Among the political players within Igboland and Nigeria’s political firmament, Nnamdi Emmanuel Uba remains a household name, revebarating undercurrents within the nation’s political sea.
Born on December 14, 1958, in Enugu State to Nze Philip Uba and Dame Chinwe Uba, Andy, as he was popularly called, had his primary and secondary education in Enugu.
Like his namesake, the great Zik of Africa, Nnamdi Uba travelled under the most stringent of conditions to the United States of America in search of a university degree.
In no distant time, Uba established himself as a decent Nigerian residing within the United States. His home then became a place of succour for visiting Nigerians, who till today speak volumes of Uba’s magnanimity; one should note that it was in Uba’s house that the late former First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo stayed when she fled Nigeria during the dark days of General Sani Abacha’s tyrannical rule.
As Senior Special Assistant for Special Duties and Domestic Affairs to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, Uba helped shape the Presidency such that Obasanjo and other members of the government accorded him immense respect. It was then said that he had the ears of the President, who largely relied on Uba’s counsel on delicate matters. However, unlike the emblematic type of public servant, who uses such opportunities to deify himself as a tin god and sometimes an equal to the almighty God, Uba carried himself with ample humility and diligence, so that, for the first four years of the Obasanjo administration, the mention of his name evoked little or no response, it was indeed a marvel that a Nigerian could have so much power and yet exercise immense restraint. That was Andy Uba for you.
By 2007, Uba was already warming up to run for political office, the Anambra State Governor’s Office was his next port of call. Assembling one of the best campaign teams in Anambra to first of all slug it out with the known political timber and caliber, here was an Uba pitched against a number of veteran politicians and a political class that did not seem to like him, owing to his undying loyalty to Obasanjo. Not surprisingly, he beat a number of these aspirants to pick the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having campaigned hard and around the state. Not one to take chances, Uba again campaigned vigorously in the entire state, taking cognisance of the challenges besetting Ndi Anambra and mapping an agenda that was to return the state to its lost glories.
Anything short of victory then would have put political pundits to shame, as all indicators pointed towards an Uba win, and win he did, sweeping the polls massively and ensuring an unprecedented win never witnessed before in the annals of Anambra politics.
The events that followed shortly after his win were to test Uba’s strength of character. First was the Supreme Court judgment, which ruled in the light of the fact that the tenure of any governor was a stipulated four years. This meant that though an Uba had won the 2007 election, the election ought not to have been conducted. This raised fears amid the past occurrences in the state perpetuated by Anambra’s enfant terrible, Chris Uba, younger brother to Andy, that an Uba might not give in easily and that the state was in for another baptism of smoke and fire as it had been in the days of Chris Ngige. Residents of the state became wary, after all Andy Uba was a sibling to Chris, he would surely be no different.
Uba’s actions proved otherwise; his countenance alone when the judgement was announced to him showed that he was a firm believer in the rule of law. He betrayed no emotion and called for calm among his teeming supporters who wanted to resist the judgement, displaying an act of statemanship rarely found within the nation’s political circles and with such action he proved naysayers wrong.
Uba immediately moved on, becoming a Senator twice in a row, where he has continued to legislate for the good of his people in Anambra South. An avid worker, Uba’s bills and motions rank him as one of the nation’s foremost legislators. He enjoys the confidence of his colleagues as well as the leadership of the Senate; simply put, Uba’s input in the National Assembly is breathtaking.
However, politics isn’t Uba’s only passion. He does not only reek of the game of numbers and the power play that follows it. No, Uba is also a humanist at heart, using his office and high standing in society to reach out to a number of persons, majorly the downtrodden.
Uba’s charity, which is massive when measured in its scale as well as width, has a number of programmes for a variety of people. For the past 15 years, Uba has awarded scholarships to 400 indigent students yearly all over the nation. His foundation, the Philip Uba Foundation, named after his father, also undertakes hospital outreaches, where the medical bills of numerous Nigerians are catered for. What, however, remains outstanding of such gestures is that they are largely done without the theatrics that other Nigerians seem to attach to them, which is definitely not Uba’s style.
At 59, Uba can be said to have lived a much fulfilled life. This is true with his numerous accomplishments in life. As amatter of fact, his days of glory haven’t all come and Ndi Anambra and Nigeria should still be expectant as this man is not the type to go out without a blaze of glory.
• Igboeli Arinze Napoleon writes from Abuja.