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Posts tagged ‘Anambra State’

Duplicitous Atiku Commends Jonathan On 2nd Niger Bridge, knowing full well that it is a scam.


Former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, said, Monday, that the flag off of the construction of the second Niger Bridge by President Goodluck Jonathan was belated, “as the project ought to have been completed before now.”

Atiku stated this while delivering a keynote address at the 16th annual conference of African Council for Communication Education.

The conference was entitled “Communication, Children and the Youth in the 21stcentury,” and was hosted by the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

At the time Atiku was speaking at Nsukka, President Jonathan was in Onitsha, Anambra State, flagging off the construction of the second Niger Bridge.

The former vice president, however, commended the President for eventually flagging off the construction of the second Niger Bridge after long years of wait.

He said that when completed, “the bridge would boost economic activities and transportation in the South-East zone and environs.”

In his address, Atiku urged participants at the ACCE conference to find solutions on how best to ensure that 10 million out-of-school children returned to school.

“The participants should also seek solution to the high rate of unemployment facing youths in the country,” he said.

He tasked the media on content that would promote the Nigerian economy, which, he said, has diverse sources of revenue and employment generation. “We don’t have to depend just on oil, but on agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and services”.

He said, “The media as an agenda setter should promote ideas for building the 21stcentury robust economy. You also have the responsibility to promote an education system mix of academic and vocational training, so as to cater for diverse needs of the youth and the emerging economy.”

Atiku, a presidential hopeful in the All Progressives Congress, advocated that federal schools be handed over to states in which they were located, saying, “It would help in administration and management of the schools.”

He added, “The Federal Government should also focus on setting regulatory standards and insist on implementing these standards.

“It will save cost as well as make it easier in management if federal schools were handed over to the states.”

The Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Prof. Bartho Okolo, expressed appreciation to the former vice president for honoring the invitation.

Earlier, the Head, Department of Mass Communication in the institution, Dr. Ray Udeaja, explained that the aim of the conference was to continue to advance evolution of communication education in Africa as well as guarantee the dignity of young Africans in the coming days.

“We are aware of the faith our society reposes on those of us who are in the academics. This is why we organise such conferences as these to enable us contribute to sustainable development.

“This conference targets young Africans who are our successors on this planet,” he said.

Udeaja added that the ACCE 2013 annual conference held this year (2014) because of the protracted Academic Staff Union of Universities strike last year. [Vanguard]

(From Biafra Galaxy)

Group Calls On Government to Establish Electoral Offences Tribunal.


Transform Nigeria Citizens Initiative has called on the National Assembly to pass a legislation to establish a special Electoral Offences Tribunal to dispense justice in all cases of electoral malpractice, ahead of the 2015 general election.

In a press statement released today, the global group popularly known as Transform Nigeria Movement, TNM, noted that the 2015 polls should be more transparent and more credible than that of 2011 as Nigeria cannot afford to have elections or general governance slide back in terms of peacefulness, fairness, transparency, or credibility.

TNM said that starting from April 2014; they will start a mobilisation campaign to ensure that such Tribunal is established in all the 36 States of the Federation and Abuja before the 2015 election.

“We stand with Nigerians who say loudly that they will not accept crooked tactics, electoral tampering, over-heated rhetoric, vote selling or buying, or violence”, the group said, adding that “anyone who engages in such election chicanery should be held accountable”.

“We call on Nigeria’s National Assembly to pass legislation enacting an Electoral Offences Tribunal legislation that President Jonathan himself proposed when he was vice president.”

Frowning at a situation where persons indicted of electoral malpractice in a cancelled election that was marred by rigging still goes ahead to contest again in the rescheduled elections and win, the group called it an anomaly and should no longer be tolerated.

“Such persons should be handed over to the law enforcement agencies for prosecution and if found guilty, be barred from contesting in all future elections for at least 10 years”.

TNM said that if Nigeria’s security agencies are allowed to do their jobs professionally like they did during the Anambra governorship poll, the elections would be safely held in states with gubernatorial elections this year and in 2015.

“Credible elections are the responsibility of every citizen,” The group said and urged voters to vote according to their conscience and not sell their votes, which would amount to selling their future and the future prosperity of their children.

“You must hold your politicians, your electoral commission, your judiciary, your media, your political parties, your security services, and one another accountable.  You must vote according to your conscience.  Anyone who witnesses fraud must peacefully report it to the INEC and the Nigerian judicial system for resolution.

“Nothing justifies violence.  Most importantly, Nigerians should vote.  The ballot is your means to select your leaders and determine your futures,” The statement said.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

As We Await Jega’s Imperfect Elections In 2015 – By Peter Claver Oparah.


By Peter Claver Oparah

I don’t know what was probably on the mind of Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently when he warned Nigerians not to expect a perfect election from his INEC in 2015. I am yet to fathom what message he wanted to send by that apparent admittance of failure before he sets out to deliver what Nigerians have rightly termed a crucial election that will make or mar the fragile country. It is not as if most Nigerian expected a perfect election; not from INEC and most certainly, not from Jega’s INEC that delivered an untidy farce in 2011 and had been delivering more egregious parodies in states it had conducted elections since that sordid show in 2011. Perhaps the high point of Jega’s incapacity to conduct elections in Nigeria was the November 16, 2013 tragedy in Anambra State which merely worked from an answer to a pre-determined question. The nationwide condemnation trailing that anti-climactic election jolted Jega, first to admit the infractions that besmirched the so called election while curiously approving the outcome (as is traditional with his questionable objectivity) and now, to seek to prepare us for the worst in 2015.
Yes, Jega wants to lower the high expectations Nigerians have built for a credible election in 2015.  Yes, he wants to pre-offload the seeming massive umbrage that awaits him should he play a predictable script of mismanaging the 2015 election to favour those that tele-guide him on the job. Yes, Jega was creating a convenient alibi for the predicted failure his INEC plans to shock Nigerians with in 2015 but I don’t think we should allow him such a cheeky escape route. Come to think of it, when did Jega wake up to the reality that his INEC cannot deliver a perfect election after he reveled in the syndicated applause that attended his abhorrent conduct in 2011? When did he wake up to realize that indeed, his INEC, with its present composition and carriage cannot be trusted to deliver an election that will even compete within the regional standard obtainable in West Africa? I ask the last question because Nigerians, I know, will certainly hail Jega and swathe him in flamboyant allure should he deliver an election that nears the standard obtainable in Ghana or even Benin Republic.

