Geoffrey Onyeama: A Minister About To Self -Destruct

Godfrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs.

By Goddy Eneh

Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama, grandson of controversial colonial warrant chief, Onyeama N'Eke, and son of Charles Dadi Umeha Onyeama, of the International Criminal Court (ICC) fame, became Foreign Affairs Minister at the inception of the Buhari regime in 2015.

At the time, he had no recorded pedigree, no friends , even in his home state of Enugu, and may be even in the entire south east.

It was even possible he had never ever visited his Eke native homestead,prior to that appointment, made possible single handedly, as we'd learn later, by his own confession, by late Presidential Chief of Staff, Abba Kyarri. Youthful Onyeama had met his compatriot, Abba, in London as student, back then.

His appointment as minister did not go down well with so many, even among his own Eke, UDI  kinsmen, whose arrowhead became Director- General of Voice Of Nigeria(VON), Osita Okechukwu. Okechukwu had apparently felt a sense of entitlement to rewards from the APC at the centre, having been a founding member. 

The choice of Onyeama provoked resistance as many who felt they had been robbed, took their loss badly and dug into the trench of opposition against one they clearly saw as opportunist.

The opposition was massive, deep seated, leading to  Onyeama being isolated   as a lepper until the 2018 APC state congress of the party where a certain Deacon Ogbodo, a former Commissioner in the state who prides himself as "minister of the Gospel", challenged then incumbent, Ben Nwoye, to the chairmanship position. Nwoye had aligned with Okechukwu to form  perennial, deadly,  sworn  enemies of Onyeama. Deacon Ogbodo, hot headed, articulate  political mobiliser and nemesis to political establishment, gave Nwoye a bloody nose at the congress, where he claimed he even won!

The minister, embraced the Ogbodo group and, with the fledging platform,  got some foothold on matters within the Enugu APC, and some influence in Abuja to boot!

This situation provoked the more, the alliance of his traducers led by Nwoye and the VON  DG, who seized every opportunity to lampoon, denigrate and humiliate the minister, effectively using the media.

The Minster had only the Ogbodo platform as bulwark, and it served him so well that his opponents were forced to begin to explore opportunities for some form of rapprochement, having analyzed their chances against a sitting Minister of the Federal Republic, with a grass root machinery effectively marshalled by a sagacious Preacher, versed in both the Gospel and political demagoguery . 

Minister Onyeama, it would seem, revelled in this new found platform, and for once, exerted influence over party affairs in his local community, gloating and taking pleasure in the existence of two parallel structures of APC in Enugu state, one his with Deacon Ogbodo at the helm,and the other run by his opponents!

The Ogbodo group founded the "Kwusike " group, a political platform, named after the Minister, and which became the rallying point for Enugu Abuja APC loyalists.

"Kwusike", meaning " stay firmly" in Igbo, was meant to cure in due course, all the political shortcomings and inadequacies pointed as albatross of the minister, by those opposed to his leadership of Enugu APC. They had derided him as novice, amateurish, and ineffectual. But all that changed when Ogbodo and other tested firebrands fought back on his behalf, effectively turning the table against self  acclaimed veterans.

It was the impact of the Kwusike structure that gave rise to APC fielding two gubernatorial candidates in the 2019 elections. The old gang threw up Ayogu Eze in the last minute, while the minister's group had Barr. Tagbo Ogara, as it's candidate.  While the stalemate lasted, it at least kept the minister and his supporters effectively in the mix, as they could no more be wished away as paperweights!

However, recent events and  indications from Abuja and Enugu, are that the minister might have been either deceived, cajoled or even intimidated into toying with the suicidal idea of subsuming his own structure into that of his long standing traducers, who have apparently brought in former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, in a desperate bid o sway the minister and persuade him to jump ship. But can a captain jump his own ship? How does pilot of a civilian aircraft eject when there's no turbulence or even there is? 

I believe Minister Onyeama has a responsibility to live up to his own name- Kwusike, to stand firm and prevail over his obvious war-weary enemies! Does a winner quit? The answer is emphatic NO!

Make no mistake: there's nothing wrong with fellowship; there's nothing wrong with erstwhile opponents resolving to work together for  mutual benefits or common good, but the process that should, honourably lead up to this is DIALOGUE and CONSULTATION! 

Fighters of faith fight to death, but political fights aren't as eternal. In politics, those who fight and run away, live to fight again! Agreed!

Rewarding Ben Nwoye with the official party structure by Onyeama and/or Nnamani, under any guise or arrangement is cowardly,timid and a promotion of indiscipline and unruliness against the  constituted authority 

Nwoye had at various times accused the minister of adultery, Nnamani of bring a misfit, and national APC exco of acting ultra vires the party  constitution. Whatever changed overnight?

Minister Onyeama himself  has two options staring him in the face going by  evolving scenarios: discard his own group unilaterally with attendant 'sudden death', ending  his political career immediately out of office; or ensure proper debriefing , integration of team for his own future. 

Those goading him on the present path  are wolves in sheep's clothing, mortal enemies, afraid of the future and his profile, and eager to annihilate him politically, albeit prematurely.

It won't be long; o mee ya n'anya vaam!

 --------Mr. Eneh, M.Sc., contributed this piece from UDI Sidings, Enugu.