By Tony Chukwuelue
Of the three adjectives used in titling this article, I will explain the word bigorexia since it is not commonly known or seen in contemporary English dictionaries.
The term denotes the wish-list, desire, dream, and hope, aspiration which we lack in ourselves but see in others that make us Jealous or infused with bad blood. In other words, if you are a Lilliput or dwarf and you meet a full-bodied man, your spine and muscle will start chuckling with envy as you wish it was the other way round. Sometimes it leads to what Nigerians know and describe as PHD (Pull him down), of course without justification.
It has become a national past time for certain political figures in Nigeria to insult, abuse, talk down or regard Igbo people as second-class citizens. Their condescending vituperations, a product of systematic oppression and suppression of Ndigbo by state actors are usually borne out of envy for their prowess more than any other reasons.
Over the years, the likes of Rabiu Kwakwanso, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Ruffian), Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Oluremi Tinubu, Senator Kassim Shettima, Senator Solomon Olamilekum, and recently pseudo- activists, namely Reno Omokri, Deji Adeyanju, Festus Keyamo, and Omoyele Sowore, etc, have all been sending coded messages and diatribes against Ndigbo.
Of all these tirades, the attack by Sam Omatiseye, the Editor-in-chief of Nation Newspapers on Peter Obi, His supporters, Ndigbo and their heroes stood ignominiously out. The Newspaper owned and published by Alhaji Bola Tinubu aka BAT has been turned to a veritable platform to dish out series of racist and inflammatory and condemnable insults on Igbo race and their leaders. All these attacks and missiles directed at peace loving Igbo people has become a recurring decimal from people who should treat sensibilities and sensitivities of one of the three major tribes in Nigeria with respect and civility. In recent times, the attacks have become more ferocious and toxic. No doubt, the decision of Peter Obi to seize the brave space and fight for Nigeria presidency in 2023 general election has fueled the anger of some segments of the society of self-entitlement predilection who questions silently why Ndigbo should not accept slavery and servitude in Nigeria.
Sam Omatseye shamelessly wrote one of the most demeaning and insulting editorials in Nigeria history wishing “Obituary” for the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi and his supporters. He did not stop at that as he went further to attack Igbo heroes and Leaders who contributed so much to development of Nigeria. The said write-up like the proverbial fecal droppings of the Tortoise will stick with Sam Omatseye and define his entire career until his own obituary come to pass. The question that kept ringing in my head was; how much was Sam Omatseye paid to play the real devil’s advocate? What it means is that if somebody pays Sam Omatseye to go public and denounce his father for some form of material gains, he would willingly collect the dough and do the dirty job. To him, there is no off limits or red flag.
Painfully, these are people we regard as intellectuals who are expected to guide and mould our societies through accepted norms and good governance using their positions in fourth estate.
Let’s digress a little. Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso who has a record of talking down on Ndigbo declared that Peter Obi will be president of the Southeast only. Mallam Nasir El-Ruffai pontificated that Peter Obi and Labour Party cannot mobilize more than 200 supporters for their proposed rally in Kaduna state, the home state of Vice-presidential candidate of Labour Party. He went further to claim that those 200 persons would be Igbo traders imported from South-East who will close their shops on Mondays as a result of on-going “sit-at-home” protest in South East to come to Kaduna for the rally. Senator Shettima, the Vice- Presidential Candidate of APC declared that Peter Obi, a two -time governor of Anambra State does not have experience to govern a country like Nigeria. Reno Omokri keeps punching that Igbos do not have voting strength in Nigeria even though the Igbos are the most populated ethnic group in virtually all the Thirty-six states in Nigeria after the indigenous/ethnic Community.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) meaning “usu” in igbo language has always wished Peter Obi and Labour Party supporters death.
In his campaign speech during the Osun gubernatorial election, he declared that those who labour should labour in vain until they die. As if that is not enough wish and prayer, the Editor-in-Chief of his Newspaper, Nation followed up from where he stopped in most unprofessional editorial that cast huge aspersions on Igbo race. If the journalism profession has any rules and etiquettes, Sam Omatseye ought to be sanctioned and his license withdrawn. Such brutalization of the Igbo nation using a national newspaper amount to serious hate speech which could spark tribal war as the case in Rwanda if not for the fact that Igbos are tolerant.
Let’s make a little breakdown of these hateful attacks and innuendos:
Kwakwanso who said that Peter Obi will only be the president of South East was instigating Nigerians to hate and tribal politics and by that statement was maligning the Igbo people for daring to compete for Nigerian presidency.
It was arrow directed at Ndigbo and not just Peter Obi. The same can be said of El Rufai, Senator Shettima, the vice-presidential candidate of the APC whose alleged link and story with Boko Haram is yet to be cleared declared that Peter Obi does not have experience to preside over Nigeria.
