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The Madumere Mystery: A Model Test Case in Political Imagery and Symbolism

Source: Okwuaku A.I. Okwuaku
His Excellency, Prince Eze Madumere MFR in a warm handshake with the MD of Federal Housing Authority, Arc. Tever Gemade when the former paid a visit to the latter.
His Excellency, Prince Eze Madumere MFR in a warm handshake with the MD of Federal Housing Authority, Arc. Tever Gemade when the former paid a visit to the latter.

Why is Imo's Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, becoming such a powerful technician of power and such a powerful figure in Imo politics with a frightening personality? Of course, in the last few moments, some of his detractors have been raising false alarms to create the impression that Gov. Okorocha is plotting to impose Madumere on Imo people come 2015. Some have even tried to blackmail him. But the question remains' Is it that Gov. Okorocha is imposing Madumere on Imo people? Or that Prince Madumere, by merit and public opinion, is the most possible credible, capable politician to man the Douglas House, if his boss gives him his support? And the funniest part of the game is that Madumere is not even concerned with 2015 elections and has shown no sign of any ambition whatsoever, to the best anyone can say. So let's accept that such moves by his contenders are born out of fear or whatever motive.

I have read a few notable books on politics and social wave ideologies including Alvin Toffler's 'The Third Wave'. There is Robert Green's '48 Laws of Power,' 'The Art Of Seduction' and 'The Art of War,' I have also read the Mafia Lord series of Mario Puzzo including “The God Father” and “The Last Don”. There was also “The Prince” by Machiavelli De Prince, 'Office Politics,' and 'The Mafia Manager', all by Machiavelli De Prince. I have read 'The Corporate Guru' and also 'The Strategist', including Malam Nasir el-Rufai's 'The Accidental Public Servant' and Abdul Salami Abubakar's biography- The Legacy of Honour. I once glanced through the pages of 'The Incorruptible Judge', and 'The Impeccable Mortal Man', including 'The Satanic Verses' by Salman Rushdie, exposing the dirty political side of the Islamic temple insiders, including the corruptions and maneuverings.

In addition to all these, I once walked into the room of a catholic insider and a friend and saw a copy of a book titled “In God's Name” by the legendary David A Yallop- An investigative account of the other side of the “Holy Vatican”, the murder of Pope Paul 1 by brother cardinals, and the Vatican cover-ups. The daring author gave a shocking, but fascinating account of the high level of corruption, powerful political intrigues, maneuverings and manipulations that dot the lives and activities of the cardinals that rule the Vatican city- the home of the Pope. The book sees them as the brothers of the pope, the holy reverend gentle fathers who forgave the sins of others on God's behalf, yet living their daily lives as the princes of power and normal political figures who employ same dirty political tools as used in the world out there. But let's leave that for now, so that my parish priest won't deny me Holy Communion. But for sure, nothing could have been more fascinating like understudying 'the making of holy politicians and saintly mafia in the holy home of our holy father the pope. I also came across many other political books while I studied philosophy with the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

In all these books, I discovered one single truth; none of the authors, including my political philosophy lecturers where able to answer the question “How do people rise in politics and power to the extent that, suddenly, their names get so shrouded in Mystery? Sometimes, like me, you are forced to ask 'How did this guy get here?' And ''How come he has become such a mystery personality in the polity? I have asked 'How did Barack Hussein Obama, the street side son of a Kenyan immigrant father, make it to the White House as the President of America? I have asked “How did Tarcisio Bertone become the most powerful diplomat and global figure in the Vatican? I have also asked “How did Adel Fatah El' Sisi become such a symbolic figure in Egypt, Arab's most populous nation? Today in Nigeria, I have joined many close watchers to ask “How did Prince Ezeakonobi Madumere get here?

