Category Archives: Opinions

Wike: The Gunshots Persist, by Odimegwu Onwumere

Your Excellency, The Executive Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike. Greetings, Sir.

I come to you again with a heart full of tears after my earlier open letter to you begging of you to oversee to the motiveless shootings in parts of Rivers State to immobility. Within hours of that letter, the tears of residents have gone up than they were especially in a place like Oyigbo.

We are inundated with information from residents of that area that they doubt if the unjustifiable shootings are really those from the security agents or some external intruders are using the opportunity to cash in and take over Oyigbo.

Many of the residents have fled their homes. Please, for the sympathy of the living, do make peace. This is more than the alleged hoodlums taking over the #EndSARS protest but something is fishing out from the cupboard concerning the fate of Oyigbo in this time of uncertainties.

Rivers residents – whether born natives or visitors – cannot afford to lose any part of Rivers state to any tribe, whose sole aim is to cleanse a people and occupy their ancestral homes. Some information from a place like Rumukwurushi is that there is a particular people who are guarded by those who were supposed to protect all; and the people are hiding under the cover of the protection they enjoy unleashing mayhem on the residents of Rumukwurushi. The same is applicable to Oyigbo.

Sir, you might not notice what is happening across the state at the same time except for such information like this. You have to try to save the state that you love from falling in the hands of a people who never meant well for us. You have to read history from ancient gallery and stop the neo-ethnic cleansing that is well written bold on the wall in guise of #EndSARS protest.

In a plain language, sir, Oyigbo without a doubt has fallen in the hands of wrong people while many still believe that the gunshots were only from the security agents. No. You need to act now else every genuine person living in Oyigbo and some parts of Port Harcourt will wake up from memories’ grave. It would be sacrilegious that we are dead in Rivers state while our homes are taken over by the cold-blooded killers.

In war, it is certain that the end will come but ordinary people are not certain of surviving that long. I am not pointing finger at any person but no man would stand and watch his enemies hide under the cover of security agents to unleash terror for the purpose of either vendetta or land grabbing. And if you don’t act now, parts of Rivers state may be in the hands of the enemies yet we misconstrue the gunshots as those from the ‘genuine’ security agents. Let the year 2020 not be the year we are regressing back to 1700 when lords governed fiefdoms. Someone might not be a robber but if such a person goes to the bank like a robber, he or she would be labeled a robber.

Some persons have dressed like robbers in Rivers state. They don’t care to know that time of acquiring territories by force is gone and we cannot afford to stand on the shadow of the keep. Our state cannot be taken over by force, by any tribe. You need not fold your hands because there will be no excuses and no exceptions should these shootings persist. Watch if the enemies are close, hiding under the #EndSARS brouhaha.

Your Excellency, it would be better that I slap your face with words today in lieu of you waking up tommorrow and notice that your grandparents graves have become home for people who did not buy them from you and who do not mean well to you, either.
There are screams and cry ongoing in a place like Oyigbo. It is not too late to check who are causing the residents of that area to cry. The residents can barely breathe. Don’t allow the door to slam against the wall.

The presence of heavy security men in Oyigbo and in some parts of Rivers state is not a shield. Gunshots are locating the residents more that the presence of the security agents could protect them. This has spurred my suspicion if the town has not fallen in the hands of enemies to kill as many residents as possible while we presume all happening are part of the wave from the #EndSARS uproar oblivious that some people with ulterior motive are bent to take our ancestral land.

The door is open to bring about the needed peace which that part of the state facing heavy presence of gunshots need. How can a people’s right be intruded? The language of gun is not smooth. Let the soldiers not make the residents believe that they are the injured party whereas the residents cannot tell for sure where the sporadic gunshots are coming from and the military Code of Conduct is not observed.

Sane soldiers do not wave unlocked gun recklessly in the midst of civilians. Unguided bullets flying everywhere. Sir, the language of gun is not smooth, not a political agenda. Therefore it is time you introduced and enforced basic human rights this time. Residents cannot afford to walk in their underwear and none knows it were intruders greeting them in the language of gun.

Yes. Oyigbo might not be a city but there are a people who see her as paradise. So, make sure you find out why farmers cannot go to farm because their crops are eaten by human-guided-animals and they are killed if they complain. The same thing is happening to every resident under the #EndSARS hijacked-show-of-shame.

Your Excellency, the grumbling across the state is getting out of hand. Maybe, you have to walk the towns if your security intelligence was not seeing too well. No legitimate child deserves to be called an infidel in his paternal home. The gunshots in Oyigbo are irritating pretense that Rivers state is still in the #EndSARS era. Some people have taken over that era flaunting dangerous folly. I had no difficulty in restraining myself but had to write you in order to stop this stupid importance it has become to a people to desert residents with gunshots at the Haunting Hour which is now their bloody manifesto.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a multiple award-winning journalist based in Rivers state. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

VIDEO: Alex Ikwechegh Speaks On How To Achieve Goal Of #EndSARS Protest Without Blood

Here’s a video of Alex Mascot Ikwechegh as he speaks on #EndSARS disturbances across the country:

Ensuring the Rights and Powers of the Girl Child, by Hon Chima Obieze

The National Child Welfare Policy of 1989 defines a child as anybody who is 12 years or below. However, a draft decree put into law has now set the age of the child in Nigeria as 18 years or below. It is pertinent to note that this age definition of the Convention is already in practice under municipal laws.

