Prince Arthur Eze, aka Ozoigbondu is in a class of his own in philanthropy, unparalleled donations to worthy causes – Widows, Orphanages, Churches, Schools e.t.c. Name them, Arthur Eze is ever ready and willing to make significant donations. For these selfless actions of his to humanity in many years, he has been hailed by all and sundry, especially for the fact that all his donations have no strings attached. It is just his style to give and continue to give. However Ozoigbondu has of recent enlarged his coast in his act of generosity and philanthropy. An oil magnate, with significant oil wells in Nigeria and some countries in Africa, it appears he now wants to use his wealth, goodwill and contacts to also determine who occupies the Government Houses in some state capitals, especially in Igboland.
He has been in the game for some years in some South-east states as he is alleged to have doled huge volumes of cash to the campaigns of some governors, including Rochas Okorocha, Dave Umahi and others. However his past attempts in this direction in his home state of Anambra had not been successful. Despite his huge war chest of support to Dr. Tony Nwoye of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in the 2017 election in Anambra State, his candidate lost to Dr. Willie Obiano of All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA).
It seems that this time around, Arthur Eze will no longer provides only financial and other forms of support to his choices for various political offices, but he has also decided to be directly involved in media campaigns, including having his photograph displayed on bill boards. His face-off with Obiano in the past few months on allegations that the governor misappropriated local government funds allocated to the state in the past seven years is still trending. This confrontation coincided with some traditional rulers in the state being suspended for one year for travelling to Abuja with Arthur Eze on a “thank you” visit to President Buhari without informing and obtaining the consent of the state Governor.
The present campaign in which the Ozoigbondu is involved in the politics of Anambra State looks much deeper and penetrating. Because some billboards with the photographs of Buhari and Prince Arthur Eze were mounted in some strategic locations in the state, including beside the foot of the pedestrian bridge at the popular UNIZIK junction and some other locations in the state, as well as the popular commercial city of Onitsha.
The sponsors and promoters of the billboards – the Anambra G21 Vangaurd – captured what they called “the numerous achievements of President Buhari in the South-East states” in their explanatory notes on the media blitz. They include but not limited to Onitsha Seaport which will soon open Igboland to importers from Nnewi, Onitsha, Aba, Enugu, Abakaliki, and other parts of the South-East. They claim that the port will open avenue for multiple direct and indirect employment to thousands of citizens of the area.
They also listed the 2nd Niger Bridge which the former President Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP administration paid only lip service to, despite the massive support of Ndigbo to the PDP from 1999 to 2015 and beyond; Zik’s mausoleum/library completed and commissioned by Buhari; Onitsha-Enugu Dual-Carriage Way abandoned by both the Federal and Anambra state Governments for many years before President Buhari assumed office in 2015 and directed that work on its massive rehabilitation should start;
Onitsha-Okigwe Federal Highway abandoned for several years and now being rehabilitated; Onitsha-Owerri Federal Highway and Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way.
They observed that the rehabilitation of these highways would improve the economic wellbeing of Ndigbo as they will hence forth experience less hassles while moving both passengers and goods from one destination to another.
Upgrading of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu was executed by the PMB Administration despite the fact that Anambra State produced two former Ministers of Aviation, -Osita Chidoka and Stella Oduah – who did little or nothing to uplift the status of the Airport.
The group also listed the establishment of the Court of Appeal Awka, various youths empowerment schemes – GEEP, N-Power, SIP, CCT, Trader Moni, boosting key sectors of the economy in agriculture, health and education, establishment of Modular refinery in Imo state, South-East men and women appointed into top Federal positions in the country as the numerous projects of President Buhari and his APC Government for the benefit of Ndigbo.
Suprisingly these bill boards which have the photograph of President Buhari at the right side and that of Prince Arthur Eze on the opposite side were pulled down barely 24 hours after being mounted. One wonders why this apparent displeasure of agents of the Anambra State Government with President Buhari, especially as it is generally known that Governor Obiano enjoys a chummy relationship with the President. It is therefore easy to conclude that the grouse with the message on the bill boards is rather with Prince Arthur Eze and not the President.
The Anambra G21 claim that the Anambra State Signage and Advertising Agency (ANSAA) pulled down the bill boards as the message was “offensive and political” and that the ESMIC Advert Agency, owners of the bill boards, was years behind in its statutory operational fees to the Anambra State Government.
Political analysts are wondering if Prince Eze is now a functionary of the APC Federal Government led by Buhari, to be appearing with him on bill boards or it is just a mere publicity stunt to promote PMB in Igboland and announce that the media blitz for the President is being sponsored by the oil magnate. Is this a pointer to how the Ozoigbondu will throw his hat into the political ring as 2023 draws closer? Only time will tell.
––Chuks Collins is a political analyst based in Awka
PIX: Arthur Eze.jpg