September 25, 2022

Insecurity: Busting Oshiomhole’s Lies About Peter Obi’s Watch As Anambra Governor

10 min read

By Nnamdi Okosieme

One of the writer and philosopher, Aldous Huxley’s lasting contributions to scholarship is his affirmation the centrality of evidence over speculation.

In his famous ten-word sentence, which avers, “that facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”, he effectively provides a silver bullet for the decimation of the army of mischief makers who live in denial and who in the face of overwhelming evidence, negate the truth.

Adams Oshiomhole, a former Governor of Edo State and former Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, in Abuja engaged in revision of history when he declared on Sunday, September 18, 2022, that Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), lacked the capacity to address the security challenges wracking Nigeria.

Addressing youths of the party at an event, he blurted:

“For those of you who are social media warriors, there are issues here that you need to speak to. Go to Google and look at the first six months of Governor Obiano administration in Anambra State. What you will find on Youtube, is Governor Obiano demolishing houses of kidnappers and those who were then referred to as Bakassi boys and Bakassi girls.

“Who was the governor when Bakassi developed and who solved the problem? So, if a man could not solve a security challenge in his own state, which requires courage. How can he convince you that he will solve security challenges all over Nigeria? “Don’t take it from me, go to Youtube and find out the first six, nine months of Governor Obiano and ask yourself, who was his predecessor, it will tell you it’s, Peter.

“If he has solved the security problem, will Obiano be using bulldozers to demolish houses of kidnappers, Bakassi boys, Bakassi girls, bandits?”

Ordinarily, no serious individual should countenance Oshiomhole for he has proved adept at turning logic on its head and of speaking from the two sides of his mouth whilst keeping a straight face.

A few examples will suffice in this regard. We will come to that later. For the moment let’s interrogate Oshiomhole’s comments to see if they square with the truth.

He says Obi cannot solve Nigeria’s security problems because under his watch as Governor, Anambra State was insecure. Was this the reality on the ground? Let’s hear from active participants of the period.

Philemon Leha is a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations). Before attaining that position, he was Commissioner of Police in Anambra State during Obi’s tenure as CEO of Anambra State. In a 2017 interview with the Vanguard newspaper, Leha said of the then Governor Obi:

“As I undertook my assignment in the state, I was greatly encouraged by the commitment and determined focus of Governor Obi. Security was on his priority list and he always offered us logistics and other support on a scale I had not witnessed elsewhere.

“People who do not understand him tag him a ‘miser’ because he does not throw public funds around like many other politicians but it is really his philosophy they fail to appreciate. From my observations as a trained policeman and interactions with him, Peter Obi has Anambra State at heart. He wanted to take the state to a greater height, which he did. In the process, he endeavoured to raise a team of men, women, and organizations with good intentions for the state.

“Indeed, he was highly instrumental in the success of my assignment to combat crime and criminality in Anambra State. Aside from his support for the security agencies, he promoted collective responsibility for security and initiated the demolition of properties belonging to or used by kidnappers to discourage their nefarious activities.”

Asked by his interviewer if it would be correct to a state that Obi laid the foundation for the peace and security currently pervading Anambra State, Leha said:

“There is no denying that fact; that is exactly the position. Despite the elaborate ground-work I did, my assignment would not have been successful without the commitment and concrete support of the Peter Obi administration. He also mobilized the citizenry to give us their co-operation. He provided us with utility vehicles, money to fuel them, allowances for the officers and built strategic security structures. Obi bought vehicles for the force. He really made a great difference, which the state is enjoying to this day. His successors mostly need to consolidate on what we achieved with the support of Obi.

“Peter Obi was also a policeman indeed and actively played his role as the Chief Security Officer of the state. I recall that he often telephoned the IGP, DIG, and CP to ascertain the state of affairs on security matters; and we gave him updates regularly, with suggestions on how to resolve security challenges that are always arising in our dynamic society. He mobilized all the security and para-military outfits, including the vigilante groups in the state. He was really a dependable host to work with, which you do not easily find elsewhere. He was and still is a phenomenon and highly instrumental to the stabilization of security in the South-East, particularly Anambra State. Like him or hate him because of his attitude to money, Peter Obi remains the best that any state in Nigeria could possibly have. He is a very responsible man.

These comments by DIG Leha were made in 2017 after Obi had left office as Governor of Anambra State. There was also no election Obi was contesting at that time so it could not be said he has endorsing the former Anambra Governor for any political office.

But is Leha’s testimony enough?

Although it sufficiently punctures Oshiomhole’s claim of Obi’s incapacity in securing Nigeria, let’s probe further to see if Leha is a lone wolf in this regard.

A September 18, 2012 editorial of the Nation newspaper titled, Obi’s war on kidnappers recounts how Governor Obi (as then was) on September 5, 2012, personally supervised the demolition of two buildings in Ifite-Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State belonging an arrested suspect. The police said the buildings were being used for criminal activity. The editorial noted:

“Indeed, the people had themselves showed the disapproval of the suspect’s activities when an angry mob in the town burnt parts of his building, smashing the windows, doors and furniture even before Governor Obi’s arrival.”

Aside this editorial by The Nation, a Vanguard newspaper report of August 27, 2012 titled, “Gov. Obi goes tough on kidnappers in Anambra “, details how Obi’s government sealed a hotel at Nkpor near Onitsha and two houses at Nri in Anaocha Local Government Area of the state”.

