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Sycophantic blackmailing is a bane to good governance

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 Dr. Uzoma Obiyo

In public life especially in party politics, a lot of people desperate to climb the ladder become carnivores. From mudslinging to bootlicking or both. 

This trend, in the ruling APC of Imo State, lately, has taken a more dangerous dimension. Late comers would stop at nothing to occupy, not just centre stage, but the entire auditorium

Dr. Uzoma Obiyo, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Multi-Net Group, an entrepreneur and philanthropist bares his mind when some select media practitioners called in his Maitama Office, Abuja recently.

Excerpts:

Correspondent: There are strong insinuations from some quarters that you are rooting for Owerri Zone Project come 2023/24. How true is this rumour?

Dr. Obiyo: I am a proud son of Ikeduru LGA in Owerri Zone of Imo State.

I am not only a founding member of APC but also, a financial member both in the state and federal levels.

 It is disheartening to note that the people propagating this blackmail against me were with the then governor as his appointees and stooges during the electioneering campaigns of 2019.

 They were the ones who mobilized thugs that attacked us with dangerous weapons, and inflicted physical injury to some of us at the last national convention of APC in Eagles Square, Abuja. 

Senator Hope Uzodinma is my good friend. The blackmail making the rounds says that Dr. Obiyo is moving for Owerri Agenda.

What is Owerri Agenda? It is sad to note that the people peddling the unfounded rumours with the aim to curry favour of the Governor were not with us from the onset.

 How could I be canvassing for a governor from Owerri Zone at this time, when I am one of the key people that formed the government, consequently a stakeholder in APC and when my friend is the governor of the state? And some elements are sitting somewhere touting that Dr. Obiyo is canvassing for Owerri Agenda, what is this Owerri Agenda?

In party politics world over, elected executive office holders like the office of the president or governor of a state upon completion of their first four-year term are given offer of first refusal. More so, how could you change a performing administrator? Since the creation of Imo State, no governor has been involved in construction of quality projects after Dee Sam Mbakwe of the blessed memory. The type of quality erosion control being constructed in all erosion prone areas in the state especially at Lake Nwaebere road and environs, Mcc road, Chukwuma Nwoha road, Dick Tiger road, Otamiri Street, etc is a great pass mark for the present administration.

Before the present administration took over office, over 50 buildings within Ama Wire off Mcc Road, Otamiri Street and mostly Trans Egbu Layout and environs were abandoned due to seasonal floodings. With the deep underground concrete drainages being constructed and channeled down to Otamiri River through old IBC road, residents of these areas have heaved sighs of relief. In football, you don’t change a winning team.

 I believe in Senator Uzodinma. With firm belief that upon the completion of his second term in office, he will handover to a reputable son or daughter of Owerri Zone.

Correspondent: In your thought, what made the people behind the blackmails go this far?

Dr. Obiyo: It is sycophancy. That is all. Sycophantic blackmailing is a bane to good governance especially when the head of the government listens to such gossips and blackmail. Check out the antecedents of the people peddling these lies. Where are they coming from and where do you think they are going?

You will agree with me that no matured mind meaningfully engaged will be gallivanting within the Government House blackmailing another.

To me, it is either that such people are looking for cheap popularity or something to fill their empty purse.

I am not bothered with the present government appointing them into one position or the other, or even awarding contracts to them, my worry is their queer attitude of bringing another down to climb.

Some of them hover around the Government House corrupting the minds of senior aides and commissioners close to the Governor.

They do so to enable their listeners pass same to the Governor. What they fail to note is that leadership is not given; rather, one earns it in trust.

 Ask those who today claim leadership of my LGA, Ikeduru for example, the roles they played during the last governorship election in Imo State.

 It is on record that the votes APC got in Ikeduru LGA at the last general elections were through my efforts and the likes of Rt Hon. Kelechi Nwagwu, Hon Sam Aka amongst others. Like I said before, Senator Hope Uzodinma is my friend.

I was with him throughout the electioneering campaigns and during the period of his election petitions.

Whenever I was around for the campaigns, I normally would ride in the same car with him.

 I wish to use this opportunity to advise him not to listen to gossipers whose means of livelihood are not known, but to be focused.

I have come a long way with the governor and nobody can at this point in time cause a rift between us.

These people trying to bring me to disrepute before the governor are political jobbers and inconsequential beings in the state.

