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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Dr. G. Stanley O’koye>>Displaying items by tag: Ngige
Displaying items by tag: Ngige

The dramatic advent, in 2003, of Dr. Chris Ngige as Governor of Anambra State, under macabre circumstances that are now part of national political lore, brought to Anambra a revolution of sorts. In the end, in 2006, some roads had been built and, I dare say, built well. The Ngige regime truly opened the eyes of Anambrarians in more ways than physical accesses could attest. Under Ngige, the good people of Anambra began to objectively perceive the range of possibilities available to their aspirations. It took Ngige’s stint to summarily estimate our erstwhile disenfranchisement, to alert us to the shocking magnitude of it.

 

It is also to Ngige’s credit that teachers, civil servants and pensioners, for whom all hope had been lost, were paid in arrears and progressively. With the limited but pioneering road network, the geography of Anambra became compressed somewhat, enabling workers living in some distant places to make it to Awka in time. Nobody in his right mind could have expected more of the embattled repentant. Considering the time available to him, Ngige did a yeoman’s job, and that is a fact.

Anambra before Ngige was virtually brain-dead. Even with the much vaunted intellectual and human abundance in the State, rogues had ruled the roost, until that mythical honour-among-thieves snapped, and Anambra’s salvation had to come via one of the most brazen, bizarre and diabolical phenomena in Nigeria’s troubled political history. Ngige nonetheless became our own Robin Hood; a veritable folk-hero. And when the pay-loaders, the earth movers and tar trucks started rolling, many rose as one and hailed "Onwa! Onwa!! Onwa!!!" Thus, Anambra condoned – nay - celebrated his abnormal path to power.

 

When the courts removed Ngige as Governor, I felt a loss. I could not help believing, in spite of my moral sense, that given time, Ngige could have sustained the driven momentum to other sectors of the social and economic life of Anambra. All one cared for was the development of Anambra; how or by whom seemed all but irrelevant.

 

There were doubters. I could not abide the myopic and mischievous denials of some people I knew, who insisted that Ngige’s achievement in the road construction sector was mostly restricted to his Idemmili area of the State. I got into numerous quarrels with Ngige-baiting friends.

 

While the anti-Ngige observation about the concentration of roads may be empirically probable, the truth is that the man had only three unsettled years. In any case, the critics simply blindly refused to note some of the strategically important roads Ngige laid in other parts of the State. I was able to drive from Nimo to Owerri, Imo State in just over an hour via the Awka Etiti-Ukpor-Ameke road. I could access the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway through either Ukpo, Awkuzu or Abagana. I was spoilt for choice there. Note, please, that I hail from a town where Ngige did not lay a single meter of road, or anything else for that matter! It did not prove that he “did nothing”.

 

Change of Guards

Then, enter Mr. Peter Obi in equally dramatic, if morally converse, circumstances. His coming fulfilled the Igbo article of faith that "O-ji ife nwata wenyie aka enu, aka lobe ya, o'wetue, nwata e'welu ife ya".

 

Mr. Obi immediately enunciated what he called the Anambra Integrated Development Scheme (ANIDS), which in a nutshell entailed detailed planning and multi-faceted roll-out of infrastructures - roads access, potable water, educational, health and economic structures - across the long-suffering State. His methods were intended to put an end to the long-standing, imposed ad hoc approach to development in Anambra.

 

Today (2011) Obi’s administration claims to have laid out 500 km of roads in its five years so far, rebuilt or equipped as many as 100 schools with computers, lab equipment, electric generators, buses; advanced the structures of the State University and the Teaching Hospital; built secretariats and business houses; upgraded hospitals and installed water supply in places, controlled erosion, etc. As Mr. Obi himself makes clear every chance he gets, it is yet work in progress.

 

What baffles me to no end however is that the government’s claims to infrastructural achievement meets with spirited and unrelenting denials from a certain strain of critics who unabashedly identify themselves as pro-Ngige. These Ngige elements seem possessed of holding the truncated shadow of Dr. Chris Ngige over the looming person of Mr. Peter Obi. In almost all cases, their criticism, strangely enough, tended to be aimed, not at imprudence but at frugality on the part of Governor Obi. I started to get the impression that Obi’s ‘crimes’ really border on the fact that he has not left the State treasury open to marauders.

 

Beyond the fact that Obi has built two roads and a bridge in my own community, as well as equip the secondary school with computers and electricity generating equipment (not seen since 1970!), I cannot say that that qualifies me to validate all of Obi’s claims. On the other hand, however, the fact that Obi's focus on multi-faceted, mainly rural, approach is not as emblematic as Ngige's erstwhile Appian preoccupation does not conclude the matter in favour of Ngige adherents.

 

I have observed with misgivings that pro-Ngige partisans single-mindedly insist that Obi’s achievement lags that of Ngige. They say that Obi’s claims are mere propaganda, no substance. To be sure, disingenuousness by incumbents is not unknown in Nigeria. But such deception is today easily shown up, what with the internet and independent information management capabilities. Until somebody is aggrieved enough to do an objective rebuttal of the Government’s claims, I cannot help but consider anti-Obi sentiments in this regard as ill-motivated.

