Anambra in the throes of mismanagement – Part 5
Litany of impeachable offences:
The state government account and books have never been audited since inception. It’s very funny that this investigation has forced them to rush and publish what they called ‘audited’ state government account. Obiano is a man of figures and he knows what that means. The offence alone is grave. What they had been doing all along was to rob Peter to pay Paul. They, for example pull out funds from the Ministry of Education to pay for services in the Ministry of Health, etc. Most contracts in the state are awarded without due process. Like the time when about N900m was paid out for the Golden Tulip hotel, Agulu was signed and within 24 hours the money was paid. The same pattern was with the purchase and supply of the fire-engines amounting to about N300m. This was done without any documentation at all. This occurred when serious fire incidences occurred in the state over the same period. They just pulled out the funds from anywhere and paid.
The Government House and Governor’s Office accounts were the worst culprits where the financial indiscipline take place. For example when the Communities “choose-your-project” initiative was first introduced, the required huge funds was pulled from a non-existing subhead to pay for the projects -amounting to about three billion Naira (N3Billion) meant for some other things that was diverted mindlessly.
Also, a look at what they call security vote, if the books are scrutinized it would be discovered that its about N7bn but cumulatively the Government House’s annual draw-down is about N14billion on it every year. It gets to this whopping sum because somehow along the line they split it into two -tagging them different names. For example one was tagged Security services while the other one was tagged meaninglessly differently. That name has nothing to do with security. So the collective draw-down in these two accounts give a total of about N14bn.
Three accounts where these financial atrocities are committed with impunity are in the Environment, Health and Education Ministries. Unfortunately, virement as an accounting procedure was not an abomination but it has to be authorized by the same State Assembly or at least follow some procedures for the sake of accounting sanity. Sad that no such approvals or authorization was ever obtained by Gov Obiano and his cabal in handling of the Anambra State funds that they superintend. They just dip hands direct into the vault of the state, often without records or procedure to pull out funds.
This pattern of financial (mis)management says a lot about how the revenue of the state is being collected and rendered.
Most offices created by the administration were what the late sage and ex-President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe would describe as political panjandrum. Creating offices with funny nomenclature for the sake of settling the jobbers.
These appointments were actually allocated to key players, state and non-state actors, both Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal bishops/pastors. For example the former Commissioner for Health -Dr Joe Akabike was the candidate of the Catholic Diocese of Awka’s Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor. Bishop Jonas Benson nominated a relation(the attorney general). The Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, Valerian Okeke nominated the commissioner of Education, Prof Kate Omenugha; while the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi -Hillary Odilichukwu Okeke nominated the state party chairman, Sir Norbert Obi. The Anglican Bishop of Awka -Alexander Ibezim nominated his younger brother who is holding about three portfolios. Prof Chukwuma Soludo nominated his in-law, Engr Emeka Ezenawanne who is the Commissioner for Utilities. The oil mogul from Okija -Chief Ernest Obiejesi(Obijackson) nominated the fellow at the Federal House of Representatives, Barrister Momah.
Mrs Obiano has her own nominees among who is the Commissioner for Commerce and Wealth Creation, Dr Madubuko and Wiper (Commissioner for Transport)who remains her special nominee. The incumbent Commissioner for Health, Dr Okpala is said to have been the candidate of Obiano’s Chief of Staff, Primus Odili -key member of the cabal. Both of them had reportedly worked in the same establishment in the USA in the past where Okpala was Odili’s boss. Please who is this Odili? He was nothing but one of the e-rats for Obiano during the 2013 electioneering. Today he’s allegedly amassing so much wealth for self and the Obianos from all direction at the expense of the welfare of citizens. He has also gone ahead to nominate tens of SSAs and SAs and Commissioner as well. The same Commissioner has been penciled down as Obiano’s successor. What a perfect plot. Odili had in the past been sacked on about five occasions but ends up running back to Mrs Obiano.
SAs and SSAs ad infinitum:
Without anyone saying openly the actual number of assistants the governor and his wife have, though it was said to be in the region of a thousand, Odili and Obidigwe were reported to have issued appointment letters to so many. That out of these, many who reside overseas, Lagos, Portharcourt and Abuja, have never visited the state and do not actually know what they were supposed to be doing. After all the man in the street do not have access to the state’s account books to know who is what. Some were even said to be fictitious names, ghost workers if you like. They just keep drawing salaries and allowances. Again, Commissioners and State Assembly members have their two, three or four nominees each. The Church, key traditional and community leaders have their own nominees too. The appointments are usually jacked up during any coming election on the belief that it would help the party win landslide.