After his appointment, Jega was to embark on an expensive voter registration exercise that involved the capturing of the personal data of eligible Nigerian voters. From its face value, that looked a sure bet towards dealing with the virus of multiple thumb printing, which riles the country’s electoral process. It also stood to verify the authenticity of declared results for whenever the thumb printed votes come in contact with the captured data of voters, there is bound to be a scientific filtering to separate the actual votes from the fake votes. What should shock Nigerians was the first observation from curious Nigerians that there was no central server to store the cumulative data captured all over the country. That meant there was no base for the expensive data Jega captured at every polling booth in Nigeria. Also the deliberate manipulation of the voters’ register, as seen in the elections in Ondo, Anambra and Delta Central Senatorial constituency points to the fact that the data that were collated has been seriously compromised and cannot be trusted to form the cornerstone of credible election in Nigeria. Again, there was no known relationship between the data captured and the votes cast. On election day, one needs to present merely his temporary voters card for possible identification and nothing more. What really was the essence of the thumb print that was central to the voters’ registration? With this lacuna, desperate politicians were to corner all the ballot papers and in some cases, one person thumb printed as much as twenty booklets and all were accounted as real votes in the 2011 sham of an election. This was the magic behind the history-breaking 90 to 99 per cent votes the PDP appropriated in the South East and South South States in 2011.

Jega is being clearly mischievous by his latest warning to Nigerians not to expect a perfect election in 2015 and every Nigerian must tell him in unmistakable terms that we expect nothing more than a perfect election from him. If he cannot deliver, let him quit in time for the country to have for herself an election umpire that is ready to claim responsibility for his actions. Yes, let it be clear and candid that we will not accept any more of Jega’s farces again. I can attest that Jega’s INEC cannot conduct a credible election because Jega is too indebted to those that appointed him than disappoint their schemes to corner every election in Nigeria by hook or crook.

It has been the mantra of those that support the entrenchment of fraudulent elections in Nigeria to argue that there can no prefect election. Again, they freely charge that election losers in Nigeria can never accept defeat. These positions have been proven false by the conduct, outcome and reactions that trailed the June 12 1993 presidential election. Truth is Nigerians know a credible election when they see one and whenever it occurs, even losers will accept the outcome. Perfectness is a relative word and that elections are deemed perfect does not mean it is free from error. Nigerians know this and when they demand a perfect election, they want an election with minimal errors and not one that is deliberately schemed as a farce. A bigger truth is that apart from the 1993 presidential election, all other elections held in Nigeria have been mere concoctions put in place to dupe the electorates and further the ends of corruption and bad governance.

As it is now, Jega’s INEC is fully packed with leading PDP members. The rest are mere nominees of the PDP and President Jonathan. One wonders how a credible election can happen with the upper deck of INEC populated by members of a political party that had sworn to retain power till eternity through every available means. The process and procedures of elections are mere malleable tools at the hands of the PDP to arrive at pre-ordained ends. No foundation for credible election is built on such partial foundation and that is one of the burdens Jega carries and why Nigerian elections remain perpetually shambled with deliberately erected bulwarks stalking it at every end.

But this country has a well thought out report on electoral reform, as recommended by the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Panel. The panel is comprehensive enough as to remove most of the bulwarks that stand between Nigerians and credible election in its report. For understandable reasons, the ruling PDP sabotaged the report because while it stands to guarantee a free, independent and credible electoral organ and process, it threatens the plot by the PDP for perpetual fiefdom. The party rather prefers a system where we wobble through highly manipulated elections, executed according to its wills and by people of questionable integrity and party mercenaries. It rather prefers a situation where it enters the game both as a player and referee. It is within this pliable template that we locate Jega, his shoddy conducts so far and his frustration that gave vent to the recent warning. The question every Nigerian, especially the opposition must ask is whether we must continue to endure the process that threw up Jega and makes room for all his failures and still threaten us with future failures?

Methinks every Nigerian must rise up and tell Jega that we expect him to conduct a credible election in 2015 or find the exit door, if he feels he cannot guarantee that. We have collectively borne the brunt of fraudulent elections far too long that we cannot put up with another deliberately fabricated ruse in 2015. In fact, he should muster the courage and tact to steer off the way so as to enable the country address its electoral woes by strictly applying the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel Report. This must be made clear to Jega and the opposition should ensure that Jega is perpetually kept on his toes so as not to once again, dump another electoral charade on the country’s doorstep in 2015.

