By Williams Chika
ASABA/Nigeria: Few weeks after former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, wrote an open letters to President Mohamedu Buhari, warning him not to seek a rerun election in 2019 owing to his poor performance, the former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Olisa Enebeli Imegwu has call on President Buhari to tackle the various challenges confronting the nation or quit.
In an open letter to President Buhari titled; “YOU ARE WARNED! EXECUTIVE INACTION VS. LEGISLATIVE IMPERIALISM”, the outspoken politician said it is the height of INJUSTICE to have the IPP project built in Okpai, Ndokwa East LGA, and stepped down in Obosi, Anambra State, and supplies light to 14 States in the South and no Light for Ndokwa Nation.
Mr. President, your first duty as a president is to show leadership and uphold the laws/constitution. After I had begged for money, about N1.5 Million in Full Page Vanguard publications, June 16, 2015; March 10, 2016; May 21, 2016; to support you and sang your praises, and having waited for 3 yrs for result, I must say, I am disappointed. In governance and party discipline, you failed in the following areas: your lack of control of your party in the NASS and the inability to hold Board of Trustee meeting/National Convention of the party; your lack of control and discipline amongst the heads of agencies/ministries under your supervision, e.g., DSS/EFCC, AGF/EFCC, Ex-SGF corruption case, NSA $43 million Ikoyi flat money, Maina reinstatement debacle; NEPOTISM: i.e., failing to deploy the Best and the Brightest, to cut the High cost of Governance; Curb Insecurity/Herdsmen menace; Create jobs; a pass mark on the fight against corruption; and your failure to treat my petition for justice regarding the Return of My Stolen Mandate, Vanguard, May 21, pg.12, 2015. In it, the Police, Courts and INEC, were fingered as the “agents of INJUSTICE, the POLICE, was accused of a cover-up and impunity. Second, and the focus of this piece, is the failure to implement the Law/Constitution on the budget and the NDDC Act, 2000.
If you persist in colluding with the members of NASS to distort the 2017 budget and the implementation of the Core Mandate of the NDDC Act, 2000, resign. It is worrisome that since you assumed office as President under the umbrella of APC, your budgets have never been approved on time, e.g., the 2017 budget, is to be implemented beginning this March, 2018, the circle ends in 3 months. The often spewed out excuses of lack of funds, or the blame on the complicity and duplicity of NASS, are no longer tenable in the face of the biting hunger, poverty and sufferings of average Nigerians. Your other defence, that NASS, not only delayed the passage, that it significantly distorted them to the extent that budgetary allocations to specific projects were slashed to fund their pet projects, pales with your inability to act for the greatest good of Nigerians, millions of whom suffering, unemployed and stuck on the fringes of poverty and despondency. A condition where many of whom have taken refuge in the booming and lucrative enterprise of kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution, herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgency.
Forget, about the economic indices or statistics reeled out by your economic experts, go to our schools where teachers are owed salaries, parents can’t pay school fees for their children, hospitals: no drugs/equipments and patients die needlessly, the markets: where prices of goods are beyond the rich of average, and poor Nigerians; 35 States can’t pay salaries of workers, Vanguard, Feb. 25, 2018; no Regular Power Supply to Nigerians; you will get a human face to the sufferings. Mr. President, if the above failings are not as a matter of urgency addressed, I warn you and the North, not to go the way of Ex-President Jonathan, who begged for Forgiveness and who ignored my warnings to him twice with the headings “Beware of the Ides of March, Is there No Balm in Gilead and “ I am No. 2 on the Sniper’s List”, Vanguard, pg. 12. To succeed, show leadership and courage and don’t be bordered by the elitist/ruling class’s postulation of the Western Version of Rule of Law, take advantage of Section 15(5) CFRN, 1999, Vanguard March 10, 2016, pg 45. It makes it a duty on the State, of which you are the head, to abolish corrupt practices and the abuse of power. Where, therefore, NASS, inexplicably delayed/distorted/slashed about N135 billion allocated to specific projects or neglect to screen, approve or reject your nominees for appointment as required by the constitution, an act amounting to abuse of office. It beholds on you to invoke the said duty. More so, where your assertion is that such a distortion fundamentally affects your priority projects as well as makes implementation impossible. Your failure to discharge this duty will make the citizens to be less enthusiastic in their “…respect of the ideals of the institution…. legitimate authorities… as provided under Section 24 of CFRN, 1999.
