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Ngige, Obi and Anambra’s Fate

Posted by This Day Online on 2005/08/17 | Views: 466 |

Ngige, Obi and Anambra’s Fate


The Anambra State Election Petitions Tribunal decided the petition against the incumbent governor Dr. Chris Ngige brought by the APGA candidate in the April 2003 election. The Tribunal ruled in favour of Mr. Peter Obi in its judgment delivered last week Friday. JUDE IGBANOI reviews the Anambra situation in the face of seeming anxieties over the office of Governor

The Anambra State Election Petitions Tribunal decided the petition against the incumbent governor Dr. Chris Ngige brought by the APGA candidate in the April 2003 election. The Tribunal ruled in favour of Mr. Peter Obi in its judgment delivered last week Friday. JUDE IGBANOI reviews the Anambra situation in the face of seeming anxieties over the office of Governor

Since the 2003 General Elections Anambra state has known little peace. Apart from the fact that there were allegations of wide spread malpractices nation-wide, the Anambra case was one that had attracted exceptional attention, national and international. For a state that had become notorious for the phenomenon of Godfatherism and whose political atmosphere is generally acknowledged to be characterised with violence and acrimony, that much was expected. Beyond this is the fact that the state happens to be one that has thrived as a major center of commerce in the West-African sub-region, in addition to its being so endowed with the finest crop of world acclaimed intellectuals. It is therefore not difficult to understand the strategic importance of Anambra State and its centrality to the Igbo polity. This informs why the state often times turns into a theatre of war between political godfathers and their protégés during electoral contests at all levels. Even the Presidency has always shown more than a passing interests in Anambra politics.

When the controversial 2003 elections were therefore declared in favour of Dr. Chris Ngige’s Peoples Democratic Party to the astonishment of Anambrarians who had clearly favoured the Mr. Peter Obi’s All Progressive Grand Alliance, tempers rose and tension was high but the godfathers who had held the state to ransom went ahead to determine who would occupy Government House Awka. Dr. Ngige’s emergence was therefore seen purely as a result of the skillful and deft political manipulations of his godfather, Chief Chris Uba, chieftain of the ruling PDP. The power that the Anambra Kingmakers wielded over the state has been so overwhelming that no one really gave Peter Obi any chance at the Election Tribunal when he filed his petition. For two years, Obi prosecuted his case with all diligence. Interventions were said to have been made by well meaning Anambrarians and elder statesmen to have Obi withdraw his petition. He was reported to have resisted all entreaties, insisting that his mandate was is that of the people of Anambra State and is non negotiable. His victory at the Tribunal last Friday is therefore perceived as one for the people of Anambra. Inevitably, the question that has been on many lips is “what becomes of Governor Chris Ngige?” this question is apt for two reasons. First is the fact that Ngige to the admiration of many Nigerians turned out to be a very successful and skillful administrator, forging ahead and making a success of running an embattled state. He it was who demystified the phenomenon of godfatherism which had held the state in a devilish vice. Secondly, Ngige has become so popular with the people of Anambra State for his approach to governance and his welfares inclinations. The dilemma of many is whether the people will not be the real losers if Ngige if the Tribunal’s judgment is upheld at the Court of Appeal where he has filed his appeal.
Of more concern is the issue of what becomes of governance in Anambra State with the judgment that has just been delivered. Those anxieties genuine as they may be need not arise as the law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has adequate provisions for such situations.

This is what Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN had to say “it is just unimaginable that in the third year into the administration of a governor, election petitions are still being decided and some still hanging. The Constitution of this country must be amended and brought to what it was in 1979 that made the hearing of election petitions within a certain time frame before a person is sworn in”.

Another question that has agitated the minds of some others is “what then happens now that Ngige is already two years old in office, and what becomes of his acts in office as governor? Will such be legally valid in law? The legislations he has signed into law, the government’s documents he has signed in that capacity? Agreements he had entered into ass Governor in the last two years?

The position of the law is that once one has been declared as Governor and he is issued wit h a certificate by INEC as provided in the Electoral Act and the Constitution, he must stay in office until his appeal is decided. His acts as the Chief Executive Officer of the State cannot be declared illegal. This is where Obi has his greatest obstacle, the appeal may take some while to decide and with only 20 months to the end of the administration, Obi may never get to occupy Government House Awka. This why many are of the view that this in deed might be a pyrhic victory for Obi and APGA. This is because the law provides that Obi continues where Ngige stops and this can only be determined at the Court of Appeal, which fortunately is the court of last instance in gubernatorial election appeals.

Political analysts have actually seen Ngige as a victim of circumstance. He is seen as just a pawn in the complex political Chess Board of the ruling PDP. He fell out of favour with the Presidency, his political godfather had him kidnapped and at gunpoint made to relinquish his mandate, his state came under the terror siege of hoodlums said to have been masterminded by his estranged political benefactors. Anambra state burned and lives were lost, arson and politically motivated murders became the order of the day. The Governor received the must shabby treatment of any serving governor in living memory, he had his police orderlies withdrawn and the Government security apparatus clearly aided his enemies and detractors. In the end Ngige got unfairly expelled from his part, the PDP. To have weathered all these storms and only now to be confronted with this judgment declaring him not duly elected is seen by many as the height of ill-fortune orchestrated by an insensitive political party.

The greatest burden that Nigerians have now placed on the Party is that if the PDP did not win the governorship election in Anambra State, it certainly did not win the Presidential election in the state and in deed many other states. Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN has advised Ngige to continue as Governor of the State as provided for under section 138 of the Electoral Act 2002 and to go ahead and exercise his right of appeal as provided for under Section 246 of the 1999 Constitution.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding