“I am still young. I believe I will be governor one day if I don’t die.” Those were his exact words. That was in the twilight of 1998. An evergreen personal encounter with James Ibori, at the terrace of his duplex at Bendel Estate, Warri.
Ibori barely 40 then, had every reason to wax philosophical and tentative. His major concern – Moses Kragha, Arch political rival in an imminent election.
The elite class particularly in his ethnic Urhobo land saw Ibori as a joker. Why not? Kragha (APP) came to the public dressed in natty outlook – aristocratic manners , ex Shell executive , oil and gas player and the big one – proud alumnus of world famous imperial college ,London the school where leaders learn .
On the flip side, the name Ibori rang no bell. Just an unknown young man, coming to Delta politics from Abuja under PDP. But then Ibori would settle all doubts soon. May 29, 1999, his self propelled prophecy came to pass. He became governor. Destiny fulfilled, he sent Kragha to political oblivion .
When divine power embraces you, pedigree pans out in mysterious eclipse. The race is not for the swift…Today the rest is history.
Sunday 5th February 2017. Back from prison. Face to face with the man. Ibori smiled after he volunteered a lavish handshake, as he reclined in the comfort of his sofa at Oghara.
What a man? What a prodigious birth? Guests – invited and uninvited trooped in to pay compliments in ceaseless droves. Kings, PDP buffs, APC devotees, APGA loyalists -political enemies walking together, women and youths. All came, shunning sundry differences to see one man.
As the visitors come and go, I keep staring at one man. The indisputable benefactor of governors, senators, ministers, speakers – powerful politicians and even the common folks. He must be the mythical Greek Atlas who carried the world on his shoulders.
Another Sunday. 12th February 2017. I saw Ibori . He gave a wink instead of that brotherly handshake last Sunday, no thanks to the human barricade at First Baptist Church Oghara.
Ibori must have an Olympic sized heart to carry people, their problems and possibilities. In a highly acrimonious state where ethnic lines are sharper than Razor, Ibori has no boundary, with his ebony black foot rooted everywhere – Urhobo, Itsekiri , Ibo, Ijaw and Isoko enclaves.
Oghara stood still. His thanksgiving took the time of men and minions. They came from all parts of Delta and far afield. Ibori was just dancing and smiling. Swimming happily in a sea of crowd. Men and mob follow him unsolicited. Ibori does not rent crowd. He reigns over crowd.
Ibori! One man with so much attention. Good and bad, fantastic and frightening. The Ibori mystique has a tinge of mysticism. It is safe to bet that even his bitter enemies are enchanted by his charm. Does this man sleep or rest? Thank God I am not Ibori!
For stranger elements, it may be difficult to fathom why the hullabaloo on Ibori even with a jail albatross. Forget the negative profiling of Ibori fixed by Lagos/Ibadan press. Cast off the fake news on social media. Jettison the anti graft platitudes at Abuja. Political subterfuge, not scam, is Ibori’s bane.
Ibori with all his flaws is an enigma, so deep to decipher. Let the “saints” of CHANGE go on with their tea party at Aso Rock and even London.
Ibori is not in Abuja. He is no longer in London. He is in the best place now- home, having tea and even Starch and Banga soup with his PEOPLE!
Those without blemish,”sinless” corrupt free Nigerians, some my good friends, keep fuming …why celebrate Ibori, the much advertised bad boy? It is the eye of the child that fears the mask.
Still wondering why we romanticize Ibori? Wait until you see him!
Written by Comrade Norbert Chiazor, Chairman, NUJ Delta State Council.
That it is an open FACT that a medical doctor and a traditional ruler were kidnapped in the face of renewed violence in the state. Gov. Okowa has shown enough inability to provide adequate security for Deltans which is why trigger happy agitators in Effurun and other parts of the state are wrecking havoc on innocent citizens with little or no solution by Okowa as Chief Security Officer.
It has become obvious that Chief Sunny Onuesoke, the self acclaimed Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, is worried about the dwindling popularity of his principal in recent times.
In his latest onslaught on the convener and Director of Strategic Political Communication of Rescue Delta Media Group of Delta State All Progressives Congress, Dr. Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, Onuesoke accused him and the APC of consistent attempt to ridicule the efforts of government and the governor in the management of state affairs and financial resources.
In response to Onuesoke’s wailing and unfair criticism of Delta APC, the RDMG wishes to state as follows:
1. That it is not possible for the APC and her media team to praise or commend Governor Okowa and his administration when it is glaring and obvious that poverty and criminality have escalated since May 29, 2015 till date.
2. That it is an open FACT that a medical doctor and a traditional ruler were kidnapped in the face of renewed violence in the state. Gov. Okowa has shown enough inability to provide adequate security for Deltans which is why trigger happy agitators in Effurun and other parts of the state are wrecking havoc on innocent citizens with little or no solution by Okowa as Chief Security Officer.
3. That Delta State at the moment is owing a whopping N1.5 trillion and the governor failed to clearly articulate how these debts will be paid so as to guarantee prosperity and development in the three senatorial districts. Over N5 billion is devoted to service debts monthly in Delta State. What a pity!
4. That Okowa and his kitchen cabinet refused; for reasons best known to them, to probe the Delta power IPP project which sunk over N80 billion of state government financial resources.
The company, DavNotch Nigeria Ltd, and former Speaker Victor Ochei were paid N25 billion upfront towards the actualization of the power project but nothing happened on site till date. APC DELTA demanded from Okowa to probe this scam and high level corruption. Onuesoke said since Okowa did not award the power IPP contracts it will be unconstitutional for the governor to probe the looters. And yet he says Okowa is not confused!
5. That the fraud associated with Asaba International Airport construction and upgrade contracts awarded so far should undergo forensic audit so as to expose the monumental fraud therein. But alas, Mr Onuesoke preferred to attack our request by saying that APC and its media team have no right whatsoever to request for probe of over inflated contracts and looting of Delta State funds through upfront payments for contracts not executed.
7. That the sacked 3,000 young workers of the Delta State government by Gov. Okowa is in total conflict with his “PROSPERITY FOR ALL DELTANS” electioneering campaign slogan. APC Delta consistently urged Okowa to recall these frustrated and hungry workers back to work. In response, Mr Onuesoke on behalf of the state government said that our request is irresponsible and unconstitutional.
8. That we told the governor to probe DESOPADEC and Chief Williams Makinde over the alleged reckless looting and mismanagement of the commission’s funds as a result of series of protests by youths and leaders of beneficiary communities across the state. Again, Onuesoke preferred to say that our position is irresponsible and unconstitutional.
9. That we told Deltans and Okowa administration that the STEP, SMART, etc so called prosperity programmes of the state government are bedeviled with falsehood and corruption and that those undergoing the KANGAROO training are starving to death and uncared for. Again, Onuesoke carpeted the APC saying that the trainees were in paradise; only for the S.A. to Governor Okowa on Political Affairs, Kent Okiemute Kigho to rush to Songhai camps to calm the nerves and rising temper of the frustrated youths.
