By Ignatius Attamah
It’s the season of letters and “leakages” of letters that otherwise were supposed to have been delivered in confidence. At the national level, we are still chewing the memo, written by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai to President Muhammadu Buhari and how it miraculously leaked and found its way into the national press. We have seen many of such letters and leakages in the past and it is not clear, from developments in Enugu State that the shortest way to seek attention is to write letters to presidents and governors and cause same to be leaked to the press.
Somehow, while surfing the net a few days ago, I came across a second-rate website, diamondcelebrities.org where it was reported that veteran actor, lawyer and (increasingly so) politician had written a four-pages letter to the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, alleging among other things, that the governor had abrogated democracy in the state and had banished local government council authorities.
Whoever is the owner of the site is a crappy writer and could not do justice to even presenting what Kenneth (Andy) Okonkwo had in his letter. May be it was also because the original letter itself was devoid of enough value to earn for it good interpretation even by a neophyte blogger. May be it was for both reasons. But my intention here is to, at least, put a few things in perspective.
If I were this blogger, I would have scanned all the four pages of the letter so the reader could have a complete document to interrogate. But he published only two of the four pages and having struggled to read these two pages, I will do my best to remind Andy Okeke a few things he may have been missing since he had been going from location to courts (he is now a lawyer) and back home to his wife and, as I learned, a new baby.
The truth about attention seekers is that they lie a wee too often. They have to. If they do not tell lies and distort facts, they would not see the window to peddle themselves. And Kenneth Okonkwo lied rather very childishly in his letter.
The very first fact Kenneth Okonkwo is distorting is about his person. And I will state everything here. Kenneth built his country home at Ofulonu, Odenigbo Nsukka. There are thousands of families living in that area. But in his selfishness, he guilt his mansion on the water channel that collect all the water flowing down from the hill. What this did was to expose the homes of all the poor people around him. As we speak, people are leaving their home and houses are getting flooded as rains fall. Many people around his abode who cannot afford to leave are left with no choice – to live in flooded homes all because Kenneth, who is here professing to love Nsukka people so much blocked the water channel.
How selfish can a man be?
Did this selfish ness begin today? I am not sure many people have forgotten how Kenneth Okonkwo desired to be heir to the wealth of the General Overseer of the Christian Pentecostal Movement (CPM), Rev Ezeikel. Kenneth was living close to the church, located in Ajao Estate at the time and wormed his way into the heart of the only daughter of this pastor. They got married and Kenneth, intent on getting his hands on the throne of the big Pentecostal church, also went to pastoral school and became a pastor.
But it appeared the blind Pastor Ezekiel saw through the sanctimonious façade and refused to allow him a lot of room in the church. The result is a bitter divorce that broke the heart of the then very young girl. Kenneth moved on and was quick to find another lady, this time, a comfortable banker based in Abuja.
I understand they are still married. Is it because this lady has been emptying her purse to this Nollywood actor?
Again, such is the kind of person Kenneth Okonkwo is – selfish, opportunistic and from what he did to the poor people living around his home, not caring for the welfare of the vulnerable.
Somewhere in this letter, he accused the Enugu State governor of habouring hatred against his Nsukka people. In the midst of my struggle to read the very poor English unbecoming of a lawyer, with which Kenneth penned his letter, I also had to strain my eyes in profound disbelief how any person from Nsukka would accuse the governor of hating the people of Nsukka Town.
It is trite for any person of Nsukka origin to accuse the governor of bias at a time the people of other parts of Enugu State are feeling worried about the volume and quality of projects that had been embarked upon (some have been completed) by the state government in and around Nsukka Town.
In case Andy had not visited Nsukka for many years, he needs reminding that the road from Opi unction off the 9th Mile Markurdi Express Way had been turned from a terrible, gully-strewn road to a dual carriage way, terminating at Ofulonu Junction, just a few meters to where Andy has his home at Odenigbo Nsukka.
This road has traffic light on the whole stretch, meaning that “big men”like Kenneth Okonkwo can drive around at night with lower risk of being hounded by criminals. Someone should remind him that the stretch from Ugwuoye Nsukka to the University Road (Post Office) roundabout is being built, complete with world class drainage systems that will ensure that the challenges that collecting flood water in and around that area and which has led to the frequent collapse of roads in that area is solved permanently.
Perhaps Kenneth also does not know that the road from Odenigbo roundabout (just about 50 metres to his family compound) to the Ikenga Hotels junction is currently being paved, again, with world class drains. Who will help us tell Kenneth that Urban Girls road, Obechara junction, through the Nsukka Industrial Layout to Ikenga Hotels junction has also been freshly rehabilitated by the same government headed by Ifeanyi Ugwunanyi?
