Posted by Ikelie Udegbuna | 15 March 2013 | 5,030 times
He left the venue of the programme visibly distraught with a promise to avenge his less than average performance. Politics Today, a programme of Channels Television, not too long ago, played host to Mr. Mike Udah and Sir Victor Umeh. The subject of discussion was All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a party currently enmeshed in leadership crisis. The discussion very much stirred strong emotions.
As he was won’t, Umeh wanted to dominate the show. He was evidently in no mood to allow his opponent any opportunity to air his view. However, he got the greatest surprise of his life as Mr. Udah assailed him with superior argument and indulged less of his garrulity. To rub salt into the wound, he could not unleash the last of his invectives when the curtain was drawn. Resignedly, as the programme tailed off, he muttered his determination to continue the war in the print media.
So when on Saturday, March 9, the Sun newspapers carried a story entitled Udah and the limits of attack, it was easy to tell the face behind the mask. Unfortunately, the hatchet job as done by a certain Amanze Ubochi lacked convincing argument.
In the beginning, the leadership crisis in APGA, which Chief Umeh brought on the party, has made him go beside himself. The frenzy was magnified further by the judgment of an Enugu High Court that nullified his office. Ever since then, he has engaged every imaginable enemy in a war of words. Let me state here that Chief Umeh has for a long time patented this uncommon attribute – unleashing invectives on those who disagree with him politically. The list of those who were victims of his acerbic tongue is endless: Peter Obi, Maxi Okwu, Nwobu-Alor, Dubem Obaze and now Udah, etc. This appears his forte, and most people flinch from an encounter with him. But to his greatest amazement and discomfiture, Mr. Udah refused to be had on toast, and successfully turned the table against him.
I must concede that Umeh exudes some brilliance, but he seems to lose as much of this remarkable trait once in pursuit of some undefined interest. Otherwise, why the frenzy about court judgment? If there was a travesty, couldn’t Umeh have pursued his case without smearing everybody, including the judiciary? Must everybody go down just because his tenure was vitiated by a judicial pronouncement? I am uncomfortable with this type of self-seeking politics that is caused to wear a toga of populism.
Ubochi in his spirited defence of his master, refers to Umeh as one of the future leaders of this country. I have no qualms with this. But is Umeh an island unto himself? Does his political development derive from the stagnation of others? If the answer is nay, why will Umeh refer to Udah as an ordinary aide to Governor Obi, undeserving of the television chat? Why will an Ubochi be aroused just because Umeh was asked to come down his high horse, but becomes indifferent to the reference of Udah as an ordinary aide to the governor and a non-ranking party official? Was Udah not Governor Obi’s running mate in 2007 under the same party? I have the feeling that until that television chat, Umeh erroneously assumed an inviolable status within APGA and among government officials, talking to all with supercilious condescension.
Ubochi thinks the only reason Udah was made an aide to Obi was because they were classmates at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Beyond this, impliedly, Mr. Udah is undeserving of the job of a Chief Press Secretary. He is also convinced that Udah has borne unremitting malice of fortune until very recently. “It does appear things have changed for the better, hence he may have been well taken care of to deal with the governor’s enemies.” This assessment of Udah fails woefully to the extent that it cannot be an impression of somebody who claims to know him. For the avoidance of doubt Udah, apart from enjoying a close- knit relationship with Obi that dates back to their secondary school days, was an award-winning student (Federal Government Scholarship) and a profound editor. He was comfortable before assuming the office of the CPS to Governor Obi. Udah was more imbued with academic excellence than Umeh. He entered secondary school from Primary Five; graduated Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; has two Master’s Degrees in Public Administration and Philosophy respectively, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication and is currently pursuing a Ph.D programme.
Ubochi chronicled Umeh’s academic record and bemoaned what he called the disdain of future country leaders. “If Udah should see an Estate Management graduate of many years standing and practitioner as a nobody simply because of politics, then you can see the disdain people like Udah have for the future leaders of this country, whether tested or not.” Much as I do not wish to dishonour academic pursuit, I also do not concede that all political knowledge or wisdom consists in it.
Some may have been found worthy in learning, but not in character. Besides, I am not sure Igbo land and, indeed, the entire country is lacking men and women who excelled in their chosen courses of study, including Estate Management. If we concede brilliance to Umeh, is that enough for him to treat others with supercilious condescension?
What I don’t seem to understand with an average Nigerian politician is his tendency to assume what he is not. The ease with which he makes his interest seem that of the masses and the unwisdom in not recognising when to tail off from the scene is worrisome. There is noticeable recycling of leaders across political parties in the country lately. Unfortunately, this has been the bane of our political development. Nobody wants to retire even if they function less in office as a result of overstay. Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister in the mid-Victorian period of anti - imperialism, writing about this, said: “Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forgo an advantage.”
How many of our politicians can forgo an advantage? Obsession with power and sit-tight mentality makes so many of them unworthy of our trust. Regardless of Ubochi’s public relation job that seeks to present his master as another hero of the Igbo nation, we know better. Ubochi wrote again: “Udah also said during a television chat, that there is no difference between APGA and PDP, confirming everybody’s fear that Obi has long left APGA or is rather working to destroy the party to pave way for his future political plans.” Even as Udah was quoted out of context, for he said that Governor Obi is not working with the PDP but with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the good of Nigerians. Can Ubochi tell his readers why APGA under Umeh’s leadership colluded with the same PDP government and adopted Jonathan as its Presidential candidate in 2011. Or is there any difference between using the rope to tie a goat and tying a goat with a rope?
Finally, Ubochi should wear his thinking cap and stop deluding himself and others, not as smart, that Umeh alone represents the new political leadership in Igbo land. There are duplicate copies of him in every nook and cranny of the South-East. Besides, if he has become the beautiful bride as this writer wants us to believe, what is keeping his betrothal? Ubochi writes: “Those who know the worth of Umeh politically are already making advances at him and last week for instance, one of the master strategists in Nigerian political arena asked his associates what they can do to get that man who wears long red cap to his party.” We cannot wait to see him off to the master strategist and his party. That way APGA will know peace!
•Udegbuna writes from Ifite Nteje, Anambra State. • Photo shows Mike Udah.
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