 

If it can be verified that Mr. Obi in fact has achieved just half of his claims, I would be one proud Anambrarian indeed. That Anambra, under Obi, has scored a universal recognition for financial probity is a marvel in itself, in a State historically dogged by ‘godfathers’ and rogues. One has to wonder at the principled exertions and strength of character it takes to keep the desperate hyenas away from State funds.

 

What, in all earnestness, I am trying to do (with admittedly much difficulty) is show up the absurdity of the Ngige-Obi confrontation. It all sounds idle, even dangerous, especially reckoning the intellect and professional pedigree of the protagonists.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, the Executive Governor of Anambra State is, by the grace of God and will of the people, Peter Obi, not Chris Ngige (barring appellate court contrary decision, or force majeure). I think our Governor deserves the respect that is properly his, in the way and manner we criticise or oppose him. No one is anointed to hound the Governor in the noble, if contested, work he is trying to do for Anambra. And I think Dr. Ngige ought to distance himself from such roguish acts.

 

I am quite sure that there are imperfections in Obi’s programmes, especially in the overall quality of some of the structures he has executed. I only advocate constructive criticism or opposition. A virile, pointed opposition can only be to the benefit of Anambra. The State after all does not belong to Mr. Peter Obi, less still to Dr. Chris Ngige. It behoves Ngige therefore to see that he does not in any way constitute himself a dissembler, or an “alternative” Executive Governor, but conduct himself as is required of any good citizen. Ngige as Governor of Anambra State is past tense until and unless he wins an election to the position.

 

One thing is incontrovertible: Peter Obi has brought to Anambra a stability and civilisation that were, to our collective shame, heretofore lacking in the governance of the State. This may not sound spectacular, and Obi may not build Anambra into the 25th Century with ANIDS, but he would have, at the very least, laid a sound moral and structural foundation for governance and rural empowerment in Anambra State.

 

Given the esteem which Dr. Ngige has enjoyed, and given his extant aspiration to Government House, I find it counter-productive, even unethical, that he should be the totem of mindless distractions to the Executive Governor of Anambra State. If the good doctor allows his name to be associated with rabble-rousing, he may sooner find out how fleeting this thing called ‘popularity’ can be. On the face of it, no one stands to lose in confrontation but Ngige. While Obi will have only to await the verdict of history, Ngige could have demystified his intrigued popularity and squandered his goodwill, for what they were worth.

 

The supporters of Ngige seem to confer upon him a messianic status. I sincerely hope that that is not how the feisty doctor sees himself. I have heard some people say that he ‘saved’ Anambra. As ridiculous as it sounds, they never tire of bandying it. Ngige owes the good people of Anambra an eternal debt of gratitude. Given the auspicious blend of circumstances and providence, Ngige, in his incurred distress, had thrown himself into the bosom of Anambra and was received as a repentant prodigal. Anambra forgave and adopted and protected him. At another time, another place, he could have as easily been stoned as a common criminal. But, as the great Ndigbo say, the enemy of my enemy is my ally.

 

Comparisons between the two consecutive regimes are reckless, and not in Ngige’s favour. Since roads are the only common denominator between the two of them, it is easy enough to tape out the lengths of roads constructed by the respective regimes and, if prudence is a parameter as well, tag up the respective cost per kilometer of them. As for works in the Health, Sanitary, Water, Educational and Business sectors, Obi would have to be judged independently of Ngige. How can any sane person compare 150 km of roads built by Ngige with ubiquitous works in health, education, agriculture, erosion control, government infrastructures, electrification ...embarked by Obi? Would it not amount to counting up oranges and coconuts together?

 

In conversations I have had with some of these pro-Ngige clansmen, I discern that perhaps what they mean by that Obi “has done nothing” is that Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi have remained eye-sores. These are supposed to be the “faces” of our State. Asii na, ana e’li oma-iru nwata tupuu e’lie ife o’ji naka. Very true. And I quite niggle at the sorry sights of Onitsha and Awka. I would personally have loved nothing better if these main towns were uplifted, all things being equal.

 

Since, however, one must choose, I would rather have rural roads access to my town and others, running water, upgrade of our schools and local health centre, etc. If Obi’s claims of achievement are even just nearly true, no one should assume that he is done yet. The reasonable assumption would be that he would get to the facades of Onitsha and Awka in good time. In fact, he has just announced a programme for restructuring Nnewi – our industrial centre.

 

As I write, I cannot say as I know what Ngige’s vision for Anambra is. After all, the doctor is a strong contender for the Governorship after Obi. I think his “supporters” should be advancing his thinking on the development of Anambra rather than indulge in futile Obi-baiting rhetoric. The Ngige camp act as if their man is averse to a planned, integrated approach to developing Anambra; as if Ngige is merely a compulsive road builder. I am sure Dr. Ngige must have his dream for a greater Anambra. Well, then, what is it?!

 

With the vehemence of the raging controversy, one is given to think that should Ngige become Governor again, he would spitefully discard Obi’s theoretically laudable and indispensable integrated approach to development, in favour of constructing roads, more roads and still more roads, until we would have many layers of pavement piled upon another. Give Dr. Ngige a break! The man must be good for more than mere road contracts.

 

As one recent, blatant anti-Obi article seemed to imply, God and the Pope, upon whose wings Peter Obi rode to his multiple victories, have fled his corner. Nothing is farther from the truth; to some sensitive ears it might smack of sacrilege. God and the Pope are, always will be, on the side of piety over diabolism, prudence over profligacy, humaneness over irascibility, couthiness over rascality,  humility over prima donna-ism.

 

Bear this in mind also: Ngige, if given another chance, would not have the same motivations that drove his limited achievement in roads, as he had in his quondam gubernatorial stint. This time, we hope, he would be coming through the front door, without the pack of wolves he had had the misfortune of running with, at his tail.

 

I sincerely hope that Anambra is not unwittingly heading toward another debilitating bout of geo-political Dichotomy, on account of two illustrious but non-indispensable personalities.

Former governor of Anambra State and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State,  Senator Chris Ngige, has alleged that there is nothing on ground to justify the over N2 trillion the Governor Peter Obi administration has received in the last seven and half years.

 

Ngige, who spoke in Awka, the Anambra State capital yesterday, said such huge amount of money received by the state within the period under review was simply frittered away as there is nothing tangible on the ground to show for it.

 

He added that for 34 months, he (Ngige) was in the saddle as governor of the state and did not receive up to N100 billion, including all receipts from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)  and counter-part funding.

 

According to Ngige, the Obi administration has denied ever collecting such an amount in revenue to the state, yet it has woefully failed to publish its account for the scrutiny of Anambra people since it came into being.

 

“The few things I put in here have vanished. In everything I did in Anambra State, I did not spend up to N100 billion including all my receivables from Federation Account and IGR. The Government of Anambra State as at today has collected up to N2trillion. They are saying it is a lie, I said publish your account, your IGR, receivables from counterpart funding from all agencies, world Bank, DFID, UNICEF, WHO. Publish all account receivables,” Ngige said.

 

He cited the example of 50 percent counterpart funding for building of classroom blocks for primary and junior secondary schools in the state in conjunction with Federal Government which he said over N17billion had been paid before he left office but allegedly, nothing to show about the project today.  “Rather, the Governor Peter Obi Government has been beating its chest for providing computer sets to schools with leaking roofs,” he said.

 

Ngige also took a swipe at the health sector in the state, saying it had collapsed under Peter Obi’s administration, also  stressing that the Onitsha General Hospital was the only one that took him 24months to secure its accreditation as governor, which he said Obi has  lost the accreditation.

 

He said, there is no other hospital that has been given accreditation as most of the consultants, doctors, nurses and other health professionals employed have left, apart from the 13 months strike embarked upon by doctors in public hospitals in the state.

 

 

“Since I left, the government of Obi has not employed nurses apart from the  350, I employed, ” he said, adding that  the same thing  goes for teachers who he said were never employed under Obi.

Ngige said the scenario was not different from the tertiary institutions in Anambra State, especially the state University at Uli, which he said, he fought to get accreditation for 18 courses but today has lost accreditation of 20 courses.

 

“I got professors, I employed them and I was ready to pay and I paid. You don’t make a good soup without paying. Today as we speak, 20 of those courses have lost accreditation. The 23 percent that has been done by the Obi administration is not enough. They are trying but their best is not enough”.

 

Ngige said that all these things do not add up to the Anambra of his dream, and  emphasised that he  joined the race to change the fortunes of the people of  the state and lift them out of what he called  their present bondage.

 

ThisDay

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, former Governor of Anambra State and Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District,  has reacted on the  alleged deportation of Ndi Igbo from Lagos State.

Dr.  Ngige wrote a letter  to Aka Ikenga, an Igbo cultural group that had earlier  requested that he channel the issue to  the Governor of Lagos State.

 

Greetings,

I write in respect of the above subject matter, which Aka Ikenga at its 28th July, 2013 general meeting which I was privileged to attend as Special Guest of Honour, requested me to take up with the Lagos State Government. I am glad to inform you that I was received in audience the day after, by His Excellency; Governor Raji Babatunde Fashola( SAN) the Governor of Lagos State and the issue was discussed exhaustively.

