• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Obele-Chuka and the Victor Umeh campaign organisation

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T

he name Chuka Obele-Chuka needs no introduction in the socio-political lexicon of contemporary Nigeria. The gadfly was once called the Gani Fawehinmi of the Southeast. He is a fearless activist and a fiery lawyer. He was among the radical Nigerians who dared the military and took to the streets to protest the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. While Easterners in Lagos were fleeing back to their homeland, Obele-Chuka took a bus from the East and headed to the streets of Lagos to demonstrate against the abortion of the democratic process.

In 1998, dissatisfied with the bleak state of the nation, Obele-Chuka embarked on two-day one-man demonstration against the murderous regime of Gen. Sani Abacha. Expectedly, he was swiftly detained by the goons of the Sani Abacha iron-fist regime. That, however, did not deter him.

The takeover of Anambra State by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the dawn of the Fourth Republic ushered in a despicable brand of godfatherism that saw the commonwealth of the state distributed among government officials and party stalwarts all over the country with virtually nothing left for the common man in the state. Things became so bad that the governor never bothered to pay workers. Schools all over the state were closed for over one year, yet the governor was not bothered. The then chairman of the Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Obiorah Igwe, and his deputy, Chuka Obele-Chuka, gave the governor an ultimatum to pay the workers and reopen the schools. In the ensuing tension, Igwe and his wife were murdered in cold blood allegedly by agents of that government. Obele-Chuka was targeted but like the child of destiny who took a bath with okra water, he continued to elude his would-be assassins.

The tale of the titanic battle of activism between Chinwoke Mbadinuju, the then state governor, and Obele-Chuka is folklorish in Anambra State. Chuka Obele-Chuka fought the Mbadinuju maladministration to a standstill. He mobilized Ndi Anambra to make sure that the administration was rejected. Accordingly, Mbadinuju was disowned by his political party. Obele-Chuka set the wheels of justice against hatched men of that infamous administration. They were rounded up, detained and prosecuted, including the former governor. He successfully passed the message to the Anambra political class that killing does not pay.

Today, Anambra politics, unlike what obtains elsewhere, is quite bloodless. Today, when Obele-Chuka enters a courtroom, everybody knows that a Daniel is come to judgment. It is to his credit that he stamped out corruption in Anambra judiciary during his tenure as chairman of Onitsha Bar.

Obele-Chuka knows no fear. In 2003, he stormed a popular hotel where PDP agents were cooking up results and gave them a lively challenge despite a rain of bullets from soldiers. He led the masses to INEC to protest the electoral fraud that threw up Ngige as the governor of Anambra State despite the threat of being shot at by soldiers. Obele-Chuka never relented. Ngige personally wrote and signed a petition to the Inspector-General of Police against Chuka and even took him to court for advising Ndi Anambra not to pay tax to an illegal, criminal and usurper government. But he never relented until the mandate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was eventually restored.

He gave a fiery resistance to the illegal impeachment of Peter Obi by the Anambra State House of Assembly. He went to the Anambra State House of Assembly Complex Awka, defied the security agents and stalled proceedings on the floor of the House in order to register his protest against the illegal impeachment.

Obele-Chuka had always stayed out of politics. But when Victor Umeh expressed his intention to represent Anambra Central zone at the Senate, the tide turned. He bought into the project and joined the fray immediately. One why he changed his mind, he said, “I have no doubt in my mind that Victor Umeh is a man of impeccable integrity. I have interacted with him over the years, and I know him to be a man of character. He is a man with a large heart. He has the boldness, the intelligence and the strength of character it takes to give Anambra Central a bold and courageous representation.”

He further explained that he joined APGA because this time around, Ndi Anambra have got it right. He expressed his delight at the unprecedented speed of progress in the state under Obiano. As far as Obele-Chuka is concerned, Obiano is the man; Ohamadike Victor Umeh is the voice, the reliable voice from the East; and APGA is the party: one people, one vision, one party.

Obiorah Okonkwo