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From the Archives: Battle of the Titans~Joe Nwodo vs Hyde Onuaguluchi
Opinion

From the Archives: Battle of the Titans~Joe Nwodo vs Hyde Onuaguluchi 

From the Archives: Battle of the Titans~Joe Nwodo vs Hyde Onuaguluchi

By Amah Baldwin

Any time I came across Dr. Joe Nwodo, I remembered Dr. Hyde Onuaguluchi. I also remembered the titanic battle, the race to the Enugu Lion Building. All is now history.

By his demise, Enugu state has lost a gem, a fang and a political colossus.

Like Hyde Onuaguluchi, Joe was a gladiator. The duo had two or more things in common. Hyde and Joe were young men of royalty.

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They also enjoyed tremendous goodwill from their fans and supporters, and appeared every inch irrepressible.

As a matter of fact, their praise singers were not in short supply.

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Chief Joe Nwodo

That was in 1991 when the ambition to take over the hot seat at the Lion Building pitched one against the other.

They ran robust campaigns in an attempt to displace the other.

Through deft and stunning campaigns, the two gladiators even enlisted other governorship aspirants as their supporters.

While the underdogs dreaded trouble spots, Joe Nwodo and Hide Onuaguluchi made such arenas campaign abodes.

Dusts raised at their campaign grounds took days to settle, what with thousands of enthusiasts who thronged the arenas in droves to listen to rhetorics.

For the gladiators, Lion Building was there for grabs. Onuaguluchi, the revered Odenigbo I of Achi put the entirety of his energy on the project. His other resources too.

Joe Nwodo, the respected Anaegbuachara of Ukehe was no less optimistic. Defeat was never in contemplation. After all, the massive following was no fluke.

Sen. Hyde Onuaguluchi

The campaigns were so heated, and in fact, degenerated to engagement of thugs in an attempt to scare opponents.

Once at the Government House, on the invitation of the then military Governor, Colonel Herbert Obi-Eze, both accused the other of trying to win the primary by means other than through the laid down rules.

Col. Obi-Eze expressed disappointment, that both the National Republican Convention, NRC and the Social Democratic Party, SDP bickered at the primaries; so he invited the aspirants to the exco chambers, Government House. Recall that both parties recorded inconclusive ballots in Enugu state.

Rev. Onuaguluchi sprang from his seat and asked the military Governor to ask the NRC umpires to announce the authentic results.

According to him, some people were bent on truncating the exercise for whatever reason.

Nwodo responded:

“It is not a question of coming here to preach the Sunday gospel while in the field they unleash thugs to chase you from one place to the other.”

As the duo and indeed others vented their anger on the inconclusive primaries, stories had it that one Eddy Okpabiele, NRC Returning Officer for Enugu state breezed into town and vermoosed again with the results.

Thereafter, Professor Humphrey Nwosu refused to take it. Nwosu was the Chairman, National Electoral Commission, NEC. He struck his gavel and disqualified both Hyde Onuaguluchi and Joe Nwodo from the NRC governorship race.

Everywhere remained quiet. The rest is history, suffice to say that eventually, Gbazueagu Nweke Gbazueagu, GNG slugged it out with Okwesilieze Nwodo, Joe’s younger brother on December 14, 1991. [A story for another day]

Then, Joe Nwodo, Agadagbachiriuzo and Anaegbuachara of Ukehe, dumped his gubernatorial gown, picked the pieces of what was left of his exploits and headed to Port Harcourt.

With his gubernatorial gown firmly adorned by Okwesilieze, he suddenly became an NRC presidential aspirant in Port Harcourt.

At the Port Harcourt convention, he competed with Alhaji Bashir Tofa and others.

Those who attended the Port Harcourt convention reported that Joe was classical. In fact, he brought his intellectual and oratorical prowess to bear, such that at the end of his speech, Joe received a standing ovation.

However, the applause was not enough to secure him the number of votes needed to defeat the son of the establishment, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, the Kano state based business mogul.

Back to the Coal City. Before his arrival from the Garden City, conveyors of imaginary and fake stories had gone to town with reports that Joe Nwodo had been penciled down for the vice-presidential slot.

As a matter of fact, his body language did not suggest otherwise.

Radiating confidence, the Ukehe born politician told inquisitive journalists that he was ready to serve in any capacity at the presidency.

“The important thing is for me to serve at the seat of power, even if using dusters to clean the window glasses.”

Then on Reverend Dr. Hyde Onuaguluchi, Nwodo snapped:

“Hyde Onuaguluchi is my very good friend.

“Let me tell you, Hyde is the Mercedes-Benz of Enugu state politics, while I, Joe Nwodo is the BMW, the latest arrival in the German automobile industry.”

“Let me also remind you,” he said further, “we are like two good friends who sleep on the same bed, but dream different dreams.”

Today, death has snatched this orator, Nnabuchi Nwodo from us.

When in 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, then United States President died, Earl Warren, then US Chief Justice said: “We are saddened; we are stunned; we are perplexed.

We are no less perplexed over Dr. Joe Nwodo’s passing on.

Amah Baldwin [[Izuagbaka]

From my Reporter’s Diary

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