Celebrating the unbending Ngige @ 62

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige (Onwa, as he is fondly called) is 62. He was born on August 8 1952. He became a political figure in Nigeria, after winning the 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, where he turned a father of a good fight through his commendable stoical approach by not giving in, when certain powers that felt they saw to his governorship success, wanted to kick him out of office through many Kangaroo approach.

Onwa did not succumb to their gimmicks. He fought back as a man he is, although diplomatically. Anambra became a very hot place occasioned by political demagogues and traducers alike, as Ngige was in the office as governor. The newspapers made headlines on daily basis, because each day that came had Ngige and traducers in the news. While his tormentors exhibited their retinue of aides and large collection of cars and were after him, Ngige showed them mettle and used his brain more than his mouth.

Mr. Chris Uba from the now dwarfed Uba political dynasty of Anambra State did not want to hear anything Ngige after he fell apart with Ngige. The song on Uba’s lips was, remove Ngige as governor. Uba saw himself as the greatest man in the Anambra politics. Somebody might say that Ngige was a product of Uba’s reign as a godfather, but Ngige in ernest showed how not to be a dull brain; he mapped out plans to liberate Anambra from the obstruct of godfatherism and allowed Uba to ‘sponsor’ his electioneering campaign as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.

Uba was a member of the PDP Board of Trustees when Ngige was being harassed. Ngige did not like the fact that Uba, seemingly was always asking him to go to the treasury and take money and give to him, upon that there was a seemingly promise by Ngige with Uba in writing that the former would show every sense of loyalty to the later in the event that he won the election. According to Human Rights Watch report, Ngige promised in writing to “exercise and manifest absolute loyalty to the person of Chief Chris Uba as my mentor, benefactor and sponsor” and agreed to allow Uba manage over all significant government appointments and the awarding of all government contracts.

Uba did not know that all of that were intended by Ngige to get hold of power and liberate the state from the Emeka Offors and Ubas of that state. It was not easy for Ngige to break away from Uba as regards to what Ngige told the world: Uba was continually making incessant demands from the treasury. There was a statement credited to Ngige that he was forced at a gunpoint at his house after his inauguration to append his signature that he would pay Uba the sum of N3 billion ($23 million) immediately after mounting the saddle of office.

Nigerians were thrown into the ice when in July 2003, a sitting governor in the person of Ngige was abducted and was placed with a gun on his throat to sign a letter that he would cease to be governor. Nigerians did not go far to look who orchestrated the plan. Accusing fingers were immediately pointed at Uba. Even Ngige fingered Uba as the architect of that, but Uba vehemently dispelled all of that as speculations from the blues. He shouted above his voice that he had no hand in the kidnapping saga and never asked Ngige for a dime from the treasury.

When Ndi-Anambra thought all of that was enough as their state was like the menaces experienced from the charlatans in the Boko Haram today in the North East, thugs in 2004, who were armed with munitions to the teeth descended on the Government House, Awka, and parts of the expensive and expansive lodges were significantly touched. This was too much on Nigerians to bear. The presidency was mute, as if in total support of those who were against Ngige.

It was heavy on Ngige that he nearly did not know what to do, but he never gave up. He battled at the court that the ‘resignation letter’ be thrown out. The news that worried Nigerians much was that while the urchins went for killing and destruction spree at the government house where Ngige was the governor, the police people on guide were only mopping while the hoodlums had a field day.

Ngige wept as many people were killed during the subsequent attacks and organized restiveness that ensued. The same Uba who was denying being the brain behind the attacks on Ngige, reportedly granted an interview to Human Rights Watch at his Enugu residence in February 2007; and the following lines were his comments: “I have been in politics from 1999 and even before, but 2003 is the time I produced a Governor for the State. Since that 2003 I have been handling the party—the PDP­—and we have been doing well and we did not have any problem in the party.

“When he (Ngige) became Governor he started playing funny. That is where we disagree, we signed before he became governor. We said that I am going to produce [appoint] six to seven Commissioners. He is going to produce [some] because he is governor already. I am going to produce more; he is going to produce lesser… I spent a lot of money to put him there but I never asked him for my money back…”

Ngige moved on but in March 2006, a Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Ngige’s 2003 election victory was falsified and hence null and void. This brought the frigid relationship between Ngige and Uba to an end. Mr. Peter Obi of the opposition All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was Ngige’s replacement, as he produced what analysts had called quantum confirmation of electoral fraud against Ngige.

Ngige was again there in the 2007 elections, one of the Ubas, Andy Uba who enjoyed the presidency support was full of smiles when the names of Obi and Ngige were missing from the ballot box. (Others on that issue are history).

Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige graduated from the University of Nigeria-Nsukka in 1979. He is a medical doctor by profession, and served in National Assembly and State House clinics at different times as a civil servant, and retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health. He was governor of Anambra State from 29th May 2003 to 17th March 2006 with records of indelible footsteps on the soil of Anambra. Between 1999 to 2006, Senator Ngige was a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which he was a founding member, and as well the Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East in 1999.

Nigerians know that Ngige has fought many political battles. Like the rave during his tango with Uba, his contest with Professor Dora Akunyili (now late) in the 2011 Anambra Central senatorial election, was the outstanding. There were speculations that Akunyili would win Ngige since she enjoyed Obi’s anointing, but Ngige carpet her at the election ground and at the different courts where Akunyili dragged him to.

When he came back for the state’s governorship election on November 16 2014, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, he was not successful this time as Mr. Willie Obiano of the APGA stole the show. It would therefore behoove on Ngige to quit the stage when the ovation is high, else he would drag the faces of millions of his fans and admirers that cut across the world to the mud.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: 08032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

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