From OKORIE NWOBODO, Yola
A local farmer saw a plane crash near his farm. As the first responder, he arrived at the scene of the air disaster and found it was an all-politician passenger flight.
Soon after, the police arrived at the accident scene and asked the farmer to recount what had happened.
Farmer: The plane crash happened near my farm and I have buried all of the victims.
Police (in shock): Are you sure they were all dead?
Farmer: Some of them were screaming, “We are alive, we are alive.” But I didn’t believe them. These politicians, you know, can lie for the whole of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
The dialogue above illustrates how often the audience is the problem with messages put out by politicians. The truth, however, is that no matter the content, individuals process messages in such cognitive resources in ways that they tend to believe what they want. Talk about selective perception.
That must be the case with a recent reception embracing all Awkunanaw autonomous communities. What transpired on August 14, 2021, at Akpasha Civic Centre, Akegbe-Ugwu, Awkunanaw, Enugu, whose several varnished but unauthorised versions have been in the public domain, will confirm this assertion.
We shall return to that later. But suffice it to say that our native farmer in the story at the opening of this piece ignored the screams of the living to suit his belief that all politicians are liars.
The occasion was a joyous reception to honour the national president, Sir Christian Chinyeaka Ohaa, by Awkunanaw Welfare Association (AWA) worldwide. Ohaa retired in February 2021 as a federal permanent secretary, having clocked 35 years in the public service of Enugu State and the federation.
Attendees report that the event’s organisers showed the mark of finesse for which Chief Nwabueze Nnamani, described as the prime mover, is known. He is a chieftain of AWA and chair of Nkanu West LGA.
For the 21 autonomous communities that make up the Awkunanaw Ọsàgwèdè clan, the reception was a homecoming of sorts, attracting the clan’s high and mighty as well as their friends, including His Excellency Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the two-term governor of Enugu State, where Sir Ohaa kicked off his star-studded civil service career in the 1980s.
Another very important distinguished personality at the occasion was a former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, who chaired the reception. Going down memory lane in a special vote of thanks, spoke so eloquently of the man, Chinyeaka Ohaa, as a Mr Dependable.
Among others, Senator Nnamani, best known to have successfully dodged the infamous “banana peels” that claimed previous Senate presidents, three of them, said he had known Chinyeaka Ohaa for a long time and could vouch for him…that he possesses a strength of character that can take him to anywhere. He pointed to the unhidden massive attendance at the reception as evidence of Sir Ohaa’s acceptability across the Awkunanaw clan and far beyond.
Other well-meaning remarks ran in the same vein. Alas, some of the positive things said were twisted out of context for mischievous purposes, no thanks to killjoys and mischief-makers. As the reception chair and others sowed the good seeds, the enemy sowed tares (Matt. 13:24-30) and overblowing an innocuous reference to a long-forgotten incident.
Indeed, Senator Nnamani was right about Ohaa who was described by an Abuja-based lawyer attending the occasion as the only well placed Awkunanaw son who has helped everyone in need of him. It may sound impossible, but it’s true.
Among the teeming youths of Enugu and beyond, the retired permanent secretary is widely known as “O ji ọlụ eme ọgọ” (Igbo equivalent for “one who is generous with means of livelihood”). In practical terms, Ohaa believes the best way to feed people for a lifetime is to teach them how to fish, not to give fish to the hungry.
No wonder the traditional rulers of the Awkunanaw clan conferred him with the title of Ọsụkwụ Dalije (Igbo for “delicious palm head that drops its fruits for the needy”). The cap fits him.
To start with, he has always had a listening ear. No matter what you brought to him for a solution, Ohaa would hear you out and work with you to find a lasting way out. Thus, he has empowered many youths in and out of public service.
The use of authority to do good is a measure of a man to trust. This, he demonstrated years ago at the Federal Capital Territory where he held sway as permanent secretary. He was reported by The Guardian newspaper as suspending two teachers for sexually harassing female students of a school for the less privileged.
He was also in the news, assuring a delegation of the National Council of Women’s Societies of inclusion of women in governance. No doubt his civil service years left indelible marks on which he can look back today with pride.
The Akpasha reception had many positive undeniable takeaways, but unfortunately, mischievous elements must look for how to spoil someone’s day. Killjoys!
-IO Nwobodo, A Pro Bono Editor And The Erstwhile Director Of Communications Of the American University Of Nigeria, Writes From Yola.