Peter Obi: another controversial political move

By Emma Maduabuchi on

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Peter Obi

He has always exuded confidence with his bearing, which people describe as a “gentle person’s” disposition. He is said to possess the “CCC look” taken from the acronym – cool, calm and calculated, and he is soft spoken and good looking.

In his business life, he started out as a sole trader before he joined politics, and ended up as a governor. Not only that, from being a governor he now owns many businesses including a massive shopping mall in Abuja, the country’s capital; an acquired brewery in Onitsha, Anambra State; and several other businesses; as well as giving life to his previously struggling businesses.

Peter Obi, the man in question is the immediate past governor of Anambra State. He has from time to time proven himself a newsmaker of no mean repute by some actions he dared to take. Perhaps, the greatest action he has taken so far was that of last week – exiting from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) (the party he once swore never to abandon) and joining Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party at the federal government. In making the switch to PDP, Obi said he did it to work for the re-election of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.

To many people, the decision was not a surprise because few weeks before this time, his defection has been a subject of rumours and speculations in the media. For example, it was first rumoured that he would replace Stella Oduah as Nigerian Aviation Minister. Later, speculations had it that he would become the National Coordinator of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), the major political group campaigning for Jonathan. Then, came his rejection of his appointment as the national leader and chairman of Board of Trustees (BoT) of APGA, which many saw as preparatory to his exiting the party and joining the PDP. Then it happened last week, Tuesday, October 7, when he made his declaration.

Expectedly, the action has raised and continues to raise a lot of dust across the country. It has been so in the social media, in the mass media, and in other places where socio-political, economic, as well as cultural issues are raised and discussed. Expectedly also, reactions to his defection has been most pronounced among his kinsmen, Ndi-Igbo.

In the APGA camp, the mood is not easily discernible at the moment, since different sentiments have apparently been at play. For instance, in one of the existing two factions, there is on one hand a measure of taciturnity that may mean they were awe-struck or waiting to first observe unfolding events before serious comments would be made.  On the other hand, there is occasional declaration of “good riddance to bad rubbish”. This camp is under the leadership of Victor Umeh as Chairman.

From the camp of Maxi Okwu, careful enquiries showed that top members deliberately have chosen to play low profile on the matter, saying they were more focused on are coming court judgment to determine the authentic chairman of the party.

However, of note is the fact that since he took the action, Obi have been getting support from PDP members and supporters, who have been in exultant mood, extoling what they considered to be Obi’s virtues, and giving reasons why his defection had become necessary. They describe Obi as a political stalwart who has been keeping PDP from winning Anambra State governorship seat, and that his final defection now opens door for their party to capture the state.

Generally for Obi’s supporters, the move was strategic, which they said was to position him to become the long sought-after Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, which they claim President Jonathan has assured, he would make possible.

When he announced his defection, Obi had declared: “We worked together in 2011; we will do it even better this time.  What we are talking about is not the problems of APGA, it is beyond that. It is how we should stand together in unity in the South East. There is a time you need to be a competitor and not a spectator to help the team.”

But his critics were quick to remind him of several promises from Jonathan to Ndi-Igbo prior to the 2011 election that were not fulfilled. The list range from a second Niger Bridge that the president said he would go into exile if he failed to build before 2015. The bridge has not been built, and the President has not gone on exile, but is now seeking another mandate from the same people he deceived.

Added to that, Jonathan promised to repair (not build) all the federal roads in the state, but none was repaired. All the roads are still death and the only sign the federal government exists in the area are multiple police checkpoints which serve as centres of extortion of the people. They reminded him that Enugu airport was approved for upgrade as an international airport by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who started work on it, but that more than five years after that Jonathan could not deliver on it.

The above were some of the reasons cited by Obi’s critics for which they said he had no moral right to join the PDP, let alone to sell Jonathan as a candidate to Ndi-Igbo again. Obi’s critics also claimed his joining the PDP had nothing to do with leadership, either in Anambra State or in Nigeria in general, but for the good of his pocket and family alone.

