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FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS

By PRINCE OLIVER OKPALA
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There is a development which is giving concern in the states in the present democratic dispensation. It is the way some Governors exercise their powers and abuse them with reckless abandon, and sometimes infringe on the fundamental human rights of those whom they took Oath to govern.

It goes without saying that a Governor, nay any political office holder, is not a task-master with the citizenry as slaves, or servants. In point of fact, it is the Governor who is the servant, the person chosen by the people through the instrument and machinery of the ballot box to work for them and to be at the helm of affairs to take charge of and control the affairs of Government and Governance.

Some Governors are yet to come to terms with the reality of this servant-leader role cast upon them, as some Governors are filled with sheer arrogance and even contempt and disdain for the people who elected them into office in the first place.

This is a reprehensible conduct which is anti-ethical to our dear nascent democracy. Perhaps, on account of the prolonged period of military incursion into governance in the country, a lot of people are yet to come to terms with the reality of our democracy with the constitution as the grand norm and supreme law.

Take, for instance, a recent development in Anambra State where Governor Peter Obi threatened to sanction some Traditional Rulers from the State for honouring a wedding invitation from one of the sons of the State in Lagos. A top flight businessman and a Golden player in the downstream sector of the Nigerian Oil Industry, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, who also hails from Anambra State, who extended an invitation to some Traditional Rulers, Presidents-General of Town Unions and other opinion leaders and stakeholders from the State to his younger sister's wedding in Lagos.

The business icon, as is customary in Igboland, hosted his guest in Lagos and conducted them round his office, business places and facilities in Lagos. Thereafter, he gave them customary Kola in form of money for honouring his invitation. For this, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State became infuriated. He quickly put together a seminar during which he threatened to sanction the Traditional Rulers who made the trip to Lagos at the behest of Dr. Ubah. He also asked them to return the sum of three thousand dollars each, allegedly given to them by Dr. Ubah.

Governor Obi was not yet done. He upbraided the Traditional Rulers for daring to travel out of the State without approval from him or his Special Adviser on Chieftaincy Matters. It is said that wonders shall never end. It is impressible to lay hands on any law which makes it mandatory or compulsory that Governor Peter Obi must be notified before hand for a Traditional Ruler to travel outside Anambra State.

The suggestion by the Governor is most indefensible and untenable. It creates a negative and disgusting impression that the Traditional rulers are servants or errand boys. Governor's Obi's hypothesis is, to say the least, absolutely demeaning to the institution of Traditional Rulership in Igbo Land. This is the first time in Igboland that a Governor would demand that a Traditional Ruler will not leave the State unless the Governor is put in the know about the trip.

Governor Obi attempted to justify his position by stating that he could not travel out of Nigeria without the knowledge of the President. Now, the two scenarios are wholly and totally different. Obi does not seek the consent of the President before traveling out of Anambra State to another State. In the same manner, a Traditional Ruler from Anambra State need not put Obi in the know that he is going to Lagos. For the avoidance of doubt, Obi did not select or appoint them as Traditional Rulers.

A Traditional ruler is not a Civil Servant who cannot leave his work without authorization or excuse. A Traditional Ruler is the Custodian of the Culture, Tradition and Custom of the people. He represents his Community. He is the embodiment of his people and their Culture and Custom. To subject such a person to some inexplicable bureaucratic practice is to demean him, his status, his people and what he stands for. In fact, it is an abomination in Igboland for any person, no matter his position in Government or other affairs, to surmise or suggest that a Traditional Ruler, Obi or Igwe must bow or knee-tow to him before traveling out of Anambra State.

Above all, it is a clear breach of the fundamental right of such natural ruler to freedom of movement and association to ask him to seek the leave of the Governor before traveling outside Anambra State. Governor Obi insinuates that this is necessary so that whatever happens to the rulers would be known to him. Clearly, this is a cosmetic excuse.

