By Larry Orji

He who sells his brother, even the buyer will never trust him” – Igbo proverb

I have watched the trending video where the supposed governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, practically humiliated himself and embarrassed his few supporters in a desperate bid to have a photo opportunity with the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Whatever you say about Peter Obi, he knows how to market himself to the public. Even on a normal day, Obi will never avoid/ignore even a common Nigerian, who seeks his attention or photo opportunity with him, let alone a governorship candidate of his party and in an election season when our politicians become so humble. Haven’t we seen many of them become baby-sitters in the course of campaigns? Haven’t we seen Rotimi Amechi plait a lady’s hair during campaign? Didn’t we see Mrs. Aisha Buhari help a roadside trader to fry akara during the 2015 campaigns? Haven’t we seen Adams Oshiomole help a woman to roast corn by the roadside or many of our politicians like Rochas Okorocha munch corn in the streets?

So, why would it take Edeoga such extreme desperation as touting of himself as “candidate, candidate, candidate” like an Oshodi conductor as well as pushing his way and forcing himself into Obi’s picture with some other gentlemen to gain a photo opportunity with the presidential candidate of his party? My mind tells me a few things.

There is this popular parable in the West about a tender-hearted woman, who rescued a poor, half-frozen snake from near death in the winter cold. It has been made into poems/songs in the U.S and even Donald Trump used it in one of his speeches as President, warning Americans to beware who they take into their country.

“Take me in, oh tender woman,” the snake cries out. “Take me in, for heaven’s sake.” So, the kind-hearted woman takes the snake into her own home, warms it by the fire and feeds it milk and honey: “If I hadn’t brought you in, by now you might have died”, the tender-hearted woman says.

But instead of being faithful and grateful, the snake gives her a vicious bite. “I saved you,” cries the heartbroken woman. “And you’ve bitten me, but why? You know your bite is poisonous, and now I’m going to die.” “Oh shut up, silly woman,” says the reptile with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

When Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi sits to reflect on life, his tenure as governor and the politics of the emergence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Enugu, he will always be grateful to God that he resisted the pressures, cajoling, and sentiments from some selfish Enugu North Senatorial Zone elements to have him endorse his maternal relation, Chijioke Edeoga, as his successor. It would have not only upended the values of equity and justice he preaches, but also have been the worst mistake of his life. Given the viciousness with which Edeoga, his hatchet writers and newfound political allies have attacked, maligned and made mockery of him all over the social media, it is obvious that a Governor Chijioke Edeoga would have been Ugwuanyi’s nemesis. He would have planted poisonous venoms in and ruined all Ugwuanyi has ever attained politically.

Ugwuanyi and Edeoga’s mothers are related by blood in Obollo-Eke in the present day Udenu Local Government Area. But while Ugwuanyi’s mother was married to Orba, also in present day Udenu LGA, Edeoga’s mother was married out to Eha-Amufu in Isi-Uzo. All three towns used to be part of Isi-Uzo LGA before the creation of Udenu LGA. They were all in old Nsukka Zone, the reason Edeoga, who should have naturally picked his running mate from Nsukka Zone went to Enugu West instead, as he has never pretended about the fact that he is running on behalf of Nsukka Zone, not Enugu East Zone where he currently belongs to, geopolitically.

Virtually every Igbo person will admit that maternal relations stick closer than paternal cousins. It was therefore, only natural that Ugwuanyi took Edeoga in. At some point, Edeoga lived in Ugwuanyi’s home until he got married to the daughter of the late Justice A.B.N Obayi and Chief Mrs. Grace Obayi of the Chief J.U Nwodo dynasty. His marriage to Nkechi Obayi, niece of the Nwodos literally opened doors of political fortunes to him. Edeoga became Council Chairman of Isi-Uzo LGA in 1997 and a Member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003.

Fast-forward to 2015, Ugwuanyi appointed Edeoga the Commissioner for Local Government Matters during his first tenure, and reappointed him as Commissioner for Environment in his second term. Edeoga was not just part of the Ugwuanyi administration, but an insider.

However, a greedy power monger that he is, Edeoga sought to be endorsed as Ugwuanyi’s successor. He threw weight about and presented himself as the governor-in-waiting. The uninitiated kowtowed. He ran the most vicious campaign, using hatchet writers to malign everything and everybody, low or small, that he believed stood between him and the Lion Building.

For instance, he was the one, who started selling the fake story that Dr. Peter Mbah stole Enugu money (as former Chief of Staff and later Commissioner of Finance) to build Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd; that Mbah was charged to court by the EFCC and negotiated a plea bargain, etc.

Unfortunately for him, Ugwuanyi knew that history won’t be kind to him if he attempts to impose Edeoga as his successor, given their family ties maternal relationship and the affinity of Isi-Uzo and Udenu.

Having benefitted so much from Ugwuanyi; having served under Ugwuanyi as his political leader; and having freely signed pacts along with other PDP governorship aspirants of Enugu East zone extraction to respect Ugwuanyi and party’s choice and support any among about 16 of them he eventually endorsed as his successor, the reasonable and honourable thing to have done was to join hands to deliver Dr. Peter Mbah as the next governor.

But what have we seen since Edeoga lost the governorship ticket? He has gone haywire. Instead of running an issues-based campaign, Edeoga has admitted before Enugu NBA that he has no manifesto. So, he busies himself disparaging and deprecating Ugwuanyi, Mbah, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, etc.

If Edeoga is reasonable, he should have known that every stone he casts at Ugwuanyi returns to him in double folds, for if Ugwuanyi is such a despicable character and administrator, as he and his hatchet writers want us to believe, why did he spend a whooping seven years in his government? Why didn’t he resign?

Again, if Dr. Mbah is what Edeoga wants us to believe, why didn’t he include a proviso in the aforementioned MoU, which he signed that he would support anyone else that emerged, except Mbah?

“Ingratitude”, writes William George Jordan, “is crime more despicable than revenge, which is only returning evil for evil, while ingratitude returns evil for good”. By waging war against his benefactor, Ugwuanyi; by porting to the Labour Party despite the pact with other Enugu East Zone aspirants to stick together; by jumping the ship after giving Mbah his words and issuing a personally signed statement declaring support for Mbah a few days after the PDP primary, Edeoga announced to the world in unmistakable terms that just like that treacherous snake that bit the tender-hearted lady that took it in from the freezing winter, wrapped it up all cozy in a coverture of silk, laid it up by the fireside, and fed it with some honey and milk, he is a betrayer of trust.

As earlier stated, Obi is a good marketer. It therefore follows that he knows a bad market when he sees one. So, don’t blame him for avoiding Edeoga at that Enugu event. After all, do our elders not say that he who sells his brother, even the buyer will never trust him? Betrayal comes at a price and Edeoga is just beginning to pay.

Larry Orji writes from Ngwo

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