Chris Ngige, the unsung hero of Okija Shrine – By Greg Ikwuka



Patience Ozokwo is a Nigerian widow , mother of five, ex-ace broadcaster ,and now a successful icon in the Hollywood had spend in a great deal of time in her interview with The Sun last week explaining what playing the role of a ‘bad mama’ in movie means to her and the implications for the society.

Mama Gee as Patience is popular styled, after one of her rib-cracking roles in the movie by the same title explained to readers of The Sun on Sunday that playing the role of a very bad person, a home divider, harlot, witch, wicked person, gangster et al was her way of dramatising to expose the evil in the Nigerian and larger society which largely contrasts with her person in real life.

This writer was at St Marks Catholic Church Abagana, when legendary Pete Edochie who, equally known for the bad guy role on te male side tried to explain in the same pattern years back to a little congregation

’ Some of you may wonder what this man who snatches people’s wives, kills people, patronises fetish priests ,robs ,kills and maims people would be doing in the church premises, Edochie volunteered, a sermonizing smile playing around his lips. ‘Well we do it to draw your attention to the fact that these things exist and prime you to be careful.

‘So please when you se me on the road, do not tale another way or when you see me in an occasion do not change your seat’, Edochie pleaded. Those

Those who know the story of what happened in Okija shrine in the build-up to the 2003 elections know that those who had willingly given their endorsements to Medical Doctors, and erstwhile President of Aka Ikenga, Dr Chris Ngige for the position of Anambra State Governor, against his aspirations to the senate, began to nurse genuine fears, that he was going to be more loyal to the common good of Anambra State and the constitution of Nigeria than to their persons, compelled them to enforce an administration of oath to Ngige at gunpoint.

In fact those who understand will also know that this represents the story of the coming to power of Governor Ngige in 2003 which which heralded three three years of societal transformation that still carries Anambra State today.

Of course a lot has been written about that performance, accomplished with a total of N69 billion. He did not have the benefit of sitting over a total of N1.5 trillion from 2006 to 2013,but his name still strikes a golden note, because he set Anambra on the path of progress through critically thought-through planning and tight implementation of the landmark roads/bridges, housing ,wages ,water and other schemes that sustain the state today.

The effect is that politicians without manifestoes and vainglorious commentators have exploited the gap to rub in pepper while the knowledge gap of the general public has continued to widen. One government commentator that uses 15 pseudonyms in five online networks would hardly complete one paragraph without introducing Okija, forgetting that that is also the name of a town that till date also yearns to benefit from good governance and the protection of their dignity.

But, is it not stated in the Bible that ‘ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’. This year’s lengthen period is a good tie for those who may wish to know the truth of that era and accord due credit to whom it is due.

Chris Ngige has been an activist even through his days in the Public Service and before in school. He has managed to carry is activism through without the overzealousness and grandstanding that pervades attention-seeking NGOs and fly-by-night Igbo leaders and defenders. He played yeoman’s role even as a civil servant to direct the course of action and code of conduct of Igbo politicians in the fray at his time.

As President of Aka Ikenga he takes credit for the focus achieved by Ndigbo and the grounds broken in the 1994-1995 constitutional conference which did not beget its own constitution, but gave rise to the six geo-political zones of today.

As a governor, he alone rose in defence of Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu’s position on being invited to Abuja on one-way ticket by the Sate Security Service, when a peculiar silence enveloped others. As a senator he got his colleagues interested in helping the governor of Anambra State unravel the security aspect of the floating scores of dead bodies in the Ezu River, hence the investigation of the Senate.

Such is the background that helps to understand the character and thinking of Dr Chris Ngige and his style. Such also helps to understand the salient and silent role he played to crush the atrocities in Okija shrine. A writer named Bona Ezekwenna recently claimed on online blogs that Chris Ngige went to Okija shrine to perform some rituals and oath of loyalty with his former godfathers.

Gladly and many thanks to him, Bonaventure also wrote that it was Chris Ngige who called a press conference to admit to the world that he was taken to Okija at gun point to swear to an oath of loyalty.

Dr Ngige, now a senator played the role of Pete Edochie and Patience Ozokwo in Okija shrine debacle. Having been taken there against his will; having played along to achieve the goal of liberating Anambra which he eventually got to and may not have reached otherwise, he bid his time, caused the Inspector General of Police to mobilise to the so-called shrine to liberate those under bondage in that historical community of Anambra State.

So unlike Bonaventure’s claim, it was Chris Ngige who actually set out to destroy the fake myth about Okija shrine that was under developing the minds of Anambra and South East people. But it does not mean that other shrines like that do not still exist after Ngige smashed that of Okija. It would be productive to progress what Ngige did.

Very few can plausibly argue that that streak was not consistent with the encounter of the one baptised ‘Igbo leader’ during his Aka Ikenga days, all through his entire encounter with Chris-Andy Uba crowd, Obasanjo’s fronts in Anambra till date. They asked for N3billion on the basis of a bulk payment and on the basis of an irrevocable payment order. Ngige agreed. Did he pay? The answer is No. Did the administration after Ngige pay? The answer is yes.

They asked Ngige to sign that he will pay a N10 million on a monthly basis to be deducted at source? Did he agree? Yes. Did he pay? No! His loyalty was to Anambra State and Nigeria, whose president at the time was ironically working with Andy Uba and Chris Uba to bleed the two corporate entities. He had succeeded with Mbadinuju and felt they would also succeed with Ngige. No, they only had to succeed only from April 2006 after he left, till date. That was the conspiracy that saw him name beeing deleted in 2007 ballot paper and being rigged out in 2010 elections in which Anambra clearly saw him as the way to succeed.

With all those moves something eerie voice still told Obasanjo’s fronts in the Uba family that they are better off having Ngige’s deputy as governor, so they brought a letter of a resignation for a governor to sign before assuming office, but Ngige saw tomorrow and signed a letter-headed paper that clearly spelt out the name of Chinwoke Mbadinuju as governor.

Such was the manner God used to liberate Anambra. In Okija, he encountered it and destroyed it. On paying Anambra money he challenged the federal government led by Obasanjo to stop deducting Anambra money at source as he was not doing with Ogun State to pay individual fronts. On resignation the government naturally used a new letter-heading bearing the name of Chris Ngige as governor. And the winner was Anambra State and the common good.

That explains the near-cult following and good will that Ngige enjoys and the fact that the Senate is probing to find out why so many dies at the same time is not only true to character and trend, it is helpful to the state government that provided it sincerely wishes to protect life in its jurisdiction. It must be too serious to be subjected to the pedestrian partisan shuffles, when the matter has also been independently placed before the International Criminal Court.

Anambra and Ndigbo know their leaders and understand what quantum of sacrifice places them on that pedestal in an ethnic group that is sociologically very uncomfortable with the idea of being led. Fate prepared Ngige for that that Damascus, on his way to Rome

Yet, that needs not take the focus from the fact that the Senate sent two of their committees to investigate the matter, which has taken it beyond the Ngige person.

And most importantly a distorted story of 2003 Okija shrine myth later destroyed by the same Ngige should not be flaunted to artificially create a similarity with the current Ezu River saga where 10 of the probable victims have been identified.

It cannot fly.




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