By Ikeddy Isiguzo
Prophet Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere is testimony that size cannot obstruct one’s determination to excel in a chosen career. The petit fellow, who has seized minds in Onitsha, can easily be lost in a crowd of three. He is that small.
He has put his size to mesmerising acrobatics that hold audiences captive in serial releases of theatrics, some of which you won’t expect in a Christian place of worship. He is him.
He can break into a dance in the middle of his rare conversations about the Almighty: the music could be any trending secular ‘dance all’ number with lyrics that should not be heard in church. He makes his own rules in a business that is doubtlessly lucrative.
Some of his best advertisements are video clips of followers. In testifying to his abilities, they spray him with money, in amounts that confirm he is into serious business, or his visits to businesses, where crowds quickly gather when they hear he is around.
An alliance with Nollywood actors guarantees a sprinkling of popular faces to his church. Whether worshippers go for Nollywood, wrestling, his dance steps or miracles, their expectations are exceeded.
However, he remains his best advertisement with performances that include sporadic leaps into the air as if he intends to fly. The unwritten rule is space, more space, around him for his sprouts of displays.
Odumeje, as he is more popularly known, is never about the expected. He slams the sick on chairs and floors, in manners reminiscent of televised wrestling contests. According to him, broken limbs, have to be pieced to qualify for his healing touch. He challenges the competition to try what he does.
Not so eloquent in English, barely able to sustain conversations in the language, Odumeje relies on frequent resort to babbling, supposedly communing with spirits, to paper over the deficit. He is not in competition with the market.
He knows what the audience wants, and dishes it out in varieties beyond the audience’s imaginations. That’s first class service delivery, not just church service.
Though a shadowy character masking his cant in artistry and acrobatics, some say his traditional ways are adequately accommodated in the mix, and mist. In his fleeting, speedy, choreographed public engagements, there is hardly time to understand his moves as they issue in quick successions.
He craves attention. His expertise in self-promotion soared when he said he would walk on River Niger, the water that defines Onitsha, as much as Onitsha defines it. The city waited with abated breath.
Days to the miracle, Odumeje denied promising to walk on the river. By then, more people were lining up to his servings of entertainment which comes in combos of dance, drama, and diatribe, as his spirit dictates.
I like his dance steps.
I like his patois.
I like his dressing.
He is dandy.
He is natty.
He is trendy.
He is almost classy.
Odumeje is a lesson on how open the religion enterprise is. With a ceaselessly growing market of belief and unbelief, new target audiences are always available. If not, you create them.
Breakdown in services like hospitals, instability in the economy, and a myriad of issues rooted in mystics, draw crowds to Odumeje.
Efforts to de-market him fail for he is the creator of the niche market in which he operates. It is his business. He operates a sphere others consider too provincial, even crude.
Odumeje would likely fall when he fails to invent new skills to keep his game, his muscles flag, or an understudy overtakes him.
His choice of Onitsha will extend the city’s fame for baptising enterprise. Traders need him. He doesn’t need more than a miniscule of the millions of business people who need protection for their millions – he is already made.
Next step in his revolving business would be to create a special class of people who can access him. The services for this class would be the final confirmation of his place in the effervescent history of business trajectories in Onitsha.
He has grabbed attention. He is squeezing everything out of it. He won’t stop after a self-promoting himself to an Onitsha essential balm.
Imagine his claim that if he hadn’t travelled the petrol tanker fire that ravaged Ochanja, Onitsha’s second largest market, would have been averted?
With Odumeje, you don’t need hospitals, his miracles see to that. Now, Onitsha may not even need the Fire Service.
Onitsha should brace up for a new trader who speaks the language of the land in slangs and élan that slide the mystics of religion to his side.
Isiguzo is editor-in-chief Momentum Africa Media.
An Open Letter To Senator T.A Orji
By Kalu Nwokoro Idika
I am writing this letter to you with so much grieve and disappointment after reading the report of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on how you, your son and other crooks who could be at large fleeced Abia State treasury and left the entire State in total ruins. Considering the magnitude of your financial banditry as a former Governor, I contemplated throwing caution to the wind in this letter but however, I considered how parochial such approach could be looking at the level of premium placed on the issue at hand.
Since the return of the much touted democracy in 1999, Gods Own State has had it so bad when it comes to good governance. The narrative has been very unfavourable. It has been a reign of economic vandals and petty thieves who know next to nothing about leadership. When other federating units are working assiduously with the scarce resources at their disposal just to better the wellbeing of their people, the sermon seems to be the otherwise in Abia State as political demagogues are rather engrossed in a marathon of looting and political vendetta
In 2007, when Mr Orji Uzor Kalu handpicked and made you his successor, many of us knew that you were not different from him; an old wine was simply changed into a new wine skin. He conscripted you into the government house with the false believe that you shall assist to shield his financial malfeasance from the public. But unfortunately, his instinct dribbled him when he suddenly became aware that you were nothing but a dubious and peckish lion panting for the slightest opportunity to devour and unleash mayhem. The recent revelation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on how you and your son who is now the speaker of Abia State House of Assembly plundered the common wealth of the State calls for an urgent action.
