The long-awaited ministerial list of President Muhammadu Buhari was finally aired yesterday, and the president’s choices confirmed many Nigerians’ worst fears that his campaign slogan of “change” was just one big con.
“Change” for Buhari clearly means something different from other people. “Change” for Buhari must be changing from being a former military dictator and cattle farmer in Daura to becoming president. Change for Buhari must be about changing the ruling party from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressive Congress (APC). Change for Buhari meant a change in label, but not what is inside.
This type of “change” was merely for cosmetic reasons. After claiming that the PDP had destroyed Nigeria in the last 16 years, Buhari chose some of those “destroyers” as ministers, such as Rotimi Amaechi, the former two-term governor of Rivers State.
Another curious choice as a fake change agent is Chris Ngige, a former PDP governor of Anambra State. Ngige ruled the state for 33 months before his (s)election was nullified by a tribunal on the grounds of rigging. He was given the PDP ticket by his “godfather” and mobster Chris Ubah, after Ngige had sworn an oath naked at a juju shrine in Okija to hand over most of the state’s monthly federal allocations to Ubah.
After defecting to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Ngige became a senator in 2011. At a reception to celebrate his victory at the Tourist Garden Hotel in Awka, the Anambra State capital, he stepped out of his shoes to swear another oath: “One promise to Nigerians is that Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige from Anambra Central Senatorial District will champion a bill that Nigerians will never forget in their lives. The Senate will know that some people passed through there. Even if it is for one day, or two days or for four years, Nigerians will feel the presence of Ngige and other progressive senators. It is a promise.”
Ngige did not champion any bill in the Senate. Nigerians did not feel his presence, but his presence in the Senate was felt by his bank account. It was “change” for him and no change for Nigerians.
In 2013, when Ngige was the APC candidate for the governorship of his state, an APC official said at a dinner party in Victoria Island, Lagos: “The man has a history of not keeping his word. He is very slippery and seems to be constantly drawn to things that will give him cheap and instant popularity at the expense of long term, carefully thought-out political stratagems.”
Once again, Ngige is about to swear another oath – this time as a minister. With his history of devil worship, of failing to keep promises, of lacking in principles, Ngige does not represent the “change” Buhari promised Nigerians. The only “change” will be to his bank accounts.