The more you ask questions like the ones above, the more the echoes of your voice returns back to you like a man shouting into an empty ancient Greek orchestra hall. This is one of the things I learnt in my study of political symbolism and Imagery. A South African thought me about it when he took me on a few lectures on Media Strategy and Creative Writing as it relates to politics. One day he told me “Creating a big name in politics is not about how much publicity you can engage in. It is about getting things done… It's about fixing things and being able to deliver… It's about developing and deploying realistic strategies that get results in politics, in administration and in human relations… Sooner your name becomes symbolic and your personality becomes god-like. It's all about your qualities and capabilities, and your ability to deploy them against your opponents or in favour of those who believe in you. You just become a mystery to the guys out there.” Today in Imo state, same question echoes in every coroner about the personality of Imo's current Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere(MFR). 'The Diplomatic Prince' as he is regarded in many corners now, Madumere surprisingly came from the flanks to become a powerful political figure and the most trusted loyal ally his boss, the governor, can trust without blinking. As he makes an unimaginable impression on the masses and the political class, the 'Madumere mystery' remains a case study for political pundits and a shocker to those who never gave him a chance.

As political pundits scratch their heads to figure out how on earth the young Comrade Tony Nwoye sprung such a daring surprise to emerge PDP's flag bearer in a highly competitive political terrain like Anambra PDP, even more puzzling is the speed at which the image of Prince Eze Madumere is seizing the Imo political terrain. How did the son of a 1970's moderate income earner become one of the top brand politicians in the star-studded political circles that dominate Imo state politics? At the threshold of the Nigerian independence his father rode to work on a bicycle in the Southern city of Port Harcourt; As the Nigerian-Biafran civil war raged, he was a small lad moving with his father from one town to another as the Nigerian military captured Owerri; But by the end of 2011, immediately after the 2011 general elections, Prince Ezeakonobi Madumere has become a test case in political symbolism and social imagery. How on earth did it all happen? This is one question that all political observers, including insiders, are asking.

One of the things that have eluded the interpretative mastery of political scientists, analysts, and pundits is the issue of myths in political symbolism and imagery. That is why it is very hard for anyone, no matter how informed, to accurately predict the next set of power brokers to decide things politically after the 2015 elections have come and gone. Sometimes you wake up to hear that that common lad from the village side has become a power broker of some sort, while money bag men are yet to arrive after years of efforts. So, the ultimate question remains 'How does one emerge to become a political figure of relevance? Is it by investing money into politics? Is it by connection to the big and mighty in the society? Is it a game of luck and chance? However, my South African friend and teacher has answered that question; It is by getting things done, and Madumere's case is a fitting case.

Traditionally leaning pundits like me can attribute Madumere's political success to the fact that his political mentor, lifelong friend and principal, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, practices a type of politics that encourages the new young people to make fast inroads into the political terrain. Okorocha has a reputation for believing in the ingenuity of the younger generation in politics and human administration. Madumere is one of such younger generation that never allowed that opportunity slip off by proving his mettle in politics and his ability to manage men and missions.

Of course, immediately after being sworn in 2011 as the governor of Imo state, the governor left no one in doubt of his approach to politics and his believe in the younger generation to deliver. He changed the political paradigm by pulling down the old political establishments which bestrode the Imo politics like eternal colossus. First he stamped out corruption and looting which were perceived to be the life wire of the old guys of power in the “Ghana Must Go Republic.” Then he went to town to look for the new guys to help him rebuild a state on the brink of collapse. Some he called from obscure corners of the village sides of the state; some he brought home from far away Asia, while some he met in the downtown Manhattan, USA and brought them home for a chance to create a political future for themselves. But there was also the story of a young man of 28 years appointed Transition committee chairman of an LG council just because there were evidences he has the will to get things done. That is Okorocha for you. But the story of his journey with Madumere dates too far into the past.

