The Fourth of January 2005 was like any other day for many people: but not so for our country because of the implications of the suspension decision made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Council (NEC). The decision as innocuous as it may appear only confirms the truism that style without money is barren and money without style is vulgar. Mr. Chris Ngige – the governor of Anambra State may by the decision of the PDP NEC have realised, as he ought to have, earlier – that his exiguous wealth is a handicap in a political party bereft of ideas and ideals. The suspension decision should inform him of that much. The handling of the current difficulties at his State by the ruling political party shall continue to yield little to his advantage. In truth and if the governor has not yet realised that the decision to suspend him for a month as a member of the party is set to weaken his authority, at his patch – M.O. Ene in Gospel of the Godfather – clearly captures the true meaning of the suspension Order. For now, the suspension decision is a veiled victory for Mr. Uba as if he were the elected public servant and not an ordinary party member.
As the governor counts on Mr. Ugochukwu Nwankwo, his deputy, to hold fort as leader of the party in the State – it occurs to me that the he may not have read the American-born man of letters, Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) who in Afterthoughts (1931) ‘Other People’ wrote: Most people sell their souls, and live with a good conscience on the proceeds – let us hope Mr. Nwankwo’s conscience is not for sale.
The consolation that with the suspension – the Goliath in Mr. Chris Uba has been slain may be short-lived. I hope not. The governor may soon realise that from the centre of the party – victory seems to be eluding him. In the decision to suspend both, the PDP NEC may have granted Mr Uba – the victory that he does not deserve. After all, the enfant terrible by his remarks at the World Igbo Congress Convention at Newark Sheraton Hotel, New Jersey, USA on Saturday, September 4, 2004 and subsequently has provided enough for the party to act against him; and use its action as a deterrent to other godfathers.
As a result of its decision – it missed a good opportunity to send a stern message to forestall degeneration of the Lamidi Adedibu and Rashidi Ladoja gladiatorial and disgraceful face-off perpetrating the destruction of Oyo State politics.
By suspending the governor – his supporters in the executive council of the party may unknowingly have allowed others to target his authority back in his State. The Council has now sent a signal to its members in Anambra that their governor is not favoured at the centre of the party. Whereas, the same cannot be interpreted for Mr. Uba as he only wields authority because of the vulgarity of his money. The amount he spends determines his influence. This suspension exposes the governor in a way that is hardly good for democracy; even, if the political party believes his election was rigged.
For the period of Governor Oyinlola’s “investigation” – not much will come to light, more than is already known. In effect, Mr. Chris Uba, who is not an elected public official can safely boast at the bargain of securing the humiliation of the governor. Anyway, given the position of Mr. Obasanjo in this matter, it is easy to confuse that the true officer of the State is not the godfather. By the president’s own admission and self-indictment – why would he have countenanced the harassment of an elected officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by an ordinary citizen? Is Mr. Uba’s criminality and funds adequate for the dereliction of duty by the president and his Inspector General (IG)? Even, if the governor could be likened to an armed robber that has kept a stolen booty.
In predicting the end of this saga – there is only one person that will be worst for its outcome; and it is Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo. I shall revert to this assertion.
Now that Governor Oyinlola has been given the poisoned chalice to “investigate” the confession of Mr. Uba, the involvement of the Inspector General of Police (IG) is a gross abuse of power – we should be asking if a political party has a constituted right to involve the IG as a member of a panel of what the party has so far advised is a “family matter”. Could it be that the ruling party has by its ultra vires decision involved the office of the IG in the investigating Panel? Or, was the party outing him as a member whose expertise is required for its purpose. If that were the case – it is more grave for what ought to have been the independence of the office of the IG in many incidents for which, I have once asserted that Mr. Tafa Balogun conducts himself and office as a card carrying member of the ruling party. His inclusion in the Oyinlola Panel is wrong and the party must replace him.
Aside from that effrontery; another question to be asked is the quality and intellectual capacity of leadership in our country. It is not to submit that my submission is in anyway more superior. The reader must make his or her own decision. Check out the composition of PDP Executive Council, the body comprises of several State Governors, the President and his Vice together with others who have, at one time or the other held offices at Federal and State levels. Yet, the best decision from the council is to involve the Inspector General in the Oyinlola Panel. How come none of them crosschecked the constitutionality of such a decision with a plethora of legal advisers in the party?
