By Jude Owuamanam, Managing Editor Northern Operation
ABUJA (Sundiata Post ) – Human rights group, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has said that despite the glaring marginalisation of the people of the South East region in the present federal structure in Nigeria, most of the problems plaguing the region are self-inflicted.
The group blamed leaders of the region of playing the ostrich while the people continue to suffer.
CLO in a statement made available to Sundiata Post on Friday, said like the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg, the South East possesses great personalities in this country but yet they are tossed around year in year out in the politics of “who gets what, when and how” and in the “authoritative allocation of values” which politics is all about.
Apart from marginalisation in appointments and allocations already skewed against it by continuously denying them of the creation of another state leading to lesser local government councils with a consequent shortfall in accruing fiscal allocations, no person from the South East was/has been found worthy by the Buhari administration to be part of the kitchen cabinet or a member of the Security Council.
ONITSHA INLAND RIVER PORT:
The continuous delay in making the Onitsha River Port functional can be described as deliberate plot to keep subjugating the Igbo people who are majorly the key players in the business sector in Nigeria. For how long must the Igbo continue to suffer while all the importers domiciled in the East still have to go to Lagos and other Ports outside the East to pay revenue, suffer untold difficulties and bottlenecks in clearing of goods before another tedious journey of transporting the containers down to the east with its accompanying challenges commences?
On completion of the Rehabilitation of Onitsha Inland River Port in September 2012, ICRC took over the Port for purposes of concession. Five years after, 2017, the Port is yet to be concessional. The then state of the art Port Cargo Handling Equipment has now become obsolete due to non use and lack of maintenance. Enquiries made by the CLO revealed that the 64 Tonne Gantry Cranes were one of the best at the Libhher production line in 2012. The Reachstaker was the same used at the famous Port of Antwerp while there are also the 64 & 32 Tonne Forklifts, the 80 Tonne Telescopic Mobile Crane and the Roll Trailer for the Containers.
“The implication of the delay in making this all important Port functional is that by the time ICRC would be ready for the concession, another round of rehabilitation will be due because most of the equipments would have worn out since they have been idling away.”
The group called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to fast track the process of bringing on the Onitsha River Port if actually the South East is really part of Nigeria,
CLO also gave an assessment of the states in the South East
STATE OF THE STATES IN THE SOUTH EAST
To a large extent, the problem of the South East is also self- inflicted. When out of selfishness, primitive accumulation and personal aggrandizement, achieving unity of purpose for the pursuit of collective interest for the South East zone becomes a mirage, the people will definitely continue to suffer deprivation while good governance will also elude them because those who are at the corridors of power will always see a way to circumvent the system.
Why is there a widening gap between the haves and the have- nots? The leadership structure in the South East has created a culture of sycophancy, cheerleading (ndi otimkpus) and a situation where the political leader just maintains the boys through the intermittent giving of crumbs while there is no concerted effort to fix the boys into tangible means of livelihood for the fear that they might be empowered to become stable and financially strong to even challenge their oga someday. This is the bane of our progress in the Igbo society of today.
State Governors from the zone have also mastered this strategy of money control that traditional rulers, town unions, youth bodies, market leaders etc are put under the firm control of the state governments. Out of the deluge of funds accruing to the states, a handful is turned into donations to the various bodies at intervals with so much fanfare and noise that praise singing rents the air as if the governors are now philanthropists. Ndigbo let us rethink.
Gov ROCHAS OKOROCHA AS AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER
When he came on board with his “Imo Rescue Mission” agenda, Imolites were hoodwinked through his great oratory coupled with the feeling that the then Ohakim administration had not lived up to expectation. But no sooner had he grabbed power, he turned around to ‘deal’ with the very people who elected him. Rochas Okorocha administration in Imo State has today become ‘ the more you look, the less you see’, a comedy of errors and a litany of absurdities that today, Imolites have become the butt of jokes across the globe.
From scant disregard to court orders, rubber stamping the legislature into signing a straight four year budget, mockery and bastardisation of the local government system, owing of backlog of salaries and pensions among others, the Rochas administration is known more in demolition, scatter and abandon.
