Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga; Sharing the Costs of Elections, By Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis
As youth, we are united by a common vision for the promotion of a civilized political culture that is built on the values of respect & selfless service to our fatherland. We are further inspired to create a wider platform for persons of integrity to occupy leadership positions & render beneficial service to our people & humanity in general. Above all, we are mobilized to build bridges of peace, unity & development across the barriers of age, ethnicity, religious & sectional interests in order to strengthen the institutional values of our democracy & achieve purposeful unification of our differences as a people.
- Barrister Edward Ejembi Omaga (Anyanke) – 11th October 2014.
At exactly 11.58am on Friday the 10th of October 2014, while in the middle of a conversation on the state of the nation with a few of my associates in Victoria Island, Lagos, my handheld device beeped. It was a strange number and the (my) line it called is not known to up to 20 persons who are very close to me and whose numbers I have saved on the memory of that device. Initially, I wasn’t moved to receive the call in question but after a few seconds, I changed my mind and pressed the green button. The call came alive and the calm voice at the other end turned out to be that of Daniel Omaga. Daniel currently occupies the office of National Director, Contacts & Mobilization in the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier, Abuja. Eureka! If I hadn’t received it, I sure will have been lampooned by my superiors among whom he belonged.
Daniel had called to inform me that he would be in Lagos on Saturday to attend an event in the Akoka axis of Lagos near the University of Lagos. The event, he explained was a fund raising dinner the entire Idoma nation domiciled in Lagos is organizing for his brother Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga popularly known as Anyanke to support his bid to represent Okpokwu Local Government Area in the Benue State House of Assembly in the next assembly. He requested my presence at the event as he thought it would be a chance to get more familiar with the leadership of the most prominent youth bloc in the larger Peoples’ Democratic Party holding forth for the national leadership in the south west geo-political zone. I gave an instant reply to the effect that I will be in attendance at the event. Immediately that call ended, I reached out to the Lagos State Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria and strong ally of Ambassador (Sen.) Musiliu Obanikoro. I informed him of upcoming event and persuaded him to attend; he agreed.
Daniel and Edward are biological sons of Hon. Joe Adam Omaga who gave Comrade Abba Moro Nigeria’s current interior minister a run for his resources in 1999 when the two giants locked horns while contesting the chairmanship position in Okpokwu Local Government Area. Even though the elder Omaga have retired from active politics in preference to playing an advisory role in Benue politics, I doubt if Comrade Abba Moro would forget him being the man who caused him several sleepless nights at that time.
Saturday came and I set out for Akoka from Ejigbo where I had gone to meet a friend earlier in the day and also follow up on a personal project. Driving through the Egbe – Isolo road is still the nightmare it has been for over one year now – one would think it leads to the abyss. Ironically, this is the only major road that runs through the entire Ejigbo Local Council Development Area headed by Kehinde Bamgbetan – the best local government chairman in the entire Lagos State. This road leads to the council headquarters’ and also a certain street on the bank of a smelly canal where I was told the council boss lives (I doubt). It is important I stated here that on account of this road, I had called Dr. Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat to find out why despite rumors making the rounds that a contract for its’ reconstruction had been awarded to HRH Oba Moruf Adisa Ojuola (Oba of Ejigbo) no tangible sign of work in progress has been witnessed on the said road. When the honorable commissioner will not receive my call or call back, I sent him a text message. Till date, I am yet to receive a reply from him. While Kehinde Bamgbetan is currently aspiring to become a member of the Federal House of Representatives in 2015 (He says it’s time for effective representation), Dr. Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat is on a futile mission to be next governor of Lagos State. His mission is futile because the Oba of Lagos said the owner of the All Progressives Congress has declared that Akinwunmi Ambode will replace Babatunde Fashola as next governor of Lagos State.
After spending 4 hours on a journey that shouldn’t last more than an hour, I was ushered into the premises of 4 – Star Celina Hotels; off St. Finbarrs road Akoka where I was received by Omoniyi Adewunmi the Lagos State Coordinator of the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier; we were soon joined by Daniel himself and we all proceeded into the venue for the occasion proper. The event was more or less a gathering of the crème-de-la-crème of the Idoma nation in Lagos. Their faces beamed with joy and excitement as they chatted happily and exchanged pleasantries with one another. Beyond the excitement, joy and happiness boldly written on their faces, I saw in them a people that have risen above personal differences and gathered to honor one of their own. As the event rolled on, I and Adewunmi were formally introduced to the man for whom Akoka and environs stood still for – Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga.
