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To The Imo Heartland In Search Of Votes: A Learning Odyssey - Politics - Nairaland

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To The Imo Heartland In Search Of Votes: A Learning Odyssey by ae21251: 1:43pm On Apr 15, 2011
Cecile Oguguo Keke (Special Correspondent)

It has been an unbelievable odyssey, and an immeasurable privilege to have– journeyed with the Nwajiuba-Mezu CPC Gubernatorial campaign team round the urban and remote rural areas of Imo State in a bid to inform the people on why they should vote for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

It was educational; it was also revelatory and a learning experience. Where-ever the team went, they had three (3) top opening messages, viz:

a. CPC is a party that does not distribute money. Distributing or throwing embezzled money at people is a bid to buy citizens’ votes. This brand of politics is immoral, it is unethical and it is illegal, for says John Paul II, “Politics is not the technology of power and manipulation of the people but rather one of seeking and attaining life’s meaning with a view towards serving the true good of the community” (Arrival Speech at Prague’s International Airport Czechoslovakia, 21 April 1990);

b. CPC will give a just, compassionate, technology-based and progressive government;

c. The Nwajiuba-Mezu led CPC government will complete the programs Dr. Sebastian Okechukwu Mezu had articulated under Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, the 1st civilian Governor of the Imo State under the Second Civilian Republic. This team will transform the state into an industrial and technologically-driven modern state that will be business friendly, with basic healthcare services, and basic amenities.

From the start of its campaign tour, it was evident that this Gubernatorial team has its task cut out for it. For the twelve (12) years of the various Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led-governments state and nation-wide, Imo citizens in particular have experienced incredible hardships through gross mal-administration, fraudulent embezzlement and/or diversion of funds, bogus and over-inflated projects that were never done but were simply designed to be used to siphon off money. The hapless citizens have been experiencing incessant closure of schools, and Government-run hospitals for non-payment of salaries of workers, et cetera. In 2010, universities were shut down from July to January 2011 because teachers were on strike. And as at the time of writing, doctors and other health workers at the newly-established Orlu Teaching Hospital were still on strike and the hospital under lock and key. In short, the citizens of Imo State did not need to be told that this PDP government was a failure and must be driven off by the peoples’ votes. Never in the history of Imo State had any government been less transparent. And never in recent memory has any Government been so hated, mocked and scorned as the present Imo State government. And the Governor has the peculiar penchant for attracting to himself unending controversies – quarreling with practically everyone – friends and foes alike. He wears arguments, controversies and mudslinging like an overcoat. Calling himself, “Ikiri” – the animal that hangs on to whatever it has its grips on, he made the scandalously arrogant and Godless statement: “No Man, No Woman, No spirit can stop me from having a Second term in office.” To all and sundry, the statement indicated the age-old axiom that pride goes before a fall. And what a fall it will be, indeed! Often, he is pelted with pure water sachets and the like, wherever he went. It was clear to all and sundry that the bell has tolled for this government. The citizens have been rendered so poor sometimes living a life without hope whereas we have it from the best authority that “extreme poverty is a source of violence, bitterness and scandal, and to eradicate it is to do the work of justice and therefore the work of peace” (JP II – Incarnationis Mysterium, 1998, n. 2). When Christ said “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, Venerable JP II explains that the kind of poverty Jesus declared ‘blessed’ is “composed of unselfishness, trust in God, restraint and readiness to share with others” (Homily at Chalco, Netzahuakoyotl diocese, near Mexico City. 7 May, 1990). Christ also pointed out the moral corruption of even the religious leaders of his period. Certainly, people at the helm of affairs in Nigeria, the nation have not been willing to share with the populace they have rendered poor, wretched. The only sharing comes during election period while trying to buy up votes. The greedy ones among the populace understand this and that is why election period is so exciting for them for then they are ready to milk the politicians to the limit. Thus, it is with anguish that one realizes that it can be a collective act – this willing collaboration with the people who defraud them. And so, this vicious cycle self-perpetuates for as soon as these corrupt politicians win the vote, they declare their obligations to the people discharged for they have already paid them for their votes. And misrule continues unchecked for everyone is complicit in this fraud and corruption – politicians, their agents, the masses. Presently, all the opposing political parties had one thing uniting them – a burning desire to see this Imo State government, and the PDP at the federal level booted out of Imo State. The only way this government can come back for a second term is through massive rigging since it controls all the structures of power and limitless funds from the public coffers for the bribery of corrupt electoral officials And that would be a gargantuan tragedy.

