The Elephant In The Room!

Sam Omatseye, the Editorial Board Chairman of the Nation Newspaper based in Lagos and its weekly Columnist, made a dubious name for himself lately following his vicious essay last week Monday entitled ‘Obi-tuary’. Since the publication of the offensive defamatory piece Omatseye has been at the critical receiving end of angry reactions from the ‘Obi-dients’ and non-Obi-dients alike. Omatseye had desperately sought to kill Obi politically by announcing his untimely ‘obituary’. However, what he was getting thus far must have rankled him to no end since it has gone beyond his expectation. No article of his for years had generated as much a furore than this one!

Now, the Itsekiri man from Warri must have known better having apparently been forced to see Igbos differently. He stirred the hornet’s nest and the angry bees had mercilessly descended on him, feasting on his aging body and biting the hell out of him, into a state of coma. When one decides to sleep in the cemetery then the consequences could be eerily mortal!

Omatseye danced naked on the market square in Warri, Effurun or Sapele and the bad boys and girls had stoned him to a state of bloody unconsciousness. Wittingly or otherwise he had decided to murder sleep (in order to please his master in Bourdillon) and now he can no longer sleep well.

Following Omatseye’s denigration of the Igbos the big intellectual masquerades of Igbo extraction (at home and abroad) had risen to be counted in defense of the Igbo voice and race. We are not all petty traders or businessmen! The best response I had read emanated from a great mind named Chuks Iloegbunam. Brilliant and thought-provoking rebuttals equally came from Rudolf Okonkwo, Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, Valentine Obienyem, Obi Nwakanma and Ikechukwu Amaechi.

It is a pity that Omatseye’s Itsekiri minority ethnic group can never produce a President in Nigeria. And this is not the making of the Igbos. Even if the ‘Obidient’ movement fails to clinch the presidency next year chances are that in the near future an Igboman could coast home to electoral victory in a presidential contest Nigeriana. That is as certain as day and night, the cradle and the grave. And Omatseye would witness that powerlessly.

As one of the richest most sophisticated States in Nigeria, Anambra is one of the toughest states to rule in Nigeria. It is like New York or Texas in the United States. Yet the people are formidable and enterprising. You hardly find one lazy folk doing nothing and not eking out a living one way or another. Voodooism, cultism or witchcraft are not part of our people unlike Omatseye’s Itsekiri people.

No sane mind can claim that every inhabitant in Anambra state is a paragon or a saint! But majority of Ndi-Anambra are God-fearing, republican and independent. Omatseye in penning ‘Obi-tuary’ must have underestimated the power and ability of the Igbos to hit back at him. Since he drew the first blood as it were whatever comeuppance that comes his way is his for the asking.

We owe no apology to anyone for being who we are or having our way of life the way we have it or live it out. They claim we are mean-spirited, money-loving and unsophisticated politically but with the emergence of Obi and his ‘Obi-dient’ movement they are getting jittery and changing their dismissive narratives. Blinded by hate and stereotype they want to intimidate, subjugate and enslave us!

Peter Gabriel Obi is a professional politician like no other in Nigeria. His humility, compassion, patriotism and large heart has been acknowledged by even his opponents. His capacity to lead and his physical fitness are never in any doubt. The ‘Obi-dient’ phenomenon is only a testament to an idea whose time is upon us. In these trying national times Obi as President would make things better.

His mantra of ‘from consumption to production’ is in sync with the time, with our present national need. When the youths are engaged, gainfully employed and doing something to better their lives then insecurity would reduce drastically. When the economy is doing well transforming lives then our story of poverty and unemployment would change to that of prosperity and abundance. When the leader leads by example then corruption would be nipped in the bud and followers would fall in line.

Peter Obi always has his eyes firmly fixed on bigger pictures, big issues of the day which ought to be resolved (not by blood and iron as Buhari, Tinubu and the APC ruling gang think)  but by dialogue and deliverance of democracy dividends to the people.

