By Robert Nwadinobi
President Muhammadu Buhari is a man of his word. When he pledged some two years ago that a free and fair election in Nigeria would be one of his greatest legacies, he was given the benefit of the doubt. He is a beneficiary of a free, fair and transparent vote.
It would seem, however, that there are elements in President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) and in his administration who do not share Buhari’s noble vision of a Nigeria where votes count. Take those people who manipulated the system which enabled Hope Uzodimma to emerge the Imo State governor, after coming a distant fourth in the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state. The Federal Attorney and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is widely fingered to be at the heart of the drama.
The consequences of Uzodimma’s emergence as the Imo State governor have been awful. The government is resented everywhere, starting with the governor’s immediate constituency. Worse, the manner of his emergence remains a source of veritable propaganda to the secessionist Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). He is portrayed not as a governor chosen by the Imo people but a lackey of a few power-hungry elements imposed on Imo State through the Supreme Court to serve certain interests rather than those of Imolites.
This is why IPOB has been more active in Imo than the other four South Eastern states put together. The Biafran insurrection is more pronounced in Uzodimma’s Orlu senatorial zone than any other part of Imo State. As one is writing, the media reported that four oil workers were killed in Oguta-Ohaji Local Government Area by gunmen on Monday, August 16, 2021, when IPOB ordered a second round of sit-at home in the South East to protest against the Federal Government’s detention of IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu. No violence was reported in any other part of this geopolitical zone during the second round of the sit-at home order.
It says a lot about the legitimacy of Hope Uzodimma’s government that IPOB militants who constitute the Eastern Security Network (ESN) on Friday, April 23, 2021, attacked the governor’s country home at Omuma in Oru East Local Government Area, killing security officers on guard. The ESN/IPOB members have attacked police stations in Uzodimma’s LGA, killing officers including the Divisional Police Officer of the Omuma community, Fatmann Dooiyor, on July 27, 2021. They have also attacked police stations in neighbouring LGAs like Njaba. Places like Ideato North LGA and Ideato South LGA, both in the Orlu Senatorial Zone, have become hotbeds of IPOB militancy. Yet, this is a zone which Uzodimma represented for three terms in the Senate.
It beats the imagination that a very controversial person like Governor Uzodimma has been asked by the APC leadership to head the party’s campaign council in Anambra State, as the state holds a governorship election on November 6, 2021. To exacerbate matters, Attorney General Malami, regularly credited by pundits with securing a pyrrhic victory for Uzodimma at the Supreme Court, is a prominent member of the council while the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige who is the leader of the party in the state, is not. All this would seem to validate the widely held belief in Anambra State the APC is hell bent on turning Anambra into another Imo through unconscionable rigging in the forthcoming election.
The APC candidate in the election does not help matters. He is more despised in Anambra State than Imolites do Uzodimma. He didn’t pass even one subject in his West African School Certificate (WASC) examination, and yet he wants to govern Anambra which has more educated and successful people than any other state in Nigeria. Andy Nnamdi Uba has not made any effort to improve himself intellectually or academically since his WASC exam which he failed spectacularly at Union Boys Secondary School, Awkunanaw, Enugu. In an attempt to cure his intellectual and academic deficiency, Uba in 2006 published his CV where he claimed he had a string of degrees, including a doctorate, from—wait for it—the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which is sometimes ranked higher than Oxford and Harvard. Wonders will never end!
The manner got the APC nomination is foreboding enough. The party was scheduled to hold its congress on June 26, 2021, but not one single voted. Not even Uba himself. None of the 14 gubernatorial aspirants. Not the APC leader, Dr Ngige, who is a former governor and former senator. Yet, the APC panel which came here to organize the congress announced that Uba won as many as 230,201 out of the 348,490 votes supposedly cast. Pray, are there up to 40,000 APC members in the state? Isn’t it the party where the president received the least number of votes in the 2019 presidential election? Does the APC have even one member in the House of Assembly, let alone in the House of Representatives? Almost every man and woman in Anambra believes, rightly or wrongly, that Malami, Andy Uba’s intimate friend, is behind all this nonsense, including getting Chukwuma Umeoji, APC’s secret agent in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the embarrassing judgment from the Jigawa State High Court at Birnin Kudu enabling him (Umeoji) to be declared on June 30, 2021, the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 election. Good a thing that the judiciary has redeemed itself with the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Kano setting aside the kangaroo order.
Of course, none of the other 13 APC gubernatorial aspirants has accepted Uba as the party’s candidate. In fact, George Moghalu, the chief executive of the National Inland Waterways Authority, has gone to court to demand that Uba’s nomination be declared fraudulent. Some of the other 13 aspirants have joined other parties. Senator Ngige, the man every Anambra person credits with liberating the state from the vice grip of the Uba brothers and others whom the great Professor Chinua Achebe famously called “renegades determined to turn my home state of Anambra into a lawless and bankrupt fiefdom”, has refused to join the Andy Uba Gubernatorial Council because he doesn’t want to participate in the canonization of iniquity.
Anambra is not Imo State. So, the abracadabra which threw up Uzodimma as Imo State governor can’t be tolerated in Anambra State. President Buhari has a responsibility to rein in members of his party whose every conduct is providing propaganda ammunition to IPOB militants, making Nigeria look like a failed state under his leadership. Anambra people must be allowed to choose their own governor. As Dr Ngige has publicly stated, the choice before Anambra people is a choice between freedom and slavery. The president needs to ensure that he keeps his word on free and fair elections this time. History beckons.
Nwadinobi, a retired director in the federal service, lives in Onitsha, Anambra State.