Very few articles have gladdened my heart in recent times as much as the recent one in the mass by Fredrick Ibeneme advising the immediate past Anambra State governor, Sir (Chief) Peter Gregory Obi, to reconsider his current relationship with the people and government of Anambra State and reconcile with them. All Catholic bishops have called him to a meeting at least once in Awka, the state capital, where he was advised to reconcile with the state. But as Ibeneme stated, sycophants who are benefitting from the gratuitous attacks have been leading him by the nose. The danger is that the former governor who performed more creditably than many governors of his time may end up blowing the mystique around him as a leader.
The war with the state is absolutely unnecessary and, therefore, unpopular. It has taken a kind of desperation which is just vulgar. As the author of the article advising Mr Obi to turn the corner has noted, the indecent articles by Obi’s media team against happily married women who are respected professionals on their own and whose only offence is that they accepted to serve their state is too low. It is what lawyers call infra dig,that is, something belittling because it is below acceptable standards or decorum. The former governor himself will certainly not take it if people viciously attack the moral integrity of his own wife in the media. No person will.
When the Republicans at the beginning of the Barack Obama presidential campaign in 2008 descended on his wife in the hopes that Michelle was fair game, Obama said that he did not mind being the butt of all manner of attacks, but he would not stand any person attacking his wife. The ever cool, calm Obama screamed publicly: “Lay off my wife!” Recently when Ekiti State governor Ayo Fayoshe stepped up his criticism against the President Muhammadu Buhari government by accusing the president’s wife, Aisha, of being corrupt, the First Lady, obviously with the full backing of the husband, came out, smoking. Fayoshe’s personal accounts have now been frozen, as they have become the target of meticulous investigations. Fayoshe’s may have overstretched his luck.
Ex governor Obi of Anambra State may deny instructing his media team members like Stan Chira from Awka Etiti in Idemili Local Government Area who goes by the pen name of Oderaigbo of writing indecent and forged things about female political appointees in Anambra State, but it would seem that there is no person to believe him. Writing salacious things about perceived opponents of the former governor by his media team has always been his operational style. When Honourable Uche Ekwunife was running for governor, Obi’s team used to deride her in the media, especially the social media, as a “harlot”, “prostitute”, “public latrine”, “cheap whore”. They never cared that this was a happily married woman.
The head of the team, Valentine Obienye, personally did something nastier. He took a photograph of a highly respected professor and newspaper columnist from the state, who was critical of Obi’s behaviour, and the photograph of an online publisher based in the United States and put together in a poster claiming maliciously that the two persons were homosexual partners. He distributed the poster in streets in the state capital. The supreme irony is that Mr Obienye is an ex seminarian who is reputed to attend morning mass daily with ex governor Obi, himself a knight of the church! As the Holy Writ tells us, God is not a human being who can be deceived or mocked (Galatians 6:7). Jesus Christ, while on earth, was more critical of the Pharisees than any other group because of their hypocrisy. The Pharisees were religious but their conduct left much to be desired. Jesus called them “you brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7), using strong language which is not typically associated with him. As the Bible declares in James 2: 14 : about hypocrites:“Faith without good work is dead”.
From the look of things, ex governor Obi hopes to continue to rely on Catholic priests in the state to remain politically relevant. True, the leadership of the Catholic Church has helped him in his political career. His sister is a nun. But is the church likely to continue to associate with him if he goes ahead to besmirch the moral integrity of married public officers who are themselves ardent Catholics? Is it acceptable for Obi and his media team to threaten the marriages of these Catholics all in the names of politics? Is this the kind of social behavior which the church promotes through its famous social teachings? I am sure that priests in Anambra State have not forgotten the scandal of perception which they are taught in major seminaries. Truth be told, the support which some priests openly gave Obi in past elections lowered the esteem of the Catholic Church in some quarters and even divided it down the middle in some places. The deep wounds it created have not been healed completely. Besides, church involvement in politics is a gross violation of the order from the Vatican.
At this point, one may ask: what exactly is the primary motive of our former governor and his media team which has led them to scandalize married women in the Anambra State government and politics? It all has to do with Obi’s all-out war against his successor for unknown reasons. The disagreement is not likely to be over performance because the fight began less than a month after his successor took over. What is more, the present governor’s record is sterling, as everyone testifies. It is not really prudent, in my opinion, to fight a government which is delivering the goods effectively.
As Ibeneme has noted in his article, Obi is vulnerable in this fight which appears totally gratuitous. He is no longer a governor, and so does not enjoy constitutional immunity any more. His own vulnerabilities are many. President Buhari is the last person to come to his rescue.
Chief Nwankwo is a lawyer in Awka, Anambra State.