Has anyone reading this piece ever tried to portray someone who is undemocratic as democratic and seen the difficulty therein? That is the problem usually faced by information harbingers, by whatever name called when their candid views expressed within government, with a passion, clashes with that which hey put out. It creates an inner conflict that oftentimes reflects inadvertently in the faulty logic inflicted on all of us.
That is the problem usually faced by my very good friend Mr Valentine Obienyem, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obi of Anambra State, a man who by conspiracy of factors in his environment has taken his name to the point where it reminds one of Joseph Goebbels, Germany’s Propaganda Minister under Hitler, who elevated the act of misinformation and half-truths into a high art.
The difference though is that Gobbles did not have a free press, a freedom of information Act in his country and did not live in an age of Internet and facebook. So Goebbels chosen style worked for him in that age as it has not worked for Obienyem in this age.
Val wanted a debate on behalf of Governor Obi. Senator Chris Ngige let the world know he had no qualms about that, and now Obienyem seizes the moment to flag off a debate without ground rules, parameters, moderator and scope. What it means that the debate can close as suddenly as it started if oga –at –the –top says so without any penalties. The Val will return to the propaganda room. We have our doubts
The picture of the debate we have in mind is a live, moderated debate, perhaps in different venues of Anambra State. We are looking at a debate that would engage the chief executive or another high official of an independent Television /Radio House as moderator. We are looking at a debate that will be scripted and published unedited in pre-selected media not dictated by Val but agreeable to either side. We think that Ndi Anambra deserves a debate where they would look at the countenance of those debating and be free to ask genuinely independent question on impromptu basis. That debate is attainable and that is what we desire.
However, while Val discusses with his camp on the modalities and fixtures for our awaited debate, I will take time to examine some of the issues he raised in his presumptuous piece ‘Ngige and Obi-The Debate Begins’.
Senator Ngige was invited by the Chief Ben Oranusi-led multi-partisan coalition, predominantly of the PDP. In the course of his 70-minute address to the 2700 politicians Ngige informed the gathering that Governor Obi had received N2 trillion in revenue (N1.2 from Federal Allocation and N800billion on LG funds),there would have been no need for the debate.
Hence Ngige’s action is the one setting the tone and scope and parameters for this debate. For emphasis, Ngige said N2 trillion, not N3 trillion. Statements from ACN have backed reports in reputable media on this. If Val insist on N3billion, he invites us to enter the debate on the basis of fluid propaganda and that gimmick should be allowed to fail.
The second thing that is not open to argument is that Ngige was clear when he said that there is no basis for comparison between his administration and that of Governor Obi. Reason: He worked with a total appropriation of N80billion in budget, out of which N69 billion was executed and Obi worked with N2 trillion in Seven and Half years, at a different time. ‘So if you want to assess my administration assess on the basis of what I had to work with and the debts I had to pay. And if you want to assess Obi assess him and his works on the basis of what he received in funds. Does the work he has done reflect the earning of N2trillion in your eyes?’
Then the clincher: ‘I have not seen anything in terms of infrastructures to justify the expenditure of N2 trillion.
There lies the nucleus of the debate, What work has Obi done to equate to N2 trillion, not whether he is God’s gift to mankind. God will have enough time to assess the later in heaven. If you subject his works strictly to the parameters, then you can throw up an aggregate that could form a basis to compare. A primary 1 pupil does not necessarily answer the same questions with a primary 2 pupil, but when respective examinations are assessed against 100% benchmark, a common platform can be reached to get the best pupil in the combined class.
Having established the premise for the discourse as set by Senator Ngige in Marble Arch Hotel Awka on May 4, 2013, we shall stand solidly on those grounds to push our arguments.. Ngige never said he did more than Obi, since he already said there is no basis for comparison but since Val said so in his piece in review,we will not contest it.
This is not an opportunity for impolite commissioners or shifty media aides to shoot the messenger. It is actually an opportunity to highlight those things that have gulped N2 trillion which Ndi Anambra may have lost sight of, and spell out their costs and very importantly state in simple and unambiguous terms how these lofty schemes have transformed the life of the average Onye Anambra and reflected on the economic indices of the state.It is stock-takingg time .Period!
