* pulls down PMB’s achievements’ list billboards all over Anambra
From Chuks Collins, Awka
Still deeply enmeshed in the multifaceted crisis arising from his bitter anger and summary suspension of nearly ten percent of all the traditional rulers in the state for visiting and identifying with Prince Engr Arthur Eze, who publicly swore to pull all tabs at his disposal to get Gov Willie Obiano on a right track and also account for monies embezzled/mismanaged under his administration, particularly Council funds, the governor has apparently added new dimension to the rofo-rofo fight.
Barely 24 hours after some very strategically located billboards which captured the numerous achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari in Anambra State was mounted, they were all pulled down. The message on the billboard had thanked the president for all the efforts in carrying the state along in his administration’s scheme of things. Though more were expected.
It was initially thought to be the handwork of some intolerant politically motivated thugs. But on investigation, the sponsors of the billboard -the Anambra G21 Vanguard, a duly registered non-governmental organization (NGO) that stands for good governance, sadly discovered it was the Anambra state government that angrily tore, dismantled and pulled it down in a matter of few hours after they were hoisted at the popular UNIZIK junction of Awka, at the foot of the pedestrian bridge among other locations in parts of the state, including Onitsha, Nnewi, Nkpor, Ekwulobia and Agulu.
Irked by the ugly unexpected development, the promoters and sponsors of the multi-million Naira billboards -the Anambra G21 Vanguard further discovered that the administration of Gov Obiano had expressed bitterness over the message on the billboard. The administration had in a sharp reaction described it as “offensive and political”.
Besides enumerating most of the key achievements of President Buhari in the state, the billboard’s messages also included the pictures of President Buhari on one side, and that of Prince (Engr) Arthur Eze, popularly called Ozoigbo Ndu(the liberator of his people) on the opposite side. This was tagged offensive by the state government hence instantly pulled down all over the state!
But when confronted by stakeholders of Anambra G21 Vanguard, the chief executive of the Anambra State Signage and Advertising Agency(ANSAA), Chief Jude Emecheta confirmed the feelings of the state government over the billboard.
He however threw another dimension into the crisis when he alleged that Esmic Advert agency, the owners of the billboard stand were behind in its statutory operational fees to the state government.
Curiously, other billboards pulled down alongside President Buhari’s achievements billboards owned even by the same advert agency have all been restored except PMB’s billboards.
The ANSAA chief executive was reminded that the Buhari/Arthur Eze “thank you” billboard was sponsored by a duly registered NGO (Cert ref CAC/IT/151206) who has no political bias or inclination other than the promotion of good works and promotion of public good. That the group had put up similar billboards and similar acts of encouraging good governance/works, responsive interventions and projects that promote quality of life of citizens in different parts of Nigeria and beyond, irrespective of whether it was by government or any of its arm, local or international groups, an individual, community or even a corporate institution, etc.
Emecheta was also told that Anambra G21 Vanguard is a dedicated and determined NGO made up of broad spectrum citizens especially professionals drawn from all walks of life from across the nation to promote good governance, public good/welfare/security, etc. That it was in pursuit of those cardinal points that it rose up to the occasion to appreciate President Buhari’s administration for taking up strategic life-enhancing programmes/projects that previous administrations had only played politics with.
G21 Vanguard therefor frowned at the very despicable manner in which highly placed individuals and even states’ officials do downplay the achievements of Buhari, and also mudsling, physically/verbally/emotionally attack anyone who chose to be different. Just like the Anambra G21 Vanguard members who have been verbally and emotionally assaulted and threatened in multiple ways by agents of the Anambra state government for having the temerity to publicize the numerous achievements of President Buhari in the state for the people to appreciate.
For the avoidance of doubt, these life transforming projects being talked about included:
– Onitsha Seaport:
This is a project that has remained very close to the hearts and minds of virtually all South Easterners, South South citizens and indeed all Nigerians for decades. While past Federal and State governments had played rhetorical politics and paid mere lip service to its realization, it’s only the Buhari administration that has actually initiated realistic efforts toward the project. It was such that containers arrived the Onitsha port for the first time in 42 years early this year, after it was commissioned by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Moghalu.
