By Max Nduaguibe
I sympathise with Ukwa Ngwa people from Abia State and beyond, who have inundated me with text messages and phone calls, demanding the reason for my silence since the recent political turbulence in Abia State.
Let me first of all inform those who may not know, that I took a political back seat after I lost the Abia Central Senatorial election it in 2011. And soon after that, I found solace in writing and published two books (The Law and Politics of ECOWAS, and a novel entitled: The Tragedy of Yagana). Thereafter, my health became frail, as I advanced in age and so, I decided to be playing advisory roles, as an elder statesman in the state.
Nevertheless, I share my sympathy with the Ukwa Ngwa people of Abia State in this period of anxiety and trepidation, arising from the recent vagaries of politics, which, in my humble opinion, the Ukwa Ngwa people have brought upon themselves.
I sympathise with the Ukwa Ngwa people for their failure in organising themselves, in view of capturing political power in Abia State, their failure to realise that political power is never given; it is usually conquered. Any time that power is assumed given, it is certainly counterfeit power that is transferred to the recipient, a Greek gift.
It has been a fatal failure on our part and we have no one else to blame than ourselves. We were, and still are naïve with the assumption that the self-glorification of a few government appointees in Ukwa Ngwa has guaranteed us a firm promise for it. Who do you blame when neophytes dominated the political terrain in Ukwa Ngwa? The so-called Ukwa Ngwa politicians, in their amateurish understanding of political struggle, presumed, even against knowledgeable counsel, that pilgrimages and servitude to former governors was the sure way for a governor to emerge from Ukwa Ngwa land. They went and exposed their weaknesses to their opponents and adversaries, publicly and persistently chastised their elders, turned themselves unabashedly to become greatest cheerleaders of previous regimes, begging to be given the governorship of Abia State, ‘even if it means giving it to the most stupid of us, provided the person is an Ngwa person.’
Previous regimes gave our political neophytes the false assumption that if they served well their masters, they would compensate them with political power, thus, creating a crop of political jobbers in Ukwa Ngwa land; a group of little people, vulcanizers, motor park touts, low level people with little or no education were humoured with insignificant political appointments, as councillors, ward chairmen, commissioners and sent back to their villages by their masters in Umuahia to go and abuse their elders, their erstwhile political adversaries, who had jostled with them at the end of military regime and resumption of democratic politics. Dr. Gershon Amuta and myself (Dr. Max Nduaguibe) principally, then Dr. Chima Nwafor, Dr. Dominic Nwogbe, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, Sen. Nkechi Nwaogu and Chief Willie Wabara and others were the first 11 in the expression of Ukwa Ngwa aspiration for the governorship of Abia State. These leaders became targets of the so-called ‘honourables’ empowered to go and disorganise any cohesiveness left in Ukwa Ngwa land, even the appointment of traditional rulers in Ngwaland is symptomatic of divide-and-rule meant to continue the exploitation of the disunity in Ukwa ngwaland.
Brainwashed with little appointments, our ‘honourables’ believed that exhibiting unflinching servitude would be compensation for bigger appointments. Our so-called ‘honourables’ went unrestrained in disrupting the existing political organisation installed by their elders. They were even forbidden from relating with their elders, brothers and sisters, who were not obedient to their masters. In-fighting, mudslinging, blackmail took over the political terrain in Ukwa Ngwa land. So, for 17 years to date, the Ukwa Ngwa failed to organise themselves to grab power. Instead, they outclassed one another to prove the depth of their servitude to their masters in Umuahia with the false expectation that power would be given to them. Now that, for some of us, power has been given to Ukwa Ngwa, is it not clear to us that it is counterfeit power that was given to us? 1) Who gave us the power? Answer: Chief TA Orji and his son, clearly, not in agreement with the leaders of Bende clan with whom we are in competition for political power in Abia State. And not in agreement also with the opinion of the majority of Ukwa Ngwa voters; 2) Was the transfer of power to Ukwa Ngwa as a result of consensus building between Bende and Ukwa Ngwa, the two clans in Abia? Answer: No! All the eight LGAs in Bende rejected the so-called Ukwa Ngwa candidate (Okezie Ikpeazu), including one or two LGAs in Ukwa Ngwa land; 3) The nature of the conflict today has been twisted to look as if it is a war between the Bende people and the Ukwa Ngwa people, a dangerous outcome of political manipulation, making the state more divided and atomistic; 4) the lack of consensus was also manifest within TA Orji’s family. There was no agreement as to the nature of power to be given to Ndi Ukwa Ngwa between the ex-governor and his son, who, suddenly, is today, the effective power broker in Abia State. There was no consultation with Ukwa Ngwa people.
