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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Uke Massacre: Who Is Anambra Mourning? – By Owen Ozue



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Peter Obi and APGA Campaign team inside the Adoration grounds, Uke
Peter Obi and APGA Campaign team inside the Adoration grounds, Uke


Governor Peter Obi is highly embattled. He has to be! On Friday he reportedly arrived impromptu at a vigil, like a thief in the night. There cannot be anything wrong with that, although Obi thinks there is. After all, that is how the Bible says the lord Jesus Christ will return to mother earth on rapture day. Mimicking that cannot be such a bad idea, but there are other issues. For the governor to move, particularly to a point where about 10,000 people are gathering together, some people must know. Some measures ought to be in place. Some records have to be kept for times like now, when tongues assume the fire of Pentecost.

Obi came with the full compliments of a campaign team. His preferred  annoitee  to replace him,Mr Willie Obiano, Chief Victor Umeh, Campaign Director General and Commissioner for Information,Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike and others all in APGA uniform. The governor claims that Rev Fr Emmanuel Obinma, Fada Ebube Monso the leader and overseer of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministries, Uke invited him to the prayers. Only Ebube Monso can confirm or debunk. But will he speak? Yes! No!!

Peter Obi waiting for the microphone - at the Adoration grounds, Uke
Peter Obi waiting for the microphone – at the Adoration grounds, Uke

Yes because he is ordained to speak the truth. Yes because he played a role in the successful service that failed as a political rally occasioned by APGA men in green, cock-bearing, uniform. Yes because he was the one that pleaded with the congregation to listen to Gov Peter Obi because ‘he is still the governor today’ .Yes because he is also vicariously liable in law for the death of over 50 persons, so far confirmed to be lying cold in three different morgues and a proper enquiry cannot spare him, until the truth does.

No because he is by nature of his training, ordination and orientation a mover of persons whose words are capable of making or marring. No because if Ebube Monso speaks now, some people’s reputation may damage for life and the damage control would have failed. No because he is responsible to an authority in the catholic institution whose attention has been drawn to the disaster that took place in the wee hours of Saturday in Uke, and who have taken over management control. In fact the Catholic Archdiocese has issued a statement that neither informs, directs, nor declares. One of those statements that could have been read by 100 persons. And why not? Tension is high. It is so high that Peter Obi has addressed two conferences, held two broadcasts and granted numerous interviews since Saturday morning when he returned from the adoration ground. Do not ask me if the stories told are these fora agree with each other. The latest broadcast contains stories that contradicted that of Saturday when Obi spoke like a warrior. Obi spoke on Channels Television: ‘When I wanted to speak some people started calling somebody’s name and I think that must be made to stop’ .What must be made to stop? Calling somebody’s name? But why would the congregation be calling somebody’s name when the governor is talking? What is the connection? Were they calling the name of Jesus Christ? Why would Obi want to stop people from calling the name of Jesus Christ? Were they calling the name of his enemy? Why would they call the name of his enemy because he wants to speak? Who does not have an enemy anyway? Where they calling the name they would guarantee hem what Obi did not guarantee them in his governance? It is possible? A spade must be a spade. They were calling the name of Senator Dr Chris Ngige. Obi confessed that much, 24 hours after his Channels Television view. But he added other accompaniments. Ngige, in truth is not a name Obi likes to hear and it is undertansadble.Ngige is a political rival.  Ngige was the one that Obi succeeded in remarkable circumstances and did not move to reconcile. It is a bad as hilding allowances that Ngige is entitled to, removing his photograph from the government House Halls,in the pretext that he was not a governor. That may be too legalistic for reality, because Obi still regards Ibrahim Babangida and attends the Council of States meeting with him. The 34 moths Ngige was in office was enough for his to give a successful sample of what he could do with power and in office.

dead bodies

For that anyone that challenged him at the time became the enemy of Anambra people to who he through handwork and sure-footed management of resources for results and destiny of trials had endeared himself. Chris Uba did not read the mood of the state well.He revelled in the ego of a power broker with presidential backing. His reputation in the state and his dwindling profile today,which many writers have described with merit as ‘the end of a kingdom’ tells the story. Obasanjo the real God father then stepped out frontally to remove Ngige in so many attempts and through many pawns and it did not work. He organised through Uba and by brute force of te Police to abduct Ngige, The coup failed.Ngige’s popularity soared and everything about Obasanjo and his followers started to fall apart in Anambra State, and with it the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which is yet to survive. Peter Obi had to resort to an alliance with Obasanjo, wto gain power through the courts,to the detriment of Ngige taken out of office before his plans committed to writing, in form of a blueprint could materialise. Today Ngige says he forgot that blueprint and wishes to return, but Obi has a different desires.

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That is the setting for the renewed rivalry; which is not bad in itself. I still prefer it to the one-party plague of Enugu and Abia States. Apologies to my friends in both states.