I do not think it invites Val to dwell on the history of how Ngige came to office through a God father named Chris Uba. This is a popular lie. Ngige came to office when godfatherism was in vogue, but he did so through the coercion of a ‘god father’ named Olusegun Obasanjo. His election as governor happened on the same day as Obasanjo’s re-election. There results emerged together through the same process and from the same location. It was through the same godfather that Obi came to power in Anambra State after Ngige has fallen out of favour with the former;after those who nurnt Anambra ‘s facilities for Obi to come in had done it ad those who abducted a governor for Obi to come in had done so. From what we now know, if Yar Adua had lived on, Chukwuma Soludo would have come to power in 2010 Anambra State through a similar kind of god-fatherism. But while Ngige fell out pursuing the interest of Anambra State; protecting their funds from servicing the greed of some, Obi accepted what Ngige rejected, and got on very well with the establishment to the detriment of Anambra State. One single example is that when Ngige began his massive road construction across the length and breadth off Anambra State, he did not discriminate between state and federal roads. He inspired Bola Tinubu in Lagos to do the same. Obasanjo reimbursed Tinubu’s Lagos for construction of federal roads and withheld Anambra’s under Ngige. The first batch of the money was eventually paid to Anambra State under Governor Peter Obi. That money has not reflected in any financial instrument of Anambra State. Governor Obi and his team now have a golden opportunity to explain where that money is.
Beyond money, Ngige never accepted a pact with anybody to order the shooting of young south-easterners seeking self-determinations on non-violent principle as a condition for continued support. Governor Peter Obi returned to power through the same route in 2010 Anambra because he did not win the votes on the ground and everyone knew it. Nations are built on the sacrifice of true statesmen. Part of Ngige’s burden is that an elastic election case arising from that 2010 rigging has not ended. Today learning from that experience and that of Martins Agbaso in Imo and others, no new election case can last more than180 days.
‘Suffering from forgetfulness, he forgot that when he initially held sway, he was kidnapped. Still he went on to declare that there was no kidnapping’ Val wrote.
Oh yes! By Val’s logic Major General Johnson Thomas Ummunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi was kidnapped in Ibadan, while visiting Col Adekunle Fajuyi. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was kidnapped on December 31 1983; Chief Ernest Shonekan who was made to resign on television and moved to Lagos by road was kidnapped in 1993. Ours is that Ngige was a victim of a coup de tat, under state cover. It is an action that could not have worked without top executive backing. Has Val illustrated with any other case of kidnapping during Ngige’s 33 months in office? No! So does he not have anything to say about today’s kidnapping? We shall wait.
Val conveniently forgot that Ngige destroyed the shrine at Okija, released the captive’s and made the register available to the public, which is another remark of heroism. He has since explained the motivation for his action at a higher religious pedestal from where ‘apostolic blessings’ issue. We understand when those who have no new issues relapse to a past that had to be, in order to stamp their certificates as yesterday’s men. Our own Greg Ikwuka once described it as Ngige’s Damascus on his way to Rome.Niothing is truer.
Is it not laughable when Val writes about Ngige and his godfather quarrelling because Ngige wanted to alter the formula for sharing the loot? Was that what their common godfather said? So what stopped Ngige from looting and taking 100 % after dislodging the leech? Why was he, even as an enemy of the powers that be cleared wily-nilly by EFCC of any financial wrong doing in the state? Why do you think Ndi Anambra love Ngige the way they do? You may never understand it serving in the present government. Does Val has to obfuscate facts to do his job well? He has a choice.
‘In other local government areas such as Anambra North, Anambra South Ngige did noting. ’It is Val again. Has he considered that Ben Oranusi who chaired the multi-party coalition that endorsed Ngige could read this? Does it matter to Val that someone else from IsuochiI-Ogbunka-Umunze-Umuchu-Amaesi-Uga-Igbo-Ukwu could be reading him and fuming?. Do you know which zone Iseke-Ukpor-Osumoghu-Nnewi fall into, of not Anambra South?
Has Anambra North denied that travelling from Kogi State through Otuocha-Aluleri-Umuleri-Nteje-Awkuzu-Ifite Dunu to Oye Agu hasn’t been easy in the last ten years? Do you know what it means to do a loop bye at Umunya junction on the Enugwu –Onitsha Free way that Obi cannot get to look and feel good running an arterial through Nkwele Ezunaka to enter Onitsha through 33 Junction? Or to loop back at Nsugbe appearing next at Umuoba-Anam and Aguleri Roundabout?
Do you know what these roads without pot holes after 8-10 years of construction mean in the transformation of peoples lives in Anambra State? How about the Anamsea –Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-Awba Ofemmili-Uzo Uwani (Enugwu State) Road construction that Ngige awarded, executed up to 10km in 2006 before he left ,which is still under construction? Is that not the same fate with Onitsha-Odepke-Ochuche-Atani-Osamala-Ogwu-Ikpele Road in Ogbaru-Seven years of construction from 2006 for 40km roads apiece? Let’s not talk about Afo Nkpor- Amawbia Old road, running on the seventh year to be commissioned on election week by APGA-PDP candidate.
In other sectors such as health, education, utilities Ngige did nothing. On health, there is a witness in your government. The health commissioner Dr Lawrence Ikeakor was prevailed upon to come back from his comfort zone abroad to repackage the primary health care in Anambra State and along with the associates they succeeded. Ngige‘s tenure was interrupted so he does not claim to have realised his vision for the secondary and tertiary health care. Yet you confirm that a new Teaching hospital that would have made sense had been earmarked for Alor. Is Alor not in Anambra State?
