Former special adviser on print media, research and documentation to former governor T. A Orji, Chief Joshua Ogbonna has explained why he is against the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Speaking in an interview with Newscritic online, Ogbonna said that apart from the fact that Dr Ikpeazu did not win the governorship election, his emergence means that Abians will endure another four years of hardship and suffering, occasioned by the non-payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
He said the Abia PDP only fought to rig the last election, adding that ‘’we thank the INEC returning officer, Professor Benjamin of UNN and the resident commissioner here. What they did will continue to hunt them for the rest of their lives. They know they have put Abians into another four years of suffering’’.
According to him the problem of Abia State is about leadership, explaining that the current one make huge money through IGR without utilizing it. ‘’It is leadership problem, fraud. It is putting people who you know can’t perform, who have no vision or interest of Abia at heart. These are people who are in the system just to acquire money for themselves and their families. When we have the right leadership Abia will experience a turnaround’’, he declared.
On the financial autonomy granted local government councils, he said it can’t work in Abia when the chairmen are appointed by the government. ‘’Go and see the problem there now. Some of them are yet to even access their money due to the disagreement they are having with the state government. The state asked the transition chairmen to increase their security vote from N4 million to N20 million, while the excess will go to the overlords. Nobody is bold to confront them, the local government autonomy can’t work in Abia, I will be happy if it can work’’.
He stressed that the celebration in Abia over the nomination of Uche Ogah as minister is a sign that Ogah is a man of the people, adding that he will now work for the country before coming to govern the state.
Read Full Interview:
Q. How do you feel about Dr Uche Ogah’s nomination as minister by President Muhammadu Buhari after the conclusion of the governorship election in Abia?
A. As far as I’m concerned there was no governorship election in Abia State. The results that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, released was not a true reflection of what Abians voted and expected. What happened was that the PDP with its incumbency power connived with INEC to subvert the will of the people by awarding unmerited victory to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Truly Ikpeazu did not win any election and it’s a matter for the tribunal, as I will not like to go further than this. So, for now what is trending is the nomination of Dr Uche Ogah as minister, which is a recognition by the president and Nigerians that someone like Ogah exists here in Abia. It is a good development, so that he will work for the country before coming down to the state governance. It is a good thing and I thank God for it.
Q. Some people hold the view either rightly or not that APC did not fight to win the governorship election in Abia?
A. APC fought to win and the party campaigned to win because we have a candidate the electorates wanted. As I speak with you look around the state if there is any semblance of government presence, nothing is happening. Do we even have a government here? For someone to say that APC didn’t campaign is a joke because Abians rejected PDP and what it stands for in Abia. The party is the problem of the state. It’s true they fought a war, so what have they done with the booty? Have they come up with salary and payment of pensions and gratuity. What about road infrastructure? Every time the government will be mouthing that contractors have been mobilized to site and they will start to install streetlights in his second term. They did nothing in his first term.
The PDP fought to rig the election and we thank the INEC returning officer, Professor Benjamin of UNN and the resident commissioner here. What they did will continue to hunt them for the rest of their lives. They know what they did because they have put Abians into another four years of suffering.
Q. Are you surprised that the nomination of Ogah is being celebrated even amongst the PDP and government officials?
A. How can it surprise me when what the people are celebrating now is what they intended to celebrate during the governorship contest. They wanted to celebrate Ogah’s victory but they were denied that opportunity. So, this is another opportunity of celebrating that their man has got another way of delivering dividends of democracy.
Q. Is it that you are kind of exonerating yourself now because you were part of the system before?
A. When you talk about system what exactly do you mean?
Q. I mean that you were in the government of PDP?
A. Without sounding immodest I was adviser on print media, research and documentation. Those who know me will tell you that I wasn’t part of the rot. I don’t award contracts. Ask other journalists they will tell you that I speak the fact always.
Q. So why did you part ways with then Governor T. A Orji who is also your brother?
A. Well if you said parted ways that is a different issue but I can tell you it’s all about knowing between Ogah and Ikpeazu who will perform. I discovered that Ogah will do better and I aligned with him and my decision is being applauded.
Q. What do you think is the problem with Abia?
A. The problem we have is leadership especially the current one. They make huge money through IGR but where is the money? It is leadership problem, fraud. It is putting people you know can’t perform, who have no vision or interest of Abia at heart. These are people who are in the system just to acquire money for themselves and their families. When we have the right leadership Abia will experience a turn around.
Go round Umuahia all the roads are bad, dangerous potholes everywhere to Ahiaeke where the new industrial market is located. The next day we will be told that the government has given order to Abroma to fix all the bad spots, and that bulldozers have been acquired. I ask where are they? Why do they keep deceiving us like this? I laugh at them because they know nothing, and some of them who go on air to burnish the image of the government go there to make mockery of themselves.
Q. I know some of you are happy now with the direct allocation to the local government councils in practice now?
A. How can it work in Abia when they hand-picked people who run the councils…go and see the problem there now. Some of them are yet to even accessed their money due to the disagreement they are having with the state government. The state asked the transition chairmen to increase their security vote from N4 million to N20 million, while the excess will go to the overlords. Nobody is bold to confront them, the local government autonomy can’t work in Abia, I will be happy if it can work. I doubt it with what I’m hearing and seeing.
Q. What are you hearing and seeing?
A. I have just told you that some people are trying to device ways to get the money from the councils but because of Buhari’s eagle eyes, the council authorities are demanding that they sign the money themselves instead of involving them. So, that is the game going on now and the money is still in the banks as I speak.
Q. What is the future of APC in Abia?
A. The role some of our people played especially during the governorship election is highly regrettable. Moles planted within the party and Ogah’s campaign. So with Ogah as minister and other good spirited individuals the party will bounce back to reckoning. Let’s see what the court will do first.