10. That we said the series of problems facing the Okowa administration ranging from corruption to fake empowerment training programmes without hope of adequate funding of participants to establish small scale businesses after training is a pointer to the fact that Gov Okowa lacked vision, confused and without moral integrity to govern the state.
11. That Gov. Okowa blunt refusal to probe corruption in the state agencies, commission, ministries, department and parastatals is a strong indication that the governor is not only corrupt but also lost focus and bereaved of ideas to move the state forward. This again irritated Onuosoke and called APC and Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe all sorts of unprintable names.
12. That the sack of the democratically elected Chairman of Uvwie LGA, Engr. Henry Baro by the state governor in connivance with the DTHA Speaker, fractured constitutional provisions and that the panel constituted to probe the alleged financial allegations against the Uvwie Chairman ought to present its finding to resolve issues raised.
Till date and after eight months Okowa’s panel failed to submit any proof of financial fraud against Baro. The crisis is escalating and becoming a threat to public security. This also is one of the lapses in Okowa clueless leadership and tyranny in the state.
Yet, Onuesoke says Okowa actions and tyrannical government cannot be questioned by Deltans.
12 (b). That Law faculty of DELSU is about to collapse as NUC is set to withdraw accreditation. Okowa is doing nothing about it until the students are provoked to violence and demonstrations. Yet Onuesoke says APC and Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe observations are useless and irresponsible!
12(c) That OKADA riders are in pains and agony over huge taxes and annual ticket fees (N135, 000 per annum) to operate. We decided to ask Okowa: “Where is PROSPERITY FOR DELTANS?” Again, Onuesoke countered out outburst saying that the state government must tax Okada riders to generate revenue to develop the state.
Whereas Okowa failed to probe and recover the over N80 billion SCAM in Delta Power IPP project. Poor OKADA riders are the only hope of the state government to generate revenue. What a pity!
Mr Sunny Onuesoke should be reminded that not everybody sees Okowa and PDP administration from his own perspective. What is uppermost to Deltans is job creation, deconjestion of the Labour market, infrastructural development, quality health care, free education at all levels in the state, good roads, clean environment via environmental services, economic growth and quality living standards for all and sundry.
It is not enough to steal the peoples’ mandate, it is very important that resources of the state are properly managed to impact on the living standard of Deltans. Deltans are wondering why Okowa is deaf and dumb to calls for transparent leadership.
The acute corruption and looting of the state resources must stop and a probe panel inaugurated to investigate alleged financial frauds in DESOPADEC, Asaba International Airport construction and upgrade, the State Revenue Board, Delta State power IPP project and other cases of alleged misappropriation of funds.
Until Gov Okowa take decisive and proactive steps to expose corrupt public officers in various department and agencies, the credibility of his administration will remain questionable.
Mr Onuesoke wailing and firebrand press statements and releases; attacking APC and Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe will continue to be exercise in futility.
Gov Okowa is confused, frustrated and lacks moral integrity to provide good governance in Delta State.
Deltans will have to wait a little more for APC to lay a solid foundation for development and socioeconomic remodeling of the State.
* Onokuta is the Deputy Media Director of Rescue Delta Media Group. He writes from Asaba, Delta State and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The late Afro beat maestro Fela Anikulapo Kuti said it all in one of his lyrics that “this uprising will bring out the beast in us”. Of course, he was referring to the anomalies of the day exhibited by persons who found themselves in power and other positions of authority, and who got carried away in the process and lost their decorum. Or how else should one relate the expressions made by the Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG), Mr. Ovouzourie Macaulay at a press conference he called to declare that there is no power shift agreement in Delta PDP.
Ordinarily, the statement seems innocuous, but beyond that façade is a temperament of cruelty, extreme evil, and assault on the sensibilities of a people, the Anioma people. Indeed, no one will begrudge Mr. Macaulay his right to express his opinion as freely as he wishes, the same way he will not begrudge others their right to respond as freely as well to his ideas, particularly when they consider his logic vile, mischievous and wicked. This response has become necessary so that innocent readers of his press briefing address will not go with the bad impression he created against Delta North.
Reporting on the press briefing recently, The Guardian quoted the SSG as saying also that “before now he had thrown his full weight behind the emergence of a candidate from the Igbo speaking (Anioma) part of the State which makes up the Delta North senatorial district but was beginning to be skeptical about the agenda.” The report continued: “Macaulay from the South senatorial District faulted the Anioma candidates’ campaign slogan of equity and fairness, advising that the proper thing for them to do is to mount a campaign throughout the length and breadth of the State, outlining their dreams and vision for the State.” The report further quoted the SSG as saying that “he was turned off by the negative campaign of marginalization being labeled against the past rulers of the state by Anioma candidates, stressing that it smacks of an intention to engage in vendetta against the people of South and Central Districts should an Anioma person become Governor in 2015. … There is no need for this strident cry of marginalization. It is a pointer that the Anioma are out for a revenge mission against the other parts of the State should they win in 2015.” Haba, Ovouzourie Macaulay! Why this incitement?
Certainly, what the SSG disgorged is what is abundant in his heart, and the way he perceives the people of Delta North. For him, he thinks Delta Northerners are little minded and petty like him. The issue really is what is wrong with politicians from Anioma letting their colleagues in other senatorial districts understand the virtue in justice, equity and fair play politics, where they are supposed to be equal stake holders. Is the motto of PDP not hinged on the elements of Justice, equity and fair play? Does the mindset of Macaulay not justify the fear of Anioma people that there is a scheme to deny them the chance of also having one of them to run for the governorship of Delta state under PDP ticket? Apart from this unkindest cut against Anioma people is Macaulay’s declaration that “the Anioma are out for a revenge mission against the other parts of the state should they win in 2015”. This is uncalled for. It is inciting the other senatorial districts against the Anioma interest, aspiration and agitation. It is dangerous in a setting where ethnicity is an issue in the Delta State project.
One does not have to go too far to understand that Macaulay has all along had this animosity well hidden in himself against the Anioma people. Did Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan not disclose recently that there is an unwritten agreement among the Delta South politicians that it shall be the turn of the Itsekiri to produce a Senator to represent the district come 2015. And that he is qualified to take a shot at the position. Will he say that Governor Uduaghan did not do the proper thing by speaking out early enough so that the public will know about this unwritten agreement? If he is faulting the so-called slogan of equity and fair play by Anioma politicians, is he also faulting Governor Uduaghan for mouting the slogan early enough that there should be equity and fairness in Delta south? Indeed, Governor Uduaghan is right because since in Delta south the Isoko’s (Macaulay’s kinsmen) have produced the senator in Mrs. Stella Omu, and the Ijaw have produced same in the incumbent Senator James manager, equity, fairness and justice demands that the Itsekiri should produce the Senator in 2015, and Governor Uduaghan is of course qualified to contest. Therefore, why Macaulay is castigating the Anioma aspirants is just plain mischief to weep up sentiments against the Anioma people. This is wickedness typical of the devil.