Is the Pharmacology Department of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University stationed in Agulu Peter Obi’s hometown along with NAFDAC laboratory serving only Dora Akunyili and her Agulu folks? Is the Nnewi Teaching Hospital serving Nnewi alone? But that proposed teaching hospital would not have been at the level of the Amaku General Hospital converted in name, but using one ambulance and not serving the purpose. Did you not read the direct experience of a medic who tried to save lives by taking accident victims to Amaku, after an accident at UNIZIK Junction Awka last month only to suffer the disappointment of his life and end up taking them to Nnewi Teaching Hospital of UNIZIk in vehicles he personally hired?
Besides, if Ngige took one school home to Alor and yet declined an opportunity to pump government money into his alma mater in Alor, what you are saying is that he is balanced in his considerations. I am inclined to agree.
Your witnesses are all from the church, and I am not surprised. But I tell you what? These comments are not negative, but they are generic. None has tried to assess Obi on critical details ruled by strict parameters. It is not their duty. I thought you would have brought in comments of those whose duty it is to assess people.media,NGOs, academics, commoners. With all respect due to the senior clergies, there is nothing in this testimony to justify expenditure of N2trillion in Anambra State.
Even the context of those comments is important. Comments made on presentation of cheques or cars to churches must be separated from those made in a critical assessment. And if it must be clergy, why did you not bring in the view of the clergy your government appointed into ANSIEC (Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission) to conduct a mirage local government elections. Let us do everything to protect the clergies from this putrid game. Never again shall the church be polluted to do what is not their duty because it would obstruct what their real duty is- to speak truth to power.
You wax dishonest when you conveniently forgot that it was Ngige,assessed the state of moral decadence in schools and having been to a mission school, made the decision to hand over schools to the mission, worked out the policy framework and made the initial broadcast in that regard. A committee worked out what must be done in terms of transition and re-orientation before the church would be ready to manage schools. Those steps were not taken by Obi who read the proposals in the files and did not fully understand them before dumping the schools, only to wake up to the N10-N10M cash splash with a start. The educational sector in Anambra State cannot be transformed by cash donations of computer hardware alone. You need a radical influence on the curriculum and content to adapt to modern living and that task is not yet done. Students still pay money to earn marks in handicraft. Communication is still weak between students and parents and basic facilities in school are reflective of the general deficit in the state.
And that bring us to the state of utilities.Ngige had Independent Power Project in his 2006 budget, Obi removed it and Anambra’s power need is too abysmal even as Obi pretends that he can lure industries from outside Nigeria to invest in the state.Ngige understood that you needed to get infrastructure and security right before asking anybody to genuinely invest . The water supply situation in Anambra today is exactly the way Ngige left it. No improvement. Yet that was Ngige’s top priority, with roads on autopilot in 2006. Today Anambra Water Board is dead and Obi is comfortable about it.Anambra that did not have guinea worm cases now do on account of bad water. If that is not retrogression what’s it? We need not return to the Awka North Val so much loves, but allowed to drink water straight from the river. The Millenium Development Goals that I witnessed its ratification is under a propaganda siege.
There are no plans to match every shadow –boxing done by Obi in the name of developing all sectors at the same time. Every serious government comes with priorities. Ngige picked on critical sectors of the state’s economy in his time and made the biggest impact in transforming people’s lives. Characteristically, he has so far said only two things he is committed to , if he contests and wins the governorship elections this year-conduct of local government elections and Anambra State Airport . Priority is the word!
But ,what excuse does Obi have for not delivering the Anambra airport which was started by Ngige? It can only be like asking why three roads each about 40 km long would still be under construction seven years after, when 12.8 billion Naira was left for their construction. Could it have been that he was instructed not to get the airport done by those who wish to under develop Anambra State and he dutifully obeyed to retain the chance to feature in the federal government for his business interests which he has just gone to South Africa to further. Little wonder the unsubstantiated propaganda of a past governor asking a foreign company whose stock-in trade nobody is proud to state not to come to Anambra State. It must be because they do not read newspapers to know that a past deputy governor, can be killed like a fowl, while the chief security officer is junketing the world, seeking the NEXT deal.
By the way Val, you forget to make another shifty claim on road construction. I challenge you to state the kilometrage of roads Peter Obi has done and tell us the cost from your records. I challenge you to say the kilometrage of your re-construction, why it was necessary to rebuild roads done two years ago, afresh, while 10-year old roads romance the tyre, and who was punished for the misdemeanours arising from such the huge waste. We also need the cost of the roads all other pieces of literature you have jumbled into achievement profile, hoping that they can add up to N2trillion, excluding the Islamic Development Bank loan which we understand was used to purchase and share condoms.