The International Day of the Girl Child is here again (every 11th October with this year’s theme- Our Voice, Our Equal Future) as it focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote Girls’ Empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. This article is committed to celebrating this day by amplifying the voices and rights of girls everywhere; that all girls have access to quality education and a dignified life. This is also a day to highlight girls’ needs and the particular problems they can face, and drive efforts that meet these needs and fulfill their rights – not benevolently for them, but in partnership with them. This is because the Girl Child is not a stranger or someone far away. The Girl Child is your Daughter, your Sister and your Mother who gave birth to you and your Wife was once a girl child. As a result, there is no gain saying that if the Girl Child is effectively supported during the adolescent years, they have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household partners and political leaders.

The Children’s Rights Act of 2003 expands the human rights bestowed to citizens in Nigeria’s 1999 constitution as amended to children. To this end, this article examines the application of girl-child rights in Nigeria. Let me clearly state that the rights of the girl-child in Nigeria continues to be violated despite the very many provisions of the law guaranteeing such rights in domestic and international instruments. In my opinion, these violations persist because of various factors such as the patriarchal social system adopted in Nigeria, the very high illiteracy rate of the Nigerian public especially in the rural area, our ever present customary laws which treat the girl-child and in fact women generally as subservient to the man and with limited opportunities under custom to maximize potentials, the various religious beliefs that insist that a woman’s individuality should be subject to the man who is superior and so on. Going further however, probing the application of girl-child rights in Nigeria; you find that despite the copious provision of rights in various Statute books, these laws remain very remote to the average Nigerian especially in the rural areas where customary law still holds sway. You will also discover that the pervasive culture of silence in the face of violations borne out of fear of possible stigma coupled with great poverty resulting from customarily conspired rules which deny the girl-child the right to engage in some economic activities or even to enjoy the proceeds of efforts in the presence of the men-folk have continually guaranteed the continued violations of the rights of the girl-child.

Furthermore; according to verified data, Nigeria has a population of about 200million people with 46% currently under the age of 15. The current total for children under the age of 5 stands at nearly 31 million while each year at least 7 million babies are born.
According to UNICEF, 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15. The UNICEF report also states that Nigeria has the third highest absolute number of child brides in the world – 3,538,000 – and the 11th highest prevalence rate of child marriage globally. Child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68% of women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is particularly common among Nigeria’s poorest and rural households. Now, do you know that a 2017 World Bank study estimates that child marriage costs Nigeria USD7.6 billion in lost earnings and productivity every year? In addition, succinctness would fail me to give details of other challenges the Girl Child faces today in Nigeria and globally such as:

i) Access to Education (most times caused by giving the male-child education priority, early marriage/ early pregnancy / early child birth).

ii) Employment Opportunities (some folks may even say- “a woman can’t do this job”).

iii) Gender Based Violence ( 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to WHO. Ranging from domestic abuse to rape, or sexual trafficking).

iv) Reproductive Health and Rights ( helping women take charge of their body reduces unsafe abortion and reduces Maternal death by over 70%).

v) Female Genital Mutilation/ Circumcision (this cultural / religious practise, is non-medical, it can expose the lady to medical issues such as VVF(Vesico Vaginal Fistula). It should be stopped! )

vi) Poor Sanitation (as girls in school needs proper convenience for hygiene reasons and especially during their period).

And many other challenges that results just because they are girl.

To this end, we need clear pathway to societal adherence to the Rights and Empowerment of the Girl Child. Nigeria has been showing pockets of commitments to this cause. In 2001 Nigeria ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage. Nigeria has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). But more work has to be done. The Children’s Rights Act of 2003 was passed into law at the Federal level, but it would only be effective if State Assemblies also codify the law. This is one of the reasons I, Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze, working with The Enugu State House of Assembly and the Executive Governor- Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; would take it up to review the extent of the law in Enugu State and move for possible adjustments and domestication.

Friends, to promote and ensure the right of the Girl Child as well as Empowerment is a collective effort of every citizen in this country and the Government can intervene in the following ways:

1) Strengthened legislative and institutional frameworks to protect children vulnerable and exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation.

2) Strengthened capacities of government and key stakeholders, including social welfare and justice services that prevent and respond to violence against children (especially the Girl Child)

3) Supporting the development, coordination and implementation of an inter-sectoral national social norms change strategy to end violence against children including child marriage, FGM/C(Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcission) and other harmful traditional practices.

4) Strengthening the birth registration system to scale up the registration of children under age five years, with focus on children under one.

5) Ensuring children in humanitarian situations (like the IDPs) have timely and sustained access to quality preventive and responsive child protection services.

6) A National Children’s Commission should be set up for defending the rights of the girl child in an educational, social, cultural, political, and economic context.

In all, as we commemorate the International Girl Child day today, We owe our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers to be; a duty to ensure they grow into an uninitimidated, unbroken and whole woman, an ideal Nigerian woman. We all should consistently advocate for the Empowerment and Rights of the Girl Child, the Nigerian Girl Child and we must reiterate the reality that a psychologically whole Nigerian Girl Child is a psychologically whole Nigerian Woman’s tomorrow.

Happy International Girl Child Day!

Yours in Service;

Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze;

Member, representing Ezeagu Constituency at the Enugu State House of Assembly.

Equity in 2023 PDP Guber Ticket: Nkanu East in Perspective, by Ambassador David C Ani

Since the creation of Enugu State from old Anambra State, Enugu has remained one of the most peaceful states to live in(The Sun Newspaper in 2016). There has been interlocution within and outside the state on the ingenuity of such credit.

