On Sunday, September 17, 2023, my attention was drawn to an article published in ThisDay Online on September 11, 2023, with the title, “What Mbah has going for him as Enugu Governor.”
Any reader who is interested in Enugu politics will certainly be drawn to read a story with such an ostensibly positive headline: it suggests a story that would unravel the enchanting collaterals, Mbah’s so-called accomplishments as a leader, and perhaps the disarming charisma that has made the governor’s management of the resources and people of Enugu State a perfect story of change management and democratic transformation.
My disappointment commenced with the first three paragraphs, where rather than speak about Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, the writer began to attack imaginary enemies that he accused of either writing unflattering stories or refusing to wait for the Enugu Election Petitions Tribunal to deliver its judgement.
Most worrisome is what this writer did in the third paragraph. Rather than argue his case for his patron, the author, who gave his name as Lawrence Madu (there is no Lawrence Madu from Oji River who is a journalist, and the real who is, has since dissociated himself from the article), listed those who, in his imagination, have been “on rampage befuddling clear facts and categorically ruling on a matter before the court.”
Those on this list include some of Nigeria’s most respected journalists; Amanze Obi, Achilleus Chud-Uchegbu, Dan Onwukwe, Chuks Akunna, Aniebo Nwamu, and my humble self. Seeing my name among these accomplished journalists was something I quietly celebrated. If I have risen in journalism to be mentioned in the same sentence as these great men of the pen, it means I have nearly achieved everything that anyone would aim for as a journalist.
I honestly wouldn’t have bothered reading this hack had I not been told my name was mentioned in it. While enduring what was an infantile attempt at sophistry and gaslighting, I could only understand one thing: that those mentioned in the list of Enugu Government’s Black Book have dwelt a bit too hard and for too long on the NYSC discharge certificate paraded by Peter Mbah (which the NYSC has since denied issuing).
Before I engage the dubious argument about this rather embarrassing certificate forgery, let me make clear here that, contrary to the claims of this hack, I have not dwelt on the NYSC saga as frequently as suggested in his article. Those who follow me know that of the numerous articles I have published on my personal blog, www.ikemsjournal.com.ng, about the interlopers currently occupying Enugu State Government House, only one has been on this issue. That is the article, “JUST BEFORE WE DESTROY OUR NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE PROGRAMMED,” published on June 4, 2023, as well as in The Guardian at about the same time.
The second time I mentioned this tragic NYSC imbroglio in my articles was on August 2, 2023, when I published a story on the same personal blog informing Governor Mbah of the dangers he faced in retaining the services of a certain junk writer. Unfortunately, Governor Mbah did not heed that call and has continued to allow this character to spread malodorous rhetoric all over the place, including in the very article that is the subject of this intervention. I can see strands of his DNA littered all over the article in reference.
But why my name was mentioned among those the writer is afraid have refused the festering sore of the NYSC certificate forgery to heal cannot be farfetched, given that I have been open in my support for Chijioke Edeoga. I suspect this was the reason an attempt was made to whisk me away on August 25, 2023, by men who claimed they were officers of the Nigerian Police.
Unfortunately, while a subtle attempt was made in this article to suggest that those of us in this writer’s media hit list have committed contempt of court by allegedly dwelling on the NYSC saga, the author was busy passing judgment well ahead of the tribunal, by stating that the NYSC issue, which the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga provided strong evidential proofs in their petition and during trial, had fallen flat at the tribunal. How so?
How can an issue be said to have fallen flat when the court before which the matter is pending has not delivered its judgement? Again, between those who analysed evidence and made credible conjectures, and this hack who has stated, matter of fact, that the court had ruled on the matter, who is committing contempt? I suspect that the writer is either grossly ignorant of what constitutes contempt of court, or is so smug in the cover of his protective political entitlement to even care. Or should we say that he has been paid to say so? Little wonder he dubiously used the name of a writer who has since denied his involvement. Indeed, the criminal appropriation of the names of living journalists on articles written to favour the governor and government in Enugu State has since been unmasked, calling to question the ethical integrity of those defending them. (It is not my duty here to call what they are doing fraudulent, even though their very foundation appears to be so cast.)
