Ngige and July 10 uncommon courage

That stern picture of the late AIG Raphael Ige, commanding more than two hundred and fifty fully armedofficers and men of the Nigeria Police, laying siege to the Government House and the State Assembly refuses to  vanish from memory. That enveloping silence of death, amidst marching shrills by those gun-totters, who demanded resignation still scares. Those movie-like drills of  shining metals, pointing at different direction of the Government House and ordering all in sight, wouldn’t go away. Recalling how the Assembly was assembled at gun point to receive a forced instrument of resignation rivets with absurd tragedy, recreating forgotten  bitter moments under the jackboot. On that July 10, 2003, Awka, the Anambra capital city  shared the memory of Hannibal’s invasion of Rome with six hundred elephants ! But while it took Rome fifteen years of Fabianism under Scipio Africanus to break Hannibal’s siege at the battle of Zama in B.C 202, Anambra was luckier as the avatar of liberation , Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige broke loose from captivity in five and half hours!  Choice Hotel, Awka was the theatre. It was there that the uncommon courage of one man, blunt refusal to yield to a forged resignation letter, at gun point, secured freedom for his people from the bondage of godfatherism.

The immediate effect was the rude awakening on a dormant volcano as  Ndi-Anambra burst in open support of their hero, with an army formed to protect the governor from every aggression. Anambra people are unlike the  merchants of Alexandra, who abandoned Mohammed Karim, the hero of their struggle against Napoleon invasion in 1798 by refusing to pay  a fine of 10,000 gold coin, which Napoleon had demanded as compensation  for the killing of  his soldiers. As the merchants of Alexandria denied and denounced their hero, hear what Napoleon said as he gave out Mohammed for execution, “ I will concede that the sentence of capital punishment be executed  not because you killed my soldiers , but for having fought for cowardly people , who care more about their business than about their integrity.”

Therefore, a deserving commendation goes  first to Ndi-Anambra whose support was the main backbone for the sustenance of liberation . How can one forget those unending months  of vigil, mounted by the people on Enugu- Onitsha Express in eternal vigilance over their freedom? A lesson from an introspection here is for all office holders to place the people first.  Self-love makes no hero.  Ngige could have easily colluded with his oppressors and leave the people as losers. He did not and the reward is one huge life time political capital for reasons of that near self- immolation on July 10, 2003.

Dear Sen. Chris Ngige, there is no baiting that if you had played the ball, there would have been no Justice Nabaruma, whose verdict started making the rounds weeks before delivery. You chose the province of the people and they have  been faithful in rewarding you ever since.  Ndi-Anambra acknowledge till today that you won the 2010 governorship election as the masses yearned for your return but for that general massive rigging and strategic disenfranchisement  in your Idemili North and South. The re-match in 2011 was their undoing as you again defeated a combined force of Governor Peter Obi, Dora Akunyili and the Federal Government of Goodluck Jonathan to emerge the Senator representing  Anambra Central; the only opposition member of the seventh senate from the South East.   So many have argued that in a different clime, late Akunyili  would have no business being on the ballot against you. But egged on by Obi, who tried in vain to delete your intimidating  achievements and demystify you, Dora plunged into the arena and went home bitter. The masses this time, stood between them and rigging.

A little digression here is that even when you were appointed  the Minister of Labour and Employment in 2015,  you didn’t lose your  Midas touch. Your sterling labour diplomacy  restored Nigeria to the Governing Board of the ILO while you also emerged its Chairman  . That election was sequel to the frontline leadership that endeared you to the Africa regional membership of the ILO who had earlier in 2018, elected you its spokesperson on critical issues of African interest. You also midwifed the National Minimum Wage Negotiations, giving the Nigerian worker a critical base pay of N30, 000. Despite teething  challenges  since 2015, your brilliant  contributions enabled  the Federal Government clear  decades of unpaid salaries and allowances. On record is that no Federal civil servant has been retrenched even while Nigeria was in recession. Millions of jobs have rather been created through job-rich policies. There is relative industrial harmony, the stability needed for optimum national productivity. The Director General of the ILO , Mr. Guy Ryder in his congratulatory letter, described you as a remarkable Minister whose reappointment did not come as a surprise. From your work plan, the house of bricks you met in 2015 will glitter as  marbles when the work is done in 2023! .

Nigerians recently saw James Faleke hurl frivolous allegations against you on the floor of the House in sheer abuse of parliamentary privilege. His actions were understandable only if one can see through the straws he was desperately clutching for  allies who must remain untouchable, even if the NSITF collapses. Let’s leave the matter for the panel to get  done with its investigations, but it is suspicious the Speaker would cede the floor for defamation of the wife of the Minister who has nothing to do with the NSITF.

A  Syrian poet wrote that “to revolt on behalf of an ignorant people is like to setting  yourself on fire in order to light the way for a blind man.  And that is why I chose to remark once more that Ndi-Anambra is the greatest asset to your 34 months  revolution. While people prioritize your armada of expansive road network that defied the elements till today, I prefer the underlying philosophy of credible delivery in a horizon hitherto benighted by shoddiness . Ngige built for the next generation.  I easily recall that your successor, did all to discredit these roads, claiming they were expensive, but the mere fact that the ones he built less than a decade ago have all collapsed, best decides who chased the shadows.

You raced faster and more in fury than the furious flood and erosion encircling Anambra . Today, journalist Tabitha Olisa Ogbonnaya won’t  cease reminding  social media followers of  Ngige’s charm that shattered the myth of Mmili Ele across Nnewi-Ozubulu- Ekwusigo highway, while veteran Uche Ezechukwu keeps acknowledging  the integration cord that Igbo-Ukwu-Uga-Umunze- Owerri Ezukala-Isuochi has become.  The Oyeagu Abagana- Ifete Dunu- Otuocha is a portal vein linking the central to the northern axis of the state. More than 500  kilometers of solid roads!

But even more critical to survival is smashing the myth of secrecy around government earnings and spending,  and making Ndi-Anambra co-owners of this resources . You brought back accountability and we regained our pride while our names once more gained headlines for the right reasons. Your Executive Order pushing the salaries of civil servants and teachers to  fist line charge early in the life of your administration, permanently buried the ghost of labour unrests that kept schools closed for a year and doctors abandoning hospitals for rodents. The return of the schools to the mission, a catalyst to quality education was last attempted by Jim Nwobodo when he returned St. Charles College, Onitsha and St. Monica, Ogunike in 1982. It had to wait for over two decades for your political will. The series of negotiations involving the religious and  the ventilated social dialogue that detonated the mine of strikes, already being laid by teachers over the issue, all culminated in the return of the first batch of schools in 2005. You brought innovations, enlivened  the UBE and the state tertiary institutions.  Let me save the rest for July 2021!

One thought on “Ngige and July 10 uncommon courage

  1. But even more critical to survival is smashing the myth of secrecy around government earnings and spending

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