Ubah's Own Goal

Oct 05, 2018

Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, right, and Gov Willie Obiano, in happier times. Ubah has muddled up things with the release of a tape recording of a private meeting he held with Obiano

By Jude Atupulazi

In the battle field, it is called shooting oneself in the foot. In normal circumstances, it is called suicide. In football, it is called an own goal. But whatever the circumstance, one thing is common in all of these: the harm is self-inflicted.

Political watchers in Anambra State must have witnessed this self-inflicted injury on display some days ago when a principal actor in the state's politics, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, reportedly released an audio tape of what was supposed to be a private meeting between him and Gov Willie Obiano in the presence of Clement Ibeto, a business mogul.

Ubah, who is gunning for the senatorial ticket of Anambra South on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, by that action, is believed to have turned the ball into his net, an action called an own goal in football. I have chosen to use the football parlance because, at least, Ubah is a known football buff and an owner of a football club.

Not long ago, I wrote a piece on the conundrum facing the All Progressives Grand Alliance over the eventual choice of who picks its senatorial ticket in the south between Bianca Ojukwu and Ifeanyi Ubah, two of the major contenders. I postulated that, given Ubah's stronger grassroots appeal, he stood the chance to win in an open primary contest, unless the party decided to overtly favour Bianca to honour the party's eternal leader, Dim Ojukwu.

I had recalled how Ubah had mobilized support for Obiano in the run up to the last guber poll in the state with what I thought then was Ubah's money. (I've just learnt that Ubah was actually mobilized for that and only did the leg work).

I noted that owing to what Ubah did for Obiano's re-election, the least the party could do, would be to conduct a free and fair primary election in Anambra South, so that anyone who lost would not feel cheated. Even at that, I knew it was going to be a difficult decision for APGA because a free and fair primary would have certainly favoured Ubah, which would mean that Ojukwu won't be a very happy man in his grave. He would not be happy because he would certainly feel betrayed by his party which had always used his name in critical periods to win over the sentiments of the people during elections.

But while the party racked its brains to arrive at an acceptable decision, Ubah himself made it all very easy for the party to make that choice. He did that by purportedly releasing a tape of a private meeting between him and the governor in which he tried to prove that he was promised the senatorial ticket by Obiano if he supported him, Obiano, then to return for second term.

It is believed that Ubah's reported release of the recorded conversation between him and the governor must have been occasioned by Ubah's growing realization that the ticket may elude him. Thus he may have released it to put pressure on the governor and the party to ''honour their agreement''.

However, that plan has obviously misfired and upset the apple cart as Ubah was technically knocked out by APGA. He was said not to have received a waiver to contest, an action that must have been occasioned by his release of the tape.

Thus what originally seemed a difficult decision for APGA to make has now suddenly been made an easy one, not by outsiders, but by Ubah himself, whose action is akin to one offering an enemy a gun to shoot him. Expectedly, the APGA hierarchy is buzzing, and must have given the nod for Ubah to be eliminated from the contest. It is now obvious that the coast will be clear for other candidates.

Now people are asking if Ubah was right to release that tape or if he wasn't. For me, he was very very wrong. The meeting they purportedly held was supposed to be confidential. And once anything is considered confidential, it should be kept so. A man is respected by his ability to keep confidences and to maintain and respect trust. But when someone goes to a meeting hiding a tape recorder with which they secretly record the proceedings of that meeting, that person is acting like a heel. It is an act that is as horrifying as it is despicable and immediately portrays such a person as one to be avoided like a leprous object.

Having happened, who again will be comfortable discussing any serious matter with such a person in the future? Won't the fear always be there that he is secretly recording your conversation? That's how bad the recording thing has become.

Besides, it has been argued that even if Ubah had gotten the governor's word that he, Ubah, would get an automatic ticket, the be given an automatic ticket governor's word may not be binding on the party as it is mainly a party affair. But even in the said tape recording, the governor didn't make it clear that Ubah would be given an automatic ticket. Rather, he even made it clear that he was not asking Ubah for money to help him in the campaign effort at the time, but to use his facilities and network to help.

Thus, some people believe that Ubah has been paid for his job and therefore needs no further assistance unless the governor or the party decides to be magnanimous. But in doing what he has done, Ubah, they argue, has shut the door completely on any act of magnanimity. If anything, he has ruffled a few feathers and therefore drawn the ire of the APGA hierarchy.

I will add that his action is shocking and amounts to a violation of privacy. It is something that can close the door to anyone trusting people in the future. It is like putting a close circuit television gadget in the room of your guest without his knowledge.

Above all, however, Ubah has scored a terrible own goal which has put paid to his senatorial ambition on the platform of APGA. Of course, he has other options to explore by going to any other party. The door has only closed for him in APGA. But then, he will now bear the burden of not being a man to trust. Even in Nigeria where such a virtue isn't viewed seriously, this one will count because of the common danger it represents. Simply put, it could be you tomorrow that are going to be the victim. And when such an uncertainty hovers above everybody, it can cause mass hysteria.

An own goal is always demoralizing. In football, it often takes a team some time to recover, by which time the game is lost.

This should however serve as a lesson to politicians when they deal with one another. And that is for them not to over trust. It is a sad lesson to learn but that's the consequence of the action of one man.

The taping of the proceedings of the meeting was bad enough; its release was atrocious. There is no doubt that this has been a calamitous own goal; scored when the game has barely begun. And now Ubah has been left in the cold.

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Last word

What's there to celebrate on our 58th Birthday?

Ordinarily, I would have chosen the 58th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria as the main topic on my page. But then, being that there is nothing to be happy about in today's Nigeria made me shelve the idea.

Indeed, Nigeria is a baby that has failed (or is it refused?) to walk even at 58 years. The problems of the country are multi-faceted but a quick look at our history will reveal the major problem. It is nothing but the refusal by those who have been failing us to admit they are incapable of leading and those people are from the Northern part of the country. They have ruled this country more than any other section.

It is not really a question of where a leader comes from. I'm sure that if any leader rules well, no one will question where they come from.

If the North insists on ruling, let them bring their best. But if their best is Buhari, then they should surrender. It is inconceivable that in this era when the country is blessed with abundant human resources, someone like Muhammadu Buhari will be leading the country. He is doing so at a time when he should be in retirement. Is it then any wonder that the country is being ruled with fossilized ideas? I won't say more than this. Otego ekwubelu.

But then, rather than celebrating, our leaders should be wearing sack cloth like those in the Bible and be hiding their faces in shame. Anything other than this will amount to a celebration of failure.



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