Mr Orji, your era as the former Governor of Abia State was characterised by elaborate fraud. Abia never witnessed any iota of development. It was all about the usual sharing of money to political contractors and thugs who assisted in maintaining the political abracadabra that sustained your inept and clueless administration. Under your supervision, Abia State became the most dirtiest place in Nigeria, insecurity was at the peak and there was high level of infrastructural decay. Your government did practically nothing in order to ensure that Abia metamorphosed from the threshold of peripheralism. Little did we know that you were busy looting and mortgaging the future of the State for personal aggrandizement.
The terrible tale of how you and your fickle son embezzled over five hundred billion naira meant for a State that is on the brink of economic collapse calls for a state of emergency. Very catastrophic for Gods Own State that hardly pays its workers and pensioners. When we thought the enemy was far from us little did we know that the killer was within. Five hundred billion naira which would have changed the entire economic landscape of Abia State was diverted and pocketed by a heartless fellow like you without any sign of remorse. You bastardised the entire political process in Abia State and also recruited a wimp as a successor whom the political baton of cleaning up the mess you created was given. Know wonder you ran like a kleptomaniac toad to the senate to hibernate.
Are you not ashamed of yourself Mr T. A Orji? Where is your conscience? With five hundred billion naira, Abia State would have been on the page of economic prosperity. There will be state of the art hospitals, schools, roads, factories and viable transport system. Thousands of jobs will be created with such money but you never thought it wise, now Abia State is dying because of your selfishness. The pathetic side of the whole charade is that you are presently in the senate as a law maker. I wonder the kind of law an economic saboteur will be making in the parliament. No doubt, only a nation without a defined priority would allow a distinguished enemy of democracy like you to be in their legislative chamber. If there is any atom of shame in you Mr T. A Orji, by now you should have vacated your seat in the senate and surrendered yourself to the anti graft agency for onward prosecution.
You pocketed N383 billion, revenue from federal account, N55 billion from excess crude revenue, N2.3 billion Sure-P, N1.8 billion ecological funds, N10.5 billion loan from First Bank of Nigeria through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs, N4 billion loan from Diamond Bank, N12 billion Paris Club refund, N2 billion agricultural loan for farmers, N55 billion ASOPADEC fund and N500 million purported to be security vote, which were being converted for eight years according to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
Mr Orji, history will be unkind to you and other scoundrels that perpetuated this ominous crime which has left Abia State in tatters. But one thing is paramount, there won’t be any hiding rendezvous for you and others as the long arm of the law is bound to catch all of you. Many workers and pensioners died out of frustration due to your greed and their blood will be on your head. The good people of God’s Own State won’t rest until justice is served. You are wicked and very ungodly.
In conclusion, late Anini would have been more preferable in the Senate than you. You constitute a threat to democracy and economic prosperity. As the anti graft agency is thorougly digging into your case, I will suggest you start preparing yourself for what is to come because out of greed you decided to eat alone at the expense of the poor masses. There won’t be peace for the wicked.
Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist.
He can be reached via email: Kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Opinion articles are solely the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official standpoint of Oriental Times or any of its editors thereof.
Breakdown Of Igbo Marginalization In Nigeria
By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
“I sincerely believe that the incessant cries about Igbo marginalization in Nigeria is unfounded”
Mr. Kassim in a well written article (On Feb 17, 2020, at 3:43 PM,) wrote the above. He went to try to prove the impossible, that the Igbo is not marginalized except for the period 1967-1970 (the war period). He cited examples: The Igbo are doing just as well as other ethnic groups; The Igbo are found in almost every village, town and city outside of the SE where they ply their trades; work in all professions for which they are qualified, live and raise their children; have been in every government since the war; have a small percentage of their mega rich, the ordinarily rich and the comfortable ones among them who breathe the same air as the ever dwindling and struggling no of the middle class and a mass of poor people; thanks to their hard work, the Igbo own more than 2/3 of the privately owned properties in Abuja; The Igbo also own residential and commercial real estate properties in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and many other major cities in Nigeria; etc.
Mr. Kassim concluded by stating that “Marginalized and oppressed peoples throughout the world are usually not granted free access to live anywhere they want in their countries.”
The examples cited by Mr. Kassim would look like true. When the Igbo cry about marginalization what they actually mean is marginalization by the federal government. Let’s see how:
The SE zone has only 5 states as compared to 6 and 7 states in other zones; has just 15 senators as compared with 18-21 in other zones out of 106 members; has 43 representatives out of 360; has 5 governors out of 36; the lowest number by dollars and by counts of all federal infrastructure development programs including road mileage and bridges; zero police and military colleges and infrastructure; little refineries and electricity grids and pay the highest for electricity; etc.
