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Chekwas Okorie: 70 feathers on the cap of a man of vision and character



By Sunny Igboanugo

He struck gold more than four decades ago, when God blessed him with wealth, a lot of it. He was still a young lad on the second floor of life’s existence. At that stage, he would have hit the streets like many of his age, painting nightclubs and social events red with money or be junketing around the globe, especially when Nigeria was practically at the beck and call of the world, with countries on bended knees, begging them to come and spend their money.

But not for this Prince of Alayi, in Bende Local Government of Abia State. He had other noble and far more enduring fancies. This was captured in a burning desire, the same David, must have been imbued with while kitting up to do battle with Goliath.

At that stage also, it was wont for the older generation, to quickly dismiss and refer his kind as a child on whose head the patch of amniotic fluid was yet to dry. But if they did, they could have found out so quickly soon after that this was not just an ordinary child. For in no time, he became a member of the prestigious Elders Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation.

This particular one, was equipped with the tools needed not only to navigate through the maze of life’s vagaries and vicissitude, but the soap and water, with which to wash his hands clean enough to sit and dine with them at the elder’s table.

The trajectory of life for Chekwas Okorie, was one that saw him navigating through the shark-infested waters and contending the tempestuous wind, yet with eyes on the compass as the ship he captained headed to harbour.

Perhaps, very few people know or still remember that the political tide sweeping across the country today, has Okorie’s imprimatur somewhere in it. It was through him that Peter Obi, today’s political phenomenon cut his teeth on the turf, when he got the opportunity to run for governorship in Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which Okoria founded in 2002.

Like every visionary with eyes on the big picture, he had started small by founding a group named Nzuko Abia N’Imo, where the then indigenous people of Abia and Imo met to discuss issues of commonality amongst them and when Ebonyi was carved out from Abia and Enugu, the meeting expanded to Nzuko Abia, Imo N’Ebonyi.

It was at the success of that effort that he decided to expand the vision to include the entire Igboland, hence the formation of Igboezue Cultural Organisation, a powerful body that acted as a major think-tank for the younger elements of the Igbo people, as well as serving as the supply chain and footsoldier for Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex decision-making body of Ndigbo.

As the leader of Igboezue, there was never any dull moment at the Zik Avenue office of Chel Waters Nigeria Limited, the head office of his company, where the young, debonair, forthright and outspoken Chief Executive Officer (CEO), combined his thriving business with daily engagements with various groups on how to advance the lot of the Igboman.

It was from that engagement that the idea of forming a national political party from the South East sprout out. The idea, Okorie, had severally explained, was to offer a platform for Ndigbo to meet their counterparts across the nation at the negotiation table to enable them get a fair share of the popular national cake.

That thinking and the subsequent effort put into its actualisation, eventually bore fruit, when APGA, was birthed on Saturday, June 22, 2002, ahead of the general elections the following year. This was after an initial failure to register the Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC).

It was Okorie’s vision that led him to bringing the late Ikemba Nnewi, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a man he had associated as a major ally and right hand partner. The idea was with Ojukwu’s name and influence, the party would garner the needed fillip to attract Ndigbo and thus galvanise it through the South East into the national arena.

Indeed, contrary to wide-held view that Ojukwu founded APGA, the party was actually Okorie’s baby. In fact, the formation of the party, retold the story of Noah and the Ark in a certain way, in that he was actually abandoned by many people, who never thought it would amount to anything at the time the journey was on.

That was until he returned with certificate, which was handed over to him on that day by Abel Guobadia, National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But despite the carnival-like activities and atmosphere that heralded its birth, many Igbo politicians still avoided APGA in preference to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Peoples Party (APP), they believed had the levers of power.

It was Okorie’s persistence and power of persuasion that to led to the dragging of Ojukwu, who was actually not making any major headway in his APP into the new platform. With the handing of the APGA presidential ticket to Ojukwu on a platter, Okorie eventually recorded achieved his goal. For in no time, the party began to gain traction across the country, which led to the big wins in 2003. That was how Obi came into the fray, though he was declared the winner of Anambra governorship, three years after.

In fact the process was in itself a hard work on Okorie’s part. For despite the fanfare which was evident when Ojukwu hosted Okorie and his team from Abuja at his number 4 Isi-Uzor street, Independence Layout, Enugu home, when they returned with the party’s registration certificate, seemed to have gone no further thereafter.

