Ozoeneh Nwannaa, Waawa

By Ikenga Chronicles April 30, 2019

Ozoeneh Nwannaa, Waawa

–Dr. Vitus Ozoke

Hmmm.

I love this my dear friend and brother, Chief Emma Ozoeneh, which is why I’m going to tell him the home truth here.

Nwannaa, mbanu! Why would your aide march behind you into church bearing a loaded AK-47 semiautomatic? What was that show all about? It was not just unnecessary, it was dangerous. It as much endangered the lives of the worshippers as it distracted their concentration.

A terrorist, or a gang of bandits, intent on causing mayhem, could so easily have overpowered your gunman and used his weapon to mow down worshippers. What were you thinking?

If you were that worried about your safety and security in your hometown church, a town you went home to Nigeria to seek their votes to represent them at the Federal House of Representatives, then maybe you shouldn’t represent them.

Better still, if you were that concerned about your safety in your hometown church, you should have had your aides do a security sweep before service began, then have them man the entrance to the church. And if your aide had to walk into church with you, he should have worn an overcoat to conceal his weapon from the view of innocent and harmless worshippers. But coming into church being followed by an AK-47 open wielding aide is blatantly terrorizing. I wasn’t at the church, but watching this video terrorizes me. This was the church for God’s sake, not a surprise visit to Baghdad!

When you do a post-mortem analysis of your efforts in that election, remember to factor this in. We may not know this, but even village voters, more so village voters, know when they are being looked down on. Voters at all levels want a candidate who looks like them. In this case, you didn’t look like them. I’m not sure if you know this, but I can bet you that one of the descriptives for a vote-seeking politician who comes into church with an AK-47-wielding aide will be just that – ‘the one who comes into church with AK-47 semiautomatic’. I’m not sure how many votes that sentiment translates to.

I know you, my friend. You are a damn good man. I have no doubt you have great intentions for Udi-Ezeagu federal constituency. I have no doubt you will make a great representive. But I’m afraid you might have neglected the intangibles in that election. Politics is more about optics and perceptions. Going into church with an AK-47-wielding aide was a bad optic. It would have been perceived as a needless display of arrogance in the house of God.

The paradox is embarrassing. What business did you have in church if you couldn’t entrust your security in God’s hands in the house of God? Not that bad things can’t happen in church. Heck, churches have been targets of gunmen attacks. I get that. Worshippers have been mowed down in the house of God even as the Cross stood there and watched. I get all that. But you were not there to prevent worshippers from being attacked. You were there to prevent yourself from being attacked. Where does that leave the rest of your hometown folks, the people whose votes you were there to canvas? You see what I mean by politics being more a perception than a reality game? If you went into church as a candidate, with a security aide carrying AK-47 semiautomatic, what would you have gone back with had you won the election, armored tanks and B-52 bombers?

The funny thing is that you posted this video of your going into church in your hometown in Nigeria, with an AK-47-wielding aide, at the same time you posted pictures of you and your beautiful family going into church in North Carolina. You captioned that latter as your first church attendance in the United States since returning from a not-successful electoral bid in Nigeria. In those North Carolina pictures, you had no security aide, no AK-47, and I can bet, no jack-knife. Yet you had your entire family with you.

And it cannot be because American places of worship are safer than Nigeria’s. We have had more gun incidents in American places of worship than we have had in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember the last time there was a gun incident in a Nigerian church. But just this past weekend, a Synagogue in Poway, California, was attacked by a gunman. So when you put those two images together, you come to the inevitable conclusion that storming into your hometown church in Nigeria, armed with AK-47, was just what it was: a showoff. You didn’t need that. Your hometown folks didn’t need that either.

Emma nwannaa, I know you to be a fighter. I have known you to be a fighter. I know that will not be your last rodeo. That will not be your last effort to fight to represent our good people of Udi-Ezeagu in the Federal House. And you will always have my support. But next time, remember that election is about winning the hearts and minds of voters. Next time, pay attention to the small things. Pay attention to the intangibles. Pay attention to optics. Pay attention to perceptions. Pay attention to being one with the people whose votes you seek. Give them no reason to see you as an outsider. Make them perceive you as one of them. Don’t make them perceive you as being better than them. Don’t make them think that you believe that your life is more valuable than theirs. That’s how you win hearts and minds.

Welcome back. Welcome back to the one election victory you have won and will always win. Welcome back to igirigi mma your beautiful wife and your children. That’s the ultimate victory. That’s the ultimate and best constituency you can ever represent. Get some rest because four years roll by quickly. There’s work to be done. Only this time let’s do it with ‘AKo’ (wisdom), not AK-47 (weapon). Ndeewo!

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