Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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Anambra State has been the stage on which the most bizarre political drama has played out since our return to democratic rule in 1999.
Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, a former journalist turned politician was that year elected Governor of Anambra on the ticket of the PDP. His four year tenure was very stormy because of internal squabbles in his party.
Those were the days of President Olusegun Obasanjo when he was the law both in PDP and the country at large. The President took sides in the internal political squabbles and ruled that the governor should be blocked from taking a second term. Thus Mbadinaju was the only PDP governor who did not get a second term ticket.
The ensuing political commotion in Anambra brought to public glare a hitherto obscure politician named Chris Uba. He took Anambra by storm and to his credit installed a State Governor, all members of the State House of Assembly and all members of the National Assembly from the state. He became known as the godfather of Anambra politics.
But it did not take long before the bubble bust. Evidently before the election, Dr Chris Ngige an aspirant on the PDP ticket had followed godfather Chris Uba to the dreaded Okija forest where he was stripped half nude and subjected to a solemn voodoo oath ceremony where he promised to handover the treasury of the state to his godfather for his enjoyment once he was elected. Soon, on becoming Governor, Ngige reneged on the oath and decided to be his own man.
Enraged that Ngige had the guts to dare him, the godfather let loose his hit men. Kidnapped, taken to an obscure hotel, locked up in a toilet and thoroughly thrashed there, Ngige was made to resign his office at gunpoint. Not done with that, they organized a mob which set ablaze prized government assets and offices in the state.
There was public outrage not only in Anambra but all over Nigeria that one man could have the gumption to appropriate a whole state and turn it into his personal turf. But to the Uba family, little known at the time, Anambra was not the personal property of Chris but a family holding company.
Dr. Ugochukwu Uba, the eldest of the three Uba brothers who is a physician, had ventured into politics under the failed Abacha transition programme. By the electoral heist organized by his junior brother, the godfather, he became a PDP senator from 2003- 2007. Already stationed in the Presidential villa was Nnanmdi (Andy) Uba who was resident in the United States before being recalled to serve as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Domestic Affairs.
He later contested in the governorship elections in 2007 on the platform of PDP and won. He was sworn in as governor but holds the record of being the shortest serving governor in the history of the state and country. He was in office for 17 days before being sacked by the Supreme Court, which declared that impeached Governor Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance had not completed his term.
Andy took over the senatorial ticket from his elder brother, Ugochukwu, after the latter was defeated by Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah in 2007. Then came the godfather Chris who felt since his two senior brothers had tasted the senatorial cake, it was now his turn. He picked the PDP ticket while Andy his senior brother defected to the APC. In the race therefore were Andy Uba, APC, Chris Uba PDP and Ifeanyi Ubah, Young Progressives Pary, YPP. In other words, it was Uba and Uba Vs Ubah.
The performance of the two Uba brothers at the poll was rather woeful. Chris the godfather got 52,462 votes while Andy scored a paltry 13,245 votes; all trounced by Ifeanyi Ubah who won by a landslide 87,081 votes. In the spirit of sportsmanship, one expected the humiliated Uba brothers to eat their humble pie and take a bow.
Not so with the haughty Uba brothers. They went ahead to file a petition at the National and State Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Awka. They were told to go away. In two separate unanimous judgments, the National Assembly/Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal affirmed the election of the Chairman of Capital Oil, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, as Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District.
The three-member panel tribunal headed by Justice Okara Ebimie Thelma in the judgments it delivered on September 9, held that both petitions challenging the outcome of the Anambra South Senatorial election, lacked competence, insisting that the petitioners, failed to establish why the result announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not be upheld.
But you can trust the Uba brothers: they never, never give up. Even as the odds are very glaring against them, they will keep on fighting.
Of the three political brothers, the most refined is Dr Ogochwuku Uba, a medical practitioner who once lived and practiced in Jos. One can see some decency in the doctor.
But both Andy and Chris Uba have suspicious academic careers. Andy Uba’s earlier election into the Senate had been challenged by Senator Obiora of the Accord Party who claimed that Uba had forged his West African School Certificate (WASC) and had not obtained any of the university degrees that he claimed. The story of allegedly faked degrees dates back to a story written by two investigative reporters and published by The News in December 2006. They claim that both Concordia and California State University said that although Uba enrolled, he did not graduate from either university. The story of Chris is just as bad. He is said to have attended but dropped out of Uga boy’s secondary school.
Regardless of the odds, the Uba brothers may soon be heading to an appeal court for another round of acrobatic judicial display.