 

At the meeting, the Lagos State Governor disclosed that contrary to claims, the issue in question has nothing to do with deportation, but a Social Welfare Intervention, involving several homeless destitutes and other psychiatric cases roaming the streets and some living under the bridges in Lagos. These people were taken in and treated and cared for by the Lagos State Government free of charge and thereafter needed to be reintegrated with their families. After this rehabilitation the affected people disclosed their true identities and the disclosure revealed that 14 of them were from Anambra State. For the purpose of reintegration with their kith and kin back home( most of them had nobody in Lagos) and for further social support and care, Lagos State Government communicated the Anambra State Government as well as other affected state  governments to come forward and identify and take over their people. (see letter as annex 1) On receipt of this communication, Anambra State Government requested for the identities of those claiming to be from the state( see letter as annex 2).

The list was promptly supplied to them by Lagos State for immediate and urgent action ( see letter as annex 3). With further contact and pressure Anambra State Government preferred that the handing over be done at bridge head and Lagos State obliged but found no Anambra State Government Representative on arrival at the agreed date and was hence forced to leave the people at a government office they found at the Niger Bridgehead. The Lagos State Government further explained that this kind of exchange of destitutes occur between states, as she recently went to Akwa Ibom State to take back two of her rehabilitated citizens.( see letter as annex 4). You will recall Mr. President of Aka Ikenga, that I had assured the Aka Ikenga

members that the Lagos State Government that I am familiar with will not go out of its way to cause hardship to our people and this is evident in its disposition as the first Government of Lagos State to appoint an Igbo as a commissioner and many others into other cabinet positions. For promotion and maintenance of the good relationship that exists between the

Igbos who form about 25% of the population of Lagos State and their Lagos host, I have secured an appointment for you, the President and Executive members of Aka Ikenga to further discuss this matter and other sundry issues affecting Ndi Igbo in Lagos State, with the Lagos State Governor on a date that will be mutually agreed by both parties.

 

As a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria ( ACN), which is the party in power in Lagos State, I wish to further reassure you and Aka Ikenga in particular and Ndi Igbo in general, that the government of Lagos State, that I am familiar with does not and will not harbour any anti Igbo agenda, as being, insinuated in some certain quarters. Accept as usual the assurances of my highest regards.

 

Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, MD, OON, KSJ

Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District

( Former Governor Anambra State, 2003-2006)

 

 

 

Dr. Chris Ngige, a Senator representing Anambra Central and former Governor of Anambra State spoke on range of issues from his entrance into politics as a former governor and his future in politics.


From your experience as governor and now a Senator of the Federal Republic, which of the two responsibilities do you find more challenging?

 

Both of them are different arms of the government and as chief executive in the executive branch, you are the summation of all government departments, you co-ordinate them, you are head of policy and plans, you are head of research and you are head of executive of that particular branch of government. To some extent, you are quite busy but being in the legislature is another kettle of fish. You make laws and this making of laws entails the making of new laws and the amendment of existing ones that you deem not to be making government function the way it should. We also do appropriation which is part of law making, because what we do in appropriation is money laws-that’s budgeting. A budget is an estimate. A budget presented by a governor or the President of the country is a financial estimate. So, the legislature looks at it through the appropriation committee; every committee is a sub-committee of the Committee on Appropriation. It is a challenging job to be in the legislature because you must be reading on a constant basis to update yourself and you must do oversight which is the third leg of your functions. You have to see how the money is applied. Are they misappropriated? Are they misapplied? You look out for misapplication; you look out for misappropriation which is not easy because you have to go to the field. For me, the legislative aspect of the business is more demanding.


Your election as Anambra State governor in 2003 was controversial. What were the hurdles you crossed before getting into office?

 

First and foremost, I was replacing an incumbent governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, who my party had judged not to have done well and therefore, they decided that in order not to lose the state, they had to get a replacement. I was a member of the National Executive Committee of the party at the time and the party took a decision to draft me to fly its flag. I wanted to go to the Senate; I had already won my primary nomination for the Senate. You can see that even from then, the hiccup had started. Then when I went into the election, I had problems with some party members. Mbadinugu’s supporters did not vote for me. They moved into the Alliance for Democracy and they opposed me in the general elections. And because he did not perform very well, All Progressive Grand Alliance, a newly formed party in the East, became very strong in Anambra State and the people were also involved emotionally. But when I came out, the equation changed and the people of the state were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. We had the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission pronounced me winner and I was sworn in. Right from my swearing in, there were problems. Problems with those who assisted me to get my nomination in the PDP and who  were the engine house of my campaign organisation. By that, I mean the Ubas and from there, one thing led to the other. They wanted the deputy governor to take over from me but they didn’t do that legally. They used unorthodox means not known to law by forcibly removing me and taking a letter to the state House of Assembly that I had resigned whereas that was not the situation. You can see that I went on a rough road and when I tried to assert myself, the then Federal Government supported those people because they were friends of the Presidency. And in order to actualise the mandate given to me by our people, I had to fight back. I had to resist and fight through the terrain, to make sure I delivered democracy dividends to my people. I had to pay salaries and allowances that were owed and I had to pay them off as a government. I needed to also  construct roads for the people because when I came, there were no roads. That was the situation but more challenging was the fact that the government owed contractors and various financial houses a whopping N35bn before I came. I had to do a gradual dismantling and dismemberment of these debts by paying gradually and of course, I returned people’s confidence in government. I started paying salaries as and when due, I paid pension; I paid the pension of 142 per cent rise. As a matter of fact, after Rivers State, mine was the only government in Nigeria that paid followed by Lagos. While on the seat, I had to contend with insurgency and rough tackles given to me by my erstwhile supporters and we had to fight it out, it was a choice for me to make. I had to make the choice. It was either I aligned with people of Anambra State or gave them whatever they (erstwhile supporters) wanted from the state treasury. They wanted N3bn every year, of course, I didn’t have it and I knew I was in for trouble; I decided to slug it out with them.

