Enugu: Who is afraid of Ifeoma Nwobodo?

Posted by Cosmas Asogwa On Thursday, April 24, 2014 0 comments

nwobodo ifeoma  mrs
For those not conversant with the story of Medusa in the Greek mythology, there is a need for a refresh.  Medusa, the Gorgon, was once a very beautiful, lily-haired priestess that worshipped Athena, the Greek supreme goddess.  When she overstepped her bounds by failing in her celibate vows, Athena turned her into a terribly ugly woman, transforming her once-alluring hair strands into tiny snakes.  So odious was Medusa that anybody, who cast eyes on her was instantly turned into a boulder of stone.

There is this beautiful, hard-working young woman in Enugu State, who the fretting and unprincipled politicians, through their sponsored articles in the media, have tended to paint, as the modern-day Medusa. Nothing adequate­ly prepares for the sense of disappoint­ment, which one experiences at encoun­tering this woman about whom so much venom has been spilled by a voracious, but small section of the political class of Enugu State. Yes, disappointment, be­cause after reading all the evils that Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, the Chief of Staff to the governor of Enugu State, is said to have visited on whatever she touches, one would believe that anybody who as much as sights her even from a distance, would be struck with a plague.  Yet, the image of this young mother and the wife of Justice Afam Nwobodo, as painted by her traducers in Enugu State, is such that one could easily go past her on the street without imagining that this is a simple, humble, if ordinary hard work­ing young Igbo woman.
In fact, the first day that I saw Mrs. Nwobodo at a function, she cut the image of Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, another very efficient woman some love to hate, not for any evil they have done, but rather because they are sticklers for efficiency and hard work.  Before then, I had heard and read a lot of things about how wicked, ambitious, intractable and power-drunk Ifeoma Nwobodo, a former accountant at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, was, to the extent that she was accused lamely of being the real power behind the throne in Enugu State.
But from my findings on the Chief of Staff at the Enugu Lion Building (the other name for Enugu State Government House), she knew zilch in politics before the inception of the Chime administra­tion but as the saying goes, a chick that would become a cock is known from the very day the egg hatches.  As an ordi­nary woman, who went about her duties in the best ways she knew how, what she saw as her normal roles of keeping the books and instilling tight financial and administrative discipline helped to transform the fortunes of the ailing Nike Lake Resort to the extent that the keen eyes of people, including the man that was to become the governor noticed.She was also reputed for her resolute­ness and sense of duty.  So, no sooner did Chime become the governor than he was to have invited Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo to serve as his Chief of Staff, as inexperienced in politics as she was then. From what I also reliably learnt, Ifeoma did not as much as understand what a chief of staff does, not to talk about seeing herself as being qualified for the most difficult crucial position around the state’s chief executive.  But as a family that takes spiritual guidance very seriously, she and her husband were said to have consulted God for guidance and got firm affirmation.
Not only did she learn very fast, aided by the fact that her boss is said to be a man who places a lot of premium on delegating duties to the competent, she soon got such a firm handle on her job that the laxities that characterise public service, especially in the previous dis­pensation in the state, were thrown out through the window, as she inculcated the sense of urgency honed through the application of her private sector experi­ence, which had inculcated in her the culture of striving to achieve set goals.  This culture automatically affects the people and environment around which she operates.Her boss has turned out to be one of the greatest achievers in Nigeria today, hav­ing positively transformed the fortunes of his state beyond expectation, without making much noise.  Today, the rest is history, as the sense of urgency, which Ifeoma Nwobodo has inculcated in the seat of power in her state, has become a whirlwind that has swept away those too lethargic to change while invigorating the state of affairs in the state.  She has become a veritable partner in progress to Governor Chime, to the extent that she is widely regarded as the power behind the throne, while, indeed, she sees her­self and carries on as a humble servant of a goal-getting boss.
Her competency and principles have unfortunately become her bane.  She has made many enemies of unprincipled people, especially sit-tight politicians from the state.  The PDP stakeholders in the state, led by Governor Chime, had agreed on a formula that would consolidate the sense of justice, political peace and amity that had characterised Chime’s era in the state. The crux of that doctrine is that the tenure of every elected political figure under the PDP banner would be limited to two terms, after which (s)he would make way for other citizens.  The formula, which was enthusiastically accepted by the preponderance of the citizens, who saw it as a way of ensuring that everybody would have a sense of belonging, also prescribed that the governorship should move to the Enugu North zone that had not experienced it.  The deliberate deci­sion of the party to make Nsukka zone get the next governor was, therefore, unanimously hailed.
However, this formula was rebuffed by the camp of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who, after serving for three terms as a senator, seemed not yet satisfied and believes that he deserves another term, failing which he should be ‘rewarded’ with the governorship position, even when he does not come from the Nsukka zone.  Most of the other National Assembly members, like Senator Gil Nnaji, who has served in both chambers of the Na­tional Assembly, do not also seem to be comfortable with the new PDP doctrine.  All these should never have concerned Mrs. Nwobodo, yet it has become con­venient for some to malign and serially accuse her of being the person, who is behind ensuring that the party’s doctrine on power sharing is executed to a logical conclusion.
She is being accused of habouring the interest to contest for the senatorial posi­tion for Enugu East, the seat currently occupied by Senator Nnaji, who, apart from a generally acknowledged lacklus­tre representation, should have become satisfied after serving for two terms in the House of Representatives and currently in the Senate.  To compound matters for Nnaji, he is said to lack the support and favour of the local govern­ment bosses in the zone.
While Ifeoma Nwobodo is yet to make any such aspiration public, there seems to be a unanimity of opinion in the state that after an obvious insipid representa­tion at the upper national chambers, the zone that houses the capital of Igboland deserves a senator of proven intellect, dedication to duty and the type of com­mitment that she has shown and which has acquitted her creditably to many and made her an enemy to those who want business as usual.  The way it looks in Enugu today, the more the political des­peradoes accuse her of all manners of things, the ordinary people of the state hail all that as an endorsement, know­ing that the bad-mouthing translates into saying:  “you are serving the state too well…” The logic, therefore, is that “this woman is the right ‘man’ for the job.”
Ordinarily, the aspiration to the Sen­ate, the ‘crime’ that Ifeoma is being ac­cused of, and judging from her sterling performance in her present role, is even being regarded as inadequate enough, as many have suggested that had she come from the Nsukka zone, she should have been encouraged to vie for the governorship to ensure the perpetuation of the good job of her boss.  As at the time Governor Chime was inviting her to become his chief of staff, two former chiefs of staff had become governors of their states – Babatunde Fashola and Theodore Orji, who served Governors Tinubu of Lagos and Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia, respectively.  It is clear that none of those had put in as much, nor earned as much acclaim, as Mrs. Nwobodo in their days.
So, why all the fuss that this Amazon, who has stricken so much terror in the incompetent and the inordinately-am­bitious as well as great love and respect in people of principles, should aspire only to ‘mere’ senatorial position?  The people of Enugu State should feel proud that Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo should as­pire to become a senator and give them the type of robust voice they demand – and deserve
.• Nwokolo contributed this piece from Enugu


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