From Chuks Collins, Awka

The Traditional Prime Minister of Awka Kingdom, Chief Austin Ndigwe, one of the principal characters named in a spurious publication that has been making the rounds in Anambra state and on the internet in the last few days concerning an attempt to blackmail the governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi, Gov Rochas Okorocha of Imo and an oil magnate, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, has reacted, describing it as the work of idle minds.

Ndigwe, an aide to both governors who spoke to journalists on the telephone from his business trip in London yesterday dismissed and denied the publication which gave an indication that Chief Ifeanyi Ubah has put machinery in motion including a video tape containing unpalatable information against Gov Obi, as not coming from him or any of his representatives.

Describing the scathing publication as a heartless, inhuman and wicked machination of some faceless and demented political jobbers and enemies of progress who could be envious of the blossoming rapport among them, Chief Ndigwe urged the public to ignore and disregard the publication.

Also from the camp of Ubah came a brief statement which described the publication as “phantom act of some apparently deranged political merchants seeking to knock the heads of very close friends together for their own selfish benefit”. The spokesman said that anyone who believed or take any information contained in the offensive publication should have his head examined.

Chief Ndigwe said he was so shocked at the extent people can go to come in between friends and associates. He admitted actually being very close to Gov Obi, Ubah and Gov Rochas Okorocha of Imo state. He saw the publication as a tactless scam; a failed bare-faced political gambit, stressing that anyone who has issues with Obi, Ubah or Okorocha to hide behind his name to unleash such venom on them.

Hear him, “His Excellency Gov Peter Obi is my governor and I have high regards for him. Chief Ifeanyi Ubah is my friend and brother who has lifted me up to immeasurable heights in the Oil and Gas industry today beyond words. I respect him highly and therefore would never get involved in anything that would cast him in bad light. And that if the Almighty God says he would be Governor of Anambra state and he accepts to run, I will give him my full and unqualified support. I therefore wonder how anyone in his right mind say he’s placed me and some other well-placed and respected public figures on a monthly salary, for what purpose?

“His large heart, unrivalled philanthropy and meekness are widely acknowledged by all and count positively for him in whatever he sets to do. Everyone knows he achieved success by a dint of hard work, industry and resilience. He’s never involved in any form of short-cut, half measure, name-calling or character assassination whatsoever!

“Therefore let no one be left in doubt that the spurious publication which perhaps targeted at me and these highly placed public officers who are all friends/friends of mine cannot achieve the inordinate aims of its authors and sponsors. The publication is nothing but a calculated falsehood based on the imaginations of its sponsors clearly aimed at tarnishing the image/pollute our cordial relationship, friendship and association with each other….”

Ndigwe pointed out that he had never spoken to anyone directly or through a proxy on such serious and damaging issues in the manner so reported. He therefore vehemently denounce the publication in its entirety.

He said that he suspects that his fast rising social, economic and political profile must have made him a target of some people who are now green with envy and thereby throwing him open to spurious attacks. On the said video tape containing unsavoury details about Gov Obi, Chief Ndigwe said he has no idea of such material or the custodians. He also dismissed the linking of Gov Okorocha to the entire saga as unimaginable, stressing that the governor would never be part of such unfathomable scandal.

According to him, “I have not seen or heard about such tape, nor discussed same with anyone living or dead and never intend to do so now or in the future. He even wondered if any such tape existed anywhere, hence could not have been in the possession of any of the listed officers. He said he has no idea that Obi visited Ubah for that purpose. That he has no reason to follow Obi or Ubah’s daily programme to be able to know all those who visited them or those they visited too. He described them as highly industrious, determined and principled men who love the nation and her citizens so much. “We are all very busy people with daily tight work schedules hence have little or no time for frivolities meant for pepper soup joint patrons.”

While urging  Obi, Uba and Okorocha to ignore the distractions but to remain focused on their widely-acknowledged life-transforming projects and programmes, Ndigwe appealed to those he called idle minds to try and engage themselves in some serious issues to move the nation forward, for them to leave him and his friends alone. He pointed out that the N250m issue concerning Obi in May/June 2009 was an openly reported and was consequently stoically addressed by the governor then and closed forthwith. So why reopening it, he asked rhetorically.

The two-time chairman of Awka South Local Government challenged anyone who has any scores to settle with anybody to be bold enough to come open rather than hiding behind his name or image for an unsolicited unnecessary smear campaign. He reiterated that if God needs Ubah to become the governor of Anambra state, it shall come to pass; and that the much anyone can do will be to pray for and support him!

He said he had no intention of joining issues with anyone let alone some faceless paper tigers, but for the numerous calls from his concerned friends who had inundated him with calls and enquiries on the said publication he had to come out to set the records straight. He said he would not like well-meaning citizens to be misled into believing the concocted work of bad political jobbers

He said he has already passed over the publication to his legal advisers to study with a view to possible legal action.