 It will gladden my heart if the governor would organize a mock popularity election between me and them. I am a very busy man with defined means of livelihood.

I don’t have time to perambulate within the Government House for the wrong reasons.

Correspondent: By your own assessment, is Senator Hope Uzodinma delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of Imo State?

Dr. Obiyo: Oh, yes. Senator Hope Uzodinma is wonderfully performing. He is living even above board.

When I introduced the aspiration of Senator Uzodinma to the people of Ikeduru and some parts of the state in 2019, I unequivocally told people that they should see me as a guarantor in his mandate.

I told people that as a technocrat coming from a well organised system that my support for Senator Uzodinma is not for personal benefits but for the good of our people. Severally and in strong terms, I told my people that I am into partnership with Senator Uzodinma with the firm assurance that he shall deliver.

 I will advise you as media men, to go round the state to see things yourself. How long should a well asphalted road last? Here in Abuja, roads built during the military regime are still standing not to talk of the ones built from 1999 to date. With the volume of allocation Imo State receives monthly from the Federation Account over the years, are we supposed to be talking of building roads within the municipality at this time? We are indeed architect of our own misfortune.

 Glory be to God that a man who has the people’s interest at heart is at the helm of affairs.

Pride to mention, the benevolence of my friend, Senator Hope Uzodinma before he became the governor was second to none in the state.

He was a free giver. He would give even the last penny in his pocket. To the greatest dismay of some who thought that, upon becoming the executive governor of the state, the opportunity for them to get unfettered money has broadened. They now say he is tight fisted but it is not so.

It is prudent management of scarce resources. If he continues to be free with public funds, he will not be able to redeem the state’s infrastructure which is in deplorable condition.

If the governor had continued in his natural act of gifting people money with reckless abandon, which funds would he use for construction of the dual carriage from Owerri to Orlu or the single carriage from Owerri to Okigwe? People are saying that the present administration is slow in execution of projects like roads. Yes, road construction is not a sprint.

 For a durable and quality road, reputable contractors must be engaged. It takes good time for a quality earth work to be done before laying of asphalt.

 To the best of my knowledge and in accordance with the project outline I had with the governor before his election, Senator Hope Uzodinma is exceedingly doing well. 

*It might interest you to note that the weeklong activities to mark one year in office as Executive Governor of Imo State which started with an interdenominational thanksgiving church service at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri was unprecedented.

The array of dignitaries from far and near that attended the epoch making event signified the acceptance of Senator Hope Uzodinma as a performing governor. President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo poured enconiums on our performing governor.

National Assembly members were led by Senator Ahmed Lawan, Senate President of the Nigeria Senate while the governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Progressives Governors Forum led other governors to the event.

Senator Hope Uzodinma within one year in office has completed and commissioned over 40 quality people oriented projects. The popular Owerri/PH road, an entry route from South South Nigeria (Rivers State axis) to South East Nigeria (Imo State) before the Senator Uzodinma took over mantle of leadership in the state was an eyesore. Today, in line with the 3R Mantra of Senator Hope Uzodinma led administration, the road is wearing a new look.

You will recall that the Federal Secretariat situate in Owerri Capital Territory has been without a befitting access road since it was built during the military regime of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. According to the master plan of Owerri, Senator Uzodinma saw it as a priority project and constructed the road linking PH Road to World Bank Housing Estate via Federal Secretariat. It is a thing of joy to note that Mr. President virtually commissioned this new road by himself.

The people and government of Imo State didn’t make any mistake in naming the road after Mr. President. The road now known and called Muhammadu Buhari Road, Owerri.*

May I use this opportunity to once again congratulate His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma on his one year in office.

 I urge him not to relent in providing democratic dividends to all nooks and crannies of Imo State.

 I have no doubt in my mind that after his first four years in office, the electorates in Imo State will have reason to vote him in for another four year mandate to govern the state for continuation of developmental strides.*

Correspondent: There is a public outcry in the state about the nonpayment of civil servant and pensioners. We will like to know your reaction to this? 

Dr. Obiyo: Imo State is a public sector driven economy. The state ranks amongst states with highest public sector work force.

Almost 80% of funds recieved from federation account monthly goes to payment of pensions, workers salaries and wages. Since the present government took over, many ghost workers and dead pensioners have been discovered.

 And I ask, who was taking home these amounts meant for ghost workers and dead pensioners all these years?

