By Odogwu Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe*
I have read a number of rejoinders to Mr. Sam Omatseye’s insane and hate-filled diatribe driven by the mental cacophony of a man likened to a slave abruptly invited to dine and wine on his master’s table because of his master’s intention to send him to a self-sacrificing mission, but none of the writers actually understood where the Itsekiri-born mercenary journalist was coming from. Initially, I felt there was no need responding to man who has decided to sacrifice his professional etiquette on the altar of Judasian political dishonesty. And I have my reason for that.
In Nigeria of today I have two iconic godfathers of noted integrity and moral principles who can command me at any moment to take an action and I will do such without the least equivocation. I have Papa Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor—an Itsekiri and former President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). I have also Okwadike Dr. Pius Chukwuemeka Ezeife—an Igbo and former Governor of Anambra State. So it would be an absurd and insane act for me as an Igbo and a Deltan because of narrow pecuniary interest to pick up my pen and in one swoop of writing stigmatize the Itsekiri nation in the most in insane manner the man called Sam Omatseyi did to the Igbo.
I have been part of the struggles of the Itsekiri nation to redefine her ethnic identity through a renegotiated Yoruba identity. I was on the side of the Itsekiri nation when a delegation of Itsekiri leaders led by Chief Fred Agbeyegbe stormed the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) rally at MKO Abiola Stadium Abeokuta in 1999 to formally declare their Yoruba identity. I was part of the OPC High Command under the legendary Dr. Fred Faseun who undertook every risk of ethnic brotherhood to defend the Itsekiri against Ijaw onslaught in both Warri and Ajagunle. And I want Chief Fred Agbeyegbe to stand up and prove me wrong.
Above all, the only national political icon of Itsekiri progeny in Nigerian political history—Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was sired politically by no other personality than an Igbo—the Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the same personality Sam Omatseye has chosen to vilify as well. I have occasionally read Sam Omatseye and I thought he was only dancing the traditional Itsekiri Giri dance. But now I can see him dancing the precipitous Itsekiri Aja-ogbugbu dance of fire.
Among the Itsekiri ethnic group of Delta State where Sam Omatseye hails from the Aja-ogbugbu dance is a special dance of fire performed on special ceremonial occasions and only by those men who are confident of their ritual integrity. This is the dance Mr. Sam Omatseye decided to perform against the Igbo but catastrophically on the back of Senator Oluremi Tinubu, his Itsekiri ethnic benefactor and sacrificial political lure for the untenable presidential ambition of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The question to Sam Omatseye is has he the ritual integrity and capacity to perform the Aja-ogbugbu fire dance which by Igbo transliteration means a killer sacrifice—Aja meaning sacrifice and Ogbugbu meaning to kill? Already Sam Omatseye has started crying like a sacrificial slave driven to the altar of traditional Itsekiri Omale Okun deity, pleading with the same Obi to call his supporters to order; a far cry from the courageous and intrepid Aja-ogbugbu dancers. This is the kind of field intellectual Generals Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu is relying on to face the Obi-dient moving train. A goat in leopard’s skin indeed!
Allegorically Sam Omatseye’s concept of “Obi-tuary” which emanated from his paranoiac insane contraption of Obi-dient is indeed a political requiem for his paymaster, employer, and distasteful in-law Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose political acronym BAT means more than just three Roman alphabets to the most discerning political and spiritual minds in Nigeria. Cosmologically, bat is a creature of bad omen. The Igbo say Usu (bat) aburo anu enu ma oburo anu ana (The Bat is neither a bird nor an animal). This is the political identity of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and this is what Sam Omatseye has proved himself to be as well, since it will only take a slave to accept the role of a servant to a slave.