What ails you? Is it the lack of understanding of the law or the power politics of NASS that has intimidated you to fall for the hollow and self-serving postulation of the law as presented by NASS, on the legality of virement vis-à-vis Section 80(2)(4) of CFRN, 1999. Borrow a leave from jurisprudence and apply the law as an IDIOT, an ASS or a BACHELOR, as did by NASS, and then implement the original version of your budget for the benefit of the suffering, poor, unemployed average Nigerians. In retrospect, that was what was done when Ex-President Jonathan was in office, NASS approved virement for him and it never was an issue. Do what is good in the national interest, let the aggrieved go to Court, sections 13, 14, 15 & 16 of CFRN, 1999, protect you, mind you, the whole of Chapter 2 of CFRN, 1999, is Non-Justiceable, pg.45. One of the requirements of these sections, is “…that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…” You are, therefore, on a more solid legal ground than the SINGAPOREAN MODEL. In it, its founding father discarded the western version of Rule of Law by suspending its application in his patriotic pursuit of the greatest good for the Singaporeans. Nigerians will not only applaud you, they will mobilize against any elite/ruling class who opposes you; a Caveat, that is, if they believe your acts are borne of patriotism and in the national interest. SINGAPORE, is a success story of the economic miracles of the ASIAN TIGER. You can do better.
You stand accused of colluding with NASS, and guilty because, according to you, “you reluctantly assented to 2017 budget…. very aware of the significant distortions…” Vanguard, October 9, 2017 Pg 5. You are, either lacking courage or misadvised, otherwise, why would you indulge in the delay of the implementation of the budget after you had extracted a “gentleman agreement… from NASS to withdraw the ‘pockets projects’ put by them and got approved the movement of the funds to the projects originally captured in your budget, pg 5. In law, for an agreement to become valid, key elements of capacity and intention must be involved, and if that is the case, the Rule of Law which, it appears you loath, have been complied with. The law is an Idiot, Ass and a Bachelor, apply it that way, you can’t go wrong. For NASS to unilaterally refuse to abide by it without justification is an abuse of power barred by Section 15(5) of the Constitution.
The call for the dissolution of the NDDC Board is based on the inaction of the board to implement the provisions of the NDDC Act, 2000, as it concerns the coastal riverine arrears of Ndokwa Nation, particularly, Ndokwa East LGA, the goose that lays the Golden Egg. Its central plank is that development shall be centered in the States of the South that produce oil, with an emphasis on the Niger Delta Oil Producing Areas, where the needs are greatest. While it is not in contention that projects should be done in other areas, the Niger Delta Oil Producing Communities, with the greatest needs in terms of road construction, Shore Protection, Reclamation and other infrastructural Developmental needs, are often neglected. For instance, in Delta State, Delta North Senatorial District, where Ndokwa Ethnic Nationality is located, Ndokwa East LGA, has over the years suffered an unpardonable neglect. 98% of the LGA, straddles along the coastal riverine area of the Niger Delta region, with it, are the identifying features of rivers, flooding, erosion and inhospitable terrain. When it flooded in 2012, 98% of it was overrun by water. Note that the N17.6 Billion provided by the Federal Government to mitigate the hardship arising from the flood, didn’t get to the victims in Ndokwa Nation, particularly, Ndokwa East LGA.
Second, the former NDDC MD, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, claimed that the Commission approved emergency repairs and rehabilitations of roads in the 9 Mandate States in 2016, there is no sign of such projects in Ndokwa East LGA that budget year, may be, in Ndokwa West and Ukwuani LGAs, as their leaders have not complained, Nation October 11, 2016. It is only recently, with the active support of the DS, Rt. Hon. Friday Osanebi, that this February 2018, when we are yet to get 2017 budget approved and awarded and 2018 budget yet to be approved, that the Senator representing the district out of the blues announced “Proposed New Projects” for the LGA. We commend him for the effort. Like Oliver Twist, we asked, what about the NDDC Projects from its inception and those of 2015, 2016 and 2017. We are not holding our neglect of the years when the current Senator was not in office against him. Reason being that, it is the duty of the board, not the Senator, during the implementation of the budget, to strike a balance on the distribution of projects as envisaged by the Act, and where that is not the case, it is our constitutional and democratic right to make representations to him, particularly when NDDC “devotes 70% and 30% of its budget to the completion of awarded on-going projects and new projects, respectively, Nation, November 17, 2017. Yet, projects awarded over 7 to 10 yrs ago, remained abandoned, namely: (1) Aballa Obodo/Aballa Uno Road (2) Iselegu/ Onu Aboh/Inyi/Okpai Road, (3) 4-Mile Shore Protection Project at Okpai, Ndokwa East LGA.