Rescuing a Traumatized Citizenry:

As already stated, what is glaringly obvious is that the citizens of Imo State under the different regimes have known incredible hardship and suffering. It is an impoverished citizenry with their psyches so traumatized that they have grown used to not having even the basic amenities of daily living. It is a curious phenomenon – the people are at the same time poor and greedy, hapless yet happy and resilient even in their misery; they have been socialized into expecting and accepting as the norm cheating, stealing government funds, to noisily hail and celebrate those who had managed to grow fat on public funds, to even grasp and cheat themselves. Used to being thrown crumbs, they beg for the money no matter how paltry. Yet at the same time, there is within that core of decency that sees, hears and responds to Truth, honesty and fairness. . Yet, everywhere the Nwajiuba-Mezu Campaign team went, there were hordes of young people singing, chanting, crowding round the cars with outstretched hands begging and shouting –“Give us money! We want money! Give us money, money, money, money!” At the end of a rally, all the discipline of one-by-one for line was thrown to the wind, for there was a mass rush towards whatever mineral drinks, etc. that were brought out for the event since some had been waiting for hours. These people’s psyches have been brutalized, bestialized and indeed traumatized. It was clear what must be done first is to try and reach that core of their being where Truth and love and humanity reside, to reverse the trend of brutish greed and seek bring out the gentler human and humane part of their human nature.

Changing People’s Mental Attitude:

“Men desire authority for its own sake that they may bear a rule, command and control other men, and live uncommanded and uncontrolled themselves” (St. Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort).

As a girl at the ramshackle Imo Airport stated publicly while waiting to board our plane and the discussion centered on the elections, “leadership is not just building roads and providing light and water, it is also changing the peoples’ mental attitude.” “How so true!” I thought to myself.” The Nwajiuba-Mezu rallies had taken on an ambience of a religious revival. The team leaders found themselves using extensive biblical references to explain what it is about. Perhaps, it is no accident that the Vice-Presidential Candidate is the Evangelical Pastor Bakare who freely delves into the Bible to explain some of the moral problems that have led Nigerians into their present quandary and crisis of leadership. The objective is to strive to restore trust in public governance in a people now jaded with misrule and who regard politicians as all liars and fraudsters. The team seeks to achieve a sort of revolution of conscience that can be transformative, able to motivate and move the people to renew their hearts, reclaim their courage and free themselves from these fraudulent leaders addicted to the exercise of power but who themselves want to live uncommanded and uncontrolled. At each CPC Campaign rally, speakers first explain the party’s name – The Congress for Progressive Change and its symbolism– reform peoples’ social and mental attitudes first so as to produce the real change that leads to progress. Also the party’s logo _ The flag and the Fountain Pen – the flag to denote patriotism and the pen to symbolize commitment to qualitative education that leads to enlightenment, and a re-writing of the socio-political, economic and cultural History of Nigeria. The leadership at both the National and State levels is characterized by men and women noted for honesty and integrity. Rtd. General Muhammadu Buhari is a simple leader remarkable for honesty and incorruptibility. He had held several appointments as Bornu State Governor, Minister of Petroleum under Second Civilian President Shehu Shagari, Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo’s civilian presidency and no one had ever pointed a finger at him for corrupt practices. The Buhari-Idiagbon military intervention at the end of 1983 possibly saved Nigeria from tumbling into an abyss of chaos and civil strife. The duo ruled Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1984 and till date, whatever ethical or decent programs that in the Nigerian polity were programs they had started – WAI – War against Indiscipline, One-by-one for line – peaceful queuing in line and the monthly Last Saturday Clean-up Exercise. The last two subsist to this day; and because their regime was toppled by Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida indiscipline in form of corruption, inflation, drug trafficking, bribery and looting again became the order of the day. At the time of writing, terrorism and kidnapping of even very ordinary villagers for money ransom are still plaguing the Nigerian society. One of the cardinal concerns of the Nwajiuba-Mezu team is to combat the specter of Insecurity, to inculcate in the minds of populace the fact that Violence thru thuggery, or armed conflict is a lie for Violence destroys that which it claims to defend – “dignity, life and freedom of human beings.” Religious leaders and moral philosophers proclaim violence and war as a negation of humanity and a crime for it destroys the very fabric of society; it installs instead a corrosive brand of barbarism that makes people behave like beasts. Despite being a Muslim, and contrary to the belief held by some people in the Southern region of Nigeria, Gen. Buhari is an honest man whose name is rather an asset at rallies. All the campaigning team needs to do is to make mention of the ethical programs listed above established by the Buhari-Idiagbon regime and people will nod their heads in agreement, and themselves complete the citation of the programs. He is disciplined, fearless and very much respected and it is gradually dawning on the Nigerian populace that this leader is the only Nigerian living who can command the respect of all citizens. They know him as a man of strong character and determination. President Goodluck Jonathan is quite young and untried and people have taken advantage of his good nature and relative inexperience in political leadership. Thus, corruption, insecurity, kidnapping and other anti-social phenomena go unchecked. But when Gen. Buhari speaks, people listen and take him seriously. There can be no greater validation for the character of the CPC Presidential Flagbearer Gen. Buhari than the comments made by the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri during a Buhari-led courtesy call to him on March 8, before the rally marking the start of his South-East Campaign held in Emekuku, Owerri. The report of His Grace Dr. Anthony Obinna’s remarks reads:

