Last week, following reports that Nnamdi Uba had exhumed his ambition to become governor of Anambra State, I asked two broad questions in my column. One was that Mr. Uba—who is best known as Andy—establish the veracity of his academic credentials. Uba’s political website had listed him as possessing three earned degrees, including a Ph.D. But investigations by Sowore Omoyele of saharareporters.com, an assiduous, if unconventional, reporter, had cast serious doubt (some would argue definitive) on those claims.

Two, since any person who would be a governor is
expected to have sound ethical acumen, I wondered
aloud about the source of Uba’s famed wealth. This was
far from an idle question, for Uba, from all available
information, was a man of modest means prior to his
1999 appointment as former President Olusegun
Obasanjo’s domestic aide.

How could one have conjectured that Uba was wealthy?
We have Obasanjo’s word for it. In 2004, Uba had
ferried $170,000 in cash on a presidential jet while
traveling with Obasanjo to New York City. He failed to
declare the cash to U.S. authorities, a breach of
American law. Thanks to court documents that were
first uncovered by saharareporters.com, we know that
Uba (who is married) handed the cash to one Loretta
Mabinton, identified as his fiancée.

American authorities took an interest in this cash
haul when Mabinton spent close to $100,000 to buy a
Mercedes Benz car for Uba. As U.S. officials snooped
into Mabinton’s finances, they discovered that she’d
also used $45,000 to purchase equipment for Obasanjo’s
Temperance Farm.

Many Nigerians raised questions, first about the
source of Uba’s undeclared cash and second about the
propriety of the president receiving such an expensive
gift from one of his aides. Mr. Obasanjo scoffed. Uba,
he said, had made a fortune long before he came to
Abuja to take up a middling political appointment.

Obasanjo’s narrative had holes. If Uba was a
millionaire in America, then why didn’t he write a
cheque from one of his U.S. accounts for the car and
farm equipment instead of transporting cash from
Nigeria? Or did he close all his accounts and transfer
his assets to Nigeria? In which case, he’d have a
record of such a transfer. At any rate, when American
officials questioned him about the source of the
$170,000, why didn’t he assert that it was part of the
money he’d repatriated to Nigeria?

Part of my dream is to see Nigeria’s public space rid
of charlatans, usurpers, pretenders and fly-by-nights.
In the particular case of Anambra, my home state, one
has been consternated by its perennial impoverishment
and betrayal. Enough’s enough.

If a man with Uba’s ethical baggage insists on
“ruling” Anambra, then he should be prepared, at
minimum, to declare his assets and liabilities. The
people of Anambra deserve to know who he is. Where
discrepancies exist between who he claims to be and
the revealed record, it behooves him to reconcile the
account. That’s why I asked unsparing questions in
last week’s column entitled “My Vote for Andy Uba”.

Uba’s response came in the form of two diatribes, one
titled “Okey Ndibe on Andy Uba” and written by one
Jerome Azubuko, the other captioned “Apogee of Hate by
Okey Ndibe,” which was signed by Chuka Nwosu, former
director of public affairs of the Andy Uba Campaign
Organization. Taken together, both responses threw
little light on the grave ethical questions several
commentators and I had raised about Uba. Instead, they
revealed the squalid moral state in which their
principal, and they as his amanuenses, are trapped.

Neither Azubuko nor Nwosu would shame me and Uba’s
other critics by proving, one, that he holds the
certificates he claims and, two, that he made his
wealth in a licit, irreproachable manner. Instead,
Azubuko called me a slew of names, among them: coward,
dastard, daft, domestic failure, an exile, hoary
headed, poverty-pulverized, economic refugee,
mendicant, and sniper. He accused me of peddling
“illogicalities and incongruities.” He questioned my
sanity. He named me “a lily-livered armchair critic.”
And he wrote that I had importuned Uba for a pay-off
in exchange for ceasing my criticism, but that Uba had
rebuffed my “pecuniary demand”

Azubuko asked: “Can Ndibe deny dispatching perverse
emissaries, while still writing his damnation, to Dr.
Uba to settle him so that he could kill his column of
calumniation? Can Ndibe deny that he did not send to
Dr. Uba his emissaries of graft and blackmail?”

He accused me of “crass and crushing ignorance.” Of my
column, he wrote that it was “satanic and destructive”
and that I had “cheapened the back page of the DAILY
SUN.”

