Posted by Valentine Obienyem | 13 May 2013 | 6,373 times
I think it was Shakespeare who in Macbeth said: “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” I am not a telepathy expert neither do I aspire to be one. Human nature is so complex that without proper evidence it is often dangerous to subject it to interpretative guess work.
Recently, Dr. Chris Ngige called on Gov. Peter Obi to give an account of close to N3 trillion he said Obi collected in his 7 years as the Governor of Anambra State. He went on to give the figures of what he collected and concluded that based on that, that he achieved more than Gov. Obi in terms of provision of infrastructure and other indices of government. Suffering from forgetfulness, he forgot that when he illegally held sway, that he was kidnapped. Still, he went on to declare that there was no kidnapping under him. It was a case of self righteous indignation here and there.
How do we analyse Ngige’s thesis? What is the truth content of his assertion? What is the import of his statement and what did he, ab initio, want to achieve? Is there a basis to compare the governments of Obi and Ngige and in what terms? Legitimacy of term, institution of what can be called the peace of Anambra (pax Anambrarianian), number and spread of projects taken in proportion to the number of years each spent, attraction of investment, respect for human rights, respect for the Office of the Governor, lecherous tendency, initiating Anambra into the pariah club and her eventual removal?... and many more.
Perhaps, to understand Ngige, let us trace the route by which he entered Government House. He rode on the wings of his godfather, Chief Chris Uba, who is young enough to be his first son. To enforce compliance to the demands of Chris, Ngige swore naked at the Okija shrine. When he was being inaugurated, Uba came in mid-way and Ngige raised him up for all the youth of Anambra State to see as a model crying for emulation. This very first act was Ngige’s inaugural speech, a statement on the trajectory his government would follow – rascality.
Thank God that Anambra was eventually saved, for Ngige shattered the saying that there is honour even among thieves. His quarrel with Uba was simply Ngige’s insistence on altering the ratio of sharing the loot as agreed. With this, fighting ensued and led, in 2004, to the burning of Anambra State. At that very moment, Anambra State became a notorious state in terms of rascality – the legacy of Ngige. It was painful to watch our dear state become the butt of dinner jollity among Nigerians. Anambrarians were alienated from their state and nobody visited the state. At that time those of us residing in Abuja dreaded reading the newspapers, because the only news coming out of Anambra was the story of rape and rapine.
I remember that Ngige ran away from the state when the burning was on. When he came back, in his usual comic manner, accentuated by sartorial carelessness, he declared in the ancient words of Cato the Elder: “It was Carthago (Anambra) delenda est (Anambra must be destroyed).” Ngige, always in love with high figures, put the cost of rehabilitating the state to over N30 billion, out of which he could not even rehabilitate his lodge, which was also torched. Peter Obi has rehabilitated all of them except the encumbered Ikenga Hotel, where government has now concluded plans to build a modern shopping mall.
In response to the saying that he who eats the testicles of the ram is indebted to hernia, Ngige’s indebtedness to his godfathers ensured he did not have a moment reprieve. When the heat became overbearing he was advised to embrace the people through projects. This was how he started the cathartic construction of roads in Idemili, his local government. Any road outside of Idemili either started or terminated there. Because Anambra was coming from an era of no single road, the people applauded him. It was a case of a poor man who had not eaten for two weeks, and is beholden to the person that gave him the first food however miserable. In other local government areas such as Anambra North, Anambra South, Ogbaru, Awka North, Ngige did nothing. In other sectors such as health, education, utilities, Ngige did nothing perhaps except the movement of the then non-existent Anambra State Teaching Hospital to his home town Alor.
Today under Obi, Anambra State has become one of the leading states in the country. This is just not a one-man report card. Hear the evidence of people who are not in the habit of dissimulating facts. According to the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Valerian Okeke, “Gov. Obi is the most youth, education, development and future-friendly governor. He is human person driven. He has continued to show that he has the best interest of the State at heart. May Anambra State never lack a leader like him.” In the words of the Anglican Bishop, Province on the Niger, Christian Efobi, referring to Obi, he used biblical passage to qualify him: “When the righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.” Speaking in the same vein, the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Hilary Okeke, said: “Governor Obi is always thinking and working to make things better through acts of love and philanthropy and has remained unrelenting in trying to make a difference in the life of the people. He lives an exemplary life and remains committed to building a model society with fear of God. With him Anambra is experiencing true governance.” For the Anglican Bishop of Onitsha, Owen Nwokolo, “What Anambra is witnessing under Obi is a revolution the like of which the State had not witnessed in the past.”
