By Ikem Okuhu
I have tried to be patient with my interrogation of the roles our university professors in the shameless heist that has become of the highly anticipated 2023 elections in Nigeria, but it appears truths have been unravelling so fast patience my just not be the virtue that is needed.
The more careful you want to approach the issues, the more events cause you to suspect that extreme discretion might be detrimental to the enthronement of the truth.
Since the shame of a steal that is now known as the election results of Nkanu East became public knowledge, and the name of the Computer Science lecturer behind it all was made public by angry Social Media users, those who have tried to analyse the rather daft computation of the numbers have wondered how it could ever be possible for a Computer Science lecturer to have arrived at such incredibly illogical tally.
Recall that one Dr Nnaemeka Ogbene, the Returning Officer for Nkanu East Local Government Area, had after the March 18 Governorship elections, turned in a result that has numbed statisticians all over the world. In the LGA, where, in his own words, there were just above 6,000 accredited voters, Dr. Ogbene’s computer wizardry was able to conjure more than 32,000 votes.
Yes, I have seen what looked like a letter to the general public where he attempted to exonerate himself from the guilty verdict of the raging public. I have also listened to the recorded phone conversation with an angry Nigerian said to be living abroad. Here, he also did his best to ensure the buck stopped anywhere but his table.
But you see this Dr. Nnaemeka Ogbene? He was a carefully selected willing participant, in the grand scheme of electoral stealing planned and perfected by the PDP long before the election.
Between 11.00Am and 10.00PM of Saturday, March 25, 2023, I had to conduct a deeper investigation into the background, person and personality Dr Ogbene, and what I found was a man very unclever at lying and one who ,ay have been regretting his actions, not for any other reason than the realization of how it was very likely to haunt his future as a young academic and researcher.
Unlike what he made believe in his written explanation that has been shared widely on the Social Media, Dr. Nnaemeka Ogbene is not from Udenu Local Government Area.
Apparently not thinking that his picture was going to flood the internet, he made that futile attempt to deflect from his place of origin, apparently to infuse confusion in his digital footprints.
Nnaemeka Ogbene is from Uwelu, Ejuona, in Obukpa, one of the major towns and sections that make up Nsukka Local Government Area. Anyone who believes he is from Udenu has bought a dummy.
Ogbene started his teaching career a few years ago at the University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka, where he taught mathematics and other Science subjects. A job at the University Staff School was all the otherwise brilliant young man needed to pursue his dream of higher degrees, and in quick succession, he was able to earn his Masters and doctorate degrees from Nigeria’s hitherto prestigious university.
With a Ph.D. under his belt and considering the dearth of teachers in his field, Dr. Ogbene was a few years ago, hired as a lecturer, rising to the rank of Lecturer II.
This is where the issue gets quite twisted. How did a person of the grade level Lecturer II get the job of a local government Returning Officer, a job reserved for university dons of Lecturer I and above?
The answer will be found in his long-standing relationship with the Enugu State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Dr, Nnaemeka Ogbene has been a strong supporter of the PDP in Enugu and has facilitated a lot of projects for the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Unknown to many, it was this university teacher that got the contract for the posting of most of the poster for Ugwuanyi’s now failed bid to go to the Senate. Ugwuanyi, who squared against the Labour Party candidate, Barr. Okey Ezea, lost rather woefully, gathering less than 30 percent of the total votes cast in the Enugu North Senatorial District.
Ogbene worked on this project, along with another indigene of Obukpa, Kingsley Okechi Agbo, more popularly known by his nicknames, “Igbegiri” and “Pure.” He was said to have been paid quite handsomely for this job and, with his minivan, a Toyota Sienna, he crisscrossed, with his foot soldiers, the length and breadth of Enugu North, ensuring Ugwuanyi maintained an intimidating lead in out-of-home visibility. Even when angry people tore and defaced some of his efforts, he would return quick quickly to put fresh ones.
It must have been his excellent efforts on this assignment that earned him the trust of the hierarchy of the PDP and the government in Enugu, paving the way for a higher assignment, including the one of a Returning Officer role that he was most probably not even qualified to do.
But that is not all. Nnaemeka Ogbene is from a family of staunch PDP supporters. His father, Chief Emeka Ogbene, a retired headmaster, is a ranking PDP stalwart in his Obukpa Ward. According to available information, the elder Ogbene has been projected to become the Ward Chairman of the party immediately after the elections, and family and friends had to be recruited to play a role that would make the position “juicy” when he eventually assumes office.
The calculation that allegedly made the younger Ogbene to throw his career into the shark-infested waters of PDP’s now imperiled election steal, was that should Peter Mbah of PDP be returned as Governor, the elder Ogbene would be a very influential member of the party. More important was the calculation that a Labour Party government in Enugu would block resource opportunities that would make the Ward chairmanship position financially very unrewarding.
That was how a son threw everything, including decorum, propriety, science and career to the winds, all in an effort to plant his roots in a government and also enhance the career of his retired father.
When, therefore, you read the silly drivel packaged as an excuse for Dr Ogbene’s wanton rape of our values, kindly place these bits of information in the mix of your interrogation. People who know him have attested to his brilliance. But rather than deploy this free gift of nature to make our place better, he has apparently yielded to parochial pecuniary lures that has plunged the entire Enugu State into leadership darkness.
We pray he gets the courage to come clean, and in the late Dilibe Onyeama’s words, “clear this dark cloud that hovers over us like gloom.” Whereby he obstinately fails, the gods of our fathers would take full charge, and enforce justice for their children.
° Okuhu is a journalist, a Public Relations professional, brand strategist and teacher