RE: “No to Peter Obi’s Stooge” – By VALENTINE OBIENYEM
On the 25th of August, 2017, one Hon. Emma Okafor – supposedly a Member of Anambra State Legislature — wrote a back-page article in The Sun Newspaper entitled “No to Peter Obi’s Stooge”. The piece was rather suspicious particularly as, two days to its feature, media hacks attached to Awka started circulating text messages asking the people of the State to expect a “Revealing Back Page Article on Anambra State”.
On seeing the article, my first impulse was to conduct an“Integrity Check” on it. After perusing Anambra’s legislative records, I then telephoned a former Speaker, Hon. Anayo Nebe who confirmed that nobody in Anambra State House of Assembly ever bore the name “Emma Okafor”. What this means is that the name is fake, which further reinforces the tragedy of our dear State where propaganda has been elevated state business and almost a monopoly.
The summary of the article is that the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi is striving to play Godfather of Anambra State politics and is fronting Mr. Oseloka Obaze as his stooge. Having served with Oseloka Obaze under Peter Obi, I am aware he can project and hold his own superbly and does not need me to hold his brief. However, objectivity and candour demand that the warped perception of the faceless “Hon. Emma Okafor” must be rebutted firmly.
I have followed the permutations that preceded the primaries of all political parties in Anambra State and could detect extraneous plans by a particular party to ensure that strong candidates did not emerge in others. Of course, it is panicky measure by someone desirous of running the election unopposed. Rather than show-case a track record as the basis to be given another term, he and his lackeys are committing public resources to check the emergence of credible challenge.
From the onset of activities preceding the primaries of the People’s Democratic Party, Mr. Oseloka Obaze has been the sole object of inane attacks from one quarter, but through many paid fronts. The valid question here is: ‘Why only Oseloka Obaze?’ I have it on solid authority that an organization was commissioned quietly to conduct opinion poll across Anambra State, which results indicated that Oseloka Obaze – on the firm bases of his pedigree, integrity, experience and understanding of governance and administration — is the most-favoured person among the electorate of the State. Scarier to the incumbent-predators is that Mr. Oseloka Obaze worked as the Secretary to the State Government under the present administration, but resigned on the obvious grounds that the administration was not in pursuit of good governance. Indeed, to have courageously resigned from such an elevated office speaks volumes of the integrity quotient of Oseloka Obaze.
In the wake of the revealing poll, organized vitriolic attacks are being launched against Mr. Obaze. In the last three weeks alone, the Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation has been reading commentaries and/or news on him practically on a daily basis. The aim is to cast doubt on his integrity which he has in inexhaustible supply and pitch him not just against Anambra people, but also against the PDP.
As their attacks failed in succession, they changed tactics to introduce the notion that he is a stooge of Mr. Peter Obi. It is on record that since he handed over Government, Peter Obi has never visited Government House in spite of pleadings from Awka. It is on record that as I write he has not been paid his severance allowance and has neither requested nor received any patronage from the current administration. It is,therefore, both ludicrous and surprising that Awka would want to associate him with the politics of god-fatherism.
In all this, it is comforting that majority of Anambrarians have refused to be hood-winked by lies and propaganda. They still remember Peter Obi for what he did to the State even as they express the desire that his successors should replicate his attainments in reality and not on bill-boards.
Mr. Peter Obi has since moved on and is contented contributing to national and international discourse and other value-added pursuits for societal welfare. One of the credits to his Government is that he engaged the best of Anambra people to work with him; who cannot by a standard be regarded as stooges.
Oseloka Obaze did not return to Anambra because he was job-seeking. When the then Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo asked him to join his team, Obaze declined for personal reasons. That is not the stuff stooges are made of. If Obaze is inclined to being a stooge he would not have resigned from Obiano’s administration. If he was a stooge, he would not have resigned from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the General Babangida regime on principle. He could not have been a stooge and still rate as one of the closest associates of the celebrated literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe.
It took Peter Obi quite some time to convince Obaze to join his team. From personal knowledge of Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Obi saw in him admirable character. [Be assured that Peter Obi is not easily enamoured by persons or personalities]. Though he was desirous to serve the Anambra State, Mr. Obaze was exasperated by the conduct of most Nigerian politicians whose idea of service is to play chess with the commonwealth. When he eventually joined the Obi administration, he was not disappointed and neither did he disappoint in his performance.
When Oseloka Obaze left the UN in 2012, the then Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon in a personal letter [dated 26th July,2012] stated that “in your long distinguished career … you have proven yourself as a most dedicated, dependable and competent staff member. Throughout your service, you have unfailingly upheld the highest standards of efficiency, competence required of an international civil servant”. These words of appreciation were directed to someone whose credibility, value and contributions were appreciated. Who would waste such commendations on a perceived stooge?
Peter Obi did not have stooges when held the powerful office of State Governor. It is a wonder why he should need them now. In school, Oseloka Obaze was Peter Obi’s senior; and even as Governor the latter addressed the former as “Senior”.
It is known that since Obaze left government in June 2015, he has never entered any State or Local Government office in Anambra State. He does not have to. It is also known that he lives and runs a consulting firm in Awka — not in Abuja, Lagos or abroad.
The reality is that as a diplomat, Obaze is the epitome of political correctness, finesse and cordiality. His friendly inter-personal relations even with his political competitors, is unusual as it is ennobling. Does such disposition coupled with humility and genuine warmth render him a weakling or stooge?
It is assuring that the election in Anambra State will be run based on issues and not name-calling and character assassination. The State has witnessed periods of good and bad leadership, which experience has made the people of the State widely exposed and discerning to determine what and who they want. An incumbent desirous of retaining the seat must demonstrate to the electorate what he has done with their mandate in the past four years. No amount of name-calling can over-turn the verdict of good or bad performance.
Obienyem wrote from Lagos