Peter Claver Oparah
Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Peter Obi’s Political blunders : Nzam most neglected community in Anambra • Pregnant mothers deliver at home • Hospital, electricity, pipe borne water and good roads rare • Bicycle a major source of transportation.


nzam Anambra

In this age of globalization and technological innovations, some  communities still exist as in the Stone Age era where all the modern  amenities of life are absent and citizens rely on nature and human  natural instincts to survive.
Nzam Community, the headquarters of Anambra West Local Government,  Anambra State fits into the above description.  A recent trip to the  community by the reporter confirms the lyrics of the song by Afro beat  legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti that some people are “suffering and  smiling.”   A land so blessed with rich agricultural produce but yet  wallows under the throes of underdevelopment and government neglect.
In Nzam, most children have never seen electric light since they were  born, while access to clean water, hospitals or accessible roads is  like a luxury often dreamt of by the people but yet to feel it.
A turbulent two and half hours sail through the River Niger by boat  from the Niger Bridge Head brought the reporter to the precincts of the  community.  On berthing and anchoring at the bank of the river, one is  confronted with weary villagers loading and offloading agricultural  products behind mud houses and thatched roofs.
A narrow swampy road from the river bank leads to the community  accessed by trekking or boarding of commercial cycle a major  preoccupation of the youths in the area who have lost interest in  farming.
Though there were few electric poles fixed on the narrow road which  connects the local police post and an empty Health Post, the first  response one gets on asking where to charge one’s phone battery through  the public power source is a jolt on the real situation.
“My brother, maybe you are in a dream land,” the Okada rider  said. “Ever since I grew to maturity, I’ve never seen electric light  from NEPA here. These electric poles you see now are just fancy  decorations on the road because that is where it ends. We have no light  and our people only travel to Onitsha by boat to get the diesel, which  we use to power our rice milling plants.  There is no telephone network  too as you may have noticed that your phone has lost service as you  alighted from the boat. We are like people living in another planet and  what they do is to visit us with empty promises whenever election time  is approaching. That is all we see or get from them,” he lamented.
At the market square, though it was a work day and schools were in  session, many children were seen playing by the heap of sand beside the  community rice grinding mill.   Farmers coming back from their rice farm  all conveyed the yet-to-be-parboiled rice on bicycles. The local  government secretariat, which was accessed by the reporter on a  motorcycle through another narrow path with streams and locally made  bridges, was like a ghost place.
The sign post bearing the inscription “Anambra West Local Government  Headquarters, Nzam” was swallowed by grasses that it becomes difficult  to view the signpost from afar. The secretariat, though deserted had  some nice buildings. The old secretariat complex commissioned on 18th  February 1999 was built by the military administration of Uwakwe Ukaegbu  in Anambra. On enquiry about the state of affairs in the local council,  a staffer who pleaded anonymity alleged  that the members of the  transition council of the local government reside in Onitsha and only  visit once in month when their entitlements is released by the state  government. He said they immediately return to Onitsha in their  speedboat after sharing the booty for the month.

‘Our local government is the worst in Anambra’
An executive member of the town union, Kenneth Nwabunwanne in a chat with Sunday Sun described their local government area as the worst in Anambra State.
“During the flood crisis in 2012, our community was ravaged beyond  proportion and we are yet to recover from the immense destruction. But  before the flood disaster, we were living as the dregs of the society  here. We have a health center but nothing is inside so it is more like a  monument. When people fall sick, we are at the mercy of patent medicine  shops while there is no hospital or qualified doctors to handle  emergencies.  We have no road and because of that, we are cut off from  the rest of Anambra communities. There is no trade connection between us  and others because of lack of access roads while those who can access  this place through the river are very much limited. Our needs are  numerous that we don’t know where to begin itemizing them but all I can  say is that this place is the worst local government in Anambra State.”
Elizabeth Maduneme, a mother of five voiced the pains of mothers in  the community thus: “Just last week, we lost a woman during childbirth,  infant and child mortality is very high here because of absence of  medical facilities. The woman had complications after delivery at home  and before we could make arrangements to convey her to Onitsha, she  died. We don’t have roads, water and light.  All of us are basically  farmers here and we cultivate yam, rice and cassava in large quantities  but we don’t get encouragement from any quarter. During the rainy season  it is bye – bye to Onitsha unless you can use boats but if not, we are  cut off completely,” she lamented.
A community and its unique culture
Nzam community is the Ijam and Igala speaking part of Anambra State.  It is made up of seven villages, comprising of Etakolo, Odobo,  Udda,  Urubi,  Enekpa , Ndiokpoliba and Echa.
Despite suffering from government neglect, the people are a happy  people steeped in various cultural and traditional festivities and are  happy for that. An elder in the community, Chife Amekwe told Sunday Sun the historical origin of the community and its cultural activities.
“The natives of Nzam were the descendants of General Ajida, a notable  warrior of Idah origin in Kogi State. Ajida is the father of Field  Marshal Ogbe who was married to Iyida Ogbe and Iyida had five  children-Nzam, Anam, Anaku , Oloshi and Okpanam. Ogbe and his family  lived around Ankpa in Igala Kingdom.  When the Apa and Jukun warriors  invaded the Igala communities, Field Marshal Ogbe along with many others  retreated with their families through the present Ibaji jungle moving  Southwards along the course of the River Niger.  As they journeyed  through their way, various children of Ogbe for one reason or the other  settled themselves at their present locations. This movement from the  Igala Kingdom explains the fact that there are Odobo , Enekpa, Igah ,  Iyano towns in both Ibaji local government area of Kogi State and also  in Nzam town in Anambra West Local Governent Area of Anambra State.
“Between January and June, we have festivals like Ugwolegwu, Edo onu  Ananwulu and Enachune.  In the month of January we call on the earth  goddess to bless the children and bless our crops. The Ugwolegwu  festival has to do with masquerades. It is more of masquerade feasts  celebrated with different soups and rich fish sauces.
Enachune is the Iwa ji yam festival.  We do it religiously because  without that, the yam will purge us if we don’t mark the festival.  The  new yam festival proper takes place in August and we call it Uchuero.   By December, we mark the Eka ceremony which is more of thanksgiving to  God for life and bountiful harvest,” he said.

