Rewarding Loyalty – The Obasanjo/Andy Uba Story

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:24 NIV)

“Only a man who is just can be loyal, and loyalty is a condition of genuine philosophy” – Plato.

“Loyalty is the supreme moral good, and one’s devotion to an object or person mattered more than the merits of the object or person itself” – Josiah Joyce

This article, nor the quotations above, is about the good or bad, the right or wrong or the positive or negative aspects of political associations, friendships or rewards. It is mainly about the loyalty of humanity towards one another and the philosophies behind them. It is about the values of our political development in Nigeria. It is about what happens when we do good to each other, when we help each other as individuals or as a community.

When I read the story recently about how Obasanjo and Andy Uba, the erstwhile, short-lived Governor of Anambra State, I was at first dismissive of the story, but then had another read of it, read between the lines, mused over its content, and then asked around as to its veracity. I have not succeeded in any way as to determine whether this story is true or not, but I am sure that somewhere, sometime, Obasanjo and Andy Uba met and became great friends, or as some people put it, a father-son relationship. I am not quite sure of the authenticity or veracity of the story, but if it is true, it is a symbol of friendship and loyalty from one human being to the other. It also proves the saying that “one good turn deserves another” and that we must never be ungrateful for whatever a fellow human being does for us in this world.

To recap, the story goes that shortly after Obasanjo was released from the hell-hole of Abacha’s prison in 1998, his only remaining faithful partner, who stood fast by him during his ordeal in prison, the now late First Lady, Stella, took him abroad to America for treatment and a good rest. However, they soon ran out of money (Imagine a former Nigerian head of state running out of money). Then Stella remembered a childhood friend and tried to get in touch with her. She succeeded in getting in touch with this friend, whose husband is a medical practitioner and businessman based in the US. Stella was not aware of this. Anyway, Stella’s friend introduced Stella and her husband, Olusegun Obasanjo to her own husband, Dr Andy Uba, and when they heard the sad story of Obasanjo’s ordeal and lack of money for medical treatment, Andy Uba immediately came to their aid. He not only arranged for medical treatment for Obasanjo, but after a while, also took them into his own house, whereby the Uba family took care of all their needs until OBJ got better and stronger. All this while, there was not even talk of Obasanjo running for, or becoming the next President of Nigeria. So we cannot accuse Andy Uba of having ulterior motives. He did it purely out of consideration for both his wife’s childhood friend and humaneness to a battered and penniless former Head of State of his country.

Story even had it that it was Obasanjo who used to walk Andy Uba’s young child to and from school on a daily basis. Andy Uba was housing and feeding both the Obasanjos, paying their medical bills and supporting them throughout their stay in the US, without any inkling or consideration for what this man might become in future. And he never asked for a penny back. All that Andy Uba knew about Obasanjo was that Obasanjo was the Head of State of his country between 1976 and 1979, as every Nigerian, living at home or abroad should know, and that the man was broke and needed help. He readily gave it, because Obasanjo’s wife was his wife’s friend. He did not ask questions nor doubted them. He did not consider the fact that Obasanjo was not from his tribe. He is an Igbo man and Obasanjo is a Yoruba man.

Then Obasanjo and Stella returned to Nigeria and suddenly, he was drafted in to run for the Presidency of Nigeria by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the rest is history.

So what happened next was that Obasanjo asked Andy Uba to be one of his Special Advisers in a very senior role, as senior as any Minister. Dr Andy Uba gratefully accepted (and who wouldn’t, I ask you my people?) and became a powerful man in the Presidency and in Nigeria. The fact that he helped Obasanjo obviously spilled over to his brother, the Anambra State Godfather, Chris Uba, who turned the state into his private estate and became the political Alpha and Omega, all with the apparent connivance and blessing of Obasanjo. Did he make money? Yes he did, that one I have no doubt about, as every government official in Nigeria seemed to do. Did he make his money illegally though the government? Again, this is quite possible, in fact, almost undeniably, as these people tend to do when in government. Did Obasanjo aid him in making these illegal acquisitions and turned a blind eye to Andy Uba’s misdemeanours? I do not know for sure, because I know Obasanjo is a man who will not stand by and let people close to him steal right in front of his nose, so it is quite possible that this was kept from him. But then, it is impossible for Obasanjo not to know that his acolytes are stealing the country blind.

Some people who knew Andy Uba said the man was already a rich man before he came to Nigeria to be in government. This is quite possible, as I know that medical practice in the US is a relatively profitable business, and combined with Andy Uba’s intelligence and resourcefulness, I won’t be surprised if he was a rich man in the US, but got even richer being in government in Nigeria. But like I said at the beginning, this article is not about corruption of Obasanjo or Andy Uba. Andy Uba never, at the time he met Obasanjo and decided to help the man out, knew Obasanjo was going to become the next president of Nigeria, as indeed, Obasanjo himself was not aware he would become President. All he was doing in the US was to get his health back and rest and then ponder his future as a ruined chicken farmer.

Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person or cause. Loyalty to friends is a value that is missing in the lives of Nigerians. Loyalty to friends of different tribe or religion is even non existent. We distrust and tend to hate each other so much when it comes down to labelling each other – as my friend Mazi Ogbonna would say – our tribal or religious affiliations tend to come first and put a division between us, and this is one of the reasons why we have not seen any progress in Nigeria for the past fifty years or more. Also, with these two, come our innate selfishness; if there’s nothing in it for me, then I won’t do it, which inevitably leads to corruption, bad governance low productivity and ineffectiveness.

