Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Ken Okorie, an attorney, is a member of the Editorial Board of USAfrica
A recent effort to malign the former Governor of Imo state and former deputy Speaker of the federal House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, on his recent (July 2022) visit to the U.S was deliberate mischief, not accidental.
Sadly, another reputed Mbaise name (Prof. Uzodinma Nwala) appears used for the hack job. I know Prof Nwala well, and am yet to be convinced that he actually made the purported attack on Ihedioha. Prof. Edward Oparaoji, the other vehicle for the hack, I also know, but not as well as I do Nwala. But something tells me both were unwilling vessels for this sinister mission.
First, I make clear that for reasons not necessary to discuss here, I was not at the Mbaise USA Convention in California where Ihedioha spoke. I actually have never been to any Mbaise USA event, not because I am opposed to the group, but simply that our chemistry has not yet meshed.
My reaction when I first read the claimed Nwala comment was admixture of surprise and perplexity. I instinctually had my doubts about it. Part of my puzzle was that I was among those initially asked from Nigeria to organize Ihedioha’s stop over in Houston, en route to the Convention. But something untoward intervened and the Houston arrangement was hijacked at the last minute. I still have no clue how it happened.
Whether as part of, or outside Nigeria, Nwala always wants the best for Ndigbo. His die-hard Igbocentric idealism in no measure reconciles to the unsavory comments that discredits and undermines another Igbo leader, more so one that is emerging as the singular viable and credible hope for saving Nigeria. I just don’t see it.
For his part, Ihedioha personifies genuine, effective leadership that has eluded Imo State for nearly 4 decades since Dee Sam Mbakwe. On a selfish note, the first impact of government ever felt in my part of Nigeria was under his brief moment as governor. Granted that he shared PDP ties with Tambulwal, whose campaign his questionable comments, so-called, were said to benefit, I can’t see Ihedioha being part of any thought (much less effort) to undermine or impede another Igbo. And Peter Obi, at that! To the contrary, I am inclined to believe that, like most Nigerians and PDP ties notwithstanding, Emeka Ihedioa is ‘Obidient’, because he too wants the best for Nigerians.
Besides, Tambuwal was out of the Nigerian presidential race the moment he threw his support for former vice president Atiku Abubakar. Atiku cornered the PDP ticket. Why then would Ihedioha be propping up or campaigning for a non-candidate? It is simply not logical, even less thinkable!
Here is the point: Some unseen hand actively sought to plant discord within Mbaise and broader Igbo ranks. The strategy was to use credible Mbaise sons (Nwala and Oparaoji) to malign another reputed Mbaise man (Ihedioha). In so doing, the goal is to drive a new wedge in Igbo ranks. That endeavor failed the moment it was contemplated.
But that will not be the last. Nigerians must not be distracted or deceived. The Obi factor is not a regional, ethnic, or religious matter. Not any more. Obi is a national salvation affair, perhaps Nigeria’s last hope to survive. This is the obedient message Nigerians are increasingly getting.
By contrast, what other option does Nigeria have? Few days ago in July 2022, Asiwaju Tinubu’s age was pegged at 87 years. What future can Nigeria find in a man about whose every element of personal identity (name, age, place of birth, schools attended, degrees achieved, etc.) is all shrouded in speculation and uncertainty, that pales in comparison only to larger questions about the source of his wealth?
Besides there is the added age validator of the unusualness of a non-octogenarian peeing on himself, except for rare incontinence. That is option one. At the other end of the spectrum is a former No. 2 Man, whose former boss cannot even trust to be found with in a dark alley! Nigeria’s in 2023 is Hobson’s choice if national survival is a goal.
Such is the reality, the truth that is driving the obedience that has arrested most Nigerians, especially the youth. It is a political baptism rank captured when Obi offered that he would move to any part of Nigeria (North or South) that has light, jobs, infrastructure, and security. The undiluted, indisputable lesson is that Buhari’s dual symbol of a Fulanization/Islamization agenda is equal opportunity disaster for all Nigerians. All have starved and suffered alike under APC and PDP, and the hopes and desires of Nigerians can no longer be distinguished by ethnicity, language, or religion. Those were selfish tools of the political rank now made obsolete by a new awakening. That’s that makes Obi a national salvation affair.