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Anambra: And she said “no”

By Ray Ekpu
16 November 2021   |   2:58 am
The Anambra State Governorship election has been won and lost and barring any hiccup from the court Governor Willie Obiano will hand over the baton to Professor Chukwuma Soludo in March next year.

Obiano and Onuegbusi

The Anambra State Governorship election has been won and lost and barring any hiccup from the court Governor Willie Obiano will hand over the baton to Professor Chukwuma Soludo in March next year.

Obiano had said with maximum confidence during the campaign that he intends to hand over to Soludo. It is clear that Anambrarians have agreed with him that Soludo is the man of the moment. That is why they voted for him massively.

However, Mr Obiano deserves commendation for his choice of Soludo as his successor. It shows that he, Obiano, has an abundance of self-confidence and a taste for excellence for the choice of a man who has a towering image and who may, all things being equal, perform in such a manner as to draw attention, favourably or unfavourably, of Ndi Anambra to the performance of its past leaders. All of these are in the realm of speculation but there is no doubt that the coming of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to the gubernatorial podium in Anambra will draw the nation’s attention to Anambra in the days to come. That looming image poses a challenge to him to make achievements in the state at a level that matches his scholastic excellence and the public perception of him as a doer.

However, the major matter of significance in the Anambra election is the issue of how, according to reports, the major parties were dishing out money to purchase the votes – and the conscience – of the voters. Vote-buying and vote-selling are fast becoming the fad in our elections and if nothing is done by stakeholders it will become the Achilles heel of our democracy. But the good thing is that despite the abundance of naira that was reportedly spread all over the place like confetti, one woman stood out as a beacon of virtue, honesty and honour. Her name: Mrs Ngozi Onuegbusi from Amagu village in Dunukofia Local Government Area. She was offered N5000 by one of the political parties and she said “No.” Hear her: “I am poor. I don’t have any money in my pocket but I won’t take N5000.” She said further: “When they came and brought the money I told them to go, that I know the person I will vote for and I did. Everything is not about money.

We have been hearing different reports before the election. I know I don’t have money but it will be difficult for me to sell my conscience. But thank God the whole thing turned out this way. Let me tell our people to always stand by the truth and once we hold on to it, the society will be a better place for all of us.” Elated by the woman’s ramrod straight approach to the election Obiano has given her one million naira awoof to demonstrate that honesty pays.

The traditional ruler of her community Igwe Peter Uyanwa has also hosted her for bringing honour to the community. From all the evidence available so far it is clear that the woman voted for APGA. APGA is a party founded by Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu which has outlived him. That is the only party apart from the two major parties APC and PDP that has been clinging on to the governorship of its state. That loyalty appears to be indigenous to Anambra because Anambrarians still treat Ojukwu even after death as a folk hero and “a jewel of inestimable value,” to borrow the words that Chief Obafemi Awolowo used in describing his wife, Hannah. I don’t know what she voted for. She may have voted for Ojukwu. She may have voted to support the incumbent Governor Obiano who has given the state an airport as a parting gift. She may have voted for Soludo who had established a solid reputation as a thinker and strategist when he was Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. She may have voted for the APGA symbol, the cock, that scrupulous early riser that crows glowingly at dawn to wake up the laggard, the lazy, the late sleeper and make the idea of hitting the road early in the morning a habit to cherish forever. Or she may have voted for a combination of the above-mentioned persons or for Soludo’s enticing agenda.

Whatever she voted for it is clear that she voted out of conviction, out of a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong. That is why she is the darling of this column today. The essential magic of Anambra politics is money, tons of it since it is stated that within every kilometre of Anambra land there are billionaires crawling like worms. This abundance of cash makes the sting and clash of political battles in Anambra a lot more interesting than what you can find elsewhere in the country. At the same time, it expands the wattage of the smile of political foot soldiers and potential voters because none of them is left hungry by those who seek to make their elections a pocketbook issue or what has come to be known as “stomach infrastructure.”

Mrs Onuegbusi is the poster girl of the Anambra election, a woman of immeasurable virtue. Virtue is not being tempted. It is the ability to overcome temptation, the guts to say “No.” Virtue brings honour and honour brings respect. Mrs Onuegbusi has all three. Mark Twain thought that honesty is the best policy when there is money in it. Our lady of virtue thinks that while honesty is the best policy it is not the best politics. She believes that once honesty is pawned it cannot be redeemed because honesty is a priceless legacy that anyone who has must guard jealously. William Shakespeare said, “mine honour is my life; both grow in one, take honour from me and my life is done.” These lines were written in practice by our virtuous woman from Anambra. This woman chose honour despite the temptation not to walk on the straight and narrow path.

Many people prefer the crooked and wide path that leads to perdition. The truth is that many people do not want to walk on the straight and narrow path because it is too narrow to accommodate their greed or ego. If many people walked on that path it would not have continued to be very narrow. With the high level of poverty in Nigeria, those who were delivering the election egwunje never expected that anyone would say “No” to the offer of N5000. N5000 can produce a nice pot of soup or a pair of shoes or a gown at a bend-down market, or two bottles of wine or a box of lipstick or second-hand hair from India or a badly used I-better-pass-my-neighbour generator. You can lengthen the list.

Mrs Onuegbusi ignored this list of possible acquisitions with a princely N5000 because she is a woman in clover, a contented woman of dignity who did her duty to her conscience and to Anambra State and to Nigeria. She is a self-confident woman and she made sure that whoever offered her the bribe had a rod in the pickle, a rude shock that he will not live down especially now that the woman has become a national hero for doing what many of her mates could not, and did not do. The word “No” has only two letters but for most people, it is a very difficult word to pronounce when a tempting offer is on the table. You have to be iron-willed, unbending and irreproachable to summon the courage to say “No” to vice.

Our lady of guts must have generated awe, she must be someone who can heal her own wounds, a lioness that needs no company or companion. Her virtue was her companion, her comrade, her confederate, her colleague. Her virtue gave her the guts to say “No” without shaking, without stammering, without bending and without blushing. She must have produced before the one who came to assail her integrity a strong, dauntless air, the quiet air of self-assuredness which made her as confident in dealing with the attempt at malfeasance as if she was someone who had come into humongous money.

Her relative impecuniosity did not intimidate her because she knew that she was unerringly correct in her behaviour. When you look at those words that she uttered to those who attempted to derail her, you must come to the inescapable conclusion that they had bitten, they had venom unhidden, they had a sword that may have pierced their hearts. But they had hearts that needed to be pierced with a virtuous arrow of purity so that our politics may walk on the straight and narrow route. This woman’s behaviour is a message to Soludo to give, when he takes over, a roar of approval to honesty in the management of the State. Many people see Soludo as a political Cincinnatus, a model of simplicity and ability who must be ready to bite the bullet and to beat swords into ploughshares when he assumes office in March next year. This woman’s life is a tribute to the honesty and it will be in Soludo’s interest to go beyond the platitudes of praise he has lavished on her and do something concrete to confirm that he sings from the same hymn book as this woman.