Peter Obi who was two-term governor of Anambra state with impeccable legacies does not have the experience in the judgment of Shettima. Barrack Obama who was a one-term Senator was elected the president of the most powerful country in the world and he left an indelible legacy.
My take now is that those who choose to abuse and malign my race (Igbo race) or question my identity or right to live my life to the fullest as a Nigerian at any slightest opportunity should be ready for a rofo-rofo fight. I urge Ndigbo to return five sharp- pointing fingers to anybody who takes joy in pointing one leprous finger on our race.
The Peter Obi supporters otherwise called the “Obidients” are self motivated and willing civil and courteous youths who want to take back their country. They are neither abusive, insulting nor uncultured as claimed by some cowards in this political race for the presidency. It is a pure blackmail from the pit of hell for those who are after Peter Obi’s progress in the presidential race. You cannot call someone a monkey and not expect them to call you a chimpanzee in return. But these dedicated “Obedients” who are from every Nigerian hamlet, tribe, social class, religion and ethnic background have willingly chosen to remain decent and peaceful; little wonder the pain, agony and sleepless concern of these BATs, Rufais, Shettimas, Omokris, Adeyanjus and Kwankwasos and their likes, of this world.
These unfortunate political characters who have visited so much pain on the ordinary Nigerians for decades, would have preferred the absence of a Peter Obi in the whole 2023 political equation so that the plundering would continue ad infinitum.
Thank God the entire Nigerian youths have seen through the thick veil the sleazy malfeasance and chorused a loud no.
It is unfortunate that Tinubu who is frail and sickly has been the one wishing Peter Obi and his supporters’ death. While Peter Obi has been focused discussing issues that will redeem Nigeria from her current quagmire occasioned by years of bad leadership and corruption, Tinubu and his enablers have only involved in satanic verses, hatred and death wish for Peter Obi and his supporters. They massively insult generation of Nigerian leaders of Igbo extraction including Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and the great Zik –Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, who brought independence to Nigeria.
What is Tinubu/APC going to campaign with in 2023 election? A man whose name, parentage, village, town, local government, state, is unknown and subject of debate and controversy.
Again, a man, who’s primary, secondary, and university education and qualifications are unknown and have remained subject of controversy? Again, a man whose source of wealth has been linked to some drug mafias and a company known as Alpha-Beta, a conduit pipe through which resources of Lagos state and other states under his firm financial control have been siphoned out. A man whose health status and ability (physical and mental) are subject of debate, guesswork, even jesting in forms of musical compositions; a clear case of reps ipsa loquito on his incapability and incapacitation.
2023 Nigeria presidential election is an election like no other in the Nigerian history. The election is not going to be a referendum on Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi, APC, PDP, or Labour Party. It is going to be a referendum on all of us, Nigerians. The type of leaders we elect or choose (with a caveat that the election will be free and fair) will define who we are as a people/ nation and how we want to be seen by the rest of the world. Whether we reward people that smoke corruption, eat corruption, breed corruption with shady their identities or people with openness, transparency, track record, competence and prudent management of public resources will be the final testament of who we are since there is a saying that birds of the same feather flock together.
In a civilized clime, the likes of Tinubu should be smoking his old tobacco pipe in one isolated hamlet jail in rural area far from public view.
Ironically, the same Tinubu and his team are today fixated on Peter Obi and Ndigbo where they live rent free. The more they throw their missiles on Obi and his supporters, the more they multiply in numbers and determination. A case for biblical reference in Exodus(Chap 1 Vs 12). They cannot understand why the youths and supporters of Obi voluntarily and without any form of inducement continue to fight for him because what has been hidden from the wise and the prudent has been revealed to the babe and the suckling.(Matthew Chap 11 Vs 25 ) They are not fighting for OBI/DATTI, they are fighting for the soul of Nigeria. They are fighting for remnant of their future ruinated and destroyed by the likes of Tinubu and other oligarchs that have kept their ignoble knees on the neck of our nation.
My support for Peter Obi is not because he is an Igbo man but because he is competent, epitomizes what a leader should be and what a nation would present with pride. Our children and this generation would learn from him how to comport themselves in public offices, shun corruption and flamboyancy. They will learn how to manage state resources frugally and shrewdly to achieve common good and development rather than use them to build corrupt empires and cleavages. Peter Obi has a unique selling point on integrity which other candidates does not have; for instance, by not enacting or signing Pension laws through which most outgoing governors re-looted and still re-looting resources of their states when his contemporaries were all neck-deep in the act including the presidential candidate of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he showed character and uncommon integrity in a clime filled with wolves and financial mongers. In Peter Obi’s words, Anambra state has not bought him pure water since he left office. That alone, and other unique qualities set him world apart from the rest.