Another point of departure from Macaulay’s diatribe is his declaration that the manner of “campaign” by Anioma governorship aspirants “smacks of an intention to engage in vendetta against the people of South and Central districts should an Anioma person becomes the governor in 2015.” Beyond being an incitement against the aspiration of the Anioma to produce the next governor, what Macaulay has done is to insult Delta northerner by literally calling them nitwits who do not possess what it takes to carry others along in a project involving diverse people from three senatorial districts. This is the height of insults to a people by someone occupying the position of an SSG. It is the height of indiscretion, insensitivity and display of unbridled arrogance. For once, one is tempted to say that Governor Uduaghan made a mistake in appointing someone like Ovouzourie Macaulay as SSG. This is because comments like are credited to Macaulay are the stuff with which mediocres, persons of minimal education, narrow-minded, and sophists are made of. Comments like this should not come from a person occupying the SSG position because of the danger of violent backlash it has the potential of causing in a plural society like Delta State. He has not conducted himself well as a man whose office co-ordinates the policy of government including the policy and programme of peace and security of this administration.This is unfair, unfortunate, indecorous and irresponsible.
It is no use going into Macaulay’s claim that he is an insider in Delta PDP, and so should know if there was a power shift pact. The State PDP Chairman, Chief Peter Nwaoboshi has already responded, stating clearly that indeed, Macaulay does not know because he was not in a position to know since he was a mere joiner of PDP long after the political kingpins had formed it. So, claiming to be an insider is a lie, aimed merely to attach undeserved importance to himself.
However, Ovouzourie Macaulay, no doubt has portrayed himself as someone who has betrayed the confidence reposed in him by the good people of Delta North. As a typical hustler, it is clear that he has attempted being part of the political agenda set up by some political go-getters in the area without success. Like the story of the chick that will always scatter the source of its food when the food items are not readily available, this obviously disgruntled SSG has resorted to blackmail, incitement and mudslinging against a people that have continued to pursue their political destiny without let or hindrance.
He was first heard of as a member of G3 whereas those that formed the political taproot in the State in general and Anioma in particular came many years before that. Thank God he knows that for equity and fairplay, every sector of the senatorial districts should be given opportunity to try their hands on the political administration of the State. The issue of marginalization which Macaulay is making a mountain of is a common factor to all parts of the State. Even the Central Senatorial District has some areas that often campaign with the issue of marginalization.
Apart from equity and fair play, Anioma people have justification for Governorship bid by virtue of the bandwagon trend that has now traversed the entire country. From Anambra to Imo and Bauchi States, there is a realization that for equity and fair play, every senatorial district should be given opportunity for governance. It is therefore disheartening that Macaulay has singled out Delta State for differential political equation.
All the same, he is advised to as soon as possible make his political decisions that will not run fowl of the understanding engendered in the PDP vision for Delta State.
By David Diai
Deltans and indeed Delta watchers woke up on August 4, 2011 to read the incriminating news that Delta State governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan had contrived through former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Oceanic Bank plc, to bribe the Chairman and members of the Delta State re-run elections Tribunal which sat in Asaba, the state capital from July2nd to July 25,2011, with the intent to secure a favorable judgment from the Tribunal, in the resolution of the Petitions filed by Chief Great Ogboru and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), that he, Uduaghan did not win the January 6, 2011, re-run elections in Delta state.
The author of the story was the one and only Sahara Reporters, an online news service known for its fearless and oftentimes astounding and unsympathetic reportage of stories which usually deconstructed the high and mighty in our society and wipes them all over the floor without remorse, irrespective of who’s Ox has been gored.
According to Sahara Reporters, in the story titled: R-e-v-e-a-l-e-d: How Uduaghan Paid Obasanjo And Tribunal Judges Over N3 billion To Buy Election [Photocopies Of Cheques Available],
“Two cheques, issued in June 2010 and June 2011, provide incontrovertible evidence about how the embattled governor of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan, buys favours and pays off supporters with state funds.
The cheques, which were issued from the Oceanic Bank accounts operated by the Delta State government, show that the state government made illegal payments to the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, whom it had retained to influence tribunal judgments during difficult political times.
The first cheque was initially issued to Obasanjo Farms on June 15, 2010, from a Delta State account with number 0051-301-000008 for Seven Hundred and Seventy eight million, six hundred thousand Naira (N778, 600,000).
However, in a high noon manoeuvre three days later, on June 18, 2010, the money was transferred to a Manager at Wema Bank Plc, to the Obasanjo Farms account number 1261153353017 with Sort Code 035171263.
As SaharaReporters revealed in a previous report, that account was one of the various secret bank accounts maintained by Obasanjo in Wema Bank.
The last cheque, which had been identified as the monies used to bribe election petition tribunal judges that recently proclaimed Dr. Uduaghan the winner of the highly rigged January 6, 2011 re-run election, also emanated from Oceanic Bank where Uduaghan’s current Commissioner of Finance, Bernard Okumagba, once served as a “financial planner” in the mid 1990ss.
The cheque, for N2.5 billion, was addressed to “Manager Oceanic Bank Call Account” and was reportedly cashed and moved away in bullion vans to a location from which judges, consultants and lawyers were paid in cold, hard cash.
That mind-boggling amount of N2.5 billion was taken out of the “Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC)” account of the Delta State government in Oceanic Bank with Account Number “0051-301-000059”.
After the monies were cashed, they were reportedly given to actors in the election tribunal that included three judges. Other beneficiaries were Chief Obasanjo, Mr. “Fix-It” Anthony Anenih, and Jonathan’s Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe.
It would be recalled that the final judgment of the re-run election tribunal was read by Tribunal Chairperson Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike on July 25 2011. The judge had given the impression that the tribunal was doing a thorough job and planned to annul the election when, in fact, she was negotiating a higher pay-off amount, put at N350 million, for herself separate from other members who had accepted their bribe early in the work of the tribunal.
SaharaReporters contacted the Delta State Commissioner of Finance to ask about the transactions by calling his mobile phone number, but he sent us a text message saying he was busy at a meeting. After we disclosed we were calling from New York, he never called back as promised.” This the Sahara Reporters story.
THE FACTS BY DELTA STATE GOVERNMENT
However in a swift reaction to the allegation, the Delta State government, through its brand new Commissioner for Information, Barrister Chike Christopher Ogeah, quickly embarked on a damage limitation and control rejoinder by insisting that, “the online publication Sahara Reporters lacks the capacity to comprehend or interpret official financial documents or transactions” and adding that the “mischievious online publication has again aptly demonstrated its limitless capacity for mischief, amazing ignorance and unbridled determination to deny Nigeria and Nigerians their finest moment following the globally acclaimed transparent and fair elections held under the new leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).”