No doubt the Ikemba was visibly excited, which he displayed with a huge bear-hug he gave Okorie, which he followed up by ordering a carton of Moet Chandan, to be handed to the new party boss as a symbol of his appreciation, while hosting the team on that day. Yet, he still stuck with the APP, perhaps out of apparent political reality, until he was persuaded otherwise.

Elsewhere, the late former Vice President of Nigeria, Alex Ekwueme, who was equally enthusiastic, when he received Okorie’s team to bless the certificate, appeared too deep into the leadership of the PDP. Ekwueme, who was the arrowhead in its formation of the then ruling party, had twice failed to claim its ticket as the presidential candidate. Yet he seemed not moved with his misfortunes to leave the party.

Even the Eze Ozobu, then President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, made his own efforts in attempt to ginger Igbo patronage of the party. Earlier, when the party’s certificate had landed in his house, the former Chief Justice of Enugu State, was so excited that he proclaimed on touching the document that he was ready to die at that moment, because he now had something positive to report to departed Igbo heroes like the late Owelle of Onitsha, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Iyeonukara Okpara and others.

There and then, he had directed Ndigbo to troop en-masse to APGA as their party of choice. Indeed, so celebrated was the party among Ohanaeze and the Igbo leadership that Okorie was conferred with the Ogbatuluenyi Ndigbo, at the meeting of the body in Asaba that year where, again, emphasis was made on Ndigbo adopting it as their platform.

But then, the dream and vision were shared by few. But Okorie dreamt on. Just like the story of Joseph, the trajectory points to an unravelling. Just like the story of Joseph sons of Israel was full of ups and downs intrigues and mischief APGA has also witnessed its own fair share of crisis, part of which it is still suffering today.

But it was out of that set of events, strung together by God himself that Moses emerged to lead the people out of Egypt. Today, does the picture not seem similar. Does the story of Nigeria not appears like resemble that of Israel in the land of Egypt?

Is the political struggle in Nigeria today not akin to the confrontation between Moses and Israel on the one hand and Pharaoh and Egyptians on the other? Are the intrigues not there – the hard-heartedness of Pharaoh the sufferings of the oppressed and the hopelessness? Are they not quite apparent?

If indeed, God is planning to manifest Himself once again as He did to the freedom of the Israelites in the land of Egypt, if it is His plan to set Nigerian free from their oppressors, where would Chekwas Okorie be found in the whole story? Could he be denied the position of a Joseph who dreamt dreams and through whose dream God’s plan for his people was made manifest?

Like Joseph, he dreamt dreams, like Joseph, he was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into the prison by the evil deeds of Potiphar. But in all those trials and burdens, God still showed His hands and the reasons for them made clear.

Perhaps, it is still God’s plan divide the Red Sea of Nigeria to allow his people pass through the dry land. He might yet clog the chariots of Pharaoh and drown their charging soldiers in the sea that would return. Nigerians, to the last man, might look back to see as their traducers who refuse that they would never be free struggle with the red sea as it swallows them. They may sing songs of praises as Israelites sang as they to the Promised Land. If and when all that happens, historians would have to connect the dots and fix Chief Chekwas Okorie in his own place.

On this Monday, April 10, 2023, as friends and well-wishers, both at home and in the Diaspora, gather at the BMO Event Centre, Riverplate Park, 174 Ahmadu Bello Way, Wuse 2, Abuja to pay homage to the Ojeozi Ndigbo, who has just turned 70, only those who know the true story would put it in proper perspective.

Indeed, others would have other reasons to be at that party. Having climbed the biblical three scores and ten, who knows what else God is planning. For Ojeozi is a good man. Still in stable health, mind and spirit, there might just be something else to end his efforts with a crown of glory. But that decision lies with the Almighty, whose ways confounds creation. Happy Birthday, Ojeozi Igbonine!

Igboanugo, a journalist, wrote from Lagos


BREAKING: All clear for Tinubu! S’Court dismisses PDP’s double nomination suit *Says, PDP a busy-body



For being a meddlesome interloper and a busy-body in bringing a case that was none of its business, the Supreme Court, on Friday slammed a N2million fine on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), over its suit demanding that the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 presidential election be vitiated.