What Nigeria needs in 2023 is a good manager of men and resources. More than 50% of Nigeria annual budgets and earnings are frittered away through wastages, corruptions and diversion into private accounts. This has led to lack of or stunted development. Even Billions of Dollars borrowed from China in the past seven years traveled this unfortunate trajectory. Any leader who will be able to plug this hemorrhage will returnNigeria back to sound health and good standing. Peter Obi’s track record in public service bears eloquent testimony that he has the capacity to achieve this feat for the benefit of Nigerians.
Fellow Nigerians, the auctioneer’s bell is roaring; going! going!! gone!!! And the song of nunc dimits is sounding on Nigeria head. The country is in a state of anomie and needs urgent intervention. The sufferings and the pains which an average Nigerian is going through today is indescribable. Hunger, insecurity, kidnappings, killings, abduction, inflation, high cost of goods and services, as well as poor utility services, collapse of our national currency (Naira), all manners of hardship know no tribe, religion or sex. This is time to put our differences aside and let a God-fearing, competent leader and nationalist who will put the country first be given a chance before Nigeria becomes history.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu(BAT) who is shouting “Emi lokan” (it is my turn) knows in his conscience, that’s if he has any, that it is not his turn to be president of Nigeria in 2023. Not after Chief Olusegun Obasanjo(a Yoruba/South Westerner was elected president of Nigeria for 8 years(1999-2007), and Professor Yemi Osibanjo elected Vice president of Nigeria for eight years(2015-2023). it is the turn of the Southeast to produce Nigeria president of Igbo extraction. Tinubu knows it.His supporters and enablers know it. Heaven knows it. The God of Ndigbo knows it.
Anybody who takes what belongs to South East by forceful means, by intimidation, by use of brute power of any kind, incumbency, monetary and other inducements should know that they will contend with God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is the omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresent.
The legacy bequeathed to Nigeria by Dr Alex Ekwueme, Nigeria Nationalist of blessed memory and first-class philosopher to bring about an inclusive and equitable society founded on peace, unity and progress is that power (Presidency) rotates between Northern and Southern Nigeria and amongst the Six-geopolitical zones namely, North Central, North East, North West, South East, South-South and South West. The southwest has had their turn just like the North. Any occupant of Aso Rock after May 29th, 2023 who is not of Southeast origin is clearly challenging God!He is a God of justice and fairness.
This brings me to issue of some self-acclaimed Igbo leaders planning to come and sell Tinubu’s presidency in the Southeast on account of material gains or promises of what they hope to gain in the event that he wins the presidential race. I am not a tribalist and I hate tribal politics or any form of tribalism whatsoever. But the truth must be told and spoken to power irrespective of whose Ox is gored. I am waiting to see what Chief Hope Uzodimma, Chief Rochas Okorocha, Dr Chris Ngige, Dr OgbonnayaOnu, Engr. Dave Umahi, Dr Andy Uba, Barr. Sullivan Chime, Osita Okechukwu, etc will tell Ndigbo about Tinubu and 2023 presidency. That we forgo our right like the Biblical Esau who sold his birthright to his junior brother Jacob in momentary exchangeof porridge meal. That we should wait for another 30-50 years to attain Igbo presidency. God forbid!
Chief Dan Ulasi made himself a subject of mockery when he said that his friends in the North are laughing and scorning at the mention of Peter Obi in the North. So, who is Dan Ulasi? What has he done in Nnewi and Anambra state? Who are his almighty friends in the North that have not found him worthy of any appointment beyond chairmanship of PDP (Anambra state)
It is people like Dan Ulasi that has brought Ndigbo to where we are today, where some people treat us as carpet beggars and only good for servitude. I’m sure chief Ulasi knows the Igbo adage that says “ Nwa na-amu ure ji nnaya amu bu aguru ga aguya ka- ona amu” ( Literally translated, means a child who laughs at decayed yam barn of his father is inviting the hunger that will deal with him”)
While respected elder statesmen and men of good conscience like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Edwin Clerk and host of others are shouting to the rooftops that it is the turn of Ndigbo to produce Nigeria president in 2023, some Igbo sell- outs are busy negotiating political and material gains from the North and Southwest.
Let me state here that history will not forgive any Igbo leader who join forces with our oppressors and deniers of Igbo’s right to ascend to power in Nigeria.