But this may also be attributed to the state’s one party system and lack of competition which in itself, brings backwardness and lack of development.

Constitutionally, we have three senatorial zones in Enugu State. Since its creation, political powers and proceeds has been revolving around these political niche and enormous peace has been obtained through this process.

But some months ago, there seem to be a rise in political awareness and consciousness, and probably, power may change hands to another political party due to alleged plans of the sitting governor of the state, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to hand over the PDP party ticket to an Isiuzo man who is more Nsukka (Enugu North) thank Nkanu. Due to this, some analysts are predicting the expiration of PDP in the state if this is done.

Others have argued that the next governors must come from Awgu extraction which are part of Enugu west senatorial zone

Some of this new political principalities against the age long equitable distribution of political power in the state are themselves the by-product of the arrangement. They have resorted to so many unfounded political languages in the state just to attract emotions and sympathy.

Some have started manufacturing so many languages just to suit their selfish ambition, and while a group said they’re now “greater Awgu”, another even argued that “when Anambra was created out of Enugu, we had only Enugu, Abakaliki, and Nsukka senatorial zones and that when Ebonyi was created out of Enugu state, we had Enugu and Nsukka zones left”.

However, following the original agreed pattern of Enugu State for equity, the governorship ticket should be zoned to Enugu East Senatorial Zone, and this should not be dragged with Nkanu East LGA. Nkanu East remains the most underdeveloped and magenalised LGA in Enugu State, with the highest land mass and highest capacity of food production in the state.

Before and after 1999, Nkanu East have been backward in infrastructure and politics despite her contribution to the feeding and development of the state.

Nkanu East is supposed to have two or more state constituencies considering her nature of settlement and population. For instance the people from the northern part of the LGA will have to cross over three LGAs in the state before getting to the LG headquarters(Amagunze). Secondly, Nkanu East despite its huge land mass and population, has just one state assembly seat till date.

Most large towns in Nkanu East such as Nkerefi have not produced even a local government chairman since the creation of the LGA due to the huge population and land mass of the LGA.

Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, a former governor of the state 1999 ruled for eight years without constructing a single road leading to any part of Nkanu East.

Since the creation of Enugu State, this local government have not been shown any sense of belonging, unlike our brother LGAs Nkanu West, which produced governors, senators, House of Reps members and is the host of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT.

There is also Isiuzo Local Government which have produced so many vital political positions and also hosts a popular Federal College of Education located at Eha Amufu.

As a matter of fact, Nkanu East in particular has not done anything unconstitutional, rather we’re just abiding by the peaceful provisional arrangement of the state through the PDP rotational system of leadership. To set the records straight, the population of an Nkanu Land is put to about 48% in the state. We have also over 35% of our people living all over the other zones. If numerical strength is power in a democratic set-up such as ours, then it becomes only fair for our brothers in the other side of the world to reason with us.

Meanwhile, the three constitutionally recognized zones since the creation of Enugu State has been happy with the arrangements as every zone has been producing the governor at their own turn.

Since PDP dwells on the equitable distribution and rotation of political powers, (and as we all know that) it’s the turn of Enugu East to produce the next Governor of the state. Furthermore, in as much as equity must be attained, Nkanu East being the most underdeveloped local government in Enugu State should be considered based on the language of equity.

As a peace loving people, Nkanu East people have endured the underdeveloped nature of the local government, believing that Enugu State’s PDP equitable distribution and rotation of power will come to Enugu East and by extension, Nkanu East is in the right position to get the ticket.

The good people of Nkanu East are also ready to turn their support against anybody or group of bodies, political parties that may dream to murder their rights.

Hon Ambassador David C. Ani
(Odogwu na Nkanu) writes from Enugu.

ENUGU@29: History, Leadership, Good Governance and Consolidation of Democratic Gains, by Rt Hon Chima Obieze

Enugu State with an estimated population of over 3.8 million people covers an area of 7,161 km2 (2,765sq mi), and ranks 29th out of the 36 States of Nigeria in terms of land area.

The word “Enugu” (from Enu Ugwu ) means “the top of the hill”. The first European settlers arrived in the area in 1909, led by a British mining engineer named Albert Kitson. In his quest for silver, he discovered coal in the Udi Ridge. The Colonial Governor of Nigeria Frederick Lugard took a keen interest in the discovery, and by 1914 the first shipment of coal was made to Britain.

As mining activities increased in the area, a permanent cosmopolitan settlement emerged, supported by a railway system. Enugu acquired township status in 1917 and became strategic to British interests. Foreign businesses began to move into Enugu, the most notable of which were John Holt, Kingsway Stores, the British Bank of West Africa and the United Africa Company.

From Enugu, the British administration was able to spread its influence over the Southern Province of Nigeria. The colonial past of Enugu is today evidenced by the Georgian building types and meandering narrow roads within the residential area originally reserved for the whites, an area which is today called the Government Reserved Area (GRA).

From being the capital of the Southern Provinces, Enugu became the capital of the Eastern Region (now divided into nine States), the capital of now defunct Federal Republic of Biafra , thereafter, the capital of East Central State, Anambra State, (old) Enugu State, and now the capital of the present Enugu State through a process of state creation and diffusion of administrative authority.

Enugu State was formed on 27th August, 1991 when it was split from Anambra State with Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo as the first democratically elected Governor in January 1992 to November 1993 under the auspices of NRC (National Republican Convention). At the birth of the 4th Republic- May 29th, 1999; Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani was sworn in as Governor under the umbrella of PDP(People’s Democratic Party). Barr. Sullivan Chime is the immediate past Governor succeeding Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. Barr. Chime served from May 29th, 2007 to May 29th, 2015.

