By Obinna Oriaku
The journey towards securing the African Development Bank, AFDB, loan of two hundred and sixty-three million dollars( $263M), started in 2014 after Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu emerged as PDP governorship candidate.
Before his election in 2015, and during one of his numerous trips to Enugu for consultations with stakeholders and party meetings, I had taken one Chief Emeka Ononiwu to meet with Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu at Neo Court Hotel Enugu, where I lodged his team. At this time, I was still with First Bank Nigeria Ltd.
For the records, Chief Emeka Ononiwu, a consultant for international development agencies and the World Bank who incidentally reside in Enugu was introduced to me by Barr. Bob Ogu, a former Commissioner for Works basically because of this project as I told him about the visit of the PDP candidate to Enugu.
My relationship with Biggest Uncle, as I fondly call him, dates back to my days as a student at Abia State University, where Dee Bob Ogu was a young lecturer.
Chief Emeka attended the meeting with the design of the Aba township underground flood control system built in the1970ss. The designed master plan was credited to be the only solution to Abia’s perennial flooding problem. Note that at this time, Ikpeazu was still a candidate and not yet a Governor. Thus, the journey started before he assumed office as the Executive Governor of Abia State. That meeting presented me with an opportunity of meeting a lot of political actors like Dee John Nwangborogu who was just announced as the Director General of Okezuo Abia Campaign Organisation and also a household name in the Ngwa political space.
Chief Emeka, during the meeting, gave a detailed explanation of the map for internal flood control of old Aba in the 1970s. He also revealed how much effort the team employed during former Governor Theodore Orji’s administration to get get the facility but to no avail even with the attention and nod of the world bank to intervene in Aba secured then.
Chief Emeka, said he backed out when the then government referred him to one of the aides of Governor T. A Orji, for further engagements, which did not go down well with him. Consequently, he walked away and shunned the project and the state.
After the general elections and four (4) days of assumption of office as Governor of Abia State, Barr. Bob Chidozie Ogu was made the Project Coordinator (PC) Abia Integrated Infrastructure Development Agency, with seven other members. This agency was saddled with the responsibility of the execution of the project. To underscore the importance of the agency, it was the first formal appointment of the new administration after the appointment of three (3) aides to the Governor in the cadre of Special Advisers.
The late Chijioke Nwakodo who was to later become the Chief of Staff to the new Governo was poised to give every required support to the agency, having concluded and convinced the world bank intervention would be the solution to Abia’s problems as it covered the hydra-headed waste management, erosion control, urban and semi-urban roads.
The design also included the provision of pipe-borne water for Aba but had to be removed due to inherent technical issues. Therefore, It was on this basis that the agency was created and later established through the requisite legislative backing of the Abia State House of Assembly. The Agency’s main responsibility was to see the realization of this project and its execution.
Soon after, work started on the project in earnest as presentations were made at the World Bank office in Abuja and their subsequent visits to Aba and Abia for various inspections.
We followed up with numerous visits to Abuja to ensure this loan request was included in the national borrowing plan of the federation through the Ministry of Finance and National Assembly which is a prerequisite before we could move to the next stage.
We subsequently came for the defense of this loan and presented before the two chambers; House Committee on Appropriation, Local & Foreign Loans, and Committee on Finance. The Senate committee at the time was chaired by Senator Shehu Sani, while Senator John Owan Enoh was the Senate Committee Chairman on Finance.
The presentation was professionally handled by myself as there was consensus on my presentation and the need to support the project. Senator TA Orji was among the committee members that day. He was excited at the style of presentation. Hon Eziuche Ubani was also around to network with his colleagues.
After this presentation, regrettably, the inexplicable war started as an avalanche of petitions flooded the National Assembly on these Abia world bank projects.
However, we pushed and won at that level as we deployed all our contacts to wave off those against the project. These people waging this war went to the extent of even visiting the ADFB office at Abuja discouraging them from going ahead with the Abia project while other states moved on.
