I don’t want to say what goes round comes around. But, having made a name for herself as a celebrated public “slapper”, it was only natural that Mrs. Ebele Obiano (until yesterday morning, First Lady of Anambra State), would get a taste of her own medicine. And in public too.
But that is not my drift today.
Rather, I’m fascinated more by the public outpouring of dislike, if not hatred, against the same woman around whom this same public danced and celebrated for all of eight years.
She probably never realised that the public just tolerated her out of fear for their own safety or hope for patronage she was in position to dispense.
But, whoever was in doubt as to how Mrs. Obiano is hated, ‘home’ and ‘abroad’, only had to follow the social media trends on her altercation with Iyom Bianca Ojukwu at the otherwise low-key swearing-in ceremony of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the 6th democratically elected governor of the state.
Following the initial confusion over the subject and object of the slapping, many had assumed Mrs. Obiano had actually slapped Lady Bianca. It was only logical to so conclude. The then (now former) First Lady had an ‘anointing’ for dishing out some of the hottest slaps in the land.
Netizens came down hard on her. And it was not just for the sacrilege of slapping the widow of Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu – a clear desecration of everything Ndigbo hold dear and sacred.
A long list of persons (dignitaries and Plebeians) who have had the misfortune of the saucy and short-fused First Lady imprinting her heavily ringed fingers on their cheeks soon surfaced online.
The list included drivers, domestic staff, government House appointees etc.
One of the lists even included the wife of the former Deputy Governor. And yet another added the name of a certain moneybag-turned Senator who was said to have received his own slap right in the presence of Governor Obiano, with whom he was having a discussion. It was the subject of the two men’s discussion that allegedly got Madam Slapper so infuriated that she decided to make a slapping intervention.
And what did the governor do then? The same thing he did last Thursday: sit there and mope – more like, as my in-laws would say, someone whose Sunday was wickedly taken away and replaced with Monday.
As if these were not enough, the Internet, which does not forget anything, soon popped out reports of that celebrated encounter (overseas) with Uche Ekwunife in the presence of the then First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Like, I’ve always maintained in this column, our cultures don’t have any issues with a child born out of wedlock. It is only when such child begins to insult other people’s fathers that we’re compelled to ask him to show us his own father.
Since Mrs. Obiano delights in insulting people of noble parentage and celebrated profiles, the public has been forced to lay bare her own ‘pedigree’. Consequently, we’ve been serenaded with tales of how she graduated from Secretary to side-chic and then wife. Some wicked talebearers have even thrown “runs girl” into the mix. Unfortunately, her public carriage did little to put a lie to all these mischievous allegations. Eventhough we all have bloches in our pasts that we are not too proud about, Mrs. Obiano makes a continuous probing of her own past inevitable, by the way she lives her present.
What First Lady, for instance, ever uses the word ‘bitch’ in public, let alone directing it at a person of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu’s standing? And that is not even saying anything about her most preferred public swear-word, “Ashawo” – a word she regularly uses to label every woman of substance she’s uncomfortable with, or whoever has the misfortune of working closely with her governor husband.
My suspicion is: it has to do with her own default setting. What did our elders say again about the head hunter? He never allows anyone holding a machete stand at his back.
Even when details of the Inauguration Day slapping emerged, and it became clear that Mrs. Obiano was at the receiving end, no one still empathised with her. Instead, Netizens began lauding Bianca as the ultimate tigress. She couldn’t be sired by C.C. Onoh, and married to Ojukwu and still get easily intimidated by one scampering rascal called Ebele Obiano.
The narrative soon changed to eulogizing Bianca for giving Ebele what she deserved. After eight years of slapping people up and down, it was good she got one herself. It was a “great” parting gift.
Of course, Ekwunife would have given it to her long before now, but the lawmaker, one of those Obiano beat to the governorship, had to hold back herself in deference to Dame Patience, protocol and foreign diplomats at the time.
But if Ekwunife could hold herself, why couldn’t Bianca? I can hazard a guess: My guess comes straight out of the repertoire of the proverbial jujuman. Even though it’s not his desire to continue to make poisonous portions, those desirous of eating the poison would not let him be.
Simply put, Mrs. Obiano literally begged to that slap. Watching the video of the event, over and over, I counted she took nine steps from her seat, the exaggerated sleeves of organza her dress fluttering like a peahen, going past five front row seats (including those of former governor Peter Obi and his wife, Margaret) to go stand right in front of Bianca, to rain her insults. She was so close that even when Bianca stood up, before unleashing the celebrated slap, the Ikemba’s widow had to step backwards to avoid rubbing her face against Mrs. Obiano’s.
Painfully, it is poor Akpokuedike who will suffer the most for the public show of shame that overshadowed Soludo’s inauguration, hallmarked by that great speech the former CBN Governor delivered.
I can almost imagine what the now-former governor would have faced in the last four days. Not even Bill Clinton, caught pants down (nor Monica Lewinski who was caught with a mouth organ) would claim to have paid such penance. Knowing Ebere, Willie won’t probably get the luxury of even sleeping on the couch.
He would be nagged and heckled for sitting there like a eunuch while Her Majesty, his wife, was being dealt hot slaps. As if Willie should have pulled off his shirt and fought. She would have insulted him for not being man enough to call off the entire ceremony in defence of the great Osodieme.
And, wait for this, he would also have been accused of not doing anything because it was his concubine who was beating his wife. Yes! That the governor chose his “girlfriend” over his wife. Don’t tell me this is too farfetched. That might be were all the chant of “Ashawo”, “Prostitute” is coming. As baseless as this allegation is, Mrs. Ebele Obiano must have convinced herself of its veracity.
That was why she must have been the happiest person when Bianca wrote that her recently celebrated Letter to Ojukwu, on which she took Gov. Obiano to the cleaners and vowed not to attend any APGA event as long as Obiano remained governor of Anambra.
It was that alleged vow of never attending APGA event that Mrs. Obiano – naively believing that the swearing in of a new governor was an exclusive party affair, went to rub in on Bianca, only end up with a slap, a red face, disshapened wig and more battering to an already battered public image.
But the lesson from the Awka show of shame is not for the two women nor Willie Obiano alone.
Very few truly married men can do anything more than Gov. Obiano did, or has done about the excesses of his wife – especially, if you have a wife in the mould of Ebere. If she insists we dress like cowboy just to give her the feel of being married to a trendy man, by Jove, we’ll dress like a cowboy. That’s the bind we’re all in.
Of course there are drastic steps that can be taken, but each step comes with a plethora of consequences – both foreseen and unforeseen.
The golden rule, therefore, would be for us men to learn to keep our wives away from some of the issues we have with others, particularly, those persons we’re presently unhappy with.
For most times, when we resolve our issues and move on, our wives are often not ready to move on. And we’d appear like betraying our wives for merely agreeing to bury the hatchet.
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that many of the people Mrs. Obiano considers as her enemies today are not really her own enemies, but enemies she inherited from her husband. And those people will remain enemies even when her husband, a typical man who, from time to time, hangs out with other men to knock off a few bottles and discuss both serious and mundane issues, goes back to his erstwhile adversary.
It is this failure to keep an Ebele out of intricacate politiking that has seen us now ignoring Obiano’s many legacy projects and Soludo’s magnum opus of an inauguration speech to be discussing “slapper” and “slapee”.
Nobody is even asking whether Obiano grew (or depleted) the impressive savings Peter Obi left for the state on his handover in 2014. I guess, that is now left to the EFCC.
FROM A FRIEND’S FACEBOOK WALL
Question: What would the world be like if we had only Presidents?
Ans: There would probably be no world wars. We’d just have many countries not talking to each other