Anambra State is a study in paradox. It is a state where there is a concentration of elites-business, political, social. Thus, the polity is expected to have benefited immensely from this. It is not out of place to expect that only the highly educated and polished would ever venture into the political arena in such a state.
But, it is an understatement to say this is not so. Anambra is probably the most backward of the five South East states in terms of public affairs. Everyone who owns a container at the Tin Can Ports believes that qualifies him to purchase the governorship ticket of a political party and move on to bulldoze his way into the Awka Government House. Unfortunately, this is not a new development. It has become the political culture.
At a point, under the crude politicking encouraged by the military, the Lord of the Manor was (Dr.) Arthur Eze. He dictated who got what, when and how. Later, at the inception of the Fourth Republic, (Chief Dr.) Emeka Offor took over from Eze. He dictated the pace; his connection at the presidency was enough to win him sufficient influence to peddle.
By the time Chris Uba and his brothers arrived the scene, they had learnt enough to create their own brand of politics. Chris was the man who could do anything to pave the way for others. His brawn showed him as a man who would not tolerate any obstacle on his way. He was bold enough to attempt to pick whoever he wished to take the governorship seat. He went further than others by getting his choice (or victim) to sign a contract that he would hand over the key to the state treasury and turn the Government House to a mere extension of the Uba compound. His two elder brothers were strategically positioned. One was sent to the Senate and the other was planted in Aso Rock. He, too, was a member of the Board of Trustees of the ruling party, even when he was yet under 40 years of age. Chris Uba lived large. He sought total domination.
Like Basorun Gaa in the old Oyo empire who, blinded by his power and influence, decreed that the Alaafin should daily come to pay him obeisance, the emperor sought to decide how Governor Chris Ngige, ruled. A resistance by Ngige who refused to serve as a mere puppet led to a conflagration and the most audacious invasion of the seat of power. Aided by a Police AIG, a sitting governor was abducted and his resignation announced. It was not only an exhibition of absurdity, but an indication that morality had taken full flight from the state.
What a pity? From the years under Clement Mbadinuju, the soul of the state has been troubled. Crisis has been the name of the game. Consider the situation in 2011. No one, not even the electoral commission, knew who the senatorial candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were. The commission simply made the electorate vote for the parties. Yet, in the worst form of political abracadabra that I have witnessed, the party’s candidates emerged from the courts winners in all the senatorial districts.
The setting for the November governorship election is as ludicrous as ever. Who are the flag bearers? Somehow, even if inexplicably, Nicholas Ukachukwu has emerged the PDP candidate. In 2010, Ukachukwu had made a bold attempt to capture the party’s ticket. When he failed, he moved to Hope Democratic Party and ran the race as if he stood any chance. When, as expected he was unsuccessful, he launched a bid to “recover his stolen mandate”. Andy Uba, too, who was edged out in the power game, simply hijacked the Labour Party platform. He ran, but failed. He is in the race this time, too. He organised his own congress and got himself declared the candidate. Need I point out that, barely a year after his governorship bid failed in 2010, he managed to be declared the victorious PDP senatorial candidate? He is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Commission His predecessor was Senator Adeleke, the serubawon of Osun. What an insult. What a desecration of values and institutions.
In APGA, it is the turn of a neophyte to fly the flag. Willie Obiano is not known to have played any part in the public arena. He simply got Governor Peter Obi’s nod and that was enough to crowd out others, including a former CBN governor, Professor Charles Soludo, who had crossed over from the PDP assured that the ticket was his to pick. He is a Professor of Economics, not Nigerian Politics. Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria appears the only major contender without a serious baggage. He emerged from the 2003 episode a hero of sort. However, some moralists still query this verdict. How could he have chosen to dine with the devil and then complain when the fiend made an attempt to devour him?
It really does not matter who wins the November 16 poll. The losers are already known- they are the people. Who are the men on parade? What are their antecedents? What do they stand for? Men who hop from one platform to another could not be described as committed and honourable. Men who are known to have been part of a conspiracy to drown the state ought not to be allowed a dance in the public square.
When a man wakes up in the money, dresses his bed, decorates the mattress with thorns, he would be foolish to complain about the consequences in the night. He who has ears, let him hear.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Bolade Omonijo