Ukwa Ngwa had lost the ‘privilege’ to be consulted because we had reduced ourselves to an unenviable status of beggars, and not partners, just by our conducts in the last 17 years. And our adversaries did not fail to rub it in our face, by exhibiting their arrogance, by unilaterally choosing the positions that protected the loot and the interest of the looters in government in the last 17 years, and also by guaranteeing the power to reduce the so-called governor to the status of a real puppet (by retaining the position of state party chairman, a position, which had always remained in the zone where the governor comes from, and this was done, in addition, to guaranteeing eventual removal of the governor with ease. To make it so brazen, they took control of the following vital positions of governance: Chief of Staff, Secretary to State Government (SSG), Commissioner for Finance, Commissioner for Works and Public Utilities, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Chief Judge, Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs. All of these portfolios and more were held for 17 years in the zone where the former governors came from. Why strip Ukwa Ngwa the real power? Why give them counterfeit power, adegboroja power? 5) TA Orji and family tied the power given to Ndi Ukwa Ngwa with apron strings, including with the tax clearance certificate. The power givers used our ‘honourables’ to reject authentic Ngwa folks who have ambition, thus genuine aspirations to serve Abia State well. These include Senator Abaribe, Senator Nwaogu and Barr. FN Nwosu. And to make sure the chosen puppet remained an obedient houseboy, the power givers planted all sorts of banana peals on his pathway (adegboroja tax papers), allotted powerful portfolios to themselves, appointed new permanent secretaries to cage him and nominated their ardent loyalists and cousins, as commissioners for him; 6) It is these fears that turned a large portion of Abia people against the PDP. Having used their agents in Ngwa land to rubbish and discredit authentic candidates and by so doing rubbishing their own elders, the present political ‘honourables’ in Ukwa Ngwa, inadvertently, without knowing how, finally deprived themselves the quality and calibre of politicians that could have stood up to the power givers and wrest authentic power from them to serve the whole of Abia State and not just a few families of the power givers.
I am amused to note that the Board of Internal Revenue in Abia State, hitherto used in the last 17 years to falsify and deliver fake tax receipts to regimes opponents, is, today coming out, unlike in the past, uninvited, to defend a tax clearance dated and issued on a Saturday. Nemesis?
If Okezie Ikpeazu fails to retain the seat, pray that Barr. Nwosu grabs it. Otherwise, your tears and regrets will be as mine.
• Dr. Nduaguibe, Ph.D., Ugo Ngwa 2, Ugo Ndi Ukwa na Ngwa 1; Leader, Concerned Ukwa Ngwa Elders, wrote in from Umuahia.
Time for AGF to do the needful
By Chidozie Ebo
A wise man is not that man who is faultless or one that does not make mistakes. He is that man that makes mistakes and corrects his mistake before things get out of hand. This is the hallmark of a statesman.
Not long ago, Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, instituted a forgery suit against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, and two others, consequentially leading to their arraignment before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. Following this development, the Senate cried out that the trial was a coup against it, as its Standing Rule was not forged, affirming that the Attorney General of Federation was only acting out a personal and partisan script. The Senate categorically and boldly drew the attention of Nigerians to the fact that the Attorney General of the Federation was abusing his position, as the nation’s Chief Law Officer.
A recent judicial declaration has since shown that the Senate was right in their interpretation of the script of the nation’s Chief Law Officer. Recently, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja could not just contain his overflowing anger over the development. Ruling on a motion ex-parte brought before him by Senator Gil Nnaji, which was seeking to stop the implementation of the police report, he lampooned the AGF over the forgery case he filed against the Senate’s presiding officers, describing his action as an abuse of court process. The learned judge stressed that the Attorney General of Federation was too hasty in filing the charge given that there was a pending civil suit, challenging the propriety of the police report on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rule 2015 in which the Attorney General of the Federation and the Inspector General of Police were listed as defendants.
Besides his informed view, the comments of many well-meaning Nigerians have equally disputed the propriety of the action of the Attorney General of the Federation and his cohorts. In fact, Nigerians across tribes and regions have since asked the Chief Law officer to do the needful by withdrawing the suit in the interest of the nation’s democracy. For instance, in his reaction to the position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal, that the trial of Dr. Saraki and Dr. Ekweremadu was not a trial of the entire Senate, a renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, remarked that the Executive was in breach of the Constitution.
Prof. Nwabueze strongly argued that the trial of the two presiding officers of the Senate was, indeed, a trial of the entire Senate. According to the elder statesman, “the prosecution of the leadership of the Senate in a court of law under the Executive amounts to use of coercive influence to interfere in the internal proceedings of the Senate, which is a flagrant breach of separation of powers caused by ignorance.”
In yet another reaction on the same subject matter, the Enugu Peoples Forum (EPF) has since called to attention that our much-cherished democracy was in great danger. The group held that the arraignment of the duo of Saraki and Ekweremadu was a gross abuse of office. The group condemned, in strong terms, the present administration’s refusal to obey valid court orders, among other undemocratic activities and held that this disposition, accompanied by a growing culture of impunity, was dangerous and a threat to the present democratic enterprise.
Very importantly, it should be underscored that the Legislature remains an important arm of government in any democracy. This arm of government should not be ridiculed by the Executive, as lawmakers are the real representatives of the people in every democracy. Any attempt to ridicule them, or to arm-twist them invariably amounts to arm-twisting the very people for which the democracy is meant to serve.
Therefore, rather than waste useful man-hour on a wild goose chase, the AGF, alongside his cohorts in this inglorious adventure, should do the needful by withdrawing the suit. A stitch in time saves nine. The world is watching. Nigerians are also watching!
• Ebo, a public affairs analyst, wrote this piece from Kaduna, Kaduna State.