Francis Arthur Nzeribe is arguably Nigeria’s greatest political strategist and sage. Oftentimes other names are bandied, but toe-to-toe, pound-for-pound, not one of those comes close to Arthur’s records. Of course, many mix up the issue of strategy and morality, of being a sage and the Christian spirit. But the pairs are not really twins and need not coexist. That is, to be a strategist of note does not demand that one be a moral giant. Not that Arthur is, or is not. It is just that the game does not call for double-barreled existence.
Immediately these things are understood, it is clear no party contends with Arthur as Nigeria’s leading strategist. And this is more so because Arthur is a conscious player of the big game. Of course, befitting a character who has ridden the storms of power successfully, Arthur has run into many straits and dangerous waters.
In one instance, he had issues with the federal government. And, appropriate to him as a big-rich, he hired the services of the leading attorney of the day, Rotimi Williams. As one particular court session in which Arthur was in attendance ended, Williams beckoned Arthur. He told him, Arthur himself reported, that they had to discontinue the case.
Arthur was dazed. What was the matter? After all, he had the most formidable lawyer for his defense and was apparently in the right? Was Williams slyly asking that his already considerable legal fees be increased? Anyway, for billionaire Arthur, float cash can’t stop him from getting justice. So, even before Williams would speak further, Arthur flashed an immediate N100,000.00 just to encourage him. That was in the days that sum could set up industries. Williams, himself a billionaire, refused Arthur’s cash and dash entreaties. He solemnly whispered to Arthur, I am an ancient mariner, the waters are rough and no longer navigable. We have to go. And the litigation was discontinued, Arthur reported.
Interestingly again, in his many sagas, Arthur had reason to do philosophy on the go. For Arthur, the finest political war strategy is to win first, by sources known and unknown. And next lend your opponent the luxury of going to court. Let your opponent, never yourself, be the complainant. But as a fecund man of practice, Arthur is never finished. During much of his political campaigns, he became notorious or famous for popularising an Igbo song, “Mmanu akara di uto onye rara ibe ya arara tu.” It translates loosely, sweet sauce tastes best when passed around. That is, never in your wisdom monopolise any public good, at least not ostensibly.
If we took these three planks of Arthur’s tool skills, it would be correct to say that Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, is a rookie, an amateur, wanting to play in the big leagues.
Firstly, Okorocha failed to do reconnaissance and weigh up the depth and reaches of opposition and opponents he had to face. He was just incensed with his own obsessions, almost like Hitler. For him, all he wanted, for reasons known and unknowable, was to pole-vault his son-in-law a successor governor. This is against Arthur’s sage wisdom of mmanu akara, of passing around the sauces of powers.
Immediately Okorocha refused to pass around the mmanu akara, it was evident he had triggered and arrayed an unbelievable armada against himself. It was similar to Hitler’s insanity. Even while his commanders, especially Erich von Manstein, cautioned against an intemperate charge for Moscow, Hitler, wanting to have Moscow now or never, decreed no.
The outcome was the routing of Hitler and the Third Reich by the Eastern Front. And that, as Churchill would say, was the beginning of the end for Hitler. Had Hitler held back and listened to his commanders, as Arthur to Williams, Hitler would have had Germany and the Lebensraum that he asked for. And that would not have been too bad for a thug like Hitler. And just as much, if Okorocha had kept his peace and allowed any other persons in issue to take over from him, Okorocha would have ended just like other governors, neither evil nor good. And that woould not have been too bad either for Okorocha, whose pedigree may have been as wondrous as those of the Führer. But just like Hitler, who played against informed advice, Okorocha pitched for the battle of his life. And it is ended. Now, Okorocha is a complainant. And that is the worst fate that may befall a man who is not only in office, but also in power.
To save his soul from possible political damnation, Okorocha dashed to Daura to see his political chi, President Muhammadu Buhari. Anyway, it is interesting to recall that in failing, and against the uncompromising stakes he generated, Hitler committed suicide. And that was not just political, as the Third Reich got buried, Hitler also committed suicide in the physical too.
Well, these are more modern times. However it is, going to Daura is the equivalent of political suicide. That a governor would be a complainant in matters of his state politics is the lowest things can go in the history of the Nigerian power hunt. It is a pity that despite all his gra-gra, Okorocha is a political novice, so much so in his state that he could be reduced to a plaintiff. And his political dynasty, as tumultuous and short-lived, as the Third Reich?