Mortgaged revenue collection:
The overall market leadership in the state(the Caretaker chairman) is from Ogbunike, a relation of the governor’s wife. They have seized the about sixty markets, about three hundred and fifty motor parks and other money-yielding commercial outlets so that all funds are channeled appropriately to the cabal while a negligible fraction goes to the government coffers. Does it therefore surprise anyone to hear that the amount they generate monthly in the state is only N1.5billion as our internally generated revenue(IGR). This is against the backdrop of Enugu state with far less number of markets generating about N3billion monthly. It’s painful and scandalous. A lot of funds are going direct to the Aguleri cabal. Key sources of revenue like the control of parks and markets are in their hands. No one is given any such important revenue window if you are not from Aguleri, the governor’s village. They see it as their inalienable birthright. The same for sand-dredging all over the state. That’s why any community crying out over erosion-causing sand dredging gets no remedy because those behind it are from the governor.
In the foregoing, does it surprise anyone then why some citizens have been insisting that the governor be called to account immediately or be removed from office. To account for the Finances and non adherence to any laid down fiscal procedures, inequitable distribution of appointments and projects to all the 326 electoral wards of the state. Also, he has greatly compromised the Church which made virtually all the Bishops in the state lose their voices and sense of probity. Because they have been wittingly or otherwise been corrupted. But it’s not yet irredeemable. More so, the community choose-your-project initiative, a very wonderful programme that would have etched the administration in the minds of every citizen forever has been allowed and left in ruins. What with the way things were being handled by the cabal.
For example that of Ideani community -a small but peaceful and enterprising town in Idemili North council of the state. The community’s choose-your-project -mini civic Centre and electricity expansion was reportedly against professional and community advice handed over to a small boy who used his maternal affiliation to the deputy governor to torpedo the wish of the people and hijacked the project. Today, he’s overwhelmed by the responsibility that goes with the job. He messed up the mini-civic Centre project, the overhead water tank which he mounted in front, instead of the back or side of the building; and has placed it in the middle of the road overlooking the building. He refused yielding any information concerning the projects to anyone in the community including the President General. Consequently then he chose to cocoon himself with thugs and hoodlums with which he harasses anyone who dare ask questions. Clearly his parents were subdued and he goes about boasting that he will remain untouchable because the state deputy governor is his uncle and his father a key member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), even when himself remain a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress(APC). He was said to have borrowed more than half of the streetlight project from the community, with a promise to pay back in cash, but till date, more than 12 months after. Already they are threatening court action and yet he’s unmoved. Sadly, this appear to summarize the situation all over the state. Attempts to speak with any of the Consultants who supervise, guide, correct and verify adherence to contractual stipulations hit a brick wall.
And because Obiano has clearly abdicated his job, the citizens have been at a loss over who to turn or run to. Else, how can a certified chartered accountant run an administration where appropriation bills are usually churned out annually without first publicly x-raying the previous one either as a personal decision or because it’s a statutory accounting requirement. Never in the life of the Obiano administration has there been a budget breakdown/ analysis by the Commissioner for Finance and or that of Economic Planning whenever it’s approved by the state assembly and signed into law by the governor. And some accounts professionals in the various ministries told this medium that they have shouted themselves hoarse in trying to get heard over the anomaly or ‘financial irresponsibility’, as they put it. According to a member of the State Assembly, “there is little or nothing anybody can do”. Approvals were made in bulk for each ministry which gives impetus to financial indiscipline, indiscretion and abuse of principles. No one knows what goes where and to what extent. They just keep muddling things up.
The legislator counselled the state to avoid the choice of a man without balls in future, a man who would abdicate his statutory responsibility to his wife or minions. Because the seat and mandate being messed up belongs to the elected governor, not his wife, Obidigwe, Manafa, Oli or even Odili. He noted that some of their names would overtime be lost in history apart from the chapters on ignominy, but that the history of the state would always have a refuse dump site where names like that of Obiano would be consigned permanently. It’s a choice he has now made!
