The Tragedy of Peter Obi’s Dance on Ojukwu’s Grave

By Austen Chudi Anyaeji

It will take time for the ripples of the dramatic defection of erstwhile governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi to the People's Democratic Party (PDP) to subside.

On the heels of his departure from the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), youths and the aged alike numbering hundreds thronged the thomb of the late founder of APGA and hero of Igbo struggle, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi and Ezegburugburu of Igboland in his Umudim country home in Nnewi, chanting war songs.

The maddened crowd, some dressed in rags and mourning attire dorned with palm fronds prostrated before Ikemba's thomb, and through his son, Chukwuemeka Jnr, "reported" Mr Obi to the late Ikemba. They said their mission was to evoke the great spirit of their great fallen hero, to square up with Peter for betraying him and his beloved Igbo people. Thereafter, the non-violent mob paraded major streets in Nnewi and departed, vowing never to rest till Obi's treachery is avenged by the spirit of Ikemba. A plethora of commentaries had followed Mr Obi's enigmatic move, dominating the headlines of both the print and electronic media, especially the social media.

October 17 2014 was a special day in far-away spain, where Mr Obi was slated to present a media award to the widow of late Ikemba Nnewi and Nigeria's Ambassador to that country, Her Excellency, Mrs Bianca Ojukwu. At the last minute, Mr Peter Obi was reportedly replaced as the august presenter with another Ambassador to Spain, apparently on the insistence of her Excellency to deny Peter the cheap popularity of "shining" at the occasion, in spite of his "mortal sin". In an interview later, Mrs Ojukwu described Obi as a morbid ingrate who betrayed her husband's trust in death. She described him as a "food is ready" politician only goaded by vain political gains. She disputed Peter Obi's reason of getting more involved in President Jonathan's 2015 re-election bid as false, saying that the President never had any problem with Anambra State, which had always delivered him one hundred percent, in obeisance to her late husband's directive.

Mrs Ojukwu said she is an example that one from another party can have a plum appointment without selling out. She expressed shock that up to the night before his defection, Mr Obi denied rumours of his action, and said that by his action, he is like one who sold his father's grave and burnt his patrimony.

In a swift reply, Mr Obi immodestly claimed that it is his first reaction to the cacophony of condemnations, not finding any worthy of notice. He arrogantly averred that he decided to reply Mrs Ojukwu because of his deep respect for her as the wife of his reverred leader, Ikemba Nnewi. He said he would still pursue the cause his late leader died for, from another platform, boasting that he is still the tough Peter. In a most disrespectul manner, he referred to Ikemba's declaration for the defunct National Party of Nigeria(NPN) while Great Zik of Africa was the leader of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party(NPP). He therefore concluded that with that comparism, he is free from any blame and blemish.

Above preamble calls for a little foray into the alley of history, in the interest of education of our children as Mr Obi is wont to clamour time without number.

For the avoidance of doubt, Ikemba's position to Zik is not the same as Obi's to Ikemba. Whereas Ikemba is an unquestionable benefactor of Obi, same cannot be said of Zik and Ikemba. True, Obi is a product of an average Nigerian family, but cannot in any way compare to Ikemba who was born with a "diamond" spoon in his mouth, if there is anything like that. The life story of Ikemba is household in Nigeria, but there are milestones that a politician of Obi's ilk should not feign ignorant of. Ikemba's entry into NPN was in exchange for his political freedom from asylum in Ivory Coast where he was languishing after the civil war, till the Alhaji Shagari-led NPN federal government granted him pardon.

Early in the Nigerian civil war, for reasons good for another day's discussion, Zik abandoned the Biafran cause. The Igbos felt the pain so much, and Ikemba , without the support of Zik and some other notable Igbos soldiered on to the very end. It was therefore incongruent, for any reasonable Igbo person, to expect Ikemba, to pitch camp with Zik. Being the son of Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, acclaimed first black African millionaire clearly separates his background and antecedents from those of Obi the Noveux Riche and itinerant merchant. A reputed scholar and administrator, Ikemba went against the wealthy father's wish of eldorado in his business empire and enlisted in the Nigerian army as a combatant instead of a commissioned officer, which preparation predisposed him for appointment as military governor, etc etc. He therefore shunned wealth and inherited fame, and chose to struggle and make himself, without any personal wealth ascribed to him, unlike Peter, who is quoted in stocks and bonds all over the world.

Indeed, unlike Peter, Ikemba can be considered Zik's benefactor by his father's huge jail save for Zik in the drama of the founding of the African Continental Bank(ACB) and colonial stipulation of collateral.

In 1956, the colonial administration set up the Foster-Sutton inquiry to investigate the illegal establishment of ACB, without the stipulated collateral of £2m(Two million pound sterling). Zik was in a fix, and summoned a rally of who is who in Igboland at Onitsha, where it was said he wept. Moved by this, the great Sir Louis inquired about the possible solution to the breach, which penalty was imprisonment and a cog in the wheel of the country's Independence with the great Zik out of the way.

Upon learning that the snag was the collateral, he drew his brief case, and wrote a cheque for £2m and let Zik off the hook of imprisonment and closure of the first Igbo bank, the ACB. According to an account, Sir Ojukwu, who was then the chairman of the Eastern Nigerian Palm Produce Board, was promised the chairmanship of the new bank by Zik, but for inexplicable reason did not fulfill this. Students of history, Ikemba being a reknowned historian himself did not forget this, and indeed was adduced as a strong reason for his differences with the great Zik. Ikemba's slant to the Chinese social welfarist ideology accounted for the adoption of the Magna Carta, the Ahiara Declaration by Biafra, which emphasized the State's control of the factors of production as against Zik's American Libertarianism and Laissez-Faire.

Under this magna carta, the State of Biafra seized Zik's flats Nsukka, Zik's property hired out as hostel accommodation to UNN students by university authorities. The Biafran authorities questioned the propriety of Zik building a personal property besides a public institution like the university. It is strongly believed that this was why Zik deserted Biafra. Therefore, from the foregoing, Peter Obi's case is a pure betrayal of his master, Ikemba, like Judas Iscariot and his Master, Lord Jesus...Quad Erat Demonsrtrandum. The essence of this account, is not to apportion blame, but to put the record straight. Above all, it is to put Mr Peter Obi in his rightful position, at best, as a Lilliput dancing round two dead giants.


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