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Uba and Soludo: different symptoms of the same disease? - by Okey Ndibe


Anambra State is once again on the verge of a tragic political explosion. The state's political temperature is boiling – dangerously boiling over – all because different factions of the Peoples Democratic Party are determined to seize the state, decidedly by crook, and turn its

hijacked resources and assets into playthings for the depraved pleasure of a tiny coterie.

Anambra is primed to become the latest theatre for the ruling party's wacky notion that elections are a do-or-die affair. That idea was put on display only a few months ago in Ekiti where a re-run governorship contest was turned into a bloody battle royale. The PDP's cast in Ekiti starred Umaru Yar'Adua, a man who slumbers while Nigeria totters, but who always finds time, somehow, to lead off his party's political campaigns, often a prelude and cover for mindless rigging. The party's who's who contingent in Ekiti also featured Speaker Dimeji Bankole who put apprehensive party faithful at ease by reminding them of their party's ability to commandeer the military to the purpose of victory. Then, from his gubernatorial perch in Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola telegraphed a message – caught on tape, no less – that he had the wherewithal to supply arms, ammunition and military uniform to enable the party to bludgeon the opposition into submission.

With officials of a credibility-deficient “Independent” National Electoral Commission umpiring the farce of an election, the PDP re-conquered Ekiti. The party's triumphant officials cynically challenged the shocked and awed opposition to “go back to court.” The Ekiti people were put through the crucibles of the doctrine of do-or-die.

Anambra appears fated for a worse experiment. Here, a party that seems determined to smother the nation's fledging promise of democracy, has refined its hideous battle-cry into a cruder, bloodier variant best described as do-and-die. The PDP is in the throes of an all-consuming internal war that is a sneak preview of what awaits the people of Anambra who – in keeping with the party's policy – must be cowed and savaged, their will crushed by all means.

As proof and foretaste of this fierce fight, witness the recent abduction of the eighty-year old father of Charles Chukwuma Soludo, immediate past governor of the Central Bank. Soludo, a PhD in economics and a former professor, betrayed fundamental democratic principles when he offered himself to be smuggled through the backdoor as the party's governorship candidate.

Anambra is caught in the middle of (at least) a four-pronged assault. There is Soludo, a candidate who opted to cut corners rather than test out his popularity within his own party. There is Chris Uba, a thoroughly uneducated political operative whose mode of operation suggests a younger version of Lamidi Adedibu, the late rustic exponent of amala politics. There is Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba (most often called Andy Uba), Chris's equally ill-educated elder brother whose political history objectifies the tragedy of Nigerian politics. Then there are the scores of governorship aspirants who shelled out more than N5 million for a shot at the gambling table – to decide who will have the most direct access to the Anambra treasury.

Let's begin from the last group. That forty-seven men and women paid N5 million merely for the opportunity to seek the party's governorship ticket says a lot about the parasitic designs of the would-be candidates. In a country where more than seventy percent of the populace lives on little more than a dollar a day, no sane person who made his money legitimately would spend so much on buying what was, in effect, an entry fee into a gambling session. Perhaps, then, a good number of these candidates, if not most, had their eyes set on the price: the billions to be stolen once in office. What stood out, above all, was the preponderance of mediocrities, even outright failures, on the roll of candidates – as if the governance of a state were an all-comer's affair.

How about Andy Uba, who has fashioned a comical show out of running from one court to another, desperate to secure judicial validation of his fancy that he is a “governor-in-waiting”? Quite simply, any court that humors Uba's ambition would be complicit in the enthronement of a culture of falsehood, even fraud.

Much of the Nigerian press still addresses Andy Uba with the prefix of Dr, a sad commentary on the loose standards in journalistic practice. Thanks to the investigative enterprise of, it is now beyond question that Mr. Andy Uba does not hold an earned bachelor's degree, much less a doctorate. It's also doubtful that he has an honorary doctorate from an accredited university.

Uba appears to be legendarily wealthy, another curiosity. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whom Uba served for eight years as a domestic aide, once suggested that Uba acquired his wealth as a businessman in the US. That's a lie. In 2004, Uba got into trouble with US authorities for bringing in $170,000 in cash on a presidential jet while traveling with Obasanjo. Asked to account for the source of the cash, which he had failed to declare to US Customs, Uba said it had come from family sources. Had he been a millionaire before leaving the US in 1999, Uba would easily have recalled that fact to US investigators. In the end, he paid a fine in excess of $26,000 to settle the case.

The prospect of a man like Uba becoming a governor may well be music to Maurice Iwu's ears, but that's Mr. Iwu's kind of fantasy and he's entitled to it. For the people of Anambra – indeed, for Nigerians as a whole – the contemplation of an Andy Uba governorship is a moral affront. It would amount to telling young people that it's sound policy to bestow a doctorate on oneself, and to make a spectacle of wealth accumulated through means that are less than transparent.

The most charitable thing to say about Chris Uba is that he and the PDP are a perfect match. For only a party that revels in mischief would elevate Chris Uba to a seat among its board of trustees (but, alas, that body is a collection of people cast in the same mold), or hand him its instruments in Anambra. It's no wonder that a man who relishes the title of political godfather would wish, yet again, to impose his choice as governorship candidate – and selected governor.

It would be easy to ascribe Chris Uba's deportment to his lack of education. It would be easy to view Andy Uba as afflicted with the same malady as his younger brother, one he essays to mask by wearing the self-arrogated toga of “Doctor.” But how does one account for the terrible political instincts so far exhibited by Soludo, a verifiably educated man? At this rather inauspicious time, with his tenure at the Central Bank under unflattering review, why did Soludo choose to make a swaggering entry into the political ring? And why has he failed to recognize that his chief sponsor, Tony Anenih, is – politically speaking – toxic?

Soludo's willingness to receive a ticket that was snatched from other contenders – rather than transparently won – raises disturbing questions. In the end, even though the difference between Soludo and Andy Uba is, in some sense, one between an earned doctorate and a counterfeit one, the former number one banker has hardly exhibited greater enlightenment in politics.

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