Someone sent me two pictures he wanted to circulate online in retaliation to what he considers insults from certain agents of the Anambra State Government. The sender claims that the lady in the picture is from Nawfia, Anambra State and is married to someone in government whom he believes is my enemy. He called it a counter action. I replied immediately and cautioned the sender against proceeding with his so-called counter action and I wish to publicly disavow this gutter style politics and make a few clarifications on the issues at stake.
I do not have enemies although I am very much aware that some people may consider me their enemy. That is their burden, not mine. It is clear, that the whole idea of attacking my person by the agents of the Anambra State Government is to shift focus from the very serious issues of conflict of interest (SABMiller Brewery scandal) and receiving bribe from a foreign company that I raised. If this is obvious, why then would anyone trying to help me, fall for an obvious trap.
Above all, I find the style of the so-called counter action distasteful. It is alien to my upbringing and runs counter to my basic beliefs as a family man and a man of faith. I do not rule out the existence of a fifth column in this struggle. So, anyone who believes in what I am doing should not fight for me in that manner and should not employ the crude methods of the state government.
I do not feel offended by the attacks on me because they are false. Go through a few of them: That I won the 2012 Idiot of the Year Award. I did not participate in any such contest and could not have won the award. But nothing stops a committee of idiots from pronouncing me the winner. That some prostitutes operate from my hotel in Awka. How do they know? Are they part of the clientele? Anyone who has ever stayed in the hotel, and that includes Governor Peter Obi, several very important personalities and many men and women of God, would readily testify to the falsity of the claim. That I have no day job: whatever that means. My day job is thinking of how to pay my over 100 employees every month.
That I spent seven years in the university and was asked to withdraw at some point: that is false. That I have a pass degree: this is equally false. I was not one of the best in my generation but I made a grade one in school certificate in 1981 with a 70 per cent score in JAMB that ensured my admission into the Ivy League, faculty of law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, at the age of 16. I obtained an LLB (Honours) degree in 1987. If you have a pass degree, you cannot add honours to the degree. And by the way, the author of this deliberate misinformation is a graduate of a fringe course of study from a fringe university, a beneficiary of the proliferation of universities and its very poor outcomes.
I have been a lawyer, politician and a businessman and I have something to show for it, no matter how small, in all three fields. As a politician, I have been elected twice to the House of Representatives. As a lawyer, I was appointed a Notary Public by Chief Justice Uwais in 2005. As a businessman, I have verifiable business interests and investments. It will require a lot more to intimidate me.
It is incorrect to suggest that I have made no intellectual contribution to society before now. I have had my articles published by Nigeria’s mainstream media since 1996. It may be necessary for us to really debate these issues of good or bad governance depending on which side you are. I offer to debate with any functionary of the Anambra State Government on the current issues and the policy options of government at a venue of their choosing, including their propaganda outfit, the Anambra State Broadcasting Service, Awka, where I have become a recurring object of their unprofessional news commentary.
This may be the time for me to recall, that in March 2001, as a member of the House of Representatives, I laid the intellectual foundation for change in Anambra State, at a forum for good governance I organised at the Ikenga Hotel, Awka. I challenged the use of the dreaded Bakassi Boys for crime prevention or control by the Mbadinuju administration at great risks to my person. Peter Obi was there and he addressed the large crowd that attended the event. It was his very first political outing in the state and I provided the platform. That was not nshiko (Crab) mentality at play then. Now that he is the object of criticism, the critics have become crabs that will continue to pull down one another and his media aides have gone to town with their Offodile and Nshiko mentality story.
The crab (nshiko) is a popular marine crustacean that scratches, claws and fights with each other. The crab also represents the zodiac constellation, cancer. The heavy machine with claws used for hoisting heavy weights is also called the crab. In rowing, you propel a boat using oars and the term catch a crab refers to a situation where the rower makes a faulty stroke, jamming the oar-blade under water, with the rower being swept off his seat.
The SABMiller deal was a faulty stroke by Governor Peter Obi. His role as an investor in the SABMiller brewery conflicts with his role as governor. Whatever he has done to facilitate the take off of the brewery, including constructing the roads in the inner harbour leading to the brewery with state funds, were done in furtherance of his own business interest, being a part owner of the brewery. It is immaterial whether he is a minority or majority shareholder or even whether there are other investors apart from him. His oar-blade seems to have jammed under water with the prospect of sweeping him off his seat. But this is a different clime.
The governor’s appointees can write or say what they like; but let them remember that they are feeding from a system I helped to create and nurture. This is not the change we sought and certainly not the change we believe in. The reference to Governor Obi’s investment in Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank, Nestle, etc is irrelevant because Anambra State is not an investor in those other enterprises and even if so, the investments were not made during his tenure as governor.
They are now celebrating the commissioning of the brewery and government agents are talking about the employment it will generate and how much money the state will make but nobody is asking about the impact of the project on the people, the communities around the area. This brewery was designed and constructed without environmental impact assessment approval from the Federal Ministry of Environment.
A world class facility they call it, built on the banks of the river Niger. The waste from the brewery will be discharged into the River Niger. The company says it installed treatment plants that will treat the waste before discharge into the River Niger. The body charged with verifying and approving these claims is yet to give the approval, yet they have finished construction and commenced production in contravention of the provisions of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act 58, 1988 and Environmental Impact Assessment Act 86, 1922, which makes EIA mandatory for projects of this nature.
SABMiller Group operations all over the world and in Africa are subjected to EIA reviews and comply with national and international environmental guidelines and regulations. In Nigeria, they proceed with impunity. Why not? They have a governor as a godfather and the very well educated Obi of Onitsha, who should know but looked the other way because he is involved.
Offodile, a lawyer, was a former member of the House of Representatives.