Anambra State – A Reversed Renaissance?

by Banjo Odutola

If the period between the 14th through the 16th century marked the revival of Italian learning, which spread through Europe can be defined as the renaissance; that period noted for its transition of medieval to modern times can equally provide a descriptive synonym of sorts. It can be said that through refined learning, not only architecture and literature benefited, the European socio-politico climate also changed. A reversal of such a construct would have denied the development, as we presently enjoy in Europe.

If our democracy has birthed the type of politics in Anambra State, this current period can only be termed as a transition from modern to medieval times. Nothing informs my concern as much as the withdrawal of security details from a serving state governor. Even, if it were argued that our political dispensation is still medieval, the submission in itself must be regarded incorrect because the political infrastructure and constitution in existence provide for proper regulation and conduct. The mainstay of the problem in our politics does not lie in the interpretation of the codes. The bane is in its exercise and adherence. Take a snap look at 10th July 2003. Mr. Chris Uba together with the assistance of a retired police officer and other state officials abducted a serving state governor, Mr. Chris Ngige, with impunity; boasted that the state government shall remain paralysed until the governor resigns or is impeached; and installation of the governor was a business venture. To compound the situation, his motorcade of the governor competed with Mr. Uba’s, on the roads of the territory for which the governor is in charge. But, Mr. Uba is not a government official, you may ask. The inquiry though germane, remains a conundrum. Why did he move about the State with such effrontery? The politics of the state must have reached a level whereby he is beyond its laws and flouting Federal codes is of little concern. There is hardly any citizen that could be so emboldened, without the support of the police or a higher authority. Although, Mr. Uba poses as if the protection of the presidency is in his gift; that in itself presents a greater question and is it that our country has been ceded to the presidency to do what it likes and the wings of its present occupier abrogates criminality for which prosecution is not time barred? Soon, Mr. Uba may realise that the influence of any presidency is only limited to its period of governance. Ask the scion of Abacha family or General Bamayi. What were infractions of the law and common decency that the duo committed were not questionable because the Head of State at that time would not have entertained negative reports about his supporters. However, once power was transferred, the protection was no more.

So, we take another snap look and this time, the Inspector General. Judging from the recent commendations of Mr. Balogun, his response that the police was studying the constitutional effect of the Enugu High Court Order either depicts that the police service as incompetent to protect the constitution or the Inspector General is not a guardian of the same constitution but a stooge of a higher authority. An efficient police service must readily understand a breach of the constitution and it is not persuasive for its Inspector General to pretend the impeachment procedures as provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

So, what type of political intrigue does Anambra State define? Certainly not one that promotes democracy; its state governor is right in the warning that the political upheaval may subsume the current democratic dispensation; even, if that is considered an exaggeration. He pleads “I am not worried as Chris Ngige, but I am worried as a governor and for the Nigerian nation. I am not born a governor, but if I am not going to be governor, it must take due process. I am still at the election tribunal, if the tribunal pronounces me not a governor, I will go to Appeal. Nobody is saying that I am not the governor. The courts cannot declare me not a governor, it is only the tribunal that can do that…. at this stage, they are talking of resigning. It is only the judicial process that can determine that. Let them subject it to judicial process. What is happening portends very ominous signal for Nigerian democracy. I am only worrying for Nigerian populace…”

The poignancy of his remarks presents an underlining examination of the persistent breaches of the constitution by the police, Mr Uba, his cohorts and the unseen hand of a higher authority somewhere in Abuja. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to predict an outcome in the present situation because the sanctity of all establishments including the courts, civil service, the church and state security services have been defiled and rendered unreliable. Nonetheless, good fortunes for a time may be serving the incumbent governor but for how long must he rely on his informers to stay a step ahead of his foes. Whether the gods of Anambra are watching over him is besides the point and neither is it the central plank of the need for the presidency to arrest the situation which is fast making a spectacle of the national image, for which only last month, a great deal of money was wasted to improve.

Earlier in this treatise, I alluded to the overbearing powers of the presidency. In fact that allusion is best interpreted as its weakness; when combined with the inertia of the Attorney-General, the instability in that part of the nation is only prolonged. Despite, it is my considered opinion that the Anambra State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Udechukwu N. Udechucku SAN should bring no action for any declarations before the Supreme Court. Though, justice may reaffirm his dispositions in favour of the governor, his pleadings hardly address the fundamental charge that the election that returned the governor was rigged. Aside from that, the opponents of the governor do not rely on due process for the courts to give an appropriate Order. For them, there is only one objective and its attainment is by any means possible. That objective is the removal of Mr. Ngige as governor of Anambra State.

If indeed the political decline in the State is such that the renaissance is not a transition to modern times, the reverse, which the opponents of its government have deployed must be challenged in the same way. I admit the flaw of this position expedites anarchy and if the charge that the unseen hand in Abuja has a vested interest in the disposition of the governor, what ought to be an anodyne to resolve tension may assist evocation and imposition of executive powers to stem the anarchy. In effect, the position of the governor is made difficult. But how else can Anambra bring about peace after the failure of the Owerri peace Accord?

The emergence of peace clearly is not in the hands of its notable citizens or negotiations with Mr Uba and his sponsors. It remains with its general electorate. The present suspicion that the incumbent governor rigged the elections remains to be proven and until another election is called, he remains the governor. The electorate must defend his Office, even, if Mr. Ngige is not defended. The attrition of his Office must not be allowed.

It is imperative to consider what this debacle means for the rest of the country because it is time that our people must voice a disapproval of the current situation. Albeit, opposition to the ruling party is non-existent, does that mean that we cannot organise a resistance such as in Romania, when under Nicolae Ceasescu, a priest was at its genesis? A peaceful resistance against this government must serve to remind the president that he is only a custodian of our constitution for a period of four years. Our country has not been ceded to him.

In closing, there is a dire need for governance in Anambra State to return to its people. That may well mean the disqualification of its current governor or his unlikely impeachment. However, this is done, it must not deviate from due process of the constitution. The need must also take account of financial revenue of the State, which is at the heart of the Mbadinuju and Ngige misadventures. In the meantime, this governor should set up a transparent committee to manage the finances of the State in a bid to exemplify that he is in power to serve and not to pilfer. But on second thought, who can he trust, when most legislators and civil servants are in the debt of one godfather or the other. With such a set-up, is Anambra State like the rest of the nation: in a transition from modern times to a medieval one – a reversed Renaissance? Well, only Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, the president, Mr. Tafa Balogun, his Inspector of Police and Mr. Akinlolu Ogunjimi, his Attorney General together with their resident “mago-mago man” – Mr. Chris Uba may enlighten us. If they fail to do so, Anambra State will forever remain a footnote in the history of their services to this great nation.

The writer is a solicitor of the Supreme Court, England and Wales and a Lawyer at a Firm of Solicitors in London, England.

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