FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiSunday, June 17, 2007
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ubochit@yahoo.com
Bonn, Germany

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GOVERNOR PETER OBI OF ANAMBRA STATE: CONSISTENCY; PERSERVERANCE AND PATIENCE ARE WORTHY VIRTUES


Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail (Jewish Proverb)

eter Obi and his re-course to the Supreme Court to re-claim the peoples´ mandate given to him are stories of which fairy tale can be made from. It can start thus: Once upon a time lived a man called Peter Obi in Anambra State; who went to Supreme court three times to re-claim the mandate given to him by the people of the state and won all the three times.


Mr. Peter Obi has virtually written his name in the political history of Nigeria as the man with the most victories at the Supreme Court. Our names (the oppressed and downtrodden) on June 14, 2007 was Peter Obi; that day the Supreme Court gave their ruling in his favour, because, he personified the struggle of the downtrodden and the oppressed for justice.

Obi has been asked to return to office without delay as his tenure will expire on March 17, 2010, exactly four years after he was sworn in as governor after a three-year legal battle. The Supreme Court faulted the conduct of the election into the office of governor of Anambra State on April 14, while the tenure of Mr. Obi was yet to expire and therefore ordered that Obi should return to his seat immediately. Anambra state had no election afterall. We all saw the picture where the ballot papers were dumped in the bush. Imagine that INEC in Anambra State declared Andy Uba as the winner of the gubernatorial election, giving him the winning figure that was more than the number of those in the Voters´ Register. When there was public outcry about the fallacy, they (INEC) corrected themselves by changing the figures to match what was in the Voters´ Register. That proved that INEC just stayed in a room and cooked up the figures, but, they were not clever enough to do a clean “job” that would have avoided they giving themselves out ; nemesis caught up with them, because, my people say that “he the gods want to kill, they first make deaf”

We hope this Supreme Court ruling will be the beginning of the good things to come. We hope that the Election Tribunals all over Nigeria will follow suit to recover all the stolen mandates by quashing the election of all those that entered their respective state government houses or other authority positions in fraudulent ways. I mean those “rigged in” making them to be where they supposed not to be.

A clear case of “stolen mandate” is that of Abia State, where the wish of the people was thwarted; where the then INEC Resident Commissioner was seen mingling with the PPA people on the eve of the gubernatorial election instead of being impartial. The commissioner slept that night before the election in a guest house provided by the PPA people, abandoning the one provided for him by INEC.

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It is unfortunate that ex-Governor Ladoja of Oyo State was not as lucky as Peter Obi. It would have been great to chase out that thug and a well known tout occupying the Oyo State Government House now in the person of Akala. He belongs to the motor park and not the Oyo State Government House.

The chronicle of Peter Obi’s quest for justice is no longer new. All the Newspapers in Nigeria wrote about it. Many of the writers the world over have written something about it too, it is already in the realm of public domain. There is no need repeating what every body know, but, no words will suffice to convey our joy that Peter Obi went to the Supreme Court three times and won three times, making him the only person with such a record.

For clarity purposes, this is a concise account of Peter Obi and his journeys for justice: Supreme Court declared that Obi actually won his election instead of Dr. Chris Ngige, (Ngige foisted on Anambra State as governor largely by Uba became very popular by constructing roads and other infrastructure). Obi took over only to be dumped a few months later in an impeachment move by the PDP dominated House of Assembly so as to make way for the smooth ride of Andy Uba to the state House. Again, Obi went to court of competent jurisdiction and the impeachment was quashed. Back in office, Obi again went to court demanding an interpretation of the section of the constitution that has to do with tenure. He wants to be allowed to serve out his tenure of four years as stipulated in the constitution. This position has been affirmed by the highest court in the land. And so Obi will make a third return to power within a spate of one year.

What is also very commendable here is that Obi didn’t resort to violence, thuggery or intimidation to achieve his aim. He has implicit faith in the rule of law and the law vindicated him at last. This is a lesson for all of us that violence and extra-judicial means will not pay in the long run.

This is a man that wept bitterly when the Igbo Traditional Rulers came to pay him a solidarity visit during his impeachment ordeal; he is an emotional person, a rare breed. God wiped away his tears last Thursday; he is having the last laugh.