Or, is it not sacrilegious that the Church gets huge cash subventions from the state government annually without any questions about how the previous one was spent. No accountability whatsoever in almost all sectors. No wonder an Abuja-based indigene described Obiano’s administration as animal farm where everything goes. No one, not even the State Assembly performs any oversight inspection on those Church funds and projects, especially when the money was from the coffers of the state.
Broken down services. Who do the people turn to?
The governor and his cabal care less about the sorry state of roads and other services all over the state. Because of the intensity of rains this year in addition to the sustained culture of neglect and abandonment of maintenance of the services he inherited, Gov Obiano has turned his back on the sorry state of schools, hospitals, roads, etc all over the state. Even the streetlights that he attempted to take to remote communities is now visibly neglected, abandoned and systematically in ruins. They are in most cases left uncompleted/maintained. In fact no one would be surprised to hear that the multi-million Naira generating sets powering them have started disappearing. Why not, especially when most of the streetlight units in parts of the state, including Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha no longer function. As part of his wake-up call when this medium called on him in the course of this report, the Commissioner for Public Untilities, Engr
Emeka Ezenwanne issued a feeble statement on the streetlights alleging that they were being vandalized.
Roads all over the state have been so neglected that floods now conveniently run on them instead of the gutters or drains due to excessive years of silting of the water channels. This has consequently turned the roads into gully erosion spots that now dot the entire state. There are more bad and broken down spots, that no particular road would be said to be motorable or smooth. Little wonder traffic snarl have become normal all over the state daily especially during the morning and evening rush hours. Residents or even those who drive through Onitsha, Obosi, Nnobi, Nnewi, Nimo, Adazi, Agulu, Ekwulobia, Uga, Ichida, Ogidi, Awka, Nkpor, Oba, Uli, Mbosi, Azia, Ihiala, Ukpor, Ozubulu, Nibo, Umuawulu, Oko and Nise have very nasty experiences to narrate. That’s why armed robbers and hoodlums now have field day attacking helpless and unsuspecting citizens trapped in these potholes every day round the state.
It’s funny that reactions from the state’s Ministries of Works as well as that of Public Utilities before now revealed that they were waiting for the rains to stop. But the actual fact was that it’s a policy of this administration that no road built by previous administrations should be repaired, maintained or reconstructed no matter how bad or strategic it is. They have chosen to play politics with the situation, to give backing to their narrative that roads built by Obi and Chris Ngige were of poor quality hence they dilapidate.
With this mindset one would be tempted to ask where the ones done by the administration of Obiano are. None. Apparently they are in Aguleri -his village. Because no one sees any on-going road project round the state. As you read this, students are protesting as they join some locals in patching some potholes through self-help. The dilapidation have been extensive and statewide. Many, while doing the remedial works have been lamenting aloud what the governor is doing about the ugly situation.
It was also claimed at some point that reason for lack of tangible projects in the state by Obiano was because he had spent so much on Federal roads. Incidentally many citizens including former governors of the state were ready to engage him openly to counter the claim. The only presence of the Obiano administration on any federal road in the state was limited to the three ill-conceived mass earth of laterite called bridges in Awka. Experts say it was poorly designed, executed and poses constant threat to lives of citizens and other road users, hence must be demolished soon. To compound matters, the three bridges flagged-off at N600m, at N200m each was later fraudulently jacked up to fifteen billion Naira (N15bn) at N5bn each! To hoodwink the public the administration has continued to add all manner of cosmetic lightings and flowers to it.
However those who were spoiling for immediate showdown over the audacious fraud were said to have been persuaded to calm down because all the direct and indirect houses, business interests and acquisitions of Obiano, his wife, children, aides, relations and proxies including those jointly being stacked by Odili and Commissioner for Local Government Greg Obi locally and overseas were already meticulously being compiled and documented. Incidentally they didn’t exonerate Victor Umeh. That they would receive the Okorocha treatment at the appropriate time. And that considering that Anambra state is not Imo, it may not wait that far to come. Already most of the numerous assistants who have been scrambling for cash and plum assignments are already openly engaging one another in fisticuffs because of deals gone awry as was witnessed in the ministry of health last week.
Considering that roads are in public focus daily, yet do not seem to bother the governor or any of his henchmen, one would then wonder the situation in the public schools and health institutions that are in remote locations. It’s heartbreaking. Yes it’s so because all their children, including spouses have been relocated overseas where the public servants/ officials ensure things work properly. So these honchos steal money from the state and ship them overseas to buy mansions and comfort for their families while they subject the rest citizens to brutish conditions here at home. Some of these aides jet out overseas every weekend to be with their families! With which resources and on whose expense, one might ask?
