By Dr. Uyi Ewaen Okungbowa
“For a man who has reason as a weapon, there is nothing more neurotic than having contacts with unreason”.
In my decades’ traverse to study those with impeccable leadership traits, this maxim by theoretician Frantz Fanon, in his timeless book, “Black Skin, White Mask”, I came to realise the futility of “violent and evil conducts”. Indeed, it is a high huddle for one to be called a leader. In the same veins, Fanon described “fervour” (violence) as the choice weapon of the impotents”
Therefore, the questions and comparisons between “peaceful” and “violent” conducts in all human sphere, particularly partisan politics, was necessitated by a media comment credited to supporters of an aspirant in the governorship race presently taking place in Edo State. It was obviously an insinuation that the Rt Hon (Dr) Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, a leading aspirant in the contest, being a non violent advocate and constructive engager, may not be forceful enough to match their principal, who they regarded as the “strongest of the aspirants, force with force”, thus suggesting that violent and unconventional means, which they think their principal have, is still the best way to win party tickets and general elections.
How wrong they are! The Edo populace, whom they scantily saw as perpetually docile, in the handcuffs of elections manipulations and violence, have rather woken up to the realisation and challenge that it is only by peaceful and fair conduct of party primaries and general elections that they could guarantee themselves descent living, from the present squalors.
In my early days as a fledgling and inquisitive journalist, I had often wondered as to how possible it was for Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martins Luther King jnr. and some other movers of the non-violent struggles were able to inspire their populace, when violence and cheating were the most easiest routes.
And because it was impacted from past history, it couldn’t be so real to me that there were morals that strived to live the ways of Jesus Christ, the son of God, who though manifested on earth in human forms, is actually God, Himself.
The narratives was later changed via our homemade experiences where from our ‘dark’ African continent a messianic personality resonated in Nelson Mandela, a non violent
champion of the oppressed, who did opted to die in solitary confinement than abandon the just cause of his people, to support the evil Apartheid policies that denied his majority South Africans, freedom from the white overlords.
But, long before the release of Mandela, who later became the first black South African president, there emerged Ambrose Alli a non-violent politician and a physician professor who, as governor of the old Bendel State (now Edo and Delta states), was a symbol of humility, who also turned the lives of the folks around, like no other had done in the two states.
But, in the ‘ nation’s heartbeat’ state of Edo, there had been a tragic irony of poor governance, with deep-seated politics of attrition, in denial of the rapid development of the state and the people.
Commendably, majority members of the state’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had deemed it worthwhile to reverse the ill fortunes to a normalcy of peace and progress, which Comrade Adam Oshiomhole and Dr Pius Odubu handed over as the immediate past governor and deputy governor, respectively.
Nevertheless, it is on this guise of continuing with the peace and meaningful development of the state that Dr. Odubu is needed to return, this time around, as a governor, who would repeat (even upbeat) the good scorecard which made Oshiomhole and himself common heroes, for having given good life to the once hapless populace.
Whilst it is profane to regard a human as the Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God Almighty, however, it wouldn’t be same to pinpoint Odubu’s real-life dispositions as similar to that of Mahatma Ghandi, Rev. Luther King jnr or Nelson Mandela?
This writer didn’t get to know these three heroes in a true life situation, but had had a close relationship with late Prof Ambrose Alli, a sage that was governor of Bendel State. Also this writer had met Dr. Odubu, only at a closed distance, but much more through practical journalistic and information gathering methods.
And in a recent article, I did likened Prof Alli to Dr. Odubu, as both men are glued by some individual similarities.
Like Alli, Odubu is peaceful, foresighted, selfless and wise. Alli was procedural, analytical and a disciplined person, who was articulate and focused. Like Odubu, Ambrose Alli was a forgiving heart, who was not firm and result oriented. Both are virtuous and settled minds,
who could conceal blood in the mouth to spit white saliva. About kindness or generosity, both men cherish assuaging the thirst of others with their only cup of cold water.
Functional academic qualifications and all round trainings, which were acquired by Alli, once combined with proper home upbringing and native intelligence to make him deliver the goods to his people.
As a child to the late Chief Umweni Odubu and his mother of blessed memory, “Egberanmwen” (wellness is before material wealth) as he is fondly called in Urhomehe, his village of birth in Orhionmwon Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, Pius Odubu was actually a well behaved child, who was (is) adored by everybody.
At his elementary St Pius Primary School, Urhomehe, his studious and intelligent natures made him to attend the elitist Immaculate Conception College (ICC), Benin City, where the then Catholic Mission groomed and pencilled him down for further studies. This was in addition to the Academic Scholarship Award given to him by the then Benin Area Joint Education Board.
These soon elevated him for further studies in the United States of America, with the Philandersmith College, Little Rock, Arkansas; Southern University, Baton, Rouge, Louisiana; Southern University School of Law; Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington DC; Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Massachusetts and Oxford University, Said Business School, England.
In these pursuits, Odubu acquired BA (Hons) in Political Science; BL (Barrister and Solicitor in Law); Master of Law with a flair in International and Corporate Law; Doctor of Jurisprudence in Law and some others.
A flourishing law practise he engaged in, after his call to the Nigerian Bar, on his return from America, with extra democracy practices, catapulted him (in 1999) to the House of Representatives, Abuja, as elected representative of the Uhunmwode/Orhionmwon Federal Constituency. His vibrant contributions to the lawmaking duties and extra advocacy functions of the House, saw him serving in notable committees of the House, thus encompassing Works, Marine, Transport, Commerce, Navy, Anti-corruption and Public Accounts etc.
These were transcended to robust development of his immediate constituency and his home state, so much so that he was nominated as a running mate in the 2007 election and consequently a Deputy to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, in a memorable eight years government, that brought great reliefs to the Edo grassroots.
As one of the founders of the present-day APC in his state, his training in Political Science, Economics, the Law Practise and vast experience in lawmaking etc. have enabled him to be a valuable contributor to the party and the Edo polity, in general. These have also made him a rallying point, not only in Edo APC, but also at its national level, where he was an all important Director of the
the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, a main body that championed the reelection of President Mohammadu Buhari. Evidently, Odubu’s profile had been on the rise as he was recently upgraded to play a larger role in his Niger Delta region, comprising nine states, with his nomination and clearance as a boss of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which had been put on hold.
Without exaggeration, a gentleman of these exemplary characteristic traits and wholesome pedigrees, would appropriately serve as governor of the state. No doubt, his vast training and experience are the requirements for tangible wealth creation, infrastructural and agricultural developments and good governance, which would translate to peace and meaningful living by the people.
Indeed, he possesses the attributes to galvanize most APC faithful and the Edo public, towards non violence and a sane democracy practice and good governance.
Dr. Uyi Ewaen Okungbowa, a journalist, writer and activist lives in the United Kingdom