I Met Peter Obi Yesterday -By Ozii Baba Anieto

Filed under: Life And People |

HE DID NOT SAY: ‘FOLLOW ME’; in fact, he did not notice me in the crowd. There was a time he turned towards me as he delivered what I forever will remember as the greatest sermon I have heard in my entire life; at that exact moment, with my breath held, I confessed that I will follow him wherever he may go.

The meeting took place at Mr Ik Ifedi’s house in Osumenyi, Anambra state. I was in the company of the DG of Atiku/Obi presidential campaign, Anambra State – Dr Harry Oranezi – who has grown so fond of Mr Peter Obi. When we got to Osumenyi, there were few people on ground and Peter was there already – patiently waiting for the guests. He freely smiled and his hands were so flexible he extended it to embrace every willing shake. I stood afar and waited till we were ushered to the meeting arena. There were exotic white cushioned seats arranged for the V.P candidate and the dignitaries that were there. Right behind the white seats were the regular plastic hand-rest seats. He walked to the spot and with a calm smile and requested for the sitting arrangement to be altered so to bring everybody closer. And when that was done, Peter – with the ease of a mother hen on her broods – chose not the most comfortable spot, but the spot that placed him in the best position to face the majority; fortunately or unfortunately, it was a plastic seat. There was an effort to switch seats and he dismissed the attempt.

Peter Obi

I sat a few seats away opposite him. I could see the man and every gesture he made. He laughed as he was praised and laugh more when subtly made fun of. If there was something so visible about this man, that must be the humble confidence he exuded. How would you not fall for such a paradox? So powerful yet so simple. When he took the mic, I thought the moment has come – how wrong was I?

‘This government,’ he said, ‘is not for the Igbo tribe to be in the Aso Rock – far from it. The truth is that if we still want to have a country to call our own, we should be asking questions. I and you should know that if the ruin continues, no one will be safe.’

Looking at the men around him, he told them that sending their kids outside Nigeria is not a solution because if they ever return to Nigeria, they will meet the ruin and will run away from this country for good. Their properties, their struggles and their sweats would be a total vanity.

Mr P spoke for nearly an hour but it seemed as if only a minute was gone. That was when I was converted. His words struck a chord I will live forever to remember.

When the leader is not interested in the public fund, 80% of corruption cases is solved
– Peter Obi (yesterday)

The big moment finally came when we were permitted to interact with him. Questions were cast at him and one was so bold to let him know that some of us are politicians – with no other source of livelihood. The questioner told him that these set of politicians would not be happy with him if the portfolio is not created to accommodate them.

I waited for the politician in Mr Obi to play its part – yes, he would tell them that there is always a position to be created for these guys; I forgot all that was said about the leopard and its spots.

Disarming us with a charming smile, he softly spoke:

I will not make everybody happy. I governed Anambra for 8 years and not even a single bottle of champagne was opened in the government house. For 8 years, there was no party thrown in Awka but nearly a billion was invested in a hospital in Amichi. I (Peter) was there some time ago, and a boy came forward to thank me. He had free successful heart surgery in that hospital and was eternally grateful we invested in the health system. If we can save the people in the street, then my work is done. If the system is working as it should, the politicians should find a skill and contribute to the nation building.

That was the moment. He never said: ‘Follow me’.

Ozii Baba Anieto Ajambele