NO sacrifice is too much for us individually and collectively for the sake of Igbo nation. Late Dr Nelson Mandela of South Africa spent 27 years in prison for liberation and good of his people. Why should we put greed and selfish interest above the long-suffering, marginalization, injustice and oppression of Ndigbo. Peter Obi may or may not win; it all depends on will of God and the decision of the electorate. However, if Ndigbo speaks with unanimity of purpose that they are annoyed with Nigeria for denying them their rights and entitlements, that would send a strong message irrespective of the outcome of the presidential election. That demonstration will make Nigeria to take us seriously and engage with us in profoundly constructive ways. You cannot beat a child and expect her to be clapping for you. Any true Igbo man or woman should be livid with anger the way the two major political parties namely, APC and PDP shunned the South-East in selection of their Presidential candidates when it is an unimpeachable truth that it is the turn of the Southeast to produce Nigeria president in 2023.
I refuse to be a slave in my country. I will not be a candidate for temporary material convenience and gluttonous acquisition of power and benefits at the expense of my people (Ndigbo).
Finally for Tinubu and Omatseye who always wish Peter Obi and his supporters’ death, I urge them to learn from history. All the people who announced the death of great Zik while he was alive were buried one after the other as Zik outlived all of them. Politics is a game and should be devoid of bitterness and rancour. Anybody aspiring to be president of Nigeria should act presidential and speak presidential. If Tinubu and Omatseye’s death wish on millions of Obi’supporters come to pass and if peradventure he, Tinubu wins (God forbid), who will they rule? A society of dead people! It is only people with history of schizophrenia that speaks, writes and acts in such manners.
Sam Omatseye and his sponsors therefore needs to purge themselves of bigorexia, schizophrenia, Obiphobia and I add also Igbophobia.
Chief. Barr. Tony Chukwuelue
Formerly Senatorial Candidate, Social Democratic Party 2019
Anambra Central .
Minister Momoh and Ogbuku: Guardians of NDDC’s Integrity
By John Mayaki
The urgent need for national attention to address the absence of development and the decay of infrastructure in the oil-rich Niger Delta region cannot be overstated. This is precisely why the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established with the crucial mission of driving progress and development in the area. However, over time, this agency has seemingly lost credibility.
Now, two prominent figures have stepped forward as staunch defenders of the agency’s integrity. Hon. Engr. Abubakar Momoh, the Minister of Niger Delta Development, and Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, the Managing Director of the NDDC, have taken on the mantle of guardians, determined to combat the perception of a corruption-ridden commission.
These two leaders, with their unwavering commitment and resolute spirit, have accepted the challenge to dispel any notion of the NDDC as a cesspool of corruption. In the spotlight, they understand the critical importance of upholding transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct within the organization.
Minister Abubakar Momoh, who heads the ministry overseeing the NDDC, has declared an end to the era of tolerating corruption within the commission. He said the era before the Samuel Ogbuku’s leadership of the NDDC, it is understandable. His pledge to depart from the shadows of malfeasance and embrace transparency is not mere rhetoric but a resounding call to action. He stands ready to tread where others might fear to step, and his determination to restore the NDDC’s tarnished image remains unwavering.
The voice of the Minister resonates with unwavering commitment. With steadfast determination, he stands as a guardian, shielding the integrity of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from the scourge of corruption.
Having traversed the landscapes of Rivers and Bayelsa States and witnessed the yet-to-be completed and deteriorating state of the East West Road firsthand, Minister Momoh’s heart resonates with a call to action. The dire state of vital infrastructure serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing needs of the Niger Delta region. His commitment to champion the realization of this road project underscores its pivotal role as a catalyst for regional development.
The renaming of the agency, transitioning from “Niger Delta Affairs” to “Niger Delta Development,” carries profound significance. It signals a shift in focus, from mundane administrative affairs to the pursuit of genuine development by President Bola Tinubu. This transformation aligns with the evolving mission of the NDDC and signifies a commitment to bring about meaningful change.
The minister’s assurance that the NDDC will undergo a transformation under his leadership typifies a man who embodies hope for a brighter future in the Niger Delta. His words reverberate through the annals of policy-making, promising an era marked by accountability, progress, and prosperity for a region that has long yearned for change.
As the minister’s unwavering resolve takes root, it symbolizes the enduring spirit of leadership and transformation in the pursuit of a better future for the Niger Delta and its people. His words offer a glimpse into the potential for a region once plagued by corruption to rise anew, guided by the spirit of integrity and development.
The Minister is not alone in this resolve – Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, as the Managing Director, also reinforces this commitment. His sagacious counsel reminds all stakeholders of the importance of refraining from casting doubt on the institution he leads. He understands that in today’s global landscape, transparency and credibility are the bedrock of successful collaborations. Doubt, whether founded or unfounded, can tarnish the NDDC’s reputation and hinder its ability to deliver on its promises.
