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Opinion: If only Peter Obi had the Wisdom of Tinubu

Peter Obi

By Igbonekwu Odigboegwu (odigboegwu2014@gmail.com)

Former governor Peter Obi reminds me of the image I once saw on a painting…the picture of a lone figure, walking with drooping shoulders into the sunset; his indistinguishable face obscured by the interplay of dim rays from the setting sun; the image of a tragic character who must walk the hard road of his choices, hubris and all, into the dipping horizon; a fitting epilogue to the road not taken.

Yet here is a man whom had his work cut out for him by providence. Here is a man who chanced on the scene when Ikemba Nnewi, Ezigbo Gburugburu needed someone to anoint; when the Igbo political forest needed poplars but found only shrubs.

Peter Obi had many things going for him when Ikemba took him under his wings. He was young and rich and deceptively humble. Although it was obvious from a mile that he was neither brilliant nor intellectual and could not by any means be termed cerebral, Peter Obi’s native intelligence seemed just enough at the time. Little did we know that possessing only native wisdom means that Peter Obi’s politics can never grow beyond Anambra State. And the more I think of it, the more I see the picture of the man in the folklore who has the carcass of an elephant on his head but is still busy digging for crickets on the ground with his toe. He has no depth to glimpse the big picture!

Yet, if only he had cast his gaze across the Niger; if only he had borrowed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s political manual (Zik never borrowed ideas from Awo but these are strange times), if only he had fully understood the import of the anointing he got from Ojukwu, Peter Obi would have become the pillar of the Igbo nation today. In an era when the Igbo are looking for a battle axe to slash through the clutter of prejudices against them; Peter Obi would have been one of the leading contenders. He is within the age bracket. He is no longer in government. He has extensive political and business contacts and he is a man of immense wealth. But political myopia seems to have played the uninvited guest to the bargain, scuttling what would have been the making of an illustrious

career in leadership!

Perhaps his Chi did not mark him out for greatness after all. How else would one explain a scenario where someone who had played the big fish in a small pond for a long while suddenly jumps into an ocean full of bloodthirsty sharks? To think that Peter Obi did this after all that Ojukwu had done for him is to realize that he actually never had any regard for the Igbo or considered himself worthy of stepping into the large shoes of the great man who adopted him in the hope that he had found a successor, a heir to the throne!  This conclusion is drawn from what Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, the warlord’s perceptive widow told revealed. In a widely publicized interview in the Sun newspaper of October 20, 2014, Bianca claimed that Peter Obi would have been one of the many political stragglers if not for Ojukwu and APGA. According to her, “APGA catapulted him literally from obscurity to national prominence. He served two consecutive terms as governor of Anambra state, a first in history of the state. He swore to Ojukwu upon his honour, that he would never leave APGA; in his own words that he would sink or swim in APGA. I am glad that today, there are living witnesses to attest to this fact. Ojukwu believed him and was convinced beyond doubt that even if there was ever a mass exodus from APGA, Peter Obi would be the last man standing…Ojukwu used him as a yardstick to measure other politicians because Obi presented himself before him as a disciplined, principled and trustworthy politician who was fully committed to CARRYING ON HIS LEGACY (emphasis mine). Any other party member or politician decamping from APGA is not held to the same standards as Obi. He was fully aware of his responsibilities and what was expected of him. He has dashed the hopes of many and reduced his prestige to the level of any other “food is ready” politician by this betrayal and unimaginable breach of trust.”

Obi, a Food-is-ready politician? It is not certain whether Ambassador Ojukwu knows it but she gave Nigerians a new, striking phrase in that. The truth is that no one had ever expected Obi to join Nigeria’s large tribe of food-is-ready politicians. Many people have continued to wonder what is left for Obi. After spitting on his own personal anointing in pursuit of illusory glory, Obi has found himself in a political cul-de-sac. Had he been as wise as Bola Tinubu, Obi would

have seen the obvious potentials of APGA. He would have studied the evolutional trajectory of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which progressed with Nigeria’s political tides to Action Congress (AC) and then to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) before finally maturing into APC (All Progressives Congress). Obi would have seen how one man has adroitly managed his political ambition so well that he was able to nurture it into the democratic dream of a nation. Anyone who is familiar with Nigeria’s contemporary political history would know that neither AD nor AC nor ACN draws the raw emotion that surrounds APGA. While one is the wishful thought of one political strategist, the other is the political Ark of Covenant of a persecuted people; a great heritage that needed a worthy heir! Sadly, Obi read the script upside down and narrowly saw the party as a mere ladder whose purpose expired once he climbed to political limelight! If only he had Tinubu’s acuity of vision!

As it were, this lack of vision has taken its toll on Obi. After a failed bid in national politics, Obi is still contending with the realities of being out of power and out of relevance. Not long ago, the social media was abuzz with snide remarks and derisive laughter at his pointedly intrusive appearance at Adams Oshiomoleh’s wedding. And not a few people wonder why Obi has to be in every photograph of any event in Nigeria. In the heat of the last rush of xenophobia in South Africa, Obi’s toothy grin in a photograph with the victims was the defining image of the moment.  Curiously, we were not told of any serious engagement with the victims. He did not make any weighty comment to frame the incident in a context. There was no attempt on his part to seize the moment to impose himself on the Igbo consciousness. It was all about the photo-op. The obvious lack of depth put paid to all of that.

Obi’s narrow interpretation of his place in history is almost comical. No one is impressed with his current antic of moving around a couple of villages to present N1m cheques to secondary schools. The thing to mourn about Peter Obi is that rather than appropriating the major themes that resonate with the Igbo world, he has willfully whittled down his own relevance to his home state where he is locked up in a cock-fight with his successor. Rather than aspiring to lead the Igbo, Obi is content with proving to his Agulu kinsmen that if he had the power

to pave the way for Obiano’s entry into the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia he also has the power to speed up his exit. Tragically, this is the sum total of Peter Obi’s political ambition for now! And this is why Peter Obi will never be compared to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu!

Odigboegwu writes from Ozubulu


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