It is of note that when full operations commence, businessmen as well as importers/exporters in Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba, Enugu, Abakaliki and other parts of the South East will no longer have need to go to Lagos to bring down or export their goods.
The port will open avenue for multiple direct and indirect employment to thousands of citizens in the area. It will also reduce drastically the long distance, man-hour spent on traffic, human/vehicular risks, high insurance and risk of loss of goods on transit, etc.
This milestone will have direct impact on the general economy of the region.
– 2nd Niger bridge:
This hitherto phantom bridge which had remained a mere campaign material since 1978/79 when it was first conceived has now become a reality, thanks to President Buhari administration.
The bridge was so politically strategic that some presidential aspirants/candidates had since 1978 visited, prayed at proposed location of the bridge and thereafter swore to ensure it was completed in their first year in office when elected. So it was, till Buhari now took the bull by the horn. The work is now more than fifty percent completed.
Things got so nearly hopeless for the project that the late former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih told the world after the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo got all the undeserved votes of the South South and South Easterners that ‘the Second Niger Bridge is not a priority project of the administration’. And so it turned out to be till the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) time ran out in 2015!
During the run-up to the 1998/1999 general elections, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the presidential candidate of the PDP visited and in fact knelt before the world and prayed at the bushy spot where the magnificent mausoleum stands today. He had promised to complete and commission it within his first year in office. He never did and he never visited or mentioned the project ever again till date. Buhari came, nearly two decades after, took it up, completed and commissioned it.
The APC government of PMB, had listed the Second Niger Bridge, Zik’s mausoleum, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Enugu-Portharcourt Dual Carriageway, Onitsha seaport/dredging of the River Niger amongst other key projects as those to be completed.
Today, most of them are completed and commissioned while others are actively ongoing.
– Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriage Federal Highway:
As already mentioned, the Buhari administration has since taken up all the abandoned Federal projects in Anambra state, including the reconstruction of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway.
The Anambra section of the project which was approved by the Federal Executive Council and contract awarded in 2007 for Eleven billion Naira had remained abandoned by both the federal and the Anambra State governments till date.
It’s apparent that the Buhari administration would have since completed and commissioned the road but for the rabble rousing involvement of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA)-led Anambra state government under Mr Peter Obi. Obi who left office in 2013 after eight years in the saddle had towards the end of his tenure written to ask the federal government in June 2012 to hands off the project that the state government was going to do it.
Obi didn’t do it. And the project has been caught in the web of the brickbat fight between him and his successor -Willie Obiano who has clearly demonstrated no interest in the project. This is despite its high strategic value to the lives and socio-economic needs of the people of the area who use the road daily.
For those who may wish to argue on this, it was the then Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, who announced the state government’s request and the consequent approval during a visit to Governor Obi in Awka in July 2012. The minister had said that President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval was due to the governor’s consistent pleading and several presentations to the Federal Government on the need for speedy completion of the project.
According to Onolememen, the Onitsha Bridgehead to Zik’s Roundabout axis of the dual carriageway was awarded to the Nigercat Construction Company, while Zik’s roundabout to Amansea in Awka was awarded to the Consolidated Construction Company – CCC, and explained that the partitioning of the road to the two contractors was to ensure early completion of the project and save the people of the South-East from untold hardship. Hear him, “The president has approved that Anambra State government should finance the job which the new contractor -Nigercat- will do, while the federal Ministry of Works will reimburse the state at the end of the project”.
– upgrading of the Akanu Ibiam(Enugu) International Airport:
Not even the celebrated upgrading of this very busy airport to international status and the subsequent appointment of a daughter and son of the state respectively in quick succession -Princess Stella Oduah and Chief Osita Chidoka as Ministers of Aviation could see the realistic upgrade of facilities at this very old airport with modern facilities including landing aids and extended runway to take bigger aircrafts.
It’s the Buhari administration that has done it!
