Remember Paul of Tarsus? Remember the thirteen Pauline Epistles? Remember the Apostle of all times, the light-bearer of the Christian faith and his many letters to the churches , captured as epistles of the new testament? Today, no one knows if Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has a passion for the epistles. But, it does seem, perhaps, that he is inspired by Paul’s methodology of reaching out to the early churches of the Greeco-Roman world. For Governor Ikpeazu has decided to take a message to thirty churches in Abia.
But, unlike Paul who was speaking to the new faithful and the congregation of the early churches, Ikpeazu is speaking to all Abians both at home and in the Diaspora and, of course, the entire world through the thirty churches. The themes of the Pauline letters and that of Ikpeazu are similar but the method of delivery is different. Apostle Paul sent his message across, Governor Ikpeazu is going personally to the churches to address the congregants. And he took off last Sunday at the United Evangelical Church, on Etche Road, Aba.
The occasion was the grand church thanks giving service organized by the Umuakwu,Isiala Ngwa North- born ace-humourist and legal luminary, Barrister Chibuike Nwaokeukwu, in celebration of his elevation to the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Governor Ikpeazu used the occasion to deliver his letter, a call to wisdom, an exercise of the highest divine order in the face of the greatest dilemma for a leader. “I was faced with the ethical dilemma of either sacrificing the about 11.6 million Igbos living in the North, who are well-established and owing properties in that part of the country or seeking a quick and peaceful resolution to a situation that would have resulted in an unprecedented bloodshed in the land. I was torn between myself and reality,” Ikpeazu lamented, in the most pathetic tune.
He continued: “ I have decided to take this message to thirty churches in Abia.” Surly, If Governor Ikpeazu is to put a title to his message, he would obviously entitle it: “Why I did what I did”. This message, precisely, has become expedient in the face of the many insinuations and misrepresentations that have trailed the Governor’s role in the Operation Python Dance which saw the Army ravaging our cities and leaving bitter tales of blood. The ugly incident has become a sore spot for the opposition in Abia and they are festering on it to haul stones on the person of the Governor. The most idiotic of comments is the accusation that the Governor ordered the Army to kill the innocent masses that elected him to protect their lives and property.
Quite unfortunately, these insinuations are being deliberately spread at bars and beer parlours around Aba and the opinion is gathering momentum. Thus, Governor Ikpeazu has resolved to meet the people and personally explain himself, not through the mass media channel but through direction marketing. And he lived up to expectations last Sunday as he explained the dilemma that he has to deal with. “We know that our IPOB brothers are expressing a genuine grievance. We know we are being short-changed and marginalized but we have to tread with caution because of the reality of our people’s existence. I acted in wisdom to avert bloodbath and save the lives of our people,” he affirmed.
Indeed, there are key facts that need to be clarified in the current discourse. One is that as the Governor in the Nigerian Federation, the Governor cannot be seen to subvert the constitution that he swore to protect. He swore to protect and defend the unity of the federation. Again is that the Army is not in the command of the Governor. The best he could do is to wedge them and this he did perfectly because the situation could have been worse if not for his tact and intelligent intervention and engagement with all the parties involved. If the expectation of the opposition is that Ikpeazu should have incited the populace against the Army and the Federal Government, I can only say SORRY.
I worry at times at the absurdity of certain criticisms against Governor Ikpeazu, like the one of lackadaisical attitude on the part of government over the IPOB phenomenon. What could Ikpeazu have done to a non-violent group that was expressing themselves in a democracy? Agreed that some of their comments were seditious against the Federal Government, but they never in any way acted in such a manner as constituted a threat to the state government. What could Ikpeazu have done to stop the Army from coming into Abia when they are billed to operate in the entire South East for a specified period of time?
We study history for insight and for a time like these. And the history of every crisis in Nigeria whether it happened in Kano, Kaduna or Lagos, shows that Igbos have always been at the receiving end, because of our disperse form of habitation. Every intelligent General knows when to tactical withdrew to save his troops for another day. This is exactly what the Umuobiakwa man has done.
It is regrettable that anyone could see an opportunity for destructive propaganda in an unfortunate situation which raised heavy tension here and partially grounded activities. If there is a time when we all should relegate our political leaning and collapse into our common humanity, it is now when we have to confront a strange visitor. The Army are not friendly visitors and they have never visited a place without leaving a trail. Their dance, as the one of the python, has never been soul-lifting. It is a dance of blood and that is why we all must work with the Governor to sustain the peace that he has initiated.
As I listened to Ikpeazu narrate his ordeal and the dilemma that confronted him, my mind went back to my readings of Joseph Fletcher and his Situational Ethics. I remembered his theory of “Committing the Lower Evil” and of love being “Justice Distributed”. In the choices that he made, the Governor can only beckon on history and posterity for vindication. Great leaders are often confronted by such ethical dilemma. Governor Ikpeazu is not an exception.
Godwin Adindu is a political Analyst and public affairs commentator.