The federal government borrows money for its development programs but invests the least in SE even though we collectively pay for the loans. 50 years after the war, the war damages have not been repaired despite the fact that billions of dollars were donated by foreign government to repair the damages. The money went to other Nigerian states that had no war damages; some state governments seized Igbo assets and did not release them and did not develop them and they went to blazes. Etc.
These are the reasons for the incessant cries about Igbo marginalization. Nigerians when they sit in a conference like in the House or the Senate agree on the marginalization principles.
But individual Nigerians once out of group welcome the Igbo in their communities. The quick recovery of the Igbo is due to individual efforts of Nigerians. The Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Edo, Ijaw, Efik, etc. each as individual made tremendous sacrifices to see the survival of the Igbo. My uncle had a couple of houses in Kafanchan. During the war, the tenants collected the rent from his property and after the war they handed the rents to him. He was instantly rehabilitated and he sent my cousins to America where they now are thriving. The suppliers to Igbo traders refurnished their customers with inventory without demanding credit worthiness or security deposits. My former students came looking for me and one who was in a secondary school in 1970 gave me one pound from his pocket money. The former military governor of Midwestern Nigeria, Col Ogbemudia, gave a grant to University of Nigeria. There were many benevolent acts like these.
But the Military Governor of Rivers State, Diette Spiff, seized Igbo properties in Port Harcourt and disposed them to his cronies. No compensation. And he put a Rivers’ government stamp on the act. Mr. Kassim’s treatise on the Igbo discrimination/marginalization may look good to a casual reader but there was/is structural marginalization embedded in Nigeria governance that calls for incessant marginalization calls. Until we listen to the cries and do something about them, they will be incessant.
Restructuring is possibly the only solution and many other Nigerian ethnic groups seem to be coming around to the idea.
Nigeria putting her head in the sand like the ostrich, and ignoring the reasons for the cries is not the answer.
~ Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba writes from Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
The North And Vanity Of Power
By Charles Ogbu
Northern Nigeria is a tragic paradox. A walking contradiction, I mean.
For over 40 years, the North has ruled Nigeria and controlled every aspect of her national life. The current President of Nigeria is from the North and virtually every security agencies in Nigeria including the paramilitary ones are in the hands of Northerners. Yet, almost half of the North is firmly in the hands of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements operating under different names. Both our Army Chief, Defence minister and even the Commander-In-Chief now need to be escorted by almost the entire Nigerian armed forces before they visit their home towns all in the North. As I type, some of the bodies of dozenS of people butchered by bandits Friday evening in President Buhari’s own home state of Katsina are yet to be interred.
All the revenue generating agencies in the country from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) etc are manned by Northerners. The richest man in Africa is from the North. Yet, according to a recent report released by World Bank, 87% of Nigerians living in poverty are in the North.
Beyond poverty and insecurity, the North boasts of having the highest number of out-of-school children estimated at 12 million by a UN report. The worst case of infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria is in the North. The worst case of illiteracy and drug abuse is in the North. It is also in the North that the highest number of unemployed and unemployable youths are found.
This raises the question: What exactly has the Northern elites done for the North with all the long years they’ve controlled political power in the country? Of what use is power if you cannot use it to change the fortune of your people?
In the midst of all these internal contradictions, why do Northern youths still seem to worship their political elites as some god instead of seeing and treating them as the real authors of their misfortune? Why do Northern youths only care about helping their elites acquire political power without deploying that same energy towards making sure they use that power in a way it will benefit the average Northerner?
Funny enough, despite the consensus on the nothingness that is the Buhari regime and the entire North becoming a hotbed of terrorism and banditry under a Northern Commander-In-Chief, if elections were to be held today between President Buhari who has failed beyond every doubt and a Southern candidate with excellent record and a credible chance of transforming Nigeria, chances are the average Northern youth will vote Buhari even if doing so will conclusively put the country on the way to golgotha. He will, because all that matters to him is having a fellow Northern Muslim at the helm of affairs. Mind you, if the North were to be a separate Nation, Northerners would never elect someone of Buhari’s intellect and competence to head even a hamlet because they know he has nothing to offer. The only reason they support Buhari is because they care more about dominating others than they do about performance.
It is a cultural thing. It has a name: Feudalism.
And this is exactly why the North and the South can never coexist happily because the two regions have a world view and value system that contrasts sharply with each other. One wants to explore the world and her full potentials while the other simply wants to dominate everyone and force others to go back to the dark ages with her.
I understand that we are in a time when truth sounds like hate to those who hate it but it must be stated in an unmistakable term that the Northern part of Nigeria is a huge liability to the rest of the country. If the region fails to take immediate steps to address her issues, the North risks collapsing under the weight of her internal contradictions. And when it happens, it will drag the rest of the country along as we are already witnessing.
Southern leaders must start making preparations for the day-after-tomorrow because if a man cannot stop a bad rain from falling, wisdom demands he should at least take measures to protect himself from being beaten by the rain.
Ogbu is a socio-political analyst and good governance advocate. He tweets from @RealCharlesOgbu