From May 25, 2022, the name Ifeanyi Ossai became a household name in Enugu State. Even those who have never met him personally would have seen his pictures or heard his name mentioned. He was unveiled by Peter Mbah as, if God wills it, the incoming Deputy Governor of Enugu State come 2023. The euphoria, especially among people who know him closely was massive. Most of his close friends have testimonies to share about his good nature. Because of the wide-spread attestations, I became curious about Ifeanyi Ossai.
So, just two days ago, on Saturday July 16, 2022, I joined the President-Generals and Secretary-Generals of all the communities in Enugu North Senatorial Zone to welcome Ossai for a meeting at Adada Hall in Nsukka. I was held spell-bound by his brilliant exegesis of the political history of Old Eastern Region that stretched as far as Bayelsa State.
However, the highlight for me was the reaction of a very elderly man, who sat next to me. While Ossai held the stage, the old man kept dabbing his face with a handkerchief. Apparently, he was crying. I had never been more touched in my life. Happily, the old man was crying for joy. He was mystified by what was unfolding before him. His name name was Romanus Agbo, an Ezimo man, from the same community as Ifeanyi Ossai. Mr Agbo knew the incoming Deputy Governor as early as when he was a toddler.
Ifeanyi Ossai had lost his mother when he was less than ten years. He was left to the care of his father who was by no means well-to-do. It seemed as if the circumstances of life were going to truncate the destiny of the boy, who had already begun to manifest remarkable abilities in his school-work. He had finished his Primary Education with a Distinction, and was to complete his Secondary Education afterwards with Nine Alphas, a very rare achievement at the time when WAEC had no competitor like NECO. Nine Alphas!
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In spite of these early signs of academic excellence, the future looked bleak. The warm support of his mother was since gone. But God, the Shaper of destinies, stepped in and consoled him with two things: the rugged strength of his grandmother and the legendary community spirit of Ezimo people. He became the child of the community. In time, he completed a Degree in Law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, and proceeded to the United Kingdom to bag a Master’s Degree in Law at the University of Essex. As Chinua Achebe’s character would say, when a man says yes, his chi also says yes.
As a humanist by training, I have two favourite persons: G.W.F Hegel and Karl Marx, both of them European. Their work on socio-economic relations changed, in very important ways, the direction of the world in favour of the ordinary people. Hegel wrote on what he called Master-Servant relationship, and of course Karl Marx is well-known for Marxism. In sum, Hegel and Marx showed that it is possible for the ordinary people to seize power from those who are lording over them.
What was the concern of Hegel and Marx? They wanted to abolish a society in which someone would occupy a high position, not because he or she has abilities but because, by some accident of birth, he comes from a political dynasty. It is indeed difficult to tell the story of the evolution of Europe from Feudal Lordship to Democracy without mentioning Hegel and Marx and of course many others.
That was the foundation for a Europe and North America in which Barack Obama would travel from Kogelo, a rural village in in Kenya, to the US to read Law in Harvard and would later become the President of America. It is for the same reason that Kamala Harris, a brilliant lawyer, a minority Asian/American, would become the first US female Vice-President and the highest-ranking female official in US history; it is for the same also that Kemi Badenoch, a British-Nigeria is now vying for the highest office in the United Kingdom.
Sadly, in our own part of the world, struggling people, especially the youths are still happy to form alliances with political dynasties, who have nothing in common with ordinary people like us except their desire to perpetually enslave and keep us in chains. These age-old power-brokers have no record of service to their people. All they do is to scheme and lie in ambush to seize power so as to perpetuate the suffering of common people. They have never served us, and they will never serve us.
In Enugu North, for example, the emergence of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the son of a middle-class civil servant, was the beginning of the dismantling of the iron-hold on political power by the powerbrokers from the Zone. It was such a rude shock. Ugwuanyi did not resonate as a familiar name in the dynasty circle. And so they marshalled out their resources to stop him.
It was no surprise then that even on the eve of the gubernatorial election in 2015, the entrenched political Cabal from Enugu North was still frenziedly drumming support for Barr. Okey Ezea, whom they consider their good son. In the end Ugwuanyi triumphed. But did the Cabal ever accept him? Of course, the answer is no! As is now evident in this election year, they have only been tolerating him and counting the days for him.
Today, the Cabal has once again gone back to their trenches. The scheming is in top gear. This time their quarry is Ifeanyi Ossai, another ordinary man, from Ezimo, with an uneventful beginning, poised to deputise Peter Mbah. All hell let loose. Falsehoods, fabrications and all manner of lies are being circulated to voodoo us into an alliance with those who forged our chains and have enslaved us from time immemorial. Don’t be deceived! All are lies against this child of destiny.
Ifeanyi Ossai typifies the yearning of common people, he embodies the prayer of ordinary people like us, which is to create a society in which the son of a shoe-maker, who has abilities can aspire to any height in life, he incarnates the limitless potentiality of the hard working people to attain the greatest height of human endeavour, he actualises our dream of a society in which a deprived, motherless child with talents will grow up to rub shoulder with those born into affluence, he personifies the daily hustle of the man on the street, whose hope of economic emancipation rests on the decision of those in power.
Ifeanyi Ossai is one of us. He is coming from among us. Our daily struggle to put food on our table and clothe our children resonates with him because he has been with us and even now he is still with us. It is time to demand our liberty and secure our freedom. And like Henry Patrick of early America, we must raise our collective voice to thunder to our oppressors: Give us liberty or give us death.
I call upon the indefagatible youths of Enugu North. I call upon the resilient youths of Enugu State to stand up to defend this rare opportunity to consolidate the mandate of hard working people. It is time to link our hands, and bond our hearts and pool our energies to change our lot. Our spirit shall not slack, our hope shall not dim, and neither will our courage fail because victory for the poor and deprived is on the horizon!
God bless Ifeanyichukwu Ossai! God bless Peter Ndubuisi Mbah! God bless the Coal City State.
Hyginus Eze, PhD Aberdeen, writes from Independence Layout, Enugu.