Ngige For 2010: Pitying The Leader Caught Between Unloving Critics and Uncritical Lovers

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses -- you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks, said a Eugene V. Debs.

Born 8 August 1952, graduated from the University of Nigeria-Nsukka in 1979, a medical doctor by profession, served in National Assembly and State House clinics at different times as a civil servant, retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health, 29th May 2003 to 17th March 2006 Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige was governor of Anambra State, till today his footsteps on the soil of Anambra is still very difficult for his political opponents to clean with all the arsenal of bulldozers mounted in place to achieve this single aim.

By 1999-2006, Dr. Ngige was a member of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), which he was a founding member, and as well the Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East in 1999. Ngige's quickly misunderstanding with his self-styled "political godfather", Mr. Chris Uba, after an unsuccessful attempt on 10 July 2003 to illegally remove him from office through a fabricated letter of resignation which the state assembly accepted, is a controversial circumstances that made him instead of mar him as a democrat that is once seen in a century as against the black paint that was cooked in the inimical godfather's camp.

An observer captured his predicaments thus: A former Assistant Inspector General of Police, now late Mr. Raphael Ige abducted the Governor on July 10, 2003 with full detachment of Police and forced his resignation which was upheld by the Anambra State House of Assembly thereby swearing-in his erstwhile deputy, Mr. Okey Ude, as a governor. It was a clear failure for the constrictors of this plan. With an unrelenting zeal the Federal Government took the matter further to the Supreme Court on March 28, 2004 asking the court to declare the arrival of Ngige to the Government House as illegal, null and void. It went further to withdraw the security details of the Governor challenging the credibility of the Chief Judge that swore-in the Governor in the first place. On December12, 2003 the supporters of Chief Chris Uba engaged the security details of the Governor in a shoot-out at both the Michael Okpara square and at PDP South East Zonal Congress meeting at Enugu in which the Governor was humiliated. By November 29, 2004 an assassination attempt was made on the life of the Governor, which failed. Chris Ngige was reported to have another shock of his life when his convoy was involved in a ghastly motor accident along Adazi-Ani-Nnobi-Nnewi road though the Governor escaped, narrowly. On November 14, 2004 and December 4, 2004 the convoy of Chris Uba challenged the Governor's pathways and the Governor again escaped another assassination attempt, which put the Government House in blazes along with other Government edifices, respectively. The latest attempt was so devastating that colossal lost of property and valuables were recorded. The Supreme Court on Friday May13, 2005 ruled in favour of the Governor that he did not resign after all. According to the highest Court the document allegedly signed by Ngige as a resignation letter dated July 9, 2003 is a false document and hence null and void. With virtually only the commoners to hold onto, Chief Ngige severally suffered the blows of the Aso Rock steam, the striking tempestuous lash of his godfather and nervous betrayal of his party (PDP), went through the valley of perseverance of severance and came out nearly intact without a bold scar of submission.

By 15th March 2006, the Federal Court of Appeal affirmed the nullification of Ngige's purported 2003 election victory. This followed after a lower election court (election Tribunal) led by Justice Nabaruma had in August 2005 nullified his 2003 victory. Mr. Peter Obi, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was declared the bonafide winner of the election. But before this time Dr. Ngige has spent 33 months in office with skyrocketing profile. The nullification could not diminish him. Ngige accepted the court ruling. Support was given his traducers by the Obasanjo-led federal government, which was why Ngige accepted the court ruling to save the state further crises from arising. Dr. Ngige knew the people's pressing need at that time and he initiated popularity through road construction, which was seen as people-oriented programmes. Court had voided the disqualification. Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] conducted 'Governorship election' in the state in April 2007 frustrated his ambition in complicity with the federal authorities through a dubious 'disqualification' even after a Federal High.

Today, precisely on 7th July 2009, that frustrated ambition in the 2007 elections, has been scuttled by the members of the Action Congress (AC), as Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige was endorsed to contest the 2010 gubernatorial election in Anambra State, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Avenue in Anambra State capital, Awka, exactly at Tourist Garden Hotel.

A giant standing on giant shoulders must see clear, Dr. Ngige's endorsement, without surprise, witnessed an unusual traffic jam as a man loved by his people but always on the altar of unloving critics. Wreathing in smiles and happiness, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu said that Anambra people, Anambra AC members have come to gear-up strategies for 2010 governorship election. He described AC instructively as the only voice of the voiceless in Anambra. Greatly, AC has contributed to democracy and good governance in Anambra State. The National Secretary of AC, Usma Bugaji on his part reportedly said that the Action Congress was formed out of democratic struggle when President Olusegun Obasanjo was plotting to rewrite the Constitution for him to go for third term. Themselves on the PDP as at then fought relentlessly and apposed it. When Obasanjo's agenda failed his cronies did not want them to ensure internal democracy in the party. So they left and formed the AC.

To Bugaji, his sees AC as the hope of the Nigerian polity. He said: "What we saw in Awka capital today sent very strong signals of what would happen in Anambra in 2010. There has not been any politician in this country that has enjoyed the love, and support of the masses like the former governor Chris Ngige. Our vehicles could not move. People left their homes, offices, stores and whatever they were doing to catch a glimpse of this great son of Nigeria. That tells us that our task in 2010 is half done. It is because he worked for the people and that is why the people have embraced him. Come 2010, this man of the people, Chris Ngige would be in Government House Awka with the flag of the AC flying at the corridors of power. It is our plea that you all continue to support him and the party as we coast to victory in March 2010." AC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed reportedly said also, "We have seen it all and you should all know that no governor or politician is as popular as this man, Chris Ngige. What we saw was no rented crowd. We saw an overflow of love and emotions and I personally was wondering how he did it." Mr. Uche Onyeagocha, the Imo State governorship candidate of the party in 2007, was also reported to have spoken in undiluted Igbo: "Virtually every party in Anambra State is in crisis. The PDP has up to five factions. APGA also has several factions. The governor of the state killed APGA. The party that he used to become what he is today. It is only the AC that is intact. Even the PPA has its own problem. I call on you all to join us in returning Ngige back to Government House, Awka in 2010. This is a man who on the 10th of July 2003 put his life on the line for the liberation of Anambra people and he is ready to do more."

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, and they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown, said a Carl Sagan. Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige has made people think they're thinking, and they have loved him. He didn't really make them think, they didn't hate him. He did not lead by assaulting and hitting people over the head, which is not leadership. So, Nigerians look forward to seeing Anambra State that parades notable Igbo personalities like Chief Alex Ekwueme, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and Professor Chinua Achebe who didn't suffer fools in the State, between 1999-2003 kindly, support Dr. Ngigi as he said, "The Action Congress was formed in 2006 and we all know why. The party has remained firm in its pursuit of the democratic principles of our country. This is the first major time the national officers of our party are visiting us, apart from the time they came for campaign in 2007. We are constrained all over because we have only two states, two senators and 13 members of the House of Representatives. So our party is a party that the people made for themselves. In your respective wards and local governments, you use your money to come for meetings. I want to assure all of you and the national body, that we will not disappoint this party. We are going to reinvigorate this party."

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. +2348032552855. [email protected]