 

Who wrote a letter to the state House of Assembly on July 10, 2003, signifying your resignation?

 

I don’t know who did that. But you know, in this country, such things are very easy to do. What gave out that letter was the way it was written. It was not with the current letterhead of my office. When I came into office, I changed the letterhead but that particular letterhead was written by them, with the old letterhead.  Of course, my signature, in these days of forgery, people can get near your signature. They got near my signature but it wasn’t quite my signature. It didn’t bother me to investigate it but I got a copy of the letter after the coup or illegal removal failed. I tried to send it for forensic analysis while I was in government but it was overtaken by the fact that I left government much earlier, following the Court of Appeal decision on March 15 that upheld the tribunal verdict that Peter Obi was the elected governor.

 

You electoral victory was nullified in 2005 by a tribunal led by Justice Nabaruma. You appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost again. Do you still agree that you did not win the election fairly?

 

(Cuts in) It wasn’t nullified. I don’t agree with the court verdict. The court judgment was political; it was politically given. The tribunal in its final judgment said I obtained some illicit, dirty votes; if you want to call it rigged votes, they counted those votes and subtracted them from my total votes declared by the INEC. With that declaration, they said I had 260 something thousand votes as legal votes. Then they said Obi also had illegal and rigged votes; they went on to count his illegal votes and his valid votes and then subtracted his illegal votes, from the legal votes. They said his valid votes was 300 and something thousand and declared him winner. I am not a judge, but I know that in law, especially law of equity, he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands. If you have rigged to get some votes and according to them, my party, PDP, and myself rigged;  APGA and Obi also rigged, therefore he (Obi) did not come to equity with clean hands to petition. The logical thing and the highest penalty that should have been meted out to me was the cancellation of the results and a rerun but they pronounced him winner. We appealed based on this and not even that alone, there was at a time a subsisting Supreme Court judgment in the case of Onoh vs Nwobodo said it was not the job of courts to count votes. It is not their job. Therefore, if there is substantial compliance by a winner; you leave him as  winner. If there is no substantial compliance by the winner, you nullify the election but, you don’t start counting votes. They went ahead and ignored that Supreme Court’s pronouncement. The Supreme Court is the supreme authority in terms of judicial pronouncements. That was when the nullification of governor’s elections started and the Court of Appeal, instead of upholding our grounds, was also intimidated. We had it on authority that some members of that panel were intimidated and they had to accede to Justice Nabaruma’s judgment.  I was not talking about it but for the first time last month, I did. Why I did that was because Obi is almost finishing his tenure and I don’t want him to gloat and say he is an angel. No! that judgment is there. He also had tinted votes. If I had said it earlier, they will say Ngige is now behaving like the woman in the Bible who was quarrelling over a baby. They came to King Solomon and one said, “Divide the baby that is alive into two and give me half and give the other one half.” I am not that kind of person, I kept from making any allusion to that judgment till now. I am saying it now that that judgment is flawed, it is not right and that judgment became an albatross because after Ngige and Obi, all the courts in Nigeria started counting votes and removing governors. I was the first governor to be removed by the courts and not through impeachment in the history of Nigeria. That induced a lot of instability in the system. Corrupt judges have now taken over and they are counting votes for everybody. That is what has killed the judiciary today.


It was widely believed that the conflict between you and your godfathers forced you out of the Peoples Democratic Party. Can you still recollect what transpired then?

 