Samuel Ogbuku, a prominent figure in the intricate landscape of Niger Delta politics, stepped into the spotlight with his appointment as the CEO of the Commission. Hailing from Bayelsa State, his ascent to a leadership role within the NDDC mirrors the complex dynamics of power and influence.
Ogbuku’s appointment occurred during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2022. However, as political tides shifted and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumed office, the NDDC board faced dissolution. In an unexpected turn of events, Ogbuku was reappointed to serve his full term, a decision that elicited diverse reactions across the political spectrum.
While some advocated for his removal to accommodate loyalists of the new president, Ogbuku’s continued leadership garnered support from influential quarters. Rivers State Governor, Sir, Siminalayi Fubara, and Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, in particular, commended President Tinubu for this reappointment. Diri’s endorsement underscored Ogbuku’s significance as an “illustrious son” of the Niger Delta region, indicating that his leadership was perceived as beneficial for addressing the region’s challenges.
Ogbuku’s narrative serves as a compelling illustration of the intricacies and shifting dynamics of political appointments, as well as the delicate equilibrium of regional interests. In this ever-evolving landscape, his tenure as CEO of the NDDC stands as a testament to the complexities of governance in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
Ogbuku, the man who imparts sagacious advice, wants people to refrain from casting doubt on the institution he leads. His words carry the weight of wisdom, for they illuminate a fundamental truth in the sphere of public service and international cooperation.
In our modern global landscape, transparency and credibility have become the cornerstones of successful collaborations. The NDDC, entrusted with the formidable mission of propelling progress and development in the Niger Delta region, cannot afford to bear the stain of skepticism or uncertainty. Aspersions, whether founded or baseless, cast upon it can reverberate through the corridors of perception, tarnishing its reputation.
The significance of preserving an untarnished image for institutions like the NDDC cannot be overstated. In an interconnected world where partnerships with international organizations, governments, and donors play a pivotal role in shaping regional development, credibility emerges as the most valuable asset. Skepticism can discourage potential allies, sowing seeds of doubt about the NDDC’s ability to deliver on its commitments.
Dr. Ogbuku’s counsel serves as a poignant reminder that nurturing trust and confidence in the NDDC’s operations is not solely an internal concern but a prerequisite for attracting the support and collaboration essential for fulfilling its ambitious goals. The Niger Delta region, with its distinct challenges and opportunities, necessitates a robust, esteemed, and trusted institution to steer its transformation.
In essence, Ogbuku’s words resound as an appeal for unity of purpose and an unwavering commitment to transparency. They underscore the profound interconnection between perception and reality, emphasizing that building a positive reputation stands as an indispensable facet of the N DDC’s mandate. As it endeavors to unlock the region’s potential and enhance the well-being of its people, the NDDC’s image assumes the role of a guiding beacon, lighting the path toward fruitful partnerships and sustainable development.
Together, Minister Abubakar Momoh and Dr. Samuel Ogbuku embody the spirit of guardianship and accountability within the NDDC. Their actions and words echo a profound truth: safeguarding the integrity of the interventionist agency is not just a matter of internal concern but a prerequisite for attracting the support and collaboration necessary for achieving the ambitious goals set forth for the Niger Delta region.
In this shared endeavor, they exemplify leadership’s resilience and the enduring commitment to a brighter future for the Niger Delta and its people. They illuminate a path forward, where the NDDC’s image serves as a beacon, guiding the way toward fruitful collaborations, sustainable development, and an agency free from the shadows of corruption.
Ogbuku, NDDC and the journey ahead
By Chijioke Amu-Nnadi
The appointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to a fresh term in the newly announced governing board of the interventionist agency offers a few important lessons on how to manage opportunity and promise.
Appointed first in January, 2023, by the outgone administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Ogbuku, who as the managing director served with the former chairman, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, the former executive directors of projects and finance and administration, Mr. Charles Ogunmola and Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.), respectively, as well as a slew of other members in the old board, established a management style of technocratic governance, inclusiveness and openness that has endeared him to Niger Delta stakeholders and the Commission’s staff alike.
The announcement of his name to his old position, for a fresh tenure, was indeed greeted by affirmation and celebration across the region and along the corridors of an agency that has, over the years, yearned for a leadership that is committed to the efficient and effective discharge of its mandate to facilitate regional development. Having been accused repeatedly over the years of failing to rise to the call of their duty to serve their own people, the Commission’s staff, it has been reported, has thrown their collective weight behind Ogbuku’s drive to build a stronger workforce and a more efficient organization.
For someone whose first sojourn can best be described as brief, the spontaneous outburst of approval may have come as a surprise to many. But there must be many more who understand his commitment to excellence, and to delivering on his assignment to the NDDC and the Niger Delta. But the question to ask would be: how did Samuel Ogbuku earn the confidence of the new President, as well as the plaudits and admiration of the people of the Niger Delta, whose best interest he serves?
The answer is easily unveiled in the lessons his time as managing director of a Commission, which has been heavily criticised in the past for poor delivery on its opportunities and promises. The first May easily be deduced from his history, pursuits and antecedents. And is his vision and passion for a Niger Delta region whose natural wealth makes its lands and people prosperous and peaceful.
As an activist in the quest for a better Niger Delta that meets the long-standing needs of the people and satisfies their expectations, Ogbuku has continued to identify with the challenges of regional development and the difficult living conditions of Niger Deltans. The Niger Delta region, which produces the bulk of Nigeria’s wealth, has long been known for the unfortunate paradox of widespread poverty, high unemployment, poor infrastructure, embattled landscape and coastal areas, as well as poor social services, poor skills base and youth restiveness. In the past few decades, Ogbuku has been an important part of the intellectual agitation that continues to call attention on what needs to be done to develop the region, as well as positively impact the people.
His emergence, therefore, as the managing director of an agency whose core mandate is to facilitate rapid, even and sustainable development in the region, must have come as the needed platform, and impetus, to help him transform some of his ideas and vision, part of which helped earn him a PhD in political and administrative studies, as well as the lessons learnt in advocating for a better Niger Delta, into reality.
As the managing director of the NDDC, Ogbuku has spearheaded a number of landmark changes, new ideas, renewed enthusiasm and accomplishments. While working to strengthen institutional structures and processes within the Commission, he is working to improve due process, financial discipline and transparency. He is working to improve the implementation of projects and programmes, so that they can adequately serve the needs of the people for longer, more sustained periods. And he is improving staff morale by addressing salient issues of commitment to professional conduct of an efficient workforce.
In instituting the public private partnership (PPP) model for the Commission, for which several engagements within and outside the country has already been organised, Ogbuku was reported to have said: “In the 22 years since its establishment, the NDDC has not achieved this mandate, despite what may be described as its best efforts. While the Commission developed strategies, as well as facilitated a regional master plan meant to tackle existent challenges, the core of those challenges remain. While the master plan, which aggregated the vision and expectations of the people into a roadmap, offered lofty prescriptions, it was largely ignored by most stakeholders. The expected buy-in did not happen, even though the plan was launched to much fanfare on March 27, 2007, by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“The years between its launch and expiry witnessed many setbacks to the mandate of building the Niger Delta into the region of our shared dream. Besides the failure by stakeholders to own the Niger Delta regional Master Plan, inadequate funding, political interference, leadership instability, delays in passage of the Commission’s budgets, as well as institutional lapses created, by 2019, a Commission embroiled in its own identity and statutory crisis. Consequently, over the years, the Niger Delta witnessed a rise in uncompleted, or poorly executed projects, while the Commission buckled under the weight of debts and financial exposure.
“The inauguration of the board, on January 4, 2023, therefore, is seen as part of government’s efforts to reposition the NDDC to operate optimally, effectively and professionally. We believe that (we have) been mandated to follow the trajectory of institutional reforms initiated by (the forensic) audit. We are committed to reordering and strengthening what has been initiated by government, it has become imperative for us to, indeed, ensure that there is a paradigm shift in the way the Commission conducts its business. And be committed to it.
“While the Commission has made some visible impact over the years, a lot still has to be done. To achieve this object, therefore, the current board is unfolding a new initiative for sustainable development. Our “Rewind to Rebirth” is a strategic initiative designed to recalibrate our engagement with the Niger Delta and the Commission’s overall intervention implementation plan. Embedded in this initiative include exploring more avenues for funding, as well as opportunities for collaboration and investment in the Niger Delta region.
“It is public knowledge that inadequate funding ranks very high among the numerous challenges of the Commission. Against this backdrop, the current Governing Board and management is promoting the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, in order to provide an alternative source for key development projects and programmes. This initiative aligns with the NDDC mandate, as well as the sustainable development goals 17, which focuses on partnerships.
“The NDDC-PPP summit was conceived as a strategic stakeholder meeting to launch the NDDC PPP initiative. It is designed to communicate a new phase for the Commission that will create a gateway of opportunities for foreign and local investors, captains of industry and multilateral agencies. Working together, we will build a new Niger Delta that fulfills the mandate of NDDC, of a region that is indeed socially stable, economically prosperous, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.