General Buhari during his military regime instilled needed discipline in Nigerians, brought into being the formation of queues to obtain services, the promotion of environmental sanitation through a monthly clean-up of the urban and rural areas. But that was military and forced discipline. [The Archbishop’s] prayer was that this time that discipline will no longer be carried out under the barrel of the gun but will emanate from the heart of the people. Corruption must be eradicated and the resources of the country must be applied to the service of the people, the building of roads, provision of water and electricity, improvement of education,

Thus, it can be seen that the present election cycle is another chance for Nigerians to get things right. They must for Nigeria has come to a crossroads. This is another chance from Providence and any mess-up carries considerable risks for the survival of Nigeria as a nation.

Equally on the State level, the CPC Imo Guber team has impeccable credentials. The candidates’ great learning, historical antecedents and leadership experience as well as their reputation for honesty, integrity sets them apart from their competitors. They are the only duo that can boast that when they served, they did not embezzle and enrich themselves with the peoples’ money. Simply stated, they served with merit. Dr. Rose Ure Mezu the wife of the CPC Gubernatorial candidate served as the first Woman Commissioner of the old and greater Imo State. By an act of divine favor, at the end of her tenure of office, she was validated by this same Buhari-led regime that toppled the civilians. She was found not corrupt by late Gen. Abdulkarim Adisa. She remains the only serving high functionary in Nigeria that did not go to prison in 1984. The CPC Deputy-Governorship candidate Dr. Okechukwu Mezu takes listeners at rallies through the reasons for, and consequences of the Nigerian civil war, his various roles establishing the Paris Biafran Office and along with Ambassador Ralph Uwechue translating the Biafran propaganda materials into French and other languages (while abandoning the defense of his completed doctoral dissertation in service to his people). Then, as a 27-year old Ambassador to la Cote D’Ivoire, he worked with Caritas Internationalis and other charitable organizations such as Terre des hommes whose services saved the people of Biafra from total annihilation. Single-handedly, he installed Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe as Governor of Old Imo State in 1979– the mantle of leadership being given to Mbakwe at Mezu’s hometown Emekuku – which place also providentially became the venue for the 2011 Buhari Presidential South-East rally.

Equally, the Imo State University system with its five zonal campuses was the brain child of Dr. Okechukwu Mezu. As Chairman of the Imo State Educational Review Commission, he reformed the educational system creating LGA and Zonal school boards for easier administration, de-boarded secondary schools, etc. Mbakwe’s government remains the best government now being celebrated nostalgically in songs and hailed as a model by all the political aspirants. But the architect Dr. Mezu is here, he says, in CPC and will complete what Mbakwe did not have sufficient time to complete. The CPC leaders from its National Presidential candidate to the Imo State ticket of Nwajiuba-Mezu have proven records of service and patriotism. It was during the Buhari–led regime that the Radio / Television slogan daily encouraged young people not to “check out” of the country like the disillusioned young man Andrew with back-pack slung on his back. And the patriotic slogan was: “This generation of Nigerians, and indeed the future generation of young people have no other country but Nigeria. And we must stay here and salvage it together.” Evidently, the work at hand presently is one of salvaging the country from disintegration, from corruption, ethnic prejudices, predilection to violence and from terrorism.