The main opposition party, had claimed that Kashim Shettima, being a candidate in a Senatorial election in Borno and as well as the running mate to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate in the election, amounted to  double Nomination, which is forbidden by the law.

Based on that, the prayed the apex court to declare the ticket null and void and the votes recorded for it in the election, through which they were declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), wasted, a prayer, which if it had succeeded, would pave the way for Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the party in the election to take over from Tinubu as the 16th President on Monday, when he is due to be inaugurated.

But the court, while dismissing the prayers, which originated from the Federal High Court Abuja, and travelled through the Court of Appeal, before it,  agreeing with the positions of the lower courts which dismissed them on the ground of lacking in locus standi to institute the case.

But, Justice Adamu Jauro who read the Judgement, not only held that the PDP acted as meddlesome Interloper and a busy body as it is an internal affair of the APC, ordered the main opposition party to pay N2milllion, for its troubles, after establishing that its arguments tended to misleading the court, which was “sad”.

The court, which said it was aware of the case of Uche Nwosu, former governorship candidate in Imo State, the court, held that it did not applay in the instant case, as it agreed that Shettima withdrew his senate nomination on 6th July 2022 and was subsequently replaced and therefore, was no longer a candidate for the Senate before he picked up the running mate ticket, thus, making the allegation of multiple nomination untenable.

On the other hand, the court, held that Nwosu in his case, got nominated by two political parties for different positions, and having not being on all fours, PDP suit, was bound to fail right from the trial court, to the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.

Accusing the PDP of attempts to use the social media to set a trap for the apex court to blackmail it, which he said was “painful, unfortunate and uncalled for,” the court said a political party had no right to challenge the action of another party, or the decision of INEC, in respect of another party, adding that for a person to have locus standi to challenge the nomination process of a political party, the person must be a neutral person and an aspirant to that position, and a member of the party.

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Nigerians must allow the love they share abroad resonate at home – Obasanjo



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is worried that the level of love Nigerians abroad share among themselves is not replicated at home, adding that a situation where they are quick to become friends outside and enemies at home, must be stop. The former President, who acknowledged how Nigerians in the diaspora were making the country proud in their different areas of endeavour, told participants at an evening reception held at New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, that Nigerians in the diaspora must conduct themselves as good citizens wherever they domiciled.

Obasanjo, whose views were captured in a statement by, Kehinde Akinyemi, his spokesman, expressed satisfaction over the unity exhibited among Nigerians in the United States of America, urging them to reciprocate such togetherness when they are back home.

The former President, said to have spoken on behalf of a delegation of eminent traditional leaders and academics that included the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Saka Matemilola, was quoted as saying: “Nigerian nationals are often very united when they are abroad, but something else when they return to the country, therefore, I want to urge all to be good citizens, not only where you are, but when also you come home to Nigeria.”

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Uproar, social media exchange of fire, over Ooni’s handshake with Pete Edochie, KOK



The exchange of handshakes between veteran actors Pete Edochie and Kanayo O. Kanayo with Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyey Ogunwusi Enitan, has spurred a flurry of reactions on social media, The Nation, is reporting.

The paper, which reviewed the viral video shared on Thursday, where Edochie and Kanayo approached Ooni’s table at Elizabeth Jack Rich’s 40th birthday party on Tuesday and exchanged Igbo “cultural” handshakes with the monarch, acknowledged the different meanings being read into it.

Social media users on Twitter took to the comment section of the video with some knocking the actors for disrespecting the tradition by exchanging handshakes with the monarch, while others praised Ooni for showing respect to the Igbo culture.

Man of Letters said: “Igbakeji Oorisa?! It’s acceptable that he received the  cross-culture respect handshake with Pete Edochie because the man Pete carry, but what’s his excuse for doing it with Kanayo O Kanayo??”

Kelvin Odanz said. “Is this ceremony holding in the Ooni palace? I mean, if an Igbo man (from a culture that doesn’t bow to another man) meets the Ooni in the UK for instance, is it disrespectful if he chooses to greet the respected Oba in a way he was brought up to respect dignitaries?”

Another user Onyemauchi tweeted: “This man supposed be King for him community”

Another tweep tracesorba wrote: “Igbos don’t bow down to any man, An evolved or wise man is their our own Chi.”

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