The latest obsession of molding statues, effigies and what have you and bringing/hosting of some African Presidents with resources of the State has also placed Rochas in the World Record of Unserious and Annoying Governors. Today the joke around the world today is ‘Akpuola gi? (Has Rochas molded you).
The creation of Happiness and Fulfillment Ministry headed by his blood sister and turning the state power house into a family affair was another ‘madness’ taken too far.
Rochas by his style of administration has just presented a classic example of the demerits of electing governors for a second term in office. Like him or hate his style, Imolites will endure him till his second tenure elapses and may even have his lackey enthroned as he is handing over.
Let the people wake up from this reverie and demand accountability, transparency and service delivery from their governor. The likes of late Chief Sam Mbakwe may be turning in their graves presently over this lack luster performance going on in Imo State.
Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi comes with a slogan that “Enugu State is in the hands of God”. That slogan is a welcome development indeed considering the inglorious past which the state once passed through when blood of the citizens were used literarily to wash hands under a former Governor.
GBURUGBURU as the governor is known as also made considerable impact in opening up the rural communities and this is one area the CLO would like the Governor to concentrate more knowing that the state is 70% rural and 30% urban. Past governments concentrated more on the urban areas window dressing such areas with attendant hype while the rural areas cannot access all the basic amenities of life.
Public schools in the rural areas require serious and consistent critical interventions. Most of the public schools in Enugu rural areas are in serious deplorable condition with falling roofs, broken walls and non functional science laboratories.
The Governor is also called upon to look into the activities of ESWAMA and various task forces operating in the state. While there is the need to maintain the decent nature of Enugu metropolis, the welfare of the roadside petty trader who wants to eke out a living in the midst of spiraling high cost of rent and other social amenities in the state capital should also be considered.
Another disturbing trend in the state is the alleged balkanization of government lands and public schools in the state. A situation where public school fields in the state capital are suddenly annexed, reduced to halves and converted into something else or into private building by some people connected to government is an unhealthy development.
Recently also, there were allegations of job racketeering in some institutions like Parklane Hospital where prospective job seekers were defrauded of amounts ranging from N10, 000 and above and the public show of shame recently where a Permanent Secretary, Mr Onaga Ogbodo was allegedly beaten up and stripped naked on the orders of the Chairman of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, Mr Ikeje Asogwa.
These anomalies should not be swept under the carpet. Let the Government investigate and hand out adequate sanctions immediately to avoid a climate of impunity in the state.
Some political analysts are of the view that some past administrations in Abia State attracted curse on the state by some of their actions and this has created a situation of arrested development even when an administration is making efforts to break even.
This analysis may not be wrong considering that the Okezie Ikpeazu administration is struggling to make imprints in government but it seems that it’s a case of all motion, no movement. With backlog of salary arrears among other challenges, there is need to rise from the ashes and take Abia, God’s own State to the next level no matter the odds.
The Governor Dave Umahi administration is really transforming Ebonyi through aggressive and standard road construction and the likes. But as the battle for 2019 election gets underway, we warn of the consequences of applying crude methods in dealing with dissenting voices or the opposition.
With the unwarranted treatment meted on Charles Otu, a journalist and social critic who was dehumanized by the Ekubaraoha boys for writing articles considered injurious to the governor, we call on the governor to be a promoter and advocate of human rights and respecter of the citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and all other enshrined rights in the constitution.
It is edifying that despite all fears, tensions, false alarm and heat generated in the prelude to the November 18 2017 governorship election in Anambra State, the state is calm, apiece and would hopefully experience a smooth continuity starting from March 17 2018.
But the outcome of the guber election has set a dangerous precedent which if allowed to take root is not only antithetical to democracy but would really sound the death knell for participatory democracy in Nigeria.
CLO congratulated Governor Willie Obiano for outwitting his opponents to emerge victorious after the polls but he should be reminded that his victory has even placed more burdens on his shoulders than before