‘Only Peter Obi administration remembered us but we want more’
While the people of Nzam regret the seeming underdevelopment and deprivation of the area, many of the residents who spoke to Sunday Sun said that the entire local government area was like a totally forgotten  enclave before the Peter Obi administration. A list of projects done by  the Obi administration for the local council obtained at the local  government secretariat by the reporter included “Umueze Mmiata Anam road  under construction, Iyiora Anam health center, new bridges at Utolu,  Oroma etiti  Anam and egonwa bridge at Nzam, solar powered borehole at  the local government secretariat, Nzam and completed Magistrate Court at  Umueze Anam among others.
Jonathan Nwafee in a reflection on the development regretted that  most of the projects executed by the Obi administration in Anambra West  were sited outside Nzam, away from the local government headquarters. He  lauded Obi for the developmental strides but expressed optimism that  with the conclusion of the governorship and council polls in the state,  the governor-elect, Chief Willie Obiano and the new Local Government  Chairman in the area, Mr. Simon Mbanefo Okafor would give the area a new  sense of belonging in Anambra State.
FROM ALOYSIUS ATTAH, ONITSHA

Source: Radio Biafra.

The Shape of Things To Come? Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

I have had several sad conversations in the past two weeks with friends who, like me, are from Anambra State. The conversations have focused on the local government election held in the state on January 11.

One friend, who lives in Onitsha, rang me last week. He pointed to an aspect of my recent column on the possible electoral implications of political realignments in Nigeria. I had speculated that the 2015 elections “are bound to be another Nigerian-made mess, a fraud fest, a classic of rigging.”

“You’re living in the past,” this friend said in a mordant tone.

“How so?” I asked. I wondered whether he wanted to chide me for offering a dim prognosis of the 2015 elections. I have had encounters with Nigerians who imagine that elections in their country are of acceptable quality if not irreproachable.

“The fact that you’re still writing about rigging,” the friend explained, “tells me you don’t know where things stand. Nigeria has now moved past the stage of rigging. Rigging can only happen when there’s a pretense of an election. But we have found another formula that spares the ruling party the headache of having to rig. The recent local government election in Anambra introduced a new formula. Results were written everywhere before the election, and just announced. That’s the new formula.”

Another friend, from Nnewi, expressed a similar outlook. The state electoral commission had invalidated the polls in Nnewi North, the commission’s chairman, Sylvester Okonkwo, citing “a security report” made to him. But my friend insisted that a grim political purpose was at play. She accused the state electoral commission of cancelling the election because the voters of Nnewi would not abide the kind of impunity that marked, and marred, the local government election elsewhere in the state.

“The [Nnewi North] community decided not to allow any person or party to hijack their votes. That’s why the election was cancelled,” she asserted.

The results of the election as announced by the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission were nothing short of astonishing. Of the 20 local government chairmanships where the results were announced, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) swept all. The only spot not claimed by APGA was that of Nnewi North, which was cancelled.

I’m willing to bet that the results represented a grave manipulation. The people of Anambra State are far from the monolithic APGA-ists that the so-called results suggest. There isn’t anything near the level of political homogeneity mirrored by the results in Anambra. In a credible election, there would have been a far more heterogeneous outcome, with the candidates of a variety of political parties winning in different places. So how did APGA manage its sweep?

By—I hazard—crooked means, period.

The state electoral commission, like its national counterpart, appeared to have become willing or innocent tools for electoral manipulators. The headline and content of one Nigerian newspaper told a sordid part of the story. “Anambra LG poll: Electoral officers, voters fight over result sheets,” was a headline in January 11, 2014 edition of the Punchnewspaper. According to the report, “Violence broke out in some parts of Anambra State on Saturday during the election held to elect local government chairmen and councilors. At Nkwelle, Awka South Local Government Area, ballot materials were burnt when a fight broke out because polling officers failed to produce result sheets. It was a similar story at Igwebeze Primary School, Ifite-Awka where some party agents insisted that voting would not commence unless the result sheets were made available. The Presiding Officer for the Igwebeze polling unit 2, Mr. Jude Onwubiko, however pleaded with the agents and voters to let the voting process continue, explaining that the results sheets were being brought by the supervisory presiding officer. There was also violence at Igboukwu Town Hall, Fegge, Onitsha, where some youths protested against alleged thumb-printing by members of a particular political party. All the polling units visited by our correspondent did not have results sheets.”

Therein—in the last line of the quoted report—was the crux. What was the electoral commission thinking? How could you presume to conduct an election when the sheets for recording the results were missing? Where were those sheets?

It all lends credence to what several of my contacts as well as most of the political parties have alleged: that the results were written ahead of the election, and announced after hapless voters had spent hours in a hollow, meaningless ritual.

Mr. Okonkwo, the state’s electoral commissioner who presided over this apparent sham, was quick to issue a standard, cynical response. He asked disaffected parties and candidates to take their case to court. He knows, this electoral officer, that Nigerian courts have on the whole given a poor account of themselves in adjudicating electoral cases. The odds are stacked in favor of the rigger, who all too often gets away with his/her stolen electoral goods. That explains part of the reason ruling parties act with particular impunity in elections. They figure that, given a judiciary packed with unethical judges willing to peddle influence, their electoral heists would be hard to reverse.

The deplorable “electoral” experiment in Anambra should disturb all enlightened Nigerians, not just those from Anambra. Each election cycle, Nigerian politicians, with the help of electoral officials, seem to come up with novel ways of thwarting voters’ will. Each new anti-people idea becomes contagious in Nigeria, widely copied. We ought to worry that what happened in Anambra State, an election in which the result sheet was missing in action, could become the norm for future elections elsewhere—and nationally.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

President Jonathan divides Ohanaeze over 2015.


 

President-jonathan-05

The purported 2015 presidential ambition of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has divided the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

Special Adviser to the President on Inter-party Affairs Senator Ben Ndi Obi, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Senator Edwin Onwudiwe said Jonathan had done well and deserved another term.