No signature project:
New airport and international market?
The Anambra International Airport city project at Umueri was flagged off with fun fare on April 11,2017 assuring it would become operational in three years time. But with barely six months to the expiration of the said three years, nothing seem to be going on there. Obiano evidently lack the liver to do anything tangible.
The same could be said about the Anambra International market which has taken off long before the emergence of the administration, but his Commissioner for Commerce, Dr Madubuko and the governor’s SA on Market, apparently taking instruction from the cabal who appointed them ensured the project do not progress in their lifetime. This was in concert with one Awka-etiti born money monger in the pharmaceutical business. The Awka-etiti man had in league with some other money bags in the sector promised Madubuko, the SA, Odili and others mouthwatering goodies if only they would truncate the Federal Government’s choice of the International market at Oba for the Coordinated Wholesale Centre (CWC) for pharmaceutical market in the state. He offered his large expanse of land located at Nsugbe area instead.
This mischievous move was despite the fact that the state government has aid full compensation to the Oba land owners and had been inspected and approved for take off by the Minister of Health, Pharmaceutical Council, and all other stakeholders including the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control(NAFDAC). The drugs market was to have moved permanently to the new Oba site in December 2018.
Before now the governor boasted as the most security conscious nationwide. He was all the while donating lavishly and picking all manner of pieces of papers and wood carvings as awards as the best in this and that all over the world from laughable persons and groups. Such jamboree have now subsided into graveyard silence until November/December period when there would be a lot of social activities and returnees for the Yuletide.
Hardly would a day pass now without rapes, kidnappings, burglaries, banditries, murders, serial robberies and car jacking and snatching in parts of the state roads and communities. Yet the governor and his lieutenants pride themselves as fighting crime to standstill on land sea and air. Sad. Really sad because citizens are actually living at the mercy of the criminals. As part of their private revenue window, they deduct heavy funds at will in the name of renting helicopters for surveillance.
Puppet State Assembly:
Attempts in the past to effect changes in the leadership of the state assembly, information show was to ignite agility, deep thinking and virility in the leadership which members believed was lacking in the Rita Maduagwu leadership that was foisted of the Assembly. She was said to have been specifically chosen by the executive to ensure the state remain in deep slumber for as long as practicable. Little wonder she was denied nomination and backing by her electoral constituency until she was rescued with a ‘bought and sold’ ticket. To emphasize their stand, she lost woefully at the poll.
During her reign, she made it appear that the Assembly was more concerned about how to please the cabal than their constituents and citizens of the state. That’s reason for the seeming morbid fear of the administration for a virile Assembly. The same thinking apparently advised the choice of the present leadership where the governor hung a Speaker from his area as lame duck on the Assembly.
Keeping the APGA torch lit:
From realities on ground no one believes Obiano considers or even imagines Anambra/APGA after him. As he carries on as being satisfied to be the man to superintend the burial of APGA. Many also believe that going by the way he’s running the affairs as well as his body language that he would flee Nigeria under whatever guise many months before the expiration of his tenure if that would save him from the long arm of the law. He won’t just fit in staying back, doing what? That he presently oozes an incomparable brand of aloofness, and can hardly socialize with any politician or person, especially since his rash natured wife would be in hot tow always.
However the dynamics about his successor appear to be changing daily. They have placed Dr Okpala(Commissioner for Health) and Stan -the CEO of Stanel Group who is one of their key business partners on standby as possible candidates or surrogates they would consider sponsoring and foisting on the state if things go their way. They are also considering those that could be lured into the race that would sponsor themselves. These include the Umuchukwu-born American-based Dr Maduka, Mr Chukwuma Umeorji whose elder sister (a known bank chieftain)was alleged to have pledged to raise about N7billion to finance his election and Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu(Ikukuoma) -himself a top notch money bag and reputed philanthropist. With this scenario, and because they were said to be looking in the direction of a very big dumb fellow who would just be a figurehead governor. Prof Soludo was not in their calculation at all. Personally, the economic guru was said to be considering a new party already. And with his eventual acceptance of an appointment in the Buhari’s APC administration, Soludo may use the platform and opportunity to pave his way with the backing of the Federal might. Having regretted bitterly his initial rejection, the citizens according to our investigation are praying for a second opportunity for him as they would massively vote for him irrespective of whichever party platform he uses.
