States At Dagger Drawn Over Abia's Sack of Non-Indigenous Workers

Chike Mike

Umuahia — MORE than 1,800 workers of Anambra State origin, who were disengaged from the Abia State public, took their plight to Governor Peter Obi at Government House, Awka, Thursday, October 27, to see if their current state of despair could be salvaged.

They wanted Obi to either absorb or prevail on his Abia State government counterpart to drop the sack policy.

However, they did not get any immediate answer but an assurance by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Paul Odenigbo, who received them on behalf of the state chief executive, that Governor Obi who is the chairman of South East Governors Forum, would continue to plead with his colleague, Chief Theodore Orji of Abia, to rescind the decision to sack non-indigenes.

If Chief Odenigbo handled his visitors with tact and diplomacy, the State House of Assembly was blunt in its livid reaction.

After beholding the helpless and hapless workers who stormed the House of Assembly complex in buses with the inscription 'back-loaded,' the House unanimously resolved to send a strongly worded letter to the Abia State governor to rescind what they regarded as an unpopular policy which they described as a breach of the constitutional rights of the affected workers.

The House, which adopted a motion on the issue sponsored by Hon. Chigbo Enwezor and two others further, said it would encourage the back-loaded workers to challenge Abia State government in court.

The Princess Chinwe Nwaebili-led House alerted Obi of the danger in allowing Abia State government to succeed with the policy, as it would threaten national integration.

While debating the motion, Gabriel Onyenwife (Anyamelum constituency) said: 'Abia State government has started a policy that is indefensible, unconstitutional and condemnable.'

The decision to transfer the services of non-Abia workers in the public service of the state was formalised during the State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting held on Monday, September 5, 2011.

Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Don Ubani, told newsmen the following day that the issue was comprehensibly discussed at EXCO and the cabinet gave its nod for the implementation of the policy.

The back loading of the non-indigenes to their home governments commenced October 1.

The Moment on Sunday gathered that a circular to that effect had been issued about a week before the EXCO decision to proceed with the policy.

The policy affects non-indigenes of all cadres, including those on command employment and Abia daughters married to non-Abians.

Giving reasons why Abia government adopted the drastic policy, Ubani said it was to make room for the absorption of Abians displaced from parts of the Boko Haram-troubled North and for the state to be able to shoulder the financial implications of the N18,000 new minimum wage.

The policy, he added, would help to create employment opportunities for the teeming youths of Abia.

'Abia State government has to take a decision that non-Abians in its public service should be transferred to their states. Ochendo (Governor Theodore Orji) wrote to their state governors asking them to appreciate the precarious situation of Abia State,' Ubani said.

Since those affected were served their letters, the Abia State government has known no peace.

The policy has attracted varied reactions; some mild criticisms, some wild and outright vituperations and others offering wise counsel.

Expectedly, many Abians and government agents have applauded the action, describing it as a step in the right direction. Conversely, those affected and their home governments see the policy as obnoxious, a breach of their fundamental human rights and a threat to Igbo unity.

The first public reaction against the policy came from the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Rt. Rev. Lucius Ugorji.

He described it as injustice, adding that it was bound to create social disequilibrium and economic hardship given that Abia has become a second home to the workers who were being asked to go. He appealed to the government to rescind the policy.

Imo, Enugu and Anambra states have also reacted angrily to the policy. Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Obinna Duruji, speaking on behalf of his state government, described the policy as 'anachronistic, patently obsolete and completely reprehensible.' He threatened reprisals from Imo.

For Ebonyi State government, it is wait and see. Chief Press Secretary to Ebonyi Governor, Dr. Onyekachi Eni, said the state government initially regarded the disengagement of non-indigenes from Abia public service as rumour because there was no official communication between the two governments.

He, however, said that when it became evident that it was no longer a rumour the state executive council discussed the matter. He did not disclose the position of the state government on the issue.

However, Eni's response put a question mark on the claim by Abia government that Governor Orji engaged his colleagues on the issue prior to the disengagement of the affected workers. Curiously, the South East Governors Forum, which met in Enugu on September 9, did not discuss the issue.

One of the founding fathers of Abia State and an elder statesman, Prince Benjamin Apugo, is one of those against the policy.

He roundly condemned it as 'unpopular and ill-advised,' saying it would breed bad blood between Abia and other South East states, and called on Governor Orji to immediately halt the exercise.

'As a Nigerian I don't support what Abia State government is trying to do by disengaging non-indigenes. Many of them were born here and they were employed in the civil service by the state. It will look very bad for any government to throw them out because they have contributed to whatever development, if any as at now,' Apugo said.

He suggested that Abia government should negotiate with its workers on the new minimum wage instead of disengaging them. He expressed fears that the policy might backfire.

Still in Abia, the Nigerian Bar Association, Aba Branch, also condemned the action.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its monthly meeting held on October 14, the group offered free legal service to those who may wish to seek judicial interpretation of the policy.