Rescuing a Wasted, Wasting and Wasteful Generation of Young People:

Listeners at Imo CPC rallies are always gradually initiated into a frame of mind that eventually accepts that this is the modus operandi of the CPC leadership group – a bribery-free campaign. They just do not fling ill-gotten money at the crowd. It is so palpable the implied insult and cynical denigration of peoples’ dignity that the act connotes, and sadly the masses largely do not see this gross treatment for what it is for they sometimes laugh so blatantly at their own humiliation and the rape of their authentic freedoms. Considering the alternative, one refuses to give up, for the Nwajiuba-Mezu team and Gen. Buhari offer the promise of a humane and enlightened but disciplined leadership, as they strive to bring into politics niceties and delicate refinements that idealism connotes. Gradually, one feels that considerable impact is being made in this enlightenment campaign to educate the people as to their basic civic, and human rights. As is being explained at rallies, leaders canvassing for votes are actually applying to serve the people. Therefore, a servant seeking employment is not expected to give money to be employed. That was the reason for the ire of the unemployed Imo university graduates who in 2010 were asked by the Imo Government to pay N2,000 naira to secure an employment form. The outrage was so much and this contributed to the peoples’ hatred and disdain for their governor.

The Nwajiuba-Mezu Generational Fit:

Chukwuemeka Uwaezuoke Nwajiuba is described by his Deputy, Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu as being “young enough to be his son yet brilliant and worthy enough to be his boss.” The Nwajiuba-Mezu combination is– sort of like the U.S. Obama-Biden team. They work well together. The youthful, really tall, and handsome Gubernatorial candidate has primed himself very well for the job – with two terms at the House of Representatives in the National Assembly. He was also a two-term chairman of the Works committee described by a U.S. legislative observer team as the best legislator in the National Assembly. A law graduate, he had opened his own law firm. Modest, respectful and self-respecting, he has none of the noisy showmanship theatrics of his other competitors who are mostly cut from the same fabric as untrustworthy politicians who made their money dubiously. He travels lightly with none of the flamboyant, long convoy of limousines and expensive Jeep vehicles – each costing more than 50 million naira. That is not his style. Disciplined and purposeful, the only candidate to date who had described leadership as involving sacrifice; he keeps time and does his business expeditiously. At rallies, Hon. Nwajiuba is often presented as the face of Imo / Nigerian youth, worthy of emulation as a fitting and proper role-model for the youth – a well-brought-up son, family-oriented, respectful, extremely well-spoken and knowledgeable. At this juncture in Nigerian history, young people need such a beacon of hope, hardwork and success. Teaming up with the elderly Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu, brilliant intellectual, poet /author, publisher, business entrepreneur, Pan-Africanist, and political idealist. With his academic credentials, and proven business entrepreneurial achievements, people know he carries a lot of gravitas and brings credibility, immense experience, and historical antecedents to the Gubernatorial ticket. Mezu restates often the reasons why he came out at his age are to set things right and to stem exploitating oppression, for says Achebe in The Trouble with Nigeria, “Oppression is wrong. . . whenever and wherever we see it, we must say ‘No.’ We must not say foolishly ‘it is not our business!’” and also to properly hand over the right ideals of leadership to a younger generation. He had worked with iconic national and state leaders such as Nigeria’s First Civilian President Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Michael Opera, Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Chief Justice Mbanefo, and the Biafra Leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Thus, the Nwajiuba-Mezu partnership unites the generations for it represents a Father-son image that is unique and reassuring for its promise of functional leadership, creativity, and ethical re-orientation This bodes well for Imo State. There is no other team comparable to theirs. The fervent prayer is for the Holy Spirit of the All-Knowing God to bless and fructify their efforts, supplying whatever is lacking so as to spare the much-exploited and suffering people of Imo State the imposition of anyone of the supposed frontline Trio who are all birds of the same feather – defrauders and procurators of marauding violent thugs. They all worked together in harmony dividing the spoils of office until greed and how to share the spoils of office tore them apart. And even though they are now dispersed to head other parties, they are still cut from the same cloth woven with greed, self-interest and utter lack of compassion for the suffering masses. These people are noisy, flashy but empty and violence-prone. The worst thing that can happen to Imo State is to have any of them rig their way to power. If that happens, Imo youths would be wasted beyond what they are already for there would be at the helm of affairs, conscienceless defrauders of the peoples’ wealth who boastfully mislead the poor youth who think their method of “Get rich quick or die trying” is a surer way to accumulate easy wealth rather than to sit in a classroom, study, work and succeed the normal way. As career-politicians with no other prospects, they are the worst kind of role models for they would unleash a descent of totalitarianism. They had already beggared the Nigerian nation and produced a people now used to having only mere crumbs of their own vast resources thrown at them with insolent pride. Something has to give soon, and very soon, or the future of the young people of Imo State / Nigeria / Africa would be irreparably compromised or lost.