From internal sources, the cabal is expecting about three to four billion Naira from their eventual choice. And on a scale of ten points they have placed Umeorji on top, followed by Dr Maduka, then Ukachukwu. They believe that with seven billion pledge from Umeorji’s sister for the ticket, they would collect about four billion and allow him run the campaigns and the election proper with about three billion Naira, even if he loses.
Again, Maduka in their views remain a willing tool who they could fleece hard cold cash from, having been seen as a man who has and likes showing off. While Ukachukwu is being considered because they believe he has a wide support base built over time. That any amount of money they get from him would do, no matter how little.
So this category of probables holds more attraction to the cabal because they only hear the language of money. It was alleged that it was reason why they are presently ferociously fighting for every conceivable financial window in order to collect as much money as possible while the bazaar lasts. They clearly do not believe in tomorrow and what it holds. In all, if this option fails they would fall back on the idea of sponsoring a surrogate candidate with Obidigwe or Odili as the deputy.
Never had it this bad:
Yes, the state had never had it this bad. And it should be blamed on Umeh who according to information is presently angling to replace Obiano as governor. That it was why he has remained sleepless over the mounting political fortunes, popularity and acceptability of Senator Uche Ekwunife and Dozie Nwankwo, both of who have heart of gold and use every available opportunity to advance their career. Unfortunately same cannot be said of Umeh. He was equally accused of being culpable in all the sins of Obiano. That he successfully schemed and hung him on the state, not the exGov Peter Obi as the people were erroneously made to believe. So, because Obiano has taken the state backwards, thereby bringing shame on all his key backers especially the bishops and other clergies everyone of them is just bidding time to quickly see him out of the door alongside whoever he would come around with as his surrogate ‘candidate’ when the time comes. Umeh thought he was smart, but didn’t know that Victor Oye, the national chairman of APGA has seen it all. He quickly shut him out of the equation of governorship probables to replace Obiano.
Anambra is indeed in need of a committed saviour, not a retiree who would be fished out of any deep or shallow swimming pool overseas to come and run amok on the commonwealth of the people. Despite having any form of distraction whatsoever by Gov Obiano, no community including that of the deputy governor, Speaker of the State Assembly or Secretary to the State Government (SSG) could point at one project from the governor so far. It’s a shame. The man lacks any modicum of shame. Little wonder Nigerians in the diaspora now chose to exact accountability from these elected officials like Ekweremadu, Gov Godwin Obaseki of Edo state. But in the case of Anambra state, it would go beyond the arrowhead. Members of his cabal, their children, mistresses, spouses and business partners may be be held to account too. Enough is indeed enough.
It’s an impeachable offense for an elected official like a state governor to stay outside his state for so long. It runs contrary to the constitution. For this, Obiano is a serial offender as he does that repeatedly. He travels for long period every June and December and so on. He stays away sometimes for above one month. There were on many occasion the mails and issues that require his immediate attention were packaged and shipped to him to wherever part of the world he was then. He gets away with it because we have puppets as State Assembly leaders. No one asks the right questions.
The state must look for someone with character irrespective of his political party. Someone with passion for the development of the state. One without materialism as watchword. One who sees service as priority and should go for only persons driven by passion to serve meritoriously not the likes of these bunch of hungry touts unleashed on the resources of the state by Obiano and his wife. We must go for one who is resident in the state, no longer a foreigner or ‘been-to’. It must be one who feels the pulse of the people, one who knows the challenges and pains of the people. For a governor to stay out of the state for more than thirty days without handing over to anyone and was not on leave says a lot. It means he’s not in sync with the state. That is an absentee governor. Other states who are developing at a fast pace were lucky to pick someone from the neighbourhood. He’s at home with all the challenges and needs of the state having traversed it for years along with his family and friends and would remain there at the end of his tenure. He will surely like to develop his environment.
In addition, all the contractors, consultants, religious/community leaders and civil servants who aided all the on-going massive looting, including the banks must be made to account. Though it was revealed that they have been operating more with raw cash, a method of fishing them out must also be found. And it won’t be long from now.
DISCLAIMER: Opinion articles are solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers of BVICHANNEL 1 ONLINE