Ngige, Uba And Obasanjo's Moral Burden


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Ngige, Uba And Obasanjo’s Moral Burden




Ebiede Agbonifo



March 26, 2006



People judge you by your actions, not your intentions.  You may have a heart of gold but so does a hardboiled egg – Good Reading

Here is a do-it-yourself test for paranoia: you know you have it when you can’t find anything wrong that is your fault


The battered Nigerian judiciary has, once more, delivered a mortal blow to Obasanjo’s pretensions to being an upright man, a statesman and a deeply religious man.  In one stroke the Court of Appeal in Enugu did all of these and more when it upheld the decision of the Election Tribunal that removed Chris Ngige as Governor of Anambra State and gave the victory to Peter Obi who was the voters’ choice in that governorship election in 2003.


When Obasanjo angrily announced Chris Uba’s confession to him that he rigged the election in favour of Ngige and the PDP, he was only putting a presidential seal on what Nigerians, especially Anambra State voters, knew since 2003.  According to Obasanjo, Uba said to Ngige in his presence that Ngige did not know how the election was rigged in his favour.  Uba did everything with the hope of having the state’s treasury moved to his filthy bedroom.  What shocked Nigerians and still confound them is that Obasanjo did not order the arrest of the confessed felon.  Rather than call the police Obasanjo told us that he ordered the criminal and Ngige out of his house.  Eventually, Ngige, who did not know how it happened, was expelled from the PDP while Uba, the mastermind, was rewarded with the posts of leader of the party in the South-East and member of the Board of Trustees.  He has more police protection than many governors, and certainly his own governor, who did not even have that luxury for a long time because of his quarrel with Uba and Obasanjo’s obvious preferences.  Uba had kidnapped Ngige and later had his thugs unleash mayhem on government property in Anambra State but our born-again, morally righteous President did nothing.


I recall these because they tell us a lot about our President who said on leaving Abacha’s prison, where he was once on death–row, that he had become a born-again Christian; a President who says he is committed to fighting corruption and has also been hounding and humiliating his political opponents, including his Vice, Atiku Abubakar; a President who said that knowledge of the Anambra rigging was a moral burden on him.  But this same President did not see a moral burden in the massive rigging in his home state and several others that the PDP claimed.  He does not see a moral burden in the multi-billion naira transformation of his Ota farm which belongs to a once emaciated, haggared-looking, penniless, recently pardoned ex-convict. He does not see a moral burden in his young graduate son buying a half a million dollar house in the United States with money he clearly had not earned.  He does not see a moral burden in governors who are his friends fleecing their states as long as they are in support of his self-perpetuation plan.  He does not see a moral burden in the rape, disregard and now manipulation of the very Constitution he swore to uphold.  He does not see a moral burden in encouraging leaders of the South to assemble in Enugu, the capital of the defunct Biafra, and threaten to break up Nigeria if things do not go their way.  Of course there is no moral burden in bribing legislators and threatening other office holders, including Governors, with EFCC investigations in order to achieve life presidency.  Could there be a moral burden in making third term promises to governors, the same governors he has been telling the whole world were very corrupt?  And is there a moral burden in ignoring court orders just because they do not favour the all-powerful conqueror of the Nigerian people? Finally Obasanjo does not see a moral burden in doing virtually everything he criticized previous Nigerian rulers for doing.


People should take Obasanjo’s plan to die in office very seriously.  His son, Gbenga, has told us that Obasanjo is certainly over 70 years old. While we may not agree with the young man that his father is tired, it is clear that an over-70 man may not give a damn how and where he dies since he has little else to live for anyway, especially in a country where, thanks to policies of governments, including his own, life expectancy is a paltry 46 years. So he is clearly in overtime (apologies to Pat Utomi).


Which Nigerian or world leader would take this man seriously again when he says he is fighting corruption and moral decadence since he rewards the worst kind of corruption – the stealing of a people’s electoral mandate by political jobbers and contractors such as Chris Uba?  Which school child would listen to Obasanjo again when he condemns examination malpractices while condoning electoral malpractices?


Despite my anger at Obasanjo for his litany of failings and especially his attempts to foist a long-lasting dictatorship on us, I actually feel sorry for the man when I read comparisons being made between him and Abacha.  In some cases he is actually considered (quite correctly) unfavourably to Abacha.  It did not have to come to this.  This is something that he personally brought onto himself and has himself to blame.  It is a shame that Obasanjo can no longer leave office with his head high.  He will be leaving in some kind of disgrace and there is no time to change that.  If he comes up tomorrow and claims that he never wanted a third term nobody will believe him. If he continues to work for it he will still fail.  There is no doubt that Obasanjo’s waterloo will be the National Assembly that much maligned institution.  And Obasanjo is responsible for much of that. The law makers are beginning to find their voice again; they seem determined to stand up to be counted on the side of the people and permanently put to rest the haunting ghost of Olusegun Obasanjo, the highest ranking Nigerian to show the most ingratitude to God and his people for favours done him.  The Governors themselves are beginning to see through the shell game he is playing on them.  It is becoming clear to them that their chances of going to prison with Obasanjo’s 3rd term are greater than if they stopped him in his tracks.  One of them was overheard on March 15th saying that he is now determined to resist Obasanjo since 3rd term does not guarantee anyone’s safety but defeating Obasanjo surely improves his odds.


Another thing that I find the most distressing in all of this, however, is how many of my own people, the Yoruba, seem willing to allow Obasanjo to not only take his own chance but to also spoil the chances of other Yoruba in the future.  Is he trying to punish us for rejecting him all the years prior to and including 1999? Which Nigerian group will comfortably go into an agreement with us again in matters of politics?  I wonder. But there is still time for us, as a group, to make amends. We must make hare while the sun shines.





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