But Ohanaeze Ndigbo President, Chief Enwo Igariwey, said Igbo had not made any statement on the issue, adding that the body would declare its stand at the appropriate time.

Eleven states formed what they called Oriental Peoples Movement (OPM), founded by Andy Campbell Onyeaqanam.

 

The states are Anambra, Abia, Abuja, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River and Imo.

At the official launch of the Anambra State chapter yesterday, Onwudiwe, the chairman of the occasion, said the idea was to protect Ndigbo interest.

He said Jonathan should be given opportunity to translate Nigeria, adding that it was too late for Ndigbo to work against the Southsouth presidency. ”We should support Jonathan next year so that Southsouth will support us when our time comes. We will lose it if we create a vacuum now,” Onwudiwe added.

Obi said the President was being unjustly criticised by the opposition, adding that he was focused and determined to develop the country.

Said he: “Jonathan has done well in the last three years. But there are still grounds to be covered. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a huge movement. We are grounded in the ethics of democracy.

“We are waiting for Jonathan, having assured that Nigerians will enjoy more democracy dividends in 2014. Ndigbo were major contributors to his 2011 success story at the polls.

“Ohanaeze met with him last December 9, during which issues concerning Ndigbo were discussed and the people said they were satisfied with his explanations.”

Igariwey said yesterday that individuals were entitled to their opinions, adding that no decision had been made on next year’s presidential election.

Iwuanyanwu, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, said Jonathan’s stay in office was “to allow the labours of our hero’s past not to be in vain”, adding that that was why every ethnic group should support his 2015 project.

He said: “Jonathan represents that unity as preached by our past heroes. The reward for hard work is more work. Therefore, I hail the initiators of this project called, ‘Think presidency, think Jonathan'”.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Mallam Okorocha Governor Imo State APC ‘ll sweep poll in Southeast.


 

Governor-Rochas-Okorocha-02

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha has assured that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will sweep the poll in the Southeast in next year’s elections. He said Ndigbo see the party as a credible alternative to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Speaking at the weekend at a reception for the APC National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, at the Orlu Township Stadium, the governor urged those interested in the liberation and progress of the Igbo to support the APC and remove the PDP from power.

He said PDP has no place for the Igbo and enjoined them to ignore the insinuation that APC is a Yoruba party. Okorocha added: “You should ask them how many Igbo occupy sensitive positions in the Federal Government. The only Igbo Service chief was removed. This shows PDP has no plan for Ndigbo”.

 

According to him, APC is a party of true democrats committed to a change, adding that it would give all zones equal opportunity to realise their aspirations.

He restated that he did not leave the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for personal aggrandisement, but because he realised that the party lacked spread and acceptability needed to achieve the Igbo agenda.

The APC candidate in the last governorship poll in Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, said other Southeast states, still under PDP, were in bondage and needed to be rescued.

He lamented that Imo, ruled by the APC, is better than Anambra in terms of infrastructural and human capital development.

“You can see new cities emerging in the state, such as Orlu and Okigwe because of the ingenuity of Governor Okorocha. This is what APC will do in other states,” Ngige said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Jonathan, Igbos, And The Second Niger Bridge By Frank Onia.


 

By Frank Onia, PhD

The standard criteria for decisions on infrastructural deployment include need, available resources, competing demands for finite resources, alignment with related infrastructure, incubatory foundation for progressive deployment, social benefits, political patronage, economic benefits, minimization of stress and hardship for the citizens, potentials for stimulating overall economic development, balancing considerations, replacement of obsolete infrastructure, need to embrace emerging and efficient technology, etc, etc. When viewed from an objective prism and against the backdrop of the itemized criteria above, it is long overdue to replace the Niger Bridge at Onitsha, which has verifiably and universally been identified as a deathtrap. This bridge was constructed in 1963, and is the ONLY link between the South-East of Nigeria and the rest of the country (towards the West). This bridge serves as the ONLY access point to Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Benue, and Plateau States, when you approach from Lagos, and, indeed, all the states that formerly constituted the Western and mid-Western Regions, as well as from Abuja and segments of the North.

It is trite to mention that this bridge handles the highest concentration of vehicular traffic in the country, and has served this purpose progressively and exhaustively for fifty years! The exponential growth in population and number of vehicles in the country in the past five decades have added to the pressure on the bridge, with the result that it is nearly collapsing, with the attendant risks for human lives, economic activities, mass psychology, and national development. Citizens from the Eastern parts of the country are the most itinerant in the country, with the evident implication that tens of millions of individuals make frequent trips to their homeland, relying on a safe passage through this same bridge. This assumption of basic safety has been denied them perennially for several years, and is currently being toyed with even further. The significance of this bridge is emphasized during the festive period at the end of each year, when millions of people are trapped and delayed at the bridge for several hours in what should, otherwise, be pleasurable commutes back home. As a country, we have witnessed this for several decades and have failed to do anything about it. When any attention has been paid to the need to replace and expand this bridge, it has been suffused with empty promises, vacuous platitudes, cheap politics, and exploration of the underlying potentials for corruption. The Obasanjo civilian administration played games with the need to replace this bridge for eight years, ensuring that new promises were recycled as elections approached. And, yet, nothing was done.

While the South East, as a Region, contributes very significantly to the development of Nigeria, especially outside Igboland, there is NO single Federal Government institution or semblance of infrastructure in the entire Region. Even though Igbos and their brothers from the South-South are among the most widely-traveled people in the world, there is NO worthy international airport in the larger Region, thereby forcing residents of the Region/s to travel to Lagos or Abuja, before they can travel overseas. Professor Chinua Achebe was involved in a ghastly motor accident near Awka, Anambra State, because he had to travel overseas from Lagos, even though he then resided at Nsukka in Enugu State. This accident cost him his limbs, paralyzed him for life, and hastened his relocation to the United States, where he died many years later.

