Monday, 21 February 2011

Tribute: As Ada Okwuonu Bows Out

Dr. (Mrs)Ada Okwuonu
By John I. Mgbe
At last, the elegant gazelle and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Dr. Mrs. Ada Okwuonu, whose removal as Deputy Governorship candidate of PDP in the next elections has been a rumour will finally bow out of office on 29th May, 2011, having been dropped as the Deputy Governorship candidate of PDP in the forthcoming election. Before the unveiling of the new Deputy Governorship candidate, Professor Viola Onwuliri, the rumour of Ada Okwuonu’s ouster had spread like a hamattan wind. Permit me to snatch a small space to do an ode to a woman who brought so much vibrancy and agility to her work. 
As Deputy Governor, Ada Okwuonu manifested immense candour, adroitness and perspicacity to the office of the Deputy Governor. She is a woman of grace who in spite of the madness and gangsterism in the political arena remained cool, calm and collected. At a time when others mounted the podiums to make indecorous attacks on political opponents, this woman of grace was a mother who would not show any malice on any of her children. She was regal, royal and compassionate and often she looked like a Mother-General of a Catholic Convent. 
As Ada Okwuonu bows out on May 29th, 2011, she will be leaving a yawning chasm that will be difficult to fill. My candid advice is that as the tintinnabulation of her exit date tolls, she must be vigilant to ensure that she does step unto the banana peelings which her opponents may throw in her way. Ceteris Paribus, this elegant and vibrant lady, Ada Okwuonu, will bow out of office on 29th May at a time when the ovation and applause will be at the highest decibel and crescendo. The like of Ada Okwuonu are not picked on the streets. She is the veritable ODIUKO NA MBA. 
 Most of her detractors will not be glad if Ada Okwuonu bows out with her integrity intact. In their desperation, they may use hook or crook to sully her immaculate profile in government. Recall that her predecessor, Engineer Ebere Udeagu, was also a great Deputy Governor while serving under the then, Governor Achike Udenwa. He even won an award from the Senate as the “Best Deputy Governor in Nigeria”. But because he was not vigilant, he destroyed his integrity and profile in government when, for inexplicable reasons, he resigned from Governor Achike Udenwa’s Government to join the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) where he became the Vice Presidential Candidate of the DPP Presidential Candidate in the 2007 election. I have been wondering how somebody who had such a great record in government could suddenly squander his integrity by masquerading as the Vice Presidential Candidate of a briefcase political party. My wonderment is grounded on the fact that he resigned just about two months to the end of his 8-year tenure. Too bad!
My reason for writing this viewpoint is because of the incessant blackmail on the Catholic Archdiocese as the cause of Ada Okwuonu’s travails. One of these blackmails emanated from a concocted and fabricated story from a local newspaper, that Ada Okwuonu visited the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, His Grace, Reverend Amarachi Obinna, in order to ascertain what he discussed with Governor Ohakim in regard to her removal as Deputy Governor. This is cheap blackmail because at the time of the fake story, Ada Okwuonu had not paid any visit on Archhishop Amarachi Obinna. In fact, it was the fake story from the newspaper that caused Ada Okwuonu to visit His Grace, the Archbishop. It is distressing that rather than explaining in a frank and candid manner the reasons for dropping Ada Okwuonu as Deputy Governorship candidate in the forth coming election, both the Government House and a section of the press engaged in the dissemination of lies and fabricated stories to heap the blame on the Catholic Church. The fact is that as I write the Catholic Church has no official position on who Catholics should vote for in the next election. However, Catholics who are endowed with the spirit of discernment must be able to discern the body language of their spiritual leaders in the same way good children discern the body language of their biological parents. The lies told against the Archbishop were so provocative that His Grace personally signed a press release to debunk the tissues of lies and cheap blackmail on the Catholic Church. A situation where the government and the press engage in disseminating falsehood against the Temple of the Most High God is beyond depravity. This behavioral pattern is highly reprehensible. The Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Imo State Branch, Sir Fidel Onyeneke, should intervene and insist on full compliance with professional ethics.
A few days ago, the Government of Imo State announced that the Ladies of Saint Mulumba awarded Governor Ikedi Ohakim, the title of “The Best Gender Sensitive Governor in Nigeria”. According to the PDP, this award is an endorsement of Governor Ohakim as a Great Governor. Although I do not speak for the Catholic Church, I wish to say that the award by the Ladies of Saint of Mulumba has no political undertone. This award was given under the auspices of the National Body of the Group based in Lagos who held their annual meeting in Owerri in 2010. 
The award was approved about April 2010 long before Reverend Father Eustace Okorie was humiliated and dehumanized in August 2010. Furthermore, the award is automatically given to Governors whose Deputies are women. It does not matter if such Governors are demonic or virtuous, 419ners or men of impeccable integrity. So, it is cheap blackmail to make an innuendo that the Catholic Women have endorsed anybody for the coming election. 
Another blackmail which must be corrected is the insinuation that the courtesy call on Governor Ohakim by the Pope’s Representative in Nigeria is an endorsement of Governor Ohakim by the Pope. The truth is that the Catholic Pontiff, Benedict XVI, is the Head of the Catholic Church as well as the Head of State of Vatican City, the smallest Sovereign State in the world. As a political Head of a Sovereign Nation, The Vatican City, his representative in Nigeria must of necessity and diplomatic protocol call on the State Governor of any State that he happens to visit. It is wrong for anybody to insinuate that such a visit is an endorsement of Governor Ohakim’s governorship agenda by The Pope or The Owerri Catholic Archdiocese. For the avoidance of doubt neither the Pope nor His Grace Archbishop Amarachi Obinna has spoken Ex-Cathedra on who Catholics should vote for in the next election. This opinion is a private one as I do not have the mandate to speak for the Catholic Church.

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