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Periscoping 2015 elections

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The next round of general elections to usher in a new set of democratically elected leaders of the country is around the corner.  Election fever has gripped all segments of the society with the changing political landscape.

Going by INEC’s rescheduled guidelines, elections will hold on March 28 and April 11, 2015 for all elective positions at the national and state levels respectively.

The die is cast!

President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seeking to retain power at the centre through self-succession.  The only rival he has to beat to clinch the Presidency for a second term in office is former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, who is the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

President Goodluck Jonathan has a fair chance of winning this election.  His transformation programme has impacted positively on the lives of the people and needs to be sustained and consolidated.

The majority of Nigerians across the country want President Jonathan to ‘carry go’.  He has to get into his stride, if he must win the emerging presidential election.

It seems to me President Goodluck is getting increasingly disconnected with the realities on ground.  For him to win this election he will need massive support of the people of Eastern Nigeria.  He will also need the support of the people of Western Nigeria, which is predominantly Yoruba.

Politically, the West can be unpredictable.  One cannot say exactly where they are going to actually cast their votes.

Goodluck Jonathan obviously has the support of some states in Northern Nigeria but his chances of clinching the votes there cannot be guaranteed with all certainty.  The northerners themselves claim that they are ‘born to rule’ and probably would not support anyone who is not of their own blood.

Former military Head of State and Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari was most favoured by the northerners during the APC presidential primary.

Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was among the presidential aspirants on the platform of the APC, who contested the party primary with Buhari.  He lost out in the bargain.  Moral considerations were sacrificed on the altar of ethnicity and segregation.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha has entrenched himself in the politics of Imo State, overthrowing him would seem a rather herculean task.  The only thing working for him is his charisma to coerce people into believing in him and to win their political support.

The forthcoming governorship election in Imo State is surely going to be a ding-dung battle between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition parties.

This election, from my own point of view, is not merely a political exercise.  It is not just a contest between the APC candidate, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and the candidate of another political party.  It is basically a question of choice or what the people want.  The decision involves our collective perception.

There is no doubt that the present administration in Imo State has played a most active role in putting a few things in place in its drive to rid the state of environmental pollution and providing new schools to meet the pressure of a growing population.

That is not to say that all the things that are needed to be done have been done in good measure.  Most public schools are typically old and obsolete, lacking modern facilities.  What is demanded is efficient deployment of public resources in these and other vital areas.

One other area of concern to this writer is the attitude of some highly-placed political office holders and public officials.  They divert public funds meant for development of the state to their private businesses; build houses on illegally acquired private lands and commit other forms of exploitation.

The vast expanse of land around the Imo Airport or part of it, has been bought from their original owners by these public officials or politicians for their private advantage.  They have been found wanting in the conduct of public affairs.

Corruption in government or in our public institutions is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed.  Countries hold elections regularly, which allows people to vote corrupt officials out of office.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time”.

Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is not a villain and he is not a saint either.  He is like most other Nigerian politicians.

Some Imo citizens focus their attention mainly on Owelle Rochas Okorocha (APC) and Emeka Ihedioha (PDP).  Who will say that Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is not a good candidate?  Who will say that Ken Ojiri of the Accord party is not a good candidate?  What of Osmond Ukanacho of the UPP?

What are we talking about?  Party label is not of any significance, what is important is the personality of the candidate seeking our votes.

I believe Imo electorate will not vote a party or a leader who has not shown sufficient commitment to the cause or progress and development in the public interest.  We will vote a person whose distinction or leadership qualities is reasonably likely to bring positive changes in Imo State.

What is of utmost importance now is our disposition to confront our challenges.

A stitch in time saves nine!

 

Jerome Okuru is a veteran journalist based in Owerri-08039314068

 

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Enough of these Religious Pilgrimages

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Enough of these Religious Pilgrimages

The new telegraphs newspaper of July 10, 2020 (pg 14) under the heading “Hajji 2020: No refunding for Oyo State intending pilgrims”, made an interesting reading.

According to the report, the governmentt of Oyo State refused to refund money for the 2020 intending pilgrims who requested for a refund.

It is very disappointing that since December 1983 coup it became the pre-occupation of the Federal and State Governments to arrange for religious pilgrimages through which trillions of Naira and our foreign exchange are carted away to the middle East. Millions of people – infants, youths, men, women, old and young are sponsored to grow the religious and medical tourism of the Middle East countries.

Had Saudi Arabia not strongly banned the 2020 HAJJ, millions of Nigerians would have trouped there to interact with their Muslim brothers of Iran and other coronavirus infested pilgrims; thus complicating our situation. Having thrown away the proceeds of our oil riches we now go begging for loans and investments from the Arab world with the collateral of concessioning our air and sea ports that will expose Nigeria to easy terrorist infiltration from the “BENEVOLENT” Arab countries.

The Lesson of COVID 19 should have taught us that God is everywhere and that Nigerians need not be travelling to Israel, Saudi Arabia or Rome, sponsored to waste our scarce oil money. It is enough that Islam and Christianity had their roots in the Middle East.

