By Christy Anyanwu Woodstyles made a great impression at the recent Made-by-Design Exhibition held to mark the 57th Independence Anniversary of the country. At the event, the firm showcased a real five-star hotel room produced by its Nigeria technical staff. In this interview, the Managing Director, Samir Bader, Woodstyles Limited, talks about the company’s sojourn…
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has never been accepted in the Southeast geopolitical zone. As chairman of the Conference of South East Conference of Governors, Peter Obi, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), never got tired of telling Ndigbo that the APC was a party by the Yoruba and Fulani Islamists to finish off Ndigbo.
The image has stuck. The Igbo political elite who joined the APC in droves after the party’s victory in the 2015 general elections like former Senate President Ken Nnamani acted out of personal interests.
Anambra State members of the National Assembly like Tony Nwoye who defected from the PDP were only interested in using the so-called Federal Might to rig the election in which they will contest as its governorship candidate.
They do not realize that President Buhari is not interested in using federal institutions like the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to announce false election results, as ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo used to do. This was why President Buhari allowed the PDP to win such oil-rich states as Rivers and Akwa Ibom states in the law courts.
Meanwhile, the APC’s woes in the Southeast in general and Anambra State in particular have continued to compound. Last week, various primary and secondary schools in Imo, Enugu and Anambra states closed abruptly, with pupils running helter-skelter.
The drama began when news filtered in Ozubulu, Anambra State, that soldiers conducting Operation Egwu Eke, or Python Dance, were coming to the school to administer polio on them. As they were fleeing, the pupils were screaming: “The APC will never succeed in killing us by injecting us with monkey pox-inducing substances.” The same scenario obtained in other Igbo-speaking states. Believing the effective but misleading propaganda by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Igbo political activists in the United States sent countless text messages to people at home claiming that the Nigerian Army, on APC’s instructions, introduced the monkey-pox disease in Bayelsa State as a strategy to exterminate the South East and South-south regions for not embracing the APC and Islamist extremism. They advised the people not to allow vaccination by any Federal Government agency.
It is not surprising that the drama began in Anambra State. The image of the APC candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state is a mess. Tony Nwoye is accused by opponents of not having much regard for human dignity, even though he is supposedly a medical doctor. Ironically, his medical training is the subject of a terrible controversy. Nwoye started at the University of Nigeria Medical School in Enugu but purportedly ended up at the newly established Ebonyi State Teaching Hospital.
The business mogul sponsoring him hardly makes positive news. When the businessman became the chairman of a brewery the company was the biggest manufacturing firm in old Anambra State and the third biggest brewery in Nigeria, after Nigeria Breweries and Guinness Brewery. But immediately after assuming office, he allegedly suspended the honest and brilliant Managing Director, Dan Oduah, a 1967 first class graduate of the University of Nigeria who went on to McGill University in Canada where he earned an MBA with Distinction in Marketing.
When Oduah politely requested for the reason for his suspension, the business mogul hired the services of one of Nigeria’s foremost accounting and auditing firms, to probe his tenure. The firm turned in a report which commended Oduah for his personal and professional integrity, his competence and dynamic leadership. Yet, the businessman refused to recall him. The brewery died a few months later.
Of course, there were other crazy things the businessman did like increasing the number of general managers from two to six overnight, even when neither the revenue nor number of products or staff had increased. Oduah died later, making his family members as well as ex-workers, distributors, suppliers, consultants, consumers and other critical stakeholders allege during his burial that the blood of the brilliant and principled technocrat was on the chairman’s head.
The business mogul worked his way to become chairman of a bank in 1990 under the military. As usual, he did bizarre things. In anger, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Paul Ogwuma, a fellow Southeasterner, issued a directive in 1993 banning him from ever being on the board of any bank. Two Assistant General Managers (AGMs) who were working in cahoots with him were suspended. One of them, died in frustration in Onitsha, his hometown.
The notable businessman allegedly collected over $110m in contract from a development bank for rural electrification and rural water supply in old Anambra State as well as the building of an Industrial Development Centre (IDC) in Awka, but practically nothing came out of it. A long-term facility made possible by Dr Chu Okongwu as finance minister, the governments of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states are repaying the loan with interest for 22 years.
The person who led the then Anambra State government to negotiate the facility is Luke Okonkwo, the brilliant Principal Secretary to the State Governor, who specialized in Investment Negotiations at the Georgetown University Law Centre in Washington, DC, a Jesuit institution and the first Catholic university in the United States.
The businessman should not have won the contract in the first instance. I have the documents of the bid by his company, and any person who reads it will cry for our country, starting with Anambra State. Though negotiated by the Robert Akonobi military government, the contract was awarded by Col Herbert Obi Eze who succeeded Col Akonobi. Military officers in The Presidency directed Col Eze to award the huge contract to the businessman who is a well known crony of a former head of state. This was how he defeated Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) of Switzerland, the world’s biggest electricity company, to win the contract for even a much higher amount!
Anambra people know the type of person behind Tony Nwoye. The APC must love self-immolation. Even in an election year in Anambra State, it made 55 key appointments in the NNPC recently without one single person from the South-east. The South-south where petroleum is produced was given only two positions and the South-west three; the rest went to the Muslim North. Olisa Agbakoba, (SAN), has gone to court to challenge this brazen marginalization of Ndigbo by the APC government. One of the first things President Buhari did on coming to office in 2015 was to send hordes of the most hardened Boko Haram terrorists to the Ekwulobia Prison in Anambra State. NdiAnambra rose like one man to challenge this insensitive action. There were endless protests all over the state until the APC government was compelled to take away the terrorists in our midst.
The APC has never acted like a party keen on taking part in elections in Anambra State. As primary and secondary school pupils were last week scampering for their dear lives, they were screaming: “We will never let the APC kill us by sending soldiers to inject us with a monkey-pox substance”. This incident is an eye-opener. The choice of Nwoye as its flag-bearer in the November 18 election is a fatal mistake. That he is backed by the business mogul is a greater fatal error.
That Ndigbo are marginalised by the APC government is no less disastrous. Operation Python Dance has merely buried the APC ghost in the Anambra election.
► Mbanefo, a retired director in the public service, lives in Onitsha.
ν Editor’s note: Funke
Egbemode returns next week