By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Continued from last week
They wrote as a coalition of Associations and copied the Presidency and all Security organizations, claiming that it was without prejudice, but pointed out the cries of Non-Roman Catholic members and Liberal Roman Catholic members in Anambra state which then by 2017 had reached an apogee. They addressed Obiano, as a rational, equitable, just and understanding Roman Catholic with conscience that can understand the denominational domination, to remedy the situation. They reminded him that when in 2013, Anambra people cast their votes for him, they were exercising their civic responsibilities and rights based on his pedigree as a technocrat with enviable track record. They said the people voted for him because they trusted what they were told about him and his potential to leave the state better than he met it and not for him to dominate appointments and positions with his religious set, Roman Catholicism.
Anambra Unite who petitioned him to withdraw himself from the governorship election in a petition dated November 18, 2017. The group demanded his withdrawal from the race, an election he later won. The petition stated in part “you have been found wanting and have shirked from your executive constitutional responsibility to do justice to all men irrespective of their creed. A cursory look at your political appointments reveal gross injustice, marginalization, discrimination and callous disposition towards Anambrarians of especially non-Roman Catholic denomination. The statistics are so shocking that we decided to attach it as an annexure so that you may not only be convinced of justice of our case but also that you may convict yourself and quietly withdraw from the race’.
What that means is Obiano failed to recognize and appreciate the voting power and capacity of Non-Roman Catholics that trusted him with their votes without denominational prejudices.
That is the essence of the current agitation by Anglicans and Pentecostals, even unorthodox religious leaders and their members, to ensure a non-Roman Catholic emerges as Governor of Anambra state, come November 2021. Aside 1999, when a non-Roman Catholic, Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, became Governor as a Pentecostal even though born an Anglican, and an interregnum of 90 days by Senator Andy Uba, since 2003 till date, it has been eighteen uninterrupted years of Roman Catholics governing Anambra state including Senator Chris Ngige, Mr Peter Obi and Chief Willie Obiano. And the Church leaders were not magnanimous with victory by advising their members to share spoils of office equitably. They believed they have numerical strength to continually hold on to power, and to worsen matters, they shove it down the throats of other stakeholders.
Power, it is usually claimed, corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely and even breeds impunity; hence Roman Catholics have taken over positions meant for everyone in the state, to the gross exclusion and disadvantage of Non-Roman Catholics. Was this not a negation of our appellation as “Light of the Nation”? Non-Roman Catholics believe Roman fascism has taken over, influencing everything and every decision of government from conception to implementation, even to discriminative exclusion of innocent and unsuspecting Non-Roman Catholics, thus resulting in the promotion of mediocrity. That’s why President General Elections and Igweship crises are everywhere because those in office have taken it as a fight for their denominational domination as if heaven recognizes denominations. Who even knows who will go to heaven? I thought by now, Rome (that’s the Pope) would have immortalized Nze Emeka Olisah for his perfected religious discriminatory works in the school system which caused some Presidents General to authorize religious worship in communal schools and property, just to convert them to Roman Catholic-owned, such as at Amanuke, Amansea to mention but a few. Can a President General of another denomination do such without being reminded it’s a government or communal property? Religion truly is the opium of the masses hence I don’t understand why learned and educated people should be behaving like ‘fools’ because of religion and denomination in this enclave called Nigeria. We come together as Christians to shout against Islamic domination, yet we do the same thing to other denominations in relationships with fellow Christians. What a subtle form of neo-colonialism we have institutionalized in Anambra politics, even economy!
To those people, Anambra Unite Against Denominational Domination who threatened to take over power from Obiano, my question is: What happened? Was it money that exchanged hands or were they begged to sheath their swords? Despite the unity and solidarity among the oppressed, rather than the oppressor becoming the prey, the oppressed ganged up and re-elected him Governor overwhelmingly, so what happened? Were the leaders betrayed by their members or what? Or they forgot that the truest test of integrity is the blunt refusal to be compromised – apologies to Chinua Achebe.
What a vicious circle because such sentiments have started again, involving fierce groups within denominations outside Roman Catholic Church. It’s all fantasy and hallucinations because 70 percent of the Roman Catholics contesting election have fortified their campaign teams with Anglicans and Pentecostals, and even traditionalists. They are enjoying luxury car gifts and other appurtenances of office. There are no alternatives. How then will it work? I have the key to demystify it but it’s for Consultancy services, not for public knowledge. How can an Anglican Director General of a campaign Organization of a Roman Catholic front runner work against his principal after attending a meeting where they are shouting “Anglicans should not vote a Roman Catholics contesting to be governor”? If such a person attends the inner caucus meeting, won’t he or she work against such plans rather than lose the pecks of office?
A glance at the list of Obiano’s appointments of hundreds of SAs, EAs, SSAs, SPADs and other think tank team showed that 95 percent are Roman Catholics in his first term with a slight adjustment in second term. Ditto members of Transition Committees and other appointments and elective positions in communities. If the official isn’t a Roman Catholic, crisis erupts. The worst is that some non-Roman Catholics are used to perpetuate these anomalies.
Can these calls for a Non-Roman Catholic or Liberal Roman Catholic to succeed Governor Willie Obiano work? I doubt. Despite the glaring denominational bigotry by Roman Catholics in hiring in the Civil Service and appointments into crucial positions, even with the domination of Roman Catholics or Aguleri natives as allegedly obtainable today, Anglicans and Pentecostals as well as other denominations in the four blocks of CAN are not seriously mobilizing for this election. And they can’t change the narrative, if their present romance continues. Let me not say more for now on this.
But mark my words, a Roman Catholic with a Liberal philosophy to accommodate all is capable of taking the office again if any presents himself or herself for the office. That’s the only person that will remedy the ills already in the system, to the understanding of their leaders, without anyone shouting another denominational domination.
Needless to say that a busy governor who is concerned with delivering dividend of democracy to the electorates, the reason he was voted into office in the first place, won’t have time going about playing religious politics. If roads are tarred, employment and appointments made on merit, hospitals functioning and infrastructure in order, who would worry about who is an Anglican, Pentecostal, traditionalist or Roman Catholic is in office?
Who is that liberal Catholic coming to reverse this reckless denominational domination trend tearing us apart? Is God positioning an Anglican or a Pentecostal, even a traditionalist, to take over and remedy the mess? All those now parading themselves and making ridiculous claims in some instances on how they will govern Anambra, can any of them bridge this gap when elected? Wait! I am coming?
He can be reached @ [email protected] or phone number 08060750240