Anambra: Who Lost Out Eventually?

by Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

As the protracted legal tussle over who won the April 2003 Gubernatorial Election in Anambra State ended at the Appeal Court in Enugu last Wednesday in favour of Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), one question discerning members of the public would still be trying to resolve even after Obi had been sworn-in in Awka is: who really are the losers in the Anambra political saga? Indeed, even as the Presidency tries to disguise its own searing pain over the eventual outcome of the duly choreographed political and legal complications in Anambra, as was evident in the ill-thought out statement it issued a few hours after the ruling, it cannot pretend to be unaware that most Nigerians had since persuaded themselves that the main reason the case lasted a whole three years was simply because the unrelenting manipulators in Abuja were most willing and determined to do anything, fair or foul, to ensure they never lost out in the power game.

Well, the issue was that the former Governor in Awka, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, had proved to be a bad ‘investment’. Instead of handing over the treasury of the state to a few heartlessly greedy individuals and abandoning the long-suffering people of Anambra State to their excruciating fate, he decided instead to devote the state resources for the people’s good. Many roads (state and federal) were solidly built, and other amenities that were of immense benefit to the people were generously provided. But while the people rejoiced and thanked God for Ngige who had by his people-oriented programmes made them realise it was still possible for a government to touch the lives of the citizenry in a most practical and significant way, some callous and unrepentant enemies of the masses in Abuja, Enugu and some other places, ground their teeth against him in great rage. They cursed him in their murky souls for abandoning the Abuja script and putting the fat cats, leeches and rent seekers who had sucked Anambra dry in the past out of business. He has therefore committed a sin that was beyond pardon, and so, his downfall became almost a national assignment, that must be achieved at all costs.

Before Obi’s petition at the Election Petition Tribunal became an attractive option and the final resort in the complicated plot to “teach the stubborn Ngige a hard lesson” by humiliating him out of office, an attempt was made to forcefully and criminally remove the governor from office through a most scandalous, botched abduction that grossly diminished Nigeria before the rest of the civilized world. Indeed, to clearly underscore the weight of the blessing and support that most reprehensible treasonable and destabilizing act had from the highest point of power in Abuja, as I write now, no one is known to have been arrested or prosecuted for such a brazen display of criminality in the land. There were also gory incidents of violent attacks on government and individual properties, including the Governor’s office, the State House of Assembly and State Broadcasting Station, which members of the Nigeria Police, merely watched with sickening excitement. In this, too, the law became impotent in the face of lawlessness.

When these clearly officially sanctioned acts of violence failed to rattle and distract Ngige, His Excellency, President Olusegun Obasanjo came up with his earth-shaking revelation that, before his very executive presence, Mr. Chris Ubah had confessed that he rigged Ngige into office. As at the time this confession was made, Ngige as Executive Governor of Anambra was shielded from prosecution by the contentious Immunity Clause in the Constitution, but Chris Ubah was not. The president did not order the arrest and prosecution of Ubah for confessing to such a grievous crime. Well, the situation now is that Ngige remains expelled from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for refusing to “settle” Ubah as advised by the PDP leadership while Ubah who made the atrocious confession before the President and Chief Law Officer of the Federation, still walks the streets of Nigeria a free man, and has been rewarded with a seat on the PDP’s Board of Trustees! Welcome to Obasanjo’s Nigeria.

There were reports of overwhelming pressure mounted on the Election Petition Tribunal in Awka to cancel the Gubernatorial Election in Anambra and order fresh polls. But this failed because the judges saw it as one excellent way of treading the path of perdition. Those who ever went that way never returned whole. You can verify this from Justices Wilson Egbo-Egbo and Stanley Nnaji. Moreover, this suggestion came too late in the day, in fact, on the eve of the ruling, and so, the tribunal had to go ahead to award victory to APGA’s Obi. The next script then was to mandate the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), when the case came up at the Appeal Court, to reverse itself, and demand the cancellation of the election and ordering of fresh polls, even though, the same INEC had stoutly defended the election results it had announced at the lower court. If such an obnoxious ruling had been obtained at the Appellate Court, the PDP, having already expelled Ngige from their fold, would have immediately fielded a more trusted Ubah stooge to contest the fresh election, and obtain their usual “fraudslide” victory, so that business, which had suffered a temporary setback due to Ngige’s intransigency, could continue as it used to be. Although the victory would have been lavishly celebrated in Abuja and such other ungodly quarters, such a development would have meant a disaster and return to the old nightmares for Anambra people.