There are thousands of others who have lost their lives in a similar manner; the additional cost and inconvenience involved in these unnecessary local travels are best imagined, as such travelers must stay in hotels, eat, utilize local transportation, and incur sundry expenses in (mostly) Lagos and Abuja, purely on account of a deliberate State policy to punish Igbo people for whatever reason, While Igbos easily dominate the trading and commercial sectors of Nigeria and West Africa, there is no discernible effort to dredge the River Niger at Onitsha, to enable port activities. The only federal “investment” on River Niger has been the deliberate channeling of the water to the Northern parts of the country, for irrigation activities, while the Onitsha end of the River has been drying up in the  past 20 years, thereby impeding fishing, subsistence farming, and overall economic growth. While Abuja, the North, and other Regions of the country, continue to attract comparatively-significant infrastructural investments and upgrades (for example, the hundreds of billions of Naira being spent to expand the access road from the Abuja airport into the City, as well as the scandalous budget of over N55 billion for the erection of a mere City Gate in Abuja), it is clear that holding the South East down is a Directive Principle of State Policy in Nigeria. No other conclusion is possible from the continued neglect of the Niger Bridge, and the criminal disrespect with which the belated redemptive measures are being packaged. It is noteworthy that the Federal Government funds projects in Abuja and elsewhere directly and does not charge tolls on those roads.

In a society like ours, ethnic agitation for legitimate attention is entirely understandable, hence the tone and tenor of this submission. When our statecraft develops to the stage of objectivity, justice, and fairness, then, possibly our micro-national identities may become muted. The Jonathan Administration has failed both the South-South and South-East by its singular failure to provide basic infrastructure in the two pivotal Regions. The fact that the so-called East-West Road remains uncompleted after all these years, while humongous budgetary allocations have officially been designated to its conclusion, should remain a source of embarrassment for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, well after his stay in office. Pray, how did a treasonous impostor like Mr. Ibrahim Babangida manage to utilize both federal funds (from oil sales!) and oil futures to build a new federal capital city in Abuja, when the man who literally owns the oil cannot construct the road leading to his hometown, even with a democratic mandate? Shame has only one definition.

As it pertains to the need to construct the second Niger Bridge, a categorical imperative, the same Jonathan Administration is being clever by half, by concessioning the bridge to that veritable purveyor impunity and corruption in Nigeria, Julius Berger Construction. This initiator and exemplar of corruption in Nigeria has since announced that the 1.8 kilometer bridge will cost them N100 billion to construct, as a justification for the sweetheart deal extended to them by Jonathan and his Administration, whereby Julius Berger will install three toll gates on that bridge in perpetuity, ostensibly to recover their “investment”. Knowing Julius Berger and Nigeria, this project will eventually cost N200 billion on paper, when completed. Julius Berger did not bring any foreign investment whatsoever when it left its decrepit office in Wiesbaden, Germany, to emerge on Nigeria’s shores 40 years ago, on the private invitation of the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar Adua, number two man in the erstwhile dictatorship of the perennial fumbler and dissembler, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, which lapsed in 1979.

Let it be made clear that a bridge is a road with its foundation in water. Nigerians need to be aware that the same Julius Berger has just paid penalties to the United States Government totaling tens of millions of dollars for specific cases of corruption it perpetrated in Nigeria. The United States Government, which was not victimized, benefited by way of this penalty payment by Julius Berger, while this construction company that has been at the forefront of corrupting public officials in Nigeria for the past 40 years, neither paid any penalty or compensation to the real victim, Nigeria, nor is it being blacklisted or censured in any way.

Rather, successive Nigerian Governments continue to reward Julius Berger with heavily-inflated contracts, responsibility for maintaining strategic locations like the Aso Rock Presidential Complex and the National Assembly. The same company is constructing the new residences for the Vice-President, Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, projects that have already gulped close to N60 billion on paper even before completion. To deepen the culture of impunity and complete the psychological humiliation of the illustrious Igbos of Nigeria, the Jonathan Administration, which owes the South-East a second Niger Bridge as well as tangible federal presence, has mortgaged the entire East to Julius Berger by criminally acquiescing in the perpetual exploitation of the teeming people under a most suspicious and fraudulent Concession Arrangement. Where else in the country is a whole Region held prostate and captive in this manner? Where else is the ONLY bridge leading into a Region casually assigned to a criminal enterprise for the exploitation of citizens who have no alternatives?

In this, it must be stated that Jonathan and his Administration are playing a script already tested and fine-tuned by Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Fashola of Lagos State, wherein residents of the Lekki axis have effectively been hemmed in and subjected to unnecessary and usurious toll charges each time they either access or exit their homes, despite the very significant contribution these residents make to the much-vaunted Internally-Generated Revenue of Lagos State. It is significant that the same Julius Berger is the partner to Messrs Tinubu and Fashola on the bridge toll exploitation project linking Ikoyi and Lekki Phase One. Yet another toll gate ensures that you also cannot get to Lekki from Victoria Island without feeding Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his crony, Fashola’s, insatiable greed and appetite.

It is very clear from this single example that both the PDP and the APC (seeking leprous and blind navigators) are the same in philosophy, orientation, and content; both are fraudulent and self-serving devices.

If our dealers must feel entitled to collecting both public revenue and IGR, and yet charge the citizens for token infrastructure provided in their areas of jurisdiction, all in an environment of opaqueness, arrogance, impunity, and absence of citizen input, it might well be better to sack all governments and share the revenue of the country among the citizens, who are perpetually burdened with the direct provision of basic services, for which Governments exist in the first place. In all of this, these dealers feel perfectly justified in magisterially cornering significant chunks of State resources under various guises, notably the poorly-christened Security Votes.

