By Dr. Chuks Osuji
In fact, one of the constant injunctions given to us in a doctorate class of 1979 at the North Texas State University by one of our professors, Dr. H. L. Thames is this, “always use your education to foster attributes of those ideals that could advance the cause of humanity, but above all, never use your education to hurt the feelings of your fellow beings no matter the provocation.”
Although each of the professors which I encountered during my doctorate activities had something very lasting and instructive to tell us, I considered that of professor Thames to have a constant and unlimited validity. Honestly, in my practice as a veteran columnist over the years, each time I want to write something which may affect the sensibility or feelings of my fellow man or men, I invoke this injunction as a control mechanism so that I shall not explode. However, unfortunately, there are certain actions of some of our fellow Nigerians that could push somebody to the state of using harsh and uncomplimentary words against someone.
Even at that, in this piece, I must not allow the emotion of Nigerian political environment to overwhelm me in this analysis. However, I must in spite of that controlling mechanism, if I go a little out of bound, it must be understood from the perspective of that Igbo adage that says, “If you push a woman’s child harshly and violently, she must react with a severe curse.”
On Monday 8th December, 2014, the Peoples Democratic Party held its Imo State Governorship primary at the famous Grasshopper Stadium. From all indications, personal interviews, reports, eye-witness accounts, the exercise was judged to be free, fair and credible. The process was very slow and painstaking to the extent that people outside were worried as it was gradually being dragged into the night when professional violent riggers would exploit with their known disturbances to distort the process. Fortunately, nothing of sort happened because PDP State Chairman, Barrister Anyaehie who had the presence of the mind was fully in control and allowed no breathing space to anybody to be funny, lest the heavy presence of security operatives would descend on such a recalcitrant.
After the accreditation, a lengthy discussion followed among the aspirants, the panel Leadership and the State Chairman. Once every issue had been resolved, election process began after detailed explanation had been made. Local Government after Local Government, each of the accredited delegates began to cast their votes into an open and transparent ballot box in the view of everybody in the field. Once the last LGA delegate Owerri West voted, sorting began in earnest. Until this time, nobody had complained because there is nothing to complain about. Rather, every aspirant with his or agent was alert, “eye wide opened” watching with unprecedented attention that could not even allow for one to scratch him or herself.
During the sorting process, each ballot paper was brought out and showed to the agents to confirm. Even those void notes were agreed upon before they could be rejected, then followed the counting which had not gone half way when some hired social media charlatans began to post victory for Ohakim. In fact, it was all over the town that Ohakim was leading. Yet, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha had remained calm and focused, knowing very well that in spite of betrayals which could tantamount to the stabbing on the back, he was confident of winning because according to Oliver Fish, “the result of hardwork is usually a resounding success because no success comes without hardwork.”
When Chief Ikedi Ohakim’s votes were tallied and he got 213, it was clear to him and his supporters that he had lost. But he still remained calm.
At this juncture, attention was keenly focused on the two remaining packs belonging to Rt. Hon. Ihedioha and Senator Ararume. After counting the two packs, Ihedioha got 346 while Ararume got 336. After counting the results in the full glare of the people in the stadium, Senator Ararume moved to Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and embraced him to the delight of the people who clapped and cheered them, for the display of partisan comradeship.
It is indeed shocking and astonishing to hear that the Distinguished Senator made a quick U-turn to denounce the result which he had embraced to the effect that first, Ihedioha was given some void votes. Second, he did not get the number assigned to him because giving him that 346 would make the number of votes cast above the number of delegates accredited. And third, that he should be declared the winner because according to him, what Ihedioha got was 325 and not 346. He requested the party leadership to “declare him the winner or cancel the entire exercise.”
Those who know the composition of Ararume’s campaign team headed by Chief Independence Ogulewe would know what the senator is dancing to is a rhythm being played by his campaign DG, Ogulewe. In fact, one would not be surprised at this turn of events because Independence Ogulewe has a penchant for disorderliness, noted for his cantankerous behaviour as a member of House of Representatives during which period he was notorious for spearheading recalcitrant groups in the House. Nobody would be surprised to see that the highly respected Senator is now playing out his DG’s scripts. Sorry. That no go work.
The alleged manhandling of the electoral panel by the Senator’s men is consistent with the always violent behaviour for which independence is noted for. I recall with nostalgia what one journalist wrote of Independence Ogulewe, when he was noted for disturbing the peaceful process of the House of Representatives, “my information was that this young man was born on Nigeria’s Independence Day, which was a peaceful day. Where did he get this violent culture?” perhaps, that could well be that his father was a soldier, a fine soldier for that matter. This reminds me of another Igbo adage which says, “A snake must always give birth to long specie.”
I know the Distinguished Senator very well. I can never subscribe to him all the damaging things being said against him because coming closer, one would see that he is calm, kind and highly reasonable and in fact, a successful business man with a network of conglomerates. However, many would sharply disagree with me but the fact remains that in the relative judgment of persons, we are bound to disagree. There is one thing which people are saying now, that the Senator would wish a replay of 2007 primary episode which saw him being made the PDP candidate. In the end, he got the ticket without a party. The result was a disaster.
No, such can not repeat because, Goodluck Jonathan is not Obasanjo. He believes in a superior argument and reasonableness. Two, the current PDP NWC is not the same as that of 2007. He may claim that the current chairman was his colleague in the senate and that the current BOT chairman is his mentor and friend. All these combined can never overtake reason, justice, fair-play and the abundant evidence of the fair primary as submitted by the panel. Besides, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is not one that may need people to fight for him. He alone is enough and capable of fighting for himself.
Besides, while addressing his supporters after the election, he was quoted to have said, “we must give thanks to the Almighty God because without Him, we would not have got the victory we got today in spite of overwhelming conspiracy and deceit by even those we counted to be with us.” He too was disappointed by the slim margin. But victory is victory even with one point. According to Abraham Lincoln, “nothing is sweeter than victory.”
Thus, the Distinguished Senator should be advised to take it softly because 2014 is not the end of the world. He should be careful not to follow the advice of some hawks in his team, particularly his DG who is embittered by the rising profile of Rt. Hon. Ihedioha who was his colleague in the House of Reps. Perhaps if Independence Ogulewe had played his cards well, he would have been a governorship aspirant today instead of being a DG for a Guber aspirant.
But the most fatherly advice which the Distinguished and his team may find philosophically instructive is this, “power comes from God and nobody can go outside one’s destiny as ordained by the Mighty High.”
Finally, for the Distinguished Senator, he should be reminded of this proverb which says, “An elder who takes advice from a child will soon be asked to follow children to go on a hunting expedition of rabbits in the forest.” I need not say more.