Ikem Okuhu And His Brand Of Stomach Journalism By Justice Chidi


I recently stumbled upon one of Ikem Okuhu’s serialized posts on Facebook culled from his book _Eighteen Months in Neverland: Chronicles of My Daze in Government_ . Of a truth, Ikem’s intellectual gyration does not deserve this attention but for the feeble minded that may be deceived into joining him in his maniacal voyage.

From the benefits of forethought, Ikem’s bottom-up representation of the office and person of the governor of Enugu state didn’t come to me as a surprise. What would have actually surprised me would have been that he did otherwise. Like the proverbial he-goat, the offensive odour trailing Ikem’s part was designed by nature’s hand of creation.

In the spirit of inclusivity, the governor had taken it upon himself to rescue Ikem from the oppressive hands of lack. But cast in the mould of Ajija, the chaotic spirit domiciled in Ikem, fingered for his unceremonious stints as staff member of UBA and Ecobank, the same malevolent being that would have him perceived as a spy than a colleague by his supposed “colleagues” during his fleeting days with “Policy Magazine”, that same unconquerable cave that conquered Ikem’s powers of interpersonal hygiene followed him down to the Lion Building.

The fowl was yet to drink and lift its head to observe the sky when Ikem, in his display of intellectual lordliness, ascended the Olympian height of his imaginary superior blood, from where he dished out chivalric code of conduct to others whose two options were to either obey Ikem or be demonized.

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Ikem was not just an acusser of the brethren, his gluttonous proclivities towards food and drinks presented him as an antithetic candidate for the job he was employed to do. Ikem and his orgasmic penchant for controversies were starved to death as the governor’s second term was immune from the arrogance, and derelict attitude that characterised the eighteen months of his being engaged by the government. Ikem was disengaged and that was how “Gburugburu” and “Nrashi” suddenly acquired new meanings as Ikem, the journalist, turned a semanticist.

A life-line that any critical observer of Ikem’s travails may wish to offer him is the “escapicist” route of _ekweg ogba_. _Ekweg ogba_ , an Igbo coinage of the Nsukka dialectal family, loosely translates that a superior being, in the class of Ajija could be goading him to self destruction. Should this be the untold truth, Ikem has my sympathy, for as Achebe would put it, a man does not challenge his _Chi_ to a wrestling match. But be that as it may, the governor is not to blame for dropping Ikem because governance is a serious business that cannot be made an object of experiment in the hands of a man whose daily engagements with others suggest that his thoughts and actions have been (re)configured by some unseen hands.

This was how, in Ikem’s semantic universe, the name “Gburugburu” acquired pejorative properties such as “circular”, “the environment” and others. As stomach-driven journalists are wont to act, Ikem quickly fed caution to the abyss and began to demonize the same name and man he was praising to the high heavens before he was relieved of his duties. For instance, in his response to Okey Ugwuada Ezirigwe, while defending the governor, Ikem had only positive adjectives for the man “Gburugburu”. Hear him:

“I am not sure there is anyone in Enugu who would share in Okey’s position that the government of His Excellency, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is visionless”.

“In the area of primary healthcare, Enugu is in the lead, next only to Lagos State. Healthcare for women and children is free. Only recently, Enugu became the first in the country to adopt the Universal Healthcare Programme in the country. Hospitals are being built and existing ones, rehabilitated”.

The above and many more are Ikem’s recent confessions. What has really changed? You may want to ask. The answer to the above, if a question it becomes, is that nothing has really changed except that Ikem’s stomach has been starving. Ikem would no longer view the name “Gburugburu” with a positive lens to be referring to a man who is driven by the philosophy of all-efficient, all-embracing and all-inclusive leadership because the security of his stomach was no longer guaranteed.

Driven by the same impulse of stomach starvation, Ikem took a dig at the concept of “Nrashi” and conjured all manner of interpretational blotch around it. He imbued it with such negative attributions like “primitive”, “annoying”, “corruption”, “prebendalism” and others. Ikem would quote a part of my article on “Nrashi” and in his usual epistemic egotism, refer to me as “one Justice Chidi”, suggesting that I had only pseudonymtized as one to give the impression of widespread (third party) support. I have no problem with Ikem’s thoughts and partivation of the article to whet his antagonist appetite, while turning a blind eye to the argument that “Nrashi” simply means “dividend of democracy”.

However, my major concern here is that Ikem’s _Neverland_ conjectures are anything but genuine assessment of Ugwuany’s administration. Ikem is only on a bile mission to cut off a pound of flesh. Should Ikem’s stomach be attended to by the governor, all the pejorative properties assigned to “Gburugburu” and “Nrashi” will instantly be washed away with Ikem’s double-headed ink.

Now is the time to search for those who speak truth to power in obedience to conscience and not those who demonize government as a response to the prescriptions of their ego and stomach.

We are not deceived!


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