Obi, Soludo and Fence Mending

David-Chyddy Eleke in this piece reports that Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, had a chance meeting recently with his predecessor and presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Pater Obi, at a church programme in Awka, where he denied claims that he received money to demarket Obi.

The essay by the Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo positing that he was sure that his predecessor, and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, was not capable of winning the February, 2023 presidential poll has been roundly criticised by many people, including Igbo and non Igbo indigenes who alleged that the governor may have been paid to run down his brother.

There are several other allegations against the governor for that piece, but the most brazen was one that authoritatively stated that the governor was paid the staggering sum of $28 million by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to help him demarket Obi to his own advantage.

But the governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo, has denied the allegation that he collected $28 million to blackmail Peter Obi. Soludo made the denial while speaking with journalists in Awka after the thanksgiving mass for Most Rev. Paulinus C. Ezeokafor in celebration of his 70th birthday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Both Soludo and Obi are Catholics, and last weekend, the event of the 70th birthday of the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Dr Paulinus Ezeokafor was one event that drew Catholics and non-catholics alike.

Ezeokafor, a humble and kind prelate is one person who has been described as a unifier of Christendom, without exactly emphasizing on his fate catholicism, so for his 70th birthday, it was very clear that it would be a huge ceremony.

The event started with hordes of dignitaries from all walks of life, from within the state and beyond thronging the St Patrick’s Cathedral, where the celebration held.

Among the revered dignitaries that arrived the event early enough was the governor, Prof Soludo, who was promptly ushered into a reserved seat at the front of the church.

A mass to herald the celebration was already in session when Obi, who had been on the move from one part of the country to the other for his campaigns, entered the church. Typical of Obi, who even as a governor believes that big men should not be honoured with front seat when they are late, entered the church hall and unassumingly took a vacant seat at the back.

Though the mass was on, but when Soludo learnt that Obi was seated at the back seat inside the same hall, he excused himself and walked straight to the back, where both men passionately hugged each other, before Soludo led Obi to the front seat. It was a bewilderment to many who had since after the release of Soludo’s essay attacking Obi had thought that both men were at war with each other.

Soludo later reacted to the perceived feud and also the allegation of having collected money to rundown Obi.

Soludo who spoke during an interview with newsmen said: “If I had truly received $28 million to blackmail my brother, Peter Obi, I should be extremely wealthy as of today. For those forging blackmail and all that, including the one they said I collected bribe to say what I said, I asked them to bring it so I will use it to construct roads for Anambra people. If Soludo is into bribery, I would have been a multi-trillionaire now.

“Today is very special. When we came into the service, it was the first time, Obi and I are meeting at a public event and in a Catholic Church which the two of us belong to. I think it was divine. When I came in, I quickly went to where he sat and hugged him, people watched with bewilderment as if it was a drama, asking if it was not the same people quarrelling,” he added.

Speaking about his recent essay on Obi, Soludo said it is political, adding that he spoke with Obi about two times just last night. He added that politics has not crept into their relationship as brothers.

According to him: “There is no rift between Obi and me at a personal level. Nobody snatched each other’s wives. What appears to be the rift between us is fundamental political differences. Nothing else. On the fundamental differences we have, we are going to meet in the next few weeks. We’ve agreed to discuss and iron out our differences.”

Obi in his earlier reply had simply described Soludo as his brother, and as a senior and a professor, had also added that he knew he was a trader and capable of doing less as a governor of the state, and believed that his successor, Soludo who is a professor will do far more.

He had said: “I’m just a trader and he is a professor. If there are schools I did not roof, I hope that he (Soludo) will roof it. I expected him to do better than me. I’m just a trader and he is a professor.”

But beyond these, there are many who have refused to see reasons with Soludo, or even believe that his attacks on Obi was mere politics, meanwhile many social media followers of the governor have been looking forward to the release of the second part of the essay.

In the essay titled: History Beckons, and I will not keep quiet (part 1), many people have said that titling the essay as part one showed that a second, third and even fourth is being expected. The Monday after the release of the essay, some social media users took to their pages to state that one week after the release of the part one, they were hopeful of the release of the second part of the essay.

A resident of the state, Mr Okechukwu Udoh said: “Soludo never planned to release a part two of the essay. What he did was that he was hoping that Obi will descend with him into a fight, and that would have afforded him the opportunity to step into a fight with him, but now that Obi respectfully dodged him, and seeing the number of backlash he has gotten from that piece, he will not continue with it.”

To others, what is more important is that the top shots of the state left out the idea of heating up the polity. A respondent, Ukamaka Abah said: “Whatever we do here determines how other zones view us. They already have a mindset that Igbo people do not support themselves, so If Soludo continues, it will give credence to such mindset.”

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