“To succeed, we must remain committed to doing things differently from the past. We must move from the era where we express a determination to making a difference in the Niger Delta, to actually making a difference. There is no better time than now. We are improving and strengthening our internal processes and institutional protocols. We are taking definitive and definite steps towards following due process in all our operations. We must become transparent in ways that build confidence among our partners and stakeholders. We must be more mindful in the allocation of funds to projects and programmes, and remove all areas of waste.
“Ultimately, it is our belief that this new initiative will help build needed consensus among partners and across the Niger Delta, to ensure that we can, together, truly implement visible projects and programmes with far-reaching impact in our communities, in our shared and unwavering commitment to rebuilding the Niger Delta, and bequeathing to ourselves and our future a region of which we all can be proud.”
As part of his engagements, Ogbuku has given life again to the Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) Forum. Only recently, at a budget harmonisation and reconstruction conference in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, he brought together a number of important stakeholders involved in regional development efforts, in order to collaborate in delivering quality projects and programmes for the region, at considerably reduced cost. He has rebuilt the relationship between the NDDC and relevant institutions and is creating a new Commission that is better equipped to deliver on its mandate.
The people have noticed. Governments in the region have noticed, as well as the National Assembly, the OICs and the diplomatic corps representing international development agencies. But, more importantly, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has obviously noticed, by reappointing him to “continue fashioning a veritable path to ensuring an NDDC that delivers on the president’s Agenda of Hope,” by helping to restore hope to the region and its people. That is the journey ahead.
100 days in office: Mbah’s audacious restoration of hope in Enugu State
By Prince Ejeh Josh
Over the past 100 days in Enugu State since Peter Mbah took the oath of office as the Executive Governor of the state, the people of the state, and by extension, interacting people within the global sphere of cybernetics, could have observed the glaring evidence targeted at redefining the historical trajectory of the state and shaping the shared values and common destiny of the citizens in terms of what the state could achieve in the next four to eight years that would span the tenure of the administration.
Rather than bask in the euphoria that associates with the ascension of office of the governor and the command he enjoys, Governor Mbah literally set agenda for his administration even long before his election as governor. He was clear as to what the shape of leadership his government would take. He understands that the journey to arriving at the destination which he had set for himself would be tortuous, rough and tough to navigate if he must reach there with his governance philosophy being achieved.
Before Mbah took over office as governor, the state and the Southeast zone had been brooded over by hydra-headed challenges arising from insecurity, economic comatose, alarming rate of poverty, infrastructural decay, dwindling revenue, youth restiveness and leadership deficiency. These were consequential issues that deserved immediate antidotes and determined political will to solve.
One would have no doubt that the hope of rescuing the state from this multifaceted asphyxiation was farfetched given the trend of leadership culture, self-glorification and primal accumulation over altruistic gesture and lack of empathy by leaders. However, for the governor, tackling these menaces would go beyond commitment to marshaling actionable plans phased with measurable indicators and citizen-participation in governance.
In the midst of this deeming hope, Mbah pulled the string in a swift move he called disruptive innovation. Keen watchers of the emerging development, although described the actions as an unpredictable shift in the norm of governance in the country, submitted that such audacity to confront the contemporary challenges frontally would figure out the governance as the “last man standing” who had refused to be cowed by monstrous threats consuming the state like a deadly cancer.
In order to leave nobody in doubt as to his resolve to bring an array of hope to his people, who had been plagued by the holocaust of insecurity fundamentally manifesting in different variants such as the illegal sit-at-home declared by some criminal non-state actors, frightening spate of kidnapping and terrorist activities, Mbah had spared no time to identify that as an elephant to be escorted out of the state.
He explained why his administration would not cower to blackmail or be deterred by social media terrorism in the efforts to rid the state of insecurity. That explanation directly went to the threshold of his governance philosophy and promise to drive the state out of economic doldrums, eradicate poverty through exponential growth, industrialise the state with the deliberate agro-allied policy the administration had put in place. All these lofty dreams would not see the light of the day if insecurity was not dealt a fatal blow.
This led to the immediate cancellation of the much dreaded illegal sit-at-home order by criminals who had been holding the people by the jugular. The governor rallied the security architecture by building a formidable synergy among the security agencies. Fighting and winning the war against insecurity, especially the self-inflicted sit-at-home order driven by propaganda, acute ignorance and indoctrination, could be stormy and exhausting. The governor was reminded of the attempts made by different states to dismantle the chain of slavery called “sit-at-home” and how they cowardly recoiled back to their shell. Mbah would not be deterred. It was no retreat! His passion to liberate his people from implosion, starvation, ignorance and extinction saw him pledging to make the ultimate sacrifice such as his personal comfort and the reputation he had painstakingly built as a global citizen.
