Ndigbo have a saying that ‘agba lu aka na azo ani, onye ji ede ana akonye’, translated this simply means that in the Nigerian situation, the man with the might (in this instance resources and blessings of Aso Rock) will triumph against the ‘small frys’.
Andy Uba only recently became visible in Anambra politics having operated in the shadows from where he pulled the strings; he had previously relied on his younger brother, the erratic and uncouth Chris Uba to do the hatchet job for him who got rich as a result, enjoying business patronage from the high and mighty. The younger Uba probably mistook his brother’s shadowy personality as a sign of weakness and attempted to exploit it, he began to dream of the ultimate political prize in the state backed by his agbero followers, who were quick at every point to dispense their own brand of justice – mayhem, lootings and killings. Andy the smooth operator eventually put him in his place after realising what a huge political baggage he was. It only took the withdrawal of Chris Uba’s security detail and the denial of certain perks including access to Aso Rock to get him scampering for cover. Now Nigerians are wondering where Chris Uba is hiding having not heard from him since his disgrace and downfall. Chris Uba can not complain too much though over the way things have turned out for him, he made money as Andy Uba’s fall guy; he sure did have fun while it lasted and must be relishing those days when South East PDP members including the chiefs and PhD holders addressed him as leader, not bad for a kid that never went to university and a long way from his days as water boy at Author Eze’s New Haven Enugu residence.
Now that Andy Uba has formally resigned from his position as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s special assistant on domestic affairs, it appears that the stage is now set for him to launch his gubernatorial campaign in Anambra state, an ambition that many believe is the root cause of all the crises in the state.
How did he get here in the first place, and how did the Ubas (including Senator Ugochukwu Uba) rise to such political prominence within a short time having never been heard of in the state, and having never featured in Anambra state’s political equation prior to Andy’s involvement with Obasanjo and his consequent elevation to the position of an Aso Rock insider, and a core member of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet?
Insiders say that the Ubas owe their political fortunes to Andy Uba whose reported ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘investment’ in Olusegun Obasanjo after his incarceration, at a time when Obasanjo reportedly had only 25 thousand naira in his bank account is the reason for their Aso rock connections. Another version is that Andy sponsored Obasanjo for medical treatment abroad and stood by him at a time when it seemed that Obasanjo was about to join his ancestors prematurely. We can only speculate and may never know the true facts, however what we know now is that Andy Uba is a very close confidante of the president and is rumoured to be Obasanjo’s right hand man helping to look after his business investments, a role that Otunba Fasawe was playing before his fall from ‘grace’.
Now that it appears that the president will be vacating office in 2007 (supposedly), what better time to repay Andy for his loyalty and support. Just like IBB in his days, Obasanjo is inclined to install some of his loyalists and allies in different political positions. Dr. Osita Ogbu, his special adviser on economic matters already has his backing to take over as governor of Enugu state in 2007, likewise many others. The benefits of such a move for Obasanjo are quite obvious including the privilege of state receptions and access to political decision making, rather than just having unlimited access to state coffers. At over 70 years of age and with all his rumoured wealth, Obasanjo may no longer be doing this just for the money. He may have learnt a lesson or two from those before him who no longer enjoy political favours on the strategic imperative of maintaining a political lineage and dynasty.
The stage seems to be set then for Andy Uba to take over from Dame Virginia Etiaba in Anambra state in May 2007, baring any other surprises including premature impeachment from the hot-headed members of the Anambra state house of assembly. Ndi Anambra and indeed Nigerians would be fooling themselves if they pretend that they don’t already know what the scores would be. Andy Uba will get the PDP nomination and would go ahead to ‘win’ the state’s gubernatorial elections, a position and viewpoint made more tenable by the lack of serious contenders from the PDP and the other parties including APGA and ANPP who are all currently in states of political comatose.
Would the people vote for him? Yes and No, some will and some will not but Andy Uba will still go ahead and campaign in Anambra’s many villages and towns. He would give monetary and other material gifts to the traditional rulers and community leaders to endorse/rubber-stamp his candidacy, he would promise them cars, roads, schools, scholarships etc. Some may even get theirs during his visits. The market women, artisans and students would enjoy the whole Andy Uba road show, there would be plenty of rice on offer at the market squares and community centres on the days, and the elders would each go home with thighs of goats and bottles of Schnapps with some crisp naira notes to refill their snuff boxes in reminiscence of politics of the second republic. Mothers, and young women (women’s wing) will compose songs and sing his praises, they will tie new bubas and Hollandis clothes with his smiling face imprinted on them. Andy Uba’s campaign would almost be a formality because the results of the elections would have been written long before the election day. The U.S/London/Lagos media axis would pour their venoms as usual; they would blow their grammar and incite the people to violence from the comforts of their homes, they would preach to the people to resist Andy Uba’s money but those down at the trenches would simply pick up what little crumbs that are falling from the master’s table and get on with their life.
Even the opposition candidates from the other parties know the scores already and would have initiated their own damage limitations strategies by scaling down their election campaign expenses. Some of them would just be putting up appearances waiting for a phone call from Andy Uba’s camp which would be dangling carrots before them; abandon ship and cross over they would beckon, most would.
If he gets to add the title of the executive governor of Anambra state to his CV, what then should Andy Uba do with it? Should he stop there or should he go a step further and redeem himself and his family name by working for the people, just like Chris Ngige before him. Should he call a round-table aimed at finally moving Anambra state ahead? Although the cat is almost as good as in the bag, Andy Uba needs to engage Ndi Anambra more, he needs to talk to them and tell them his true motives and plans for the state. Maybe they would listen but in doing this, he should never allow Chris Uba (the fall guy) to be present in the arena of such consultations and meetings.
The gods would be watching Andy Uba closely, he is already a wealthy man, and he doesn’t need the state’s money that much. Opportunity is beckoning on him to turn Anambra state into one of the best states in Nigeria. Should he fail, that indeed would be the bigger tragedy, not that of h
is direct and indirect involvements in Anambra’s many crises in the past 4 years.
Our people indeed have short memories, we forget and forgive easily but if after 2011 Anambra state is still the cry baby of Nigerian states, then he would have failed and would be gravely excoriated, the Uba name may then be worthy of being struck off from the books and banished from the land.
Ndigbo say that ‘ta bu gbo’, hence some people bear the name Tagbo. This means that it is never too late to make a fresh start.
Opportunity beckons both for Ndi Anambra and for Andy Uba.