Then, the people of Enugu State came out in their droves to elect the most popular Governorship Candidate in the Country during the 2015 General Elections as the product name “Gburu Gburu” resonated across the length and breath of Nigeria.

Gburu Gburu became a household name in the country that it took some time for a good number of people to learn that the real name of the Enugu State Governor sworn into office on May 29th, 2015 is Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi as he took over the reign of Government when Enugu State was 24 where he boldly and unequivocally declared that Enugu State is the Hands of God during his inauguration.

As we celebrate Enugu State at 29, Governor Ugwuanyi has been consolidating Democratic Blueprints and Exploding Democratic Dividends in form of opus for the people of Enugu State who Gburu Gburu refers to as Ndi Enugu.

The people again, showing great confidence in Gov. Ugwuanyi’s leadership, turned out again in 2019 to elect him for a second term.

It is note-worthy that this article is panegyrical of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s feats in office.

During the recent inauguration of a Bailey Bridge across Nyama River, linking various communities in Enugu, the former Governor of Old Anambra State, said that Gov. Ugwuanyi has wiped away his tears by building the bridge for his community after decades of neglects. Well, the truth remains that Gburu Gburu is not only building physical bridges, he is also building bridges between the Government and the People as he is always accessible, he listens and serve the people to his greatest abilities.

In addition, he is building bridges the Leaders of the State- Political, Religious and Traditional Leaders alike. This was confirmed by Sen. Ekweremadu that “there are no bickerings or quarrels amongst the Leaders of the State”. Truly, Gov. Ugwuanyi is bringing everybody together irrespective of Political affiliations thereby treating everybody with utmost respect, equity, fairness and justice.

One of the biggest achievements of the Gov. Ugwuanyi led adminstration is that Peace, Security and Political Stability is now synonymous with Enugu State.

This has also driven up investment rates, rapid development and economic growth leading to Job Creations, Massive Employment and prosperity for Ndi Enugu. In addition, prompt payment of workers’ salaries cannot be over-emphasised as the State’s labour force is highly motivated with diverse incentives as well as payment of new minimum wage before each month end with 13th Month payment.

Succinctly, the Score Card shows very high bars in aggressive Rural Developments, untiring Urban Renewal, excellent Healthcare Delivery evident in the fight against COVID-19; improved Basic Education, rapid Infrastructural Growth making Enugu a conducive Business Hub and also Business & Agro Development/Support Scheme and many other feats by the Governor.

Besides, Gov. Ugwuanyi has shown great leadership and courageous steps in keeping Enugu State relatively safe from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world. Ndi Enugu can also testify that there has been a huge recovery in the robust economy of the State as the Governor advises all to adhere to the COVID-19 safety guidelines continually.

And to those who are yet to appreciate the Leadership of this gentle Lion-Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, I assure you you will miss him when he is gone. The air of peace, security, love & unity we enjoy today in Enugu has never been the same.

Just yesterday the Remodelled Enugu International Airport was reopened for operations. While we thank President Buhari for releasing the funds for this project and thank Igbo leaders who followed through to remind the President the importance of this one International Airport in the Southeast, may we appreciate the Governor who went out of his way to see and deal with this project as if its a State Government project. Providing the FG, the Contractors and FAAN all necessary assistance to ensure that the Airport is completed and up & running. This is because, Gov. Ugwuanyi understands that being the Governor of Enugu State is being incharge of the Capital of the entire Eastern region.

Again, for the first time in the politics of Enugu State, youths are beginning to have an inroad into governance. Gov. Ugwuanyi has provided a platform for mentorship for future leaders of the State by bringing them closer to the Seat of power so they can see for themselves how things are done and to prepare them for the future as it is clearly visible that there is transference of leadership qualities from the Governor to his protégées which some of us are privileged to be.

Furthermore, very worthy to mention is the cordial working relationship that Gov. Ugwuanyi has established between the three Arms of Government in the State- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. These working relationship has translated to speedy delivery of Democracy Dividends, Equity, Fairness and Justice for all.

As Enugu State hits 29, it is imperative to note that the Governor is not resting on his Laurel as he has vowed to continue working tirelessly for Ndi Enugu, thereby taking Enugu State to Greater Heights.

Therefore, through the tacit permission of Our Governor, I Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze, Member; Representing Ezeagu Constituency at the Enugu State House of Assembly, hereby enjoin the great people of Enugu State to keep their hands on the plough without looking back as we all in unison drive this great State led by Rt. Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Lawrence Ugwuanyi to increasingly greatness because we all are “Enugu “(city on the hill).

Rt. Hon. Chima Emmanuel Obieze, is the member representing Ezeagu Constituency in Enugu State House of Assembly. He writes from Enugu.

40th Birthday: Alex Ikwechegh Embarks on 3days Back to Back Palliative Fiesta

He has consistently shown decorum, class and humanitarian disposition, though he has not held any political position since leaving office 10 years ago as the youngest elected Local Government Chairman in Nigeria at 27.

To commemorate his birthday he has opted to share palliatives to the people from his personal accruals. The palliatives will run from 24th of August to 26th as follows:

On the 24th August, palliatives will be disbursed from
a. Saint Peter’s Anglican Church Aba,
b. Akoli Road Primary School Aba
c. Ogbor Hill Primary School Aba
d. Boys Technical School Osusu Aba
e. Saint Peters Catholic Church Omuma Road Aba.
f. Igbere Secondary school, Bende,
By 2pm prompt.