If the ruling party is to be taken seriously – its remit to the Oyinlola Panel should be widened – at least for now, it ought to include the rigging of the Presidential elections in Ogun State. And, that means Mr. Obasanjo ought to be suspended from the party. What is good medicine for Mr. Ngige must be useful for Mr. Obasanjo. Let us consider these salient facts: Mr. Uba has made known that Mr. Ngige has no material knowledge of the electoral fraud that won for him the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State. Since the decision of the Elections Appeals Court of December 20th – particularly the decision of Mr. Justice Nsofor, the nation has been told by Mr. Fani-kayode that Mr. Obasanjo had no material knowledge of the electoral fraud in Ogun State. Where is the difference?
As it is a general perception that the ruling party rigged the elections in the South West of the country – Mr. Oyinlola must be a saint without sin who can cast the first stone. To focus on Mr. Obasanjo’s so called “moral burden” – where it is said that the elections of a governor’s mandate were not free and fair – ought it not be morally wrong for him to investigate another? Governor Oyinlola is better advised to tread softly where angels will fear to walk.
Whatever the findings and recommendations of the “investigation”, there is only one competent authority to deny Mr. Ngige of office. Not PDP NEC or the party itself. Time – the ever-flowing stream is on the governor’s side since the administration of constituted redress moves at a very slow and frustrating pace. By the time the governor “returns home simply as Chris Ngige” as he has volunteered – Anambra State may then realise that it is not simple technically for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare Peter Obi of APGA as winner. The basis of my submission is that Mr. Uba, I hope, will not be stupid enough to go to declare under oath how the elections were converted. This is the dilemma of PDP. If he does – that would be the heights of political suicide and he would pay dearly after Mr. Obasanjo retires to his farm in 2007.
Earlier, I alluded that Mr. Obasanjo may in all of what is happening in Anambra be left holding the proverbial baby. Surely, the president is eroding goodwill at all levels of society. Mr. Justice Michael Odesanya confirms the mood of the nation in his birthday interview of June 5, 2004 in the Guardian Newspaper where he said: “For Obasanjo, he didn’t frighten us much in his first term but the second term is a terrible one. For now, there is no hope”. The president should note the wisdom of old age of the erudite retired Judge. Not much has since changed in the perception of this president’s erosion of goodwill.
What Mr. Obasanjo may eventually realise is that likeness of him by many people is being separated from respect for him. It is common knowledge that in his company, if welcomed, you are treated to his first class humour. It is true that if your rib cage cannot withstand laughter – avoid the company of Mr. Obasanjo. We love him for the comedy he prompts. The serious issue here is that if we wanted a comedian for a president – Mr. Adejumo aka Baba Sala would be apt for Aso Rock. Once, I had the privilege of introducing Mr. Adejumo to the pulpit at my church. He was not only classic – he was vintage Baba Sala Alawada. If it is not yet apparent to the president – he should start taking note that respect for him is like a shoreline and the sea is fast receding.
At the time of governance of Mr. Ibrahim Babangida – a point of reference for good governance was Mr. Obasanjo. Remember his chastisement of Mr. Babangida’s government as spending the nation’s money as a drunken sailor? There are many other examples by which Mr. Obasanjo was quintessential. By the time he retires in 2007 and he makes a mistake to advance advice on good governance – he had better be prepared for the torrents of abuse awaiting him. This is no prophecy. It is a simple projection, as Edwin Madunagu would declare.
In closing, the atrocities in Anambra are a disgrace to an undisciplined political party and a nation comatose in using a power inherent in its people. PDP is wasting time with the charade of the Oyinlola “investigation” panel. The solution lies in either the ruling party as a government patronises Mr. Uba’s businesses; and afford him a soft landing to recuperate his sponsorship of the party – as it happens the world over. Or, in the alternative, expel him and other members who may defend or serve as witnesses in the case against the election victory of Mr. Ngige. By such move – neither of Messrs Uba nor Ngige can claim any victory. Both will lose control of PDP in Anambra State, as neither deserves to be in the type of politics we must aim for. To do otherwise is to allow mayhem to go unchecked. Whatever needs to be done must be attended with seriousness and alacrity because time is fast running not only for Messrs Ngige and Uba. Unfortunately, it is for Mr. Obasanjo, too.