Naija Notes: Winning the battle, losing the war

by Toni Kan Onwordi

Sometimes things happen that leave you speechless. I guess that’s how best I can explain my inability to articulate the nuances of madness that is still playing out in Anambra state.

People have said that the Anambra debacle is a telling metaphor for what is becoming a national malaise and I agree whole-heartedly. The PDP has called the treasonable act in Awka a family and party affair. Well, the day some mad soldiers storm Aso rock and abduct our president, the rest of the nation should just sit at home and relax: it wont be anything more than a little family row.

The PDP has been accused of massive rigging during the Presidential and gubernatorial elections and the charge had been quite strident in Anambra state where the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had claimed that its gubernatorial candidate Peter Obi was the actual winner who lost out to the power and financial machinery of the PDP.

Those of us who thought those were sour grapes from a loser have since been made to see that there was actually some truth to those accusations. Infact, one of the perfidious characters in the absurd abduction drama has warned the PDP that he will tell the whole world how the elections were rigged in the East, if the PDP decides to punish him and his co-travelers in perfidy.

PDP won the battle for Anambra but as emerging facts indicate, the war is far from over.


Dr Olusola Saraki is without doubt, the strongest man of Kwara politics. If he were Igbo, we’d call him the Ekwueme 1 of Kwara politics.

As the story goes, his son, Bukola, had introduced Mohammed Lawal to him and Dr Saraki, the elder, had anointed Lawal as Governor of Kwara state. That was in 1999. Of course when Lawal went to the polls, it was a clean sweep.

But the alliance soon went sour and for the four years Lawal stayed in the saddle it was war without end. But four years is not forever and when next it was time for elections, Saraki fielded his son and trounced Lawal roundly. The battle was over but the battle was just beginning.

Barely two months after his election as governor of Kwara state, Bukola Saraki, was alleged to have moved the state account from the state owned Trade Bank to his family owned Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN).

The move was an unpopular one and the outcry was so loud, the governor was forced to move the money out of SGBN. Then the next minute, newspapers reported that SGBN was suffering liquidity problems and as such had been thrown out of clearing. What this means in pure lingo is this: SGBN cannot meet its obligations to customers and as such should not present its cheques at clearing sessions because no bank would honour them.

That kind of news can kill a bank and SGBN is still reeling. Throughout last week, there was a heavy “run” on the bank with its customers withdrawing their money as if there was a rumour of war in the air.

Those in the know say the decision to bar SGBN from clearing was a political one and fingers are being pointed at political adversaries.

Battle won, but not the war.


When news of Ngige’s abduction broke and strange names like Chris Uba and Raphael Ige were being bandied around it was my sister, usually quiet and taciturn, who enlightened me.

Like most young women her age, she spends her allowance on clothes and magazines like Ovation and that Saturday as my dad and I discussed the Ngige matter and I was wondering who this Chris Uba was, my sister had passed me a copy of Ovation magazine. On page 70 of that edition, there was a picture splash of Chris Uba’s palatial home and among the guests at his house warming were ministers and PDP head honchos like Ojo Maduekwe, Jerry Gana, Mrs. Adelaja, Otunba Fashewe, ex-Gov. Mbadinuju and a rotund AIG Raphael Ige. Infact in one of the pictures, Ige and Uba sat together all alone on a blue leather sofa. So was it any wonder that when the time came to abduct Ngige it was AIG Raphael Ige who was at hand to do the deed. And if you are still wondering why it took OBJ almost two weeks to make a statement, let me tell you. Otunba Fashewe, according to Ovation, was at Uba’s house warming as a representative of the president. Talk about friends in high places and dogs not eating dogs.

Well, Uba’s days of glory seem over. It’s taken a gentle looking medical doctor to unravel the myth surrounding this half-educated money-bag who has held a whole state to ransom. His brother who allegedly won a senatorial seat has just been told to step down for the real winner and other federal lawmakers who were sponsored by Uba are currently suffering serious jitters.

If Chris Uba were a cultured man he would have heard of a writer called Adaora Lily Ulasi who wrote a book called Many Things Begin for Change. Wishful thinking, the man must have been too busy “reading” ledgers and invoices.


Mid noon yesterday, I was riding shotgun on my way to the British High Commission when I heard the best news I have heard in a while. My most favourite man on earth (never mind the fact that I heard his name for the first time yesterday) Justice Mashood A. Abass had ruled that Senator Iyiola Omisore be remanded in prison pending the determination of the two count charge of murder preferred against him in respect of the murder of Chief Bola Ige. Another judge, Justice Ige had set Omisore free in May, in time for Omisore to be sworn in as a senator.

Omisore who arrived the court in a convoy of four jeeps in a crass display of what Walt Whitman has called “the never ending audacity of elected officials” was driven to Agodi prison in a Black Maria.

I don’t care whether Omisore is guilty or not. What I do care about is his audacious confidence and the attenuation of justice in this country. Justice Abass’ ruling has a salutary effect because it has served to confer some measure of respectability on the judiciary following a series of mis-steps by the like of Justices Ige and Egbo-Egbo to name but a few.

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