Saturday, 28 August 2010

Joachim Ezeji
One governor in the current political dispensation in Nigeria that radiates high level mediocrity and ineptitude is the Abia Governor, Mr. Theodore Orji. Events in recent times portray this governor as a man who is very much unfit to remain a day longer in office in whatever capacity. I will rather suggest that the man deserves to be in jail for wasting the time and resources of Abia State.I would have preferred to refer to him as a well fortified fool sake for decency. The man possibly thinks that the rest of Abians’ are as foolish as himself. In civilized societies Mr Orji would have immediately resigned upon the revelation he made recently. While addressing the new commissioners he appointed in Umuahia recently, the Governor had described the ceremony as a crucial chapter in the life of the government and another step towards the consolidation of the government.He had also said that with the liberation of the state from political bondage, what they now have in the state was government of the people, for the people and by the people, and urged the new commissioners to work hard as the state was in a hurry to develop. He unequivocally stated that he was now in full control of the affairs of the state; saying that if it were in the past, all the commissioners would have been handed over to him from certain quarters. What a revelation! Prior to that event Mr. Theodore Orji had dissolved his cabinet which was reconstituted just about one year ago. The dissolution affected all commissioners and all other political appointees such as Special Advisers and Personal Advisers, including about 300 advisers that were appointed in May. Political observers in the state saw the action of Governor Orji as a step towards freeing himself from the alleged stronghold of former governor Kalu and his mother who had been having huge influence in the governance of the state since he came to power. But at what cost, who lost? Abians of course! And shortly after dissolving his cabinet, the governor quit his original party for the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Speaking to newsmen in Umuahia, his aide on Print Media, Mr Joshua Ogbonna, had said the governor left the People Progressive Alliance, (PPA) as a result of the irreconcilable and crises that have bedeviled the party in recent times.The climax was that on July 2, the leadership of the party led by DIM Odimegwu Ojukwu, Peter Obi and National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, all gathered in Umuahia to receive Governor Orji into their party. According to Mr. Joshua Ogbonna….. “Since they have made the party uncomfortable for him, he had no choice but to find solace in a more disciplined focused and people-oriented party which is APGA.Yet again, within a few weeks, the same man did quit APGA for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In doing so, he rubbished the personalities that graced his return to APGA on the previous occasion such as DIM Odimegwu Ojukwu. What we hear now is that the move was proper in order to realign Abia to national politics and optimize political benefits for the state. Some loyalists of the governor are also using every opportunity to blast our eyes on the need to keep Abia on the mainstream of national politics.Nevertheless one thing that is clear from this macabre dance is the desperation to remain in power at all cost, and this is irrespective of the wishes of the people. Governor Orji and his loyalist are fanatically inclined to the PDP ballot rigging machine and are hopeful of benefiting from there. The desperation to still remain in office despite woeful performance as governor is largely responsible for this so-called return to the PDP.This is synonymous with events in Imo State, two years ago when Mr. Ikedi Ohakim quit the PPA for the PDP. The same reasons adduced in Abia were also adduced in Imo. On both occasions, people of these two states were told that this was the only way to facilitate the actualization of the Igbo presidency. But these are fairy tales, good only for gullible minds as they need to be reminded that Igbo presidency can never be possible in an environment dominated by political underachievers and harlots whose only guaranty to victory is ballot fraud and judicial merchandise.I have never really taken Governor Orji serious because I had always seen him and his brother- governor Ikedi Ohakim as backwater governors who came into office through the back door without any iota of public scrutiny. Their coming to power was a catastrophic accident that took all and sundry by surprise. No sane political mind ever imagined that it could happen in the 21st century Nigeria. But it did, and we are collectively paying the high price.My consolation however, is the lessons to be learnt from this accident. One of them is the fact that the defection of these governors is a showcase of the nature of their characters, affiliations and backgrounds. And these consist of greed, avarice, lust and poverty of morality. On the surface one may query what actually took them to PPA in the first instance? And what level of relationship they did have with Orji Ozor Kalu the founder of PPA prior to and before defection? For Mr. Theodore Orji, one may also want to know why he defected to and quit APGA within a few weeks. An analysis of these questions will reveal these men as birds of the same feather that needs isolation from the civilized world. Behind the veil of government authority are politically amorphous men, enormously lacking in character, morality, genuine followership and social capital.Another lesson to be learnt is that as the Igbo nation remain hopeful of Igbo presidency, characters to look up to are those similar to, and proportional to those of the likes of Mr. Peter Obi of Anambra State. Governor Peter Obi understands very much how he came to power and has to a large extent lived up to the expectations of his people. His actions have facilitated enormous goodwill for him and his party in Anambra State which subsequently ensured his re-election as governor last year. He did not need defection to achieve re-election. To Peter Obi what should really matter while in political office is performance, not jumping around and making bizarre confessions without genuine atonement as we currently witness in Abia. Do Governors Fashola, Oshiomole and Mimiko need any defection to secure re-election? What then is actually the problem with these Igbo governors other than gullibility? Again, the PDP as a party in self denial is again in big dilemma as the events of 2011 unfolds. It has to subject itself to real democratic ethos which includes making the political field open, free and fair to all contestants. By this, it has to contend with organizing fair and free primaries as well as subjecting itself to free and fair national and state elections thereafter. But can this be possible with all these compromises here and there particularly with the influx of non- performing Governors Orji and Ohakim defecting to its fold?I am of the strong opinion that the likes of Governor Theodore Orji should out rightly be disqualified from presenting himself for re-election under any political platform, the PDP inclusive, based on his recent confessions that his government since 2007 has been serving the personal interests of himself and those of his godfather – Orji Uzor Kalu. The implication of those revelations are damning as it shows to the extent Abia State has been short-changed in the past 36 months. Well meaning Abia citizens should stand up and throw their gauntlet into the 2011 race and get this inferior man unelected as he attempts to re-present himself for the 2011 elections. Please fellow Abians’ let’s put a stop to this cascading stupidity.
Abia Kwenu!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Case studies of outright looting of public funds in Nigeria (1)