– Onitsha-Owerri Federal Highway:
Just like other abandoned federal projects that had littered the South East geopolitical zone after the long years of PDP locust ravaging of the nation’s economy, this prolonged road project was both denied funds and attention. It was such that the then Minister of Works, Senator Kingsley Adeseye Ogunlewe, (July 2003 to March 2006), an Igbogbo prince from Lagos state after inspecting the poor quality and pace of the project told the world that “heads will roll”. Nothing happened until Buhari came and completed the project. It could be recollected that even the award of contract for this important road project to a relatively unknown company stated to be rated 13th in the world of construction by the Obasanjo administration had sparked off bitter outrage, argument and quarrel nationwide. The unknown group was given the strategic job simply because it requested for half of what tested companies like Julius Berger had asked for. Of course the job flopped. It was Buhari that completed it.
-Enugu-Portharcourt Dual carriageway:
This project will go down in history as a masterpiece when fully completed. But so far, the Okigwe roundabout to the Umuahia Tower which has been completed in record time is a beauty to behold and indeed a pleasure to ride on. Buhari has indeed done well.
-Court of Appeal:
Early this year (Feb 2020) a new Court of Appeal Division, the eighteenth in the series was inaugurated in Awka, by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
She had noted that the Federal Government acknowledged the enormous need to bring justice closer to the people, hence the continued creation of more divisions of the appellate Court to ensure faster justice delivery. This was coming after 29 years of the state’s creation to provide easy and timely access to justice for people of the state.
-Youth Empowerment program, GEEP, Npower, SIP, CCT schemes etc:
These are various categories of empowerment tools designed and introduced by the Buhari administration to engage citizens irrespective of class, gender, age or qualification. Many Anambra sons and daughters have been accessing and benefitting.
-Boosting key sectors of the economy, ie agriculture, health and education:
The incumbent federal government has made it a deliberate policy to introduce and activate programmes that would enhance efforts and interest of all citizens in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, education and others. The policy, more than at any other time has instigated growth even in our rural communities.
-Modular Refinery in Imo state:
To increase and improve the nation’s oil refining capacity, encourage reintegration of the nation’s resources and eventually put an end to the export of the country’s resources, a 50,000 barrels per day Waltersmith modular refinery located in Imo State is set for commissioning any moment now.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed who led a team of government officials on an inspection tour of the refinery site told journalists that with the coming on board of medium-scale refineries like Waltersmith, Nigerians will soon experience cheaper petroleum products.
“With this kind of refinery, all issues of subsidy become completely irrelevant because we would be able to get fuel at a cheaper price, especially because everything that is being produced will be for local consumption,” he said. The refinery was starting with 5,000 bpd, and an additional 25,000 bpd in the second stage and then another 20,000 bpd to bring the capacity to 50,000 bpd in the third and final phase.
– SouthEast men and women appointed at various levels in the government:
Many indigenes of Anambra state in particular, and the South East geopolitical zone in general have been given top flight appointments by the incumbent federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari. And more are still being considered virtually daily.
After listening to these details, Chief Emecheta then assured that ANSAA could only allow the billboard replaced when Esmic agency clear its indebtedness. That it was the reason his office pulled down all other billboards owned by Esmic in parts of the state. According to Chief Emecheta, himself a registered and active member of the Advertising Practitioners Council, soon his office will commence massive drive to recover all outstanding bills by practitioners in the state.
A request to speak or meet with Chief Emeka Nwadiorah, the Enugu-based Chief Executive of Esmic Advert agency was thwarted, because not minding the content of the message, especially when told that the Anambra state government was threatening to blacklist his company in the state, over heavy indebtedness, he threatened the journalists on the dropped the call. He then called the G21 Vanguard office to warn them on the media inquiries.
Again, the Secretary of the Anambra G21 Vanguard, sponsors/promoters of the advert in an attempt to explain to Nwadiorah about the effect and quandary his company’s unusual style of operation had thrown the aim, timing and purpose of the Buhari/Arthur Eze “thank you” message to the group’s reputation, funds and public perception he warned that no one should call his phone line on the matter anymore.
Consequently, the G21 Vanguard, our investigations revealed has halted further payments to Esmic Advert agency until the agency sorts out things with the state government and or refund all the initial payments.