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.

Article: Is President Goodluck Jonathan different from others?(Part 1)

President Goodluck Jonathan
By Rufus Kayode Oteniya
Some say he is God sent to be the man for the moment who would change the status quo, others say he is not; some call him the lucky man with the Midas touch while others say his good luck, like the biblical Jabez's, brings ill-luck to the nation and others around him; some call him the messiah that Nigeria needs and others say Nigeria would better without him. President Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan (GEAJ) is man certainly drawn between uncritical sympathizers and unsympathetic critics. He sure means different things to different folks.
If only the uncritical sympathizers could be more critical and less sympathetic, they would have reasons to detest his presidency and if the unsympathetic critics could be less critical and more sympathetic, they would have reasons to desire his presidency.
His ardent supporters show a kind of love that is unprecedented for an occupier of Aso Rock Villa stemmed mainly from his meteoric rise to power that breaks the jinx of god-father-ism and the endorsement of the Northern oligarchy while those who loathe him see him as a manipulative opportunist who has created tension in the country because of his resolve not to respect his party zoning arrangement and his lackadaisical approach to governance.
His critics also point to his uncoordinated and unpresidential utterances; and most importantly the ill-luck that follows him with respect to his former bosses and the unrest that is characterizing his presidency.
President Jonathan’s supporters are euphoric about the change Nigeria needs and they are always quick to make a case that Jonathan is the man to cause the change. Their major arguments are the divine power behind his name (Goodluck) and his elevation to the exalted position of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Force without ever campaigning for any substantial elective position. ‘God must have got a hand in making him the president,’ they argue. They would also stop at nothing in accusing the other candidates as being either inexperienced or old-breed; religious and ethnic bigots; untrustworthy, corrupt, tribal and lacking in vision to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
Their assertions about some of the politicians might hardly be contestable but the real doubt is their portrayal of the president as being utterly different from everyone in the block.
I bet I'd try my best to be as neutral and fair as possible even though it is a difficult task not to take side on such a discourse.
As a non partisan Nigerian, I will use this series to make an independent analysis such that will enable a true and fair opinion on the question and see if GEJ is truly different from the lots in the block or not.
Does God have a hand in GEAJ’s ascension?:
As we are mostly godly people, so, I would like to answer this purely from a spiritual perspective. And as a Christian, I quite agree with the supporters of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that he was chosen not by man but by God for particular purposes which God knows and for which He has empowered him to achieve. According to the scriptures (listed below), no single human being can rise to any position without being ordained by God. God appoints everyone in authority including all those we perceive as wicked because Proverbs 16:4 says The LORD works out everything to its proper end even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Daniel 2:21 - He (God) changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Romans 13:1 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Colossians 1:16 - For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
John 19:11 (speaking to Pilate) Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
Daniel 4:17 `The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.'
Daniel 5:21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.
Going by the above scripture verses, it is certain that God was instrumental in bringing GEAJ to Aso Rock Villa for a purpose best known to Him. In the same way, God also ordained every other president before him. It is right to say God ordained Yar’Adua to be president, He also ordained Obasanjo, Abdulsallam, Abacha, Shonekan, Babangida, Buhari, Shagari……..
Whether they achieved the purposes for which they were ordained (or not) depended on them and that would be a subject of another discussion. So, President Jonathan, just like those before him and those who would come after him was ordained by God to be president in 2010. 
Was GEAJ ascension unique?:
The president, no doubt rose to power in a very peculiar way such that was not only unprecedented in Nigeria but probably in any other democracy. The closest to this was the ascension of late President Gerard Ford (1913 – 2006), the 38th president of the United States of America. He was the only US president who was never elected president or vice-president. On 6 December 1973, President Richard Nixon appointed Ford (who had been the House minority leader for 8 years) to replace  Vice President Spiro Agnew who had resigned two months earlier as a result tax evasion and money laundering criminal charges. Richard Nixon himself would later resign on 9 August 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal and Ford rose to be the president on the same day to complete Nixon’s term. He later lost the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter, the democratic candidate.
The events that led to the emergence of President Jonathan showed that he never contested for any substantial position before rising to the highest position in the country. This is a position many powerful people had unsuccessfully longed to be even at the expense of their lives. Not everyone had it on a platter of gold but he did.
Back in 1998, he was brought out of obscurity by Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha to be his running mate in the Bayelsa gubernatorial race. In 2005, during their second term, his principal, the governor was convicted of corruption and he became the governor without being elected or even campaigning to be so. Also in a dramatic way and against all odds, in 2007, he was selected by the then ailing presidential aspirant, the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to be his running mate for the presidential run and so, he became the vice president on 29 May, 2007. Following the death of the president, he was sworn in as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 May 2010 after being the acting president for nearly 3 months since 9 February 2010 when the National Assembly invoked the doctrine of necessity.
If I would have to answer the above question in the affirmative, yes! His ascension was unique but so were those of every other president before him. The late president Yar’Adua spent most of his time as a two-term governor fighting kidney ailment and as such nobody (including himself and the members of his family) gave him the least of chance to be Nigerian president. He confessed that all he wanted was to return to the classroom as a teacher if he could complete his gubernatorial terms but against his initial opposition he became the president.
Before Yar’Adua was Obasanjo, the man who had served as the commander-In-Chief of the armed forces longer than any other Nigerian. In our 50 years of independence, he alone was the number one citizen for 11 years 7 month and 16 days. On 13th February, 1976, as the second in military hierarchy and command to the assassinated Head of State, Obasanjo was forced at gunpoint to succeed late Gen. Murtala Mohammed. His second coming as the president was even more dramatic and unique. It could only be likened to the biblical story of Joseph (who miraculously left the dungeon to become the prime minister of Egypt, a country where he was sold to slavery) or to the modern day story of ‘prison to palace’ of the great Nelson Mandela.
Just when his only wish was to get out of the prison alive, he outlived late President Sani Abacha who fathomed his incarceration and came out to be Nigeria’s longest democratic president. In the history of the country, no president has ever been luckier than Obasanjo.
Abdusallam never ever thought in his widest dream of becoming a president, he was a product of circumstances just like Buhari who was not initially involved in the military coup that thrust him to the head. Gowon also became the head of state after Brigadier Ogundipe declined the position.
Both Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the late first republic prime minister and Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the second republic president confessed that they did not dream, plan and probably prepare to be Nigeria’s number one citizens.
The unpreparedness of these circumstantial and lucky leaders is one of the reasons the nation is still held down.