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As an Igbo man, Peter Obi forgot the Igbo saying that the woven basket

always comes down whenever vulture eaters congregate.

The market women, artisans and students would enjoy the whole Andy Uba road show

      Andy Uba                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Peter Obi

 

 

Politics on the Ground in Anambra State

Two views by Uche Nworah

ChickenBones Journalist 2006

 

 

Peter Obi Is Not A Politician

By Uche Nworah

 

The impeached governor of Anambra state Mr. Peter Obi may have sealed his own fate the day he accepted the appeal court ruling which upturned the ‘election’ of Chris Nwabueze Ngige. By accepting and rejoicing over the belated ruling, he may have danced on the grave of his political future having accepted what many at the time regarded as a poisoned chalice.

He faced battles on many fronts from day one, some of which he did not start and this may have affected his ability to perform in the state. However, in asking for geduld (patience) from Anambra people, he forgot that Ndi Anambra had already reached their maximum endurance point. They had become battered and abused by the empty promises and broken dreams, they didn’t see Anambra as home for all anymore, the big masquerades had taken over and were now owners of those that own the state.

Peter Obi stepped into the giant shoes left behind by Chris Ngige; a product of destiny and a special candidate of the gods; this same Chris Ngige that Peter Obi derided every step of the way all through his brief stay at agu Awka was to later lead to his ultimate downfall.

For some people, Peter Obi behaved like the proverbial lizard who after overdosing on a meal of pounded yam and egusi soup challenged his chi to a wrestling contest.

Contrary to the clean cut ‘good guy’ image which he used to charm Anambra voters in the 2003 elections, he still has not revealed the pacts that he entered into with the state’s power brokers as pre-conditions to his occupancy at the hottest political office in south eastern Nigeria. Such agreements may well not be in the magnitude of the one that Chris Ngige entered into but later reneged on but have remained subjects of media speculations.  

Peter Obi is a container importer and millionaire and he doesn’t hide it, this seems to be his favourite line at every speaking engagement. He always alluded to the fact that his investments in Fidelity bank is now worth over 3 billion naira and that he wouldn’t recourse to public funds. Well, sing it to the birds now your ‘Excellency’. Maybe another song may have served you better as this one that you chose was already well worn out. Where were you expecting to recoup all your election expenses from, which probably have crossed the billion naira mark?   

Politics is a game played for the highest stakes. A politician knows how and when to deploy his survival tools, some of which include communication  and negotiation skills (Peter Obi lacked this and chose to neglect and deride the state’s legislators rather than reach out to them), propaganda (he said he hates it), bandwagon (he failed to ride on Chris Ngige’s road construction coat tails), political dexterity (he is more adept at financial and business matters), political bridge building (he was always a man out on a limb, at war with his party members and opposition state legislators) and finally some Machiavellian tendencies which have kept many politicians alive today.

In the end Peter Obi couldn’t save himself from the inevitable, it was always going to be difficult for him to survive in a state populated by opposition party members in the legislative chambers. Jideofor Adibe’s argument in the essay Does Peter Obi Really Deserve Our Sympathy places the Peter Obi saga into perspective. I personally do not subscribe to the sentimental argument that Anambra people would be worst off from whatever is going on at the moment. Peter Obi had the opportunity to disprove cynics but his slow start after being sworn-in reduces further any sympathy votes he may have won from Anambra people, who having not tasted development in over a decade got a feel of what that word actually means in the days of Chris Ngige.

Peter Obi knew that the odds were stacked highly against him and yet when he was appointing his state commissioners, he blew a big opportunity of introducing disunity amongst the ranks of the PDP dominated state assembly, he could have appointed a couple of them as commissioners to create the way for possible carpet crossing, he sure did not show any signs of understanding the intricacies of political survival by this daft move. He appointed his state commissioners from academia some of whom were no longer in touch with reality. They forgot that theory and practice are miles apart from each other.

While defending his choice of a mass communication professor as the commissioner for information, Peter Obi said that Professor Stella Okunna was not the type given to propaganda and gimmickry (an obvious reference to Chris Ngige), an obvious mistake considering the information battles that was to later face his administration. Since Anambra state does not yet have a basic functional website, it was always Peter Obi’s words against those of Anambra people on whether his government was passive and docile or not.

Even Anambra people that could have been his last line of defence and buffer were also in the receiving end of his snobbish behaviours. On several occasions he flaunted his wealth before them, he told them of his huge bank account balances but all that talk was not translated into tangible dividends of democracy. Stripped bare, Peter Obi probably was just all puff and no substance. How long does it really take to make a difference in a state if one is determined?

And then President Obasanjo came calling and Peter Obi the businessman turned politician placed the final nail in his political coffin, what a difference a month makes. He misunderstood the rage of the young lawmakers for youthful exuberance and forgot the Igbo adage that a neglected small pot could indeed over boil and extinguish the fire. Having previously sung the praises of his new found friends in Abuja during a meeting with Anambra indigenes in London, Peter Obi forgot that in politics, people don’t keep permanent friends, rather they maintain permanent interests. He also forgot that Obasanjo’s gifts to the state during his visit could also be likened to a Greek gift including the reported 3 billion naira that Mr President re-imbursed Anambra state for federal road projects constructed by Chris Ngige. This may have been Peter Obi’s parting gift. 

As an Igbo man, Peter Obi forgot the Igbo saying that the woven basket always comes down whenever vulture eaters congregate. During Obasanjo’s visit, Peter Obi tried as much as possible to sideline the state legislators from having an audience with Mr President and took the glory for whatever little progress that was visible in the state at the time; in so doing he neglected the works of Chris Ngige and allegedly claimed credits for most of the road constructions but the state legislators had other ideas. As PDP members they still managed to convey their feelings and position to the president who must have left Anambra state with his mind made up that it was time to compensate Andy Ubah for his loyalty.

Mr Peter Obi must be living in another planet if he thought that Andy Ubah flew to Enugu airport last week in two private jets and a helicopter just to pick up the PDP gubernatorial nomination forms. The rest is now history.

Come 2007, Andy Ubah would formally take over as the governor of Anambra state baring any other surprises from the gods. The situation currently suits Chris Ngige who if he dares enter Nigeria to attempt to fulfil either his presidential dreams or the much befitting gubernatorial position may be arrested by the EFCC’s on trumped up charges. Were the gods to be on his side again and he survives any such scare tactics, then he may just be the spanner in the works of Andy Ubah’s gubernatorial ambitions.

On the Peter Obi saga, some Anambra indigenes have been expressing their thoughts. According to Murphy Mofunanya ‘Peter Obi deserves his fate; he claims to be a rich man, so what is he doing in politics? He should concern himself with his containers and leave politics for politicians’. Ikenna Enekwe, U.S based editor of the popular Igbo website nanka.org says that ‘Peter Obi forgot he was amidst a majority party that never wanted him there in the first place. And then he proceeded to make mistakes that he should not have made considering a person in his position. He forgot that a deal made with Obasanjo to aid him oust Ngige will be the same deal that will return to become his poison’.

Interesting times indeed.  

November 2006. info@uchenworah.com  Background Information on Anambra_State

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 Andy Uba And The Anambra State Hot Seat

By Uche Nworah

Ndigbo have a saying that ‘agba lu aka na azo ani, onye ji ede ana akonye’, translated this simply means that in the Nigerian situation, the man with the might (in this instance resources and blessings of Aso Rock) will triumph against the ‘small frys’.

Andy Uba only recently became visible in Anambra politics having operated in the shadows from where he pulled the strings; he had previously relied on his younger brother, the erratic and uncouth Chris Uba to do the hatchet job for him who got rich as a result, enjoying business patronage from the high and mighty. The younger Uba probably mistook his brother’s shadowy personality as a sign of weakness and attempted to exploit it, he began to dream of the ultimate political prize in the state backed by his agbero followers, who were quick at every point to dispense their own brand of justice – mayhem, lootings and killings.

Andy the smooth operator eventually put him in his place after realising what a huge political baggage he was. It only took the withdrawal of Chris Uba’s security detail and the denial of certain perks including access to Aso Rock to get him scampering for cover. Now Nigerians are wondering where Chris Uba is hiding, having not heard from him since his disgrace and downfall. Chris Uba can not complain too much though over the way things have turned out for him, he made money as Andy Uba’s fall guy; he sure did have fun while it lasted and must be relishing those days when South East PDP members including the chiefs and PhD holders addressed him as leader, not bad for a kid that never went to university and a long way from his days as water boy at Author Eze’s New Haven Enugu residence.   

Now that Andy Uba has formally resigned from his position as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s special assistant on domestic affairs, it appears that the stage is now set for him to launch his gubernatorial campaign in Anambra state, an ambition that many believe is the root cause of all the crises in the state.  

How did he get here in the first place, and how did the Ubas (including Senator Ugochukwu Uba) rise to such political prominence within a short time having never been heard of in the state, and having never featured in Anambra state’s political equation prior to Andy’s involvement with Obasanjo and his consequent elevation to the position of an Aso Rock insider, and a core member of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet?

Insiders say that the Ubas owe their political fortunes to Andy Uba whose reported ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘investment’ in Olusegun Obasanjo after his incarceration, at a time when Obasanjo reportedly had only 25 thousand naira in his bank account is the reason for their Aso rock connections. Another version is that Andy sponsored Obasanjo for medical treatment abroad and stood by him at a time when it seemed that Obasanjo was about to join his ancestors prematurely. We can only speculate and may never know the true facts, however what we know now is that Andy Uba is a very close confidante of the president and is rumoured to be Obasanjo’s right hand man helping to look after his business investments, a role that Otunba Fasawe was playing before his fall from ‘grace’.  

