Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Welcome Expulsion of Andy Uba

The Welcome Expulsion of Andy Uba

by Is'haq Modibbo Kawu

The story broke during the afternoon of last Thursday, that the impostor, Nnamdi ‘Andy’ Uba, who was massively rigged into office last April as the ‘governor’ of Anambra state of Nigeria, has been thrown out by Nigeria’s Supreme Court, in a land mark decision, which also restored governor Peter Obi to power till 2010. I literally jumped for joy, just as people did around Nigeria, that a fraudulent mandate, given to a most reviled character has been taken away by our Supreme Court.

If ever there was a character whose whole public service career, symbolised the corruption of the Obasanjo regime, it was this Nnamdi ‘Andy’ Uba who addresses himself as a ‘Doctor’ but who was exposed by the internet journalism site, Sahara reporters. Com, to be a cheap fraud, who does not even have a university degree in the first place. Yet so powerful was this Andy Uba character, that in eight years of life as minder of presidential dirty secrets, as Special Assistant on Domestic Affair to Obasanjo, he became arguably the most powerful, unelected aide in the presidency. Stories abound about how governors and ministers have to go through Andy Uba to be able to reach Obasanjo. He milked his gatekeeper position very thoroughly and from a non-descript, controversial, some even say criminal past, he rose to become one of the truly fabulously rich individuals in Nigeria today. He is in fact one of the select few who searched out president Umar Yar’Adua from the obscurity of Katsina state, packaged and sold him to Obasanjo, and as they say, the rest is history. Umar Yar’Adua became anointed as presidential candidate, and was rigged into power.

But even before becoming part of the team which chose Obasanjo’s successor, Nnamdi Andy Uba (he is NOT a Doctor!) has been responsible for all manners of appointments in the past, from Directors-General of parastals and chief judges, but the most infamous of all his appointments was that of professor Maurice Iwu as the chairman of INEC. So beholdern was that professor of pharmacy to this literally uneducated domestic affairs aide of Obasanjo, that Maurice Iwu answers him (Nnamdi Andy Uba) as ‘yes sir.!

The Andy Uba story must be kept alive, if only because it is a clear testimony of the gutter depth that Nigeria is ruled from. How on earth can such a character become so powerful and influential in our country? A fake? Yet, if Obasanjo had had his way, in fact Nnamdi ‘Andy’ Uba would today have been occupying the vice presidential seat of our country.

The original plan was that Andy Uba was to be made vice president, as part of a calculation to get immunity for Andy Uba, from any eventuality of a probe, which might lead to the character singing like a bird and revealing the dirty secrets of Obasanjo. Andy Uba is the direct link to those secrets that must not be known about the unwholesome recesses of the Obasanjo presidency, and that was the basis of the attempt to make him a vice presidential candidate.

It proved to be a hard sell, within even the compromised ambience of the PDP. Andy Uba is universally reviled, because people know that here was a nonentity who wormed his way into the heart of Nigeria’s presidency from nowhere, and who now manipulates Obasanjo around his finger, intimidates other officials of government and party alike, and has become fabulously rich in eight years, from nothing. Sam Nda-Isaiah, in his column this week says that Nnamdi Andy Uba declared that he has assets worth more than one trillion naira! Where did that money come from? How come nobody has investigated this Andy Uba character?

Anyway, back to the narration; when it became clear Andy Uba cannot get the vice presidency, Obasanjo reserved the Anambra governorship for him. There was Maurice Iwu at INEC primed to do the job: all credible candidates were banned from the ballot; the legitimate governor, Peter Obi, was not even allowed to contest, and in a most farcical burlesque, Nnamdi Andy Uba was allocated more votes than the total number of registered voters in Anambra state! They were that desperate, but as the Holy Qur’an admonish: “They plotted, and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners”! The Supreme Court threw out the joker and impostor and the Nigerian people have the last laugh. Or do we?

Well not quite, just yet. Andy Uba is still huffing and puffing, hoping to still cash in and continue to have an ‘in-your-face’ type of presence in Nigeria’s public space. It is rumoured that he will become a minister in the Yar’Adua administration, afterall he was one of those who packaged the man in the first place. But it would be a major expression of disrespect for the Nigerian people, if a character like Andy Uba becomes a minister of our country. It is just immoral and unacceptable. Andy Uba should actually be facing the relevant authorities to explain the source of the over one trillion naira he is said to have declared as his assets. What lawful source of income fetched him such a huge fortune? Over what period of time did he get that money? He should also be facing tough questioning over the use of Nigeria’s presidential plane in 2004, to smuggle the sum of $170, 000 into the United States of America. It’s an amazing country which allows characters like Andy Uba to become those who prominently rule the roost in our country. But at least we can thank God that the Supreme Court yanked off this pretender from power as governor and in the process dealt Obasanjo’s plan of giving his domestic affairs minder the luxury of immunity, which he otherwise would have enjoyed for eight years (they would have still rigged the next election anyway!). Now Obasanjo’s flank is mortally exposed and we must press the advantage to go for Andy Uba’s jugular, to be able to expose the fraud at the heart of the Obasanjo’s presidency.

