In The Face Of Evil
culled from GUARDIAN, November
A few days ago, a friend of mine
just returned from a trip to Nigeria rang me up. "Okey, Anambra State is
like a funeral," he said as soon as I picked up the receiver. There was all
the dourness in his voice.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because of Andy Uba," he
responded, saying the name like one voicing a terrorizing incubus.
"The man has brought a chill on the state. He is slowly but surely
buying up every traditional ruler and the so-called Igbo leaders.
He's doling out cash and cars to secure the silence of some big
shots in the state. He has bought an estimated hundred buses on
which are splashed his campaign slogans. Everybody is saying that
Obasanjo sent Uba to conquer Anambra by force."
"It's like a
coup-in-progress," I suggested.
agreed. "It's nothing but a coup. People are saying that, in
a free and fair election, Andy Uba will lose to a goat. And
I mean, any goat. But the president has armed him with the
police to intimidate the people. He's not holding any
rallies. I hear the man can hardly string a few words
together to make coherent sense. He has been empowered by
the president to go and steal the governorship in broad
daylight. That's why the state is already in a bereaved
would the people of the state allow themselves to be
cowed?" I asked. "Uba and Obasanjo can't withstand the
blitz if the people stand up as one and say no."
guffawed. "Okey, it's always said that the people's
will is stronger than that of their oppressors. But
sometimes I wonder whether it's not just theory. How
many people would come out to confront Uba who moves
about in presidential jets and helicopters and is
always surrounded by heavily-armed police and
friend," I scolded, "you should have a little
sense of history. Think about what's happening
in Iraq, the continuing resistance to the
American presence there. Think about Chinese
students standing defiantly in the path of an
armored tank. Even in Nigeria, think of the
1970s and early 1980s when students took on
fearsome Nigerian regimes. Look at what's
happening in the Niger Delta. After years of
skulking in the shadows to bemoan the plundering
of their land, the youth there have become
militant. They're slowly showing a picture of
hell to the arrogant profiteers in Abuja."
"And talking of the Niger-Delta and
plunderers, I hear that Uba made his money
from the oil sector. It is said that he has
operated virtually as Obasanjo's aide on oil
"The president lawyer recently claimed
that Uba had made his money before his
appointment as senior special
assistant," I said. "That's why we were
told that it wasn't odd for Uba's
girlfriend in America to buy $45,000
equipment for the president's farm."
He boomed with laughter. "The
amazing thing about corrupt Nigerian
officials is that they think all
Nigerians are fools. So they concoct
any lie and tell themselves they can
sell it. I have talked to a lot of
Nigerians who knew Uba in his days
in California. I haven't found a
single one of them who would say
that Uba was a wealthy man. Many of
them are amused to hear Uba
described as a successful
"So why are people not revealing
these things?" I asked. "If Uba
is a dud, and people have that
information, why are they
letting him get away with it?
Why is nobody exposing him? Why
let him and the president's
office get away with patent
"People are not as ignorant
as Uba's camp and the
president hope. Nigerians in
the streets know more about
Uba than the newspapers are
reporting. Everywhere I went
in Anambra, people were
openly saying the things
they know about this guy.
The trouble is that the
press has been compromised."
"What do you mean?" I
"Well, think about
it," he said. "There
questions about the
source of Uba's
wealth. Those close
to his younger
brother, Chris, say
that he openly
reveals that Andy
was the brain behind
the abduction of
Ngige in 2003 and
the widespread arson
in the state months
later. So people are
wondering why a man
public property in
his state now wants
to be enthroned as
governor. There are
even questions about
people who know him
insist that he
doesn't even have a
first degree, much
less a doctorate.
Yet, he's always
addressed in the
Nigerian press as
"Are you saying,
then, that the
to pay a
"Are you not amazed by the speed with which that scandal has been taken off the pages of newspapers and magazines? I spoke to one editor in Lagos who confessed that Uba's people doled out massive bribes to induce editors and reporters to stop snooping into that embarrassing story."
"Are you sure of these speculations?" I inquired.
"My brother, I said that an editor told me about it. And he wasn't exonerating himself, either. In fact, he confessed that the money was just too tempting to reject. That's why, overnight, newspapers erased the scandal from their pages. Instead, they devoted their pages to publicizing Uba's weak effort at damage control."
"Nobody is going to hide their sordid acts forever," I retorted. "Not even if he has all the money in the world. In time, Uba and the presidency will face exposure, shame and retribution. Of this, I'm certain."
"I hope so," my friend said. "Uba's group is not preparing for any election next year; the man knows he has no electoral ground to stand on. So they're planning to steal the governorship and other elective offices. It's known that Uba is composing a log of candidates for all the positions, from Senate to local government councils. He'll just ask INEC to announce those on his list as winners. As I said, it's a coup-in-progress."
"That coup will fail," I predicted. "Take my word. It'll fail. Even if Obasanjo uses violence and rigging to foist Uba on the state, his rule will be short-lived. He'll eventually go the way of Alamieyeseigha and Fayose. But perhaps with greater ignominy."
"I hope so," my friend echoed himself. "Throughout Anambra, people are asking why so many of the state's prominent citizens have taken to silence. Why is Alex Ekwueme silent? Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Mbazulike Amaechi, Emeka Anyaoku and the host of traditional rulers: why are they silent?"
It is a question that haunts me too. Evil stalks Nigeria. Impunity reigns. Once again, to borrow from the title of one of Wole Soyinka's polemical books, Anambra is being turned into Nigeria's open sore. In the face of such vileness, this consecration of turpitude, why do we hardly hear a whimper from the Ojukwus, the Ekwuemes and the Anyaokus of our state? Are they not unaware of the pall over their state, the casting down of their people's spirits? Dare we think the worst even of these elevated men?