The commitment to provide a safe, secure and peaceful environment where investors could find attractive, sink their capital, move the state away from public sector to private sector driven economy carefully delineated to meet the $30 billion gross domestic product has seen the new administration supporting security agencies for the emerging new state. Arguably, today, Enugu State is one of the safest states for business, tourism and living. Within a short period of 100 days, Mbah was able to turn things around—moving Enugu from a state of dystopia to a state enviously standing tall amongst its contemporaries.
Sit-at-home, from all indications, has become a thing of history not only in Enugu State, but in the entire Southeast region. Mbah cracked and demystified the myth and restored sanity to the region. However, he has refused to take the credit, attributing the success to the cooperation he enjoyed from the people who elected him.
In the area of water, the state had hitherto become notorious and archetypal of an oasis without hope. Water was a luxury. It was years of agony for the residents of the state. Hope of having water flowing again in the premier state had not only dimmed but had also dissipated over the past decades.
When Mbah assumed office and said he wanted to do things differently by giving the people of the state clean water that would be taken for granted within 180 days of his administration, many had described it as a political joke taken too far. That promise sounded strange to their hearing. Perhaps, it was factual impossibility because they were used to bad governance.
The governor said it was a promise he must achieve, in fact, in less than that 180 days’ timeframe. He assembled the best of the engineers who identified the issues and the quick fix remedies. He understood that the daily consumption rate of water in the state metropolis is about 100,000 cubic metres, and the capacity each of the sources of water in the state could produce. With the intervention so far, in less than 100 days in office, the state is generating over 125,000 cubic metres of water. At the Ninth Mile crash programme, the target of producing 60,000 cubic metres has been met through over 18 industrial boreholes of 150 horsepower pumps each. The Oji and Ajali water schemes had been activated to a capacity of about 60,000 cubic metres, with the Iva Valley producing between 5,000 and 6,000 cubic metres of water. Harvesting water from these sources could mean sending rocket to the space for those that had previously tried it. But Mbah has done it through another means by disrupting the traditional space.
Currently, massive works are ongoing at some of the reservoir facilities, which had been abandoned for years. With the Abaja Ngwo pressure tank housing about 10,000 cubic metres, High Pressure Tank at Ugwu Peak with 3,000 cubic metres, North East Tank at Emene with 12,500 cubic metres, Nsude Break Pressure tanks with over 2,500 cubic metres and Milliken Hill storing 20,000 cubic metres of water, all now restored to good working condition, the state is set for the industrial revolution.
Presently, the state-of-the-art model school, which would be constructed in the 260 wards in the state with its pilot scheme at the verge of completion, the Mbah’s administration has set the pace for what is termed digital revolution. The model of the school is targeted at exposing every child in the state who has attained the age of three to information and communication technology (ICT). The idea of the education policy is to have our children compete with students in developed countries. This is a foundation for a generation that would drive the needed development in the international digital space.
The governor had earlier bemoaned the increasing poverty among the citizens and made it a matter of state policy to eradicate poverty by bringing the index to zero percent. This process has been activated with the payments of arrears of pensions, which his government inherited. He is as well taking further steps to clear the over 17 years of gratuities the state and local governments are owing its retirees. The development economists are already describing this step as a policy that would radically transform the economy of the state in a matter of time.
Enugu environment is now second to none in the country. Few months ago, the state was an object of ridicule, decked with stench and foul-smelling refuse and garbage. Every street and corner had a fair share of heaps of rubbish. It appeared the state had lost sense of urgency to governance. But the governor reasoned that things would not continue in that trend. Health, he noted, is wealth. To do things differently, in that very week he took office, he declared a state of emergency on the environment with his crack team. In just three months, with modern waste management system, refuse disposal compactor trucks and trained personnel, Enugu is breathing back to life. The aesthetics is back. Night life is also back in the state with the attention the streets had recently got in areas of street light, proper policing system, decent traffic management and assurances of safety.
The governor is known for his policy on innovation and digital transformation of the public service through e-governance. This is a key to efficiency and proactive response approach to meeting the people needs. In only 100 days, Enugu State has joined the comity of states with a platform of e-governance and automation of services. Most of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies have migrated from traditional pipeline of offering services to modern method where anyone can access the state’s services in any part of the world. All thanks to the innovative digital governor.
Several reforms that would ensure accountability, transparency, traceability and prudent management of the state resources had been taken by Governor Mbah in the past months. At least, 81 roads had also been identified to be constructed and completed before the end of 2023. Mbah’s audacity to do things differently even in the face of resistance by norms that had stunted growth is beaming an array of hope. Gradually, the state is inching closer to the tomorrow, which is already hovering around us.
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