Happy Birthday Senator Chris Ngige, Let us Sing And Dance
Love him or detest him, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige remains a classic to be deliberated in the annals of Nigerian politics. And yet more volumes flood in as he continues in his crusade to liberate the state of Nigerian politics from its condition of desuetude, to one where politicians and leaders seek and invest in advanced ideas to salvage their people from the artificial restraints of inequality and poverty.
This has surely earned him great foes, vicious and mean men in high places. Yet he has as well a place in the hearts of the ordinary man and this is proven by the fact that he never rents a crowd, but has charmed the people with his past works, native intelligence and simple way of life, his heartbeat is in synch with that of the farmer in Anam and Anyamelum areas, the trader in Onitsha and Nnewi Markets, The Corn Sellers in Ekuke, the Nursing Mother in Abagana, the student population in Uli, Igbariam and Awka, the Pensioner in Ebenebe, Awba Ofemili and Otogo Nnewi. He surely feels their pains and has vowed to lift such weights anywhere they are found.
Unlike certain demagogues who like to announce to the whole world their harebrained projects as indubitable achievements, for it is only in Anambra that a government announces with shameless hilarity and animation that it has carried out immunization in the state! Or given out ambulances, to non functioning clinics, spending millions of Naira on bill boards, leaflets, TV and radio advertisements in self praise, using many gifted in the art of the spin doctors as Mephisto to this Faust, that even when they fart, they immediately claim it has a wonderful deodorizing appeal.
Dr. Ngige needs no spin doctors, as an Ex Governor and savvy administrator his works as governor reveal dimensions to the man, his philosophy goes beyond windy platitudes and political banality. Whereas he spent only 33 months as Governor amidst iniquitous sallies from the Obasanjo government, a determined Chris Uba and his acolytes and even the Anambra Electoral Petitions Tribunal, Ngige managed to work, performing excellently. This is even acknowledged by his strongest foes that despite their astringent thoughts about him, they still look at his projects with admiration and unconsciously mutter, Chi Gozie Nwa Ngige! In English Language it means, God Bless Ngige's children. This trend alone nullifies out rightly one of President Jonathan's strong arguments for tenure elongation.
Now as a Senator one has no fears that we will once again be exposed to his joie de vivre in the Senate, a Senate lacking in vim and vigor since the days of the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. In Senator Ngige, there can never be a dull moment, for the people of Anambra Central, Igbo land and Nigeria as a whole, President Goodluck Jonathan's transformation agenda may obtain a speedy vehicle with his likes in the Senate.
Let me state that the cause for celebrating Senator Chris Ngige today, is not limited to partisan politics, nor tribal sentiments. Ngige's fan base cuts across the four cardinal points of the Federation, reaping the respect and the admiration of millions of Nigerians at home and abroad. His trademark beard and jaunty cap remain symbols of his struggle for emancipation amongst the youth.
But how can we forget Ngige's labours, it is with us even when we seek at other things, pushing back, obtruding our inner most thoughts like a flood turning into a torrent or a breeze becoming a gale. Such a situation is hardly surprising, for Anambra state had in the years past been bereft of any semblance, even a pretence to good governance by past leaders, bad governance was a like a norm, a way of life an inclination before he came on board. Even his coming as governor was simply viewed as the continuity of such an ugly trend, many dismissed our diminutive hero as a prisoner in the Chris Uba scheme to continue the hemorrhaging of Anambra state, Senator Ngige's rise from such an invented prison and his capacity in overcoming the trials and tribulations unleashed on him, even in the face of unsaid defeat proved them wrong. In his 33 months of governance we were reminded of our heroic reaction to the triple onslaught of war, starvation and blockade engineered against the Igbo people and other ethnic minorities during the Biafran war.
Senator Ngige is compared to our avowed Igbo leader, General Emeka Ojukwu. Senator Ngige built 44 Inter Local Government, State and Federal Roads, spanning all Local Government Areas in the State, 14 township roads in Onitsha, 10 Township roads in Awka, 8 at Nnewi, with a dualisation of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Avenue, thus when a spin doctor like Val Obienyem accuses Senator Ngige of building roads which led only to his Alor country home, one is immediately taken aback at such an attempt at tactless revisionism. It is again a fact that when Senator Ngige's administration came onboard, they met an empty treasury, yet when he was leaving, the state coffers boasted of 12.8 billion Naira in its accounts, an act unprecedented in our state or national history, yet such a noble act was irrationally described by Victor Umeh the APGA National Chairman as a landmine of sorts!
It was Ngige who cleared the backlog of pensions, paid striking teachers and members of the civil service arrears of salaries owed them by the Mbadinuju administration.
It was Ngige who asked the University administration of the Anambra State University to reduce the tuition fees from N30, 000 to N18, 500 and also refund the N5, 000 collected from the students in order to have the University accredited. Today the fees in ANSU have been increased by 110 percent a gesture by the present state government to show that it loves education. This governor even had the audacity to mock the students, saying that university education was for only those who could afford it and that if they really wanted to attend ANSU; they ought to tell their mothers to sell their wrappers as he claims his mother did. Pray my most learned reader, how many wrappers would your mother sell today to raise 130,000 annually for school fees, asides books, accommodation and other financial involvements.
While religious tensions are gradually rearing its head in Anambra state, we remember with nostalgia how meritocracy was built as an altar in Anambra State under Senator Chris Ngige, here a catholic governor in Ngige had more Anglicans in its cabinet.In other sectors, despite the mantra of developing all sectors simultaneously of the current state government, the Ngige Legacy in Anambra thumps whatever Mr. Obi presents, in style, planning and delivery. Such great achievements will build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold. I am unstinting in my judgement of him
As Ngige clocks 59 today being August the 8th 2011, let us celebrate the man whose greatness is essential to the hopes of Ndigbo and Nigeria as a nation, let us roll out the drums, sing and dance. Happy Birthday Sir.
Igboeli Arinze Napoleon writes from Abuja.