Ngige and Obi’s own Bishop and the Catholic Bishop of Awka would always say that the problem Anambra will face is getting somebody as good as Governor Obi to replace him. He had earlier, during the last ad Lima visit to Rome told the Emeritus Pope, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVII, that Obi was an example of what Christians in politics should be, after which the Pope impacted Apostolic blessing on him. In the words of Archbishop Jude Okolo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Chad and Central African Republic, who is from Anambra State: “Obi has wiped away the tears of our people, when they had to bear the burden of incompetent and greedy rulers. He has inspired the youth unto righteousness. His sense of uprightness has reached far and wide. He has become a symbol of reference.” In the words of the former Primate of Anglican Church, Rev. Peter Akinola, “Peter Obi is a special gift from God and should be celebrated for his passion for the people of the state, his commitment to good governance, provision of basic things of life such as good roads, water, and health and education facilities, among other.” For the fiery Fr. Ejike Mbaka, “Obi is a man of vision, mission, focus, compassion, piety and integrity.”
We can go on and on. I decided to limit the people’s view about him to top clergy men, who always speak without attachment. With this, one can see that Ngige and his likes always distort facts about Anambra State under Obi. The way people like Ngige celebrate misfortunes that befell the State will tell one that they do not think good about the state.
The truth of the matter is that in Anambra of today, everybody is full of pity for the person that will take over from Obi, because of the apprehension of how the person would be able to continue what the governor is doing.
While Ngige, a medical doctor, did nothing in the health sector, under Obi, Anambra now has accredited medical institutions, including a brand new Teaching Hospital, 15 rehabilitated General Hospitals, new hospitals, with more than 25 giant buildings in missionary health institutions. While Ngige did nothing in education sector, Obi returned schools to the missions and has given them about N6 billion that have turned the faces of Anambra schools. He has started the development of the permanent site of the State University, bought buses for schools in the state, provided generators, computers, laboratories for state schools. In fact, Ngige did not as a governor spend 1 naira on his alma mater, Alor Boys, which his aide tried to confuse the people by saying that Ngige did not attend Alor Boys but St. John Alor, when it is the same school that is known by the two names. Today Obi is rebuilding all the schools in Alor. When Governor Obi visited Alor Girls, overcame or propelled by forces we do not know, Ngige himself came to thank him for rehabilitating the education sector.
On investment, Ngige did nothing. He only invested in rascality making Anambra State the most dreaded state. Today new industries have taken off in the state. It was an irony that when he was making the N3 trillion statement, Obi was in faraway South Africa concluding talks with Distell group on coming to invest in Anambra. Strikingly, Distell people revealed, for I was at that meeting, that some prominent Anambra people, including a past governor who knew of their plan asked them not to come. Could that person be Ngige? He is capable of that as shown by his actions; he hates development of the state.
In the environmental sector, Obi has worked or is working on about 30 erosion sites such as Umuchiani in Ekwulobia, Mbaukwu, Ebenebe, Awka, Onitsha, Adazi-Nnukwu, Nsugbe, Nnewi, among others. In sports, while Ngige did nothing, Obi has built stadia, restored school sports and invested heavily in the sector.
While Ngige did not owe salaries and pensions during his illegal interregnum, it was Obi that cleared the arrears of pension of almost two years owed civil servants. While Ngige is remembered by civil servants for telling them that promotion is a privilege and not right, today, civil servants can tell you that civil service has changed in Anambra. Obi for the first time built two giant Secretariats for them, bought cars for those deserving of it, paid all manner of arrears of allowances denied them, among others. It might interest you to know that Gov. Obi was the one who paid disengagement allowances of those that worked under Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Ngige. Today some of those that served under them have not forgiven him, a case of a deity whose groove was destroyed by natural causes. The man feeding the deity joined hands in completely destroying the groove on the reason that a god cannot even protect its own abode.
Under Ngige, while the State Transport Corporation was dead, today ANIDS Transport founded by Obi is acknowledged as the fastest growing transport company in Nigeria. In security, while security agencies did not get a bicycle under Ngige, today Obi has bought over 300 vehicles for them. While Ngige did not construct a single bridge – if he did, let them show us – Obi, besides building the longest bridge, the Odor Bridge, is working on over 20 bridges such as Otuku at Umuezeanam, Ogbonabo at Isuaniocha, Ebenebe, three at Ozubulu, Aghomili, Umuodu in Okpuno, Okpu in Okija. In terms of road construction, while Ngige did about 193 kilometres, which was more of a cathartic reaction to gain the sympathy of the people when he was buffeted by his godfather, about 157kms are in Idemili. Obi has done over 750kms scattered across the state from Ogbaru through Anambra West to Ihiala, places that knew no roads since creation. The few that Ngige started in other local government areas he could not complete. Thus, it was Governor Peter Obi that completed Owerri-Ezukala-Umunze-Amesi-Uga-Igboukwu Road; Awka-Etiti-Nnewi-Ukpor-Utu-Orsumoghu-Isseke road; Otuocha-Agulueri-Umieri-Nteje-Awkuzu-Ifite-Dunu-Eziowelle-Abatete-Ideani; and Nnobi-Nnewi-Okija roads.
Have you been to Onitsha recently? The town is transformed. The money sunk into Onitsha project alone if far bigger than what Ngige said he spent on road construction during his interregnum. What is baffling is that amidst all this Governor Obi does not owe. Even the loan of N7 billion Ngige had concluded arrangement to take from one of the new generation banks before the courts removed him was terminated by Obi on assumption of office. Of course, everybody knows that one of the first acts of Governor Obi was to stop his plans to raise bonds.
In water sector, apart from the rehabilitation of mini water scheme in his town of Alor, which he brought the then Minister of Water Resources, Muktar Shagari, to commission and which soon broke down, he did nothing in that sector. Obi on his part is working on about 20 water schemes, some completed, others on-going some of which are Nibo, Dunukofia, Awkuzu, Ukpor,Azigbo, Nimo, Agulu, Umuoji, Obizi. Anambra recently won the best State in the South-East in terms of efforts in this sector.
In terms of partnership, under Ngige Anambra was a pariah state. Ngige himself spent better part of his illegal occupation of Awka Government House either in Abia or Delta State because of insecurity. No development partner was in Anambra State unlike now under Obi when they are all falling over themselves to be in the State – the EU, the WB, UNICEF, DFID, and UNDP among others. Commenting on this the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, David MACrae said: “European Union has always emphasised proper management of money, that is why it is important to have people of high integrity like Peter Obi.”
In terms of escapades, we understand that Ngige likes risqué stories and tells them beyond compare. Government House under him was a hot bed of romance. We hear the story of how his girl friend, one Ego from Umuebo kindred of Agbaja village in Abatete, died while procuring abortion in the USA. The people of the village in some solemn ceremony during her burial, full of mystical abracadabra, declared Ngige a persona non grata in the village. Today the story of amorous gallantry is of the past. In the area of bringing honour to the state, under Ngige Anambra was a byword for bedlam, but today civility has taken over and is ruling like an unchecked despot. One can go on ad infinitum.
During the last electioneering campaign, Ngige’s trademark was the inspection of projects Obi was doing ostensibly as projects initiated by him Ngige, a crafty ploy to deceive the gullible masses. In fact, at the pedestrian bridge at UNIZIK Junction, Awka, he was dishing out directives to construction workers. When he was accosted, he said the bridge was designed by him at Haifa, Israel. When Governor Obi started most of the roads Ngige hurriedly awarded when he was leaving office for which he did not pay a kobo, he said they were his projects. You could see the strain of mischief in all he does.
In Anambra of today, Ngige is among those who want to be governor. Assessing them, we continue to pray to God so that it will be that real men are yet to prance forward. Evaluating the pack, the Anglican Bishop of Amichi, Most Rev. Ephraim Ikeakor, said that what we had now pretending to be nursing the ideas of becoming governors were bunch of noise makers. One of them trying hard to impose himself on the state is a typical case of what Themistocles referred to as “money without the man.” When properly analysed, he does not even have money because his liabilities are far greater than his assets, liquid and physical.
I have taken time to respond to Ngige’s mischief because I challenged him to a debate which he accepted; I only hope he will live up to his promise by his own response. I have taken time to name the places Obi’s projects are located, to avoid any person without anything to show speaking in general terms.
Meanwhile, the man raising this dust is a failure at the Senate. He thought Senate was Anambra State and started on gra gra note. Today he is not heading any Committee. He has not moved any motion in the Senate and cannot account for his Constituency Projects. Most of the places he said he did Constituency Projects cannot be located. Go to Amansea today, where he said he was spending N70 million to provide them with a borehole and you will see the site overgrown with weed.
From the foregoing, one can deduce that there is no basis for comparing Ngige and Obi. It reminds one of Aristotle’s insistence that comparing the educated and the uneducated is like comparing the living and the dead.
I cared to respond to Ngige, because he still has his followers, no matter how negligible, who will take whatever he said at face value. As for Chief Victor Umeh who has been talking pure, unadulterated nonsense for two years now, I have not cared to respond to him because nobody takes him seriously. Everybody knows him as a political jobber without any tincture of the good of the people at heart. This is the only reason while he will be seeking to impose a person who will take Anambra State back to dark ages on the state.
I rest my case.
•Obienyem is Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to Governor Peter Obi.
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