'The NBA encourages all persons affected by the discriminatory policy and decision of the Abia State government to challenge such actions in the courts up to the highest level, and in this regard, members of the NBA, Aba Branch, have volunteered and shall render free legal services to the affected workers and their families,' the communiqué endorsed by its chairman, Mr. C. U. C. Eduzor, and secretary, Mr. Kelechi Ukaumunna, read in part.

On its part, the Abia State government has risen in stout defence of its action. Ubani said there was no going back.

'The decision of Abia State government on this is legitimate, irrevocable and remains the best the state could take in the light of her compelling circumstances,' Ubani insisted.

The Abia information boss lampooned Imo State government, describing its condemnation of the policy as a clear manifestation of hypocrisy.

'To begin with, should nine years be too long for Imo State government to have forgotten that she successfully implemented a policy decision that led to the summarily, un-notified, unceremonious and the most cruel dismissal of all Abia indigenes who were in her public service in 2002?' he said.

Continuing, Ubani said: 'On what premise should either the Imo State government or the religious leaders stand tall to claim to have forgotten that even recently (2010), the Imo State government primitively and with extreme heartlessness bundled the files of her pensioners of Abia extraction, who had served her with all youthfulness, paying their taxes to Imo State government and contributing to the overall development of the state, back to Abia State for the latter to shoulder the pecuniary burden of pensioners who worked for Imo State?

'Yet Imo State government has the shamelessness of talking of Igbo unity. Imo State government should tell Ndi Igbo where she placed Igbo unity when she ferociously and un-administratively dismissed all Abians working in her public service nine years ago.

'If Imo State government was oblivious of what she now calls "Igbo unity" nine years ago, what was her take on Igbo unity just a year ago when she, in the most sadistic display of inhumanity, bundled the files of her pensioners of Abia State extraction back to Abia?'

The commissioner ended his reaction with a poser: 'More so, to newspaper and organisations that feel that Abia State policy on transfer of service of non-indigenes is a negation of the principles of federalism, it is obviously doubtful that their feelings are a true comprehension of what federalism stands for. What are their answers to questions on, one: should a federal legislature make laws on salaries for states and local government workers?

'And, two: should the Federal Government control the revenue generating resources of a state?'

Prominent Abians have also risen in defence of the state government and they are united it should not be crucified for threading the path other states had taken in the past.

One of them, Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, wife of Nigeria's first military Head of State, advised those affected by the transfer to take it in good faith as government will not go back on the policy.

She said that it was a pity that people from different parts of the country, especially the South East, were misunderstanding the action of the Abia government, which she said was for the benefit of Abians.

Prof. Joshua Ogbonnaya, one of the few surviving founding fathers of Abia State, said: 'It is he who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches, so the back-loading of non-indigenes to their states of origin by Governor Orji was handled in a matured way unlike what other governors did in the past.'

The foremost surgeon called for the convocation of a meeting all the governors of the South East where the problem should be discussed. 'I know that such a meeting of the South East governors exist; they should meet there and sort out the problem, if there is any,' he said.
Source: The Moment, 29th October 2011.

 

Gov Obi laments govt takeover of schools

From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state yesterday lamented that educational standard took a plunge after government took over schools from the missionaries, describing the development as the root cause of decadence in the society. Governor Obi made the remark while addressing staff and students said of the Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, (QRC) Onitsha when he paid a routine visit to the school.

According to the Governor who handed over the cheque of N27 million to the school for the provision of drainages and proper channeling of flood said that if the menace was not prevented at this stage, that it would create erosion problem in future and became a threat to the environment and a danger to human habitation. 

He said that his government decided to give the money directly to the school and monitor the execution because they would do it better than contractors that had formed the habit of doing shoddy works in the spirit of treating government money as up for grabs. Talking to the students about Nigeria, the Governor invited them to continue praying for the country, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan meant well for the country.
“Things are generally not so well in the world today, I am happy that President Goodluck Jonathan is taking some unpopular decisions now. In fact such decisions will be our saving grace in future.”

Speaking earlier, the principal of the School, Rev. Sis Maria Chijioke thanked God for a governor like Mr. Peter Obi, who, according to her, had shown unrivalled interest in the development of the youths. She said that some myopic Anambra people and paid writers had refused to appreciate his uncommon sacrifices for the State, due to the fact that they placed politics before the welfare of the people. Speaking, a Student of the School, Onyinye Odika said that the Governor had remained a caring father to students and that they would reciprocate his love by being law-abiding.
Source: Sun, 28th October 2011.

 

I Cannot Join Issues With Ngige, Says Obi

FROM UZOMA NZEAGWU, AWK

GOVERNOR Peter Obi of Anambra State yesterday said he would not join issues with Senator Chris Ngige for saying he started the construction of Amansea-Ebenebe-Oba-Ofemili road during ‘Issues’, a radio on Rhythm Radio in Awka.

