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By Chris Anyalewechi
September 3, 2020
A people is doomed when their tormentor overtly gloat over his subjugation of them, and rub his exploits in the faces of his victims.
Within the last forty-eight hours a video trended over social media showing the visibly gleeful chief tormentor of the people of Imo state, Uzodinma, describing how he managed to wangle his way to power. In the said video, he recalled how he, without having any political structure, or support base, managed to emerge candidate of APC — and then managed to catapult himself to the Douglas House, where he poses as the governor of Imo state. “Before Hope became the candidate, which structure do I have in APC. I came from outside, through the Ben Johnson way I became the candidate.” said a visibly unperturbed Uzodinma.
A brief profile of Ben Johnson (referenced by the Imo helmsman) is particularly germane to appreciating the import of the governor’s statement. Benjamin Sinclair Johnson (mostly referred to as Ben Johnson), born December 30, 1961, is a Jamaican-born Canadian former sprinter, who worn two bronze medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics. He was stripped of his gold medals in the 100 metres at the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Summer Olympics after being disqualified for performance-enhancing drug use.
If, therefore, we consider that Ben Johnson recorded the above-mentioned gold medals through illegal and disingenuous means, it can help us to fully grasp the Imo governor’s insinuation. With his thoughtless statement, he reminds the people of Imo of the harrowing events that led to his emergence as governor of Imo. Both his “backdoor” emergence as the candidate of the APC and the disgraceful event of January 14, during which the apex court delivered a legally inexplicable and confounding judgement removing the duly elected governor of Imo, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, while declaring Uzodinma winner of the said election, have continued to haunt Uzodinma and his administration. He has since been contending with litigations challenging his position as Imo governor– which virtually all imo citizens believe is untenable.
Having returned from visiting president Buhari– from whom he may have gotten assurances over the safety of his position as governor– Uzodinma decided to publicly address questions surrounding his position as governor, and did so with bravado. In his response to the media, Uzodinma sought to remind us that winning elections in the current political space doesn’t necessarily require establishing a campaign structure and building a support base, but reliant on one’s ability to cheat, belirt, and subvert justice– in the “Ben Johnson way.”
He obliquely reminded the people of Imo that there sweat and blood, the sacrifices they put in during the gubernatorial election that saw to the emergence of Ihedioha as their legitimate leader, were pure futility. That they should have recognized, given his antecedents, that he was the more clever guy– better at subterfuge than they had ever known. That while Ihedioha had the people on his side, he had connection of the people and institution that matter– the Aso Villa cabal, and the Supreme Court. That while Ihedioha relied on the mandate constitutionally vested in the people, he relied on the political clout of the cabal and judicial prerogative of the apex court.
So when Uzodinma unabashedly declared that he became the APC party flagbearer– and by extension, the governor– through the “Ben Johnson way”, he is only giving credence to what we already know– which is that our political space has been terribly polluted by the country’s unconscionable, shameless political actors. More worrying, however, is that the judiciary have now utterly become an institutional tool in service of the executive, and employed at will by the latter to confer legality to impunity.
While Uzodinma revels in his “Ben Johnson-way” emergence as Imo governor, the people of Imo continue to groan under the weight of his abysmal leadership. Since he, following his insinuation, was not elected through popular vote, but emerged through the “Ben Johnson way”, his allegiance and loyalty, understandably, is not to the Imo people, but to those– the Aso Rock cabal and the Supreme Court– who caused his elevation as Imo governor. It would, therefore, be ill-advised and injudicious for the Imo populace to expect good governance from him since they contributed little or nothing to the “Ben Johnson way” of his emergence. They, rather, wisely and judiciously threw their weight behind Emeka Ihedioha, who upon becoming governor immediately began repaying their faith in him– painfully, the Supreme Court made certain it was not to last.
The ramifications of Uzodinma’s “Ben Johnson way” emergence is far-reaching and profound. It has called into question the credibility of our electoral practices and laws, and has almost completely punctured public faith in our judiciary. The people of Imo– still reeling from the January 14, 2020 experience– and most Nigerians have continued to question the need to put any more effort into elections since politicians, using their firm grip on the judiciary, can easily subvert the will or choice of leader of the people through the law courts.
However, it has now become a direct affront on the sensibilities of the people when a sitting governor appears in a media conference to gloat about his exploits using the “Ben Johnson way.” This, therefore, imply that he no longer care about the possible backlash. For him, he has gained victory over the people of Imo– and what more can anybody do about it. Aso Rock cabal and the judiciary is on his side, what else matters. The people can groan, weep and wail as much as they want but it wouldn’t change a thing.
The governor must be reminded of the Igbo adage which says that, “A meal prepared by one man can be easily gobbled up by the mass of the people; but one man cannot finish the meal prepared by the mass of the people.” In the same vein, Abraham Lincoln reminds that “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Our value system teaches that anything gained through mischievous, disingenuous– the “Ben Johnson way”– means lasts only for a little while, and the retribution for such act is profound. The people of Imo– undaunted by the antics and intimidation of the “Ben Johnson way” governor– continue to work and pray that you are soon driven out of office the same path or “way” through which you came, as it were.
Chris Anyalewechi
Political and Public Affairs Analyst

Written by Precious

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