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*Okey Ndibe On Anambra: Reporter of Truth Or Falsehood?
By Valentine Obienyem
As usual, he always breaks bad news to me. In the morning of Tuesday, the 16thof August he came into my office and sat down for minutes in silent, pensive melancholy. I knew that something has happened. Opening up, Johnson said: “Okey Ndibe and his mischief again! He called Governor Obi a propagandist. Can’t he appreciate the Governor’s good work?”
I tried to lecture Johnson on why everybody will not agree on the same point. I recounted to him how Heraclitus said, Panta rei, all things change; while Parmenides said Henta panta, all things are one and never change. We must always have our individual differences, but I quickly pointed out that it becomes dangerous when we do not tell ourselves the truth. Thus, Heraclitus and Parmenides views could have been borne out of what they genuinely thought to be the truth. I refrained from saying more, until I had read Okey’s piece to find out why he attributed propaganda in a 9derogatory sense to Anambra State Government.
Propaganda is not essentially a negative phenomenon. The modern Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Catholic Church is the son of a department in the Church that used to be called Propaganda Fide created in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV to spread Christianity and defend the Church against multiplicity of heresies.
Okey Ndibe’s latest in the series of his usual attacks on Governor Obi and Anambra State was entitled: Anambra and the Politics of Propaganda. But before I take him on, I will like to say that both the Government of Anambra State and Okey Ndibe are engaged in propaganga. While the Government tries to propagate what she has done that are verifiable; Okey propagates his own views and that of his masters about the Government. In the midst of this, I will like to pose a question: Between Anambra State Government and Okey Ndibe, who is propagating truth or falsehood? We shall come back to that, but first, let us see what Okey is up to. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Map of Anambra State, Nigeria.
One thing striking about his pieces against the governor is the fact that text messages were received one full day before their publication from an Anambra Senator’s camp, telling people, as the one I received on the 15th to “kindly buy the Sun newspaper of tomorrow as our man, Okey Ndibe takes on Saint Peter Obi.” Obviously, due to this inelegant strategy, we know where his articles are coming from these days.
In the article under reference, he celebrated what he felt was the humiliation of the Governor by workers during the rally that preceded their recent warning strike, now called off. In Okey’s words: “Last week, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra received unflattering epithets when he intruded on a rally where state workers were discussing his unpopular proposal on the implementation of the new minimum wage.”
Reading this, you could observe a sadistic streak in the words. It has the ring of a person who prays for the worst to befall the Governor. I am sure he does not understand the casus belli, which is where objective writers would have started. For example, I can tell you that Okey does not know what other States offer their workers vis-à-vis what Governor Peter Obi offers. He has become a clear case of a character seeking fault and seeing it even among the Saints.
In Oyo State the other day, workers were commending and thanking their Governor for pledging N13, 000 relativity across board. In Anambra State Obi agrees to pay the minimum wage to level 1 to 7 workers and an increment of not less than N20, 000 to other categories of workers. What this means is that a worker whose salary is N30, 000 now will henceforth receive not less than N50, 000. Of course, the proposal was shielded from the workers because labour leaders were bent on declaring the strike even if for a day, to justify the money they collected from an Anambra Senator.
Okey can celebrate what he called “unflattering epithets” and “torrent of insults” against Obi, but anybody in Nigeria knows that at this season of bargaining, not even the Presidency has been spared the angry and often vitriolic outburst of workers. In the history of labour dispute, that has remained the trend.
One of the problems of Okey Ndibe is that he lacks the nobility of character, that living force that spurs one to act with understanding leniency. He is one track-minded and the danger with such a person is that with poor power of perception, his thoughts are often subject to passion. It is such a life that Spinoza described in his Classic Book iv Of Human Bondage. In spite of their “unflattering epithets” and “torrent of insults”, and sufficiently emancipated from human bondage, Obi made a broadcast to the State and thanked God for letting the workers listen to the voice of reason. He did not pay them back by unleashing his own “unflattering epithets” and “torrent of insults” as little mind do. He knows that those who are appointed to lead great institutions are like criminals condemned to torture, only this difference, that the latter receive punishment due to their crime and the former for their selflessness.
In the said broadcast, Obi said, and challenged anybody to prove to the contrary the proposition that he had done for workers more than what all past Governors of the State did for them in Anambra State.
Concerning those things he said he did, let him better speak in the first person: “Under the present Government, and for the first time since the State was created: Salaries of civil servants have been increased five times and have been paid consistently. Workers are sponsored to various workshops and trainings, both within and outside the country. Workers’ promotions are now released as and when due, unlike before 2006 when there were no promotions because promotion was said to be a privilege. Before this Administration, teachers stagnated on GL 15; it was my Government that lifted this barrier and they can now be promoted to GL 16 with all the privileges. Similarly, Primary School teachers who obtain university degrees can now be promoted alongside their secondary school counterparts with equivalent qualifications, instead of being discriminated against, as was the case before my administration. Official vehicles/furniture allowances were provided for Permanent Secretaries and buses for all the Ministries and extra ministerial departments. 16-month arrears of the state share of pensions inherited from previous administrations to the tune of about 1 billion naira have been settled. The liquidation of arrears of Federal share of pensions owed State Pensioners has commenced. Arrears of gratuities inherited from previous administrations have been settled. Retirees now receive their gratuities soon after their retirement along with pensions as at when due. Arrears of Course allowances accumulated between 1997 and 2006 have been settled. 23-month arrears of Call Duty allowances owed Medical/Dental practitioners from January 2001 to March 2002 have been liquidated.