Obi said this while inspecting the completed, but yet to be commissioned Odor Bridge, which is 165 meters and remains the longest bridge in the state. Obi, who said that his government is constructing about 15 bridges in the state, added that he would rather concentrate attention on projects than devote time for idle talks that do not add value to the state.

Obi said he is used to people claiming his projects as theirs, describing the trend as dishonorable. “Let me inform you that I personally flagged off the construction of the Amansea-Ebenebe-Oba-Ofemili road. I started it from the scratch. I do not know what somebody stands to gain by claiming what he did not do.

“We had our challenges on the road, including the broken Ebenebe Bridge which we shall complete very soon. I assure people of the area that having started the road, we shall complete it within the life of this government.”
Source: The Guardian, 23rd October 2011.

 

How Anambra is Forging Ahead

HISTORY is both the account of events and the role of prominent actors in these dispensations. Every nation or state will always have its defining moments. At such critical junctures, we may encounter a protagonist whose fortunes interweave with those of the larger society.

Inevitably, the mention of certain states evokes the names of certain leaders because of the role played by these figures in the founding or restructuring of their societies. What is important is that the leaderships gave expression to the dreams and aspirations of the people.

In Anambra State, Governor Peter Obi’s perseverance in nurturing to fruition the vision behind the creation of Anambra State on August 27, 1991, has rallied the discerning citizenry behind him.

With a concentration of human capital, inhabitants of the area around the Anambra River had for long been hungry for development. Relatively early exposure to Western civilisation gave the people a head start in education, public service and entrepreneurship. But an artificial dichotomy had been created between the northern and southern halves of the old Anambra State. This environment was restrictive of the zeal to excel. The new Anambra State was thus envisioned to harness the potentials of the state and the individual to bloom.

The state was created during the General Ibrahim Babangida regime and was successively governed by two military regimes. As officers on military posting, the governors were probably not aware of the people’s vision for the state and even if they were, would not have considered it binding on them. Successive civilian administrations before the Peter Obi government had contributed their quota to the building of the state according to their capacity and the circumstances.

The Chukwuemeka Ezeife administration made feeble gains in its two-year span before it was truncated by the Abacha coup of November 1993. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s government and Chris Ngige’s regime were engaged in survivalist battles for the most part of their duration.

While Mbadinuju’s reign was marred by frolicking and clientele politics, Ngige’s government was burdened with legitimacy syndrome. Ngige had not set out to be a Governor in 2003 and so not much would realistically have been expected from him. It is not in doubt though that he performed better than Mbadinuju.

The popularity of Obi’s mandate ushered in a refreshing era in Anambra’s history. His reign indeed proved the key to peace in the state. Obi’s acceptance cut across the socio-political landscape, a fact buttressed by his re-election in 2010. It was also clear that Obi came prepared for the job he was to do. His systematic approach to rehabilitation of institutions and infrastructural development was evident of rigorous thought and planning.

But perhaps, over and beyond these factors, what endeared Obi to civil society was the demonstration that he placed service and governance before politics. Whatever reservations one may have about Obi, no objective assessor would doubt the Governor’s selfless commitment to the cause of the state.

Obi’s passion for the development of Anambra State, evident in his well-thought out infrastructural projects, high sense of fiscal discipline and value-suffused policies, has continued to unite progressive minds in the State. There is a new sense of the commonwealth that seeks to uphold the common good as the highest law. Obi’s leadership not only ushered in the era of peace but perhaps even more significantly, eroded the barriers of political differences that hitherto held down the state.

This solidarity was demonstrated recently in two significant ways. The commemoration of the state’s twentieth anniversary on August 27, 2011, rallied the elite and civil society as had never been witnessed since the creation of the state. And it was not just a massive response and identification with the governor’s untiring efforts; the feeling of camaraderie was unmistakable. The resolution from the distinguished assembly was simple but profound:

Thank you, dear Governor, for bringing us this far. If we had started this way two decades ago, we would have gone places. Now, nobody can doubt that united, we can do it. The second instance of how the new Anambra is working was revealed in the mediation of the dispute between the state government and organised labour over the implementation of the March 2011 Minimum Wage Act.

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress succumbed to public pressure and suspended the three weeks old strike by junior public servants in the state. Five days earlier, the Trade Union Congress, the umbrella body of senior officers, had taken the same line of action to the commendation of the citizenry. The industrial action had pitched the labour unions against the rest of the State.

Mr. AMAECHI NWOKENIFE, a policy analyst,  wrote from Awka, Anambra State.
Source: Vanguard, 20th October 2011.

 

Ofala festival: GLO empowers 100 Onitsha youths, donates classrooms

By OGECHI OHAEGBULAM

Globacom has given the people of Onitsha two huge corporate social responsibility projects as part of its sponsorship of the Ofala festival, as Onitsha youths pledge to turn the city into a green community for Glo.

The telecom company trained 100 young entrepreneurs and equipped them with free Commercial Telephone Operation (CTO) facilities comprising of Glo Business lines, handsets, tables, chairs and parasols. The company also commissioned the construction of a block of classrooms at the famous Metropolitan College Onitsha.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony and the presentation of the youth empowerment scheme to the 100 youths, the Obi of Onitsha, HRH Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe thanked Globacom, saying the projects will benefit “our people tremendously. It fits into our strategy of making Onitsha youths more productive.

“It has been a wonderful partnership. Our prayer is that this partnership will continue to grow. Glo will continue to grow from strength to strength. Our youths are the leaders of tomorrow. Any investment in them is a worthwhile one”, the Obi added.

In his remarks at the events in which the Anambra state Governor, Peter Obi was represented by the state Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Dr. Chinwe Anowai, Mr. Mohamed Jameel said Globacom has “demonstrated again that we are adding value to enhance the lives of our people and bond with the communities we do business with at all levels”.

He said the CSR projects Globacom initiated during the Ofala Festival were aimed at building the capacity of the youths and empowering them with the tools they need to become self-employed and captains of their faiths. “We have also introduced Special Ofala Glo SIMs for the exclusive use of Onitsha people. These SIMs come with the cheapest tariff in the market to enable the people to talk more and pay virtually nothing.”

The SIMs are not time-bound and they come with an unprecedented promotional offer that will give the people of Onitsha the opportunities to win any of our prizes, including a brand new Toyata Corolla car, Ipads, laptops, Blackberry phones and other items at every Ofala Festival sponsored by Globacom.

The Obi of Onitsha made the symbolic presentation of the youth empowerment scheme to two of the beneficiaries while Globacom’s Head of Public Sector, Mr. Tunde Amunikoro and his team presented the other beneficiaries with their packages.

In his remarks, the Onitsha Youth Leader, Patrick Aghamba, expressed appreciation to Glo for empowering the youths. “We promise you that we will make Onitsha a Glo community and that everywhere you go will be green in our community,” Aghamba declared.

From the Obi’s palace where the youth empowerment project was commissioned in the presence of Globacom’s management led by the company’s Group Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Mohamed Jameel and members of the Obi’s Council of Chiefs, the delegation moved to the Metropolitan College where the Obi performed the ground-breaking of the block of classrooms. It is a modern block comprising four classrooms and an ICT Centre. The 66-year old Metropolitan college is known to have produced many prominent Nigerians including Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu(rtd), former Governor of Old Imo state and Lagos state and Major Gen. Chris Alli ( rtd).
Source: Vanguard, 15th October 2011.

 

Police Arrest 30 Pregnant Teenagers, Others At Motherless Babies Home

FROM CHUKS COLLINS, AWKA

THE Anambra State Police Command yesterday arrested the Managing Director of one Iheanyi Ezuma Foundation at Ihiala in Ihiala Local Council of Anambra State, Mrs. Ngozi Ezuma and three of her workers for not being able to explain how 30 pregnant teenagers came into her motherless babies home.

The command raided the home following a tip-off from a concerned neighbour on suspected criminal activities at the centre.

Four of the pregnant teenagers have so far put to bed since their evacuation to Awka yesterday at the Enugu-Ukwu General Hospital, while two others were already in labour, as at press time yesterday.

Surprisingly, 27 of the girls were said to be secondary school dropouts, while three claimed to be students of the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri.

State Police Public Relations Officer, Emeka Chukwuemeka (ASP),who confirmed the arrests, said investigations were on-going to unmask all those directly or remotely connected to the alleged syndicate.

He said the command might also hand over the girls back to their families once they are traced. He warned randy men and boys to desist from luring under-aged girls so as no to ruin their future, and all illegal motherless babies homes and orphanages to desist from operation or face the full wrath of the law.

He said: “People should stop taking advantage of these innocent girls for business rather than going into charity work they registered for, ” Chukwuemeka said.

Ezuma said that the teenage girls were brought to her foundation with the consent of their parents and guardians, and that they were helping the girls out purely on compassionate grounds.

According to her, the foundation encourages their families to allow the young girls with pregnancy to carry them to term instead of abortion and that the foundation’s major trust includes providing love and care for the pregnant teenagers and home to the homeless.

Ezuma pointed out that the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development was aware of their operation, as it had earlier taken away a 15-month old baby from the home.

The ministry allegedly acknowledged that the baby was undergoing fostering process and that the documents about the baby and pictures of those that brought the baby are intact as it was never a business deal between the ministry and Mrs. Ezuma, but an official process of fostering a child.
Source: The Guardian, 15th October 2011.

 

Judge blasts plaintiff for wearing ‘rags’ to court
From IJEOMA ONUORAH, Nnewi

A mild drama ensued yesterday at the Nnewi High Court II, when Justice Onochie, presiding over the court, almost refused to admit a plaintiff to the witness box, for allegedly wearing rags.
The plaintiff, Mr Ifeanyi Ogbodo of zone 15, New Motorcycle Spare Parts, Nnewi, who was about to be examined in his case with Syke Bank Plc and two others, was wearing a yellow and blue well-ironed T-shirt and a pair of jean trousers, which the judge found very offensive in his court.

Ogbodo, who sued Skye Bank over what his lawyer termed as ‘breach of contract,’ was pleading for a redress running into millions of naira, to recoup losses suffered in the hands of the financing house.

Counsel to Ogbodo, Mr Sam Onyia, argued that since his client had enough evidence that the bank deliberately withheld the money he was supposed to use in trading with his Chinese business partners, living him stranded in China for 50 days and also misleading him into taking a loan facility with a lot of booby traps, his client would use all the arsernals provided by the law to get justice.

Countering this, the defense counsel, Mr Obinna Nnaka said the alleged delay was caused by some mistakes made by the plaintiff when signing his agreement papers with the bank. He said the $20, 000 Ogbodo gave the bank to change and transfer for him was safely returned to him and wondered why he would accuse the bank of making an unfair deal with him.

Meanwhile, about 15 exhibits have been tendered so far, from the plaintiff in support of an amended statement under oath, seeking to establish that there was a partnership between the plaintiff, defense and a Chinese trading company. Justice Onochie, who advised witnesses to wear suits or traditional Nigerian wears said henceforth, the case would be fast-tracked and adjourned it to November 14, 2011.
Source: Sun, 14th October 2011.

 

 

Our people no longer return home, Anambra group laments
…Moves to end 40-year-old crisis

From IJEOMA ONUORAH, Nnewi

For over 40 years, Orsumenyi town in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State has been enmeshed in disputes and conflicts following the demise of the last traditional ruler of the town.

Umuada Orsumenyi

As the community has been without a monarch since the end of the civil war, its people floated two parallel town unions.

In a bid to resolve this development, a group known as  Orsumenyi Ambassadors opened discussions with those involved which led to a ‘walk for peace’. The Chairman, Boad of Trustees of Orsumenyi Ambassadors, Chief Tony Nnadiaso told Daily Sun of the efforts made by the group to bring back peace to the community.

What we want to achieve through our reconciliatory activities
The Orsumenyi people have not been living like brothers for a long time. Brothers do not recognize each other because of a crisis that would not have happened in the first place. That is why we had to intervene, enough is enough. We decided that if we let the crisis linger, our children will bear the brunt of the whole situation. So, we decided to map out activities that will span for about one week to unite the town and broker peace between the two sides of the didvide.

We started with traditional talks, visiting the Orsumenyi Development Union and the Orsumenyi Town Assembly separately to find out the root of the problem. When we discovered that both parties were to a very large extent ready to sheath their swords, we moved in to the second phase of the programme, which is the community rally at our Eke market square and the prayer session. Then we had an awareness walk throughout the town in other to let everybody know that a new dawn for peace has come for Orsumenyi town. We tagged it ‘Orsumenyi Walk for Peace’.

The origin of the 40-year-old crisis
To be truthful to you, I don’t want to go back to the post civil war era, I don’t even want to waste my energy on how old the problem is, but I know that it was then that we had an Igweship problem. Since then, we do not have a traditional ruler. But the present cause of our problem is that the two factions of the town had a clash around 2006, which caused some destruction of property.

That was why we mobilized every facet of the town; the youths, Okada riders, student unions, the Umuadas and so on. Let me tell you these Umuadas are powerful tools for bringing about peace and justice in any town in Igboland because they would never allow their fathers’ compounds to fall into ruins. For a long time they’ve been looking for a way to wade into the matter and today, the much anticipated opportunity was provided.

Government intervention
We cannot wait or continue to wait for the government to solve our problems for us. In fact, some people even blamed them for taking sides in the problem instead of solving it. That is not the concern of the Ambassadors. We are not here to take sides, but to beg every party to forgive and forget. It’s all a matter of the ego. If we can set that aside, we could easily solve the lingering crisis so that our community can move forward.

The effects of the crisis  on our town
First of all, our communal development input came to a stop. Before, Orsumenyi was known for carrying out developmental projects on its own without waiting for the government. Our secondary schools, market, social and health services are all individual contributions to the town. You see, God blessed this town with wealth.

Now, the dissension had caused the schools to rot and our children go to other neighbouring schools to study. Also, many of our people don’t return home for cultural or Christian festivals for fear of being kidnapped by opposing sides. Look around the town; can you see any sign that we are celebrating our ‘Afia Olu’ (New Yam festival) today? We can no longer live like that. That is why the Ambassadors decided to wade into the situation before it is too late.
Source: Sun, 28th September 2011.

 

Obi - National Security Can Be Achieved

Emeka Osondu And Adebiyi Adedapo

Anambra State Governor Peter Obi has suggested that the security challenge of the country be managed through peaceful means.

Obi said this at a reception jointly organised by the Anambra State Towns People Association and Anambra State Public Officers and Elders Forum at the weekend in Abuja. He stated that insecurity can be well tackled if stakeholders, and various religious group make conscious effort to foster peace.

The governor expressed sympathy with the families of those who lost their lives to the suicide bomb attack on the United Nations building in Abuja and stressed that his administration was ready to partner with relevant stakeholders to address the issue of insecurity in state.

He stated that his administration will continue to collaborate with the federal government to reduce the menace of in security by way of fostering peace and unity.

In his keynote address, President of the association, Sir Emeka Mbagha, said the civic reception which was organised in honour of political office holders and National Assembly members from Anambra, was also aimed at brain storming on challenges mitigating against the overall development of Anambra State.

Meanwhile, Obi has assured the people of Ebenebe, Oba-Ofemili, Ugbene in Awka North and other communities in the Anambra State that he would complete the Ebenebe bridge before the end of the year, and the entire stretch of the road that transverse many

communities before the end of his tenure.

Obi, who gave the assurance at the weekend while inspecting the progress of work at the bridge expressed satisfaction with the work done on the bridge, which was commenced in 2010.

He regretted the hardship the people suffered because of the collapse of the old bridge, While appealing to the people of the area to be patient with his government over the development, Obi described the Ebenebe-Ugbene road as well as Ogboji-Aguluezechukwu roads among those his administration would deliver .

Speaking to the press during the inspection, Mr. Bethram Egunam, from Ebenebe, thanked the governor for remembering the communities. He said that those complaining of slow pace of work had forgotten so soon that Obi was the first governor that had remembered them since Anambra State was created.

Peaceful Transition at Enugu PDP Chairmanship Primaries

The PDP Saturday conducted primary elections for its chairmanship aspirants for the Dec. 10 local government elections in Enugu State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the elections were devoid of violence in the local governments within Enugu metropolis and in Nsukka where correspondents visited.

The elections came on the heels of days of consultations between Gov. Sullivan Chime and PDP stakeholders from the various local government areas during which grey areas were ironed out.

In the Enugu North LGA, Mr Emeka Ede, the Deputy Chairman, beat eight others to win the chairmanship ticket of the party. Ede, a native of Ogui Nike, picked the ticket with 187 votes out of the 199 votes cast.

Mr Nestor Ochin, the Chief returning officer of the election in the local government, told NAN that it was relatively peaceful. According to him, the eight other contestants stayed away from the election venue, paving the way for the vice chairman to poll the highest number of votes.

"It was only Emeka Ede who was here present among the nine contestants. Others did not step down for him but they were not present to even make their minds known," he said.

On his part, Ede thanked God for His grace and his people for the opportunity to serve them again.

He said he would follow the good works of the government of Enugu State by focusing on infrastructural development, human capital development and peaceful co-existence among his people.

The deputy chairman pledged to involve his fellow contestants who did not get the ticket in his government if he became the chairman of the council.

In Enugu South Local Government Area, Mr Nwabueze Okafor, the incumbent chairman, won the primary with 264 votes out of the total valid 274 votes to defeat three other contestants.

Similarly in Enugu East Local Government Area, Mr Cornelius Nnaji won the party's ticket for the chairmanship seat. Nnaji, who is from the royal family of the Nike clan, contested with 13 other aspirants who stepped down for him. In Nsukka, following the stakeholders' meeting, the incumbent Chairman, Mr Tony Ugwu, was returned unopposed.
Source: This Day, 25th September 2011.

 

Obi Laments Menace of Erosion

By  Emeka Osondu in Awka and Jaiyeola Andrews 

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has said the state lost lives and property estimated at over N30 million to erosion menace over the years, insisting there was an urgent need to stem the tide.

Also lamenting the impact of erosion in his state, the Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, has expressed concern over the extent of damage done by erosion in Doma local government area, saying the state would partner with the federal government in addressing the impact of the erosion.

Obi, who disclosed this while inspecting the level of devastation at the erosion site at Heritage Avenue, Omagba Phaze one kilometer one, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, said the state required over $2 billion to tackle over 500 active erosion sites threatening various parts of the state.

The governor, who expressed shock at the level of devastation, assured the people that the state government would commence immediate intervention to arrest the situation in order to save buildings the area and the road from caving in.  He  repeated his call on the federal government to intervene.

Meanwhile, Al-makura, while on-the-spot assessment of the area, promised to collaborate with the Federal Government in order to address the problem.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Iliyasu Ali Yakubu, said: “Erosion situation in Nasarawa state needs an emergency attention to salvage the people hence my administration’s resolve to collaborate with the relevant federal authority to alleviate the sufferings of the people.”

Al-Makura, who also visited the affected area in Lafia before visiting Doma local government area, said he was deeply concerned “over the extent of damage caused by the erosion which resulted to displacement of some residents and property worth millions of naira.”

While at the erosion site as well as the Doma Dam, Al-Makura promised to address all the erosion problems in the town in order to harness abundant natural resources for the development of the state.

He specifically promised to turn around Doma Dam into a highly recognise tourism site in the country.
Source: This Day, 20th September 2011.

 

Anambra South Senatorial seat: Not yet Uhuru for Uba –Pius Ukaegbu
By DICKSON OKAFOR

Mr. Pius Ukaegbu
A political analyst Mr. Pius Ukaegbu has tasked the new election petition tribunal in Anambra State to dispense justice without fear or favour by shunning disgruntled politicians who believe they can buy justice with money. According to him, it will be too bad to allow what led to the sacking of the former tribunal members to happen again. 

Mr. Ukaegbu condemned a situation where a case was struck out on the ground that it was a pre election matter without giving the case a fair hearing. He insisted that the people of Anambra South Senatorial district did not vote Senator Andy Uba but Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the April Election. Excerpt
Sacking of members of Anambra election petition tribunal

When the unjust tries to pervert justice, God will always raise a standard against him. 
Take the Anambra South Senatorial seat tussle between Ukachukwu and Senator Andy Uba for instance, where a tribunal woke up one morning and told Anambrians that it won’t hear a petition by Ukachukwu challenging the recognition of Senator Uba as the candidate of PDP by INEC even though the party headquarters said its candidate was Ukachukwu, yet INEC went ahead and gave Senator Uba certificate of return after Ukachukwu had campaigned throughout the zone, he was voted for and he won only to be short-changed at last and the tribunal struck out the case on the ground that it was pre election matter and that cost them their jobs. So my advice to the new members of the tribunal is to be upright and revisit the case and give the case a fair hearing. They should not be bought with money because at the end, it will make mess them up. The judiciary is the hope of the common man; those who voted in Anambra South Senatorial election are still hoping that the man they voted for should be sworn in. 

Ukachukwu still in court
Yes, since the tribunal pervated justice, Ukachukwu had no choice but take his case to a higher court. Let the rule of law prevail. I am not saying that Ukachukwu should usurp power but he subjected himself to the senator Joseph Waku panel that conducted the National Assembly Primaries in the state and emerged candidate and the party flag bearer in the April National Assembly election and as an Anambrian I have a stake in the political project of the state no matter the area, Anambra is one entity, so I have the right to comment on issues concerning the state and its people. Let the Uba’s realize that only God makes a leader and when it’s their turn to be in a position of authority nobody can stop it but any attempt to impose himself on the people will fail.

Anambra at 20, what’s your assessment?
The state had remained a role model to other states until the inception of the present political dispensation when former president Olusegun Obasanjo gave the entire state to an individual as an inheritance which led to a seating governor been kidnapped and taken to a Hotel room and forced to sign his resignation letter but as God would have it that never happened. So they came up with plan B and that was to make the state ungovernable and that was how kidnapping became the trade mark of Anambra and other South Eastern states and when this too failed, they resort to the last plan which is to go to the election tribunal and presented documents that they help the governor rig election and through that he was removed justifiably because he rigged. 
Therefore the state I will say is a bit stabilized under Gov. Peter Obi, but it will be better if politicians especially those in PDP come together and chat a common cause toward the development of the stat. Anambra at 20 is encouraging and by the grace of God will be greater in future.
Source: Sun, 7th September 2011.

 

Kidnappers hold Nnewi hostage
68 people already kidnapped
Traders, professionals close shop, beg President Jonathan for help

From IJEOMA ONUORAH, Nnewi
Eight months after the people of the industrial town of Nnewi in Anambra State raised the alarm that armed robbers and kidnappers are holding them on the throat, they have cried out to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff to come to their rescue.

In January this year, businessmen and other professionals in the commercial town christened the Japan of Africa, had lamented that kidnapping, armed robbery and general insecurity were in the upscale in the town, making many of them to flee the city.

Faced with the challenge and fear of not losing the entrepreneurs that make the city tick, the leadership of the popular Nkwo-Edo Auto Spare Parts market and the town union government (Nzuko-Ora, the Elders Council in Nnewi)) read the riot act to those who do not have any tangible means of livelihood, asking them to quit the city.

But when this could not produce the desired result, the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Kenneth O.N Orizu, called for spiritual cleansing of the town. He staged an inter-denominational service at the St Andrew’s   Anglican Church (DCC), Nnewi where prayers, petitions and entreaties were made to God through His servants, Bishops Odili Okeke and G.I.N Okpala of the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Nnewi.

But eight months down the line, the people are still not satisfied as they have renewed their cry over insecurity occasioned by rising incidents of armed robbery and kidnapping, making them to now urge President Jonathan and the army chief to help by deploying soldiers to the commercial hub,

Thus on Wednesday, August 10, as early as 7a.m., traders at the popular Nkwo Nnewi Market and others from the commercial city started trooping out to the gates of the Main Market to protest incessant kidnapping, particularly targeted at them and their colleagues.
As soon as they started gathering, all activities in the town were brought to a halt. Indeed, it was a day bankers, lawyers, medical doctors, importers and other traders closed shop in the town to urge President Jonathan to save them from kidnappers, who they claimed had abducted about 68 persons from the town in recent times.

The people probably could not contain the shock some days when unknown men who are yet to let him off the hook kidnapped a frontline industrialist, Chief Emmanuel Uba. 
Uba’s abductors were alleged to have demanded N70 million as ransom, a demand that was said to have infuriated the citizens of the town.

As if that was not enough, the Concerned Nnewi Stakeholders Forum (CNSF) said that fresh victims are reported missing on a daily basis.
As the town was shut down in another protest, the Chairman of Nzuko Ora Nnewi, Chief Agu Onyeka, told the large crowd that the stakeholders, traders, lawyers and medical doctors would not rest until the President and his government addressed the issue of insecurity.

Another stakeholder, Chief Gabriel Chukwuma, reminded the assembly that Nnewi market alone boasts of over 80, 000 traders and as stakeholders and elders in the commercial city, they would not fold their arms and allow the city collapse as a result of insecurity.
According to one of the concerned stakeholders, Mr. Gozie Akudolu, who is also the President of Nnewi Traders Association, “Since this kidnapping issue started, about 68 major importers and manufacturers in Nnewi have been kidnapped, and as a result over 130 major importers and manufacturers in the commercial city have relocated to the South-west or other Northern states for fear of being kidnapped.

“It is common knowledge that Nnewi is strategic to the nation’s economy, with hundreds of industrial and manufacturing companies. It is on this note that we have asked Mr. President, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to come to our aid as we now live at the mercy of kidnappers and armed robbers.

“At the last count, more than 15 people died while being held by kidnappers. Over 300 persons have fallen victim in one way or the other. Presently, 10 people are still being held at different unknown locations, and efforts to rescue them continue to prove abortive, as their captors insist on impossible conditions for their release”.
Collaborating this, the Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association, Nnewi branch, Mr. Joseph Okeke, lamented that an average of 15 people were abducted on daily basis.
“I live in this town; so, I know; kidnapping has caused a plethora of businesses to shut down here. Now, expatriates are skeptical of moving into this town. That is why we are appealing to all relevant authorities to create an anti-kidnap squad of the Nigerian Police in Anambra State,” he said.

However, the Anambra State Command through its Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, claimed that only eight persons had been kidnapped in Nnewi town, saying that out of that number seven have been rescued by the police.
“We have gone to our records and discovered that in the whole of Nnewi Command, comprising 16 divisions, only 24 kidnap cases have been recorded. Out of this number, only eight persons were ever kidnapped in Nnewi as a town, and seven of these people have been released, with the exception of Mr. Emma Uba, who is still with his captors.

“Security is not the monopoly of security agents, therefore, we ask Anambrarians to furnish us with credible and verifiable information that will help us serve them better. It is part of our civic responsibility as Nigerians,” he said.
But both Akudolu and Okeke in separate interviews with Daily Sun, faulted the police claim, saying that “it is we who wear the shoes that will tell the world where it pinches.”

Thus, Akudolu insisted that from the Market’s record, nothing less than 68 people have been kidnapped from the town.
“I am not in the position to declare their statistics as false, that might be the police record. But our own record says that over 68 people have been kidnapped, that is what our own record says. But I must commend our state governor, Mr. Peter Obi for his assistance in this issue. It is sad to note that despite all he has done to equip the police in the state, we are still witnessing this type of crime surge,” the importer said.

Okeke also argued that the police have not rescued anybody from the town with the exception of one from the Orizu royal family who was released freely by his captors after ransom was paid.
“I don’t know anybody who has been rescued or released. You know the police will not tell you the truth because they want to protect their job. And people, who would ordinarily give them information, do not trust them.

But I must commend the Area Commander here and his team who have been working assiduously with us to improve our lot, and the governor of Anambra State, who has donated state-of-the-art equipment to the police. Let them sit up and protect us”, the lawyer begged.
Earlier, the CNSF had addressed an open letter dated August 9, 2011 to President Jonathan entitled, “A call to save our soul as kidnappers, armed robbers over run Nnewi”.

In the letter, the groups had demanded among others, “that the State Security Services (SSS) and other security agencies be tasked on effective intelligence gathering in and around Nnewi.
“That the rescue of those still held by kidnappers be made a national rescue project by deploying soldiers to Nnewi for the rescue of these victims.”

The commercial town of Nnewi is strategic to the economy of the country as it plays host to hundreds of industrial and manufacturing companies of international standard which altogether have over 50, 000  employees.
Nnewi equally has more than 22 banks doing business in it just as it houses the fast growing Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital and some other institutions of higher learning.
Source: Sun, 17th August 2011

 

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