His Head Held High…

by Carl Collins Ogunshola Oshodi

The Court of Appeals sitting in Enugu recently declared Mr Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance the winner of the 2003 gubernitorial elections in Anambra State. The declaration effectively ends the the rule of Chris Ngige, a Medical Doctor, who had contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and won the elections under questionable circumstances.

Prior to the latest Appeals Court ruling, the state of Anambra had witnessed one political upheaval after the other, beginning with the tussle between Ngige and his erstwhile so-called ‘political godfather’ Chris Uba. The story was that Ngige parted ways with Uba, who was behind his election to the governorship post, shortly after he assumed office. The battle of wits eventually snow-balled into a full-fledged crisis with the abduction and kidnapping of Ngige in July 2003.

We later learnt of how Ngige was forced into signing his own resignation under duress, his later release and refutation of his resignation and his dogged tight-grip on power despite all that was done to remove him by his very own previous supporters. The persecution of Chris Ngige was from the top down; as the Presidency folded its arms as the apparatus of State was used in denying Ngige his fundermental human rights as a citizen of Nigeria. The government later withdrew his security as governor of Anambra.

When both name-sakes Chris Uba and Chris Ngige visited the ‘Original Godfather’ in Aso Rock to settle the issue between the duo, they were reportedly ordered out by Baba, claiming there is no honor amongst thieves. The duo had reportedly told Baba their hands were not clean and Baba concluded the Anambra issue is a moral burden on Chris Ngige. But any observer could tell on whose side Baba was because while Ngige’s security was withdrawn, Chris Uba, who is a normal citizen like anyone else in Nigeria, travelled around town protected with the state security apparatus funded by the taxpayers.

While rioters looted, burned and killed in Awka, the police stood by and watched as the mayhem ensued. As Ngige was expelled from the ruling, crises-ridden corrupt mammoth called PDP, Uba roamed free and was even recognized as an important member of the party. On what basis such recognition was given is hard to find. Is it for being the brain behind the kidnap of a sitting governor and fellow citizen? Is it for his reported influence and financial wealth as opposed to core decent values of integrity and honor? Is it for being such a versatile tool for manipulation of election results that allegedly landed Chris Ngige in power?

Though Ngige’s rise to power is questionable, he resorted to civil means to plead his case. First he asked the courts to order the resinstatement of his security and his request was granted. The federal democratic government of Nigeria, headed by Olusegun Obasanjo, ignored that court ruling for the longest time. So far, the only court rulings the government of Obasanjo has been eager to abide by are those that are not in favor of Chris Ngige.

It was not only Ngige who faced the backlash of parting ways with ‘godfathers’. In my own oyo state Lamidi Adedibu swore on a live radio broadcast in Oshogbo last year that he will see to it that Rashidi Ladoja is removed from his governorship position. He said he worked for Ladoja to be elected and he will also work to remove him.

Unfortunately for Ladoja, Adedibu realized his dream of him. In a shamefully undemocratic manner, Ladoja was removed from office. Suffice to mention that Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu’s biggest grudge is Governor Ladoja’s alleged “selfishness” with money that does not belong to Gov Ladoja but the taxpayers of Oyo. The semi-literate and self-confessed framer has reigned in Ibadan, for a while now and continues to manipulate jobless miscreants and thugs to his advantage.

Again, as in Anambra, it was a case of the Biblical hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob in Oyo, as the Nigerian Police Force, an arm of government directly under command of the Presidency, failed to enforce court rulings in the face a blatant disregard of the constitution and the rule of law. It is no wonder why today, the Nigerian Bar Association is embarking on a strike to protest the habitual disregard for court rulings of this administration. It is a sad reminder of the days of the military rule when court orders were ignored at will.

Through the entire struggle he faced while he was in power, Chris Ngige managed to endear himself to his people. In the face of the worst of distractions and persecution and harrassment, he managed to carry on with the affairs of state in Anambra, such that hospitals were built, roads were constructed and the average Naijaman and Naijawoman on the street loved him. Ayes in that state will testify to this. He became the Robin Hood in the Obasanjo government by putting his people first. Ngige has proved, afterall, that running a government that provided for the people is not impossible; it simply takes genuine effort and dedication to serving the people.

Today, the talk around town is how Mr Peter Obi has a tough record to match in Chris Ngige. In the days leading to the court ruling of today, Chris vigorously worked to flag off his remaining agenda for the development of Anambra. At the same time, he responsibly prepared his government for the possibility of a ruling in the favor of his rival. I read that notifications were sent to all Permanent Secretaries in the various government parastatals to prepare hand-over notes for a possible transfer of government.

Chris Ngige came into power through a skewed electoral process, shook off the stigma of stained personalities and worked for the good of his people. This is not to sanction the possible perfidy that brought him in power, but it is noteworthy that he fought in a honorable way to retain what he thought was his and will be leaving the stage a better man than those he left behind. Congratulations to Peter Obi on acquiring his mandate and hopefully he will match Ngige’s efforts at making life better for Anambra.

If the Anambrans know what is good for them, they will divest themselves from the evil grip of men like Chris Uba, who hold the peace of the society to ransom for political gains. Men like Uba have no place in determining the destiny of the good people of the state of Anambra. Men like him should be condemned to the dustbin of history for the trash they are. They should rot in that wealth of filth they carry around. Same goes for Adedibu in my own Ibadan and others like him across the country.

Ngige should thank God for giving him the chance to walk out with his head held high. God bless Anambra, God bless Nigeria.

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