Enugu: The limits of propaganda, By Joseph Nnamani

Posted by News Express | 12 May 2022 | 354 times

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The first casualty in any war is truth. It is assassinated by propaganda. Elections in Nigeria are wars. As primary elections are about to hold in Nigeria as a prelude to next year’s general elections, it is no surprise that propaganda is in full swing. This is all the more so in a place like Enugu State where the only industry which booms is politics. There is no private sector or industries or commercial places. Everything begins and ends with government, in contrast to the situation in neighbouring Anambra State which has a large number of entrepreneurs of various categories.

While millions of Anambra people don’t give a hoot about government, it is government business all the way in Enugu State. In other words, it is propaganda all the way in our beloved state, the capital of not just the South Eastern states but also the former Eastern Nigerian Region which has been broken into nine states.

The propaganda making the rounds here in Enugu State currently is that a former top government official who was detained for a whole seven months by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for atrocities against the Enugu people is being supported by some prominent and respected individuals in his quest to secure the gubernatorial ticket of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While we keep the name of the so-called beneficiary of the propaganda anonymous for obvious reasons, even though everyone knows him, let us disclose the names of just two persons being bandied about as his supporters.

They are former Governor Jim Nwobodo of old Anambra State and Monsignor Obiora Ike, a Catholic theology professor living in Switzerland as chief executive of Global Ethics. Before leaving for Switzerland some eight years ago on attaining the significant age of 60 years, Monsignor Ike led for decades in the Enugu Diocese the influential Catholic body, Justice Peace and Development Commission which made him a household name, including to non-Catholics like me.

The propaganda that Senator Nwobodo supports him is facile. Here are just two or three reasons why any person with any modicum of intelligence, let alone morality, knows that the propaganda is vicious as it portrays some of our leaders as myopic and self-serving. It portrays them as people with no memory or any sense of history.

It was Chief Nwobodo who made the principal of this gubernatorial aspirant governor. He did it for two reasons: they are from the same Nkanu sub ethnic group and when Nwobodo was governor of old Anambra State from 1979 to 1983, the would-be governor was a leader of the Jim Vanguard, a militant group of Nwobodo’s followers ready to do anything to defend their principal. Nwobodo thought that he would still be pulling the strings from behind the scenes if he put in Government House his former militant disciple.

But ironically on assuming office when democracy was restored in Nigeria, the first thing the new governor did was to banish Nwobodo from coming to Enugu. There were palpable tensions everywhere in the state. The former governor had to keep away for years from the state in his own interest, even though he was a serving senator. The senator knew very well what the new governor was capable of doing; after all, he was a leader of the militant Jim Vanguard.

To worsen matters for Chief Nwobodo, the new governor convinced President Olusegun Obasanjo to direct the then Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Chief Joseph Sanusi, to revoke the licence of Nwobodo’s Savannah Bank, the former governor’s most important investment. The governor provided President Obasanjo documents he saw in office apparently showing that the money used to acquire Savannah Bank was laundered from the Anambra State government treasury when Nwobodo was the old Anambra State governor. The new governor told Obasanjo that the amount invested in Savannah Bank was money meant for building a carpet industry in Ihiala which is in today’s Anambra State. Chief Sanusi complied with Obasanjo’s directive to close down the bank.

Senator Nwobodo fought gallantly to stop the withdrawal of the bank’s licence. But he lost until several years later when the court ruled in his favour. Unfortunately, a lot of water had passed under the bridge for Savannah Bank to come back. For instance, the Charles Soludo bank consolidation had taken place. All the computers in the bank had become obsolete like all its furniture, including air conditioning systems and stationary. Of course, all its staff members had left the bank.

It was not just Savannah Bank which was ruined but several families and their members, including Senator Nwobodo, that depended on it. Guess which Enugu State Government official who gave to the state governor documents claiming that the funds for the acquisition of Savannah Bank came from the old Anambra State government treasury? You guessed right! The very gubernatorial aspirant claiming Chief Nwobodo is supporting his ambitions! Wonders can never end.

If the propaganda against Chief Nwobodo in respect of the person he is backing in the forthcoming governorship election in Enugu State is unconscionable, what word are we going to use to describe the propaganda against Msgr Ike, who is a senior Catholic priest and ethics professor that heads the biggest ethics project in the world and also has spent decades in Nigeria fighting unethical practices even in prison?

In fact, one particular story Msgr Ike has told many times is worth recalling here. In response to his public sermons against the unethical conduct of the then Enugu State government, the government hired some condemned prisoners to assassinate him. When the criminals visited him at night in the church, he requested for a few minutes to say his last prayers in the chapel. When he emerged, the leader of the criminals looked closely at him and asked if he was the priest visiting prisoners, praying for them and bringing them food, foodstuffs and clothes. He answered in the affirmative. And the criminals confessed to him that they were sent by Government House. The leader ordered his co-assassins to leave the priest alone, for he was a true servant of man and God.

Guess who was the Enugu State Governor’s most powerful cabinet member and closest personal aide when all this happened? Your guess is right once again.

Our state cannot go back to the years of the locusts. The years of assassinations, arson and destruction of houses of supporters like Nana Ogbodo and the late Sam Mbah, popular human rights activists, was a sadist, parted ways with him. Enugu people may have forgiven as authentic Christians, but they have not forgotten. We don’t want our state to go to the dogs.

There must be a limit to propaganda in our state’s politics.

Dr. Joseph Nnamani, MBBS, MPHi is a medical doctor in Enugu.

Source: News Express

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