According to the paper, the decision to seal the properties was taken after “security operates after a long period of investigation, traced some people to the hotel and on interrogation, discovered that they were using the hotel as a base where they kept their victims while negotiating with members of the families”.

The paper also noted:

“According to the Governor (Obi), houses and hotels suspected to be hideouts for suspected kidnappers in the state would be demolished and the land converted to government use if investigations proved that kidnappers were actually using them.”

From the instances above, it is clear that Obi as helmsman of Anambra State did not treat criminality in the state with kid’s gloves. For him security of life and property of his people trumped every other consideration. As a leader he was well aware that dividends of democracy could only be enjoyed by the living and thus ensured he placed priority on this.

His position and the subsequent steps he took to realize this would be justified later as Anambra became, during his tenure, the most peaceful state in the country, a situation that also conduced to the state shooting to the number position in education in the country.

Former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Abubakar Mohammed, in a visit to Awka, capital of Anambra State on April 11, 2014, declared that for the preceding five years, Anambra State had remained the safest state in the country.

The Nation newspaper reporting the IGP’S visit to Anambra, noted:

“Abubakar, who was speaking at the Women Development Centre, Awka, at the state’s Stakeholders’ Summit announced that there was no bank robbery in the state in the last five years during former Governor Peter Obi. He urged Governor Willie Obiano to emulate his predecessor by sustaining the security situation in the state.

“The Inspector-General hailed the relationship between the police and the government under Peter Obi, which contributed to the improved security, and reassured Governor Obiano that the police would give him a 100 per cent support to rid the state of kidnappers and robbers.”

It is impossible to take Oshiomhole’s jab at Obi seriously given the weight of available evidence torpedoing it. However, we must sympathizes with the former APC National Chairman for the frustration and shame he has felt along with other members of his party, at the inability of their lionized former General and former Head of State and now civilian president, to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.

Oshiomhole’s and other party members boast in the build up to the 2015 elections that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was), would lead from the front in the fight against insurgency, has left them with addled eggs on their faces as not only has President not led any meaningful charge but has watched helplessly as other criminal types swell the ranks of malevolents turning Nigeria into a vast killing fields.

The paralysis that has characterized governance under the APC at Federal and state government levels has lulled Oshiomhole and his ilk into thinking that it is impossible to put a handle on Nigeria’s burgeoning security crisis.

That Obi, a methodical and astute individual with a solid background in the private sector and a vast network of contacts around the globe, is suited to the task of turning around the deplorable state of the country especially the challenge of insecurity is difficult for Oshiomhole, a man whose temperament is as volatile as his morality is questionable, to comprehend.

Nigerians ought to seriously interrogate whatever he puts before them because he has a history of doublespeak.

A few examples will suffice.

On July 19, 2018, whilst on a visit to Benue State, Oshiomhole praised Governor Samuel Ortom for his adroit leadership of Benue State noting that Ortom was:

“…A very very prominent member of our party. We appreciate his leadership in Benue and we will do everything possible to help those who have issues to have those issues resolved. Anything we would do, I would do.”

Forty eight hours later after Ortom had defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oshiomhole spoke from the other side of his mouth:

“From the point of view of our leaders in Benue State, their position was clear. They believed that fielding Governor Ortom on the APC platform in the 2019 governorship election could only lead to electoral defeat for a number of reasons. They reminded us that in spite of the allocations accruing to the state and in spite of the bailout, amounting to over N20bn, which they had received in two instalments of N10bn each, and in addition to the huge sums of money that the state collected from the Paris Club Refund, Governor Ortom has not, and is not paying salaries to workers as and when due,” Oshiomhole said.

Another example.

In 2016 Oshiomhole while addressing market women at the Edo State Government House, he said of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the PDP in the 2016 Governorship election in the state:

“Everywhere I go, people begin to ask me why did you always allow this man to go with you? Like you, the market women have said, in the morning, you see some of them as PDP, at night they become APC, and how can you commit the resources of the state to such people?”.

“For me, I cannot bring such a man because a gateman that cannot watch over the house cannot be seen as a good security man. A woman who is given money for home upkeep and instead decides to hide it for her own selfish interest cannot be entrusted with money. Hence I told pastor, Edo people are not fools.

“When some people know they have bad names already, they claim to now be pastors. That is why these days, though there are so many genuine pastors, but there are some that call themselves pastors for political reasons to perpetrate evil”.

Fast forward four years later, Oshiomhole would without a twinge of conscience, present the same Ize-Iyamu to the Benin Council of Chiefs as “a man who understands the workings of the state and who has a clear manifesto that will bring the dividends of democracy to Edo people.

Oshiomhole’s conduct in the two examples above cannot surprise anyone with sufficient knowledge of his perfidious disposition. Opportunism and self-aggrandizement are two distinct character traits set him apart from many public officers. His moral compass swings inexorably in the direction of personal advantage unlike those of true patriots who seek public good. That is why he would gleefully declare in January 2019 while receiving members of the PDP defecting to the APC that:

“We have some PDP defectors. They are Henry Tenebe, Iluobe….Iluobe means I have done something wrong. Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven”.

Surely, a man this morally fickle cannot be trusted to be faithful to the truth. At best his words ought to be digested with more than a pinch of salt.

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