By Charles Mbani
Octogenarian and former Governor of Old Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife strike a perfect example of a leader in Nigeria, whose haunting poverty of ideas and the anger of an unfulfilled life has deprived him sensibility.
No doubt, Ezeife has lost his soul and conscience and so, perpetually battles the demons vexed our ancestors have unleashed on him for living an unworthy life. He howls nonsensically at everything, like a man enslaved by mental depression from years of imprisonment.
Ezeife is one among the few leaders of Igbo extraction, who had numerous opportunities to better the living conditions of our impoverished people. But gambled it away for lack of focus because they have refused to let go, the crutches of born neophytes and empty upstairs.
As Governor of our state, Ezeife astounded our people when he demonstrated crass ignorance about the basic rudiments of governance. Like a little baby, the sound of blaring sirens, gave him an endless excitement and feeling of mayoralty, which stripped him of every sense of leadership acumen.
History remembers Ezeife as one Governor of old Anambra who accomplished nothing, as he flinchingly ignored the pungent development needs of our people, even when it stared him in the face and stamped him on the nose. He was more at home with the life of lucre, but failed to lay proper foundations. Some of his critics claimed his whitish beard was a bulwark that blindfolded him to vision and action, as he regaled in high life orchestra, where he spent most evenings.
Ezeife’s life epitomizes failure on several counts. He wasted everything worthwhile in his life. Now, he retreats effeminately from competing with his contemporaries in politics, business and academics. He avoids any social gathering where his affluent mates converge in numbers, as facade against the open shame of advertising his failures. It explains why he permanently rotates in Anambra, like a rat in a hole.
Ezeife attempted teaching, but could not withstand the demanding rigours and depth of intellectualism known to academics. So, he dumped it unceremoniously. Ezeife strayed into politics and was tested, but left no remarkable footprints. He spends his time in Anambra acting the worthless local kingmaker to councilors and deputy governorship candidates. Even after consciously condescending to such disgraceful political levels, he suffers ignominy and snobbery. The younger breed of politicians in our home state pooh-pooh his decisions mindlessly.
It is in business one is amazed at Ezeife’s barrenness. Unlike the average Igbo man everyone knows, Ezeife has no knack or spirit for business, very un- industrious and generally unproductive. Anambrarians failed to discern this early enough and they saddled him with the machinery of governance. He replicated the same indolence and failed woefully, a decision the people have kept regretting to date.
That’s why Ezeife has suffered stunted political growth. A man burdened by such serial failures is permanently angry. So, he thinks, talks and acts irrationally, with venomous rage stirred by the indignation of failed adventures in life. He only thinks and acts evil now. When in 2006, the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) pulled down his house in Abuja, it was a national aversion to his dubiousness as he erected an edifice on plots of land he acquired in violation of due process.
It is no surprise to those who have monitored the life of Ezeife that he parrots absurdly. He has pathetically become the proverbial mad dog, who senselessly bites everything at sight. He enlisted in the National Christian Elders Forum, which on the periphery indicates a burdened heart, angling for closer ties with God Almighty. But on the flipside however, Ezeife abhors truth and honesty. Given a chance, he can even deny his shadows.
When he voiced out or lent support to the cankerous views that the free Medical Outreach Programme of the Nigerian Army anchored by “Operation Python Dance II,” in the Southeast is an attempt to eliminate the Igbos, it was clear, Ezeife required immediate psychiatric attention. His family may overlook this timely warning, but the steady progression of his insanity is clearly publicized by this shameful outing.
Every madman according to our elders knows a market day. And so compels himself to behave orderly or else, there are hundreds of people in the market square ready to give him hard knocks for misconduct. What cannot be comprehended is why Ezeife’s madness is its limitlessness. He has backed and expanded a speculation without any modicum of truth. Is that his style of attracting attention to his poverty-stricken soul? In every community, leaders earn respect and relevance through diligent service, proven records of accomplishments and promotion of progressive values.
A leader worth his onions does not embark on a despicable and vile propaganda to create disaffection and incitement. Least of all, the mistaken belief that spurious, inflammatory and defamatory comments would endear him to a people he has through his failings, impoverished and pauperized for decades is incongruous.
Purportedly responding to a question from a traditional ruler on whether to bring their children out our for free medical treatment by the Army, Ezeife retorted; I told him, no, that if we could not stop them (Soldiers) from killing with guns, we shouldn’t allow them to kill us with syringe… We are rich enough to treat our children.”
An elder who peddles such barefaced lies can strip himself naked in public. He is an empty and irresponsible man, whose wisdom is not beyond that of street urchins. He deserves pity and needs to be salvaged from self-inflicted wounds. It is an established fact that Ezeife is not a known philanthropist anywhere in the Southeast like his peers.
But a heart possessed by the devil consistently tilts towards darkness. So, Ezeife is envious to see our kinsmen blossom in robust health. So, he won’t allow the less privileged of our people to consummate the benefits of a humanitarian gesture offered by a revered institution like the Nigerian Army. Yet, he is powerless to provide such assistance, but haughtily claims “we are rich to treat our children.” He says no, but has no palliative or workable alternative to liberate his people from the chains of ailments.