During that visit by the Royal Fathers, he told them in an emotion laden voice that he never embezzled the state’s fund, rather that he’s been trying to secure the best price out for the state in any contract he awarded. He gave instances of over inflated contracts awarded by his predecessor which he deflated, getting the job done with a fraction of what it was originally budgeted for. All these, he said was because of his foresight and desire to achieve something for his state that has suffered a lot at the hands of his predecessors.

Peter Obi’s case should teach the Igbos a lesson that upon everything we are going through; we should be consistent in our messages, perseverance in our actions and patient in our attitudes, then we will definitely achieve our emancipation very soon. My generation, of which Peter Obi belongs to (he was born in 1961), has imbibed those virtues and they will surely lead us through. These are the stuffs of which people of my generation are made of. In my article of June 1, 2007 published in Nigeriaworld.com titled: Please take your bow; the young has grown up: my generation (40 – 50 years) want to take over, (please read the article, if you haven’t) I wrote some of the qualities of my generation and part of what I wrote is what Peter Obi, one of us, displayed throughout his re-course to justice. I wrote this:

“My generation is proud of whom we are and are confident in our ability to survive in spite of the competition. To this generation, the hills, rocks and mountains will not be obstacles to their existence otherwise we will level them by strong will and determination and not through war. To this generation, the seas, rivers, lakes and lagoons should be drained if they become stumbling blocks through perseverance and consistency”.

For us the eras of cynicism are all over. We know that the God of the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed will surely rescue us from the pitiful conditions we are now in. we have to hold on, everything will be alright, after the rain, comes the sunshine. Peter obi, one of us, is a big lesson and example for us. The oppressed were all Peter Obi that day the Supreme Court ruled in his favour. We will be free soon.

I love what Chris Ngige said in 2006 when he lost out to Peter Obi which was also Mr. Obi’s first victory at the Supreme Court: Ngige in conceding to the court’s ruling said:

"I have accepted the verdict in good faith. I am calling on people of Anambra to give their total support to my successor. I am also happy that the cabal that held Anambra hostage since its creation lost out in the entire deal. What we have today is a new state that is devoid of any form of misrule and misappropriation of public funds in the name of politics. Anambra will no longer be the same.”

This statement can’t be more relevant than now. I hope to hear such a statement from Andy Uba.

There are three cases at the Election Tribunal challenging Uba´s election as governor based on the April 14 election. Now, that the Supreme Court has nullified the election, I hope the petitions are now overtaken by events thereby reducing the work of the Tribunal in the State, making them to concentrate now only with petitions coming out from State House of Assembly elections. The Tribunal may therefore be the first to finish their assignment in the country

It is also necessary to look at this scenario; I hope it will never come to that again: Obi will have to work with a new legislature elected alongside Andy Uba on April 14, 2007.who are mostly PDP members and Uba loyalists. The new legislature was inaugurated by Uba. It is possible that the PDP dominated House can refuse to co-operate with Obi and then invokes its powers under Section 188 of the constitution by impeaching Obi. I hope the PDP will not try to seize power by other means than through the polls; by impeaching Obi again and subsequently the deputy, then imposing the speaker of the House as Governor for three months after which election will be held and Andy Uba will come back.

The best of the whole thing is that President Yar´Adua gave the order for Andy Uba to vacate the Government House Immediately. It took him less then 12 hours after the judgement to issue the directive.

President Yar´Adua, in reacting to the judgment, said that the rule of law must be obeyed with immediate effect as instructed by the Supreme Court. This is commendable. This is the kind of leader we want. This is contrary to what obtained during Obasanjo’s tenure. If Obasanjo was still the President, there is no way this legal landmark would have happened, moreover when it affected his adopted son, Andy Uba. Obasanjo would have blocked justice and deny Peter Obi his mandate.

Yar´Adua directed the Solicitor-General of the Federation and the acting Inspector General of Police to make sure that the Supreme Court rulings were effected once both of them were served copies of the court judgment while assuring Nigerians that he remained committed to the rule of law as he had earlier promised in his inaugural speech, promising further to carry out all instructions contained in court judgments delivered by any court of competent jurisdiction.

To digress a bit, Yar´Adua also ordered the arrest of former Inspector General of Police (IG), Sunday Ehindero, to answer allegations of corruption levelled against him. This is good news. It is unbelievable that the Nigeria Police Force is the most corrupt institution in the country. It is very wrong for an Inspector General of Police to embezzle such amount of money and he amassed such a plethora of wealth traced to him while the rank and files of the Police are walloping in shortages of fund, hopelessness and in despair. This rot in the Police Force made them to be compromising their traditional role which is the protection of lives and properties; this informed their behaviour of “scavenging” for existence, rather than perform their primary assignments.

As an addendum, Yar´Adua should also beam a “searchlight” on the military, they are also as corrupt as the Police, if not more corrupt; the only thing is that they are yet to be exposed. If Nigerians know the kinds of corruption going on in the Military (Army, Navy, Air Force) and how deep-rooted the corruption there is, they will marvel and the Tafa Balogun and Sunday Ehindero´s cases put together will be a child’s play. Some of us that were privileged to see the goings in the military at one time or the other know better. The corruption in the military is as overwhelming as the Tsunami. Because the military boys are the “untouchables”, nobody dares to probe them; but, I hope this will change now that Yar´Adua is incharge.

The military in a figurative sense has been a “parasite feeding on the body of Nigerian wealth; while they (the military) continue growing fatter and fatter, the people who are the owners of the wealth continue getting malnourished and thinner”. No Nigerian whether a civilian or a uniformed personnel should be above the law. Yar´Adua, let’s see what’s going on there. It is good that the Defence Attaché at the Nigerian Embassy in India was recalled by the order issued out by Yar´Adua. The Defence Attaché, who is a Navy Captain, was caught with a huge sum of money running into millions of dollars at New Delhi’s Airport and he failed to declare it first to the Airport Authorities. He was arrested and later released due to his diplomatic immunity, but, he is now recalled back home. This kind of things is soiling our already battered image the more abroad.

Chris Uba denied his brother the crown

I am sure Andy Uba saw this coming, because a day before his inauguration, Peter Obi challenged the then upcoming event at the Supreme Court. The Court that sacked him now, however warned then that it could issue an order removing Governor Uba from office if there was merit in a constitutional suit filed by Mr Obi on when his tenure of office expires. The court held then that the fact that the elected governor was about taking his oath of office was not a barrier, the pending suit being a pre-election case.

Chris Uba is responsible for his brother’s problems now. The fact that the Obi’s case against Ngige took three years to be concluded while the person who was eventually found not to have won the election continued in office was the root cause of the present situation in which Andy Uba´s mandate has now been annulled. Uba became the shortest serving governor having spent only 16 days in office after he was sworn in on May 29, 2007. It is now more imperative for an appropriate amendment to be made to the Electoral Law or the Constitution so that the issue of an election petition lasting for eternity will be a thing of the past.

Chris Uba who was the then PDP chieftain in Anambra state confessed at the World Igbo Congress (WIC) 2004 in Newark, USA that his party rigged the election. This is how Uba put it then: "We, the PDP, did not win the 2003 election. I have gone to church to confess. The election had no document. I announced the result before 12 midnight. I gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) money and asked them to announce the result. The person we took his thing is here," Uba said, pointing at Obi.

Andy Uba should know that his junior brother blew his chance of becoming the governor of the state. His junior brother rigged in Chris Ngige and stole away the mandate belonging to Peter Obi who has now regained that. If that Chris Uba allowed Peter Obi to his mandate in 2003 without rigging in Chris Ngige; by May 29, 2007, Peter Obi’s mandate would have elapsed and then Andy Uba would have been the governor without any controversy whatsoever other than that he was declared the winner where no election was held.

Andy Uba was the first and the last person who sees president Obasanjo (the time he was the Special Assistant to the President on Domestic Matters) every day and still failed to influence Obasanjo in any way to do something good for his people of Anambra State in particular and the Igbos in general. What Andy did was to influence Obasanjo in negative ways. Andy was instrumental to the appointment of Prof. Maurice Iwu of INEC because he started nursing the ambition of ruling Anambra State by fair or foul means very early. He was caught smuggling large undeclared sum of money into the US through our Presidential Jet last year.