“Most important in a friendship? Tolerance and loyalty” said the famous author of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling. Obasanjo obviously tolerated whatever excesses that Andy Uba had, in return for Andy Uba’s loyalty. This is human nature. The synonyms of Loyalty are allegiance, commitment and dedication. Uba was all these to Obasanjo, and he was rewarded for all these, as he rightly should. Without going into the merits and demerits of this uncommon bond between the two men, it was this single human value, as well as the initial unreserved readiness of Andy Uba to come to the rescue of Obasanjo in America, that has surprised and impressed me, and believe me; I raise my cap to Obasanjo and Andy Uba for this. This does not mean that I will condone their various parts in piling untold hardship and poverty on their people.

It is this issue of loyalty that interested me. It is a rare phenomenon amongst our political leaders. Loyalty amongst them is very fleeting. It disappears with the wind quite often. Politicians are changing priorities and affiliations as often as a night and day. There is no commitment to the cause or to their people; no sense of dedication or loyalty to each other and to their parties and to their people; probably because there are no entrenched political philosophies or beliefs. We see them moving from one party to the other in search of relevance, money, power and contracts; friends today become enemies tomorrow; there are lots of back-stabbings and outrageous and outright acts of disloyalty. In indulging in such political tussles, power struggles and moral turpitude, the serious business of governance is abandoned, and the people left wondering and denied the dividends of democracy and the enormous wealth of the country.

This is a human interest and value story. How it ended is not really important here. The fact that Andy Uba allegedly rigged the elections in Anambra State to emerge the winner is not the issue here. At least he has been removed and disgraced. The fact that Andy Uba allegedly smuggled some money in the Presidential jet or that he bought certain farming equipment for his mentor’s farm do not matter here. It is the fact that the two of them are loyal to each other because one good turn deserves the other is my point.

We should take the importance of loyalty to one another as human beings to heart. This is a trait we should value and not just dismiss. There usually is more than meets the eye when we see our leaders apparently behaving strangely. Maybe we should start trying to understand them better and look at the humane side of things before we vilifying them. At the same time, they should try and understand the sufferings of their people too and take positive steps to alleviate these sufferings. Only then shall we have a mutually beneficial and progressive society.

Another point from this story is that there is good and evil in all of us. The problem is letting the good in us overcome the evil, and using it for the benefit of mankind, because we do not live in isolation. Obasanjo will always be grateful, good and loyal to Andy Uba and so will Uba reciprocate to Obasanjo. Let them transfer this good to their people – Nigerians.

As they say, as a man sow shall he reap……….

The Ibori Saga………

In all honesty, I am not really in a mood to write about this thief again and again. And apart from that, ever since his arrest and arraignment, probably thousands of articles have been written about, and I am yet to see any which did not support every Nigerian’s views of this convicted-fraudster turned Governor of Delta State. I have written several scathing and revealing articles about him and his other co-thief, ex-Governor Peter Odili that I am turning blue in the face. Having said that, a reputable Internet magazine refused to publish my articles anytime I write about the sins of Ibori and Odili, and this was well before the 2007 Elections, when these Execu-thieves were still in power, stealing billions and scaring us with their ill-gotten wealth. So what more can I write without regurgitating and repeating all I have written about them? I tire o.

Suffice it to say I was probably the most joyful Nigerian alive (I know several million others are) who woke up to read in the newspapers of this man’s arrest. I am just grateful to the EFCC, (and please note that I am not one to exult in other peoples’ misery, but this arsehole deserves even worse than this) and I am hoping that his eventual arrest will also throw more light on how he got his cousin to succeed him as Governor of Delta State, and his involvement with all the kidnappings in the Niger Delta. Rule of law or no rule of law, Ibori deserves to spend a long time in prison. If I were to make the decision I will throw his cell’s key into the Atlantic Ocean.

I am also waiting for that other great day when the Great Thief of Port Harcourt will also be arrested and his name dragged in the mud and all kinds of humiliation heaped on him. But my problem is these people do not know what is called “shame”. They are totally immune to disgrace. Mr Ibori was even saying that now that he had been arrested, he will now have a chance to clear himself. Lord have mercy on him. He has been out of power for over 6 months, and while all the allegations had been flying against him, he never attempted to clear himself until he was arrested. Throughout his eight years in power, he never attempted to clear himself until his eventual arrest. That is what is called Power of Arrest.

Compatriots! Forget about rented crowds stripping naked in Kaduna. I am more worried about the fact that some important personalities in Delta State and indeed the Niger Delta are now suddenly finding their voices, and calling Ibori a thief, and saying he stole ten times more than what the EFCC said he stole. Where were they during the eight years of his treasury-looting, if I might ask? And you see, compatriots, some Niger Delta militants are already threatening brimstone and fire if Ibori is not released within 48 hours. That is “loyalty” for you. It is a good trait, mark my words.

Nigerians! That is what you get when you let idiots, thieves, and the likes get into power because of your apathy and love of earthly things. The man has billions of our money to spend to defend himself, let him spend it. The money will probably end up in the hands of some SANs parading themselves as Attorney Generals. We will see.

And Fayose….

The chicken has finally come home to roost with this political rogue and charlatan, whose only reason for going into politics was to steal. Well, the chicks are all over him now. After staying in hiding for over one year, he surfaced in Ado Ekiti with some rented crowds, and caused no end of problems with the security of the state, shooting his mouth off about the PDP not winning the election in the state that he single-handedly caused to be in a state of chaos. He then gave himself up and was promptly charged. He then protested that once an Excellency, always an Excellency to the policemen hustling him towards a Black Maria. Well!

I was once in the presence of some people who claimed and boasted that they were the ones who helped put him in power. I wonder if those people can now search their conscience and come out in the public to say they put the right man in power in 2003 for the good of Ekiti State, or for their own selfish reasons.

As they say again, as a man sow shall he reap……..

In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2008 and beyond, and a better country for us all to live or return to.

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1 comment

ayo onimago December 25, 2007 - 3:50 pm

I read your article ,it was wonderful.


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