The Delta State government then went ahead to provide what it referred to as “the facts of the matter” which were contained in a statement from the Delta State Government that reads thus:
“RE: How Uduaghan Paid Obasanjo And Tribunal Judges Over N3 billion To Buy Election
Once again, Saharareporters which prides itself as Nigeria’s version of Wikileaks has aptly demonstrated its limitless capacity for mischief, amazing ignorance and unbridled determination to deny Nigeria and Nigerians their finest moment following the globally acclaimed transparent and fair elections held under the new leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While the famous Wikileaks publishes diplomatic dispatches unedited and devoid of any interpretation for the mainstream media to investigate, Saharareporters threw all the sacred ethics of journalism to the winds and embarked on mischievous interpretation of official documents and transactions they lacked the capacity to comprehend.
In its August 4, 2011 posting, Saharareporters alleged that Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, governor of Delta State, “paid Obasanjo and Tribunal judges over N3 billion” to buy a favourable verdict on the election re-run of January 11, 2011.
We are sure that Saharareporters and their sponsor(s) knew that they were wildly trading in fiction and lurid negative inventions in making that unsubstantiated allegation. Just the same way the general public can also hazard a guess to who their sponsors are. But interestingly, we are sure they know that there was no atom of truth in the allegation although it works to harness their desperate and well-exploited tactics of trading lies to besmear the Uduaghan government for their self-serving interest.
Anyway, here are the facts for the unsuspecting reading public:
JUNE 15, 2010 TRANSFER OF N778, 600,000 TO MANAGER, WEMA BANK
1. The Delta State Government has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Obasanjo Farms Limited to constitute a company called “OFN-Delta Farms Limited” with the initial farm site located at Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area. Delta State has one third equity in the company while Obasanjo Farms holds the balance two thirds equity contribution.
The Delta State Executive Council had approved 200 hectares of land and N778,600,000 payment as one third equity contribution to the project in 2010.
2. Consequently, the said payment is Delta State Government’s contribution in line with the MoU and the state’s Executive Council resolution.
3. This same Cheque was publicly displayed by the Governor at a well attended press conference in Asaba in 2010.
OCEANIC BANK’S CHEQUE FOR N2, 418,223,328.96 DATED 30/06/11 IN FAVOUR OF “MANAGER OCEANIC BANK CALL ACCOUNT”.
1. As part of the Sate Government’s Treasury Management Policy, idle funds in the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) are invested on short term call basis to earn interest in favour of the State Government.
The authority flows from the Financial Regulation and the Annual Budget for 2011.
2. Oceanic Bank was directed to place the sum of N2,418,223,328.96 on call for seven days at five percent interest rate on June 30, 2011.
3. On July 7, 2011, Oceanic Bank was instructed to liquidate the said sum back into the FAAC Account. This was promptly executed.
4. Interest amounting to N849,539.11 was earned for Delta State Government during the seven days call period.
SALIENT POINTS TO NOTE
1. The said Wema Bank cheque was issued June 15, 2010 at a time the election of Gov Uduaghan had not been annulled.
2. The Governor’s election was only annulled on November 9, 2010.
3. The Re-run election was conducted on the 6th of January, 2011.
4. Saharareporters in its display of ignorance of established banking transactions and or sheer mischief did not know that cash placed on call cannot be withdrawn as they reported.
1.The Governor could only have offered a bribe in June 2010, if he had powers to foresee the annulment of his election, the re-run election and the litigation.
At a time that Nigeria is having its moment in the international community following the transparent and fair manner the election re-run and the April 2011 general elections were conducted, this wild and baseless report by Saharareporters is an unabashed, reckless and a desperate bid by reactionary and opposition forces intent on using any means to hold back Delta’s match towards greatness.
Despite these efforts, Gov. Uduaghan remains focused and undistracted in delivering his promise.
CHIKE C. OGEAH Esq.
Commissioner for Information
Several conjectures have been making the rounds concerning the final ruling of the Elections Petitions Tribunal and the fire of conspiracy theorists seems to have exploded into a full blaze since the SaharaReporters story hit the international information highway.
The first conjecture concerning the bribery allegations is of course that the story, which has been describes as ’misleading’ by sympathizers of the Delta state government was the alleged handiwork of the camp of Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), who purportedly sponsored the story after he lost to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Elections Petitions Tribunal.
However, not a few Deltans and indeed many Delta watchers were quite surprised and even disturbed with the July 25, 2011, final judgment of the Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike led Delta State Re-run Elections petitions tribunal.
The very fact that Chief Great Ogboru’s petition was dismissed out rightly by the Tribunal, on the grounds that the burden of proof that elections did not hold in 8 (eight) local government areas in Delta state rested squarely on the petitioners, was somewhat baffling to laymen and some legal luminaries alike.
Chief Great Ogboru had stated specifically in his petitioner that Elections did not hold in 8 (eight) Local Government Areas of Delta state and had on the strength of this submission prayed the Court to nullify the results from the said Local Government Areas and using the remaining votes from the remaining local government areas, declare him the winner OF THE January 6, 2011 re-run election, having satisfied the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (amended) and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2009 (amended) and scored the highest number of lawful votes cast in that election.
Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike in her judgment had asserted that all the witnesses and evidences presented by the petitioners to support their case that elections were not conducted in eight local government areas of the state were rebutted by the respondents’ witnesses and documentary evidences, which outweighed the petitioner’s claims and that they (the petitioners), had also failed to provide “sufficient documentary evidence and witnesses” to substantiate their case that elections did not hold.
Justice Ogwurike had further said that: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) substantially complied with the provisions of the 2006 Electoral Act and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in the conduct of the January 6, 2011 re-run election.”
Some discerning Delta re-run tribunal watchers and indeed a lot of Ogboru and DPP sympathizers had wondered how the remarkably meticulous and admirably firm Justice Ogwurike, despite her decision to painstakingly and thoroughly re-present all the evidences and witnesses tendered by all the parties in the trial proper and identify each in accordance with the examinations and cross examinations carried out by the petitioners and respondents, in the course of the trial., could have overlooked or ignored the very glaring fact that most of the ballot papers and result sheets were not numbered and sorted out serially or tied to any polling units to justify that they were the certified elections materials used for the actual elections in those areas, amongst other observations.
The fact however that the Delta re-run Tribunal had seemingly considered and hinged its judgment on the fact that Chief Ogboru had claimed in his petition that “elections did not hold” in 8 (eight) Local Government Areas,” whereas both INEC, the PDP and Governor Uduaghan were able to establish that elections were duly conducted in the said Local Government Areas is the next poser which leads nicely to the second conjecture, which with the same thread links former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the emissaries from Abuja and the and consultants across the Nigeria diaspora to the bribery allegations.