Emeka Offor and Chris Uba at different points in time hijacked the Anambra State ´s treasury for their personal uses. When Governor Ngige refused to allow more access to the state’s commonwealth, he was kidnapped for days and Awka, the state capital was razed to the ground with the consents of the presidency and the Police. Uptill this minute, Chris Uba is still to be charged to court for the grave offences he committed against Ngige in particular and the state in general. What PDP did was to rehabilitate him few years later by making him, Member, Board of Trustee of the party until his brother Andy eased him out because of his “matter-of life-and- death” gubernatorial ambition. Andy even ordered the arrest of his junior brother (Chris) on the gubernatorial election day.

Andy Uba distributed a lot of “gifts” such as motorcycle etc during his campaign with such alacrity that one wondered then from where he got all the money to do that. Infact he spent a princely sum during the campaign; he shared out motor bikes as if he is a scion of Kawasaki or Honda or Yamaha or Suzuki family in Japan. Those that received those gifts are lucky, afterall, Andy must have bought those gifts with the people’s money. God Has a way of helping the poor, that must be why God made him to give out part of his ill-gotten wealth in his futile quest for Anambra State Government House.

The question now is: How is he going to re-coup all the money spent during the campaign? He was spending all the money with the hope that he will re-coup it up from the Anambra State coffer, but, he was proposing and God was disposing. Greedy people will always meet their waterloo in one way or the other no matter how long it takes. This is a lesson for all those nursing the ambition of reaping where they did not sow.

Andy Uba wanted “to eat more, but, rather vomited the ones already eaten”. The people of Anambra State should change their attitudes towards money. Their aggressive pursuit of wealth is unimaginable and is destroying the fabric of their state. We all love money, but, the Anambra people stand out as the most money-controlled people. For some of them, it does not matter how they acquire their wealth, the most important thing is that they are “rich” and can be peddling influence through it. Such people can go to any length and can do any thing to get money; for them nothing is ruled out as far as wealth acquisition is concerned. That was why Emeka Offor and Chris Uba were able to hold the state to ransom and got away with it.

Moreover, the “feudal lords” in Abuja and elsewhere outside their state bought some of the indigenes over with money and then plant them in the state to foment trouble and instability. The “feudal lords” empowered some of the Anambra people through contracts; oil blocks etc and then unleashed them back into the Anambra State to create anarchy because it will pay the feudal lords when there is anarchy in Anambra State in particular and Igbo land in general.

Some of the Anambra people are bringing the whole Igbo land to disrepute and shame; they are smearing the Igbo people with “dirts”. They should desist forthwith from their nefarious attitudes towards wealth. Wealth was there before we came in into this world and will be there when we might all have gone.

Ex-Governor Abdulkadir Kure of Niger State was once quoted as saying that "the problem with the people of Anambra State is that they worship money, and because they worship money, they are bound for destruction". Who will blame him for this insult?

The problems of Anambra state is being externally influenced with the help of misinformed and disoriented indigenes of the state, making the state to remain developmentally poor despite the abundant human and material resources. The Supreme Court verdict provides another opportunity for the people of Anambra State to resolve the issues which have kept them divided and made governance impossible.

Rather than “giving in” to the Cabals that want the destabilisation of Anambra State in particular and the Igbo land in general, our guiding principle should that of “onye ahala nwanne ya”, literally meaning “ we should not leave our brothers and sisters behind”. The people of Anambra State should know that what affects them also affects the whole Igbo people.

The State produced some of the most brilliant Nigerians: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Nwafor Orizu, Sir Louis Ojukwu, Sir Mbanefo, Mokwugo Okoye, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Philip Emeagwali, Professor Charles Soludo, Professor Dora Akunyili, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili etc. They should do away with people like the Uba brothers; it is a shame that a state of intellectuals like Chinua Achebe that won a booker award recently is being held hostage by illiterates who can’t even write down their names.