Message To The Dogs & Baboons
In my last year in higher institution between 2009 and 2010, I had chance to seek election into the Students' Union Government. My initial aspiration was to be President of the union but when it became clear to me that an unwritten pact existed that reserved that post for indigenes (not all) of Abia State I was constrained to aspire for the position of finance director which was usually a contest between the department of Accounting & the Banking and Finance department.
I emerged youngest of all contenders; my main rivals were my class mate and Malaysia returnee Paul Nwamgbe (whom I understand had just been schemed out of the contest for the post of Member, Imo State House of Assembly representing Ngor Okpala State Constituency), Ikechukwu Iroha; a staunch online supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan (at some point after elections had been won and lost, Ikechuwku and I lived in the same room as mates) and Raymond Ikechukwu Obimba; a slightly knowledgeable and articulate student of the Banking and Finance department whom I also understand was banking on the “Ngwa Son of The Soil” Joker as well as his restricted access to Sen. (Dr). Enyinna Harcourt Abaribe (I doubt if any relationship actually existed).
As the race progressed, I was notified that a senior research fellow in the department of Public Administration had requested my presence in his office. When I arrived; I was informed Ikechukwu Iroha had opted out of the race, preferring to test his strength in the contest for Director of Welfare (he would later loose by one vote). In that meeting, I was persuaded to step aside for my classmate (Paul Nwamgbe) on account of his age, disposition, experience and some other factors (I shall not disclose).
To my own surprise, I boldly announced to the gathering that I would rather contest and loose than trade that ticket (which I was so sure I would win) with a weaker candidate. My jokers were my mass appeal among Lagos Based students led by Hugo Ukoh and the O'odua Students Movement group led by Sesan Fagbenja. I also banked on my classmates whom I knew were more comfortable with me than other candidates and female students whom I knew would deliver bulk votes to me. Besides these factors, I was financially balanced courtesy of Ibadan born Alhaji Bola Teslim Ojewole, Odogbolu born Engr. Onakayode Onayemi (Baba Ijebu) and my biological mother who were my major financiers hence I had enough funds to commit to that project.
A member of the security team of my campus had warned that the subtle support I received from the most notorious cult groups on campus may undermine me but he didn't know the cultists actually thought I was a sibling of Albert Abayomi Ajayi (a former President of the Joint Campus Christian Fellowship). I happened to have lived with Albert in my first year while he was in his last year. While in office, he was getting imprest from the state government to operate and most leaders of the existing cult groups were his classmates.
Once they figured he has received subvention for the month, they'd sneak to our quarters at night tabling their financial woes before him and also seeking one form of favor or the other from him. It was during these visits that they met me. Albert would always refer to me as his kid brother in their presence since we both speak Yoruba. By the time he graduated, they all had believed I was indeed the kid brother of the JCCF (a campus equivalent of the Christian Association of Nigeria) president.
They took is as a task to protect me and ensure I never got intimidated by their rivals. The dummy sold faster than planned and when they heard I was seeking elections, they offered to secure both I and my votes at no charge whatsoever; they considered it a favor to “Pastor”. It was on account of this that I wielded enough influence among them to make most students think I was a ranking member of a cult.
As the meeting progressed, I maintained stiff resistance to pressures until I was assured that if I stepped aside, a post will be delivered to me in the Senate (Students' Representative Council) and my nomination and campaign for that post will be bankrolled by those who needed me to step aside. All I needed to do was accept the offer. I eventually agreed. While I went on to emerge Senator, my classmate got screened out under controversial circumstances and was never chanced to meet his only rival on the field. Elections were conducted, won and lost. The entire government was inaugurated and we set out to work. As it turned out, I lost an in-house election for the post of a principal officer of the Senate and was upset. As pay back to those that undermined me in parliament, I sought solace in the opposition in the Senate and the leadership of the executive (becoming very good friends with Edwin Chibuzor Agharandu; SUG President and other members of his team at the executive). They relied on me to pull their requests in parliament and I did not fail. As a result of this I was often referred to as EXECUTIVE LEGISLATOR by my colleagues in the Senate where I chaired the Finance Committee, was secretary of the Committee on Judiciary and was a member of the Committee on Environment. Along the line issues rose.