Those who were against this project used the National Assembly bureaucracy to stagnate us while the other seven states that presented with us which include; Enugu, Kano, and Kaduna, moved on.
There was a debilitating spanner that was thrown in the wheel of progress for the Abia project at the office of the clerk of the National Assembly. They intended to deliberately frustrate the Abia project.
For instance, an official communication to the Ministry of Finance and the (SGF), Secretary to the Government of the Federation conveying their approval was dented with deliberate errors and this was done on two different occasions. We lost over five months at this particular stage causing frustration and disenchantment, which was palpable among members of the Abia team. I must confess that there was a paucity of funds to carry on this project as 80% of the cost of travel, hotel accommodation, and other logistics were borne personally by members of the agency and the team.
At a point, We even reached out to the then Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, and other Abians at the National Assembly to step in to resolve the problem.
The design of these projects became a problem and they were turned down over 3 different times at the world bank. They demanded 100% perfection in all these projects. When I left office, the team kept pushing which led to the visit of the Governor with a team to Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire on an ADFB meeting. All these were to assure the bank about our resolve to partner with them on this project.
The delay made ADFB almost chicken out of the transaction but for the resilience of the key actors(The Governor, Emeka, and Bob) and personal relationships established during this period, the commitment, and sincerity of these gentlemen.
I must first thank God for His grace towards the realization of this project; Barr. Bob Ogu for his interest and subsequent introduction of Chief Emeka Ononiwu, a passionate Abian who though formally engaged as a consultant to the state on World Bank and development agencies was not paid a KOBO for all his services to Abia since 2015. From the $54m NEWMAP, $50m RAMP, and this current $263m ADFB.
It’s instructive to note that ADFB on noticing the commitment of the state towards the actualization of the project graciously approved a grant of $1.5m for the designing of all these projects using their approved contractors.
I can recall how one of the Governors offered a mouth-watering offer that ran into hundreds of millions for some of these World Bank interventions to be moved to his State which we all refused because we believe in our dear state, Abia.
I make bold to say that while I served as Commissioner for Finance from 2015 to 2019, no KOBO was paid as a consultancy fee for all their services. It was free and sacrificial for the love and
development of the state. Any voucher or document seen as a consultancy or facilitation fee for any of these projects should be thoroughly investigated as no payment was made to anybody to the best of my knowledge.
God will bless you more, even if the state fails to acknowledge and appreciate your contributions.
The following people deserve acknowledgment and appreciation for their contributions even if the state fails to do so:
1. The former Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and his team went to Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in March 2020. They toiled daily to ensure it was realised and yours faithfully Obinna Oriaku
2. Senator T.A Orji whose administration first started this romance with the World Bank.
3. The former Deputy Governor Udeh Oko Chukwu, who also followed up and assisted.
4. Chief Necheta Omerekpe, who used his contact being a national assembly contractor stepped in when it mattered most.
5. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe followed up with his colleagues to ensure the sabotage at the National Assembly stopped.
6. Hon Eziuche Ubani who also followed up with his colleagues.
7. Hon Emeka Longman Nwachukwu, the then Commissioner for works during Sen. TA Orji’s administration.
8. The then Abia 6th Assembly, led by Rt. Hon. Martins Azubuike for their legislative backing
Special appreciation to our Amazons in the diaspora; Madam Ngozi Okonjo Iwuala, Arunma Oteh, and Lady Vivian Irondi currently at World Bank headquarters, in New York. These amazons are truly Abians as they assisted at one point during this period.
As I said earlier, credit goes to Abia and the entire team that worked for over Seven years to see to the realization of this project.
The new administration must see to the speedy commencement of this project while learning from the mistakes of the past government on world bank projects. They demand 100% compliance with their agreement.
We must see Abia first in all we do…
Former Commissioner for Finance 2015/ 2019(Glorious era) First runner-up at APC Governorship Primaries 2022
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent