In a series of essays that mostly appeal to emotion rather than reason, frenzied media handlers of the chief occupant of the Anambra State Government House facing an uphill re-election in November, as result of an unimpressive scorecard, have found in the former governor of the state and serving Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, a substantial reason for their woes, hence, the Prince of Idemili has become a favourite sport. Anambra political space is, at present, stuffed with defeatist outcry, symptomatic of a student so ill-prepared for examination. This tale, however, is not hitting a nerve with the people.
What common knowledge did not avail these voyagers of gubernatorial illusion is the warning by the Chinua Achebe, whose spirit one Zephaniah Ekwegablu invoked, in justifying his despairing cause in his May 5, 2017 article, entitled “Et tu Chris Ngige.” Achebe in the Education of a British–Protected Child, had warned that while you trample on the humanity of others, you furiously devalue yours. That legendry author had elsewhere in No Longer At Ease also cautioned: “You cannot plant greatness as you plant yams or maize. Whoever planted an iroko tree? You may collect all the iroko seeds in the world, open the soil and put them there. It will be in vain. The great tree chooses where to grow and we find it there, so it is with greatness in men.”
With the watershed of a 33 months renaissance as Anambra governor and the extant 18 months re-engineering of labour administration in Nigeria, who needs a better definition of greatness. While Ekwegbalu and his fellow, Echezona Okechi, who authored, “Wrecking the APC Brand in Anambra” on April 26, acknowledged this, they erroneously thought mere words were enough to fell an iroko and grow another in the present landlord of the Anambra Government House.
Recall that when, on December 12, 2016, Senator Ngige announced he would not contest the November 2017 governorship election, wild jubilation broke out among the high and low in APGA. Their major headache towards re-election was removed, they thought. Ngige had contested twice in 2010 and 2014; lost only to forces that precluded credible elections in the state. It is now history, but it is established that barring rigging, no contemporary politician will win Ngige in any election where Ndi Anambra are sole deciders. Today, in the absence of the PDP Federal Government, who overtly rigged previous elections for APGA, the prospect of rigging out the most popular politician in Anambra in November 2017 is very remote. That he will, therefore, not contest is a big celebration for APGA.
However, since early this year when Ngige made it clear he would work to ensure that APC fielded a formidable candidate that would win the election, “Agu Awka” and its inhabitants have been in turmoil. They have not only been jittery, but also gone berserk, raising false alarm, preposterous allegations, using all manner of means and medium. They are scared stiff someone is challenging the audacious weak-pass our people currently face. APGA members, supporters and sympathisers have turned ‘clamantes,’ the Latin ablative masculine gender for wailers. While Okechi’s lamentation was that APC membership in the state was being swelled by defectors from the PDP, Ekwegbalu gorged his lachrymal gland that Ngige refused to fight APGA’s battle by quickly dissociating himself and chasing away some men they fear could be hard nut to crack should he support any of them. They forgot that in 2011, some of those predator-carnivores flew the flag of their party as National Assembly candidates. Probably, when Hon. Chuma Nzeribe, who they specifically maligned, picked APGA ticket for Anambra South in 2011 and was described by the party hierarchy as a “lion,” bound for glory in Abuja, he was herbivore. How all that changed is what Ekwegbalu did not tell us.
Do not guess; the intention of the two essayists is strategic, an attempt to set the big weights in the state APC against one another, in a manner that they destroy themselves and go to the polls limping. Ekwegbalu smartly plays Lago, that Machiavellian schemer and manipulating character in the Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, Othello. But he plays so with incipient imperfection, for while Lago is with motiveless malignity, the ulterior motive of APGA impresario is clear malevolent destruction of perceived lead characters in the APC. But clearly short of smartness, he doesn’t realise Senator Ngige will neither fall an Othello nor a Roderigo both of whom Lago schemed to death!
Indeed, making Governor Willie Obiano and his supporters victims of APC oppression is sheer imagination that rankles common sense. In fact, if the allegation of deployment of a nebulously termed federal might is preposterous, alleging that Senator Ngige aspires to a violent articulation of his political belief makes an allergic fellow puke. I waited to read one instance where he deployed the so-called federal might but did not. Granted that unlike Peter Obi, who literally banished his predecessors, Obiano is not given to wicked scorch earth politics against those who were governors before him or their legacies, it is correct to assert that Ngige has as well treated him with deserving respect. However, this does not annul his rights, as a citizen of the state to air his views on bad governance. It is on record that even when Obiano’s aides have serially attacked Ngige’s person, neither he nor his assistants have found it necessary to respond. This is borne out of his principled stand that even when you criticise a government, it still deserves all support to get it right. Constructive criticisms, such as darts on the integrity-challenged bridges in Awka, already developing fissures, have nothing to do with federal might. In less than two years, the bridges are already restricted to use by heavy duty vehicles, meaning all is not well.
Similarly, the thinking that because both men have been relating well and that Ngige, unlike some federal appointees, has been no thorns in his governor’s flesh, cannot nullify his aspirations. The fact is that Obiano’s handlers are historically naive to reflect on the relationship between Caesar and Pompey. Note, when Caesar returned to Rome in 60 BC and formed an alliance with a rival, Pompey, he did so to achieve stability and break opposition in the Roman Senate. Pompey was a sturdy Roman General, nicknamed “Magnus,” the Latin for great because of his youthful outstanding war career, the very exploits that also waived stringent criteria for him to be elected to the Roman Senate. The tactical Caesar went further to give Pompey his daughter, Julia, in marriage. Caesar sealed the First Triumvirate by also bringing in Marcus Crassus, the richest man in Rome into the alliance. But this deal lasted for as long as their paths to political power did not cross. When it did in BC 51, both were drawn in bitter, long stretched battle, forcing Pompey into exile in Egypt. The lesson here is not about who is Caesar or Pompey. It is the fact that cooperation between two rivals will last as long as nothing draws a test on their ambitions.
The November governorship election in Anambra is a battleground and Ngige has clearly said he would support his party to win. The APGA ‘clamantes’ shouldn’t, therefore, expect otherwise. Let this needless wolf in the neighborhood stop.
With over three years in power, they should seek to intimidate opponents with stunning records of achievements, leaving them to battle to convince Anambra people on how better they would have handled situation were they given the mandate. To do otherwise is to confirm looming fears that Obiano has not performed beyond paying salaries.
• Nwachukwu is Special Assistant, Media, to the Minister of Labour and Employment.