But I told you that the powers that be had the backing of the Presidency. At one point, they put together a panel called Oyinlola panel and said it was a reconciliation committee, that was what they dubbed it. The then President Olusegun Obasanjo forced Chief Audu Ogbeh out, Ogbeh was the national chairman of the party but he said as the chairman, he would not stand by and let a governor of his party be persecuted for nothing. Ogbeh stood his grounds and when the persecution was getting too much, he wrote a letter to Obasanjo and told him that he could not fold his arms and allow a situation where there was an attempt to assassinate a sitting governor, who is a PDP member. Obasanjo replied him and he (Ogbeh) said Obasanjo said I did not win the election. As a matter of fact, one of my friends, an ex-governor of Anambra State called me and said I will lose the case because Obasanjo had made everybody believe that I didn’t win the election. Firstly, the bias came from the ex-President and secondly, from my party. Thirdly, President (Obasanjo) told the nation that I came to his house to confess that I didn’t win the election. That is a very big lie; I never did but he said it to blackmail me and so the judges found their hands tied and to compound matters, he used the power of coercion to beat them into line. So, when Ogbeh refused, he went and brought in Ahmadu Ali. When Ali came, he did what they called re-registration of members of the PDP and before that, they instituted what they called a reconciliation committee in Anambra and one of the first major jobs was that they asked Sam Egwu who was in charge of that reconciliation committee to write that I should be suspended as one of the solutions to the problem. Of course, Sam Egwu as a South-East governor refused to do so. He surrendered the chairmanship of that committee; they reconstituted it and put Oyinlola there as chairman. You had the troika of General Olusegun Obasanjo, Oyinlola and Ahmadu Ali, and the next thing they said was that in the interest of peace in the party, they had suspended me from the party. I was a sitting governor and they also suspended Chris Ubah. Chris Ubah had no status in the party, he wasn’t holding any party office, he was just a member at the ward level of the party. But they brought his matter to the national level and suspended the two of us. They refused to register me again and eventually expelled me. I accepted the expulsion and started functioning. Even with that, they asked INEC to declare the seat of the governor of Anambra State vacant. They said in conformity with Section 157 or so of the Constitution, I had no party. But good counsel prevailed and the then chairman of INEC, late Dr. Abel Guobadia, refused to do that and they had problems with him for refusing their bidding. As a result, they allowed him to do only one tenure. The old man didn’t mind, he did his term and went away. That was what transpired till I and other progressive governors got together and formed the Action Congress with of course, Atiku Abubakar who was also the next in line to be persecuted. Joshua Dariye, my friend, was also persecuted. There were some governors on the sidelines supporting Obasanjo at the time and they said I shouldn’t have reneged on an agreement I went into with people. But they forgot that an agreement that was false and forged ab-initio is no agreement and is not binding at all. We are still meeting in the political war front because the world is round, you take this way, I take that way, we must meet somewhere.


Why did you opt for AC and not APGA, which has dominance in the South-East?

 

I couldn’t have gone to APGA, I went to court with APGA and like I gave you the history, they went to court and went up to the Court of Appeal and when they won the case, they felt they’ve conquered me and my supporters. The relationship between a conqueror and the conquered is that of servant and master. I never bothered to go there and all those persecuted joined forces to form AC. I,  Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, DSP Alameiyeishigha, so many of us, even though the group depleted along the way because not everybody has the heart for opposition politics.


You were widely criticised for being at the dreaded Okija shrine. Does it mean you were in search of political power at all cost?

 

I have not been desperate for power. I have given you the history of my journey. Perhaps I did not add that if you go and look at my track record, I was a federal civil servant and I was trained as a medical doctor. First of all, a good medical doctor is a very patient person. He must be patient to take your history as you walk in as a patient. The doctor should obtain 90 per cent of his diagnosis from history taking, conservatively call it 70 per cent, then the others through physical examination and then tests. I am a well-trained doctor, I was trained when medicine was well taught and I am patient. I worked in the Ministry of Health. I practised in the clinic for 15 years before moving into administration. I did administration for five years before I left the service. I am not a hustler for power and more importantly, I started from the primaries of my party. I was a foundation member of the PDP, I was nominated to be a minister by Dr. Alex Ekwueme but Obasanjo refused because they fought a bitter primaries in Jos and I was in Ekwueme’s camp, so I was blacklisted. I was the assistant national secretary of the party before I came back to contest the primaries for Senate in 2002/2003, then I was begged by Chief Audu Ogbeh and others. Even the Ubas came to beg me as a last resort. That they were my benefactors was because it was when they were begging me that I caved in to run. I gave conditions for going to run and the major condition was that I should be able to run the place unfettered and give good governance to my people in Anambra State. They were the people who breached the agreement by asking me to sign money for them; by asking me to allow them to appoint all the commissioners, special assistants, Aide de Camp, chief security officer and personal assistant. We had no such agreement. They breached that agreement, so I said okay, if you breach the agreement, then there is no agreement anymore. On the way, they noticed some resentment from me that showed that I was no longer happy with the journey.  They said they needed loyalty. So, one of them suggested it (Okija) and they now formed themselves into a cabal. One night they said, ‘If you don’t go with us to Okija shrine, we will shoot (you).’ It’s only a living general that can tell the history of a war. If I was shot dead, the story could have been distorted. I have to be alive to be telling you this story. I asked them, ‘What should I do?’  They said, ‘Let us go to Okija shrine and I said okay, let’s go.’ When we got there, I noticed they didn’t have guns, then I said I wasn’t going in. One of them said he could swear for me, I said go ahead, so he did it for me. But I did not believe in what they were doing because I am a staunch Catholic. I am a knight of the Catholic Church, so I never listened to what they were saying, they were just fooling themselves.

 

You beat a Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, of APGA in the 2011 senatorial election with about 500 votes. Does it mean you are not as popular in your constituency as people think?

