I have read first the letter, then, the reply and subsequent commentaries connected therewith. We salute the courage of the chairman of the PDP although we think he may be crying wolf when the horses have fled the barnyard. For the uninitiated, the blame game is a nice choreographed dance of policy makers when they perceive an end to their perfidy. Teamwork is trumpeted when the troops are victorious. A discordant note is an open acknowledgment that something is really amiss.
What makes the letter more interesting is the fact that Audu Ogbeh as the Chairman of the PDP is not just an insider; he also has the ear of the President as the Senior Special Adviser for Agriculture. In every government, there are persons who have all clearances and can enter into the inner sanctum of the corridors of Power. If there are three of such persons, Audu Ogbeh should be one of them. Would it not be easier to send the letter by special messenger to Asorock? Audu Ogbeh is besides being very articulate, a very organized and suave politician. Was he trying to warn that the Titanic has hit the iceberg while the gentry are at party? If it is so harmless and inconsequential, it did not take the President days to mull over and much time to reply and publicize his reply. The letter sounds like someone in search of brownie points: The question now is, what would be the consequences of such a development? How do we exonerate ourselves from culpability, and worse still, how do we even hope to survive it? Mr. President, I was part of the second republic and we fell. Memories of that fall are a miserable litany of woes we suffered, escaping death only by God’s supreme mercy. Then we were suspected to have stolen all of Nigeria’s wealth. After several months in prison, some of us were freed to come back to life penniless and wretched. Many have gone to their early graves un-mourned because the public saw us all as renegades.
Audu Ogbeh is only just now echoing what gratuitous public advice we have given the President regarding the Anambra kidnappings and sworn resignations. At that time, it was branded a “Family Affair”. From that we understand that both Uba and Ngige were members of this dysfunctional PDP family. We now know that you do not need any education or scholarship to control a State. All you need is to know the right people in the PDP get a contract or two worth Billions of Naira and you become untouchable. You become a “godfather” and although you may never on the merit win an election, you can buy the acts and souls of men with the right amount of money. In this PDP family, while not an officer of the Police Force, you can give orders to the best of them and command or withdraw protection in the name of the State. It does not sound just like power games when the Chief warns:I am afraid we are drifting in the same direction again. In life, perception is reality and today, we are perceived in the worst light by an angry, scornful Nigerian Public for reasons which are absolutely unnecessary.
The interpretation of that long missive is that, Sir, we blew it. It takes humility to accept that one may be headed the wrong way and needs to turn around. It takes a greater person to acknowledge mistakes publicly. There is enough humble pie to go around if the politicians would like a taste of it. General Malu may have been kicked out because of insubordination or a public airing of a common distrust regarding the Nigerian Military. General Malu’s village paid for it. General Danjuma left with the parting shots that the President now has a cult-following, we are yet to see the result of his fall-out. Bernabas Gemade, Iyiochia Ayu all seemed to have paid for the fact that they had the guts to have an opinion contrary to this present government. It was not overlooked as a family affair then. They all paid for it.
In a Democracy the people have opinions. Intellectuals, policy makers, thinkers and analyst all enrich our democratic experience by their diverse contributions while in service or in their memoirs. To expect all to sing chorus to the President Obasanjo’s refrain at this time would be misleading. No matter how intelligent or politically savvy, the President would benefit if he listens to other voices, especially dissenting voices. The voice of the Party Chief is important. We know by reputation that Audu Ogbeh is not flippant or even an abrasive personality. He cannot be easily impressed because he is well educated and is one of the few men who have through time demonstrated some gravitas. For anyone to insinuate that he should be punished for saying what all have been saying would be to kill public opinion.
Mr. President, if I write in this vein, it is because I am deeply troubled and I can tell you that an overwhelming percentage of our party members feel the same way though many may never be able to say this to you for a variety of reasons.
Ogbeh may be right to be deeply troubled. A government in a Democracy does not exist in and of itself. There ought to be a raison d’etre. The purpose for the establishment of a government is to preserve the peoples’ Constitutional and fundamental Human Rights. The government is also expected to set the stage for economic prosperity by maintaining Law and Order. Without law and order, the very legitimacy of the government is questioned. Democratic governments thrive on the moral authority derived from the power given by the people at the time of elections. On the flip side, a government is considered ‘lame duck’ when on account of policy or moral issues the government loses legitimacy.
Often a government is expected to have been elected on its programs and promises, the long term goal being to secure and hold Sovereignty on behalf of the people. A mandate is given to negotiate Foreign Affairs, immigration, border control, and internal law and Order Issues. If a section of the country is burning, in spite of the argument for a Federalist System, you cannot say it is a local problem. The State of Emergency was declared in Plateau for security reasons. We reiterate that the Anambra Events cannot be trifled and passed off as a “Family Affair” when legal issues of the abduction of a governor and withdrawal of his security detail are mentioned. The President of Nigeria writes, “The election took place and Ngige was declared the winner”. In law the person that has been declared winner remains the winner until such is overturned by the Election Tribunal. It is on this same premise that we regard Obasanjo as the President of Nigeria until there is a contrary declaration from the Supreme Court.
With the greatest respect, President Obasanjo lost the trend of coherence from the paragraph that commenced “When on one occasion, Chris Uba came to report that things appeared to be going wrong between him and the Governor in the presence of Chief Amechi…” As accessed at http://odili.net/news/source/2004/dec13/44.html Question is who made Chris Uba (a man without proper education, profession, skill or finesse) “an elder and veteran politician” in Anambra State? How did he get access to Asorock? How could he wiggle out time to see the President while his betters in every conceivable way have to wait on the list? Are the Chris Ubas the type to look for regarding our leaders?
Does the position of Office of the Governor of Anambra State or the Constitution mean anything to Uba and his band of Election Thieves in the PDP? Would kidnapping and coercing to resign be acceptable ways of changing Chief Executives of the respective States?
The President in mediating between his two Robber-Barons must also consider the future of Nigeria. While both Olisa Metuh and Governor Chris Ngige as the next generation of leaders from Anambra (personally known to this writer by their achievements), one must let the law run its full gamut. This I guess is the hidden message of Audu Ogbeh. The creation of an elite group of untouchables in the PDP would only consume the party and worsen the State of the Nation. Enterprise Nigeria belongs to all of us. Those of us in the Diaspora are often disrespected because of the perception of the lack of depth of character of the policy wonks from our home countries.
We have had a Governor in Anambra for over one year. His election is being disputed in the appropriate court of law by interested parties. All evidence should be submitted before the court for adjudication. If parties are minded to confess their malfeasance to atone for their wrong or even just to spite each other, the proper place to do same is within the courts of law. Chris Uba can depose to an affidavit and submit it to the Election Tribunal; Chris Ngige can then narrate his own side and we can go on from there. If kidnapping a governor is also wrong, Uba should be made to pay for it according to the law.