Jim Nwobodo, the former governor of the old Anambra State, former Minister for Sports and former Senator representing Enugu East, yesterday switched from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
As ever, Nwobodo declared this was done for the benefit of his people: “I am not looking for a job, I am talking because I want peace. I want our people to be part of the Federal Government at the centre. I am not coming into APC because I want anything. I want our people to be reintegrated and have our own share of the Federal Government resources.”
The only “share of resources” Nwobodo has ever been interested in is his own. This third-rate politician, with a Third Class English degree from the University of Ibadan, has made a career out of being a political prostitute.
He allegedly made his money from being a pimp for the military top brass in the 1970s. Emeka Ojukwu, the Biafran war leader would later remind Nwobodo of this by calling him a “megalomaniac pimp” after both men’s thugs clashed at Nkpor in Anambra State in the early 1980s.
By then Nwobodo was governor of the state, subjecting it to previously unseen misrule and looting. He terrorised the state and was allegedly behind an assassination attempt at then Chief Judge Emmanuel Araka, who bravely tried to defend the state’s judiciary from executive interference. Nwobodo fired almost the entire public school teachers for daring to strike in defence of their rights. He reportedly tarred the road from Enugu, the state capital, to his hometown Amaechi, Awkunanaw just right up to his house.
When he was asked at a press conference what he was doing about the rubbish-strewn streets of Enugu, he replied: “I wasn’t elected governor to carry to shit”.
What he carried was a lot of the state’s money into foreign banks, buying a massive portfolio of houses in Golders Green and Finchley in North London, using his former chief cook as proxy. The partner-in-crime would take over one of those mansions from his boss and refuse to move out till this very day, despite threats from the former governor.
After one term as governor, Nwobodo reemerged in national prominence as Minister for Sports under Sani Abacha’s murderous military regime in 1995. He allegedly moved the generator at the National Stadium, Surulere to his home in Amaechi. When Abacha alleged that there was a coup to remove him power, it was all the rage for all manner of chancers to pay a “solidarity visit” to the despot. Nwobodo, ostensibly using skills acquired as a pimp, arranged the visit of traditional rulers from Igboland to Abacha, and was in charge of disbursing the money that came with this sort of sycophancy. He even ordered the diversion to Abuja of a Lagos-bound flight from Enugu to ferry the traditional clowns to their paymaster.
When civilian rule returned in 1999, Nwobodo emerged as the political “godfather” to the man who became governor – Chimaroke Nnamani. After both men inevitably fell out, over stuff such as how many commissioners Nwobodo should nominate, including wanting his second wife to be Attorney-General even though she didn’t have the required 10 years experience as a lawyer, Nwobodo shamelessly admitted that he gave Nnamani 20m naira (a lot more money then than now) for the campaign. Of course, the small matter of where this type of money came from was ignored. He also apologised for imposing Nnamani on the people of the state after people had warned him that his protege had mental health issues.
Nwobodo even tried to handpick all the local government chairmen in the state. In one particular case, the candidate that won the nomination had his name removed by Nwobodo from the list that was sent to INEC, the electoral commission. The candidate had to drive all the way to Abuja at night and back to Enugu in the early hours in order to see the then PDP chairman Solomon Lar and get a letter from him asking Nwobodo to respect party democracy.
At this time, Nwobodo had cornered the Enugu East Senate seat for himself. He never sponsored any bill, never said anything of note in the Senate, and was alleged to have proposed a motion that senators should be able to use sirens with their motorcades.
After Nnamani, due to their feud, ensured that Nwobodo would not be returned as a senator in 2003, he seemed to have slipped into the obscurity and irrelevance that he deserved.
Now, he’s back to remind us why no one should take Nigerian politics, the parties and the politicians seriously.