Opinion

Obi: P. O. Box 2023, Freetown, By Emeka Obasi 

There must be something about Labour Party anchorman, Peter Obi, that continues to confound those who stand in his way. What they pretend not see is just what makes him a celebrity within and without. Sierra Leone is trending.

 

While Obi was busy at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, his name was all Sierra Leoneans heard as they prepared for their own elections. Chairman of that country’s Political Parties Regulation Committee ( PPRC ) Abdulahi Bangura implored presidential candidates to adopt the Obi Formula.

 

It is a peaceful approach that applies legal means, instead of jungle method, to electoral accountancy. The Sierra Leoneans have tasted the bitter pill of war and do not want a repeat. Their  crisis came long after the Nigerian Civil War.

 

Many of Bangura’s country men have adopted Obi as a the New Face of African democracy. I have friends and extended family members in Freetown. There are positive vibes coming from that part of the West African Sub Region, with strong Nigerian links.

 

President Julius Bio, 59, was re – elected after defeating his closest rival, Samura Kamara, 72. What coincidence that while Obi is in court to prove that the All Progressives Congress ( APC) did not win in Nigeria, the APC ( All Peoples Congress) lost in Sierra Leone.

 

Sierra Leoneans look up to Nigeria to get things right and show that they are worthy Big Brothers. When war ravaged their country, Abuja played a major role in bringing peace.  Foday Sankoh, who led the  Revolutionary United Front ( RUF ) was shipped to Lagos.

 

Sankoh trained in Nigeria and did not rise beyond the rank of corporal. When peace was restored, President Ahmed Teejan Kabbah pleaded with Brig. Gen. Maxwell Khobe to stay behind as Commander of the Sierra Leonean Defence Forces.

 

Ties between both countries date back to the Nineteenth Century. Freetown was founded to resettle West Africans who were sold into slavery as war prisoners or kidnap victims. Many of them came from what later became Nigeria.

 

Among the Creoles of Sierra Leone are Igbo, Yoruba, Nupe and Hausa. By 1859, the first West African Medical doctors emerged. William Broughton Davies, a Yoruba and James Africanus Horton, an Igbo,  were also commissioned  as officers of the British Army.

 

By the Twentieth Century, Robert Wellesley Cole became the first West African Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. His father was Yoruba, his mother, an Igbo whose surname was Okoroafor. Kid sister, Irene, found her way back home by marrying Samuel Ighodaro, who later became the first Benin High Court judge.

 

Ighodaro served in the judiciary when Samuel Ogbemudia was military governor of Mid – Western State. Ogbemudia married Yetunde Afolabi, who has strong family links in Freetown.Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, whose nephew, Gbadebo is in the Obi’s Labour Party, served in the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone.

 

George Dove Edwin, a top Nigerian diplomat, rose to head the High Commission in the United Kingdom. While he served Nigeria, his nephew, Horace, represented Sierra Leone in Track and Field. I met Horace Dove Edwin at Sportscity, Lagos in 1989. He was part of Barcelona ’92 Olympics.

 

Sports has brought both countries so close. In the early 1920s, the Fourah Bay Grammar School, Freetown soccer team had three Nigerians. There were Ekeng from the Calabar area, Cookey from Opobo and an Asaba. One of their teachers was Ladipo Solanke.

 

Obi played soccer for Sierra Leone. Sam Metzger Obi was coach of the Diamond Stars that lost to Bendel United in the first round of the 1989 African Winners Cup. His son, Obi, made the Leone Stars team that lost to the Eagles on February 11, 2011.

 

The match, decided at the Thunder Balogun Stadium, was Samson Siaisia’s debut as Super Eagles manager. Ayodele Cole also played for the visitors. He replaced a Bangura, that sounds like the name of the PPRC man who adores Peter Obi.

 

Patrick Ekeji was Technical Adviser of Old Edwardians when they were knocked out by Leventis United in the first round of the 1985 African Winners Cup. I saw Ekundayo Williams run for Sierra Leone at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Catherine Eke did the same at the Glasgow 2014 Olympic Games.

 

The first President of Sierra Leone was Christopher Okoro Cole. He was also the last Governor – General, Chief Justice of the country and Chief Justice of the Gambia. We had Justice Ebenezer Ayoola train at Fourah Bay College before making it to the Gambian Supreme Court.

 

Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police between 1939 and 1942, Arthur Mavrogorda, was Commissioner of Police in Sierra Leone. Most of the Court Clerks in Colonial Nigeria came from Freetown. General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi was brought up by a Sierra Leonean.

 

I can understand why the Obassey Ceesays ( Obasi Cisse ), Mohammed Kanus and other Sierra Leoneans think Nigeria. One of them gave me his postal address as P. O. Box 2023, Freetown insisting that P. O. represented Peter Obi and pleaded that the Labour Party leader should visit Sierra Leone.

 

Well, I will send a message to Chief Livy Uzoukwu to grant Obi leave to visit Sierra Leone. He is wanted in that country urgently as an icon of neo African Democracy. His Obidients cannot disobey this order from the home of Fourah Bay College.

 

*Emeka first published this piece in Vanguard 

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