Madumere, like the rest of many others in his time, joined the Okorocha political team as a humble figure from the countryside in the early 90s. However, before then Madumere had already distinguished himself as a management consultant in the United States of America where he spent most part of his life. It was not too long Madumere emerged the second in command of the Okorocha political team, following after his boss. Of course his dual qualities of being a thorough bred political strategist and his unflinching believe in Okorocha's political future stood him as the most appropriate disciple among many to earn the trust of his principal. But beyond these, he was a figure of disarming humility and simple lifestyle, buying big time into Okorocha's ideology of philanthropy and socialism. These, as a matter of fact, are the very ideologies that have made Madumere's personality greatly appealing to the masses, the political class and the by-side watchers. Today, whether we like it or not, Madumere's entrance into the club of the political elites of Imo has altered the traditional political equation of the state in a way too significant to be ignored. Of course, the general perception in town at the moment is that come 2015, if Gov. Okorocha moves up federal with APC's presidential offer, then the guber race in Imo is between Madumere and the rest. The rating is not only because Madumere is Okorocha's most loyal, and most trusted aide. The fact is that by every standard Madumere has proven to merit his rating and popularity among the Imo people. And it is increasingly becoming evident, that beating Madumere at the polls, if he is given the chance, will be synonymous to, as Jesus said, passing the head of the Carmel through the eye of the needle.

The fact is that with considerable accuracy, but with appropriate discount for uncertainties, Madumere, who is the current Imo's deputy governor, is largely favored by every credible cluster of opinion ratings to emerge the most possible credible successor to Gov. Anayo Okorocha of Imo state anytime the governor serves out his 4- year or 8-year term as he chooses, and if the masses renew his mandate. And observers at home and abroad are once again puzzling over the reasons for Madumere's success. Is it his studies in management that gives him an edge in his fast rise to power's topmost echelon? His practical and realistic approach to politics? Or his ability to combine an attitude of independent mindedness with unflinching loyalty to his principal and political mentor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha? No matter the question, Madumere's case is a unique one when it comes to decoding myths and prototypes in political symbolism.

One point most pundits can agree on is that almost all of Madumere's close watchers have underestimated him from the moment Okorocha picked him as a political aid even years before Gov. Okrocha was elected governor of Imo state in an election- an election whose success is largely attributed to the political wizardry of Madumere and the crack team of political strategist he put together. Madumere is now widely regarded as one of Imo's most powerful political leaders, following after his current boss. Comparisons have been drawn with the likes of Ifeanyi Ararume and such other grass root political strategists. But the downing of Ararume's credibility by former president Obasanjo leaves the likes of Madumere to grip the Imo political space with such a bestriding mien anytime Okorocha leaves the seat for any reason. Madumere, a figure of moderate lifestyle and few words, known as 'The Diplomatic Prince' for his constructive approach in public relations, in political diplomacy and negotiations, according to political analysts and observant insiders, took strategic tiny steps to arrive at such level of political relevance in Imo politics.

In the 90's Madumere returned to Nigeria to start a political career from a sideway corner. Of course, he left Nigeria to the United State of America as a teen, and returned back as a soundly educated special breed in management consultancy and human administration. His political career took off as an aide to Owelle Anayo Okorocha, and later earning a reputation as Okorocha's most capable political aide, and the most trusted political insider of the Okorocha political dynasty. Of course the Okorocha dynasty has been an old dynasty growing from the flanks during Sam Mbakwe's time when Okorocha dared the likes of the maverick Francis Arthur Nzeribe. But the dynasty largely grew on the wings of Okorocha's reputation as a nationalist detribalized philanthropist and socialist. Later Prince Madumere (MFR) vied for the senate in what was seen as victory denied. But by the 2011 elections rolled on, it was too hard to ignore the fact that someone like Madumere was in town to get things done for his boss. In fact, as the elections went on, there were two Nigerians to watch. The first was Douglass Oronto- the little known countryside guy who mesmerized Atiku's team to get Goodluck Jonathan on the card. The second was Prince Ezeakonobi Madumere- a little known fellow whose political strategies held the then incumbent Gov. Ikedi Ohakim and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party to ransom.

