I am naturally finding it hard to pen an article for a man like Senator Ngige, not because there is nothing good to write about him, alas what shall I not say about Ngige? That the whole Igbo race and the Nigeria as a people do not know? What myths must I add? What colour am I permitted to apply to the blooms of his life? The answer to the questions above is a resounding none, unlike other persons who engage spin doctors to launder their idiotic images whilst they themselves have engaged mainly in many a publicity stunts, such as selling kerosene to pregnant women, serving plates at functions and boring many with fables of how he has done this and that, that many have fought to desperately stay awake at such functions. Senator Chris Ngige requires no myths, little or extensive propaganda, no spin doctors, for he is indeed a household name in Anambra State to the bafflement of the present administration in Anambra State and the little clan of cads, buccaneers, vultures, pirates and sharks who loathe Ngige because he chose a different path of the liberation for the people of Anambra from other dubious schemes.
Today, Ngige requires no formal introduction at gatherings this diminutive and handsome man of the people is said to possess the goodwill of people in his strides and disposition to the people. He is not the haughty big man, who believes that there is a natural barrier between them and the common folk, who must be treated like some pariah though some of these “big men” were sired by the same common man and women. For Ngige,” Nwanyi ne le oka na aki Oyibo na fia bu kwa nu madu”(The woman who sells corn and coconut at the roadside is important to our society as a governor, senator or local government chairman is, and if he Ngige could emerge to be what he is today out of his humble beginnings then why should he not fraternize with the common people, who have stood with him through thick and thin, while members of the elite have habitually vacillated between principle and their lust for filthy lucre.
A progressive with a first class political personality, Ngige’s emergence upon the Nigerian political platform dates back to 2003 when he was shopped out to contest the gubernatorial elections as the PDP’s candidate, at that point in time he was just what the Americans call a regular guy, a green horn in Nigerian politics. His emergence as governor elicited no positive response from the people as they rhetorically asked “Can anything good come from the People’s Democratic Party?” The doubting Toms were jolted out of their carapace of disbelief when Ngige on principle parted ways with the self-styled godfather, Chris Uba when the latter wanted to seize the resources of Anambra State. The July 10th coup was a reaction to Ngige’s refusal to do business, while troops of lauded this as a brave decision, few for the sake of politics have sought to paint an ugly fresco about the event,whereas it did the liberation of Anambra people from bad governance certain upstarts have reasoned otherwise. I have earlier written some pieces on this issue, to restate them here will be to lengthen the article.
Senator Ngige at 60 is a symbol of Igbo renaissance; little wonder a former commissioner of his, Chief Charles Amilo has likened him to the former Premier of the Eastern Region, Dr. Micheal Okpara. In Udobodo’s words “Having being in politics since 1964, I Chief Amilo can without equivocation compare Dr. Chris Ngige with the late MI Okpara. To prove the assertion above it is important to note that while Ngige achieved all that which endeared him to the people in a short and turbulent era of 33 months, building roads, schools, healthcenters, markets and ensuring the security and welfare of its citizens, with a sum of N33 billion Naira, today’s administration cannot account for over two trillion Naira it has received as allocations to the state for six years running. When people start questioning how their common wealth has been spent what they have received is either a flattering material on how they have haphazardly constructed roads or built invisible schools, commissioned empty libraries and ‘one chance’ boreholes. Even their celebrated achievement with the Millennium Development Goals pierces the development sensibilities of Ndi Anambra.
One recalls that during the Ngige tenure, certain Federal roads in Anambra state were deemed as bottle necks, people suffered and spent long hours on roads which naturally shouldn’t take more than ten minutes driving time. The Ngige administration ever responsive swung into action with the rider that those roads were plied by Ndi Anambra and to continue to wait on the Federal Government to repair the roads while his own people suffered, to sit idle and do nothing wouldn’t have been ideal. I beg then that we compare his administration with this present one, where a milksop like approach to governance obtains, for close to three years the good people of Anambra have known much hardship whilst traversing the Onitsha Awka Expressway. When it became unbearable, many then questioned the Obi’s administration’s apathetic attitude to the problem; he quickly shifted gear and declared to the consternation of all that he was awaiting the permission of the Federal Government to attend to the road! This further raised the fury of the general public who then reminded the governor that the Ngige administration had done same and had been reimbursed by the Federal Government, wondering why the Obi’s administration was shying away from doing the same. At present, he has obtained the much needed concession and has celebrated such with pomp, propaganda and flair, despite this one can be sure to state that the same mercantilist approach that has witnessed the shoddy construction of roads for the past six years will surely accompany a concession.
At 60, Ngige possesses much relevancein Nigeria’s politics, at a time when a host of Igbo politicians have tendency to dissemble and say things different from what pertains to present day realities in order to beg for one form of patronage or the other, this cannot be said about Ngige, who naturally speaks truth to power, we can obviously remember the third term days.
His approach to politics is legendary and serves as a turning point in our history. Phenomenal in nature, he abhors violence, rent seeking, high handedness, dictatorship, religious and ethnic jingoism and elitism, he is a democrat fashioned out of hard steel, one at home with all irrespective of your religious or political leanings.
As Senator representing the good people of Anambra Central, Ngige can be credited with several achievements both on the floor of the Senate and in his oversight functions as Vice Chairman, Power and Steel and member Health and Education committees. When past Senators representing the zone with the exceptions of Senators Mike Ajaebo and Ben Obi were known for bench warming and a Guinness book of records feat for silence on the floor of the Senate, we cannot say such about Senator Ngige whose mixture of wit and humour has much engaged the Senate in its business of law making.
Ngige as in the years past and in the years to come will act as a potent influence on the tapestry of Nigeria’s politics, we can only hope that for more years to come he will not only be present with us but will continue to thunder on that it will become clear that the Igbos on one hand and the progressives of Nigeria on the other will find his voice the most persuasive in our time.
Happy Birthday sir!
Igboeli Arinze Napoleon writes from Abuja