By Comfort Obi
The immediate past First Lady of Anambra State, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, wants to be a Senator in 2023. She wants to represent Anambra North, a seat currently occupied by the beautiful Senator Stella Oduah.
Anambra North is lucky. It is not short of beautiful women to flaunt at the center. Mrs Obiano, too, is beautiful. Still, caution is the word for the type of woman to flaunt at the Senate. Mrs Obiano clearly falls short, character-wise.
When her husband, Willie Obiano, immediate past Governor of the State, told Reporters, a couple of weeks to the end of his tenure, that his wife would run for the seat of the Senatorial Zone in 2023, like many, I didn’t take it seriously. I thought the now former Governor was either misquoted or he was joking.
My reaction was based on some of the reports I had heard/read from the State about the former First Lady. Any doubt that she is serious about going to the Senate has been erased. She is serious.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, Mrs Obiano stormed the National Headquarters of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Abuja, to pay for, and collect the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. My reaction: The woman has guts.
I know Mrs Obiano has a big war chest to prosecute her aspiration. I know that while her husband was the Governor of Anambra State, she was, without doubt, the most powerful First Lady the State ever had. While the people confirm that none of the others was in anybody’s face, that much cannot be said of Mrs Obiano. She was everywhere, not a few people insist.
I know that the number of women in the National Assembly, especially, at the Senate, is scandalous. They are drowned by the men.. Sure we need more women. Sure, we need more female voices to present the often misunderstood issues concerning women. Sure we need more women to vehemently, for example, say no when their male counterparts talk down on women. Sure we need more women to challenge the men when some of them support that the girl-child, aged 12, 13, 14 years, is ripe for marriage. Sure, we need more women to tell them they are baby-snatching. But Mrs Obiano does not fit the bill.
She is not qualified to play that role. She is not the type of woman Nigerian women need at the Senate. She has disqualified herself from the Senate. She neither has the temperament nor the carriage. She cannot represent the Nigerian woman or the girl-child. She is not a good role model. On more than one occasion, Mrs Obiano has failed to live down that role. She talks carelessly. She down on women.
I read word for word, her reasons for wanting to be a Senator this other day when he addressed some Journalists in Awka to confirm her aspiration.
Good presentation. Good points. Well put together.
She repeated the same reasons when she picked the forms. She said she was put under pressure by her people who wanted her to continue with the good works she was doing in Anambra State as the First Lady. She talked about her passion for women, especially, widows.
She talked about her passion for the girl-child.
She talked about her passion for the underprivileged.
I am not impressed. I am not convinced she has the capacity to fight for these vulnerable people.
Let me quickly admit that I did not hear much about her philanthropic side as a First Lady. Not her fault. Perhaps, it was either I did not quite pay much attention, or her media people did not quite let Nigerians know. There were too many stories about her other side that perhaps drowned her good side. Her alleged penchant for power, for domination, was, they said, legendary. She was known, and referred to, in many circles as the de facto Deputy Governor. Some people even referred to her as the Governor. I am surprised she made no efforts to correct such negative impressions. In my opinion, she should have, if they were not true.
However, I am not basing my opposition to her going to the Senate on hearsay. It is based on facts that are public.
Mrs Obiano is beautiful. She is elegant. She has managed to keep her home, to stay married for years, to bring up her children. Good. But she has not always managed to exhibit this good side outside her home.
What shows outside is her foul-mouthedness. And an, almost, wild side unbecoming of her status in the society. No decorum.
Take the scandalous incident of March 17 between Mrs Obiano and Mrs Bianca Ojukwu during the swearing-in ceremony of Professor Charles Soludo as the Governor.
On Monday, April 11, I watched the video of what exactly transpired between the two women, and I was, at once, scandalized by her behavior, and embarrassed that she once occupied the office of the First Lady of Anambra State.
How Mrs Obiano could have looked for trouble the way she did, so publicly, beats my imagination. How she could left her seat for Bianca’s seat, to not only confront and call Bianca derogatory names, but to physically touch her, twice, on such a day, is confounding. How she could have continued to provocatively touch Bianca, even after she (Bianca) had warned her not to touch her again, is difficult to understand. She called Bianca the “B-word”, and referred to her, publicly, as a street woman.
Mrs Obiano was later to shamelessly lie about the sequence of events. She said she saw Bianca, stood up and went to greet her, only for Bianca to slap her. Such brazen lie. And this woman wants to go to the Senate?
Did Mrs Obiano deserve to be slapped by Bianca? Yes. Yet, I wish Bianca had not descended to Mrs Obiano’s level. By doing that, Bianca lost her self esteem. And her dignity. I think she momentarily forgot who she is. Daughter of a former State Governor. A lawyer. A former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria. A former Miss Intercontinental. Holder of the high profile Iyom title. The widow of the revered Igbo leader, Dim Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu. A former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain. By slapping Mrs Obiano, no matter the provocation, she diminished her status. She owes Ndigbo, Soludo and her husband’s memory an apology.
But, for the records, that was not the first time Mrs Obiano would call a respectable woman a street woman. She had called the lovely and hard working Senator Uche Ekwunife by same name. And Mrs Obiano wants us to believe she has a passion for women and their rights.
Any woman that calls her fellow woman a street woman at the drop of a hat, is not fit to be a Senator. Any woman that uses the “B-word” publicly, is not fit to represent the interest of women or the girl-child anywhere. In saner countries, Mrs Obiano would never think of aspiring to any political office. The events of March 17 would have put a seal on that.
I read the public letter she wrote to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to apologize for that embarrassment at his swearing-in ceremony. In the letter, she also apologized to the dignitaries present. Good.
But her apology was not comprehensive.
She did not apologize to her husband and her family who she embarrassed by her gutter behavior. She did not apologize to Igbo women. She did not apologize to her fellow titled men and women. Or the Traditional Rulers who bestowed her with chieftancy titles, cheap as these titles have become.
Here’s an appeal to Governor Soludo. I don’t know the pact he has/had with his predecessor, Willie Obiano, which emboldened him to inform the people that his wife would run for the Anambra North Senatorial seat. In Nigeria, sadly, Governors have a way of influencing these things. Whoever they endorse gets the ticket. If there is such a pact, Soludo should throw it into a waste paper basket.
He should not endorse Mrs Obiano for Senate, not with her language and her carriage.
Finally, Mrs Obiano should quietly, on her own, step down from the Senatorial contest. It is too soon. She should be off the public eye until she purges herself of the habit of calling her fellow women free women, of using the “B-word” in public, and of engaging, publicly, in a spat and physical fight .
Until then, she does not fit into the Senate Chambers. For whatever it is worth, it is still a respectable place.