In addition to being poor liars, attention seekers are also primitively clannish and no matter how much education they get and how wide the travel around the world, it is impossible to wipe them clean of clannishness.
Is it possible that Kenneth Okonkwo has failed to realize that Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is not the Governor of Nsukka Town but that of the entire Enugu State whose people and communities also need development and appointments? Would he have been happy had the Governor given all the appointments to Nsukka people while leaving out other people from other parts of the State?
Democracy prescribes balance in representation. It presupposes that whoever is in leadership should see himself or herself as working for the common good and not for certain sections. It does not matter that previous administrations gave the impression being lopsided in siting development projects was the rule and not the exception in government. Any leader who is not even in spreading development projects and balanced in making political appointments is not a good leader.
Even then, does Kenneth Okonkwo know that the Permanent Secretary at the Government House who somehow also doubles as the Governor’s acting Chief of Staff is from Nsukka Town?
I felt ashamed reading the portion of the letter that stated that the Governor had “successfully cornered the resources of the Local Governments” and “trickishly (sic) embarked on an unending refurbishments of already paved roads to appear as if you were providing infrastructure to the people.”
Was the Opi-Nsukka Road already paved before the governor’s current intervention? Was the Urbarn Girls Road not a dead trap with flood making it impossible to access the mechanic village around that area? What about the New Anglican Road? Does Kenneth not know that the Aku Road end of this road had been abandoned for over four years before the current intervention? Is it not clear to him that Achara Road, from Ugwuoye to Obechara was also in very bad shape before Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi intervened?
I think it is the cheapest form of mischief for Kenneth Okonkwo to tell barefaced lies all in the name of feeding his vanquished political dream. Making it appear as if he is speaking on behalf of the people of Nsukka Town makes it even worse.
At a time people are preaching the closing of gaps between and among the people of Nsukka and Enugu State as a whole, it comes as a huge shame for a man so travelled to be seen to be fanning the dying embers of sectionalism among Nsukka People.
Kenneth also wrote about Local Government Councils that had not been constituted for some time and was sad that Councilors had been out of jobs since their tenure ended.
I will not be one for supporting the entrenchment of nondemocratic institutions at any level. But does Kenneth know how much the State spent on these councilors during the tenure of former governor Sullivan Chime? Does Kenneth know that the Council Chairman for Nsukka at the time did not embark on a single project all through his tenure and that the Councilors were being catered for at the expense of the people?
I am aware that the former Council Chairman was unable to pay local government staff their salaries for the most part of his three years in office. Those salaries, in case Kenneth does not know, are being paid now and although all the arrears had yet to be fully paid, local government staff are now receiving salaries at the end of the month.
Shouldn’t someone tell Kenneth that it is those local government Councilors that conspired with the former Council Chairmen to not pay their people salaries for many years while they drove around in brand new cars purchased by government with tax payers’ monies?
Ignorance can be tolerated. But culpable ignorance is when someone who should know fails to prove he knows and Kenneth Okonkwo is guilty of this.
I am fully aware that there is a major intent of the late Ozioko Francis Okonkwo to plant themselves in the political scheme of things in Enugu State. Kenneth’s elder brother, Peter Okonkwo had done his best to become either governor or senator and later House of Representatives member. But why did he fail?
He had been unsuccessful because he failed the test of loyalty and stability, jumping from one political party to another and at the end of the day, was profile as a political prostitute that stands for nothing.
It is also well-known that Kenneth Okonkwo has ambition for political leadership. He has flown some kites before now and is known to be oiling his next for 2019. His letter to the Governor is one clear sign that he is seeking attention and wants to be profiled as standing with the people.
Problem is he is doing so without facts and knowledge. I am not sure a person of his standing will seek to meet the governor to iron out issues face-to-face and not be granted audience. Writing a letter and leaking same to a second-rate online platform tells how self-serving the whole intent is ab initio.
Talking about the whole thing being self-serving, Kenneth ensured he put his Nigerian Bar Association seal on the letter he sent to the Governor. I am wondering what the point was, when he was not sending a document to the courts? Is it for the Governor to see and understand that Andy Okeke the actor had also become a lawyer? This is cheap, for want of a better word.
What people like Kenneth should do is rally behind the governor in the task of deepening development in Nsukka and environs. Primitive nepotism will not cut it.
And if it is being in opposition he chooses, I also believe it will be important for him ensure he is hands on with facts, be a lot more convincing in his arguments and work hard to ensure it is the genuine interest of Nsukka people he is striving and not narrow self-aggrandizement.
Ignatius Attamah, a public commentator writes from Ihe AGu, Nru Nsukka