 

It was more than 500 votes. I can tell you also that Akunyili was never a politician; she is not a politician, she is a technocrat. I never ran election with her. I ran with the governor of the state who comes from the same senatorial district with me. I ran with Victor Umeh, the national chairman of APGA, who comes from that same senatorial district with me. I don’t regard the election as a contest between us. More importantly, I want you to go and check the results of that election. You will see that they scored Akunyili 23,000 votes in Aniocha local government, where the governor and Umeh come from and where she comes from. The same election was done for the House of Representatives same time, same day and in my cross petition at the tribunal, I asked them to investigate those votes because they were contrived votes. It is in INEC’s reports. In that local government, what Obi scored in his own election was 10,000 votes. How come Akunyili scored 23,000? Just in one year, Akunyili who was living in Abuja, someone who is an urban politician that is not known at home got 23,000 votes. At the time they brought that 23,000 votes, I was leading her with 21,000 votes in the district.

 

The APGA chairman once advised Governor Peter Obi to apologise to you over your removal as governor. Will you accept his apology?

 

Or course, Umeh knew what he was saying. He is not a lawyer, but having gone in and out of different courts; he is now a pseudo lawyer of repute and can quote various aspects of the law. He knows that since the court said they also rigged the election, the proper thing was for the court to order a rerun. That was why he asked the governor who is enjoying the fruits of the labour which they got wrongly to apologise.

 

Will you accept an apology?

 

I will.


Is it true that you’re not contesting for a public office in 2015?

 

I may or may not contest; the election for Anambra State is this year. And nothing stops me from contesting, I am fit and God has blessed me with good health.

 

Are you contesting?

 

I will make a pronouncement within the next few weeks. The pressure is on me to contest. A lot of Anambrarians from overseas and everywhere are asking me to contest; to come and complete the work I started. From my blueprint as governor, what I have in stock for Anambra people, I did only 23 per cent of it in 23 months before leaving. Obi has done only seven per cent of my blueprint in seven years, these other 70 per cent that is left in my blueprint, who is going to do it for Anambra people? Go and find out, they are calling me, sending texts and calling on me to contest.

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.

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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.

 

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige chats with SIMON EBEGBULEM of Saturday Vanguard

Former governor of Anambra State and now the Senator representing Anambra Central District, Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, was in Benin City last week for the retreat organized for governors in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) controlled states.

In this chat with SIMON EBEGBULEM of Saturday Vanguard Ngige speaks on the ongoing legal battle between him and the former Minister of Information, Prof.Dora Akunyili, the 7th Senate and the issue of Boko Haram. He warns that with the prevailing security situation in the country, the nation is sitting on a keg of gun powder.Excerpts:

We hear you may abandon the governorship election legal battle since you are now in the senate.

Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige:

No no no!. I have not abandoned the gubernatorial legal battle. As you know, I went to court to challenge two things. First, I said that the man declared winner did not meet the constitutional requirements. He has majority of the votes cast quite alright but he did not score 25 per cent of all the votes cast in 2/3rd of all the Local Governments in Anambra state. Anambra state has 21 local governments and 2/3rd of 21 is 14. He has that in 13 but they are claiming that what we are talking about was all the votes cast, not valid votes cast.

In the INEC manual, they defined all these things. That is the first leg. Then the second leg is the voters’ register. 17 per cent of people in Anambra state were alleged to have voted and that 17 per cent translated to about 203,000 voters. Out of it you have 1.8million voters. The issue of whether that register was valid, that is the big question. Can we start to go for an election? INEC has partially answered it. When after their retreat in Uyo, they declared that Nigeria’s voters register was faulty and in particular that of Anambra and Akwa Ibom.

So the question becomes when you deprived people of voting, people who registered and they turned out on election day and their names were not seen, and the people are in the majority, about 83 per cent, can such an election said to be in compliance with the Electoral Act? We are saying no, it should be nullified and a fresh election should take place. So the case is still on. As a matter of fact, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, delivered judgment two days ago, saying that we should go back to the Tribunal, that a new tribunal should be set up for us to try the case de novo. So we are waiting now for the Court of Appeal to give us a new tribunal to try the case.

It seems you enjoy having political battles with people. Recently, it was Prof Dora Akunyili. How do you feel always battling?

Prof.Akunyili is my family friend. I don’t want to discuss her but it is good that we are in this political logjam now and it affords one the opportunity to re-appraise relationship you had in the past and know whether the relationship was blossoming because one is gaining from you or the other way.

It is unfortunate that we found ourselves in this situation. Unfortunate, in the sense that at least she came to solicit for my blessing as former governor of the state sometime in October last year and she came again in December. That time, I had not made my interest known because my party had not told former governors that we were the ones that would carry the party’s flag in the senatorial elections so that we could make our party alive. And that was what I did.

What is your focus in the senate?

