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Rash of paranoia against Peter Obi By Valentine Obienyem

Mr. Peter Obi
One way or the other, many of us were involved in the recent gubernatorial elections in Anambra State. Since that exercise in November 2017, society still subsists and the majority of the citizenry have moved on. Alas, confused sycophants of a self-styled first Senator of the Universe have continued to portray their gross immaturity through a paranoiac fixation on Peter ‘Okwute’ Obi.

Recently, one of those minions publicly garbled something about Obi leaving APGA in order to displace some Igbo political appointees in the PDP. In the first place, decency determines that nobody is compelled to belong to or remain in any particular political party. Obi’s exit from APGA was within his constitutional rights, and he is happy with his present platform. Irrespective of the outcomes, he also worked hard for the PDP in the 2015 general elections and has been an active member to date.

I have the privilege of being close to Peter Obi and familiar with his political moves. As the Governor of Anambra State, he was President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Finance and a member of that administration’s Economic Management Team – the first serving Governor to be so honoured. When Anambra State traditional rulers thanked President Jonathan for finding favour with Obi, the then Head of State asserted that those appointments were purely on merit; prompted by Obi’s quality contributions at meetings and stands on economic matters. Among others, it will be recalled that he was the only Governor that supported the setting up of a Sovereign Wealth Fund when the idea was first mooted. On his part, he saved billions of Naira for his successor-administration, which legacy was eventually acknowledged at various fora, especially during the gubernatorial debates of 2017.

Approaching the end of his tenure as Governor, Peter Obi was offered admission for a Master’s degree programme. It is known that it was the then Governor Godswill Akpabio and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that informed him of President Jonathan’s desire for him to join his Cabinet. How Obi could have done this by plotting the removal of Princess Stella Oduah or any other person for that matter – Igbo or otherwise – can best be the product of a demented imagination. It is also known that in company of the then Governor Theodore Orji during the pilgrimage to Israel (I was in that trip), Obi practically knelt down to beg President Jonathan not to sack Princess Odua over the bullet-proof vehicles saga.

Quite contrary to the insinuations of the Universal Senator’s sycophants, Obi did not purchase vehicles for Senators in order to be made a Minister of the Federal Republic. The fact is that towards the end of his tenure after he had fulfilled his obligations to the people of the State as universally acclaimed, Obi bought vehicles for Anambra members of the National Assembly. That was the first and only occasion he extended such a gesture. It is also known that since his tenure, vehicle gifts have been given to the State’s Representatives and Senators more than once.

The infamous sycophants also alleged that Peter Obi was not liberal with President Jonathan’s campaign funds in his capacity as Deputy Director-General for the South. Obi was not the sole player in that campaign even as the detractors cannot provide figures or some other statistics. With the benefit of hindsight, they may well be extrapolating that Obi might have continued his acknowledged prudence in the management of funds allocated to his office for the campaign. It is also instructive that he is the only highly-placed official in that campaign that was not indicted for receiving, sharing or keeping for himself, campaign money. We know how those who are blabbing now moved around in the night, doling out public funds for Obi to be indicted as they did when they thought Jonathan would make him Minister of Aviation.

Many of those spurious allegations – like the notion of Obi sponsoring Sen. Uche Ekwunife and Dr. Obiora Okonkwo – are so infantile as to be treated with disdain. What is clear is that Peter Obi supported Mr. Oseloka Obaze (OHO) whole-heartedly, and would do so again, if the occasion arises. Apart from their belonging to the same political party, OHO was acknowledged across the land as the most-qualified candidate for the November 2017 gubernatorial elections. He may not have won, but he is not bowed.

It is an insult to allege that Obi is plotting to be named Vice-President of Nigeria. Looking at the pedigrees of those being touted as possible candidates for the Presidency – especially the two-term Governors – would objective assessment of governance performance rate them above Peter Obi for the highest office in the land? He does not have to “plot” to be anybody’s Deputy and can exercise his constitutional right to aspire to the Number One position in the land.

Peter Obi served Anambra State very well and left indelible legacies. Since leaving Government House, Awka, his pre-occupation has been on sustaining his contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria. One of the ironies of the Igbo is the inclination to pull down their own people. Given the rash of paranoia against him, many people have observed that were Obi to hail from elsewhere, he would be accorded the high esteem he richly deserves.

In any case, beyond the lunacy of his detractors is his track record, which continues to attract commendations among Nigerians and internationally.

Obienyem wrote from Lagos

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