Fulfilling the Mandate with Programs for Decent, Worthwhile Living:

Nwajiuba-Mezu team will fulfill its campaign promises. Traveling round the state one sees areas in various stages of sorry neglect. In some parts of Ngor Okpala, one could travel thirty (30) miles and not see any signs of civilization – miles and miles of pristine forest area with neither roads, electric poles or water – no visible signs that any of these basic amenities had ever been given but had fallen into a state of disuse. In one of the trips, it had rained the night before, and it was a shock to see children and women collecting water from puddles formed on the road. Signs of life came with a large, noisy group of men, women and youth carrying ropes and machetes whom I at first mistook for political thugs on the rampage only to learn later that they were going on a communal palm fruit harvesting trip. The water collected from the road will be used for processing the palm nuts when crushed. It was lamentable to see literally “earth” people scratching out a living in a deteriorating rural environment; it is an unforgivable neglect of a helpless citizenry.

In one of the trips through Okigwe town to Arondizuogu and from there through Akokwa to Ideato North and south, we passed through one of the worst roads imaginable. It was a journey through an unending stretch of rocky, uneven, and badly eroded road. As was remarked to Governor-to-be Nwajiuba, passing through that road was indeed an exercise in expiation of every sin that one could ever have committed on this earth. In fact, no traveler through that road can ever set foot in purgatory. It was that bad and one came back later at night with aching head and muscles that have been jolted and rocked to sore bruising. Yet, these journeys revealed such a state of lack that one felt catapaulted out of one’s self-complacency. Throughout the campaign trips, one experiences a palpable feeling of being involved in something greater than one-self, an engagement in something of a calling that gives a lofty purpose to life. There is an abiding sense of higher mission that you have received so much and have at your disposable so much talent, skills, contacts, and abundant opportunities to do good – to indeed make peoples’ lives so much better for you know exactly what must be done and how to do it.

The CPC programs articulated in their website - http://www.cpcimostate.org/ – are laudable :

a campus of Imo State University in every senatorial zone, a 2-year junior University in every local government, a Teaching Hospital in every senatorial zone, basic health care delivery, good technological education, stem the brain drain and bring back Imo citizens who have become exiles abroad for fear of coming home, even to bury their loved ones, a revitalized economy, effective Security to enable people prosper and live without fear.

Bastardizing Democratic Principles: A Recurring Cycle of Violence and War:

Not a few people view elections as war. While some believe it is an all out war where one deploys all the weapons in his arsenal – the good, the bad and the ugly – as the case may be, others insist it is a war with a set of rules that must be obeyed to give essence to the electoral system. (Compass)

Only in Nigeria / Africa can some of these election malpractices be allowed to go on. In Western countries, political parties beg their supporters for financial support no matter how meager. In Nigeria, political parties rather throw money at the voting masses; political aspirants and those seeking for second terms carry money in bags and go from house to house in communities bribing possible voters. They distribute bags of rice, dried stockfish and other commodities in an effort to buy the peoples’ votes. Only in Nigeria can the wave of instability sweeping the North African countries of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya not make a dent in the way that democratic principles are bastardized and the peoples’ civic liberties trampled upon. Because the Nigerian political leadership is made up of professional politicians with no other careers, politics essentially become a do-or-die affair, with thuggery, kidnapping, assassinations, and other forms of violence making life unsafe for the helpless population. Several theories have been advanced as to why the correct application of Democratic principles has not found fertile round in Nigeria / Africa:

That because of the many ethnic groupings in Nigeria, there is a sense of alienation from central Federal authority. People owe no allegiance or feel patriotic about the Federation which is seen as belonging to no one person but to all – a national cake from which any strong person can carve out as large a slice as can safely be carried away. And communities thinking that they lack any visibly potent redress of the absolute power wielded over them become apathetic and indifferent, while some even collude noisily with their defrauders.