Obi once confessed about his trip to Onitsha, a bubbling commercial city in Anambra State as Executive Governor years ago. Then, Osha was a dangerous city ruled at night by hoodlums and guns! Safety was terribly compromised at night hours for travellers and others.

While on a tour of duty one hot afternoon, according to him, at the notorious Upper Iweka Road, he had seen a mad man feasting on the garbage by the roadside. Surrounded by a retinue of security personnel Governor Obi went straight to the man upon setting his sight on him. He never knew the lunatic from Adam! And protocol barred him from interacting with ‘soulless’ souls like the mad man.

As he approached him calmly the mad man suddenly began talking sense out of the nonsense he was long associated with! He held him by his shoulder trying to know his condition better. The mad man made a stunning disclosure that led to the radical ridding of Onitsha of her criminal elements! He had told the Governor that as a street lunatic considered as worthless and a societal scum he knew where the dead bodies were buried!

He took the Governor to a refuse dumping site not too far away from where they had spoken. There, he asked the Governor to order his security men to dig up and clean the site as that was where the guns and other dangerous weapons the lawless elements used in the night for their operations were buried! Lo and behold, the security personnel went to work and few minutes later many guns and live ammunition were exhumed from the dumping site!

Governor Obi ordered them to load the weapons on to their cars and they left with them. He later rehabilitated the mad man sending him to the psychiatric hospital and off the streets. That tells you, of course, why and how one could be powerful yet embracing and humble. How power could be used for the general interest of the people, the led.

For many years we have been involved in this ‘crusade’ for a better Nigeria, in defense of democracy, rule of law, freedom and justice, we have never for once advocated for violence or bloodletting. But since we felt insulted collectively by Omatseye’s paid diatribe against a sophisticated ethnic group we shall use superior argument and intellect to drop, nay ‘destroy’, Omatseye rubbishing his tattered journalistic reputation.

I felt proud being an Igboman when I read many rebuttals and rejoinders to the Omatseye crap. It was a rare demonstration of intellectual unity, one of genuine solidarity. Yet it could not have been otherwise given our strong belief in education governing ignorance forever! Omatseye must be stupid in his old age to consider the Igbos as dunces or an ethnic group made up of only traders in Onitsha, Lagos and Kano!

Belonging to an underwhelming minority ethnic group, Itsekiri, located somewhere in Delta State, Omatseye must be a glorified victim of inferiority complex. He could have felt he was born an Igboman! He must have felt that by taking on the Igbos he would expose our academic deficiency but he has been proved robustly wrong! Omatseye must have forgotten that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the great Zik of Africa, the great Dim Ojukwu, Ozumba Mbadiwe, MCK Ajuluchukwu and a host of distinguished others are not from Itsekiri-land.

Just consider this scenario playing itself out in a room. There is this wild animal brutal contest involving savages like dogs, leopards, lions and elephants. Metaphorically let us say here that Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP is ably represented by the lion and Asiwaju Tinubu by the leopard. Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP is represented by the dog. And the elephant in the room represents no other than Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate.

When the fight for supremacy gets messy and dirty with every animal trying hard to kill and feast on the others which animal would come out of the room alive? The lion would try to slay the other beasts around using its dangerous claws and teeth. It may succeed in killing and eating the dog and leopard found in the room as the ‘king’ of the jungle it is.

But when the mortal fight gets to the demented lion and the elephant then the lion would be left bereft of ideas on how to deal with a massive creature standing before it. Where would it start to cause bodily damage to the elephant? From the neck or scrotum as he did to others? But both the elephant’s neck and its scrotum are almost beyond reach of the lion, so it is left in a quandary!

The elephant in the room in the upcoming presidential poll in Nigeria, we dare say, remains Peter Gabriel Obi! And the likes of Sam Omatseye must deal with or live with it!

Or, better still, die trying to fix it!

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