Permit me to quote extensively again, from Dr Okey Ndibe’s reflections in his column in THE SUN of Tuesday, June 19, 2007. He has a way of summing up the points with a coolly rational logic that reaches the heart of matters: “Many who interacted with Uba were shocked by his uninspiring personality and intellectual vacuity. In an Abuja awash with illicit cash but deficient in moral funds, he easily managed to live a lie for more than seven years. He and the president he served were of a kind; they deserved each other.

“In the end, his gubernatorial dream ended up a two-week flash in the pan. His ‘tenure’ passed unremarkably. He dashed here and there, made grand pronouncements and extravagant promises. He was the portrait of a confounded governor. Like his master and mentor, he’d mastered the art of talking big but doing little. In one characteristic outing, he likened himself to a fast train. And then, in the same breath, he announced that he was in no hurry at all!

“During his two-week stint, his inexplicable wealth was conspicuously exhibited. Using Abuja as his primary location, he flew daily into Enugu in his multimillion dollar Gulf Stream jet. He then commuted to Awka in a convoy of expensive cars, a man insensitive to the poverty of a people whose misery he would almost certainly have deepened.

“How did a relatively lowly officer in the presidency acquire the cash to afford a Gulf Stream? Where did he make the money that built his multimillion naira home in Abuja? What was the source of the cash with which he literally tried to buy the governorship?” A character with a controversial public life like Nnamdi Andy Uba, who does not have the degrees he claims, should even appear where the fate of Nigeria is decided. It is important for Malam Umar Yar’Adua to understand that any attempt to make a minister of Nnamdi Andy Uba, would bea total exposure of the hollowness of his own moral claims.

President Yar’Adua must know that he continues to live in a peculiarly unpopular dimension, of either continuing to protect Obasanjo’s legacy of fraud, or serving the interest of the Nigerian people. Last Sunday, the SUNDAY TRUST newspaper carried an exclusive report and pictures of the sale of federal government houses within the precincts of Aso Villa to people like Nnamdi Andy Uba. The unsustainable nature of the decision to sell government houses is already starring Nigeria in the face. The legislature cannot settle down, because Obasanjo took a decision to sell all the houses in Apo legislative quarters, in the same way that he sold ministerial residences. remember asking Obasanjo after attending a media chat program, at the end of 2002, where future generations of public officers would be staying after he might have sold those houses. Without batting an eye lid, he answered that they will find a place to stay! Five years down the line, the problem has now come around to haunt a new regime.

What Umar Yar’Adua needs is some decisiveness. He has to cancel the sale of the Apo legislative quarters, the ministerial residences and the sale of houses to aides of Obasanjo within Aso Villa. In the same vein that Nigerians expect him to reverse the last minute sale of our refineries and other national institutions; a thorough going audit of the dubious privatisation policy of the past eight years; the freezing/or and reversals of the last minute appointments which Obasanjo made and if he is truly serious about electoral reform, he must sack Maurice Iwu, appoint a retired Supreme Court justice to head a probe of INEC and generally use these popular issues as a bridge to earn legitimacy from or with the Nigerian people.

Last week, I spoke with a top official of government, and used the opportunity to raise the issues which had formed the basis of my column last thursday. He explained to me, that the new president was a very careful person who normally takes his time to study a situation before he launches into action. He said that for example Umar Yar’Adua only got a fifteen briefing on each of the ministries and departments of government, during the transitional period before he was sworn in. It is now, that he is receiving a more detailed analysis of the state of the apparatus of government. My interlocutor went further to remind me that he took up to a year before he began to act in Katsina; my answer was that perhaps the slow pace befitted a near–monolithic Katsina, but it certainly does not fit the expressively impatient ambience of a multidimensional Nigeria. Umar Yar’Adua just has to show that he is He is scoring very poorly in the perception index of the Nigerian people, while there is the uncomfortable feeling that he is absolutely beholden to Obasanjo; and that does not make the Nigerian people happy at all.

THE DAILY TRUST cartoonist, Aliyu Yahya did a masterly piece last Monday. It had President Yar’Adua snoozing away on his presidential table at Aso Villa. The IN-BOX was full of files carrying the different problems of Nigeria from corruption through crime, poverty, fuel price hike, power supply to ASUU. On the other hand, the OUT-BOX was empty. Mister President’s table meanwhile carries a poster which reads “PRESIDENCY:DONT DISTURB, STUDY IN PROGRESS”. The impression of a president asleep while the nation waits for leadership does not edify our present and Malam Umar Yar’Adua should provide leadership and begin to emerge from the shadow of Obasanjo.

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