It will be recalled that on July 25, 2011, the day of the re-run Tribunal judgment, word had made the rounds like wildfire from the grapevine that former president Olusegun Obasanjo had been allegedly sighted in Delta state, in the company of a former Nigerian Military president and a former Minister of works and now major kingpin of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Their mission in Delta State (if indeed they had been in town on that day) was shrouded in mysterious secrecy, but their mere presence in the state on Tribunal judgment day had set tongues wagging that it could only be in connection with the determination of the judgment and that they were supposedly in Delta state to make sure that “instructions were followed to the letter”.
The juicy conspiracy tale was further given an intriguing twist, when the same grapevine sources had alleged that efforts to compromise Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike with financial inducements in the course of the Tribunal hearings had met a solid brick wall as the Hon. Justice was said to be a staunch member of a particular religious sect known for their uncompromising and austere mien which often manifested in celebrated frugality and piety.
One school of grapevine conjecturers had even hinted that the purveyors of the financial inducement had actually tracked the Hon. Justice all the way to her genealogical hinterlands and purportedly approached some identified kith and kinsmen, who could probably make conciliatory entreaties and may be receive and then courier the package to source.
This plot was said to have failed woefully because according to the conjecturers, the initial carrot of the alleged financial inducement had been too small and insulting. This realization had quickly prompted the repackaging of the inducement which had then been reviewed upwardly and handsomely to a figure which could not have been resisted even by an angel.
The same grapevine sources had also tantalizingly invoked a direct and filial military linkage which had allegedly been fully harnessed and employed by the Obasanjo angle as the conduit through which the alleged financial inducement was laundered to the appropriate quarters.
OBJ was then said to arrived in company of the senior citizens and emissaries from Abuja to ensure that the right signals were sent and received by the military source and the very important subject and in the process secure a favorable ruling which would sustain the grip of the PDP in Delta state.
In the final hard cold analysis of the matter, what Deltans and Delta watchers will probably concur with is the fact that there may be nothing wrong with the transactions between the Delta State Government and the Obasanjo Farms Limited.
The Delta State Government, according to the state Commissioner for Information Barrister Chike Ogeah and indeed in largely verifiable circumstances, has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Obasanjo Farms Limited to constitute a company called “OFN-Delta Farms Limited” with the initial farm site located at Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area. Delta State has one third equity in the company while Obasanjo Farms holds the balance two thirds equity contribution.
The Delta State Executive Council had approved 200 hectares of land and N778, 600,000 payment as one third equity contribution to the project in 2010. Consequently, the said payment is Delta State Government’s contribution in line with the MoU and the state’s Executive Council resolution.
Indeed, Governor Uduaghan has been talking up the wonderful benefits of the farm to the economy of Delta state and Deltans. In a recent interactive session with Journalists in Asaba, the state capital, the Delta state governor emphasized that the State Government entered into the project to encourage Private Public sector partnership in Agriculture which will not only empower Deltans but also improve the living standard of farmers.
Speaking further the Governor stated that he is very impressed at the progress of work at the Farms, adding that besides the financial contribution the State Government also donated land for the project.
According to the Delta State governor, “In the near future Delta State will be a State to reckon with in Poultry business as the farm will help improve business for our people. They can go into the farming of maize which is the main raw material used in the poultry and sell to the farm”.
Dr Uduaghan also disclosed that when the farm becomes fully functional the project will process chickens for export all of which will be made more attractive with the commencement of full operations by the Asaba International Airport, adding that the exercise will increase the internal revenue profile of the State.
The governor equally hinted that the farm was currently producing over 150 crates of eggs daily which is expected to increase to over 2,500 crates when fully functional and informed Deltans that the demand for the proceeds of the farm was high as there was already an available market.
The cheque for the princely sum of N778,600,000 can therefore be regarded as a serious investment by the Delta State government to enhance the job creation prospects and agenda of the Uduaghan administration in this his second and final tenure.
The second cheque of N2, 418,223,328.96 is however another kettle of disturbing fish altogether. According to Delta State Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah Esq. the state government invested the said N2.4 billion on a short term call basis and earned interest of N849, 539.11 within seven days.
His words, “As part of the state government’s treasury management policy, idle funds in the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, are invested on short term call basis to earn interest in favour of the state government. The authority flows from the financial regulation and the annual budget for 2011.
“Oceanic Bank was directed to place the sum of N2, 418,223,328.96 on call for seven days at five per cent interest rate on June 30, 2011.
“On July 7, 2011, Oceanic Bank was instructed to liquidate the said sum back into the FAAC Account. This was promptly executed. Interest amounting to N849, 539.11 was earned for Delta State Government during the seven days call period”, he said
This is exactly where government logic is challenged by the sheer simplicity and common sense of public opinion. For one, how can a huge sum of N2.4billion be described as “Idle Funds”, even if it is for one week, when there is so much hunger and poverty in the land? Indeed many Delta analysts have wondered that with the huge infrastructural agenda of the state government this time around, every fund accruing to state is not expected to lie ‘IDLE” for one minute let alone one week.
Although the Commissioner for Information will argue that the funds yielded some interest to the state government, the layman on the street will be very skeptical especially against the backdrop of the poverty that pervades the land.
Also, the timing of that transaction between the Delta State government and Oceanic Bank is bound to raise eyebrows, especially considering the conjecture that arrangements may have been concluded by June 30, 2011, the day the money was placed on call, for the Delta re-run election Tribunal to commence sitting on July 2, 2011 in Asaba. The pre-trial hearings took place on July 5 and trial proper commenced on 8 July, 2011 the day after the cheque was cashed.
Secondly, while one accepts the fact that government has the authority to engage in financial transactions with state funds as it deems necessary in the interest of the state, the decision to place such a huge amount on a seven day call account and then cash it to return to the it back to the FACC account is bound to interest Delta watchers, especially coming as it did when the Delta Re-run Tribunal was in the thick of the trial.
Again, a whooping N2.4billion was actually floating around in liquid cash at a critical time when the Tribunal was sitting and it is only to be expected that the opposition would certainly conjecture that with such an awesome financial war chest available to the government, (and of course the Delta state share of the N1.5 trillion received from the Federation account recently), it would only be a matter of time before the right price was discovered because as the saying goes, everybody has a price.
Those who followed the Delta re-run Tribunal proceedings keenly will recall that several attempts were made by the respondents to have the Ogboru petition dismissed at pre-trial but all to no avail, thanks to the firm and purposeful adjudication of Justice Ogwurike, who made it clear to all parties to try as much as possible to reduce the attempts to waste the limited time of the Tribunal by presenting diversionary applications.
Tribunal watchers will also recall that no efforts and indeed expenses were spared to get the finest and most renowned legal representations by the Respondents including top notch Senior Advocates of Nigeria SAN’s, amongst which was the newly sworn-in Attorney General of Delta State, Charles Ajuyah and indeed the cerebral and highly respected Dr. Austine Ikpeazu, who many believe was the man that won the case for the Respondents with his definitive and insightful legal interventions as counsel to INEC.
Delta watchers will equally recall that the Federal High Court in Asaba had in a dramatic twist to the events of the re-run Tribunal, ruled on July 20 2011 that the Delta State governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Great Ogboru was not a candidate in the January 6, 2011 governorship re-run election.
Justice Ibrahim Buba, who delivered judgment in a suit brought before it by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its chairman, Peter Nwaoboshi challenging the eligibility of Chief Ogboru for the election, averred that Ogboru did not comply with statutory requirements of the 2006 Electoral Act, which specifically, stipulates that 50 registered party members should endorse any governorship candidate.
According Justice Buba, those who nominated Mr Ogboru were not registered members of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and by this judgment of the suit No FHC/ASB/CS/104/2011, Great Ogboru was not qualified to have participated in the Election, the judge ruled.
Many Delta pundits and analysts were stunned by the ruling from the Asaba Federal High Court on the very last day before judgment was to be delivered by the re-run Tribunal and the conjecture was rife on the streets of Asaba and the rest of Delta that some very huge financial leverage may have allegedly been provided to secure the favorable ruling from the Asaba Federal High Court, which has already been regarded in most quarters as being very amenable to matters concerning the Delta state government.
In the final analysis, it will only be safe to conjecture finally that only very few and extremely privileged people (if any at all) could have known what the Justice Uzoamaka Ogwurike judgment would have been on July 25, 2011. Those who gave the impression that a favourable judgment was already in the bag for the PDP and Governor Uduaghan were clearly doing so, either as a result of unfounded and unbridled optimism or indeed because they were afraid of losing their jobs.
The overwhelming expectation on the streets of Delta was that the opposition had at last got judgment and such was the impeccable personality of Justice Ogwurike that it was virtually impossible to imagine or even believe and conjecture that she could have been be compromised.
Her judgment was also one which on the point of Law can be argued but cannot be faulted, for the simple reason that she confined herself strictly to the letter of the Law in consideration of the pleadings made by the Petitioner Great Ogboru, who specifically said that elections did not hold and which the Respondents were able to rebut with documentary evidences and witness as stipulated by the Electoral Law.
One clear fact which however remains at the end of the day is that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has won again at an Elections Petitions Tribunal, and HonJusticeUzoamaka Doris Ogwurike and her tribunal members Justices Bello Duwale and Ogbonna Okereke have concluded their assignment within the stipulated 180 days and departed Delta State either in good conscience or otherwise, depending on which side of the divide you belong.
The matter has once again gone to the Appeal Court in Benin from where it came from in the first instance, when Justice Monica Dom-Gbam Menseh giving judgment in the Court of Appeal, Benin city on November 9, 2010, annulled the April 14, 2007 Delta State governorship election and ordered a re-run within ninety days, which eventually held on January 6, 2011, which Governor Uduaghan duly won and which has once again returned to the Court of Appeal via the Tribunal.
And so the longest running election petition reality show, which started in 2007 and has now adopted all the dramatic hallmarks of a thrilling and intriguing soap opera, is set to continue its record breaking run, as Deltans, Nigerians and indeed the rest of the world awaits the next installment scheduled to take place in Benin, Edo state, at a date that will be announced very soon indeed. The saga continues. Please stay tuned to this space and you will get all the action and details as it happens. That is a promise.
COMING NEXT: HOW THE DELTA RE-RUN TRIBUNAL TRIAL WAS LOST AND WON.
The irony of the task before Attahiru Jega is that the very government that appointed him, the government that he is supposed to work with to checkmate the fraud that has bedeviled all elections that the INEC has conducted in this fourth republic, is dominated by the masterminds of the fraud that Jega and the INEC have been called on to banish. In other words, Jega was appointed by the chief masterminds of election rigging to checkmate the rigging of elections!Electoral fraud, as we have witnessed in Nigeria since the beginning of this fourth republic, is made possible by factors that are reducible to the following: Absence of a credible voters’ register; Lack of a quick, airtight method of verification and authentication of registered voters; The lack of adequate security for officials of the INEC, voting materials, representatives of the contesting candidates, and voters; and Lack of consistent transparency in the compilation of election results at the polling booths, verification of such results by representatives of the contesting candidates, transfer of the results to the collation centers, and ultimate release of the results by the INEC.With respect to the rerun in Delta State, while voting went smoothly in some polling booths, the overall conduct of the rerun, as is inarguably the consensus of all non-partizan reports so far made of the election, was marred by the maladies listed above. The INEC brought everything it had to Delta State: security, the press, plenty of officials of the INEC (including Comrade Jega), and plenty of voting materials. All attention was put on Delta State. Yet the people’s clearly expressed will was successfully subverted in a most unconscionable manner, not at all different from our previous experiences. Matter of fact, the rigging has become well entrenched and more desperate. Even Jega himself has corroborated this assessment in a recent CNN report of the Delta rerun. Jega’s remark on the observed irregularities ran as follows: “No one is voting because in many areas people are taking the law into their own hands. Many of our officials have been attacked, many of our voting materials have been diverted in many of these places you are talking about so it cannot be our fault.” I do not have any reason not to believe that the on-coming 2011 elections will be much worse, Jega or no Jega; a new voters’ register not withstanding; DDC machines notwithstanding. And by the way, four of the DDC machines stolen earlier are still at large and, as recently revealed by P.M. News, staff of the INEC have not been able to successfully operate the DDC machines seamlessly.The rerun in Delta State shows that the INEC is not even nearly half ready for the April elections. Free and fair elections do not just happen because we wish them to happen. They happen when adequate preparations are in place to grapple with the ills that make electoral fraud possible. Hope is not a strategy. The response of the INEC to these ills, as was demonstrated in the rerun in Delta State, is grossly inadequate to put the rigging of elections in check. Such manner of response will be woefully terrible in the on-coming 2011 elections considering that the INEC will be dealing with our 36 states simultaneously. Unless Jega is Jesus and has some unearthly powers to manufacture security and the sort of transparency requisite for the conduct of a free and fair election, we are guaranteed to have another episode of the 2007 elections this April. We have to devise a different method of policing elections, one that rely more on technology as suggested by Donald Duke (former governor of Cross Rivers State). Needless to say, the time, political will, and resources to make such a change are not there at the moment. They will not be there between now and the April elections. So the demonstrably bankrupt and doomed method of policing elections in Nigeria will be used once more and the results, sad to say, stand a very high chance of being the same as we have so far known them to be.Now, what do we make of this? I expect more massive rigging in the on-coming 2011 elections; there will be serious, nationwide intimidation and disenfranchisement of voters; election violence will not be unheard of. These, I believe, are sure to happen and for the most part will be to the advantage of the ruling PDP. But we, Nigerians, cannot and should not retreat, nor should we despair and become politically apathetic. Of course, refusal by Nigerians and all opposition parties to participate in the 2011 elections until the electoral process is fixed could be a very powerful tool in the interest of free and fair elections in Nigeria, the chances are near zero that we would find such a consensus. For this reason, we should be invigorated, shed political apathy, and campaign more vigorously for our preferred candidates. I say this, though, with a caveat: all opposition candidates and their parties should begin now, if they have not already started, to invest very heavily on evidence gathering. If voting will have any meaning in the 2011 elections, opposition parties must be adequately prepared to document the entire electoral process in video (especially), photographs, writing, etc. Whatever forensically significant piece of evidence, including human witnesses, they can have of the whole process should be gathered and safely preserved. If the INEC is serious, and not being hypocritical about holding free and fair elections, it should do the same. Until the Delta rerun, I had thought that forensic evidence gathering was part of Jega’s plan to ensure that the 2011 elections are credible. No opposition parties should trust the INEC or our security personnel. The INEC, on its part, should not trust any of the parties. There can be no such thing as too much evidence in the forthcoming elections. This is the only way voter participation would make any meaning in the 2011 elections.The elections are going to be massively rigged. Make no mistake about that. Voters cannot stop it. The INEC cannot stop it even if it intends to. Our security personnel will be grossly inadequate and cannot stop it; matter of fact, much of the rigging will be done in collaboration with our security personnel and with officials of the INEC. The gathered evidence would be the only tool available to reclaim any stolen mandate through our courts and for the prosecution of the election riggers and their sponsors. If this is not done, if the gathering of incontrovertible evidence is not at the core of whatever winning strategy the opposition candidates and parties may have, we may vote all we want, the effort will be in vain and the illegitimate dominance of the PDP will continue indefinitely unless there is a plan somewhere to wage a well articulated and sustainable armed struggle against the Nigerian state.
TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE HON. RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMSSIONER, INEC, DELTA STATE, ALHAJI ISMAILA ABDULKAREEM, mnim, fcai, fcida, THE DAN-BURAM OF LOKOJA, ON MONDAY, 16TH APRIL, 2007 IN RESPECT OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AND GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS HELD ON SATURDAY, 14TH APRIL, 2007.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to this occasion of my presentation of the account of the outcome of the State House of Assembly and Governorship elections held in Delta State on Saturday, 14th April, 2007.
As a build up to the attainment of a free, fair, credible and transparent 2007 polls, the Commission carried out a successful electronic voters registration / revalidation. That exercise which gave birth to the production of a credible voters register, was an integral part of the reform initiatives of the present INEC leadership, for the conduct of credible elections.
Prior to the April 14, 2007 polls, Delta State recorded an impressive One million, six hundred and twenty-nine thousand, eight hundred and seventy five (1,629,875) eligible voters. This accounted for the large voter turn-out during last Saturday’s April 14 elections.
In the just concluded elections, thirteen (13) political parties contested the Governorship while one hundred and twenty-two (122) candidates vied for the House of Assembly. At the end of the exercise, the following results emerged:-
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
S/N NAME OF STATE CONSTITUENCY WINNING POLITICAL PARTY
1 Aniocha North State Constituency PDP
2 Aniocha South State Constituency ACCORD
3 Bomadi State Constituency PDP
4 Burutu State Constituency I PDP
5 Burutu State Constituency II PDP
6 Ethiope East State Constituency (No election)
7 Ethiope West State Constituency PDP
8 Ika North-East State Constituency PDP
9 Ika South State Constituency PDP
10 Isoko North State Constituency I PDP
11 Isoko South State Constituency I PDP
12 Isoko South State Constituency II PDP
13 Ndokwa East State Constituency PDP
14 Ndokwa West State Constituency PDP
15 Okpe State Constituency PDP
16 Oshimili North State Constituency ACCORD
17 Oshimili South State Constituency PDP
18 Patani State Constituency PDP
19 Sapele State Constituency PDP
20 Udu State Constituency AC
21 Ughelli North State Constituency I (No Election)
22 Ughelli North State Constituency II (No Election)
23 Ughelli South State Constituency PDP
24 Ukwuani State Constituency (No Election)
25 Uvwie State Constituency PDP
26 Warri North State Constituency PDP
27 Warri South State Constituency I PDP
28 Warri South State Constituency II PDP
29 Warri South-West State Constituency PDP
STATE CONSTITUENCIES WHERE ELECTION DID NOT HOLD
S/N NAME OF STATE CONSTITUENCY REASON
1 Ethiope East State Constituency Caused by heavily indicting security reports.
2 Ukwauni State Constituency As a result of burning down of INEC office and electoral materials before the commencement of the poll.
3 Ughelli North State Constituencies I & II Massive electoral violence and burning of INEC office before the commencement of poll.
I wish to reiterate that the decision taken against above-mentioned State Constituencies subsists until further notice. The action is in conformity with INEC’s zero percent tolerance to electoral violence.
The results of the Governorship election are as follows:-
S/N NAME OF CANDIDATE PARTY VOTES
1 FELIX AZORBO RPN 944
2 GREAT OVEDJE OGBORU DPP 46,869
3 OKEYA O. EDWIN NMDP 396
4 IGBINI O. EMMANUEL PRP 268
5 TAJU S. ISICHEI PPA 3,677
6 MICHAEL ARISTOTLE ANPP 6,304
7 DR. EMMANUEL EWETA UDUAGHAN PDP 1,004,403
8 CHIEF ONOKPITE OGBE CPP 712
9 ABEL O. EDIJALA LP 3,409
10 JOHNSON O.A. BOGHUKU MRDD 272
11 CHIEF NGOZI OGBOGO ADC 1,857
12 PETER OGHENEVWOGAGA A 3,020
13 DR. EMAMNUEL O. MAFINA DPA 1,489
14 – AC 3,230
15 – AD 41
16 – JP 471
17 – MRDP 139
18 – APP 70
19 – APGA 1
20 – BNDP 9
21 – AA 3
22 – ACD 1
23 – ND 1
Invalid votes: 4,155
Total Votes Cast: 1,071,805
From the above results, I Alhaji Ismaila Abdulkareem, Hon. Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Delta State, by the powers conferred on me by Section 28(2)(g) of the Electoral Act, 2006, hereby declare DR. EMMANUEL EWETA UDUAGHAN of the PDP as the Governor-Elect of Delta State, having scored the highest number of votes (1,004,403) in the Governorship election, as well as having satisfied the provisions of Section 179(2)(a) & (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Let me seize this opportunity to thank the political parties, the Delta State electorate, the Security Agencies, the Domestic Observers and Gentlemen of the Press for their invaluable contribution to the success of the April 16, 2007 elections. I solicit that the same patriotic spirit demonstrated by you all be extended to the April 21st Presidential and National Assembly elections this week.