The first and second phases of the State Secretariat have been completed and put into use with necessary amenities. Salaries of State Counsels and those of Magistrates have been harmonized. Public Service Lecture Series aimed at improving the quality of public officers through strategic exposure to knowledge have been initiated and sustained. A 1,000 KVA generating set for the new Secretariat Complex was purchased. Over 3000 staff have been employed in the Civil Service by this Government. Group Personnel Accident Insurance Scheme abandoned since 2003 has been resuscitated with effect from 2008 and premium paid accordingly. The first beneficiaries of this scheme will be paid in two week’s time.” I suspect Okey is not aware of all these because he writes without intending to even understand the subject he often writes on.
Okey talked about the exploitation of priests by Gov. Obi and that those priests have deserted him for his failed leadership. He has said this many times to know that people will no longer believe his pettiness. I am in Anambra and can tell you that Obi takes everybody as one irrespective of positions.He would always say that he is the Governor of all Anambrarians, including Christians and non-Christians. What happens is that because he thinks so much about the future, the more enlightened a group is, the better they understand him. As an enlightened class, the priests’ love for him is deepening with every passing day. ( Continues below..... )
The profundity of Aristiphus mind has never ceased to amaze me. He said humorously that just as, in a far northern city, words froze into ice as they were spoken, and were heard in the summer when they thawed, so the words spoken by Plato to his students in their youth were fully understood by them only in their old age. Likewise the deeds of Peter Obi, understood by the brightest and the most experienced now, will be understood by others in future.
If any priest does not understand him now, he will surely do so in future. However, let me use the last three encounters Obi had with priests – Bishops at that – to gauge what that class still feel about him. During the 50th priestly anniversary celebration of Bishop Emmanuel Otteh at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha, he said that Gov. Obi “is the first Governor both old and new Anambra State has had comparable only to Senator Jim Nwobodo. He is developing all sectors in the State, and for the first time no town in Anambra State is deprived of development one way or the other. I am proud of the Governor’s humility and life laced with integrity. I commend him highly, particularly his achievements in Education. Today Anambra schools are better than they were before and the Governor crowned it all with the return of schools to their original owners.”
In the words of The Apostolic Nuncio in the Central Africa Republic and the Republic of Chad, Archbishop Jude Okolo “God has used Governor Peter Obi to wipe away the tears of the people who have suffered the burden of incompetent and greedy rulers. He has inspired the youth unto righteousness and has become a symbol of reference.” Most Reverend Efobi, the Anglican Bishop of Ekwulobia passes his own verdict: ‘Obi’s humility and integrity have provided a sound base to project the State from hitherto political and economic quagmire to a superstructural platform that is comparable to any State in the world. His calm, but tactical approach to issues of governance has engendered the stability prevalent in the State today. The accolades and awards he received in recent time had been attributed to his hard work and visionary approach to Statecraft. I enjoin him to continue to ensure justice and fairness in his administration as well as speak eloquently against evil.”
The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Reverend Hilary Odili Okeke was at it too. He said that “God has raised the Governor as a prophet, Leader and Rock in Nigeria to show the way of the Lord in many aspects of the society. He has remained God-fearing and has brought sterling qualities of simplicity, humility, contentment and wisdom to governance. He has built a legacy of outstanding contributions to the restoration and revamping of good governance through multi-sectoral development and has sustained efforts in promoting the value system of the society.” These comments were made in the last one month. So what exactly is Okey saying about priests becoming disenchanted with Obi?
Unlike in his earlier pieces, when, drunk with the inexplicable passion of hate and with cavalier contempt for the truth, Okey attributed Obi’s political successes to luck instead of acknowledging his resilience, he now somewhat corrected that impression. We thank him for that, but he went ahead to extinguish that ray of light by saying that Obi thrives on propaganda, with nothing to show for it. He talked about Obi’s “hollow accomplishments”, “Awka as wretched as war-ravaged Mogadishu.” He touts Obi’s efforts to supply computers to schools, questioning if the schools are connected to the INTERNET, have power supply, among others. He described the Kenneth Dike Library as a huge joke.
