The gubernatorial election of April 2007 produced a ‘landslide’ victory for the PDP with the party ‘winning’ majority of the states of the federation. Following to the letter the doctrine of ‘do or die’ as pontificated by the ‘father of modern Nigeria’ all manner of thugs, security forces, INEC officials and godfathers were used to mindlessly manipulate the outcome of the polls favouring the ruling party as against the political fortunes of the divided opposition. But the opposition parties managed to grab few states with the AC taking Lagos spectacularly and the PPA coasting home to victory in Imo and Abia States.
It bears recalling here that ex-Governors Bola Tinubu and Orji Uzor Kalu ‘rebelled’ against ‘Baba’ refusing to be cowed or intimidated by the ex-Aso Rock god. Tinubu and Kalu handed over power to their chosen triumphant succesors: Babatunde Fashola and Theodore Orji respectively. While Tinubu made sure that Bode George and Musliu Obanikoro never won the battle of Alausa Orji Uzor Kalu ensured that PDP’s Onyema Ugochukwu never made it to the Umuahia Govt. House.
Before the Nigerian “Super Tuesday”, the day the Presidential election petition tribunal disappointed many by giving its yes-to-rigging verdict the gubernatorial election petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia nullified the election of Governor Theodore Orji declaring his PDP rival, Onyema Ugochukwu, the rightfully-elected Governor!
The Tribunal based its final decision on two grounds: the incumbent not resigning from his former post before participating in the Gubernatorial polls and belonging to the infamous Okija Shrine. While Governor Orji and his Deputy claimed they did resign from their positions prior to their election the description of Okija Shrine as a secret cult by the Tribunal may not be totally true. Okija Shrine is more of an “open cult” than a secret one! And Governor Orji’s alleged membership must have been as a result of the released damaging video which showed him hands and legs bound with a voodoo priest behind him administering some oath-taking rituals on him! Did that remind you of the Abacha infamous “coup video”?
Beyond the Abia state election petition tribunal’s verdict (which remains appealable and repealable) however the issue of godfatherism in our body polity presents itself in all grotesque nudity. Nigeria is not in isolation when it comes to godfathers choosing their successor in place of the electorate. In Russia out-going President Vladmir Putin has just put his right-hand man Dmitry Medvedev in his stead with the President working a deal with the ex-KGB Chief that guarantees him the Premiership. In the federal level President Yar’Adua owes his mandate largely to the barbaric (sorry ‘Babaic’) electoral manipulations of Olusegun Obasanjo and his electoral robot Maurice Iwu.
In Rivers State Peter Odili’s ‘godfatheric’ attempt to use Celestine Omehia to cover up his huge sleazy past in the Brick House in PH backfired when the Supreme Court took away the dubious mandate the Ikwere man was generously handed. In Enugu State Chimaroke Nnamani when he was in power used state resources, incumbency factor and intellectual endowment to break the Jim Nwobodo godfather hold in Enugu state politics. But as his term was up he tried to play the godfather himself by imposing one Sullivan Chime whose bogus election the Tribunal in Enugu has quashed.
However, the godfather politics is still working in Edo State where Tony Anenih is tentatively holding sway with an Osunbor that was rigged to power beholden to him. In Delta State James Ibori’s cousin Emmanuel Uduaghan is calling the shots. When Ibori the godfather was arrested and arraigned in Kaduna High Court by the EFCC Uduaghan’s government in Asaba mobilised market women and street urchins transporting them to go cause some commotion in Kaduna and if need be protest naked! And they did to the opprobrium of decent souls!
And in Bayelsa Governor Timipre Sylva is dancing to the tune of the music supplied by VP Jonathan. The state house of Assembly boils every now and then due to political divisions, alliances and loyalties. And lest one forgets the most entrenched godfatherism in Nigeria is found in Ibadan where Alao-Akala is pretending to be governing from Agodi government house whereas we know that Molete is the seat of power with the grand old man Lamidi Adedibu dictating the way backward and forward.
It would be recalled that Theodore Orji, the ex-Chief of Staff to ex-Governor Orji Kalu, was detained by the EFCC on charges of fund theft and accesory to fraud when he won the election in Abia State. He made history as a Governor-elect in prison, a prisoner as it were who won a guber poll in absentia! Orji Kalu and his active mother, “mama excellency” deployed state resources and excellent campaign strategy to see Orji through.
Perhaps shocked to discover that their rigging plans were truncated the PDP’s Ugochukwu and Ojo Maduekwe, current Foreign Affairs Minister, had to beat up the State resident electoral Chief air-borne in an Abuja-bound flight. The state electoral Commissioner pleaded his innocence declaring that as a “born-again” Christian he would not have done otherwise.
Between Orji the godfather and Orji the “cultist” Governor, a serious challenge has presented itself: how to undo at the appeal court the gubernatorial damage done by the Tribunal’s ruling. How successful they make of this challenge will go a long way to either consolidating or demystifying the influence of the Igbere-born stormy petrel in Abia politics.
Orji Uzor Kalu the Godfather is still facing trial by the EFCC on celebrated charges of embezzling N35 billion state funds while in office though he’s enjoying the sweet breeze of freedom because of bail conditions but his greatest political battle is defeating Onyema Ugochukwu once again (and this time around) in the hallowed chambers of the Appeal Court.
Whilst the Ugochukwu camp were rejoicing and thanking God for ‘liberating’ them from the political Mafian element embedded in the two Orjis methinks the Tribunal judgement lacked merit. The best the Tribunal should have done was to have cancelled the outcome of the poll and ordered for a re-run with an Orji or another candidate from the PPA squaring up against the PDP candidate. That way justice would have been seen to have been done. Alas the reverse was the case!