Asking God to interject the Divine Self into this Political Maelstrom:

It is not against hard realism to have to invite God – the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Being – to interject the Divine Self into human affairs – even if political. People of ancient Israel did it as a way of life. And oftentimes, people forget that Jesus Christ was not only embroiled in theological controversies, arising from his claims about His Divine origin — “I and the Father are One” (John 10: 30) but He was embedded squarely in both ethnic, national (with the Scribes and Pharisees), and international politics (with Rome)– as to the role of the Messiah which His hearers superficially perceived as a conquering King who perhaps will replace Caesar and lead Jews to freedom from occupation. This fear was the reason why Pilate was ambivalent about pronouncing the Christ innocent even though his conscience and his wife Claudia told him to do so. So, God in the Second Person of the Trinity – Jesus – was thrust into the game of politics, and He yet took the opportunity to advance a proper definition and apprehension of the nature of Leadership. To his squabbling apostles jostling for high positions, Jesus at the Last Supper taught the meaning of Leadership – as being Service. . And when he had finished washing their feet, Jesus said to His disciples:

“Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 17: 12-14}
In order to still drive home His point, Luke quotes him as explaining literally what leadership means:

he who is greatest among you, let him be as the smallest, and he who governs is he who serves. Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant. (Luke 22: 26-27)

This is what the Nwajiuba-Mezu Campaign team has tried to drive home – that “he who governs is he who serves.”

It is also my firm belief that God does not want human beings to live in perpetual, imposed want and suffering. If God did, then Christ would not have done the miracle of the loaves and fish to feed starving thousands come to hear Him speak, nor would He have changed water into sweet wine for people to feast on at the Cana wedding. God is all loving and compassionate. People only need to look within to discover the innate power with which human beings are endowed. As has been restated, there was an element of religious fervor to the Nwajiuba-Mezu Campaign rallies because it was a new and different kind of leadership team, unlike all the others; CPC is the newest, national political party and is led at both national and state levels by very disciplined, patriotic and incorruptible individuals. At one of the Campaign rallies in Orlu, the Nwajiuba-Mezu team got upset at the incessant demand for money and the lead speakers showed some impatience with the people:

“Why do you want free money to be given to you? Why do you say, ‘Give us money! Money, money, money! When did we become a beggarly nation? When did you become beggars? Are you beggars?” and the answer came, “No, we are not!” Then, “Ask us to keep colleges and universities open and students in school; to pay teachers and to make education qualitative. Ask us to reopen and make functional the over 150 industries established by the Mbakwe regime which are now abandoned. Ask us to give you good roads, steady water and uninterrupted light. With these, you can make a decent leaving. Igbos are a proud race of people – with indomitable courage, hardworking, full of initiatives and have never been beggars or willing to accept handouts. A proud Igbo smart answer is always, ‘Ana -m eri nga-gi? – Do you feed me?’ Exercise your power by voting for good leadership. Then, your children will be decently educated, able to live a life of dignity rather than become armed robbers, kidnappers, drug traffickers, and terrorists. The money being thrown at you as if you are ravenous dogs is actually your money stolen from you. If you must, then take the money but do not vote for your defrauders, for these are the same people who frequent fetish shrines to curse both the money and the recipients. Do not vote for them.” It was a hard task explaining to these suffering but sometimes cynical and willing collaborators with their defrauders that they actually have the power – to vote in good leaders, or vote out of office people who have lied to them. They can exercise their power, or take it back any time. But the question remains: do the people really understand that power belongs to them?

Lessons Learned:

1. That enlightened leadership can not begin with the badly-governed masses but must start at the top with brave, compassionate and enlightened leaders. The efforts of the CPC Imo Gubernatorial team, its supporters and team of writers are geared to primarily enlighten the citizenry as to their proper human and civic rights, reverse electoral malpractices, stop the bleeding exploitation, pauperization and criminalizing of a whole population. These acts destroy the chances of bringing a purposeful and decent future for this generation of young people. There are signs that these efforts at re-education are beginning to filter into the brutalized psyches of the people. Two incidents suffice:

2. At rallies, the people have come to accept that CPC is not about bribing with money. They sit quietly and listen – their hearts beating palpably. One could hear a pin drop. It is a desperate effort to respond to that pull at their heart’s core to decency and belief in the truth.