As the paparazzis did their job with their cameras I had chance to discuss with Anyanke as he is popularly known in Benue State. Besides being the youngest aspirant on the platform of our great party, Anyanke truly showed that age isn’t all he has in his favor as he left no one in doubt that he has a full grasp of what his people face as challenges. I am particular about this trait because a very careful look into our political landscape will prove beyond reasonable doubt that several “politicians” abound that know next to nothing about governance and leadership. Yes, they may lay claim to having the mandate of “their people” but a tough question we must ask is if they have any knowledge about the challenges their people face before attempting to proffer solutions to such challenges. I consider this a tough question because while several aspirants may lay claim to the right to be voted for during elections very few amongst them know the challenges their people face and have solutions to these challenges. Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga fits into this category of aspirants whose aspiration should be supported in the interest of larger society.
Perhaps events have a way of grooming man for challenges ahead. In his days in the Benue State University, Anyanke was hyper-active. From actively participating in students’ unionism to holding positions in students’ professional associations. As a man who recognizes the essence of his roots, Anyanke remained at the forefront when and where there was a need for the interests of the Idoma nation to be protected. Nigeria’s current interior minister Comrade Abba Moro will readily attest to the truth that during his time as Local Government Chairman in Okpokwu L.G.A., Anyanke would not relent until every scholarship slot allotted to Okpokwu people are fully awarded to them. It was in recognition of this that when there existed a need for a vibrant personality to serve as Secretary General of the Okpoga Unity Forum, Anyanke became the man. Even the Prestigious Idoma Elite Club, Worldwide prides itself with him as national legal adviser whose treasured counsel they have found to be both reliable and dependable.
Okpokwu Local Government Area has not remained the same since Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga threw his cap into the ring by offering to represent his people in the Benue State House of Assembly. Already, several political configurations have been distorted. So many strange alliances have crumbled like the proverbial pack of cards. The opposition appears to have been worst hit by Tsunami Anyanke as they are yet to find an ideal and acceptable figure within their ranks to match him. Rising from a rich background in law and laced with unquantifiable experience in social service, Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga is poised to distort the old order in the art of leadership and the long suffering people of Okpokwu Local Government Area are enthusiastic; they just can’t wait. Little wonder the number of people that gathered for him in Celina Hotels, Akoka kept soaring by the minute. This is a huge testimony of the trust they have in this amiable son of the Idoma nation.
Beyond the monies raised, I am of the firm opinion that the organizers of the fund raising event and Anyanke’s campaign managers are worthy of commendation. This is because if the truth must be told, it should be told to the extent of admitting the high cost of contesting elections in our country. The followership is largely to be blamed for this as I once asked a passerby if he is willing to paste posters for a political aspirant for free. When he answered with a resounding no, I told him in clear terms that indeed, he is one of the reasons why politicians who win elections fail to perform and keep their campaign promises. I also reminded him that if the followers cause an aspirant to resort to selling his properties and borrowing money to contest elections, such an aspirant on winning will be more interested in discharging the debts and liabilities he incurred while campaigning than promoting the interests of the masses.
In this indeed lies the beauty of this fundraising initiative for Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga. With this event, the Idoma people of Okpokwu Local Government Area have with one voice said no to mediocrity and a resounding yes to leadership on the basis of ideas, solutions and innovation. Not only have they recognized the need to secure their future, their interests and their commonwealth by investing heavily in the aspiration of one of their own, they have taken a leap of faith by standing up behind Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga, charging him to march on stronger and legislate in their favor by deciding to bear a portion of what should ordinarily be the cost of contesting the forth coming elections. What I saw during the campaign of President Barrack Hussein Obama in 2008 finally happened before my eyes; all for this young man. What a people?
The learning point to draw from this occasion is in manifolds. Now that the good people of Okpokwu Local Government Area have brought out its very best and have chosen to bear a portion of the cost of his election, a new record have been set for other communities to follow suit. On the part of the candidate, I can only charge him to remain faithful to his people and justify this huge trust that has been bestowed on him by the Idoma nation. Now that the die is cast and the flight to the Benue State House of Assembly is gathering momentum, I charge every eligible Idoma voter to join Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga as he takes on the task of making Okpokwu Local Government Area a model and reference point when and where leadership by ideas, solutions and innovation is topic. With Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga representing Okpokwu people in Makurdi, I can safely say that Okpokwu Local Government Area is in for the best of times.
Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is the South West Zonal Director of Communications & Strategy for the Peoples’ Democratic Party National Youth Frontier. He can be reached @NonsoEzeani1.
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