But what does one expect from such a man as Sam Omatseye—an Itsekiri living on the crumbs that fall from his master-brother-in-law. Of course speaking or writing otherwise should have amounted to pecuniary suicide on his part. So let no one expected him to write in support of either Peter Obi or Abubakar Atiku. He who pays the piper must dictate the tune. A laborer must worth his wages, otherwise why was he appointed the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Nation newspapers—Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s newspaper in the first place? His only nemesis however is that in his artistic synthesis of “Obi-tuary” he forgot the saying that when one points a finger at another person, the other four fingers are pointing at him. In the same token when one bends down to look at someone’s anus, his own anus is equally exposed to others to look at. He who deeps his finger in a bowl of oil must be ready to wash his other fingers.
Sam Omatseye wrote from the mindset of someone in a sinking ship or a drowning man seeking any available object to grip for survival. His artistic but self-judgmental tantrums were more or less a peripatetic display of the bemused steps of a drunken political scavenger whose sworn mission of caging his people’s conscience in the dust-bin of political slavery was greeted with the unexpected force of a political locust called Obi-dient. A concavity of falsehood and half-truths laced with venomous Igbophobic delusions constructed on the shifting sand of ethnic idiocy, Sam Omatseye’s outburst clearly epitomizes Chinua Achebe’s proverbial “nwa Nza” which after a gluttonous feast decided to challenge its Chi (Guardian Spirit) to a wrestling contest. I pity him rather than raining abuses on him. He was commissioned for a cause and right at dawn of his mission he sees every wall collapsing Jericho-wise. Sam Omatseye and his addle-brained mercenary journalists had thought that the people of Southern Nigeria and Nigerian Christians would be cowed into supporting the precipitous Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket for the reason of a Bola Ahmed Tinubu from Southern Nigeria and an Oluremi Tinubu being a make-shift pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Sam Omatseye and his APC paymasters are fully aware that their Muslim-Muslim Presidential ticket is a bad market, for no right thinking Yoruba man and woman born with the tinge of Christianity will vote for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Sam Omatseye is also aware that most of the APC Muslim members of the North will rather vote for their member—the Fulani-born Atiku Abubakar in opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as they did in 2015 against President Goodluck Jonathan, than vote for a chameleonic Yoruba Muslim called Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Faced with this insurmountable political suicide, the Tinubu camp decided to redirect their attention to the Southeast and South-South geopolitical zones using a rabid dog attack strategy of employing disused South-South political mindsets. First was the confused Niger Delta militant political contractor, Asari Dokub, who recently out of his lack of strategic ideas to confront the trending Obi-dient moving train decided to transpose his outdated forefathers’ 19th century war-gear on his mujahedeen clandestine frame in a Buguma village parade of rented disused Kalabari militants as a way of accounting for the enormous amount of money collected from Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Otherwise what political utility has Asari Dokubo in the body politics of Rivers State, much more influencing the people’s mindset on Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
Next comes Sam Omatseye, the political news scavenger who had thought it palatable to use Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political wife, the Itsekiri-born Senator as his convenient sacrificial bait. Unfortunately according to Islamic laws, a Christian woman married to a Muslim who refuses to convert to Islam has no share in her husband’s estate. Unless Senator Oluremi Tinubu has a pact with her husband to be a secret Muslim but a public Christian for political objectives, because Islam even accepts lies and deceits against the unbelievers as strategies of conquering them.
If Sam Omatseye is not yet aware, Senator Oluremi Tinubu is a first cousin to Papa Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yet the only plot of land Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor had in Obalende, Lagos and for which he earmarked for the Lagos branch of his Church was confiscated by Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor approached his cousin Senator Oluremi Tinubu to implore her husband to kindly release the Church land, and she approached her husband, she was threatened with divorce by Bola Tinubu. This is the same Oluremi Nigerian Christians are being deceived that with her position as Tinubu’s wife the interest of Nigerian Christians would be protected under Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidency.