Initially, Madumere was never seen as a force to reckon with amidst such political heavyweights and smart guys. Silently he coordinated series of political strategies that put Ohakim and the PDP on the defending side of the game, and finally secured victory for his boss. A lot happened in-between, anyway, but let's leave that for now. However, what enshrined Madumere's name in the sands of time in Imo politics is his role as Chief of Staff to Governor Okorocha. He performed creditably well in a way that left no one in doubt that Madumere is a capable hand in all sense of it, whether in administration, in political diplomacy or human relations. He also made it to the national honours list that year, where President Goodluck Jonathan personally decorated him with the MFR medal. Today, as deputy governor of Imo state, Madumere's ability to deliver has become a vindication to Gov Okorocha's political approach of giving the younger generation a chance, and the secret of his soaring popularity is his ability to deliver.

Beside his role in the 2011 elections, Madumere is credited with being a smart guy in political strategic thinking. By 2011, lending their support to the election of Okorocha was an off-the-table option for the old political generation in Imo politics. Their reason was simple; this guy is another new guy like Ikedi Ohakim. Because, Ohakim, in as much as he, according to popular opinion, did not make positive impacts on the polity in terms of developmental strides and was accused of orchestrating a blatant campaign of looting and corruption, he also dealt ruthlessly with the guys of the old political order in an attempt to tighten his grip on the levers of Imo politics and the PDP structures. Even Willy Amadi who was his closest ally was not spared the hammer. For them, their support to the maneuverings that produced Ohakim as governor is “Euphoria Turned Tragedy”. For them, Okorocha would not be different. But Madumere and his team were able to broker a deal to the skeptic old guys by developing a political bargaining chip that revolved around the principle of Double Effects- a smart narrative of bigger evil versus lesser evil. Of course, in 'principle of double effect', you choose the lesser evil when you are faced with two evils in which you must necessarily choose one. So Okorocha was made to wear the toga of the lesser evil, and the old guys went for him. That is Madumere for you. He knows how to develop a credible bargaining chip, and how to deploy it in a way that brings results.

Personally Madumere comes along with rare qualities that make him a mystery to the most discerning observer. I met Madumere for the first time while I was undergoing an informal series on Media strategy and creative writing as it bothers on politics. I had heard of his exploits, so it was a privilege meeting my mythical figure in real life. I wanted to understudy him and know his secrets, but I was puzzled the more. I noticed one thing; he was consistently self controlled and has a reputation for calculating carefully before every move. Madumere will give you a task but won't tell you what the final product should look like and what it is meant for. That's an incredible strategy in human administration. Suddenly, I discovered what might be his secret; he was too simple to a fault and everybody, no matter how lowly or common, could access his office and have his audience. Of course, initially I tried to let him know that meeting him was a privilege, but he insisted on making me know that it was a meeting of two equal citizens and brothers who must be united by the Governor's vision to build a better Imo.

However, to my shock, I discovered that Madumere has no special marketing technique to promote his image for political reasons as it's the case with a typical Nigerian rising politician. He has no penchant for media and publicity. In fact, to make it more perplexing, he is very, very conscious about image control. You just find out he has a plan about how he wants to be seen and how information should come out, and joining the media frenzy is not part of that. For him, it's all about helping his boss to get things done and realize the mandate the people gave his boss. One day he said “Look, there is only one governor in Imo state, and that is Anayo Okorocha. The rest are staff helping him to deliver on his promises to the people” So how then did this guy's name become that symbolic? This is what has become the Madumere Mystery and a test case in understanding political symbolism and social imagery. It's a big task for the detractors and distracters of His Excellency Prince Eze Madumere (MFR). We keep our fingers on the pulse of Imo politics!

Okwuaku A.I.Okwuaku writes from Owerri
([email protected] 08036627764)

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