No responsive government would allow such to continue unabated. The present government is setting up strong institutions to curb this menace.

Yes, a worker, not a thief, deserves his or her wages. Senator Hope Uzodinma is prudent in managing our scarce resources and humane. He is putting a formidable ICT unit in place to ensure that few privileged civil servants do not continue to milk the state dry.

 Glad to inform you that as we speak, junior workers up to level 07 have started receiving salary alerts to what is being owed them. Afterwards, senior categories will be paid in full. This is in line with the agreement the organised labour had with state government.

I support the re-engineering of the modalities in workers payment to avert diversion of public funds into private pockets. 

Correspondent: What is your advice to those fighting the governor within and outside APC?

Dr. Obiyo: In party politics, infighting is as old as politics itself. But the question should be, how far will you go with such fight? From the way Senator Uzodinma emerged as APC candidate to becoming duly elected governor through the affirmative ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the fights were forseen. There are many big heads in Imo State Chapter of APC. In a big family as you know, divergent and conflicting opinions should not be ruled out.

 More still, the intrigues of 2023/24 elections is hugely the cause of the divisions you are seeing in the party.

 I have no doubt in my mind that the governor with his ingenuity in party administration, in no distant time will bring all warring factions in the party together for a more united party as forthcoming election will not be a tea-party.

On the part of those opposing him from other political parties like the PDP, their reasons are not farfetched.

They are expected to be angry.

 The election of their candidate and its nullification by the Supreme Court is still a concern to them. As humans, they are expected not to be happy with Senator Uzodinma, though, after one year, in the spirit of sportsmanship, they ought to have taken their defeat in good fate. After elections comes governance.

The elections are over until the next one which comes up in 2023/24. It is expected of the PDP to give a healthy opposition for the overall interest of the state than being pedestrian. They should learn how to criticize constructively and applaud when necessary.

Politics is not a do or die affair. Anyone who does not support the progress of his state is directly against his/her own progress.

Correspondent: Your party the APC is having a National Membership Revalidation and Registration Exercise, what is your take on this?

Dr. Obiyo: APC is a party governed by rules with experienced leaders at its helm of affairs. The National Working Committee of the party saddled with day to day running of the party made this proposal and submitted same to the Party’s National Executive Committee.

NEC under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari met and ratified the submissions of NWC. The exercise officially started on the 9th of February across all the States, 774 LGA’s, Wards and Poling Units of the country.

Before then, Mr. President in his Ward and Polling Unit was seen Live on national televisions revalidating his membership. Other leaders like Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu did there own later in their respective Wards. In South East, the exercise was kicked off by His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma as the leader of the zone. The registration has been going on in the state successfully.

It is incumbent on any interested party faithful to revalidate his or her membership. Anyone who fails to do so is deemed to have willingly left the party. I have mobilized the people of Ikeduru LGA for this exercise.

I have equally revalidated my membership of the party. May I use this medium to call on all Imolites within the adult suffrage to get registered in APC. The party has come to stay in the state after wining the governorship elections back to back. The APC led federal government has a lot for the people of the South East especially for Ndi Imo.

I enjoin my people to embrace the party and disabuse their minds of the ill-conceived notion of marginalization and the so-called Fulani party.

No party has marginalised us more than PDP after our contribution in the making of that party. Even the most vocal critics of APC and President Buhari from other regions are now joining the party.

I advise my brethren from South East especially Imolites not to be deceived any longer by the PDP. With Senator Hope Uzodinma as the governor and leader, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Correspondent: What is your advice to those blackmailing you and others?

Dr. Obiyo: There is no gain saying that anyone who destroys another to climb must meet destruction on his way down.

 In life, I have never seen sycophants’ succeed. What goes up wrongly must surely come down. I advise these detractors to turn a new leaf. They should drop their wicked ways.

Their wickedness and barbaric dispositions will lead them to nowhere. In the same way, I advise commissioners and close aides of our governor to stop listening to such gossips, but to engage themselves meaningfully in line with the 3R Shared Prosperity Mantra. With people oriented policies outlined by the present government in the state, Imo State will get better.

The era of infrastructural decay in the state shall soon be over. With Senator Hope Uzodinma, Imo is on the right track. Let me unequivocally state for the umpteenth time that I believe in equity and justice that I equally believe in fairness and equality.

