This viewpoint is a rejoinder to the article entitled “Anwuka’s ministerial nomination” which appeared on page 14 of the new Telegraph newspaper edition of (today) Tuesday, October 20, 2015. In that article which intention is to stop the senate from giving Professor Anwuka a nod for ministerial appointment, the writer said among other things that :”Professor Anthony Chigozie Anwuka is no doubt academically sound, having risen to the apogee of his profession as a university teacher and making a mark as a vice chancellor of Imo State university Owerri having lectured in the school for several years, stretching to its earlier location at Uturu.” Furthermore, he went on to say:”…However. If we are talking about honesty in service, transparency and even political propriety, then the Nigerian Senate must be stopped from confirming Professor Anwuka as a Minister. However, it may be important to remind the senators of the Federal Republic and President Muhammadu Buhari that if what a Government gazetted White Paper on Imo State university, Owerri contains about Professor Anwukah is to be taken seriously, then he is not supposed to come close to any public office in his lifetime, talk less of making the hallowed cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is said to be keen on getting angels as ministers.”
There are series of similar reports against Professor Anwuka in the new media: face book, email, short messaging service(sms) and related platforms. It appears there is a group that is bent on denying Anwuka the benefit of a ministerial job. Aside the NO 1 reason of the indictment in the IMSU White Paper Report, other reasons given for opposing Anwuka’s ministerial nomination include:
(2)Professor Anwuka hails from Orlu zone- the same zone with the Governor Okorocha. In their opinion, this coincidence of belonging to the same Imo West senatorial zone(Orlu zone) with Governor Okorocha has disqualified Professor Anwuka or any Orlu person from holding any ministerial or federal appointment as long as Owelle Okorocha is governor.
(3)Professor Anthony Anwuka is an inlaw to Governor Okorocha. I want to address the above points one on one:
(1)Indictment re- IMSU Visitation Report: While it may be true that Professor Anwuka and several others were indicted in that report, I make haste to state that I am in possession of a memo from the Imo State Government in which the Vice Chancellor of Imo State University(IMSU) was directed “to recall all the affected staff immediately on the proviso that:
(a) The White Paper that suspended their services to the university did not follow the due process as detailed in the university law;
(b)That all the staff to be recalled must present evidence of the withdrawal of the court action against the university;
(c)When the new Council is constituted, the management should present the matter to Council to take the needed and appropriate action in line with the university law.
Government is mindful that all staff matters must first come under the purview of a properly constituted Council and Government need not and should not usurp the responsibilities of Council.” This memo was dated 2nd December, 2011 ref SGI/S.0928/11/X.
It is my opinion that with this waiver from the government, it is unfair to state that Professor Anwuka stands disqualified to” come close to any public office in his lifetime, talk less of making the hallowed cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari…” This appears to be an overstatement.
I am also aware that a High Court Judge once described indictment as mere accusation for which a person cannot be deprived of his inalienable rights to participate in the rights and obligations in the society. I can vividly recall the case of Governor Theodore Orji VS Onyema Ugochukwu in the Governorship petition of 2007 where Chief Theodore Orji was said to have been indicted of wrong doings and therefore could not be governor of Abia State. In the trial proper, the Honourable Judge of the Tribunal said something to the effect that only a court of competent jurisdiction has the powers to state that a person is corrupt and therefore cannot hold any political office. It was at this point that the Judge said that “indictment is mere accusation until one is prosecuted in the court to face the consequences.” There are several decided cases to affirm this position. In the case of Professor Anwuka, the same government that set up the Visitation Panel also set aside the recommendations of the White Paper. Since I am not a lawyer, I may not be in a position to make a statement of finality on this issue. However, as a media professional, my personal grouse against anybody should not be carried to a level of absurdity. Above all, Journalism thrives on the age-old maxim:” facts are sacred, comments free.”
