Senator Chris Anyanwu, beautiful and charming is at all times an embodiment of grace. Brilliant, resourceful and imbued with supreme self-confidence, she is not the one to easily cave in to pressure or intimidation by men. Long before the latest assault by Owele Rochas Okorocha, she had dazzled and dazed powerful men in power who had attempted to pull her down. For instance, despite wielding nothing more than her pen, Abacha who just couldn’t stand her guts, roped her in to an attempted coup, slammed her with a life sentence. From her Gombe prison she became a recipient of many international awards including the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism, the CPJ International Press Freedom Award and the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
And like a cat with nine lives, Anyanwu outlived Abacha to emerge a senator on the platform of PDP representing of Owerri Zone of Imo state. “I felt I could do more than observe and moan the things that were not going right … I felt I could be more useful in helping find solutions to the problems”, she had said to justify her decision to join partisan politics. She decamped to APGA and was again elected senator in the April 2011 election.
No less intimidating are the credentials of Okorocha, the governor of Imo State and Senator Anyanwu’s opponent in this epic ‘battle of convoys’.
His Excellency is a former member of National Constitutional Conference, former chairman, Board of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, former Special Adviser to President Obasanjo on Inter-Party Relations and former PDP chairman aspirant.
Like Anyanwu, Okorocha is a tough fighter, who through hawking of groceries in Jos bought his first bus before he was 14. He also sold fairly used cars via Cotonou.
Okorocha like Anyanwu also started as a PDP member. When he lost a bid to become PDP governorship candidate, he decamped to ANPP. He decamped back to PDP and was promptly made special assistant to President Obasanjo. He left PDP to form his Action Alliance (AA) from where he decamped back to PDP hoping to grab the plum job of PDP chairman. Fortune smiled on him when he decamped back to APGA in 2010, and fought a brutal battle, allegedly by storming the Imo State Secretariat of APGA with dozens of thugs, who beat up several top officers of the party who were trying to frustrate his efforts. The serial cross carpeting ended on a good note as he was declared winner of the 2011 Imo State governorship election.
These then are the duo of PDP turned APGA warlords that fought the ferocious ‘battle of convoys’ in Azaraegbelu, Owerri North of Imo State last Wednesday.
Senator Anyanwu, by her own account, had visited Okorocha earlier in the day ‘to felicitate with him on the upcoming wedding of his daughter,’ with a convoy of cars probably bought, fueled and driven by public officials at the expense of the taxpayers. With the convoy she proceeded to Mbaise for a function. It was on her way back that her own convoy was confronted by Okorocha's “intimidating convoy bearing down on her convoy with full compliments of security operatives, conventional and non-conventional”. Even after directing her convoy to veer off the road and stop for the governor’s convoy to pass, the governor’s security men stopped and blocked her convoy, dragged out the driver of her pilot vehicle and beat him to pulp, before dragging him to the bush with the aim of shooting him but for the shouting and wailing of our delectable senator. The senator also claimed she was miffed and ‘in utter shock’ to see that “Okorocha was watching the entire episode complacently and had even shouted orders to his men saying “disarm her security’.”
Not exactly so, said Ebere Uzoukwa, the governor’s Special Assistant on Media. The governor, he claimed, narrowly escaped death when the senator’s convoy rammed into his convoy. Thereafter, the senator, in his words, ‘alighted from her vehicle, ‘went berserk by descending on the security men slapping both the governor’s Aide-de-Camp and Chief Detail’, and also ordered her Naval security personnel to open fire.
The senator denied, saying the governor who she called a ‘psychopath and a threat to decent society,” has ‘pathological fixation on lying”.
The governor hit back, through APGA chairman Okafor, who should ordinarily be an arbiter, at the senator describing her as having a “penchant for fighting in public”, and with “a history of impulsive violence and disrespect to elders”.
This disgraceful acts and hilarious tales might have taken place in Imo, but it is symptomatic of the rule of warlords, cliques and gangs that go on in the name of political parties in our nation today.
The absence of real political parties with vision, and programs aimed at improving the welfare of the governed, is responsible for the gross indiscipline, corruption, and abuse of office or what President Jonathan recently described as unacceptable attitudes of our political office holders.
PDP that fraudulently ascribed to itself the title of the biggest political party in Africa, APGA and some of the opposition parties are nothing but instruments of warlords to settle political scores and for sharing spoils of war after periodically rigged elections.
We have since learnt that the seed of Boko Haram that has rendered the north eastern Borno and Yobe states ungovernable for over two years was planted by cliques and gangs that employed its services for balance of terror to win election in 1999 and 2003. It has also emerged that South-south disgraced ex-governors like Alamieseigha and James Ibori, behaved like warlords sponsoring the various militant groups for balance of terror while sharing their people’s common patrimony. It has also been established that PDP government at the centre equally armed its own preferred militant group.
In the South-east, the fact that kidnapping for ransom has become an industry, in an area controlled by a small regional party with capacity to mobilize more effectively clearly shows that APGA is just an instrument in the hands of cliques of former PDP members.
Political parties, even when they end in the dictatorship of a small oligarchy, endure only when they treat discipline as a badge of honour among its members. Sadly we cannot say the same of many of our current political parties.
PDP is an unruly clique that treat every scandal from the fuel subsidy scam, pensions scheme fraud, the privatization and commercialization scam, as ‘family affairs’.