But be that as it may, as far as elections in Nigeria are concerned, forgery of any kind constitutes capital transgression, for which disqualification and removal from office have already been established by law as precedent, especially where the person concerned is too obstinate to resign honourably (That is, if there is anything like honour about forgery and its perpetrator).
It is hard to understand what this article was aimed to accomplish, to be honest, given some very significant admissions (and confessions) made by this writer. In at least two paragraphs of his philistinic prose, the word, “tsunami” was used to describe the outcome of the February and March elections in Enugu State which threw the PDP of its predatory perch on the people and resources of Enugu State. Isn’t this charlatan admitting that this “tsunami”, which swept the ruling party away and gave Labour Party important victories in those elections, is a sign that the people decidedly voted against the party that had held down Enugu for 24 years?
It is also unfortunate that this writer devoted a couple of paragraphs to presenting the political fortunes of former Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in such an unflattering way. But even if we agreed that the tsunami in Enugu was, as the writer lamely argued, because of the Peter Obi factor, how came a senatorial, a House of Representatives, and 10 House of Assembly seats were won by PDP in the state? Wasn’t the Peter Obi factor also at play in those constituencies won by the PDP? Why did the senatorial bid by Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi fall to the Peter Obi “tsunami”, while the ones I mentioned survived this tectonic heave?
I hope the writer provides a clearer clarification. I also hope that this was not the beginning of an attack on the former governor, who defied all sorts of pressure in making Peter Mbah the candidate of the PDP. Admitting that a certain tsunami from outside Enugu upstaged a man who bestrode the state for eight years as governor is extremely unflattering. That this tsunami successfully happened to a sitting governor who had spent 12 years in the House of Representatives before becoming governor also speaks, if we must tell the truth, not of any external influence, but of a decision by the people to reject low budget leadership and misrule.
But as I said earlier, it is infinitely uncharitable for the PDP to start this early to become the undertakers for Ugwuanyi’s flagging political career. I hear that the former governor is already preparing for a return to the senatorial boxing ring in 2027, and I suspect that this article might just be a part of calculated efforts to showcase his arid political capital well ahead of time, thus paving the way for his permanent political ruination. That would be a real shame.
I saw portions of this article that attempted to argue that Chijioke Edeoga lost the election because he has not been able to “make anything” out of his previous political positions as local government chairman, member of the House of Representatives, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, and as a Commissioner in the Ugwuanyi administration, among other lame references. This, he argued, was unlike Peter Mbah, who made a success of his oil and gas business.
“You cannot reasonably have a relatively young man, who founded and built Pinnacle Oil and Gas from nothing to the numero uno in the Nigerian downstream petroleum subsector and go for an Edeoga,” this person argued.
What this writer does not know or failed to acknowledge, for obvious reasons, is that this was actually the reason Enugu people voted for Chijioke Edeoga, as will soon be established through the judicial process. Unlike Peter Mbah, who was arrested and docked for embezzling state funds when he served as Chief of Staff to former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, Chijioke Edeoga has never had a case of corruption brought against him anywhere in the country. He returns home after every assignment clean and stainless. Had he any stain of corruption on him, Governor Mbah and his predecessor would have come down hard on him given the challenge he presented, and continued to present against their false claim to electoral triumph.
I think the problem with this writer is his poor understanding of what constitutes success. From the position he took in this article, it does appear that corrupt enrichment means nothing to him, while those who serve with diligence without amassing obscene wealth while in government, are glorified.
This was what was at stake during the gubernatorial elections in Enugu: a refusal to continue what has been called a tradition of brazen theft, and in some instances, complete privatization, of public resources. Who didn’t watch the viral video titled “Ego Ndi Enugu?” Who didn’t watch the riot by churchgoers against Mbah’s gifts (and destroying same) in their church before the elections, among other forms of repudiation? The people showed disdain for leaders with baggage of corruption and refused to allow them to rule over them again; Enugu people are tired of tainted leaders abusing public trust and becoming billionaires in the process. They wanted a man of proven integrity to become their governor.
Chijioke Edeoga ticked the boxes as the most electable governorship candidate, and the people cast their votes for him. Whether this was enhanced by the Peter Obi “tsunami” as the writer wants to believe, was providence at work, and as the people of Enugu State continue to wait for justice, it is important for those who steal community drums to stop believing they could play it in the village square.