Regarding the second Niger Bridge, there is NO WAY that a 1.8 km bridge of the best quality, together with immediate access roads, will cost up to N10 billion, yet, we are told that the initial assessment for the bridge is N100 billion. Why must Julius Berger be the only company handling all these projects? What process leads to these awards and appointments? Why are competent and established construction companies all over the world being frustrated from accessing the Nigerian market by Government Officials protecting this small German company, with a small office in their home country? Are they not aware that the unrivaled access given Julius Berger’s engineers and staff is a grave national security risk? What is the role of the National Security Adviser and the DG-SSS, in guiding the government appropriately? Are people now so incompetent or corrupt that they neither know nor care that sophisticated Intelligence Collection devices are installed in all these sensitive locations, with the downloading and processing taking place at the Julius Berger Operational Headquarters at Life Camp, Abuja, under the able supervision of German Intelligence Officials – all of this intrusive and aggressive collection against Nigeria paid for Nigeria. What a country!

Given the identified urgency of the need to construct the second Niger Bridge, you would think that, in the absence of common sense in high places, senior government officials of Igbo origin would be easy and strident advocates of the Federal Government swiftly constructing the bridge as its duty to the people, with an apology to the citizens for the delayed implementation. Some of the referenced officials are the Coordinating, Supervising, and Overseeing Secretary to the Federal Government, His Massive Excellency Mr. Anyim Pius Anyim; the so-called Coordinating Minister of the Economy (in hubris-free English, the Minister of Finance), Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Viola Onwuliri; the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu; the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha; the Chairmen of the Works Committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives; the crisis-ridden and inflated Supervising and Coordinating Minister of Aviation and its Parastatals, Ms Stella Oduah; the immediate past Army Chief, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika; the recently-relieved Chief of Naval Staff; Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba; the Director-General of the so-called Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Emeka Eze – whose village roads have all been tarred by contractors executing Federal Government contracts; 15 undistinguished Senators from the South East; several dishonorable Members of the House of Representatives; the five state governors of the South-East; ex-this and ex-that, etc, etc.

Even if the objective case fails to penetrate thick skulls, surely the selfish and symbolic motive of garnering solid Igbo votes should impel the urgent construction of that overdue bridge. I say this because expectations have been grossly lowered in Nigeria, to the extent that a 1.8 km bridge could guarantee you bloc Regional votes. Mr. Jonathan could even extend the tokenism by naming the new bridge after Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in a symbolic gesture of connecting the erstwhile Biafran heartland with the rest of the country. The identified officials are rather satisfied with having Julius Berger construct private homes for them in Abuja and their remote villages, in a well-oiled program of corruption, collusion, and compromise. The definition of shame has still not changed.

If all of this fails, what stops the Governors of the South-East from reducing their greed quotient by utilizing their so-called Security Votes (since kidnappers have taken over the Region anyway!) to construct this vital bridge for their people, and then heap the necessary propaganda guilt on the Federal Government that has been permanently negligent and wicked towards Igbos? The failure to do the right thing, and at the right time, is the bane of the Nigerian society. The complacency of the Nigerian society is yet a latent contributing factor to the charade that is called governance in Nigeria.

Let it be clear, though, that Julius Berger, or any other company so-called, should not be allowed to exploit the people under whatever Concession Arrangement involving a critical piece of infrastructure like the second Niger Bridge. Their so-called investment should and will come to nothing. A bridge built on a fraudulent foundation MUST fall. Citizens must begin to demand their due dessert from pretenders to the throne. A life of surrender, conditioned by endless prayers and exploitation by clerical purveyors of hope, will not suffice in this case.

Mr. Jonathan, his handlers, and cronies from the South-East and South-South still have very limited time to reverse themselves, as well as their deeply-offensive and odious ineptitude and policies, by directly and quickly completing the East-West Road and the second Niger Bridge, without further ado and delay. They could, as always, collect multiples of the real contract value as bribe; someday, the United States Government will extract penalties from the complicit Construction Company. In other countries where non-strategic infrastructure have been concessioned out, the Government acts as the protector of the citizens, setting standards, aggregating public interest, achieving optimal costs, minimizing waste, setting the tariff, and defining the time-frame for toll collection. In Nigeria’s case, both the Government and the so-called Concessionaires are a united usurious entity, exposing the citizens unduly to endemic exploitation. In any case, competing and several alternatives are provided before roads are tolled. Not in Nigeria. Our dealers will do well to study the Latin American model, to understand how this program works.

I have discussed with a wide range of Igbo professionals in Nigeria and overseas, and they are in unison regarding the egregious insult involved in the structure being proposed by Mr. Jonathan, his Minister of Works, and their Administration. They affirm that, rather than accept the so-called concessioning of the Niger Bridge, Igbos should be allowed to float a Municipal Bond or contribute among themselves, to construct the bridge. The implication of this would be a final severance of whatever psychological link Igbos have with Nigeria. It is common knowledge that Igbo people have typically taxed themselves to provide electricity, water, roads, schools, etc., in their communities, through a well-honed self-effort system. They can also construct this short bridge that will save their lives, without the involvement of their politicians and their mentors in Abuja. In the case of the second Niger Bridge, let it be made very clear that the Igbos will not forget or forgive the perpetuation of marginalization, exploitation, and insult under any arrangement that involves the erection of toll gates on that bridge. Indeed, that bridge shall not stand, under the Jonathan paradigm, and Mr. Jonathan will do well not to delude himself that he is guaranteed of Igbo votes in 2015.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Ohaneze bombs Okorocha.


 

Ohanaeze logo

The Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Ndigbo, yesterday took a swipe at the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha over his statement concerning the problem of Igbo unity.

