When A Dirty Slap Becomes Therapeutic

Charles Okoh

Charles Okoh

Finally, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo was last Thursday sworn in as governor of Anambra State, after his victory at the poll in November 2021.

Anambra remains one of the luckiest states in the South East, having enjoyed a string of successful leadership since the beginning of the fourth republic. Therefore, with the coming of Soludo, it is expected that his tenure will only further raise the bar and the state will be better for it.

Early indications that Soludo meant business was the inauguration in January of a transition committee, which, according to him, restated his vision and manifesto for the state, saying that his campaign promises are not mere political statements, but social contract with Anambra people.

The composition of the committee was another strong statement as to his preparedness to reach out to wherever he can find suitable hands to help propel his desire to leave Anambra better than he met it.

The committee, headed by former World Bank Executive and ex-Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, had 80 members from within and outside the state.

Professor Soludo vowed to end the activities of touts and revenue collectors in the state. He promised to rid Onitsha and all roads and markets of touts and make Anambra a pleasurable experience.

If you think that that is not significant, then come to Lagos and see how touts run parallel governments and how highly eulogized they are. They are untouchable and feared by all. For a state that prides itself as the centre of excellence to turn a blind eye to what is clearly a case of common criminality in the guise of road transport unionism, beats one’s imagination.

How can there be touts on every bus stop in Lagos clutching cudgels while forcefully collecting dues for a supposed national union and local governments? Are they not supposed to be limited only in recognised garages and motor parks? Who bears the additional burden of their having to pay at every bus stop, beginning from the garage of departure to the final destination?

This is hoping that the Lagos State government recent clampdown will be far-reaching enough to curb the excesses and unruly conducts of the NURTW. How far the state can go is a matter for another day because it is a popular view that these touts are untouchable because they do the dirty jobs during electioneering.

I digress. This is not about Lagos but about Anambra and the sky-high hopes and expectation of the people following the swearing in of Soludo. Of course, nobody will expect that Soludo would make the state Eldorado overnight, but he must be seen to have worked for the people selflessly and matched words with action and he would be considered to have done enough.

The process that led to his election is one to envy; it is one that has helped to rekindle the faith of the people in our electoral process and it is hoped that for INEC, it will be a case of continually upping the ante as we progress as a nation. We should stop rewarding electoral criminals, fraudsters and encouraging gangsterism through crooked elections.

However, what almost took the shine off Soludo’s inaugural outing was the unbecoming conduct of the former first, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, who left her husband, Gov. Willie Obiano, and made for Bianca Ojukwu, wife of the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, where she sat.

First this is a widow. The little I know of our culture is we are supposed to protect widows and support them. Secondly, she sat quietly and a reasonable distance from the cantankerous Mrs. Obiano. Yet, she walked rather briskly across her husband to taunt her. No regards or respect for her husband; no respect for the guests who were at the arena and those watching from across the globe, no respect for Bianca who by any stretch of the imagination is not her equal.

For heaven’s sake, who is Ebele before Bianca? Apart from being a former ambassador, she also made a name for herself by becoming a beauty queen, in spite of the fact that her father was a former governor.

Narrating what transpired, the former Ambassador to Spain explained that she ignored several provocative verbal and physical assaults from the former first lady who she alleged was intoxicated by alcohol.

Mrs Ojukwu, who’s also a member of Board of Trustees (BOT), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) wrote: “As the inaugural ceremonies for Prof Charles Soludo and his deputy began and all guests were seated, the former First Lady of Anambra State, Mrs Ebele Obiano, was noticeably absent. She then arrived some one-and-a-half hours later while the ceremony was on. I didn’t pay any particular attention to her arrival.

“Surprisingly, she then walked towards me and I thought she was coming to greet me. She asked if I had come to celebrate their last day in office. But I ignored her completely. Then, she kept aggressively putting her hands on my shoulders and shouting. While I ignored her verbal onslaught, as advised by those sitting around me, I requested twice that she refrained from touching me with her hands.

“She proceeded to do so yet again and went further to grab at my headtie, which she attempted unsuccessfully to remove. This very act is considered a sacrilege to a titled matriarch such as myself in Igbo culture.

“It was at this point that I stood up to defend myself and gave her a dirty slap to stop her from attacking me. As she made towards me, I then pulled away her wig. She held on to her wig with her two hands and tried to take the wig away from me.

“What struck me through the whole episode was the fact that she was clearly intoxicated. I was stunned by the stench of whisky in her breath at such an early hour of the day. How could a first lady be so drunk and proceed to turn up in that state at an Inauguration ceremony that began at 9 am?”

Was Mrs. Ojukwu right to have slapped her? Maybe not. But did Mrs Obiano deserve the slap, I very well think so. She needs to be saved from herself. She must come down from her high horse and realize that that time-tested aphorism that power is transient is a datum worth taking into account.

There could not have been a better place to take that dirty slap than in the full glare of the world. It is a necessary shock therapy to calm what is clearly a case of manic syndrome. We hope that the lessons are well learnt and that those who do this, just because they are successful or are married to successful spouses must realize that a certain time would come when they would meet their nemesis or waterloo.

Ebele took that slap on behalf of all those who are so power-drunk that they often forget their humble beginnings. It was for all those who treat their domestic staff and subordinates like they have no dignity and do not deserve any atom of respect. It is the likes of this woman that maltreats their maid and physically-abuse them. It is in this same country that a certain Mother Excellency publicly disparaged a sitting governor just because the son was a former governor and a benefactor to the incumbent.

As Anambra first lady, rather than building bridges for her husband as governor of the state, and cultivating friends, she concentrated more at harvesting enemies for him. This in no small measure ensured that Governor Obiano became more and more estranged from his political friends, benefactors as well as party members.

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