The question to the likes of Sam Omatseye is which freeborn Itsekiri man or woman will support a man who viciously confiscated a piece of land belonging to such Itsekiri illustrious son as Papa Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and went further to threaten an Itsekiri daughter with divorce for daring to plead on behalf of her Itsekiri brother? The Igbo often say, “Ogo bu chi ogbenye”—the in-law is the guardian spirit of the poor. Has Bola Ahmed Tinubu proven to be a good and trusted in-law to Itsekiri people in his action against Papa Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor? I hope Sam Omatseye is listening. Moreover most people are aware that Oluremi remains Tinubu’s wife so long as her position serves to advance Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s narrow political ambition. After all, was it not only in 2018 that Bola Ahmed Tinubu forced her to be ordained a Pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God in anticipation of his political ambition?
In his dim-witted display of historical ignorance Sam Omatseye forgot that journalism is not history and that the subject of Biafra is best suited for the intellectual kitty of historians. It therefore befuddles even the least intelligent among his readers that he should equate Biafra with Igbo identity. One fundamental fact people of Sam Omatseye’s corrupted mindset should know is that not every Biafran was Igbo and not every Igbo was Biafran. For instance, I, the present writer am an Igbo from Delta State, but I have never accepted the inclusion of West Niger Igbo in Nnamdi Kanu’s Biafra project. Similarly Asari Dokubo is not Igbo but he claims to be a Biafran. If Sam Omatseye has just homunculus knowledge of the history of Nigerian civil war, he should have known that even in 1967 there was the short-lived Republic of Benin which his Majesty the Olu of Warri— Ginuwa was signatory to before he fled to Lagos on the advance of Federal troops. Thus bringing up the absurd comparison between Peter Obi and Nnamdi Kanu on the one hand, and Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu on the other was the height of Sam Omatseye’s sense of mental declivity and morbid comprehension of the history of Nigerian civil war.
While it is not my duty to play the role of an advocate for Peter Obi on how Anambra State was governed under him, however, as the saying goes, those who seek equity must come with clean hands. There was that anecdote of a little boy who was instructed by his father to mention four most corrupt countries in Africa and the little boy concluded without mentioning Nigeria. The question his father threw back to him was why was Nigeria not mentioned among the four most corrupt nations of Africa? In his response the little boy asked his father: “When counting sinners, does one need to count Satan?” Yes! In matters of corruption in Nigeria Mr. Peter might be among the sinners, but the Satan of corruption in Nigeria both stated and published is certainly Bola Ahmed Tinubu and, Sam Omatseye knows this.
What Sam Omatseye cannot deny is that the movement called Obi-dient is not a call for the obi-tuary of its movers but the call for the “obi-tuary” of those being moved out of the corrupted political space of Nigeria. Sam Omateye and his paymasters should be rightly informed that the movement called Obi-dient is not all about Peter Obi’s personality or his achievements or failures as Governor of Anambra State, even though in comparative moral terms Bola Ahmed Tinubu cannot measure up to Peter Obi. It is like comparing a craw-craw with a bump. It is also not about Labour Party, neither is it about ethnicity or religion. It is all about a movement; a revolution conscientiously driven by the desire of the Nigerian masses to cast out in demon-like fashion all the political cankerworms sucking away the vitality of Nigeria’s nationhood into the abyss.
But why is Sam Omatseye developing running stomach if Peter Obi hops from one Church to the other? Would he have hopped from one Mosque to the other? Who complained when Bola Ahmed Tinubu slept from one Mosque in Nigeria to another in Saudi Arabia? Which Obi-dient member complained when Bola Ahmed Tinubu visited Pastor Enoch Adeboye to convince the old man to sell his religious birthright as did Esau? President Goodluck Jonathan lost because of the Judas mentality of Christians like Sam Omatseye who do not see the looming danger of jihad directed against them. This time it will not be business as usual. To say that God’s judgment awaits any Christian that votes for a Muslim Presidential candidate in 2023 is an understatement. The Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” This is the present position with respect to Obi-dient movement.
* Nwaezeigwe, PhD, is the Deputy Director,
Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka