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Saturday, June 22, 2024

What Does Peter Obi Really Want? – By Obiora Aghadinuno

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Peter Obi with Senator Andy Uba
Peter Obi with Senator Andy Uba

The political tug of war going on between former governor Peter Obi

and his successor, Chief Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State

has continued to astound many observers. Coming against the backdrop

of the former governor’s assurances of non-interference when he handed

over power in March last year, the raging face-off between the two

brothers remains a curiosity to people who had hoped that finally,

Anambra had shrugged off the usual ego clashes between her leading

citizens. That this needless ego clash has continued to fester against

wise counsels and endless interventions by their mutual friends speaks

to the deeper psychological inadequacies that characterize the lives

of public servants in Nigeria.

 

In this case though, Mr. Obi seems to be the guilty party. After

wrestling power from the strong men whose sole purpose of seeking

political power was for personal enrichment and setting a record as

the first governor to successfully hand over power to his anointed

candidate, expectations were understandably high on Peter Obi. Many

people had hoped that Obi would ascend to a higher grace; that he knew

too well the cost of war to offer his successor peace. Many people had

wished that Obi’s unassuming nature and loud simplicity would dictate

his attitude to life after service. Alas, they were all wrong. It soon

became clear that Obi was only willing to relinquish the office but

not the power. The former governor has continued to act as though he

is the alternate governor of Anambra State; stage-managing public

functions for himself across the state where he is either flagging off

a project or commissioning a new one with fanfare and robust media

coverage. Obi’s recent visit to St Augustine’s Primary and Secondary

School, Nkpor is one instance that stands out as not only unwise but

needlessly provocative.

 

As was reported by Valentine Obienyem, his media aide who is

infernally drawn to intrigues, Mr. Obi has visited at least one school

a month since he left office. Obienyem, irredeemably obsequious and

always eager to go beyond his master’s brief, garnished his narrative

with misguided allusions to “costly wines and Epicurean indulgences.”

But the point here really is not about costly wines and lifestyles but

about Mr. Obi’s new found love for philanthropy, which has prompted

the rhetorical question – Is Saul also among the prophets? Seriously,

is Obi, a man famous for his tight-fist also, among the emergency

philanthropists? Okay. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that this

particular Saul is now counted among the prophets; would it be asking

for too much to suggest that this strange philanthropy be done in a

silent, if not less offensive way? How about simply making a quite

donation? Would Obi’s peculiar philanthropy amount to less if it is

not turned into a state function? If he performs it in a way that

makes it look a little less than an outright eye-ball contest with the

man he handed over power to?

 

Beside the notion that Obi is hell bent on an avoidable head-on

collision with his successor is also the sad narrative of the

infuriating cold-shoulder he has given the man that he fought to

install in office. Keen observers believe that the cold war between

the duo began immediately after handover, when Obiano began to show

unexpected confidence in his own ability. Obi had hoped that the

ex-banker would be overwhelmed by the new challenge sooner than later

and scurry back to him for guidance. When it didn’t happen, he decided

to recoil from him, shunning all invitations to public functions in

the state and avoiding open association with Obiano. But what got

people talking was that when Obiano began to garner rave reviews from

his sterling performance, Obi stood aloof and never for once said what

people had hoped he would say to re-enforce the general perception of

the man he had campaigned so intensely for. Obi’s silence and

deliberate absence from state functions to which he was always duly

invited left gaps in the new Anambra story for the public to fill with

rumours and malicious speculations. If only Obi had deigned to say one

pleasant thing about his successor, if only he had said a simple “I

told you so.”

 

If Obi’s aloofness smacked of thinly veiled witch-hunt, his dogged

campaign to drum home the fact that he handed over the sum of N75bn to

his successor was simply curious. It is indeed curious that for one

whole year, Obi and his battery of aides have turned this singular

topic into a tragic refrain. The curiosity deepens when it is realized

that at no point has Obiano raised questions about this “great”

inheritance. And from the look of things, the state does not seem in

imminent danger of bankruptcy. Salaries are not owed and other

financial obligations have not gone bad. So, why is Obi suddenly

anxious to shove this great legacy of his down our throats? Hello!

 

Be that as it may, whatever Obi has up his sleeve will show itself one

day. Whatever that may be, one however hopes that unleashing his media

aides to launch dirty calumny campaigns against Obiano as has been the

case in the past six months is not a part of it. Nor the planting of

moles in Obiano’s cabinet and living quarters to snitch on him and his

wife. That is a low down dirty scheme that should not come from a

venerated Knight. Truth be told, Val Obienyem’s “young”  English and

Stanley Chira’s (Mazi Odera) hilarious grunts on social media all in

an effort to attack Obiano who they erroneously see as Obi’s enemy,

come across as one more reason why Peter Obi may never be finally

counted among the greats.

 

Already, questions are being asked about what Obi truly wants. Another

term in office as governor? Already, there is a disquieting murmur

that Obi who had a turbulent time in his eight years as governor is

stricken with a strange malady that makes him fancy himself as the

best thing to ever happen to Anambra State, preening and grandstanding

in a hollow show of faux statesmanship. The fear is that this illness

has reached an advanced stage where Obi now sees himself as the

alternate governor of Anambra State, holding state functions with pomp

and pageantry. Fortunately, this is a bizarre psychological condition

which has yet to show itself in any other ex-governor in Nigeria

except Peter Obi.

 

Aghadinuno writes from Nsugbe

 

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