Ezeife has passed a verdict of guilt on the Nigerian Army unjustly based on despicably false and baseless information circulated by some criminal elements in IPOB. He has forgotten that our children are in their good number and part of the decision making body of this same institution. For an elder to align himself with such indulgence exposes the dilemma of Nigeria in very disgusting terms. To understand that Ezeife’s brain is quarantined by cursed wisdom, he exposed his idiocy and stupidity thus;
“The military should have gone to the Minister of Education or the Commissioner for Education or Commissioner for Health, and the Governor before releasing the soldiers in a civilian population. Whether it was an intended good or evil, they approached it in a very wrong way.”
It marvels that Ezeife had the least knowledge about the Nigerian Army’s free medical services, or why the commotion in Anambra occurred, but rushed in public domain to sing condemnations. No normal human being would ascribe evil to an action he is devoid of its nature. Is he arguing that approaching the government or the minister of education or health for approval would have dissolved the poisons in the injections? Only fools and lunatics plunge themselves in such contradictions.
If the Nigerian Army, failed in consulting the aforementioned, what restrained Ezeife from also contacting the same establishments of government for clarification before passing out his ill conceived comments? Therefore, the instant and remote intentions of Ezeife are to incite the public against the Army and by large the Federal Government , create a template for the breach of public peace and order. And then recoil into his hideout to watch the conflagrations it would ignite in the Southeast in order to reduce all his kinsmen to his unimpressive status in failure. He will thereafter, leap out in jubilations as “mission accomplished.”
But regrettably, on the day alarmist raised the false alarm in Anambra state particularly, there was no such medical outreach as alleged. The IPOB alarmists had a plot and an intention, which they set out to execute. It was nothing more than creating confusion, causing commotion and an anarchic state, they would grab to rob and loot innocent and law abiding citizens. But security agents thwarted the intentions the likes of Ezeife schemed to work on our people.
The people are at liberty to live a life of jungle. But there is no justification to drag the Nigerian Army into the fray to extents of defamation. When soldiers supply water to communities in Enugu, the likes of Ezeife do not think soldiers could poison the water. When they offered free medical services to Southeast communities in 2016, Ezeife did not think the needles and syringes could have had poisonous substances until now.
Nigerians doff their hat for the calmness exhibited by the Nigerian military in the face of deliberate persecution and campaigns of calumny. The Military has been considerate and compassionate, as exemplified by the interest in the plight of Nigerians with humanitarian outreaches. They have manifested as principled, professional and resolute military in the pursuit of national defence objectives in accordance with international best practices. So, even when they are internally bruised, like the twisted and illegal announcement by the Abia state government in the aftermath of the tension generated by the unprovoked attacks on soldiers on patrol by incensed IPOB armed gangs, the Army noiselessly cleared the air.
Similarly, the Defence Headquarters has also categorically shamed the campaigners of calumny against the military by stating that medical outreaches and humanitarian activities would continue, as there is no ulterior motives whatsoever. A statement by the Director, Defence Information, (DDI) Gen. John Enenche implored Nigerians to discountenanced the campaigns and assured inter-alia; “ the practice of reaching out to the general public medically is akin to the key task of securing the lives and property of Nigerians. Therefore, it has and can never be done with ulterior motive. Thus, Nigerians should be assured that, the Armed Forces of Nigeria will continue to carry out its all encompassing constitutional responsibility of “National Security” of which health security is inclusive.
Assuming Ezeife had not portrayed himself as silly, representative of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Enugu, Major General Adamu Baba Abubakar, who spoke and condemned the deadly campaigns against Operation Python Dance II in the South-East was Brig.-Gen. J.O. Ugwuoke, an officer of Igbo extraction. It is unimaginable that he would have conscripted into the plot of eliminating his kinsmen through poisonous vaccines as insinuated or expressly stated by Ezeife.
Therefore, our land is really in a mess, if people like Ezeife are the leaders we flaunt. Ndigbo should dust aside sentiments to condemn the damaging utterances of Ezeife and his cohorts in strong terms. It must not always be shown that “leaders” who have lost self-esteem before their people would illegally ride on the back of the Nigerian Army in attempts to redeem badly battered image and obfuscated relevance through brazen and defamatory statements.
The relevant security agencies are implored to thoroughly investigate Ezeife and his veiled clientele in order to bring them to justice for inciting and libelous public utterances. With this outing by Ezeife, it is very suspicious that he must have been an invisible hand of IPOB in destabilizing Nigeria in the Southeast. These elements are the ones who have halted the made-in-Aba campaign that no one is ready to come to the southeast anymore.
It is also ideal for the Nigerian Army to take decisive legal actions on the matter to serve as deterrence to those with cursed wisdom like Ezeife from further stain to their reputation. The Army should immediately seek justice by briefing their lawyers to institute a suit in court against Ezeife for unjustly accusing them of killings in Southeast through poison. A court would provide ample platform for Ezeife to prove his allegations. The Nigerian Army cannot continue to suffer these indignities in silence.
Mbani is the President, South East Renewal Group and contributed this piece from Enugu.