While on the 25th of August, by 10 am, Kerosene will be disbursed at
1. Elveris Oil Ohanku and Elveris oil Obohie.
2. Fred Ikye oil Uratta Road Aba.
3. Cozanic oil Ama Ogbonna Aba
4. Forte Oil Igbere Bende.

And on that 26th of August, Cash gifts will be proffered to widows, and the disadvantaged in society. This will happen from 2.00 pm prompt from Okigwe Road Primary School Aba.

THE INSPIRATION

As one of the notable young leaders that have emerged in Abia and Nigeria as a whole Chief Alex Ikwechegh has shown what leadership should be; he has supported both citizens and leaders of Aba North and Abia State as a whole, he has given benevolently to the disadvantaged consistently, and has shown that the Youths are the future of Nigeria with positive governance initiatives. As such, we call on all youth full leaders of Abia State in particular to emulate these positive leadership examples and ensure we self guard the future of our State. The only way to achieve that is by consistently focusing on citizens and our upgrades no matter whose ox is gored.

Enugu State: HELP, People after my life! Adaba Community Town Union President Cries Out

The following is a narrative made by the Adaba Town Union President, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, Agubuchie Eugene

Good day great people of Adaba Community, last time I informed the general public about the mini general assembly meeting convened by the Elders Council on 20th June.

One agenda of that meeting is the lingering issue of selected town union executives and Premier Brewery land. I had also been off line because I had to stay at home and face the many challenges confronting our people.

I sincerely apologise for my absence on this platform. But today, I am pleased to update you on the resolutions of the Elders Council and the state of things in Adaba Community.

Before my election on 1st December 2019, we as a community witnessed factions which was a result of the constitution violation orchestrated by Jude Okonkwo.

The present councillorship position of Adaba was zoned to Amaogbo by our constitution but Jude Okonkwo gave it to Obinagu/Umuezeke zone for reasons best known to him.

This led to the suspension of our constitution during the President-General election. My election was done on gentleman’s agreement. So as it stands, we do not have another working constitution except the one of 1976 which basically spoke on election of Igwe, and lacking in other matters in the community.

Note that we were also singing progress and change during the election.

However, a week after my election, I was summoned by Jude Okonkwo and Chukwuma Ekwueme in a hotel and I was told that I must start paying two of them 100,000 naira every month. I pleaded to pay them 50,000 each but the refused. They threatened to drop me and put another PG if I do not play along with them. I did this for a couple of months and then the timber dealers noticed that there were no meaningful project going on from the money they paid and they stopped paying into the account.

Then Jude Okonkwo resorted to using the selected town union executive that he planted to checkmate me and possibly use them to impeach me if I try to pull out of the agreement. In one of the occasions, his PA Osita Ochi (Figo, sub committee chairman on electricity) on Ifeanyi Okonkwo’s instruction collected electricity money to the tune of 300,000 naira and went to pay only 100,000 naira to EEDC and share the rest to God knows. Two weeks after that our light was cut for two months and my name was ringing bell every where in Adaba. I managed to pay 320,000 naira out of 634,000 naira that was billed to us before our light was restored.

Then two weeks after, EEDC brought another bill in my presence and handed it over to Osita Ochi and I asked him to give me the bill so I can view but he refused and told me that the stakeholders of APU Enugu branch gave him the job as I was given. That evening, I summoned him and his committee for a meeting but he declined and went ahead to collect money from the people in the community. When I approached him to stop, he beat me up in the old Nkwo market.

The next day Jude Okonkwo summoned me for a meeting at Dragon Recreation Centre, 82 Division with the stakeholders. In that meeting, Osita Ochi was asked to bring two cartons of Heineken while I was told to bring one carton on top of the beating. So I refused and pulled out of them and told them that I had already dissolved that committee on electricity. But Jude Okonkwo told me that I don’t have the capacity to do that.

Before now, Jude Okonkwo and Benjamin Ogwudile had told me that I can never assert myself as a PG, that they must control me. In three occasions, I as the PG of Adaba had knelt down before Ifeanyi Okonkwo and the so called few Enugu stakeholders pleading for forgiveness on offense I never know but was alleged by Ochi Uchenna (ocha) and Uche Okafor (Uche O) who were imposed on me as the Bush Manager and Secretary by Ifeanyi Okonkwo. Ifeanyi Okonkwo once told me that his boys will beat me up one day and they had done exactly that.

In all these, what hurt me most, is that even the selected executives have been handling me as a mere stooge.The VP 1 Oforedu will always tell me that as VP 1, I cannot do anything without his approval. The worst of it all is that Jude Okonkwo mandated my financial Secretary Philip Udozor to be the only signatory that will sign before I withdraw money out of the four signatories. So that only Philip Udozor will be aware of what we are doing. Last time, there was a need of 10,000 naira by the Elders to visit Omasi but the Financial Secretary refused to sign until I took permission from Jude Okonkwo.

The Town Union Government has been run by the four of us i.e. myself, Jude Okonkwo, Chukwuma Ekwueme and Philip Udozor while other executives are ignorant of what we are doing.

