The Real Tragedy In Anambra State

by Femi Olawole

It’s a serious crisis, as the Yoruba will say again, “when a family goes into denial by insisting that a member’s problem is a simple ailment even though outsiders know very well that the person is afflicted with madness”

A few days ago, the front pages of all the national newspapers were agog with the piece of news that once again, there had been a “resolution” of the crisis in Anambra State. The guardian-on-line, for example, reported as follows:

1) – After a meeting of the Presidential Committee…..Governor Chris Ngige and his estranged political sponsor, Mr. Chris Uba pledged to forget their differences in the interest of the State.
2) – While Ngige pledged to make more sacrifices to engender peace…..Uba said that Anambra would never be turned to a war theatre again”

What this and several other reports boiled down to was that the destiny of an entire State has been reduced to a personal quarrel between two individuals. “Mercifully” though, the two men at the center of the crisis were, once again, persuaded to “sheathe their swords”.

And there was this other interesting part in the newspaper reports: Governor Ngige “praised President Olusegun Obasanjo for setting up the committee…….”

In the first place, should the initiative for resolving the crisis really come from Obasanjo/PDP or a bi-partisan coalition of Igbo leaders? Between the former and the latter, whose efforts were more likely to yield a superficial or concrete result?

According to a Yoruba proverb, “an infant’s neck can never be dislocated in the market place unless there is an absence of elders.” Since the commencement of the Anambra crisis, one could only ask what roles, if any, the Igbo “timbers and calibers” have played in its resolution? Where, for example, are the Ohaneze Ndigbo, all the Emeka Anyaokus, the Chinua Achebes etc etc in the resolution of the crisis?

Of course, they are all alive and kicking. While some of them are maintaining a “siddon look” attitude, others are ignoring the axiom that “charity begins at home” to engage in finger-pointing over the problems with Nigeria. Although arm-chair criticism has now been elevated to become the most essential task in nation building, one would have expected respected public figures to shun the temptation to play to the gallery. Well, not so with these “nationalists”.

With the present level of education in our nation, even elementary school pupils can easily list or recite all the problems confronting not only our nation but also the African continent. In fact, the internet is already filled with the opinions of some of these kids. But what separates men from boys? Unlike those kids running riot out there on the internet, matured, experienced adults will endeavor to rise beyond finger pointing by proffering solutions to our nation’s myriad of problems.

As far as the Anambra crisis is concerned therefore, even a Nigerian infant can readily point out Chris Uba as the root cause of the crisis. In a State that has produced political giants, technocrats, intellectuals etc, it’s really nauseating to see it held to ransom by a man who is generally referred to as a money-miss road, drop-out.

Incidentally, rich thugs, political sponsors or whatever you choose to call them are not restricted to Anambra State or Igbo land. In fact, every ethnic group has its fair share of them. In Yoruba land, for instance, we have the Arisekolas, the Adedibus etc. These individuals are tolerated because the Yoruba believe that “even a bad child has his/her own day of usefulness”.

But when it comes to the grand exhibition of their rascality, the mischief makers have their “boundaries” and limitations as laid out by the people. The applicable adage here is that “when a dog goes crazy, it knows better than to cross its owner”. In the history of Oyo State politics, there was once a rich, scary thug popularly known as “Eruobodo”. As a creation of the society’s turbulent past, he was tolerated until he became a terrible pain in the neck. A stark illiterate, he dared anyone to oppose him when he demanded to be appointed a commissioner in 1979.

And typical of the Yoruba when dealing with such a powerful pest, they adopted the principle of “designating a mad man as the groom in a bid to have a peaceful wedding.” And so, the thug was obliged. But unknown to him, the society at large was not scared or stupid. It only stooped to conquer. And soon, the day of reckoning came when the thug was clamped into detention along with other politicians in the wake of a military coup. He did not survive it. And till date, no one can actually state how, what or who could have been able to finally “deal” with the powerful man.

As for Anambra State, for how long will a mere thug hold the entire State to ransom, while the civilized society scamper for safety? In the aftermath of the last mayhem, the governor chose to hide in Abuja and could not dare show his face in public until the intervention of the President who had to set up a committee to resolve the crisis.

Yet, our Federal system of government is exposed to an unnecessary risk each time the president is turned into a “big daddy” to whom crisis in every State in the Federation is referred for solution. Except in a unitary setting, the primary responsibility for a State rests with its executive governor. Instead of abdicating his responsibility to the president, any lame duck governor that lacks the goodwill and the capability to effectively take charge and resolve crisis in his/her State should be impeached and replaced with a more competent hand.

It’s such an irony that a stable polity and progressive governance which citizens of some other States take for granted are considered a luxury by the people of Anambra State. In the meantime and in spite of the latest “arrangee” peace, Chris Uba is practically in charge of the State while governor Ngige is simply a glorified office boy.

For as long as the “giants” (Ngige and Uba) struggle over the actualization of an agreement they both swore to (before the Okija shrine?), peace and progress will continue to elude their State. Ironically, as the State wallows in abject chaos, instability and stunted growth potential, its governor is considered a hero of some sort, no thanks to sheer sentiment. How come? It’s okay to brand Chris Uba as a thug, mischief maker, political godfather, agent of Aso rock etc but is everyone in Igbo land conceding that Uba’s stinking wealth and political influence have conferred on him a superior intellect over the governor who is a doctor?

This was the same “highly educated” governor who descended so low as to mortgage his mandate to a drop-out. If every seeker of leadership position is prepared to do anything, just anything, even sell his/her soul, where does that leave the followers? It’s this lack of credibility that is the root cause of the lingering crisis in that part of our nation.

Yet, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the enlightened Igbo society and public commentators have chosen to turn a blind eye to this fundamentally flawed character of the governor. They will rather pass the bulk, heaping all the blames on Chris Uba, the presidency and other external “evil” forces. And even when they do sometimes acknowledge Ngige’s problem, it’s often projected as a “little” crisis of confidence.

It’s a serious crisis, as the Yoruba will say again, “when a family goes into denial by insisting that a member’s problem is a simple ailment even though outsiders know very well that the person is afflicted with madness” This is the real tragedy in Anambra State.

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DANIEL A ISTIFANUS February 9, 2010 - 11:58 am

very advancing article and educative information.

Sam January 1, 1970 - 12:00 am

This is by far the most courageous and honest article on the calaity that have befallen the Anambra state people and Nigerians at large.

Thank you so very much


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