Thank you and God bless.
Independent National Electoral Commission,
Delta State Office,
16th April, 2007.
What is in a Car? You may ask. The Delta State Government was recently embroiled in waht many pundits regarded as a messy car controversy on two fronts. The first had to do with the car gifts which the state government was alleged to have given to the members of the House of Assembly, ostensibly for a job well done(?).
Well, the matter would have passed away quietly, just as such matters which do not involve the general public do, except for the fact that someone somewhere decided that two members of the House, Hon. Abel Oshevire and Hon Friday Onodjae, both representing key constituencies in the Ughelli axis of Delta central would not benefit from the largess. Their sin? They were accused of not just hobnobbing with a governorship aspirant from Orogun, Chief OvieOmo-Agege, but had even been seen ocuupying front row seats at several consultative meetings which the Obarisi held across Delta state to shore up support for his gubernatorial bid.
Thus these legislators were declared persona non grata to receive the luxirious new model state-of-the-art Prado jeeps car gift, which some car buffs say came directly off the assembly line and costs over several millions of naira. Of course this is not the first time nor will it be the last time that cars have been given to Delta lawmakers, but what many Deltans have questioned is the very petty reason behind the decision not to give the two law makers from the Ughelli axis just because of their alleged association with Chief Ovie Omo-Agege. “It is a shame”, one Deltan who spoke to FLASHPOINT on grounds of anonymity said, “for some people to be so petty as to deny the two members the cars. This is not democracy at all”, he lamented.
Nobody is actually sure where the order to deny the two lawmakers the car gifts, whether it was the House leadership that decided or the order came from above. But to the great credit of two lawmakers, both men kept sealed lips over the matter and behaved themselves like good boys serving their punishment with silent courage, perhaps in the hope that those who decided to deny them the cars will so change their minds and extend the largess to them on account of their good behaviour, And true to expectations FLASHPOINT learnt that both men have finally got the cars and our sources hint that there may have been some compromise in the deal to boot, after all in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.
The second car scenario had to do with Chief E.K Clark. Its as simple as that. According to His Political Adviser, Chief Ominimini Obiuwevbi, in a statement in Abuja, the car was brought to the Ijaw leader’s Abuja home by one Dr. Michael Oberabo, on behalf of the governor on Thursday. The statement said: “On Thursday, July, 2010, at about 3:30 pm, some persons, in the name of the Delta State government, brought an unregistered Expedition new Ford Jeep into the compound of Chief (Dr.) E.K. Clark in Asokoro, Abuja.
“One of the persons later came to inform Chief Clark that the car was a birthday ‘gift’ from Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan of Delta State.
“While Clark expressed his gratitude to Governor Uduaghan for this kind gesture, he wishes to state categorically that this ‘Greek gift’ is unacceptable considering his stand on the state of political affairs in Delta State and the misrepresentation of facts this ‘Greek gift’ may raise from his teeming supporters, followers and the Delta State Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum of which he is their national leader.
“Chief Clark has therefore rejected this Greek gift publicly in order to put the records straight and dispel any rumour that may arise out of this unsolicited gift.”
The Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), a Ford Expedition Ranch 2010 model, is valued at N10 million.
But in a swift reaction to the so called rejection, the manager, communications to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr. Paul Odili, said: “What the government can confirm is that it did was a donation of 18 million Naira to the Edwin Kiagbodo Clark Foundation following a letter dated July 19, 2010, from them to the government soliciting support for the take-off of that foundation. Whether the foundation decided to buy a car for Chief Clark is entirely the decision of that body and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Government.
Chief Clark, according to Mr. Odili, was obviously in a hurry to score points without realising that the alleged car did not come from the Delta State Government. Perhaps, now that the faux pas has occurred, Chief Clark would take the time to investigate properly the source of the car, and not drag Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who has always treated him as a father, into a pointless controversy”.
Mr. Odili also attached a letter supposedly from the Foundation which reads: “On behalf of the President, members of the board of trustees and governing council, I write to you, Sir, on the matter of the official launching inauguration of the board of trustees and governing council of The Edwin Clark Foundation.
The Edwin Kiagbodo Foundation was established on the 26th of February, 2009 and its official launching will take place in three venues: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt on the 24th f August, 28th of September and 19th of November, 2010, respectively.
I have attached copy of the advance advertisement notice to this letter.
Most importantly, we solicit your assistance to the Foundation in the area of funding for the above events. I have also attached a budget to this letter.
We expect your usual positive response to this appeal and please be assured of our highest regard and esteem”.
The letter was signed by Dr. Michael Oberabor, executive secretary on behalf of The Edwin Kiagbodo Clark Foundation.
Deltans quickly reacted to the matter thus. Mr Obue Echi questioned the motive of Chief E.K Clark in making the matter public. Said he: “whats the big deal if E. K clark is given a car and he rejects it. He has become an embarrasment to himself and a nuisance to his generation. I pity all those hanging around him. The future has moved on and it’s beyond men such as E.K Clark whose only contribution to society is ethnic bigotry and cowardice. Uduaghan understands what he wants for our generation and in his imperfection as all men are i rather pray for him to live long and add value to my life than wait for men who in the words of Tam David West, are opportunists and parasites.
But Elohor James has a contrary opinion. According to him; “We all know what has been happening between Chief EK Clark and Gov. Uduaghan since his cousin James Ibori imposed him on Deltans in 2007. What beats my imagination is why the Delta state government will decide to dole out a whooping N18m to a foundatio that bears the name of E.K Clark. Did Uduaghan’s advisers not know the kind of propaganda that they would make out of this donations? And to come and think that they even used N10m, over half of the money to buy the car. I wonder what serious foundation would use money donated to it for the promotion of its ideals to buy a car as expensive as that for a man who surely has more cars than he can even use, unless of course they were instructed to do so by those who gave them the money. What were the governor’s advisers thinking when they convinced him to make such a donation to the E.K Clark Foundation? Mr. Odili did not sound convincing in his attempt to explain the side of the Delta state government, but am sure that he and the rest of Governor Uduaghan’s advisers will be wiser next time”
But the final word on this matter, at least from our end here in FLASHPOINT will surely go to a contributor who just calls himself Duke.
Duke simply says: “PDP, Share the Money!”
So what is in a Car anyways? After all Deltans are also enjoying Air-conditioned cars and buses provided by the Delta state government, so what is the big deal if two legislators and one old Chief are embroiled in a controversy with the Delta state government over Prado Jeeps and SUV’s worth millions of Naira.