 I have no doubt that the dream of having a state where positions meant for the three senatorial districts are equitably shared at any given time shall come to pass.  I urge Ndi-Imo to support Senator Uzodinma led administration for a prosperous Imo. 

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Culture

Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

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The Yoruba self-determination rally organised by the Ilana Omo Oodua is underway in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Hundreds of members of the group whose leader is an 86-year-old Emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, had initially scheduled the take-off of the rally for the ancient Mapo Hall but the heavy presence of armed policemen forced them to change the venue.

They are addressing people at Mapo Roundabout but they were not disturbed by the police in any way.

The agitators are armed with banners and Yoruba nation flags while leaders of the group addressing the people are saying Yoruba people are tired of staying with Nigeria.

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One of the leaders of the group, Basorun Kunle Adesokan, said Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria and the people want to be an independent nation.

He condemned the insecurity in Yorubaland, saying the people could no longer stand the injustice in Nigeria.

Adesojan said, “We are no longer part of Nigeria. Yoruba people are determined to stand alone. We are starting the rally here in Ibadan because this is the capital of the Yoruba nation.

” Our brothers in Kwara, Lagos, Kogi, Edo, Delta and other states are here. We are not going to use violence, we want the Yoruba nation. No retreat no surrender. Let Hausa go their way, let Fulani go their own way and Igbo people should also go.

“The rally has taken off, we won’t stop until we achieve our aim.”

One of the leaders of Itsekiri youths present at the rally, Isaac Ajatitan, said Itsekiri people were part of Yoruba and would support them to achieve this aim.

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South-East govs joking with regional security, says ex-Imo senator

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A former member of the National Assembly, Athan Achonu, has accused South-East governors of trivialising the region’s security.

Achonu, who represented Imo North at the 8th Senate before he was sacked by a Court of Appeal judgment in Owerri, urged Igbo governors to take over Eastern Security Network from the Indigenous People of Biafra and reform it.

The ex- senator was reacting to the jailbreak in Owerri, as well as the attack on the Imo State Police Command headquarters and the killings in Enugu and Ebonyi States.

He said that the youths were angry with the governments because of lack of employment and business opportunities.

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Achonu, who said that he was championing a movement for Igbo billionaires to bring their investments home, said that without security and infrastructure, manufacturing businesses would not thrive in the South-East.

He said, “There is problem in Nigeria. The situation is terrible. Our economy is losing control. Unemployment rate is unbelievable. The worst hit are South-East and South-South. The youths have now been turned into Yahoo boys and drug addicts.”

“Our group will make a presentation to all the South-East governor this April on the need for Igbo billionaires to invest at home. Without local government autonomy, no true democracy will happen in Nigeria.

“South-East governors are joking with Igbo security. They are making the biggest mistake of their lives. They can take ESN and legalise it. There is no security in Nigeria. Kidnapping takes place even in Buhari’s village. Nowhere is safe in Nigeria again.”

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House bill to permit wearing of hijab in military

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A bill pending before the House of Representatives is seeking to compel the Armed Forces and para-military organisations to permit female officers to wear Islamic veil, commonly known as hijab.

The bill, known as the Religious Discrimination (Prohibition,  Prevention) Bill, 2020, which has passed second reading at the House, was sponsored by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency, Saidu Abdullahi.

Article 13 of the bill titled,  ‘Discrimination in employment in security and other sectors,’ prohibits the military from discriminating against anyone wearing a hijab.

Article 13(2) reads, “Any person employed in the security sector, whether within the military or paramilitary or otherwise, shall not be discriminated against on the ground of the exercise of his right to manifestation of his religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance  such as wearing religious emblem, head cover, or hijab in concomitant with the common uniform code or code of conduct in relation to the choice of colour, type, or design of such religious emblem, religious head cover or hijab.”

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Although the bill does not propose any fine or jail time for persons who discriminate against persons wearing hijab, it states that anyone who contravenes the section would have committed an offence.

It further states that the High Court will have original jurisdiction on such matters while the National Human Rights Commission shall have the power either on its own motion or upon a petition presented by an aggrieved person to investigate allegations of any violation of the provisions of the Bill ithin a reasonable time or not more than 30 days.

Hijab, a veil worn by Muslim women, has become a controversial issue in Nigeria. In Kwara State for instance, an attempt by the government to impose hijab on Christian missionary schools is being resisted by the in-grant Christian colleges.

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