By Rev. Fr. Dr. Polycarp C. Nworie
This was the first wise statement I heard from Peter Obi. It was sometime in 2004 at Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha.
Peter Obi was battling in the courts to reclaim his mandate stolen by the PDP and (Chris) Ngige. On that particular day, the seminary community organised a symposium to which, Uwazurike, the leader of MASSOB, Ngige, the then Governor of Anambra State and Peter Obi were invited.
The Archbishop of Onitsha, the lecturers, who were mostly priests and the seminarians took turns to appeal to Peter Obi to support Ngige to rule Anambra because Ngige was doing well by constructing roads and bridges.
Everyone, who talked quoted the popular biblical verse: “with God all things are possible.” And that “God writes straight on crooked lines.”
When it was Obi’s turn to respond, he began by telling the Archbishop, the priests, the seminarians and the general audience that he wanted to correct a wrong assumption. He said: “The statement, with God all things are possible is not correct.”
For him, only right things are possible with God. Going further, he said with God now, he cannot become a Pope because it is not right. If he had wanted to become a Pope, he would have gone to the seminary, become a priest and subsequently a Bishop before dreaming of becoming a Pope.
Pointing at his younger brother, Fabian Obi, who is also a priest and our lecturer in the seminary, and now the Rector of the seminary, he said, “My brother here can be a pope with God, but for me with God at this stage, I cannot be a Pope.”
About his stolen mandate, he shocked us! Peter Obi said that what we were talking about was that Ngige stole his mandate and that was what he was bent on recovering and the fact that Ngige was doing roads and bridges with the stolen mandate didn’t change the fact that it was stolen.
He now threw a question to us: “Armed robbers steal our cars and maintain them very well, even better than ourselves. Assuming we happen to see the armed robber after 10 years with that car in top form, well maintained, would we say, ‘Oh, dear armed robber, you have been maintaining this my car you stole very well, you can keep it?’
Everyone in the auditorium was incapacitated by his wisdom. He pursued his mandate and the rest is History.
Now, we have read the piece above, can we relate it to what happens around us in our daily lives? Have we seen how we daily use the name of God in vain? How we often use God’s name to justify some of the nonsense that happens around us? As it was in the days of Obi and Ngige, so it still is at this very moment.
The 2023 Presidential Election has come and gone and we all know how it went and how it went down as one of the worst in our History. But those who benefitted from it or who hope to benefit are already telling us about the need to accept it as the will of God as if God allows impunity. Yet, the people who are saying this out of selfish interest will still go to church and will still curse those who wrong them.
I was very much around in Anambra of those days; I mean the days of Ngige and Obi. Immediately after that massively and brazenly rigged election, the people of the state had rejected Ngige and would boo him in some of the places they saw him. But it wasn’t for long. Once Ngige began to take the fight back to his godfathers who put him in office against the will of the people, those very people began to praise him.
By the time he started paying salaries and clearing the backlog of what was owed by the previous regime, he was hailed as a Daniel come to judgement. Then when he started building roads he became a god and was deified. How he came to office became secondary. Some even began to say that God had wanted it that way and that Obi would not have been able to do anything against the godfathers that installed Ngige.
Even some elements in the Church began to pressure Obi to give up, as well as traditional rulers. There was even the day they went to the home of the man regarded as Obi’s uncle, the late Sylvester Nwobu Alor, to beg him to advise Obi to let go and allow Ngige to continue, especially when Ngige was doing well. Nwobu Alor was like Obi; he refused.
Later, even the then national chairman of APGA, Chekwas Okorie, disowned Obi and went to Ngige to say as much. From then, Obi was on his own but he never budged. It was probably only Nwobu Alor and Victor Umeh that were his close friends that stood by Obi. The rest had even begun to think that Obi was mad and believed he was wasting his time by remaining in court long after Ngige had been sworn in and performing the full functions of governor. Obi had become a distant memory.
I can only imagine the pain he bore during this time even though he kept a cool head. Only a very strong man indeed could win an election overwhelmingly as Obi did then and would not break down, after his mandate was stolen, everybody began to describe it as the will of God. But thank God for the kind of man Obi was and is.
He plodded on and told anyone who cared that he was fighting, not for himself, but for the future of their children. What happened later is now History but all that happened and still happening mirrors how glibly we use God’s name to defend injustice, infamy, falsehood and all manner of atrocious acts.
Even now, the members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, are calling on Nigerians to accept the rigged election as the will of God and for them to cooperate with the declared winner of that election to move Nigeria forward. But I ask, how can Nigeria move forward in deceit? How can we move forward with lies? Does it mean that God is a God that glories in injustice, in lies, in deceit? Very soon, more prominent Nigerians will join in calling on Obi to ”accept the will of God”. Yet, for those people, any attempt by anyone to take what belongs to them will be met with stiff resistance. They will never let go of their property or land and will fight to kill to keep what is theirs. Isn’t this hypocrisy of the highest order?
I make bold to say that God will never support evil. The God that I know will always support those who follow a process to arrive at an end. I don’t know if many see what I’m seeing. If the new crooks in town are allowed to get away with this daylight robbery, they will succeed in making Buhari a saint.
Despite Buhari’s incompetence and nepotistic disposition, he still pretended to be good. But those that I see trying to come in today will not pretend. They will ravage the country openly and dare you to complain. They will corrupt all the institutions and dare you to cry and nobody will stop them because all those that should have stopped them will be part of the infamy.
I really shiver when I think of the kind of people on the verge of coming in. They will bring Nigeria to her knees and completely finish her. Thus, all those who still see the struggle for a New Nigeria as an Obi thing are making their worst mistake. Let them forget their hatred of Obi and just see him as what he represents: a bridge or vehicle through which the country can get to the Promised Land.
Thus, if tomorrow anyone begins to preach about accepting things as the will of God, pursue that person until he runs into the evil forest for what is coming will be worse than what has come.