3. Caught in a traffic hold-up the CPC Deputy Governor-candidate (DG) and his son received the slogan salutation of CPC – Change We Must! from a young driver of a Keke car – Keke na pepe is the pejorative name given to toyish-looking, very fragile two-wheeled cars imported from over-populated India which poor Nigerians use to make a living. The DG brought out some party business cards with the party logo and a calendar at the back; the young driver came out of his car and, took the cards and immediately started distributing them to other drivers. He came back for some more and about 200 cards were distributed while waiting for traffic to ease off. The young man said to them, “You may not know me, but I was at your Owerri Municipal rally last night. We know your party is not about distributing money. All we want from you is to make Owerri Municipal and Imo State better. It was a moment of epiphany. This message of reform and change is really filtering down. This young man can reach many who can reach yet many others with the CPC message of ethical reform and change. It was an encouraging sign not to give up but to persist with the efforts at bringing a progressive change.

4. At the last rally of the day in Ezedibia, Emekuku, people had been waiting for hours. When the team arrived, it was already 8 pm., yet the people waited, and even those who had gone home came back. There was a mass of women, men and children in attendance. It had the feel of a traditional gathering for storytelling in the village square on a moonlit night. They listened patiently and with excitement. From Dr. Mezu, it was not a catalogue of empty promises for they already knew what he could do. He was their well-loved and well-respected son. He had tarred their road during the defunct Second Civilian Republic, his NPP party had given them steady water and light and industries, had revamped and restructured the school system and established the Imo State University, Imo Airport, Concord International hotel, etc. They knew that it was he who brought both the NPP Governor and now Gen. Buhari – a former President of Nigeria to Emekuku. They believed him. Certainly, his message of disciplined living, hard work and prosperity and well-earned social amenities permeated their psyches and touched the listening hearts. When he told them not to rush at the drinks but to quietly share whatever was offered – even if 2 or 3 people only could get to share a bottle of soft drink, to accept it quietly and with satisfaction. Later reports validated his words. There was no rushing, no struggling. People drank and went home uplifted and encouraged. The message of reform and change that CPC is bringing nation-wide is reaching down to the people. There is still hope and one needs to keep going.

5. At a courtesy call to an Eziama Obiato Eze in Mbaitolu LGA, a speaker prayed for the success of the Nwajiuba-Mezu team likening them to the wine that was served last at the Marriage feast at Cana that became the best, the sweetest tasting wine beating out all the other wines that were served first – the symbolism of the prayer being that the Last can be the Best of all, and that , the youngest son – David beat out the other sons of Jesse, for God’s ways, the speaker says, are not the ways of humans.


Like raindrops on the soil, like the word of God once spoken, determined efforts do yield dividends. A little corn seed planted in the soil will yield corn cobs. Once an effort is made and one has invested so much of human energy, initiative, resources and passion, there are bound to be positive results – sometimes unimagined. It is always better to work, to act, to write than to sit on the sidelines and complain or cry. Action trumps inaction any day. An apt analogy suffices: As Christ went along his via dolorosa carrying his cross, a group of Jerusalem women stood and wailed and his answer was: “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children.” Along the same way, rather than just stand and weep, another woman Veronica, very proactively braved the wrath of the intimidating Roman officials wielding their whips; she struggled and with her handkerchief wiped the bloodied face of the Christ. The result was an instantaneous show of gratitude – an imprint of the Face of the Suffering Jesus on her compassionate cloth material. Equally, His holy mother Mary actively defied the officers and hugged her Son. Simon, the Cyrenean though unwilling at first was coerced into helping to carry Jesus’ Cross. Yet, the man from Cyrene did carry the Cross for the Christ. That is the law of nature, it is better to work, or act, or write rather than to do nothing. Nothing produces nothing but something always yields something. Ultimately, the Nwajiuba-Mezu team is about ensuring a peoples’ survival, to finding solutions in negotiating the tides of history – using historical experiences, practical knowledge and enlightened vision to negotiate the present and thus ensure a brighter future for Imo State and for Nigeria / Africa.

Therefore, to all of you who have invested time, energy, talent, resources in this worthwhile struggle to bring sanity, compassion and good governance to our nation Nigeria and to Africa, by extension – nothing is lost; but quietly, inwardly like the action of yeast in a dough, this investment will have a multiplying effect and will produce dividends beyond human imaginings. For me, the participation at the CPC National election campaigns was indeed an educational odyssey, a learning process that will last and last. It was a unique privilege and an epiphany.

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