The 7th Senate will be the best Nigeria will have. As a matter of fact, the 7th National Assembly will be different. We have many former governors there and apart from that, we have people who came from the House of Representatives. We have also some senators coming back for third term and fourth term like the senate president. So the membership is already a qualitative one. Again Mark as senate president is very experienced; he went to school and vast in many ways. So he knows the politics of the place.

So we have good leadership. And when Senator David Mark wanted to come back, some of us voiced our apprehension about the image of the senate. And we know that one of the cardinal things that made the image bad was the so called jumbo pay. And before we came in, we surveyed that issue of jumbo pay and we discovered that actually it was not a question of salaries and allowances of senators that was called the jumbo pay, it was a misconception. Whatever they took in terms of allowances and salaries were as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilization Commission, so it constitutional.

It is this same commission that fixed the salaries of President, Vice President, Judges, senate president and National Assembly members. So National Assembly members did not breach that. What people misconstrued as jumbo pay was the running cost of the National Assembly. And that was what Sanusi was alluding to that it was gulping 25 per cent of the national recurrent expenditure not the entire budget.

Over head cost, which includes refreshment, fuel, stationeries and others, so this is what is called recurrent expenditure. So in order for the National Assembly to feel the pain of the ordinary Nigerians, we advised that they must be slashed. And the Senate President being the chairman of the National Assembly, consulted with former Speaker Bankole before we were sworn in.

And they agreed that the money must be slashed. And after we were sworn in, he informed us that some of those things we were talking about before swearing in have been taken care of. 40 per cent slash of the recurrent expenditure. And it is a very big sacrifice because it means that even the travels and tours funds were slashed.

And from this recurrent expenditure, you take care of your own constituency offices and sometimes it is actually very expensive because you have to open constituency offices in your area, like I am planning to open seven constituency offices which I will furnish and employ people there.

Boko Haram has been holding Nigeria hostage. How do we tackle that?

It is a socio-political religious problem. We need jobs for these people to keep them busy. We need skill acquisition centres. When people apply skills, they will discover that they will make more money than those working in the offices. With that, they will stay out of trouble. This is the social aspect of it. If you go to the political angle, the politicians use them during elections.

We have some big people backing them. Those people also believe that they can destabilize the government. Then the religious aspect of it, this is where the Imams, Mallams who teach the Holy Koran should come in. These people have been brain washed that they are fighting for Allah. That everything Western education is bad. So we must re-orientate them.

The Islamic scholars have big job in their hands now for this country. If they are patriotic to this nation, they should move in now. I know that other Mallams are afraid to go into the matter seriously because of the dangers involved. The security agents must rise to the occasion. It is not enough to start playing politics with security now. I as a matter Chief Executive of a state noticed when I was governor that the SSS and the police hardly collaborate. This is not the time for it.

The office of the National Security Adviser must stand up and be useful. And the job of that office is the coordination of all the arms of security. The enforcement of all security laws is very necessary. The politicians who are doing this should be fished out because they want to destabilize both the state and federal governments. Again, schools, skill acquisition centres should be opened everywhere. If you go to the South East, that is why you see kidnapping everyday. They recruit them because they are idle.

Above all, the government and the elites should know that we are all sitting on a keg of gun powder. If we do not do something to make majority of Nigerian people happy, things will go bad, we might lose Nigeria and we don’t pray for that.

Government must encourage education, it is a weapon against poverty, it is a weapon against ignorance. Once you have gotten education, you have fought poverty, disease, ignorance. So this is the cardinal thing. People should be treated for malaria free of charge. Pregnant women the same. These are social security issues we need to tackle.

Credit: Vanduard

 

Ngige secured 69,725 votes to defeat Prof.Dora Akunyili 69,236 votes

Dr Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been declared winner of the Anambra Central Senatorial election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). His rival and challenger   Prof. Dora Akunyili of the  All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) was defeated by Dr Chris Ngige, a former governor of Anambra State.

"The exercise was dogged by hitches in some of the polling units. At Obosi and Nkpor in Idemili North Council Area, election materials arrived late while accreditation and voting started late, despite a low turn out. At Aguata, Igwe Dr. Martins Eze called for the cancellation because of the hitches.As at 2:30p.m. yesterday, members of both ACN and PDP were still protesting at the INEC office at Aguata, threatening a showdown over harassment of their members," reported by The Nation Newspaper.

Ngige secured 69,725 votes to defeat Prof.Dora Akunyili of  APGA  who got  69,236 votes in an election held Tuesday in nine wards of the senatorial district to

finalized  the election held on April 9 in the area.

The defeated senatorial candidate Prof. Dora Akunyili of the  All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA)

This Day reported that "on Wednesday morning, the result of the Osun state House of Assembly poll held on Tuesday was released with the ACN winning all the 26 seats state assembly seats. The state Resident Electoral Commissioner , Mr Rufus Akeju who announced the results in Osogbo, the state capital  said the ACN also  won the re-scheduled House of Representatives election for Ife federal constituency."

 

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