(2) Professor Anwuka hails from Orlu zone- the same zone with the Governor Okorocha. This reason is very hollow and watery. What matters is what the Constitution says on any issue and not what moral or ethical standards say. It is nebulous and laughable to say that one should be disqualified from holding public office on the grounds that one’s father is holding a top political office in the land. Forget a mere distant relationship of an in-law. We must draw a distinction between moral justice and legal justice. Perhaps, I may draw attention to what happened in the United States during the tenure of the former United States President, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy(JFK). The Attorney-General of the United States at the time, Robert F. Kennedy, was the younger brother to President J.F Kennedy. So, while J.F Kennedy was the President of the United States, the Attorney –General of U.S. was his younger brother. He later became a senator. The United States citizens did not kick against that, even though theirs is a model of democracy .How about that?
How Chief Ikedi Ohakim Killed Zoning: There is a need to draw attention to the fact that it was the then governor ,Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who killed and sang the nunc dimitis (a.k.a R.I.P) of zoning in Imo State. While delivering his inaugural speech to Imo People on the 4th June, 2007,Governor Ikedi Ohakim said:”Zones and zoning will disappear except as a means of electing senators to office and achieving a geographic spread in both the things we do and the things we share. Preoccupation with where people come from is a disease that afflicts little minds. Henceforth, we will see Imo State as one people with a common destiny- ((Statesman newspaper edition of Thursday, June 7th, 2007:13). Under Governor Ohakim’s rule, Orlu zone was used as a human guinea pig to actualize this death of zoning as encapsulated in his aforementioned inaugural address. It was under his watch that Okigwe zone produced a minister of the federal republic and a state governor simultaneously, even when Orlu zone did not have anything. In the tenure of Chief Ikedi Ohakim(May 29th, 2007-May 29th,2011,there was a period when Orlu zone did not have Federal Minister, governor or Deputy Governor. While DR. Ikedi Ohakim from Imo North(a.k.a Okigwe zone) was the governor, DR. Ada Okwuonu from Owerri zone was Deputy Governor while the Federal Minister for Imo State, Engineer Charles Ugwu, was from Okigwe zone(Ohakim’s zone).He was Minister of Commerce. As if this was not enough, ChiefChuka Odom from Ikeduru was also Minister for Housing or so. Orlu zone was left with nothing; yet they (NDI ORLU zone) did not complain. After about two years or so, there was a cabinet reshuffle by the President in which Engineer Charles Ugwu was dropped. It was at this point, that DR. Achike Udenwa was appointed Federal Minister of Commerce. This was after a heated debate on why Chief Achike Udenwa should not be confirmed for the job. However, he used his contacts and humility to overwhelm his assailants.
Shortly after DR. Achike Udenwa’s appointment as Minister, the then Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who hails from Okigwe zone led a 100 –man delegation to ASO ROCK to demand that DR. Achike Udenwa be sacked as federal minister. The President heeded their demand and Chief Achike Udenwa was sacked while Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho was appointed Minister. Captain Iheanacho hails from Owerri North Local Government Area in Owerri zone. Once again, Orlu zone was shut out as the governor, the deputy governor and Federal Minister were all from Owerri and Okigwe zones. In spite of this barefaced dichotomy against the Orlu zone, ORLU ZONE accepted their fate with philosophical calmness and equanimity. The other zones said that Orlu zone did not have a fit and qualified person to be Minister. In fact, one Law Firm of Barrister Emeka Akabogu issued a press release to insist that the ministerial slot should go to Owerri zone. It did not matter that Okigwe already had the governorship while Owerri zone had the Deputy Governorship. Please read ThisDay newspaper of December 3rd, 2009:75. It is this sort of shenanigans that culminated in the voting pattern of the electorate in the 2011 governorship poll. A cross section of the electorate did not like the way the then government treated Chief Achike Udenwa with contempt and disdain. They reflected this anger in their voting pattern. This voting pattern would have culminated in the victory of the PDP in the 2015 governorship poll but for the fact that the people of Owerri zone were not willing to produce governor. They sabotaged their son who was ahead in the poll and preferred to maintain the status quo. It is a shame that a people who sabotaged the governorship agenda of their son in the 2015 poll are desperately doing everything to produce a mere noise maker(Minister) in Buhari’s cabinet. It’s a case of penny wise, pound foolish. The full story of how Owerri zone and top members of a political party in Imo State sabotaged their own governorship agenda in the last poll will be elaborated after the Supreme Court judgment in the Governorship election petition suit. The last has not been heard on the poll and one should talk with caution and restraint.