One Saturday (Eke day) while I was having a meeting with the Elders Council, Prince Engr Arthur Eze came in the ccompany of Chief Isaac Amalunwaeze and Chief Cyril Iloanya. Nobody was informed of his visit. He gave the Elders Council 1,000,000 naira as a palliative for Covid 19 and told us that he has a land in Adaba (Premier Brewery land )which he wishes to start agricultural farm immediately. He also asked us what we want him to do for us. I enumerated our problems but he told me to write them down and bring to him. He also promised to give 20 youths Federal jobs employment and as well will summon the Governor on our behalf to talk about autonomous communities which I requested.

However before, he left, I told him to send his team of lawyers and land documents that will help us know more because as for me, Premier Brewery land was sold in 1987. So I will need to have the documents of the said land. I also called Barr IK Ekwueme to update him and ask him to search his father’s archives for such documents.

Then to my surprise, I was summoned for a meeting on 27th of May by the Enugu State Commissioner for Rural Development with all my Executives. When we got there, it turned to be an impeachment saga by my Executives sponsored by Jude Okonkwo and Chukwuma Ekwueme forcing 27 of my excos to sign against me.Their claims were that I personally sold Adaba land to Prince Engr Arthur Eze. But God gave me victory before them. Unfortunately, when we came out of the Hon Commissioner’s office, my younger brother saw Osita Ochi and beat him up. Five days later, Jude Okonkwo and Chukwuma Ekwueme sponsored again five of my executivesa, namely Barr Osita Ekwedigwe, Oforedu, Philip Udozor, Osita ochi and my Secretary Abraham Chineke in writing a petition against me and 7 Amaogbo youths in the state CID accusing us of banditry, conspiracy, planning local war, attempted murder and stealing etc.

Police came and arrested me and 5 others which I paid huge amount to bail myself and others. Till now, that case is still open.All these issues made the Elders Council to call for a General Assembly. After both parties explained what happened, the Elders Council wrote a resolution as attached in this platform and sent to each parties and to the Ministry of Rural Development. When APU Enugu Branch/Town Union executives recieved theirs, they flared up and sent their selected township-based executives to go home and demonstrate that the PG had been removed and that the VP 1 Oforedu is now the PG.

On 24th of July, they demonstrated. While they were doing their demonstration, I was reliably informed that I am their target to be killed as directed by their boss if I came out.Precisely on Tuesday 21th July, I was at Umulokpa Police Station to bail one boy from Adaba when Jude Okonkwo , Chukwuma Ekwueme, Benjamin Ogwudile, Dr John Chineke and their agents drive in from Enugu to Umulokpa Police Station and had a closed door meeting with the DPO for close to 3 hours and left back to Enugu.

The next day, police started invading Adaba everyday to extort money from people especially those that loading firewood they cut from Nkume communjty.

Then on Friday 24th, police came to extort those loaders again but they refused while they were quarrelling with the loaders.

Some of our boys who were returning from work at Prince Engr Arthur Eze farm saw the police and join in the issue because of previous provocations from the police.

In the process, the police started shooting and shot one Ukpata man that parked to mediate with them. He is now recieving treatment at Parklane Hospital.

Jude Okonkwo on hearing the incident at home, connived with Police and told them that my boys was trying to disarm the police.

Furthermore, in a meeting, we Adaba Community summoned by the Commissioner of Police on 27th of July, Jude Okonkwo stood up to mention three young men that he felt that was his problem to having his way in dealing with me and have Adaba pocketed. Then I was mandated by the CP to bring those boys the next which I did.

As I speak, the Elders, major stakeholders of Adaba had been in the state CID for four days now mediating over this issue. One of the young men has been released while two others are still in detention pending when the Police conclude their investigation.

Soonest, I will update us on what transpired over the CSDP project attracted to Adaba and how it was messed up by some selfish persons. For now, I will take time to elucidate to my people why I am being haunted to be killed by some people. They are desperate and determine to pocket Adaba. I had refused to be used as an instrument. Adaba people should know that my life is being threatened because I want to bring the change we promised during my election. I refuse to be a divide and rule PG. Adaba must unite to face our common enemy which is the cause committed in the land by our forefathers. Finally, I make bold to say that I was born and elected at a point like this for liberation of the land occupied by Adaba.Please my people, I need the support of everyone to build Adaba of our dream again. I refuse to be sectional PG and I refuse to be an instrument of war.

I will rather resign to the general assembly of Adaba than succumb to threat and intimidation of selfish persons. I will keep us posted from now and don’t keep silence if you are in this platform. Adaba belong to all of us.

Thanks.

Agubuchie Eugene, Adaba Town Union President General.

If the UK can feed school children during lockdown, why can’t Nigeria? – Onyema Dike

A June 12 report by the BBC informs us that – “About 1.3m children in England will be able to claim free school meal vouchers in the summer holidays, after a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United forward, 22, welcomed the six-week voucher for eligible children, saying: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”…Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Mr Rashford’s “contribution to the debate around poverty”.

The Manchester United forward, 22, welcomed the six-week voucher for eligible children, saying: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”…Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Mr Rashford’s “contribution to the debate around poverty”.

During the Coronavirus lockdown the government was providing food vouchers to families whose children qualify for free meals. But the UK government had insisted that free meals would not continue outside of term time.

Rashford’s campaign led to a policy U-turn with the UK prime minister directing that vouchers be provided to indigent families outside school term and during the summer.

In the UK, this special Covid-19 intervention is called the “Covid Summer Food Fund” while in Nigeria a similar initiative has been dubbed the modified Home Grown School Feeding Programme and was launched in Abuja on May 14, 2020 following a presidential directive asking the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to come up with strategies to keep school children fed during the lockdown.