But it is with difficulty that I reply to all this. In the bid to satisfy his fancy and in the ecstasy of hate as if permanently divorced from reality, he assumed what he cannot prove. The fact that can easily be verified is that over 120 schools in Anambra have been supplied with 50 laptops and 10 desktops with ICT teachers. Over 120 schools have been supplied with 30 KVA generators each, with Government undertaking their maintenance for some years. I guess Okey wants us to forget everything about ICT until Nigeria has stable electricity. I have no problem provided he will convince the entire world to wait for us while we fix our energy problem. Today, over 100 schools in Anambra have brand new buses, the first since the Old East Central State. Today about 200 schools in Anambra are connected to the INTERNET via Galaxy Backbone at great cost. The State renews this facility yearly. For a more comprehensive picture of what the Governor has done in Anambra he could visit www.anidsinanambrastate.com if he so wishes. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Governor Peter Obi
As for the Professor Kenneth Dike Central Library, does Okey know it is the first library built in Anambra in over 40 years? All these years that library development died in the State what did he do? His only compliment is to say that president Jonathan commissioned an empty building, when the library is yet to be commissioned. When he was saying that the place has nothing to do with an E- libarary, Anambra State was receiving a letter signed by the Director/Secretary of Universal Service Provision Fund, Mr. Funso Fayomi conveying the news that Anambra State has been selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government Digital E-library project under the connectivity for Development programme of the Universal Service provision Fund (USPF). But Okey is immune to such news.
Okey described the new teaching hospital under construction, and one of the best legacies Obi will leave thus: “I drove past a huge structure under construction in Awka that the governor has named a teaching hospital. I am no medical expert, but I knew that the building was ill suited for a hospital. A hospital needs a lot of ventilation and light. The alleged teaching hospital in Awka has only its bigness going for it. The windows are horribly small. In fact – judging by their poor ventilation – it would be cruel to house prisoners in those structures.”
That hospital was conceived by a panel led by Professor Frank Akpuaka, who founded the College of medicine in other universities such as Abia State University. Other members includes Prof Rob Ofieli (NAUTH), Prof. Okey Mbonu(Chairman, West African College of Surgeon), Prof. Eddy Nwobodo (Dean, faculty of Basic Medical Science, NAUTH), Prof. BC Jiburum (provost, College of Medicine, Imo State University), Dr. Lawrence Ikeakor. The place is being built according to specifications they gave and it has just got the accreditation of National Universities Commission (NUC). In trying to malign the Governor, or by plain sadism, Okey became an architect, a civil engineer and even a medical doctor, telling us what is wrong and right. Because he described the building upside down, I am left to believe that his sense of hate has overtaken his reason. Now I know while sadists can stand in front of Burj Khalifa in Dubai and proclaim it is not tall. Middleton had his reasons to call some metaphysician “learned lunatics.”
That teaching hospital is being built in Awka as well as other structures such as the completed two giant Secretariats, the Ekwueme Square, a network of asphalted roads, the ASUBEB building, the new courts, pedestrian crossing, and many more and yet Okey described Awka as Mogadishu. If he were correct, then Awka must have been a stone-age towns before Obi took over. We hope the person that comes after Obi will move it many notches up, but I challenge Okey to tell us what other past Governors did to the town. He probably would not want to know that even the compensation for land acquired by past Governments in Awka were paid by Obi. Awka is not developing and yet when Obi became Governor, it had only three hotels but now it has more than 30. Bank branches have tripled. These are indices of development.
Okey’s pieces these days are interesting. Through him we realise what it means when we attribute the problem of Anambra to Anambra people. Today, Saharareporters, which he is a part owner of, is fighting Anambra State. In deed we are our greatest problems. Gov. Obi is the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum and the Vice Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, but sadly, 99 per cent of those who want him to be removed are people from Anambra State.
If you have been following Okey’s write-ups, you will have noticed that he has not written a single article that is idea-based; it must be this person or that person. He is so childishly personal and should be told that columns are meant for serious people that understand it is for them to generate ideas and propagate them. This is not a virtue but inherent weakness. If you interprete his character striat to an elder in the village, he will surely conclude na nwataa ga-akpa nsi. One of the problems we have in Anambra is the terrible condition of Federal roads, yet Okey will never use his column to bring such to the attention of the Government. Instead, he will bury himself in cynical pessimism denouncing everybody with violent hyperbole. He reaches a dizzy height when it concerns Gov. Obi.
Gov. Obi, in spite of Okey will remain one of the best things that have happened to Anambra State. He is at home here and he is delivering because long before he became the Governor, he had disciplined his body to hardship, his appetite to moderation and his thoughts to objectivity. He has been tested and he faced the tests with amazing stoicism. He lives an exemplary life, untouched with any scandal of gallantry or intrigue.
Today, development partners are falling over one another to identify with the successes of Anambra State. Obi has attracted a fortune 500 company that is presently investing about 120 million Dollars in the State. This may mean nothing to Okey. I know our people who are in the USA like him who everyday try to attract one investor or the other to the State. Okey has no time for such patriotism but only criticises blindly, which is actually the easiest thing anybody can do. Pettiness you may call it!
Obienyem wrote this piece from Awka, Anambra State.
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