for most of the road constructions but the state legislators had other ideas. As PDP members they still managed to convey their feelings and position to the president who must have left Anambra state with his mind made up that it was time to compensate Andy Ubah for his loyalty.
Mr Peter Obi must be living in another planet if he thought that Andy Ubah flew to Enugu airport last week in two private jets and a helicopter just to pick up the PDP gubernatorial nomination forms. The rest is now history.
Come 2007, Andy Ubah would formally take over as the governor of Anambra state baring any other surprises from the gods. The situation currently suits Chris Ngige who if he dares enter Nigeria to attempt to fulfil either his presidential dreams or the much befitting gubernatorial position may be arrested by the EFCC on trumped up charges. Were the gods to be on his side again and he survives any such scare tactics, then he may just be the spanner in the works of Andy Ubah’s gubernatorial ambitions.
On the Peter Obi saga, some Anambra indigenes have been expressing their thoughts. According to Murphy Mofunanya ‘Peter Obi deserves his fate; he claims to be a rich man, so what is he doing in politics? He should concern himself with his containers and leave politics for politicians’. Ikenna Ezenekwe, U.S based editor of nanka.org says that ‘Peter Obi forgot he was amidst a majority party that never wanted him there in the first place. And then he proceeded to make mistakes that he should not have made considering a person in his position. He forgot that a deal made with Obasanjo to aid him oust Ngige will be the same deal that will return to become his poison’.
In a pained submission, Cyril Anunobi, author of Nri Warriors of Peace says that ‘what is happening in Anambra state is really painful because Anambra State is supposed to be the ‘Home for all People’ especially for all Igbo people. Anambra cannot be a home for all people if our home is always on fire’. Continuing he says that ‘enemies of Ndigbo know that we are always at the fore front of Igbo nationality (you can call it the cradle of Igbo culture), Ojukwu, Ekwueme, Zik, Igwe Osita Agwuna, Emeka Anyoku, Chinua Achebe, Oyibo Odinammadu and many other pillars of Igbo nationality are all from Anambra State . No Other Igbo State have this many collection of Igbo Pillars. Concluding, he warns that ‘what is going on in Anambra State will never stop as long as our haters can buy our brothers and sisters and use them against us’.
Interesting times indeed and a real eye opener and politics 101 lesson for all the wannabe politicians out there.