They criticise him out-rightly for selfishly and for always trying to sell his actions borne out of his selfish desires as altruistic acts for the betterment of Ndi-Igbo. They equally criticize him as someone who could sacrifice anything, even his mentors and even Igbo interest to gain selfish benefits for himself. Emeka  Ojukwu Jr., son of the late Igbo icon holds this position. In a recent statement he said: “But I am particularly sad that those he mentored and set on the part to hold the light have suddenly abandoned the course” he said.

Finally some of them accuse him of doing all just to angle for political positions and recognition in PDP, of which he has been granted one already, which is to organise and cajole Ndi-Igbo in Lagos State to endorse and vote for Jonathan in the coming election.

For sure, Obi is not new to controversy and criticisms generated as a result of his actions. Indeed, he has faced more tempestuous and virulent ones in the past. For instance, what he has generated now was nothing compared to the one he generated in 2006, after the PDP strongmen in Abuja allowed him to have his governorship mandate (some people said it was under some conditions) after the then incumbent governor, Chris Ngige, refused to play ball to exterminate members of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

So, no sooner had he assumed the position that he reportedly gave a shoot at sight order of members of the group. Nigerian Police was at home with that kind of order, in fact, they are in love with it. They would run at the sound of armed robbers, but would kill any number of harmless citizens at any opportunity. This particular assignment was even better for the Policemen because many of them were not from nearby states, but from far-flunked states of the extreme North Nigeria.

So, they went to work to unleash mayhem on hapless citizens of the state. Many were killed, homes were pillaged, and women raped, all because Obi gave them the order to do so.

While this was going on, Obi proved incommunicado to leaders of APGA, even the great leader of the party itself, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Obi would not pick their calls. It was when their condemnation of his action became so strident and damaging that Obi began to deny ever giving the shoot at sight order. Even at that, at this point MASSOB has been completely uprooted and hundreds killed, especially in Onitsha, and its entire membership were in disarray were running for their lives.

For his critics, his incongruous actions, with which he made the news while in public office, were many; even though a lot of people did not take them seriously. His relationship with PDP leadership in Abuja was one of them. Another was his refusal to conduct local government election elections for eight years; refusal to appoint members of the party into position for fear of empowering them.

He also made the news headlines when he denied his party after the entire membership had labored to have him re-elected for a second term. Yet another was the handing over of his party’s structures to the PDP causing his party to fail in all senatorial seats in the last general elections of 2011.

Perhaps, to APGA membership, the most annoying action of Obi that could be ranked next to his defection to PDP was his refusal to campaign for APGA in the last general elections. He said his reason was because as vice chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and chairman of South-east Governors, it would be wrong for him to campaign in their states.

On January 19, 2013, Ndi-Igbo woke up in the morning to discover some floating bodies of young men of between 25 to 40 years old on Ezu River. An autopsy investigation was instituted and the report given to Peter Obi as governor of the state, but it is on record that he refused to release the report. It is counted as one of his sins against his people.

But Chekwas Okorie, founder of APGA who Obi and Victor Umeh  conspired to push out of APGA, the people are yet to know the kind of individual Peter Obi is. According to him, the real Peter Obi was just beginning to come out. His words: “It (his defection) now brings out an aspect of Peter Obi that has been hidden all these while from the public. This man is simply evil, that is the only way I can describe him. He was a tool in the hand of those who sponsored the problem in APGA. For eight years, this man spared no amount of money, both in propaganda and the judiciary, to snatch this political party we founded from me” he said.

 He also said of Obi: “Well, I am not surprised. Anybody who has followed my predictions about what these people are doing with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) will know that I have said time without number that Peter Obi will join the PDP the moment he finishes destroying the party, and not many took me seriously. Now I have been called to tell me that I have been vindicated, so it is something that I saw.”

 

Posted on October, 16 2014

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