OPINION…Sam Omatseye: Viciously “disobedient”! – Nigeria Ripples
Professor Okey Ndibe is a great intellectual whom I hold in high esteem. We had communicated in the distant past by e-mail. He happens to be from Anambra State just like yours, him Amawbia and me Ihiala. We both wrote on an online platform, Nigeria Village Square, many years ago. He was a voice of reason, a great patriotic Nigerian with rich academic credentials. We shared a principled position on how Nigeria, our country, had been failed by a rapacious elite and how, through our collective interventions, we could lend a hand in its redemption.
Professor Ndibe recently spoke online regarding next year’s presidential poll. He answered questions during the “90-Minutes Africa” online interview show hosted by Rudolf Okonkwo and Chido Onumah on Sunday, July 24. It was vintage Okey Ndibe at its best intellectual element. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard of him, so it was refreshing to hear him speak again.
According to the US-based author and social critic, “Obi has excited many Nigerians, especially young Nigerians. The reason for this is understandable…Nigerians have not had an aspiring politician in a long time who seems to think through the problems of the country, articulate those problems and articulate the means to solve those problems”.
And pushing further he said, “So Obi comes with numbers and Nigerians see that as a breath of fresh air. We’ve always needed that. When Obi talks about all the issues, it excites Nigerians… And Obi comes across as a young and physically fit person. So there is this combination of a certain sense of intellectual drive and physical fitness that should be a welcome departure from what we have in Nigeria.”
However, the renowned author and speaker had elaborated on some shortcomings which he believed could hamper Peter Obi’s leadership ability and offered some suggestions on how they could be mitigated. Listen to him: “Obi has a certain personality cult… He is extremely self-referential. And that’s not a good thing in a leader… Obi also has a tendency to promise too much. Nigeria’s problems are so deep, so fundamental and so vast. So when you make it look like if you’re made president you’re going to solve everything, then I’ll say pause a minute.
Professor Ndibe was not done yet: “Another problem I have with Obi is what I call the hypocritical self-inflicted wound. When people don’t ask you certain things, don’t say things that may turn out to be wrong on the exam… I’ll tell him not to squeeze the microphone too much; not being there talking so much; create a network of people who will work for him and start appointing advisers in different areas”.
The popular writer concluded by saying that: “I think clearly, of the three main contenders, Obi is the most exciting. We see that excitement on the internet. So maybe Obi is going to create a surprise. But for that , he must overcome not only the monster of ethnicity and religion”.
Professor Ndibe was very critically and objectively fair in his assessment of the Labor Party’s presidential hopeful. Obi must correct some behavioral attitudes and mannerisms if he hopes to overcome strong opposition in February. Winning the presidency next year cannot be considered a walk in the park by any level of the imagination. Not even Asiwaju Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar can claim such an easy and cheap triumph.
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Writing in his weekly column in the Nation newspaper recently, Sam Omatseye had hit Obi hard by questioning his handling as a former governor of Anambra State, dismissing his chances in the upcoming presidential polls and accusing him of doing of religious politics. He accused him of disguised corruption by saying that his wife had spent millions of naira corruptly. Omatseye said Obi used religion as bait.
According to the popular columnist: “Obi has become a haven for miscreants and mob activists.” The chairman of the editorial board of The Nation newspaper said that Obi was miserly because as governor he only spent on himself and his family! He savagely asserted that: “No economy works in history by saving money. It is suffocating the economy”.
Continuing his toxic attack, the veteran journalist linked the ‘Obidient’ movement to the cause of liberating Biafra, alluding to Biafra state agitators dropping their guns for social media in an Obi frenzy for the President. He alleged that Obi had become the “darling” of pastors as he visited church after church seeking Christian votes.
Ordinarily, Omatseye’s rant might have been better understood had he not worked for the Nation newspaper owned by APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. It was a disgusting read from cover to cover! Reading the vitriolic play mixed with igbophobia and repugnance, one had the impression that Omatseye must have received a marching order from Asiwaju to do the play or be sacked! Or he did it to curry favor with the big man from Lagos.
Since he wrote the offending article, the “Obidient” army has been rising up online. And the columnist Omatseye himself had alleged death threats from them! He called on Obi to rein in his massive online crosses because if anything happened to him, Obi would be held responsible. As a renowned social critic, Omatseye should not fear death or be bothered by the threat of it.
No one would kill him for making his opinion public. No, we are still under a democracy (although bastard) where every opinion counts and where freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution. He is therefore free to express himself.
Perhaps Obi’s eloquence and mobilization skills give the Omatseyes of this world sleepless nights. Nigerians are aware of Asiwaju Tinubu’s many baggages – his age differences, his ‘bullion-van’ controversy, his fake college degrees, his many names and backgrounds. But Omatseye could not write about them because he eats and breathes today because he is paid by one of Asiwaju’s companies. Omatseye should have questioned what many Nigerians have been asking lately about Tinubu’s corrupt past as Governor of Lagos State or his role as godfather in imposing his successors.
Asiwaju Tinubu is reputed to be incredibly rich, but Omatseye never bothered to ask how he got rich or what he did to justify such opulence. While Obi never spent a penny to be able to win the presidential candidate of the Labor Party, Asiwaju BAT spent millions of dollars to buy himself the presidential candidate of the misguided APC party! These are the things that should concern Sam Omatseye and not how Obi and his movement prepare for the elections next year.
If patriotism is to be a criterion to determine who becomes the president of Nigeria after Buharism, then Obi remains a better patriot than Tinubu. If performance is to be scrutinized by governors, then Asiwaju is no match for Obi. When it comes to probity and integrity, Obi is far ahead. While Obi revolutionized the governance of governors in Anambra State, saving billions for the administration that succeeded him, Asiwaju gutted Lagos. And continues to this day to milk the state of aquatic splendor through its proxy corporations and surrogates.
Ahead of the APC’s “dollarized” national convention that saw the triumph of Asiwaju Tinubu as the party’s official presidential candidate, Omatseye had punched the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, below the belt, calling him unprintable names and accusing him of treason just because he dared to challenge Tinubu for the presidency. And before that, years ago, he hit former Governor of Abia State Senator Orji Uzor Kalu hard, questioning his academic profile and his confusion of the word certificate with ‘certificate’ ! Then Kalu’s media executives fired back at Omatseye saying he couldn’t even shine shoes for the ex-governor!
Is ‘Okwute’ Peter Gabriel Obi the next big thing to happen in Nigeria next year? Well, the answer hangs in the air; it is neither here nor there. However, whenever solid rock “blocks” something or something blocks solid rock, damage, “positive” or negative, is inevitable. The Obi presidency could become the rock we need to stabilize the system.
Let the rock, ‘Okwute’, happen in our generation! And when that happens, haters like Sam Omatseye could jump into the Lagos lagoon if they so choose! We will not mourn their obituary!
If Peter Obi wins the next presidential election, it will be Sam Omatseye’s professional “obituary”! For now, let him carry on with his menial, brown-husk journalism. Getting closer and closer to the grave, Omatseye knows that no more laurels (global or local) would come to meet him. So he’s content to push for Asiwaju’s presidency, if only to be rewarded with a better job with his manager inside Aso Rock Villa.
But wishes, not being horses that beggars could ride, could meet disappointment at the height of time.
The ‘Obidient’ movement must win next year! And this despite the vicious “disobedience” of unfortunate people like Sam Omatseye.
AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the authors and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial position.
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