When we took over government, the entire school had 2 vehicles in its fleet. A Toyota Lite Ace Bus and a Coaster donated by Governor Theodore Orji and his predecessor; Forbes Billionaire Orji Uzor Kalu. These buses were always under maintenance; there was never a month that passed that a minimum of N50,000.00K wasn't spent fixing a part of it. It was pathetic and the school management was never willing to assist. Technically, we didn't have any vehicle to rely on. Since I enjoyed cordial relationship with “management”, I took up the matter with a member of the academic board who bluntly insisted we will not get support from management. He further assured me that they will frustrate any move by us to persuade the government, any politician or prominent money bag in Nigeria to donate vehicles to us.
He would later explain that the student's leaders have proven to be deceitful and dishonest in managing assets. He confirmed to me that on several occasions, our school buses had been caught on camera in motor parks loading passengers from Umuahia to Calabar as well as Onitsha to Benin. On some occasions, our buses had been seen hauling farm produces from Ikot Ekpene to Calabar or from Isiala Ngwa to Enugu.
He then asked me to confirm if I had ever seen the said buses on the highway conveying students to or from an event. When I answered to the negative he finally asked “For whom then were the buses meant;” the entire students or a few strong members of the union who have been identified as people benefitting from the undue commercialization of the buses?” The funds realized from these activities were never remitted to the unions' account.
As time went on, I persuaded that senior staff to appeal to the management to at least allow my government obtain buses because the president had confided in me that one of the legacies he planned to bequeath to his successor is a fleet of brand new buses. Management approval came but with a condition which was to the effect that the management of the fleet will be the preserve of the office of the Chairman, Governing Council.
At that time, that council was headed by exceptionally handsome and classy Abiriba born Sir Mba Ukariwo who is known to have huge business interests in Benin Republic, Gambia, Cameroon and the Central Africa Republic. I thought the deal was fair and agreed on behalf of the government. When this development leaked, members of the cabal who were waiting for me to obtain the approval so they could hijack the new fleet screamed blue murder; they sold the school a dummy that I had sold out and should be seen as a “Sabo”. Of course a few derailed students bought the story and saw me as such.
A whole lot of things happened in the following periods but I stuck to my position on the fleet management matter. At the end, my position paid off. The same students who saw me as an enemy on account of my initial position on fleet management now have a larger fleet to be proud of. Ironically, till date, I am yet to ride, sit or stand inside any of the vehicles. As at when my government left the “Elephant House” we had in our fleet:
• Two brand new coaster buses acquired by my government and the school.
• One Toyota Hiace (Hummer) Bus acquired by my government and the school.
• One Mitsubishi L300 Bus acquired by my government.
• One Mercedes Benz Convertible Mobile Clinic /Ambulance acquired by my government.
• One Toyota Hilux acquired by my government and the school.
• One Ford Bus donated by High Chief Okebulu Jumbo (Ochioha Abiriba); and
• Two Tricycles donated by Mrs. Mercy Orji (First Lady of the Abia State Government).
If the APC Dogs and Baboons have smart minds, they will have gotten the message inherent in my brief testimony but just in case they are still struggling to decode it; I'd simplify it; Politics is ever a game wherein the potency of propaganda should not be underestimated. The owners of the APC understand the truth that an average young Nigerian is shallow in reasoning as a result of which they lack capacity to ask critical questions. On this basis, they will most likely not recognize a situation where their intelligence is taken for a ride.
Lately, the Presidential Candidate of the APC has gone missing. The propaganda cell of that party have been on the loose selling a dummy to their clever by half apologist, throwing up all manner of lies about the exact condition of health of their candidate and his location. The social media have been awash with old pictures of Muhammadu posing with Mr. Tony Blair and some members of their party. His wife and daughter have suddenly taken his place putting up appearances on his behalf at events in London. His running mate has been holding town hall meetings in his place all in a bid to paint a picture that they aren't a sinking gang.
Surprisingly, some Nigerians are buying this expired Zobo. By their estimation, their candidate is only resting. It was he indeed who granted an interview in a location in London (Abuja Branch). It was he who posed for a photograph with Tony Blair in London (Gaza Branch) and it is he who indeed has been meeting with Arab Billionaires for the purpose of soliciting additional funds for campaigns on the strength of his integrity (in exchange for nothing).
These Nigerian are in the category of the retrogressive Students who wanted my colleagues in our government to manage our fleet (at their disadvantage) even if they were never going to feel the interior of any of the buses. All they wanted was to know that the buses are in the custody of my fiscally irresponsible colleagues in the union.
I shall say no more than this as I can only hope that my message has been clearly understood.
Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is the South West Zonal Director of Communications, Research & Strategy at the Peoples' Democratic Party National Youth Frontier. He can be reached via @NonsoEzeani1