But we must stay in Nigeria to worship God who is omniscient and omnipresent. He lives in Nigeria. The Government must stop organizing or sponsoring religious pilgrimage.

The Federal Government must come out of the Organization of Islamic Conference, O.I.C, because it is an organization of Islamic countries whose only state law is Sharia. The duty of governments should be to create a level playing grounds for religious organizations, rather than involvement.

The Nigerian economy can no longer bear the wastage in religious and medical tourism. It is a fallacy talking of loans without interest because SUKKUK and other Islamic Bank loans are to promote Islamization. Let Oyo State Government refund the money to the intending 2020 pilgrims to enable them survive the lock down and its attendant economic pressure arising from coronavirus.

When a would be 2020 hajj pilgrim survives COVID-19 then he has the right to decide for himself whether or not to do the future pilgrimage. The Federal, the State and the Local governments must remove their hands entirety from promoting any religious faith in any way.

If COVID-19 abates or ends then Nigerian Muslims can organize their hajj and such events in the expansive areas of northern States and other African countries may converge there.

Since the Nigeria government is not a member of the C.A.R.I.T.A.S, the World Council of Churches or even the Traditional Religion, equity requires that the FGN comes out of O.I.C, otherwise, where is the SECULARITY of the Nigerian nation?

We must get out of the deceitful sentiments of the military rulers that preyed on us to support their autocracy. The Arabs are not Africans or black. No! Femi Adesina some time ago wrote to say that Muammar Ghadaffi was a Xenophobist. He was right. So are the Arabs!

Edmund Obikwere
Amato, Orogwe, Owerri West LGA.,
Imo State, Nigeria
Tel: 08037675911

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Gov. Uzodimma should take payment of salaries, pensions more seriously

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Gov. Uzodimma should take payment of salaries, pensions more seriously

Amid hunger, poverty and penury occasioned by corona virus (Covid-19) which made us to sit at home, with its concomitant agonies, Imo State workers and pensioners are not paid, and the seven months arrears of gratuity which Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha was about to pay them as part of their arrears owed by Rochas Okorocha administration is now a dream.

The question now is, ‘Is the Federal allocation to Imo State a pledge? There is no unique or major project going on in the state now for one to say, that is where the allocations are channeled to!

The cogitation among other things is that Imo State has five major sources of monthly income, namely: Federal Allocation, 13% Oil Derivation, Ecological Fund, Internally Generated Revenue and Value Added Tax (VAT). And in addition to the IGR, Rt. Hon. Emeka Iheadioha, before he was removed from power announced that the IGR has risen to two hundred billion naira. Yet Imo workers who were paid recently received half salary of the months of February and March out of the five months owed them. Upon that, many workers have not received any thing inspite of having children, wives, aged parents and relations to carter for.

Inspite of Rochas Okorocha’s Government of scorpionism, he equivocally said, like his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, that Imo State is rich, but this current regime said Imo State is wretched. Whereas his motor convoy is about thirty five to forty, even more! Right now costly jeeps and cars have been bought for the judges and permanent secretaries, perhaps, for support.

All these are done amid the wretched state coffer. But Emeka Ihedioha, paid workers, pensioners, and planned paying gradually the backlog of gratuities owed pensioners and still went ahead with the reconstruction of the Chinese roads of his predecessor and other projects.

Moreso, on his notice of no payment for promotion issued to parastatals in the state after eleven years of no promotion to them, Emeka Ihedioha, like one who sucked his mother’s breast, humanly paid it in July. But it was stopped for investigation following a petition that Rochas Okorocha employed some first degree holders either on level 09, or 10 or 12 instead of on level 08.

When the anomalies were corrected, Ihedioha redirected for the payment before he was ousted by the Supreme Court. But when the matter came to this government, it was pushed away. This narration is just to let Nigerians know what Imo State parastatals are passing through in an oil producing state.

May I ask, ‘Is Imo State cursed over good government?’ After Governor Sam Mbakwe’s regime (Though he had it rough with Teachers), both the Military and paramilitary governors as well as the civilian governors kept the indigenes hoping on hope for good government, but when we wholeheartedly fought and got one in the person of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the ‘Abujas’ said no!

You see, Imo politics is a goldmine. But now a public servant in the state hardly retires nowadays with a two bedroom flat due to the dehumanizing salary paid.

Its high time workers and pensioners made away with the state labour leaders as they no longer represent their interests and troupe out for their constituted rights such as promotion, workers quarters, Housing loan, pension rights, gratuity of pensioners and review of pension.

Isn’t it scornful and a mockery that some pensioners in the state are paid one thousand or two thousand naira a month? Whereas many states, including non-oil producing states like Kaduna state had reviewed pensions.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman of the state, Comrade Austin Chalakpu promised to make a broadcast on May Day (Workers’ Day) over workers denied constituted rights, but to the chagrin of workers he did not do it again. Worse still, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) and the NLC refuted pensioners’ peaceful protest.