N400m cash in septic tank
•Opposition groups demand probe of Bayelsa sanitation agency

Opposition parties and civil society groups in Bayelsa State have demanded a probe into the alleged disappearance of over N400 million at the country home of the Chairman of the Environment Sanitation Authority, Mr. Reginald Dede. The robbery, which reportedly took place penultimate week at Kongo community, Akassa, Brass Local Government Area of the state was carried out by boys who were armed to the teeth. Eyewitness account said when the boys got to Dede’s house, they headed straight to the septic tank where they discovered both hard and local currencies. After the robbery, some people were said to have been arrested by the police. An impeccable police source confided in Daily Sun that those arrested by the police in connection with the robbery were still undergoing interrogation. However, opposition parties and civil society groups are calling on the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Presidency to investigate the matter to determine where Dede got such huge money.In separate statements, National Union of Political Parties (NUPP), Political Alliance for Good Governance (PAGG) and the Action Congress (AC) said the Federal Government should demonstrate its sincerity to fight corruption by probing the incident. NUPP, in its statement signed by Mr. Edwin Tare and Ekiye Maxwell, chairman and secretary respectively carpeted Dede saying since he assumed office as chairman of the agency, “wages of sanitation workers have been stunted,” adding that “workers sometimes would not be paid for three or four months.” It said the state government had never been serious with the welfare of the workers who were mostly women. Bobo Atari-Adou, publicity secretary of PAGG, in its statement, said the group noted with disbelief that such huge money could be hidden in a septic tank when workers of the sanitation authority were being owed six months salaries. It called on President Goodluck Jonathan to listen to the voice of reason and direct a probe into alleged financial recklessness in the state. The AC, in its statement, endorsed by its Chairman, Miriki Ebikibina challenged Governor Timipre Sylva and the state House of Assembly to investigate the matter and sanction Dede if found guilty to serve as a deterrent to other government officials who believed cases of corruption could be treated with levity. The state Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Mr. Nathan Egba, however denied knowledge of the incident, stressing that it was a personal matter which only Dede could comment on. When approached for his comments at the Governor’s Lodge in Yenagoa, Dede declined, declaring that he did not want to talk about the incident. Meanwhile, political leaders in Sagbama have risen in defence of the council Chairman, Mr. Perez Peretus over allegation of corruption and high-handedness levelled against him. Peretus who has been in the eye of the storm following his disagreement with a top government functionary has been accused of massive fraud and securing a loan facility for the council without authorisation. In a statement by the Secretary of the council on behalf of the leaders, Mr. Mirin Johnson, the leaders noted that the council took the loan of N45 million for the payment of April salaries due to the shortfall in the allocation that accrued to the council from the federation account. According to the leaders, the loan which was with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs was used for a purpose which the people could attest to. The leaders commended Peretus for engaging in the settlement of debts incurred by past administrations, the provision of internet facility, the launch of a functional website for the council, the overhauling of electrical systems in Sagbama town, the purchase of five plots of land in Yenagoa to construct a befitting ultramodern liaison office complex with a view to generating revenue and the ongoing construction of a new office building. While noting that the “claim of fraud against the council chairman is a deliberate crusade by some politicians against the rising profile of the council chairman” they stressed that “investigation conducted on the charges of fraud, high-handedness and fanning ember of division among clans against the council chairman showed that they were false and only exist in the imagination of the opposition.”