The Traditional Rulers are not under Governor Obi. They are not his Appointees or Staff or Aide. Obi rightly observed that the Traditional Rulers are Primes Inter Pares among their subjects and the veritable custodians of the custom of their people. He also opined that their people look up to them for inspiration, guidance and direction. If Obi truly made these observation from his heart of hearts, how would he have seen the futility of his directive which is akin to an instruction from a master to his servant.

The frivolity and Mischief implicit in Governor Obi's reaction to the Traditional Rulers' trip to Lagos came to a head when he asked the Traditional Rulers to return the money which they received from Dr. Ubah. He also promised to provide SUV vehicles to the Traditional Rulers very soon.

There is no need denying the fact that this is an absolute descent from the sublime to the ridiculous. It shows the abysmal level and depth to which governance has fallen in Anambra State. It is strange that a Governor should lose sleep over a social visit by the Igwes to Lagos. Obi's reaction to the trip smacks of psychological defeatism. It paints Obi as a man who is unserious. Yet, this is the stuff the man who calls the shots in Anambra State is made of. It is a sad commentary on the way things are done in Anambra State that a Governor should abandon his constitutional responsibilities to fret over frivolities.

This is perhaps why Anambra State has been lagging behind in the committee of progressive South Eastern States. There is general lack of faith and confidence in the Government. Unemployment is at an all time high. Road projects are poorly executed. There are no infrastructural facilities in the State. The whole social system in the States has collapsed. Infrastructures are in decadent shapes. Education is at its lowest ebb. There is no instrument/material in schools.

The heavy weather being made of hand-over of schools to the missions is all sound and fury signifying nothing. Salaries are not paid as and when due, and when paid at all, Government gloats as if it is an achievement and not a statutory responsibility. Government hospitals are nothing short of consulting clinics as there is death in virtually everything needed in a standard hospital. Morale is low and the citizenry are crest fallen.

Yet, these ominous signs of failure of Governance and Government do not bother Mr. Obi. He is busy playing politics with any issue at all to the detriment of the good people of Anambra State. Not even Nero who was fiddling whilst Rome was at flame could be compared to Peter Obi. Obi's case is worse as he has achieved nothing in Anambra State except poverty, penury, misery and wanton deprivation.

The SUVs promised by Mr. Obi is a Greek gift. Of course, it should be rejected outright. It is curious that Obi wants to give the cars to the Traditional Rulers free of any cost at the twilight of his tenure. Why did he not give them the cars before now? Is Obi afraid of anything? Why did it take time until the Traditional Rulers went to Lagos for Obi to remember the SUVs?

There is something inherently and intrinsically, wrong and boy-fling with the unfolding developments. It shows Governor Obi as being psychologically week, and even lacking in self-confidence and direction. It all boils down to inferiority complex. The proposed Car Gift has a Political Undertone.

It is too late in the day for Mr. Obi to make amends. He has failed. The Government of Anambra State is totalizing and it is at the edge of the precipice and a blind alley. There is nothing to write home about Obi's near eight years Governance. It is a period that has brought great misery to Anambrarians. It has been years eaten by the locust. It has been years of waste, decadence, inefficiency, bungling, drifting and incompetence. Obi's Government is like a drowning man which is seeking desperately to catch and clutch at a straw. Unfortunately, it is too late in the day. The people of Anambra know infinitely well that Obi's government is a cataclysmic failure. It is a Government which is founded and sustained on nepotism, profligacy, wrong priorities and poverty of ideas.

Obi should leave the Traditional Rulers alone. He should continue to wallow in the mess he created until he leaves office, Obi's Government as it has made a wholesome mess of the hope, aspiration and collective will of the good people of Anambra State.

Obi should now think twice and ask himself why is it that he has virtually fallen out with anybody that matter in Anambra State, Traditional Rulers, The Assembly Members, The Judiciary, The Leadership of his Party, The Clergy, Stake-holders and Opinion Moulders in Anambra State.


By
Prince Oliver Okpala
Political Analyst

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of PRINCE OLIVER OKPALA and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."