Between Obi Cubana and Obi Pandora
Sir: The University of Nigeria with campuses at Nsukka and Enugu boasts of many firsts. Of course it remains the first indigenous citadel of learning in the country established sans affiliation to any foreign institution whatsoever. Also, ever since it has more than lived up to its endearing motto: To Restore the Dignity of Man. And Woman, if I may dare to add.
In another trailblazer, its Business School recently became the first of its kind to graduate doctoral students in Nigeria. Made up of a chosen few engaged in economic policy management as well as business and public leadership, they are now back at their beats, no doubt, emboldened by their new togas of excellence.
Interestingly, even a cursory browser of the school’s illustrious alumni list has never laboured to find members who have excelled in the application of ‘theoretical knowledge in business practice’. Without doubt, topping the list presently without equivocation are Messrs Peter Obi and Obi Iyiegbu.
The former, a 1984 graduate of Philosophy, has governed the state of Anambra and was the vice-presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the last national elections. Engaged in business right from his school days, the exposure of his name in the list of Nigerians with offshore accounts in the recently released Pandora Papers made news recently. But, if anything, it only served to expose his avoirdupois in wealth.
The latter, on the other hand, graduated from the Political Science Department in 1998. He was to set up a chain of businesses dating from 2006 and now has a networth amounting to double digits in billions. A revelation brought to public commentary following the lavish burial he afforded his mother. The advertisement of lucre at the event served to make his moniker Obi Cubana a household name in Nigeria, nay the world.
With the duo in mind, I was virtually transported back to school, the good, old Princess Alexandra Auditorium. I just couldn’t miss it. Notwithstanding that back in our time there, it had remained a bombed-out edifice. A price paid for mustering the effrontery to host the declaration of the secessionist state of Biafra.
No thanks to the post-civil war three Rs delayed too long, it now has a roof over it. But one could easily make out all the telltale signatures that etched its walls into the membranes of anybody that ever took exams in its then unwholesome belly.
De rigueur, first up in the determination of this palaver will be their names. Though both have Obi in their names, they are not actually namesakes, like many would imagine. You know, like Emeka Offor and my humble self. The truth being that while Cubana’s Obi is a first name, Pandora’s is his surname.
Also, they are no relatives. Again, both have their concerns all over the nation. But while Cubana appears restricted to the entertainment industry, the man with an account in Pandora’s box trespasses boundaries with ease.
But please don’t tell me that one fulfills his corporate responsibilities and the other doesn’t. You can be rest assured that both do. The only differential there is that while the one has an offshore company, the other has his own domiciled here. At least, for now.
Meanwhile, both are brand representatives of the highest order. Like typical Igbo traders, they are so good at what they are doing that the sky, to them, appears a starting point. Yes, their beleaguered enclave has been likened to a dot in a circle. But there is no holding them back. They have consistently played in the big league with other citizens from the other spaces in the circle.
Isidore Emeka Uzoatu, an alumnus of UNN, wrote in from Onitsha, Anambra State.