As this plot unfolded, hints were dropped here and there and different kinds of signs were written in bold letters on many walls, to alert Ngige, and “encourage” him to go to the implacable gods he had offended to beg and pledge his readiness to comply with the orders from “above” to the detriment of Anambra people, and the goodwill he was already enjoying from the people as a governor that had their interest at heart. In fact, the ruling of the Appellate Court appeared to have even been unduly delayed, probably, to give him time to make up his mind. But when the man remained unmoved, his tormentors just had to settle for the final option of ditching him, even if that also meant their losing out in the primitive battle for the soul and purse of Anambra. To even make matters worse, Ngige had gone to Ibrahim Mantu’s Public Hearing on Constitutional Review in Abakaliki to state his unambiguous opposition to the nausea-inducing Third Term Agenda. This now made his sack both urgent and irreversible.

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Kayamo, has described the Enugu judgment, which removed Ngige as governor as a “political decision.” Indeed, it is almost impossible not to agree with him. The issue here is not whether Ngige won the election or not. In fact, he did not win it, and he knew it. But what worries decent-minded Nigerians is that his removal has nothing to do with the fact that Chris U

bah, the PDP machinery and Aso Rock had combined forces to rig him into power. The truth which we all know is that if Ngige had surrendered the purse of Anambra State to the so-called godfathers as counseled by both Aso Rock and the PDP leadership, he would still have remained a member of the “Proper Devils Party” (PDP) and Governor of Anambra, even though everyone had known that it was Peter Obi of APGA that had won that election.

That is why every decent minded person should find utterly despicable, vulgar and most puerile the clumsy attempt by the Federal Government to unabashedly flaunt its dubious moral credentials before an embarrassed public over this Anambra matter. Presidential spokesman, Femi Fani-Kayode, says the president and PDP do not consort with election riggers, and so when the president reported to the party that Ngige had rigged the election, the PDP had to expel him. I think we have reached a stage in Nigeria whereby this government does not care again whether its words are believed or not. It appears it is just content to let some strings of words occasionally ooze out of its megaphones, whether they make any meaning to anyone or not! Or else, how can any person outside a lunatic home expect anyone to believe this claim by the Presidency? Okay, what of Ubah who had confessed that he rigged Ngige to power, what is the righteous president and his holy party doing about him? Not too long ago, the president was asked who Chris Ubah was, and without mincing words, he said Ubah was the young man who helped the PDP to “win” the elections in Anambra. I suppose that Ubah’s membership of the PDP’s Board of Trustees was the party’s way of rewarding him for his exploits in Anambra. So much for the presidential distaste for election rigging!

In the same statement, the Presidency, while congratulating Obi for his victory at the courts hoped “that Obi will be able to provide for the good people of Anambra State, the type of good quality leadership that has been provided by Mr. President for the whole nation.” This is the most laughable statement of the century. Where is the “good quality leadership” that Obasanjo is providing to Nigerians? As I write now (Sunday night), my area is engulfed in total, blinding darkness, despite the billions of dollars this government claims it has sunk into the energy sector, but which may have in actual fact, been diverted to the ever-swelling purses of cronies and party stalwarts, the same way the Plateau State Ecological Fund was heartlessly shared. (By the way, it does seem the EFCC has closed its file on Dariye since this revelation about the squandering of the Ecological Fund was made!) Federal roads around the country still remain death traps despite the billions of naira allegedly poured into its rehabilitation by the Federal Government. A recent report on Nigeria held that “from less than 50 per cent living below poverty line in 1999, more than 70 per cent are now living in absolute poverty. That leaves us with 80 to 90 million Nigerians living in abject poverty.” And this is at a time Nigeria has earned the greatest income from oil. Nigeria is totally an abandoned project. The airports, hospitals, schools and virtually everything that will benefit the masses is in a most dilapidated state. The only thing that thrives boundlessly is unbridled corruption.

Obi would therefore be making a deadly mistake if he aims at providing the type of “good quality” leadership being inflicted on Nigerians by Obasanjo. Fortunately, Ngige has already left him a good example to follow. He should realize that things have changed a great deal in Anambra since 2003 when he won the election. The expectation of the people is higher now than it was then. Again, he should not entertain any hope that the so-called godfathers and Aso Rock desperadoes have given up on Anambra. But no matter what evil game they come up with, he should never strike any deal with them to re-enslave Anambra again. Ngige too, wherever he is now, should be wiser in choosing the company he would keep in future. Never again should he dream of befriending men who derive peculiar animation from frolicking in the dirtiest stables of a pigsty.

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