This question is gaining currency on the lips of most discerning members of the public who are surprised that Obi may have inadvertently pricked the balloon of his exaggerated image of a good man and now the air has gone out with a hiss. The tragedy is that Obi will remain diminished when this foul wind blows over. This is one battle that will leave permanent scars on the former governor whom late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had hoped would take over the mantle of leadership of the Igbo from him.
The issue at stake here is Obi’s stage-managed “unimpeachable” integrity and media-induced image of a prudent man. The other issue is the sudden realization that Obi did not leave the N75bn cash legacy for his successor, Governor Willie Obiano as earlier claimed. Integrity is on the cross here!
Those who know Obi are familiar with the story of his painstaking cultivation of a puritan image which he strove over the years to build through close association to the clergy and a bemusing outward display of piety. His close associates recall that after making the tragic error of freighting the colossal sum of N250m by road to Lagos and finding himself on the scandal pages of newspapers the following day in his first term as governor, Obi had quickly realised the silent power of the media and doggedly cultivated their friendship.
In a very brief while, Obi evolved into the affectionate symbol of Nigerian editors with his toothy grin gracing the glamorous pages of most weekend newspapers. He was projected as a very wise, prudent and humble governor who led an austere, Spartan life. But his close aides knew that it was all false!
Now, observers of Obi’s recent macabre dance in Anambra State are curious about his true motive. Does he want another term in office? They query. They shudder at the fact that it was Obi who asked them to vote for Obiano. They recall that in so many of the campaign stomps that gave birth to Obiano’s victory in the gubernatorial polls, Obi had repeatedly assured the people that Obiano would perform better than he did. They are confused that Obi had chosen to abandon his protégé the moment he realised that Obiano had started fulfilling his electoral promises and living up to the assurances that Obi gave them during the campaign.
Articulating the most common question dominating the beer parlours in Onistha, Nnewi and Awka, buck-toothed Onyedika Umerah, a final year student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University asked, “does Peter Obi want a third term in office? Not in Anambra State!” he quickly answered himself. “Honestly, we are getting tired of the harassment that Obi and his boys are giving to our governor on social media.
There is no day that I visit Facebook that I do not see a nasty lie against Obiano with photo-shopped images mocking him everywhere. Are we the only ones in Nigeria who can use Facebook? Is this how the citizens of other states disgrace their governor? I blame all that on Obi. He is the one funding the attacks, yet he cannot be governor again. So, what does he really want?” Umerah fumed.
Indeed, after setting a record as the first governor to complete the constitutional two terms in office in Anambra State, it is game over for Obi.
There is absolutely no chance of Obi’s return to the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia, except as a visitor. What many people are speculating is that Obi is peeved that in less than one year, Obiano had consigned his vaunting record of achievements in the state to the margins of history with a sparkling performance. For instance, it is common knowledge that in eight years of Obi’s reign, Anambra was under the firm grip of kidnappers and armed robbers who drove most of its illustrious citizens away. But if Obi was perturbed by that scenario, he didn’t show much emotion over it or demonstrate the political will to tackle it despite carting away humongous amounts in security votes every month from the federal government.
Obi also salted away massive local government allocations that accrued to the state for eight years in an era when oil prices hit the rooftop. However, three months after Obiano, Anambra recorded its first crime-free Easter celebration and before long, the state had become a haven of peace. The belief is that Obi felt done in by Obiano’s deft handling of the state’s security nightmare and began to fret over his place in history. And that was how the fight started!
But Obi’s anxiety was misplaced. Obiano had never left anyone in doubt about his indebtedness to Obi. He has quite consistently acknowledged the immense contributions of his predecessor to the development of the state and on a few occasions appealed for a round of applause to Obi and his team.
Unfortunately, Obi misread these gestures as an exercise in tokenism and maintained his defiant stand against his anointed son. Obi’s combative resolve is dangerously reflected in the poisonous attacks hurled at Obiano and his wife by some widely known media aides of the former governor. Led by seminary school dropout, Valentine Obienyem, Obi’s media team is notorious for their uncouth approach to the media, mowing real and imagined enemies down on Facebook while holding up their master as an epitome of virtue.
Things came to a head when they circulated an immoral story on Facebook alleging that Obiano’s wife had passed on in the US. It marked the turning point in the studious silence of the Obiano’s who had suddenly woken up to realise that the scurrilous attacks on Facebook had rapidly progressed to a death-wish for Obi’s enemies.
Speaking on the perplexity of Obi’s brutal aggression against Obiano, Chief Chuma Nnabuenyi who hails from Nando in Anambra East Local government area doubted whether Obi was fully aware of the import of his actions. “He asked us to vote for Obiano. We heeded his call and voted for the man he chose for us.
Does he know that by turning against the man he chose for us, he is admitting that his political judgment was flawed? Does he know that he has admitted his own failure as a political leader? Frankly, I don’t think that Peter Obi thought his actions through. I think he is struggling with a big ego. As for me, I think that Obiano is doing very well. Obi should let him concentrate on the good job he is doing for us,” he advised.
For Okechukwu Okonkwo, a lecturer at Anambra State University, Uli, Obi’s ceaseless haranguing of Governor Obiano is rather pathetic. “I think Obi needs our sympathy really,” the Psychology lecturer submits. “What he may not have considered is the fact that he has ruined his own political capital. He asked us to vote for Obiano and we voted for him. Does he think we will follow him and vote for his candidate again in the future when he cannot manage his differences with his friends? If he hopes that once he chases Obiano out we will queue behind him to elect another governor, he must be deceiving himself. Ndi Anambra cannot be led that way. Not even Ojukwu, at the height of his power could do that,” he declared!