By Seth Mbam
CHRIS Nwabueze Ngige, Onwa, is somebody who has often been misunderstood. If ever there was a master propagandist, here is one. He knows and understands politics as played by Nigerians. Perhaps, he knows it like the riotous, strange looking rings on his right hand.
This man came in when the state was down, at the nadir of her hopes, owing to the massive rape of the state during the Mbadinuju administration by those who called themselves politicians. Indeed, even Ngige, was part of the rot as he benefited from the looting and raping. He was allegedly given a 406 car by the then governor and a monthly allowance of N1million while the state was systematically dismantled.
Hence, throughout that better forgotten period, the crusader in Ngige, the champion of the masses spirit in Ngige, never surfaced because he was a beneficiary. Why would he complain when he was then living in the popular but overcrowded 1004 flats in Lagos? Why would he complain when he needed a lifeline and got one from the PDP government of the day?
But fate would even smile more on him when he was chosen by the godfathers as the anointed one to swear away his future and that of the state and subsequently made governor from the worst electoral fraud ever recorded then in the state.
It was then that he suddenly became public spirited and a crusader after falling out with his godfathers. He also displayed smartness and great political savvy by â€˜eatingâ€™ alone and accusing his godfathers of masterminding all the stateâ€™s woes. He appointed his sister, Bene Nwachukwu, a divorcee, as a roving assistant, a position she used to terrorize every commissioner apart from Atuegwu.
Ngige knew that if he only paid salaries, he would become a hero since salaries were owed workers for a year before he came. He also knew that the best way to â€˜eatâ€™ money was through award of road contracts as people would not bother to ask as long as they used the roads even if they were located in one place.
Thus in his three years of stolen mandate, he only paid salaries, built lopsided roads and fought his godfathers, a fight that led to the burning of the state in 2004 and which he did nothing to repair.
Then Peter Obi came and with him came purposeful, visionary and planned governance. Every sector started benefiting and roads were extended to every area of the state, including the long forgotten Ayamelum axis. Hospitals neglected by Ngige despite his medical background, got attention.
Civil servants whom Ngige described as lazy, got a better deal, with their salaries increased four times and a wonder secretariat built in record time for them. The forgotten educational sector got a facelift just like other sectors like transport, commerce and industry, sports, judiciary, etc. Donor agencies, seeing signs of a committed government, returned to the state, partnering with Obi to develop it.
Ngige became panicky as he saw that his so-called achievements had been taken to the cleaners. He started claiming credit for the projects and when people saw through his mischief, he started saying he got little money, forgetting the ever changing inflationary trends.
When this failed, he started raising false alarm over security and again forgetting it was a national phenomenon and that Anambraâ€™s was a bit different as it had political undertones which even Ngige himself, contributed to. One of those arrested for the kidnap of Soludoâ€™s father was a security operative under Ngige and was among those he allegedly armed with AK-47 rifles in the guise of security squads. Ngige also forgot that kidnapping started with him when he became the first and only governor in the world to be kidnapped.
Today, Ngige is no more an issue with the emergence of Obi and even Soludo, who are visioners and planners. But while Obi has no godfathers who will recoup their investment from him, Soludo has them aplenty, including the PDP hawks who are waiting to burn the state again if he doesnâ€™t play ball.
So if you were Ngige, would you not be worried? That is the burden he has and so you can pity him sometimes when he acts like an angryÂ man. May God help him.
Mr.Â Mbam, a public affairs commentator, writes from Nnoni.