I wish to state that I do not benefit in any way from whatever happens to Professor Anwuka’s ministerial bid. As a person from Orlu zone, I have my own grouse against both governor Okorocha and Professor Anwuka. But at a time when others are looking at issues from only the political binoculars, it is our task as media professionals to show the mirror so that posterity and political hagiographers are not hoodwinked. Journalism is history in a hurry. Although this analysis may be a mere academic exercise, there was a need to draw attention to a similar period in the past which makes the agitations of today a de javu. On a serious note, the strident protests and agitations against Professor Anwuka’s nomination is a food for thought to both the state governor and Professor Anwuka. Why has Owelle Okorocha who became governor on the crest of people power and popularity in 2011 become so unpopular to the extent that his every move is stigmatized and condemned by the electorate? Yes, in the U.S.A, Robert Kennedy was Attorney General of the U.S while his elder brother, JFK, was President. But have we developed to that level of sophistication in our own political milieu in Imo state or Nigeria? One would have expected Governor Okorocha who was once a member of the Federal Character Commission to reflect federal character in his political appointments. But, it rankles that there is a consensus that Governor Okorocha is running a government of the so-called FAMILITOCRACY in Imo State.
It is pertinent to state that when the name of the Board Room Czar and super technocrat , Festus Odimegwu, was mentioned for the ministerial slot, there was a tumultuous applause in the nooks and crannies of the three senatorial zones. From the bucolic countryside in the far-flung hamlets in Imo State, there was dancing and celebration of Festus Odimegwu even when it was mere rumour that he was in the list. But all that changed ,the moment the name of Professor Anthony Anwuka was mentioned- there was panic and pandemonium as people swore that the agenda would never succeed. Professor Anwuka who served as Secretary to Imo State Government in Governor Okorocha’s first tenure is an in-law to Governor Okorocha. In this second tenure, he has been nominated for Minister by Governor Okorocha. As for me, I do not give a damn about whether Professor Anwuka becomes minister or not because , in the first place, Buhari has already said that the ministers are mere noise makers. It was Governor Okorocha who introduced the philosophy of OHASHIERISM in Imo State. According to him the concept means that if an individual cooks(SHIE) for the public(oha), they(the oha) will consume all the food and ask for more but if the public cooks for an individual, such an individual is in a very big trouble. It is my opinion that since Governor Okorocha has not breached any constitution by practicing the so-called Familitocracy, why can’t we turn a blind eye to whatever he does with his party man, President Buhari, and see how he can overwhelm the OHA in this season of OHASIERISM , angst and anomie. Since his traducers say that Professor Anwuka is eminently qualified for the job of minister, why not allow him and turn a page to more serious issues. I thought that after sidelining Ndigbo in his first set of political appointments, there was a need for Ndigbo to turn a blind eye to whatever Buhari and Governor Okorocha are doing with their mandate, after all, this moment shall pass. Of what relevance is a federal minister in a country where out of about 40 political appointments, the South East was not considered for one slot. Furthermore, the President, Vice President, President of senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives(HoR),all Heads of the military-Service Chiefs-,Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC),Customs Service, Immigration, Prisons, Chief Justice of the federation, President of the Court of Appeal, Directorate of Security Services(DSS), Inspector General of Police(IGP) are all from outside Igbo land, it is an embarrassment to me that my people should allow a meaningless and useless position of who becomes a Buhari noise maker(minister) to tear them to shreds. It is my advice that we should exhibit caution and moderation at a time like this. I want to emphasize that the Igbo man is a eagle in a brood of fowls and vultures. Eagles don’t flock. In the fullness of time, we must take our deserved position in the scheme of things. Consequent upon the points listed above, the office of a federal minister is not worth fighting for. It should be left for Governor Okorocha to deal with in the way he deems fit. The ministerial office, by my reckoning, is of nuisance value to the Igbo .
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