It described the governor’s statement as one coming from a confused man.

The Anambra State Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Elder Chris Eluemuno, described Governor Okorocha as the highest ‘confusionist’ and enemy of Ndigbo that ever lived.

Elder Eluemuno said that the state chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo after critically appraising the antecedents of Governor Okorocha and the statement credited to him that Anambra people were the problem of Ndigbo, came to the conclusion that he was playing an unknown script of enemies of Ndigbo and Nigeria at large.

 

“It is very unfortunate that somebody like Governor Rochas Okorocha could say that. Initially, I didn’t believe it until I read it on the pages of newspapers. I want to say that I have never seen a ‘confusionist’ like Okorocha, he has tried to destabilise Igbo unity by aligning with Hausa and Yoruba to destroy Igbo unity; he is the worst Igbo leader I have ever seen.”

Chief Eluemuno further berated the Imo State Governor for his utterances against the people of Anambra State and prominent politicians of Igbo extraction, adding that unless he tenders unreserved public apologies to both Ndigbo and Ndi Anambra in particular, he will continue to be under serious condemnation.

He described the statement credited to the governor as capable of truncating the unity of Ndigbo, saying “Anambra State has been at the forefront for Igbo unity. Even before somebody like Okorocha was born, prominent Anambra sons and daughters, including Dr. Alex Ekwueme and others, had fought for the unity of the country and the Igbo in particular.

It then goes to show that Okorocha is uninformed. Maybe because of his northern upbringing, he forgot those that made it possible for him to sit as the governor of Imo State.”

The Ohaneze chieftain commended Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State for his numerous works in the state which he said, surpassed every other state governor and urged the people of the state to rally round the incoming administration.

From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha

Obiano, Anambra Gov. Elect Moans Over Peter Obi’s Excessive Spending, as Over N1tr is Unaccounted.


 

Gov elect Obiano

The honeymoon between the Governor Peter Obi the Governor-elect of Anambra State, Mr. Willie Obiano have may have come to an end as the later has began to grumble over the recklessness of his political god father, 247ureports is reporting.According to the report, the relationship between the two men began to soil during the later stages of the gubernatorial campaign leading up to the November 16, 2013 in Anambra State.Specifically, the report relying on several sources in Abuja and Awka, the state capital points to a minor fracas which developed during the campaign thump in Anambra as the main reason for the drift between the two men.The source it says stated that Mr. Willie Obiano was not happy with the handling of the gubernatorial campaign by the team put together by Governor Peter Obi – in that he was not given the opportunity to participate in the decision making during the same campaign.The source cited an incident that occurred near the Governor’s Lounge in Amawbia, Anambra State – at a hotel by name Trigpoint located next to the Governor’s Lounge – where the then candidate Willie Obiano convened a meeting with some of the leaders of youth organizations in Anambra State. While seated at the meeting, the then candidate who was about to begin the meeting after the exchange of pleasantries – was interrupted by the bold entrance of three well-dressed young men. The three young men entered the closed door meeting and took seats – as if they were part of the meeting. After candidate Willie Obiano waited for the three young men to introduce themselves, he realized the young men were not readily going to introduce themselves – he asked them to please introduce themselves – and why they appear to insist on being a part of the meeting.The three young men rose and responded that they were sent by Nwaobualor – the uncle to the outgoing Governor, Mr. Peter Obi to join the group – that they have been cleared by Nwaobualor. Candidate Willie Obiano reaction was impulsive and in anger. He angrily asked the three youngsters whether Nwaobualor was running his campaign or whether Nwaobualor was the candidate. With this, Obiano asked the three youngsters to leave the room. The three young men obeyed and left.Minutes after the youths departed the meeting venue, candidate Willie Obiano received a telephone call. As he answered the call, it began apparent from his reaction to the call that the call had to do with the three young men. The telephone quickly turned into a cautious shouting match. Willie Obiano rose with the telephone – excused himself into another room – where he spent about 20minutes on the telephone before coming out to continue with the meeting. As he returned to the meeting, his mood was dimmed. The meeting was then postponed unceremoniously.The report said Willie Obiano made a conscious decision to maintain a cordial relationship with the Peter Obi campaign team, but was particularly not happy with Victor Umeh’s overbearing presence throughout the campaign trail. Obiano was not pleased with the management and allocation of resources. “Disbursement of campaign funds were managed by Peter Obi associates, Obiano did not have a say in how the monies were disbursed”, said the source.With the continued disbursement of funds to organizations around the State by the outgoing Governor in tandem with the recent conduct of the local government area [LGA] election, the Governor-elect is reported relapse into his tucked away anger against Peter Obi’s excesses. Our source indicated that Obiano was not pleased by the combined action of Peter Obi of expending the resources of the State and the conduct of LGA election at the eve of his exit.-Below is a presentation of the monies received by the State of Anambra from the federal government through the federally allocated funds during the period covering 2006 to 2013 when Governor Peter

Obi held sway to the affairs of the State.It shows that the LGA funds summed to N255billion – when added to the funds received by the State for the State, it sums to N624billion. Through the period covering 2006 to 2013, the state received N30billion from NEMA, N57.6billion from ecological funds, N200billion from matching funds [international matching funding], N240billion from IGR, N12billion from carryover from Ngige administration, and N5billion from road construction refunds from federal government. The total sum received by the Governor summed N1.17trillion.Of the monies received, N60.48billion was expended on the State’s wage bill from 2006 to 2013. In the same period, the Peter Obi administration expended N103billion on road construction. He claimed to have constructed over 905.5kilometers of roads at an average cost of N114.4million per kilometre.Anambra State between the said period – after expending the wage bill and road construction – is left with N1trillion. Governor Peter Obi had N1trilion after the wage bill and road construction.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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