By Francis Igbokwe
A poorly hatched plan to smear the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano went awry midweek when the general public was informed that the photographs of a private jet captured on the tarmac of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu which were earlier published as images of the aircraft the governor had chartered for a trip to Abuja were actually pictures of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s private jet. I was at the Akanu Ibiam Airport in Enugu Friday [November 18, 2016] morning and witnessed it all.
While I waited for my Arik Airline flight to Abuja that morning, I saw Valentine Obienyem, the media aide of former governor Peter Obi snapping away with his camera at the parked aircraft while his boss performed airport formalities with the visiting former vice president.
Some eagle-eyed airport security operatives detected and accosted Obienyem. A mild drama ensued between him and the operatives, attracting attention but it was quickly resolved.
However, moments later, images of the aircraft flooded the social media from APGA Alaigbo with a story that Obiano had chartered the jet for his trip to Abuja. The story which ran under the heading, Obiano still chartering flights, alleged that Governor Obiano had just flown out of Enugu with 13 aides in the private jet which those of us at the airport at the time could still see parked on the tarmac while governor Obiano waited for the same Arik flight to Abuja in the VIP Lounge.
The story further claimed that Obiano had spent $15,000 to charter the private jet that would take him to a scheduled meeting in Abuja with some northerners then concluded with the usual attacks on the governor’s person and achievements.
I was horrified to read that. It suddenly dawned on me that most of the stories I had read on Facebook and elsewhere by APGA Alaigbo may have been written by Valentine Obienyem. The dubious story about the private jet was fabricated to create the impression that Obiano was wasting money on chartered flights in the midst of recession. But Obienyem and his sponsors had failed to think this one through and created a terrible mess out of it.
As a journalist from Anambra State, I was horrified to see first-hand and for the first time, the web of lies that Val Obienyem and his Internet boys have been weaving around my governor which I now deeply regret that I had believed all along to be true. I am one of the many Anambrarians who erroneously follow APGA Alaigbo on Facebook thinking that his stories which are always critical of Governor Obiano were factual and true.
But I felt gutted and disgusted that morning when I noticed how Obienyem had cleverly framed governor Obiano up with a totally false story that was made believable by the fact that the governor was at the airport that morning and that there was a private jet on the tarmac.
I felt pity for the governor who has been repeatedly cast in bad light by “clever” people like Obienyem and his colleagues in an attempt to turn the people against him. I felt even greater pity for him as I watched him boarding the same aircraft with me from my window seat that morning while the private jet that he was accused of hiring was still parked on the tarmac.
Indeed, after watching that sordid airport drama by Obienyem, I decided that I would not forgive myself if I failed to write what I saw and share with my fellow Anambrarians and other Nigerians before it is too late.
I personally think that Obienyem and his boys are trying too hard and have gone too far in their efforts to frustrate Obiano’s second term bid. I also think that creating such a controversy over former Vice President Atiku’s aircraft is tasteless and cruel.
I learned that the Vice President had landed in Enugu on his way to the 5th Nnamdi Azikiwe Annual Lecture holding in Awka that morning. The former Vice President deserved more respect from his hosts than Obienyem and his boys had accorded him with the noise over his aeroplane. I am therefore not surprised to read somewhere that Atiku had raised a very strong objection about that maltreatment to former governor Peter Obi who is strongly believed to be sponsoring the appalling activities of Obienyem and Stanley Chira who is the man behind the mask known as APGA Alaigbo.
If you ask me, I would advise that our people should avoid a scenario like this because it does not dignify us as a state that prides itself as the Light of the Nation.
As a concerned citizen of Anambra State, I also think that the time has come to tell our former governor, Peter Obi to leave his successor alone. It is no longer hidden that Obi is the one sponsoring the endless campaign of calumny against Obiano for almost two years now. Like so many Anambrarians, I had doubted this for a very long time thinking that attacks on Obiano were fair criticism until I saw Obienyem’s disingenuous airport drama last Wednesday morning. It became clear to me that Obi is desperate to force Obiano out of the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia for reasons that many believe have to do with his personal ego. It is said that Obi wants to show that he alone decides who should rule Anambra State after him and how long each ruler will rule.
I am personally horrified that a Papal Knight like Peter Obi who likes travelling to Rome very often and taking pictures with Catholic nuns, finds it impossible to forgive our governor even after he had tendered a public apology to him before the dead body of their former principal and fellow old boys in Onitsha in August this year. I consider it ironic that Obi’s public rating rose recently after a famous public speech on governance but he is busy trying to destabilize the government of his home state which he helped establish.
I have followed politics in my home state for some time and I know that people don’t always play by the rule. However, I am riled by the fact that Obi who was distracted for a long time when he was governor and even suffered impeachment has now become the most consistent detractor of his successor, deploying his media aides to go after the governor and create obstacles that will prevent him from his plan to develop Anambra State from where Obi had left it almost three years ago. My dear Anambrarians, I don’t know what to make of this. That is why I decided to write what I saw at the airport that morning. I think that governor Obiano is a victim of Peter Obi’s megalomania!