Following the presidential directive the minister held wide ranging consultations with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum following which it was resolved that Take Home Rations remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lock down.

That collective decision based on a presidential directive to feed school children while at home during the pandemic seems to have become an albatross around the neck of the Honorable Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq with many traducers asking why and how school children were fed while others have bandied around figures with some alleging that N697m is being spent daily to feed “invisible’ school children.

Before we go further and because money is always at the root of many contentions let us make a quick comparison. In the UK, school children on the “Covid Summer Food Fund” get weekly food vouchers worth £15. That comes to £60 per month or N30,402. In Nigeria, the primary school pupil enrolled on the school feeding programme gets free meal worth N70 daily. Multiply that by 20 school days per month and you have N1,400.

Sadiya Umar Farouq addressed what she described as “rumours and innuendos and speculations around one of our key interventions; the Home Grown School Feeding Programme” during her briefing at the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force on August 3, 2020.

Reeling out figures and proof to show how the programme was prosecuted she noted that “it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out Take Home Rations and the stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as pilot cases. Each Take Home Ration is valued at N4,200 and that figure was not arrived at without proper consultation. It was not invented.”

At this juncture it is pertinent to consider two core issues attackers of the minister have with the modified school feeding programme.

The first is why feed children during the lockdown? The answer is a simple one. The president made a directive and because ministers serve at the pleasure of the president they are bound to obey directives. While that may well be the case it is important to note that Nigeria is not the only country offering Take Home Rations during the lockdown. Liberia was and the UK too.

The second issue is that of cost and a lack of comprehension amongst so called critics and commentators. The ministry had noted in a press release that it was targeting a total of 3,131,971 households under the modified Home Grown School Feeding. Using that number and the cost of N4,200 per Take Home Ration a figure of N13,154,278,200 was arrived at but what the so called critics failed to realise is that it was a target but the programme has only run in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States and impacted only 124,589 broken down as follows: FCT 29,609, Lagos 37,589, Ogun 60,391.

If 124,589 households were impacted in 3 states at a cost of N4,200 per Take Home Ration we would be looking at a total figure of N523,273,800 far below the figures being bandied around without any iota of proof.

The case of the UK is particularly interesting because it is not a poor African country neither is it a 3rd world country. So, why is it giving out food vouchers? Because governments around the world have recognized the need for school children, especially the vulnerable, to get adequate nutrients for physical and mental development. Giving them food has also been identified as key to keeping them in school and reducing absenteeism caused by hunger.

Finally, isn’t the figure of half a billion naira too much? Well, the first thing to consider is that if there was no Covid-19 and children were still in school, they would be getting free meals but as things stand only a fraction of the budgeted sum has been spent.

But ultimately the question we may have to ask ourselves is why is it that a British child gets N30,000 per month in free meals while his Nigerian peer gets a mere N1,400. Shouldn’t we be up in arms?

Onyema Dike, a public analyst wrote in from Lagos

Abia’s 5,666 Teachers: You can’t sack someone you never hired-JOK

There is a long existing embargo on new employment in Abia State Civil Service and only the Governor of the state can validly issue a waiver to employ anyone or group of persons to fill any vacancy within the service.

Every civil servant, no matter the level, is aware of this fact and its implication for those wishing to join the civil service: only a valid waiver, in this circumstance, from the Governor, or a lifting of the embargo by the Governor, can genuinely give employment.

Between 2018 and March 2020, Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) hired some teachers ostensibly as PTA-teachers who were supposed to be paid by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of some schools that needed them to fill some vacancies. They were never meant to draw their wages from the civil service of the state as no budgetary provision was made for that purpose and the Governor never issued any employment waiver for their hiring.

According to information released from the office of the Chief of Staff (COS) to the Governor, about 5,666 persons were involved in this PTA arrangement without the necessary employment waivers. None of them ever received wages from the state government, in line with the terms of their hiring by SEMB, whereas 187 teachers employed by same SEMB with valid waivers within the same period were receiving wages from the state government.

Nobody was sacked, please.

Obviously, some unscrupulous persons took money from the PTA teachers and others in need of teaching jobs, and promised them full government employment as teachers whereas those involved knew they could only hire PTA teachers at the request of the schools. One of the affected persons told me she was made to part with thousands of naira and told to go and work as the Governor would ultimately be compelled to approve their full employment and authorize their salary payment from the state government coffers.

That is a SCAM.

When the Governor found out about this scam, he empaneled a committee to review what happened and report back to him. The committee’s report pointed to all sorts of malfeasance including extortion, deception, manipulation of records etc and the government decided to make public its position via relevant announcements regarding the illegality so that those affected would not fall into the venture of making false claims of being owed for some work supposedly done for the state government.

In the announcement signed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr ACB Agbazuere, government never claimed to have sacked any teacher because you simply can’t sack someone you never hired. None of the affected persons received any employment waiver from the Governor and those validly given waivers are continuing with their job.

There are windows available to those PTA teachers and others: approach the schools where you were supposedly working to write the Commissioner for Education and request for your services as a teacher giving cogent reasons for the request with the letter copied to the COS. If the Honorable Commissioner finds merit in the request, he will recommend to the Governor for a waiver to be issued. Only the issuance of such waivers validates your employment with the state government. The other window is to wait for the state government to do a general audit of teachers in the state with a view to identifying where vacancies exist and fill same. According to the announcement, the government is ready to consider the 5,666 persons first, before others, to fill such gaps, if in existence.