Now that it appears that the president will be vacating office in 2007, supposedly, what better time to repay Andy for his loyalty and support? Just like IBB in his days, Obasanjo is inclined to install some of his loyalists and allies in different political positions. Dr. Osita Ogbu, his special adviser on economic matters already has his backing to take over as governor of Enugu state in 2007, likewise many others.  The benefits of such a move for Obasanjo are quite obvious including the privilege of state receptions and access to political decision making, rather than just having unlimited access to state coffers. At over 70 years of age and with all his rumoured wealth, Obasanjo may no longer be doing this just for the money. He may have learnt a lesson or two from those before him who no longer enjoy political favours on the strategic imperative of maintaining a political lineage and dynasty.

The stage seems to be set then for Andy Uba to take over from Dame Virginia Etiaba in Anambra state in May 2007, baring any other surprises including premature impeachment from the hot-headed members of the Anambra state house of assembly. Ndi Anambra and indeed Nigerians would be fooling themselves if they pretend that they don’t already know what the scores would be. Andy Uba will get the PDP nomination and would go ahead to ‘win’ the state’s gubernatorial elections, a position and viewpoint made more tenable by the lack of serious contenders from the PDP and the other parties including APGA and ANPP who are all currently in states of political comatose.

Would the people vote for him? Yes and No, some will and some will not but Andy Uba will still go ahead and campaign in Anambra’s many villages and towns. He would give monetary and other material gifts to the traditional rulers and community leaders to endorse/rubber-stamp his candidacy, he would promise them cars, roads, schools, scholarships, etc. Some may even get theirs during his visits.

The market women, artisans and students would enjoy the whole Andy Uba road show, there would be plenty of rice on offer at the market squares and community centres on the days, and the elders would each go home with thighs of goats and bottles of Schnapps with some crisp naira notes to refill their snuff boxes in reminiscence of politics of the second republic.

Mothers, and young women (women’s wing) will compose songs and sing his praises, they will tie new bubas and Hollandis clothes with his smiling face imprinted on them. Andy Uba’s campaign would almost be a formality because the results of the elections would have been written long before the election day.

The U.S/London/Lagos media axis would pour their venoms as usual; they would blow their grammar and incite the people to violence from the comforts of their homes, they would preach to the people to resist Andy Uba’s money but those down at the trenches would simply pick up what little crumbs that are falling from the master’s table and get on with their life.  

Even the opposition candidates from the other parties know the scores already and would have initiated their own damage limitations strategies by scaling down their election campaign expenses. Some of them would just be putting up appearances waiting for a phone call from Andy Uba’s camp which would be dangling carrots before them; abandon ship and cross over they would beckon, most would.

If he gets to add the title of the executive governor of Anambra state to his CV, what then should Andy Uba do with it? Should he stop there or should he go a step further and redeem himself and his family name by working for the people, just like Chris Ngige before him? Should he call a round-table aimed at finally moving Anambra state ahead? Although the cat is almost as good as in the bag, Andy Uba needs to engage Ndi Anambra more, he needs to talk to them and tell them his true motives and plans for the state. Maybe they would listen but in doing this, he should never allow Chris Uba (the fall guy) to be present in the arena of such consultations and meetings.

The gods would be watching Andy Uba closely, he is already a wealthy man, and he doesn’t need the state’s money that much. Opportunity is beckoning on him to turn Anambra state into one of the best states in Nigeria. Should he fail, that indeed would be the bigger tragedy, not his direct and indirect involvements in Anambra’s many crises in the past 4 years.

Our people indeed have short memories, we forget and forgive easily but if after 2011 Anambra state is still the cry baby of Nigerian states, then he would have failed and would be gravely excoriated, the Uba name may then be worthy of being struck off from the books and banished from the land.

Ndigbo say that ‘ta bu gbo’, hence some people bear the name Tagbo. This means that it is never too late to make a fresh start.

Opportunity beckons both for Ndi Anambra and for Andy Uba.

November 2006. info@uchenworah.com Background Information on Anambra_State

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Dear Editor ChickenBones,

It is amazing that outright crooks in the Nigerian government are continually receiving very favourable reviews on a distinguished site like ChickenBones. I refer, particularly, to Mr. Andy Ubah, the notorious criminal ally of Nigeria's thieving president, who is being promoted by some fellows for the governorship seat in Anambra State, South East Nigeria: Politics inAnambra State.

The same fellow is mired in deep ethical crises in Nigeria and the US because of brazen contravention of US laws on money laundering. A Nigerian Professor residing in the US has, for instance, written a very damning essay on this fellow, which I think you should also bring to the attention of the ChickenBones community. (NigeriaVillageSquare)

I hope, too, that the credibility crises your Journalist of the Year is suffering from now as a result of his closeness and support for the thieving Nigerian government would not rub off on the reputation of ChickenBones. A subtle apology he wrote on NigeriaVillageSquare recently drew only scorn and disgust from his fellow Nigerians: (NigeriaVillageSquare). Well, wishing you all the best

Sincerely yours,

Dun Sparks (15 November 2006)

posted 7 November 2006 

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