Note: Bayelsa State is a major revenue earner from Nigeria’s huge oil and gas Federal Allocation. It is one of the richest states in Nigeria, but outright looting of public funds persists in the midst of pressing needs and poverty.

Case studies of sprawling poverty in Nigeria (1)

One-month-old triplets face ejection from hospital
…......... As jobless parents can’t pay medical bills

In Ijaw language, Beydomo means ‘let your mind be calm’. But for Beydomo Igoniwari, that name doesn’t represent her current situation. Right now, Beydomo’s mind is anything, but calm. Even her husband is as agitated and confused as the young lady. So what could be responsible for the worry and anxiety currently traumatizing their minds?
On June 6, the young lady was delivered of a set of triplets. The three bundles of joy were delivered at Ondewari community in Southern Ijaw Local Government area of Bayelsa State. And since then, Beydomo and her husband, Karamotei, have been running from pillar to post, seeking for a way to pay the hospital bills and ensure the survival of their new born babies. Unfortunately, due to the long journey from Ondewari, one of the triplets died. But that is not the immediate headache of the couple. At the moment, Mr. and Mrs. Igoniwari have other concerns. They are currently battling to ensure that they are not evicted by the authorities of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa. The hospital officials have served them a quit notice, maintaining that they can no longer keep the babies and their mother at the hospital unless they pay their bills. Igoniwari, who is at a loss on how to raise the required funds to keep his children and wife in the hospital, is pleading for help from Nigerians as well as the Bayelsa State Government. He spoke his mind in an interview with Daily Sun…. “My name is Karamotei Igoniwari. I am 25 years old from Ondewari in Southern Ijaw Local Government area of Bayelsa State. My wife gave birth to triplets on June 6 at the village and because of her condition; we had to rush her down to Yenagoa. We did not know that she was going to have triplets because there was no scan done. We already had two children before now. But as she was giving birth and I saw that she gave birth to triplets, I could not eat for two days because I have two children before now. “The situation I have found myself now is that I need assistance from the government. I have no job. I only survive on picking snails at the village. I don’t know where to run for help. I am confused. The hospital has served us a notice that they want to eject us. We have spent more than one month now and our bill is almost N50, 000. I need help from the government. Even if I am given a year to pay the money, I don’t know where I would get it.” Beydomo, who also spoke with our reporter, was close to tears as she pleaded for help to save her children. According to her, all her concern now is how the government or any good spirited Nigerian can offer help to the family. “I want the government to take care of the children. All I just want from government is to take care of them,” she said. Have they given the children any names? Igoniwari shook her head. She explained that christening the kids is the last thing on their minds. She said all they want to do now is to settle the hospital bills and return to the village where their church members and relatives are waiting to receive them with joy.
Note: Bayelsa State is a major revenue earner from Nigeria’s huge oil and gas Federal Allocation. It is one of the richest states in Nigeria, yet, its people are suffering in the midst of plenty.