Uba, an errand boy?
Dozie Okebalama - The PUNCH, Friday, November 19, 2004
After reading the The Punch Editor, Azubuike Ishiekwene’s piece - An encounter with Obasanjo over Anambra - on Tuesday, especially the portion where he related how deeply sensitive the President’s response to the question: "Mr. President, Who is Chris Uba?" was, one solemn thought that has refused to leave me in one piece is that in Anambra State, anything can happen no matter how uproariously bizarre or absurd, without the Presidency winking a disapproval. That for as long as a Dr. Chris Ngige, hated by those who put him in power as well as the Presidency, remains as governor, Anambra State and its people are a perished thought.


For the benefit of those who were not able to read the article, Azu narrated what transpired when a team from PUNCH went to interview the President long after the July 10, 2003 abduction of Governor Ngige by a group led by his political godfather, Chief Chris Uba. The Deputy Editor-in-Chief of PUNCH, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye, had reportedly asked President Obasanjo the question: "Mr. President, who is Chris Uba?" The President’s terse response was: "Uba is a young man who worked hard to help the PDP to win the last election in Anambra State." Not satisfied with Obasanjo’s passing glance response to the question, Azu said he asked the President: "Is this all you are going to tell us, Mr. President? Isn’t this the man who was widely reported to have sponsored the abduction of a governor? Isn’t..." Azu was yet to conclude asking his questions when the President hollered at him: "Stop! Stop there! I say stop there! What do you mean by that? What do you mean by abduction? You are saying something that you don’t know anything about. Who abducted whom? I ask you, who abducted whom?" When Azu responded that Uba’s men abducted Ngige, the President’s response was: "I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear such nonsense!"

To President Obasanjo, therefore, the abduction of Ngige was nonsensical. That vindicates the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), the late Mr. Raphael Ige, who led the Police team that picked up Ngige like a common criminal from his high office. Ige’s defense until his sudden death was that he acted on "orders from above". Indeed, what responsible Inspector-General of Police, let alone an AIG, would embark on such an illegal, dirty mission without unambiguous orders from superior quarters? The notorious nonsense that the abduction of Governor Ngige was to the Presidency also sufficiently explains why the AIG was never punished until his death except that he was retired with full benefits a couple of days to his statutory retirement date. Nor were sacred-cow Uba and his combatants. That also explains the baffling judgements by such experienced judges as embattled Justices Wilson Egbo Egbo and Stanley Nnaji, which sought to throw Ngige out of office, the withdrawal of the governor’s official Police protection and the Federal Government’s dishonest and less-than-legal interpretation of the term "status quo ante" to make sure that Ngige ruled Anambra without any semblance of Police protection, and at his own peril.

Therefore, last week’s massive destruction of Anambra’s public institutions, including the Government House, by Uba’s loyalists can scarcely be fairly discussed except in the context of the lifeless government in place in Anambra, that is not recognised by an insolent, intolerant godfather and a Presidency that can indulge and politicise even the latest mayhem, just because the perpetrators helped the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to win election in the state.

Indeed, a member of the House of Representatives, who is in the Uba camp, Mr. Chuma Nzeribe, reportedly told newsmen in Awka last Sunday that the last week violence in the state would continue until emergency rule was clamped on Anambra. Nzeribe said the prime offence Ngige committed was that he toyed with the interests of the personalities who made him governor. Could this be what seemed so heavy for the President to divulge when he accused Azu of saying something he did not know anything about? And now that the harm had been done, the same Presidency has ordered the restoration of limited Police protection for Ngige.

In Uba, the Presidency and the PDP seem well pleased. But no nation can thrive for too long on personalised leadership, where one law exists for the protection of hoodlums and cronies loyal to the Presidency, and another for the rest of the citizenry. This, indeed, has been the undoing of the Presidency’s fight against corruption.