As per the argument that they met the then Commisioner for Education, please find out if they met him as newly employed teachers in the civil service or simply as PTA teachers.

Thank you.

-JOK(Honourable Commissioner for Information, Abia State)

RE: Obaseki and PDP’s Wicked Plot to Procure a Court Order to Stop APC and its Candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from Participating in the September 19, 2020 Governorship Election in Edo State: A Call for Judicial Caution

By Sebastine EBHUOMHAN

Reading through the above-titled call and a generated remark, I have noted with suspicion, the motive for Mr Osazua Ivbaze’s commentary on the essay written by Hon. Samson Raphael Osagie to sound an early alarm on an undemocratic move to duck direct contest of the forthcoming Edo State governorship election with the formidable and fearsome candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, by the incumbent Governor and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Godwin Obaseki.

Hon. Osagie, a lawyer and politician of no mean feat, the former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives and now the Coordinator, APC Campaign Council in charge of Edo South Senatorial District, titled his piece as: Obaseki And PDP’s Wicked Plot To Procure A Court Order To Stop APC And Its Candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu From Participating In The September 19, 2020 Governorship Election In Edo State: A Call For Judicial Caution.

In the simple, concise and lucid essay, the two-term former federal lawmaker described his fears and sounded an early alarm about a pernicious move by the rejected, confused, fearful and quarrelsome Obaseki to ensure that Mr Ize-Iyamu is prevented from participating in the election he is presently campaigning vigorously to win. Obaseki is seeking through the legal backdoor of a baseless injunctive order to stop the APC candidate.

Hon. Osagie concluded by urging the Chief Justice of Nigeria to prevail, as he has democratically asserted since he assumed office, on all superior courts of record to exercise utmost discretion and restraints in matters relating to Edo State governorship election before, during and after the poll without prejudice to their powers to entertain post-election petitions, so as to prevent avoidable constitutional crisis in Edo State.

Despite the obvious clarity in Hon. Osagie’s intelligent observation, Ivbaze, an educated and cerebral analyst, would rather focus his gaze on elementary issues that have no relationship, direct or indirect, to the write-up in a manner that portrays the journalist as deliberately seeking, albeit poorly, to divert attention from the weighty and criminal issues that Osagie raised against Obaseki, Ivbaze’s benefactor.

What are the key issues Osagie raised against Obaseki? One, that Obaseki is obviously jittery because of the high profile, pedigree, formidability and acceptability of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the APC. Two, that Obaseki is allegedly romancing and “grovelling” before an unnamed PDP godfather in Port Harcourt, who recently described the PDP as a party of “tax collectors” with the wicked intention of using the godfather to derail Edo State political process. Third, that with his alleged search for pliable judges, Obaseki is seeking to prevent through the back door of judiciary by ways and means of “injunctive order,” Ize-Iyamu’s participation and expected victory in the election. Four, that two senior lawyers: one in Edo State Government’s public service and the other in private practice have allegedly been contracted in tandem with another lawyer in Lagos to work to scuttle to the smooth election of POI, the people’s choice. And five, that millions of dollars and billions of naira are allegedly involved in the undemocratic scheme.

Osagie did not stop there, but went further to supply some base evidence in support of his claims, including the accurate description of a changing room talk.

While one or two of his claims are already domiciled at the public domain, others are so weighty that they cannot just be swept with a wave of the hand. One, that Governor Obaseki and his party, the PDP, are not campaigning anywhere in Edo State right now. Two, that the grounding of Obaseki’s re-election campaign has since resulted to a rift between him and his Deputy Governor. Three, that Mr Jack Obinyan, a Special Assistant to Governor Obaseki erroneously twitted words of the suspended former Edo APC Chairman, Anselm Ojezua, as saying: “APC has no candidate,” even when he and Ojezua knew APC NEC overwhelmingly ratified the candidacy of Ize-Iyamu at the party’s last meeting at the Presidential Villa. Four, that Obaseki, Ojezua and Obinyan are living in fools’ paradise for assuming they could throw spanner into the smooth work of Edo APC where Ojezua remains suspended with his well-known plans to sabotage APC work with the help of a few disgruntled party chairmen; which should make a sane person to ponder the question of who be granted audience out of a suspended and an unsuspended leaderships. And five, that Ojezua “virtually attended, albeit erroneously” the National Executive Committee which held at the Presidential Villa and which ratified APC governorship primary for Edo State.

In spite of the factual evidence available for a knowledge and understanding seeking commentator coupled with the fact that Port Harcourt has become the centre of recent dubious political injunctions even by PDP aspirants against fellow PDP aspirants, it beats the imagination of a reader hollow to see Ivbaze subjecting Osagie’s claims to a dismissive doubt, veiled in his half-hearted shock expressed without a scintilla of verification or investigation. It shows the hatchet columnist is either expressing a blind bias for his benefactor or just out to cause some mischief intended to derail the focus of the general public from a glaring tendency for increasing violence, deadly desperation and impulsive implosions of Governor Obaseki as he watches his re-election slipping through his shaking, almost lifeless fingers.

To conclude, the concern of every well-meaning Edo son and daughter for a free, fair and credible governorship election should be to see Governor Godwin Obaseki and PDP leaders truly stopping their internal wrangling and embarking on a serious political campaign across the nooks and crannies of Edo State before September 19, 2020. That is the only way Obaseki can revive his dying re-election dream.

Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is an award-winning journalist from Edo State resident in Abuja. He can be reached on: usie007@yahoo.com.