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Anambra State as PDP hostage

November 7, 2009

I have been shaking my clock severely, but it insists this is indeed 2009.

It is a fascinating time.  The United States has just elected a black man as president.  Ghana’s election last year is being held up—by Ghana, and by the world—as a “how-to” model.

South Africa has held another bedlam-free election, in full view of the world, and the Internet.  Indonesia, with a population that is twice as much as ours, has held another presidential election in full consonance with her constitution, and the observation of the world. 
2009.  It is not an election year for Nigeria; our big general elections are not until 2011.  In February 2010, however, we have a critical mid-term governorship election in Anambra State.  That dress rehearsal, which the world knows will tell a lot about where we are going, is three months from now.  Regrettably, we do not seem to be doing very well.   

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which calls itself ‘Africa’s biggest party,’ has never believed in election primaries as a tool for determining the most appealing candidate.  It unilaterally chose Chukwuma Soludo, as its candidate. 

Soludo, the former Governor of the Central Bank, is incensed that other candidates have refused to refuse his imposition on the party.  That makes him a mainstream PDP-er: he has neither shame nor pride. 

Before he assumed governorship of the Central Bank, Soludo was said to have been a university teacher.  Such a background suggests a good education, as university degrees are awarded on the basis of learning, but of character. 

In Soludo’s case, he must have been unavoidably absent when the courses on character were being offered.  Before I attempt to justify this statement, let me say a little bit about his key opponents in the Anambra political process: an election-rigger, and a certificate buyer.

First, Chris Uba.   In 2003, following the atrocious performance in office of one Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Anambra State found itself with an opportunity to make a fresh start.  But that would eventually be compromised by Chris Uba, who—by his own admission—rigged the elections to put into power Chris Ngige. 

Chris Uba was not interested in Ngige, or indeed in the people’s welfare.  He just needed a tool, a man to get him the keys to the “Bank of Anambra.”  In the mayhem that followed, Chris Uba walked free, but not the people of Anambra, who were victimized all over.  The entire scam was easy for Chris Uba because he was Obasanjo’s friend, and Obasanjo always put his friends ahead of Nigeria.
Second: Nnamdi “Andy” Uba.  By 2007, it was clear to Obasanjo that with his third-term bid having collapsed on him, he needed to invest more in punishing his enemies and rewarding his followers.  Anambra was one case where he could do both at the same time: he put up Andy Uba as his gubernatorial candidate. 

Andy, Chris’ brother, was the former “good” servant in Obasanjo’s palace.  Obasanjo told the people of Anambra as he asked them to crown him governor that Uba was qualified because he had been a very faithful servant.  “He wakes me up and watches me till I sleep,” were his words. 

Obasanjo did not tell the people of Anambra State if Andy Uba was honest or trained or capable.  Actually, he knew the man was not honest, not trained, and not capable.  In any event, it was already known worldwide that he was a money-launderer; he had used a presidential jet to launder money.  Part of the proceeds was used to buy gifts for the use of Obasanjo’s Temperance Farms.
And it was also known that although Andy Uba claimed to have gone to school, there were monumental doubts about whether he really did, and what certificates, if any, he had ever earned.   He is thought to have bought the “Dr.” before his name off the Internet, a charge he has never disproved. 

It was crazier still that Andy Uba, a mere palace hand yesterday, was suddenly awash with boatloads of cash as he launched his gubernatorial ambition.  He was buying and distributing motor vehicles, and all by himself, adjusting state economic statistics by subsidizing the price of petrol. 

It worked.  In 2007, Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu’s Independent National Electoral Commission contrived to send Andy Uba to Government House, but he was swiftly bundled out by the Supreme Court following an electoral appeal.  Over two years later, Andy Uba is still in court asking men in wigs, not Anambrarians with voter’s cards, to declare him governor, one way or another.
It is into this cauldron that Soludo, once he was through the Central Bank doors, has traveled.  He has about 50 other men and women in the PDP who seek the governorship to contend with, and they have tied up the PDP’s anointment of Soludo as the candidate, in court. 

Soludo is impatient with all of this.  Last week in Abuja, he told a court it was incompetent to pronounce on his candidature, that the PDP is more powerful and relevant, or words to that effect. 

Such confidence, in Soludo, these days.  But I insist that even if he did not buy his qualifications where they hawk “Onitsha market literature,” he is not a man of character.  This is a man who has left behind him at the Central Bank sundry categories of chaos not only in bank policy, but in his relationship with the chief executives of the top banks, many of who are now facing the law. 

This is a man who, having persuaded Obasanjo of the merits of an African Finance Corporation, superintended its being turned to a kalokalo gambling machine.

Soludo’s sudden wealth after the Central Bank—like Andy Uba’s after Aso Rock—raises a lot of concern.  He is known to have deployed some of this wealth in England, where he is spending some serious money on real estate and his family that he could not possibly have earned.
He arrived in great hurry in Anambra State, with the support of the PDP establishment (which means with the support of Yar’Adua).  He was determined to begin the political business at the very top, no matter who he has to buy or sell.   

It is an irony that a man that should be touting his great education and preparedness to lead,  is hitching his wagon to the politics of manipulation.  It is a shame that a man that should be seeking to attract voters by affirming transparency and the power of the superior argument, is pandering to the politics of muscle and money.  It is a shame that a man that should be demonstrating conduct that is superior to that of the average politician is strutting around as if he is owed something.
That is what Soludo is doing, and I have finally understood why. Anambra State, as Chris Uba has proved, is a good ATM (Access to Millions).  But it seems—as Andy Uba and Soludo suggest—that it is also perceived as a great hiding place.  Is there any other reason why men of this description are stopping at nothing to possess the state?

Hopefully it is now clear to the people of Anambra that the PDP is toxic.  Now, not tomorrow morning, is the time to take a stand.  At the forthcoming elections, they should support each other to reject the party’s candidate—no matter whom he is—decisively and comprehensively.  Our people say that whatever meat you forbid, you do not divide with your teeth. 

First, you must summon the manhood to teach the PDP a lesson in resounding, emphatic rejection.  The future you save will be your own.  
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