Again, this government severally announced paying all workers’ salaries but later said they are owing some workers. During their peaceful protest on Friday, 26th of June, 2020, pensioners were promised to expect their salary in the next few days. But there was nothing. You see, Governor Hope Uzodinma is never known for telling lies.

What Nigerian politicians, especially Imo politicians do not known is that payment of salary, allowance; pension, gratuity etc. are not achievement. They are constituted by law all over the world. Things that are achievement are things done after meeting those rights of government workers. So the issue of paying salaries, pension and gratuity on air, is a mockery of the government.

Moreso, as the government roared recovering two billion naira from ghost workers which other blind governors failed to see, it may be added to the six billion naira returned by the Economic and Finance Crime Commission (EFCC) from a former governor’s loot and pay the backlog of gratuities owed pensioners.

Callistus Mgbeoji
Owerri

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An open Letter to Sir Emeka Ihedioha – What’s next?

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An open Letter to Sir Emeka Ihedioha - What's next?

This may not be the best time to address this type of letter to you Sir. However, I have mustered the courage to write you at this trying moment in the history of Imo State as well as the history of Igbo people and nation. You may not know me, since we have never met, especially since you became the elected governor of Imo State. Perhaps your closest friends and your government officials must have called your attention to two or three write-ups I purposely addressed to you and your administration at the beginning and mid-way through till the latest catastrophic event of your removal from office by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In those write-ups I encouraged you to do your best and as well called on all Imolites to solidly support your administration irrespective of party affiliations and ethnic groups. I remember I referred to you as “Our Savior” the only hope Imolites have in the restoration of order, equity and sanity to governance in Imo State after the catastrophic regime of the administration you, our Governor IHEDIOHA succeeded.

Supreme Court Verdict:

Any enlightened Nigerian who claims to be ignorant of what happened must be a notorious hypocrite. Since that ruling I have come up with two write-ups. I was neither for IHEDIOHA nor UZODIMMA, since I am not a politician or a party member, though over ninety percent of Nigerians accept that the only difference between the two major political parties in Nigeria is found only in NAME. In my two write-ups I declared a lamentation in the entire Igboland. The court ruling was a tragedy, simply because it is a great setback to peace, love, progress, unity and development in our land.

I was the first in the entire Imo State who advised that you, Sir IHEDIOHA should ignore the prophets of doom; when a certain soothsayer and fortune-teller in clerical garb was seeing ‘visions’ and receiving orders and directives from an unknown god. Our living God of Christians is not the God of anarchy, confusion and favoritism. The true prophetic mission in the modern times is that defined by the messianic and salvific teachings of Christ Jesus.

Any deviation from “i’detti e i‘fatti’ Gesu” (sayings and doings/actions of Jesus), the true Messenger, Lord, Teacher and Prophet, is false prophetism and deceit.

I lamented loudly that our collective enemies through the Supreme Court had won by setting us up against each other. See now! One cross-section of NDIGBO is lamenting, the other is rejoicing; one is demonstrating ‘against injustice’, the other ‘for justice’. Wow!

What to do next

Sir IHEDIOHA! As we, a great number of Imolites supported you right from the day you were sworn in as Imo State governor, so shall we support our present governor HOPE UZODIMMA. As I wrote and encouraged you, at the same time pointing out the consequences of inaction, so I will now turn to our friend, brother and our new leader. This is so because we are true patriots and lovers of peace, love, unity and development. The development of Imo State is our priority.

Sir IHEDIOHA, I must openly confess I could not find the most appropriate words to express my honest convictions here, the heart, the main point of this OPEN LETTER. However without mincing words, I am appealing to you to ‘leave’ this case as it stands. Let the Supreme Court Ruling be final. Let them win.

But this word is too‘weak’. I thought of saying: please‘surrender’ to them so that peace may reign! But this looks ‘harsh’ and perhaps, too, ‘unreasonable’. Why should you ‘surrender’ You have not been known to be a‘coward’. But I think I am not misunderstood! Let go Sir, heavens will not fall.

Yes, the only option, the only way out of this mess, this quagmire

This is the only option many of your lovers see, a way out of this quagmire, awkward, complex and hazardous situation.

If you don’t ‘forgive and forget’; if you continue with the litigation, our ‘enemies will continue to win. There are already strong rumors that federal government had planned to declare a state of emergency if any further signs of disorder continue in Imo State. There are stronger ‘rumors’ that a special force, as fierce as OPERATION PYTHON DANCE SQUAD is ready to enter Imo State at any time.

We will not allow our enemies to continue encroaching, because they have an agenda. I am not in any way raising false alarm. This is not a political prophecy of Nigerian color. No! Mine is an appeal for peaceful atmosphere, under which our present political leaders in Imo State can work and with God’s guidance and everyone’s support achieve meaningful goals, development of our state, so that our suffering will lessen. Igbos say “EBE NNWA SIRI LOO UWA YA HIRI” Thank you and God bless.

(May close associates and friends of our former governor allow him read this script)

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