Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu will, tomorrow, deliver the Nnamdi Azikiwe University convocation lecture at the institution’s 11th convocation ceremony. The lecture, titled Leadership and the challenges of national unity in Nigeria holds at the university auditorium by 1:00pm. Ribadu was the pioneer EFCC chairman, the government…
In the past two editions of this column I meticulously addressed the major causes of the rift between Governor Theodore Orji and myself. I decided to break the ice on the issue to put to rest, speculations by the rumour mills about the real causes of the disagreement between us. In truth, the former governor cannot deny the fact that he was the major cause of the rift and, probably too, the major beneficiary, so to speak. If he is not the major beneficiary, or at least if he hadn’t intended so, why did he not find it expedient to tell the whole world why he declared a total ‘war’ against me, members of my family and anybody related to me one way or another?
From the reasons I had given in the past two editions of this column it could easily be seen that the former governor deliberately and ingeniously invented the rift to divert attention from his inefficiencies and make a scapegoat of me in the milieu.
I am yet to be told if he has any other reason for hating me with such venom, even to the point of morbidity. I would be glad to know.
Again, Chief T.A. Orji has not told the world why he has shamelessly laid claims to projects he did not do, claiming to have done them with such glee and fanfare. This, to me, is the height of greed and obnoxiousness. Where in a decent society could a serving governor then, who swore to the oath of allegiance, so fraudulently display the accomplishments of another administration as his? It is only in a state as Abia could such oddity be condoned and glorified as the case during the reign of Chief Orji!
I have searched my conscience and am yet to see anything I had done to deserve the kind of treatment Theodore Orji has continually meted to me. Was my sin choosing him as my successor or standing solidly behind him when it seemed all hope had been lost? Something in me tells me that he is acting under the influence of something ungodly. I have reached this conclusion because nobody in his or her right senses would have done what he did to me.
Come to think of it: why did all the people that distanced themselves from our administration from 1999 to 2007 find safe haven in Theodore Orji’s administration? These were the same men and women who vowed never to see us succeed. They put clogs in the wheel of progress and did other atrocious things to ensure we failws. But their plots fell flat,because we placed all our hopes and trust in the Lord.
Why has Theodore Orji submitted himself to be manipulated by satanic forces? His actions and utterances smacked of godlessness and Christ-likeness. He professes to be a Christian and holds Christian gatherings from time-to-time, yet bears grudges and keeps malice.
The simple conclusion I can draw from his irrational behaviour is this: he is under the influence of forces more powerful than him. It is only somebody in this kind of state who could do weird things as he did in 2009: laying claims to projects he did not do and making conscious efforts to destroy somebody who helped him to become governor. It is often said that one good turn deserves another. Why is it different in the case between Theodore Orji and I? You see, something is wrong somewhere.
Theodore Orji, as I have always written, knows the truth and this truth will haunt him all the days of his life. Since he has decided to pay good for evil, he will never have peace until he owns up to his misdeeds. He cannot claim ignorance of my positing. For the 8 years we worked together as governor and chief-of-staff respectively, I showed him friendship and love, culminating in his choice as my successor. To turn round to dance to a different tune when it mattered most was not only repulsive, but worse than the perfidious act of Brutus. I leave him to his conscience.
Let me state here for the umpteenth time, that presiding over the administration of the affairs of Abia State was the most daunting task I have had to face all my life.The impact of the enormous work we did to develop the state in the face of scarce financial resources still tells on me till today. But I thank God for giving us the energy and wisdom to do the much we had done to put a smile on the faces of our people. The last time our people experienced real governance was May 29, 2007 when we vacated office after 8 years of meritorious service to them.
I regret to state that throughout the eight years he served as governor our people never experienced passionate leadership. All they experienced was maladministration and ineptitude of leadership from the former governor. Instead of the former governor working to better their lot, spent scarce resources chasing shadows and building fiefdoms for himself and his generations yet unborn.
Ask an average Abian about the achievements of our administration from May 1999 to May 2007 and they will reel them out with enthusiasm. Forget the naked lies the former governor tells about his achievements, the people know the truth. There is no single mega-project on ground anywhere in the state the former governor can boast of accomplishing. The so-called legacy projects were mere recycled projects – some of which were initiated by past administrations, especially our own administration. In my estimation, the legacy projects were just white elephants designed by the former governor to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public in order to give some semblance of working. How much did the entire projects cost? Were their costs anywhere half of what the state earned from the federation account, excluding internally generated revenue – all amounting to close to a trillion naira since 2007?
What has been the debt profile of Abia State since 2007 when we vacated the Paris Club? Recall that we inherited 168 million US dollars as debt in 1999. By the time our tenure ended in 2007 we had paid off the debt. Our ability to pay the debt was made possible by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who directed the Federal Ministry of Finance to compulsorily deduct the money from our monthly allocation as a way of punishing us for refusing to support his third term agenda. Today, Theodore Orji has burdened the state with both local and foreign loans.
Was it not because I advised him to stop taking loans from banks if he was not ready to deploy them into meaningful ventures for the good of the people that partly caused him to revolt against me?
Those singing his praise are political jobbers, turncoats and charlatans, whose only pastime is bending the truth in order to extort money from him. Deep inside them, they know he has not done anything to improve their lives or the lives of the majority of our people.
Having said that, I will continue the sector-by-sector analysis of our administration’s performance in the eight years I presided over the state as governor this week. In the first three editions, I enumerated our achievements in the educational, housing and infrastructural sectors. This week, I will treat public utilities – a sector in which we recorded monumental successes and made reasonable impact on the lives of the people. Let me first of all place on record that the man who manned that vital sector, Hon. Arua Arunsi, currently represents Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He can reveal how much energy, resources we spent to bring water and electricity to the innermost parts of our state.
I recall with nostalgia, the magic we performed the first two weeks to make the dry taps in Umuahia and Aba run again. In the first phase of our integrated water programme, we were able to rehabilitate four huge water schemes and drilled about 1000 boreholes in various communities and schools to alleviate their hardship. We purchased thousands of PVC pipes to replace burst ones at Umuahia and Aba water pipes networks. We also constructed 12 meter-high 10,000 gallon steel tank for water reticulation to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Secretariat, Umuahia, House of Assembly Complex, Customary Court, Women Skill Acquisition Centre, and Ministry of Sports and Social Development, including their environs. We as well purchased and installed new generating sets, starters, sumo-pumps, alum dosing pumps for the gigantic Umuopara River Intake, CKC Ariaria Water Scheme, Old Umuahia Water Scheme, etc. We also rehabilitated Itumbuzu, Elu-Ohafia, Ovim, Nnono, Mbawsi, Ariam, Apuanu Item, Afugiri, Ukwa, Afarata, Ogwe, Akwete, Umungwa, and Aba River Water Schemes.
All these are in addition to hundreds of boreholes drilled for communities and schools.
When we arrived in Umuahia on May 26 – three days to my assumption of office as governor – there was pitch darkness in the whole of Abia State. We also found out that Abia State was the only newly-created state without the mandatory 132/33KV sub-station or a higher and more acceptable rating of 330KV. This development made power supply epileptic, making the people groan endlessly We immediately made representation to the Federal Government on the situation. We followed this up with remedial measures to alleviate the plight of the people and drive industrial growth in the state.
The Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Abiriba high tension line vandalized by hoodlums and had been lying comatose for several months before we arrived received immediate attention. Rural electrification, which formed a part of our rural integration programme received a boost through the provision of thousands of transformers for the rural communities, including connecting many of them to the national grid.
Our overall focus was to complete abandoned and vandalized electricity projects and commence new ones. As part of this goal, we were able to accomplish the following projects: rehabilitation of the vandalized 33KVA Abiriba-Igbere-Akara NEPA line; Ibinaukwu Igbere High Tension line; vandalized switch gear, D-Fuse at Etitiama/Abiriba Junction; vandalized Ozuitem line; and extension of electricity lines to Umuisi-Agbor, Eziama Communities, Umunevo, Ndiolumbe, Umuekweghiesu, Obilohia Umuobia, Amokwe Item, border-towns of Umuro, Amuzu and Umumba; Mgboko Amairi, Amapu Ife, Ogbodinibe Umuodo, Umuopara, Owo-Asa, Ndi Uduma Awoke, Ututu Town, and Senior Science School, Alayi. Others were the construction of substations with 300 KVA transformers at Owaza, Obehie, Mgboko Itungwa, Agburike Isingwa, Umuezele, Ogbodiukwu, Umuopara, Asa Okpulor, Ariaria Main Market, Aba, and Akwete. There are many other electricity projects space could not allow me to name.
Let me throw yet another challenge at the former governor: I would like him to name the electricity projects embarked upon by his government throughout his tenure as governor. The records are there for all to see that the former governor busied himself more with propaganda instead of settling down to work for our people. What has he to show for all the time and money he wasted misruling our people? How would he face up to the same people he chastised, harassed and tormented now he is out of office?
I have asked these questions because he has not shown any sign of retracing his steps or towing the path of honour and rectitude. Instead of remorse he has continued to exhibit irrational behaviourial patterns akin to that of a drunken sailor. As days turn into nights, he has shown further signs of desperation and anxiety. He has already started circumventing the rules guiding politics by entrenching his self-centred agenda to control Abia politics for life. One of the contraptions he had committed was the influencing of the selection of his cousin to head his party in the state. I wonder who told him that it is his prerogative to appoint members of the Exco of the party.
It is purely the duty of the members of the party to do so. This shows in unmistakable terms that he is not interested in rules and regulation, yet he is supposed to be the custodian of constitutionality and legality.
In any case, one truth the former governor should embrace today is that time is fast running out on him. The Abia State he used to know is moving faster than him. It will not be long before he is left in the lurch. The people, whom he had taken for granted all these years, are wiser now and ready to liberate themselves from his strangleholds.
Again, the era of manipulating security agencies and gullible and vulnerable members of his party is over. The time has come when he will be asked to account for everything he had done in the past 10 years – both as a former governor and Senator.
I wish to state without any fear of contradiction that I outperformed Chief Theodore Orji in office as governor. All he achieved in almost 8 years as governor, with over N800 billion he collected, excluding internally-generated revenue, cannot match what I achieved in 8 years with just N108 billion. If he is against my positing, then he should take up my earlier challenge to assemble the best five audit firms in the world to audit our two governments to see which performed better. I will pay 50% of the cost of the audit.
The best thing for him, considering his poor performance, to do now is to have a rethink, hide his face in shame, and allow peace to reign. If he thinks he can bamboozle everybody as he had done all these years, then he is living in a Fool’s Paradise.