Here’s another example of Azubuko’s championship-grade
excoriation: “Okey Ndibe, from his photograph on the
back page of the DAILY SUN, looks to me like one of
those famous, famously poor ‘veteran journalists’
whose permanent abode is the balcony or receptions of
NUJ Press Centres, forever to be found, nearly
drowning in bottles of beer paid for by others and who
ceaselessly harass the successful for chicken change
which they promptly waste on alcohol like Unoka, the
father of Okonkwo in Achebe’s THINGS FALL APART.”

What powerful stuff! And he even threw in free advice
on the formula for success. “Grey hair
notwithstanding,” he wrote, “[Ndibe] can ‘succeed’ if
only he would rejoice with those who are successful
and are rejoicing instead of trying to pull them down
and dig their graves. He should change or die a
pauper, a hand outstretched for a kind kobo from
Governor Andy Uba of Anambra State.”

Nwosu’s retort vended more of the same. For him, my
column exposed “a hate-infested thought-process
possessed by a man at the apogee of his hatred” for
Uba. He unmasked me as “a self-acclaimed
‘intellectual’, who lives in a condominium (high-rise
flat) in America with his family.” Charging me with
“empty arrogance, jealous disposition, warts and all,”
he challenged me to “run and win even a councillorship
election in his village ward.” He figured me out as a
“lying geezer [who] is nobody in his home town
Amawbia, Anambra State, and Nigeria.” Then he
contended that “the highest courts in Nigeria” had
settled the question of Uba’s educational
qualifications

The evasive response did not surprise me in the least.
Uba’s hired hands had to work with what was available
to them: cheap propaganda, sophomoric lies, and a
dime-a-dozen insults. If Uba can’t produce the
certificates that would forever put me and other
critics to shame, then why won’t his paid hands dust
up a dictionary and desperately fish for aspersions?
If Uba can’t give a straightforward explanation for
the source of his wealth, then why not call Okey Ndibe
a pauper, a pitiable teacher, a nonentity in his
hometown? Why not remind this irritating columnist
that his hair is graying, that he is
“poverty-pulverized” (like most Nigerians for whom the
Ubas have Olympian disgust), that he is an exile and
economic refugee? Why not taunt this uppity columnist
with the fact that he doesn’t live in a mansion, that
he has no oil blocs, that he is no chieftain of the
greatest political party in Africa? Why not, indeed?

Uba’s response was in character. It revealed that this
would-be governor and his crowd of griots have nothing
but contempt for anybody who works for a living. The
harder you work for a living, the more contemptible
you seem to them. By their reckoning, even the Supreme
Court justices who work hard at their judicial tasks
(and who therefore don’t have Uba’s stupendous riches)
must seem pathetic. By contrast, anybody who acquires
wealth through shady means, or who is a wizard in the
art of stealing and lying, is to be celebrated as
heroic, virtuous, and worthy of praise. Behold, the
mind of the man who is haranguing the Supreme Court to
re-install him in illegitimate power!

In my column of March 27 titled “Andy Uba Goes to
War,” I had detailed how several of Uba’s agents had
rang me and offered stupendous sums in order to buy my
silence. One simply asked me to name my price. To each
agent I gave the same message: Some people are not for
sale. I’ll never covet Uba’s or anybody’s filthy cash;
all I ask for is the space and freedom to tell the
truth.

Here’s something Uba may not know: God flattered me
with extraordinary parents who equipped me, and my
siblings, with sound moral instincts. My opinions will
never be for sale to any bidders, no matter their
wealth. And unlike the Uba crowd, I reserve my highest
respect only for those who are morally wealthy. I
respect those who work hard for their living, even if
they live in shacks. For those who flaunt ill-gotten
wealth, I have absolute disdain.

As the parlance goes, Uba is loaded. But his
unexplained wealth may well prove his undoing. For
there are many things that money simply can’t buy. It
doesn’t buy true respect, wisdom or honor. If Uba’s
handlers truly care for him, they should talk to him
about the capital sin of hubris, that malady of puny
men seized by an inflated sense of importance.

If Uba and his hired hands imagine that shameless lies
and gratuitous insults (about, of all things, that
part of my hair that is beautifully gray!) are going
to rattle me, then they know nothing about me. My
challenge stands: Let Andy Uba tell the world where he
went to school, and how he made his money. If he wants
the nation to take his Supreme Court appeal seriously,
he must first come clean about these matters. Period!

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