From then, the head of the state lay with Obi and the hearts with Ngige, fondly called Onwa (the moon) ,which radiates light in the dark his traditional title from Alor his home, many times extended to ‘Onwaaaa’. When Peter Obi said on Channels Television that he ‘will find a way to stop it’, he must be referring to the idea of taking Onwaa out of people’s hearts. He could not have been referring to surgery .When his voice rang out in Channels Television, I heard the frustrated voice of a despot who did not know how to win back the heart of the people, eight years after mounting the throne of governance as governor under controversial circumstances, even when he feels he has done some work to command popularity. Such is the true challenge of political craft. In that statement Peter Obi governance and public profile died a little. In the statement, Obi betrayed anger and negative emotions that will continue to underbelly, if not undermine subsequent speeches as it has so far done. Such is the delicate nature of words, particularly those spoken when people are angry and in foul mood. What did Peter Obi mean when he said he will stop people from calling somebody’s name? To curb their liberty? What did he mean when he said referring to an incident on Idemili soil that he ill ‘,we will have to stop this’? Beneath the speech lay the subtle, but serious threat of force. Force is what created the deaths we are saddled with now? But what force? The insinuations about Obi’s involvement in the latest Uke Disaster not only bears directly to this, it may remain indelible for longer than the governor may understand. To the people caught in between altercations of politicians, Peter Obi got angry and applied force to the people that heckled, jeered, booed and ‘waved brooms’. Obi inadvertently confirms this with his threat to find a way to stop this ‘. The depth of the threat lies in the fact that Obi has lived with the reality of people’s acclaim for Ngige, arising from the same analysis of keeping the heart of Ndi Anambra. In fact ,Obi and his aides consciously try to avoid being exhaustively in the same occasion with Ngige. They arrange to leave when he is arriving. They influence organiser to deny hi a role in the programme for fear of outshining their own master. But recently in the build-up to the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial race in which Ngige is a contestant, the hailing and acclaim has grown louder and more assertive, denoting both the approval of Ngige as the next governor by free and fair ballot, and a disapproval of Obi’s choice of a successor, who in the view of a many does not have a clue on the issue sin Anambra State. It happened in Onitsha Market. It was reported in Awka market. It happened at the burial of the mother of the Anglican Bishop of Awka in Mbaukwu and recently at the burial of the mother of the catholic Archbishop of Onitsha in Nanka.

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The recently concluded debates, organised by the Nigerian Electoral Debate Groups simply confirmed what people thought about Obiano when he could not attempt many question put across to him and actually goofed on others. He thinks he can make the Anambra oil refinery work in the first 100 days in office. The Aguleri-born APGA candidate believes, without putting a figure on his domestic revenue targets, that he is the only one qualified to raise money from foreign institutions and donors, because he is a chartered accountant and his running mate is a PhD holder who, like Obiano had to read from prepared texts during the debates. Worse still, Obiano displayed and admitted ignorance of the import of immunity clause, relative to the office of the governor that he is aspiring to be.

This is what Peter Obi himself confirms happened in Uke. ‘I was trying to speak and they were calling somebody’s name…’.And the nature of threats is that they enmesh the person in avoidable crisis. Now on a day Mr Peter Obi chose to attend the vigil at Holy Ghost Adoration for the first time, scores of worshipper are dead. The witch cried in the night and the child died in the morning. Peter Obi’s error of tact has led him in and I see him spending the next two weeks, time enough for the elections to come and go explaining his actual involvement in the avoidable disaster that has been tagged the Uke Massacre, by Anambra State citizens themselves in the belief that a political party uniform was avoidable in a prayer ground, even if the politicians were not, because they are in the season of talks and promises.

Gladly, Obi claims that  everything that happened  that fateful Friday-Saturday night in on tape and I verily believe him, knowing that since the issue here is about over fifty lives, it is serious enough for all the tapes to be in view soon. If indeed brooms were being waved from three spots in the prayer ground, and pictures of Senator Chris Ngige being displayed in a church presided over by Rev Fr Obinma, as Obi saw through the darkness of the night, these tapes will provide the visuals with which we shall share Obi’s experience.

From where I am stand, none can bring back the dead, but we owe them reverence as martyrs of our civilisation growth, and owe each other an explanation and the right to know the true story of what happened in Uke, which has not been told, if only to guide future because speculation and other spiritual connotations has taken the air, and it would not be long before we lose the facts to tension-laden rumours.

These facts should include the names and statistics of those who lost their lives. How many men? How many women? How many adults/ How many children? What is the distribution in terms of locations? Something to tell Ndi Anambra who they are mourning as they do not know? Perhaps the governor does. But we need to know, if the mourning is for Anambra State, not just a symbolic gesture targeted at numbers rather than persons. This is why I personally think that the retroactive three-day mourning declared by the governor is targeted not on the deceased and their families, but on the number, leading to another number in two weeks time- votes.

Elsewhere in the world an emergency desk will be opened, Relatives will be asked to step forward that will assist the emergency operations toeards real data, The last we checked, many were said to be missing Have they been found? Are they alive? Has the relevant data been concluded to the point where the Governor can now say that the search has closed? Is this not a necessary prelude to mourning?

But what is nore, there is no content to the so-called mourning apart from knowing who to mourn. What do you put on? What do you do? What are the things that stand the three days out from others to show that mourning is taking place? What are the things that the eye can see to show mourning? Gov.Obi seems to have offered none in his remarkably ungubernatorial broadcast.

This rhetorical mourning approach is infantile and diversionary, as I see it.

Dr Ozue writes from Nnewi ooozue@yahoo.com

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