The people of Ndokwa Nation, particularly Ndokwa East LGA, would want to commend the NDDC for implementing its budget as envisaged in the Act in such Communities as Olero Creek Community, in Ondo State, Odi and Nembe Communities, in Bayelsa State, Iko, ikang, Akata, Opolam, Ikot-Enwang, Okoroutip and Iwochang Communities in Akwa-Ibom State, Tebu-Gbokoda, Ijebu-Gbokoda, Ijebu Gbokoda-Udo and Udo-Ajamita Roads, all in ancient Itsekiri Community, the story is the same in Urhobo and Isoko Communities etc., in Delta State, Nation, November 17, 2017. Infact, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, after a tour of some NDDC Projects, “could not hide his joy, …when he declared”, I wish that we can have this type of projects all over the Niger Delta…” pg. 25.
As we speak about the neglect of Ndokwa Nation, particularly, the coastal, Oil Producing Rural Communities in the terms of NDDC projects, not much has been done equally in the siting of Constituency Projects, either. According to the Nation’s Investigators, who toured the Senatorial District for over 2 weeks in search of Constituency Projects carried out, in this case of Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency, by Sen. Nwaoboshi and Hon. Ossai N. Ossai, “…could not track any … except projects attracted through NDDC”, and even when they engage in empowerment programs, they appeared as Personal donations rather than Constituency Projects, Nation, October 8, 2017. It is, therefore, argued that Empowerment Programmes should be distinguished from Constituency Projects, as it is alleged that some of these Lawmakers pocketed their constituency allocations, pg. 52-53. We want to know, is Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency, entitled to constituency projects, if yes, where are they sited, if not, Why?
It must be pointed out also that the Legislators are not entirely to be blamed for the short-changing of the communities in question, the leaders of these communities, who got compromised by the legislators with small stipends/contracts or “peanuts”, who looked away, and allowed the law-makers to get away with the Diversion or Non-Delivery”, share equally in the blame, Nation, October 8, 2017. This neglect or the non-implementation of projects as envisaged by the NDDC Act 2000, is also traceable, according to an insider in NASS, Hon. Daniel Reyenieju, to the appointments of “…some INDIVIDUALS who are not from OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES of their respective states, hence, engage in a deliberate act of cheating and short-changing these communities…”, the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs. Mr. President, assert your leadership and get the BOARD OF NDDC to implement the NDDC Act as stipulated by law or dissolved it. Also, find out what happened to funds released by NDDC in 2016 for the REPAIRS AND REHABILITATION OF ROADS IN THE 9 MANDATE STATES.
Right now, if not for the intervention of the State Government, both in the past, when the allocation was sufficient, and now when the allocation has tapered, some major Ndokwa East LGA road projects such as Kwale/Ashaka/Igbuku/Aboh Road, Iselegu, Beneku, Ashaka, Afor-Obidigbo, Ossissa, Ushie Roads, would not have been possible. Although this February 2018, Sen. Nwaoboshi, has promised NDDC activity in the LGA, we commend him for that, but he must advise members of his media Team, SPON MEDIA TEAM (i.e. Senator Peter O. Nwaoboshi Media), who engage those who ask the Senator questions with blackmail, insults, personal attacks and threats, to desist from such tactic. Second, he should caution them not to claim that the Senator will influence NDDC or Constituency Projects only to his aides or the areas of those who voted for him as punishment for those who did not vote for him. Infact, SPON, listed the few names of the LEADERS who voted for him that he favored in this current budget, and the names of LEADERS to be favored in the next budget, a good example, why implementation of the NDDC Act is distorted.
It is unconscionable and impolitic, as it is malicious, anti-democratic and beyond the pale, to use NDDC projects that way. NDDC projects are funded by our tax payers’ money/revenue, its benefits should be of generalizing effect, not selective or used to witchunt or blackmail citizens who didn’t vote for the Senator or who asked him questions. When the projects are objectively distributed, they go a long way to complement what the State Government is doing across the state even with limited resources. For example, Aboh Polytechnic, Delta State, abandoned by the previous govt. for lack of funds, could be inherited and funded by NDDC. I thank His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, for his Smart Agenda and developmental strides thus far across the state in just 3 years, and if he is encouraged, the areas not yet reached, would certainly be attended to in the 4th year or in his 2nd term in office; development, given the paucity of funds, is gradual and incremental.
I thank the leaders and stakeholders of Ndokwa East LGA who catalogued our demands into a communiqué presented to the DS, Rt. Hon. Friday Osanebi, who didn’t disappoint us. By his constant feedback to me, he reached out to the Senator who now responded with Proposed New Projects being seen in this month of February, 2018 in the LGA. Finally, while commending both for the Proposed New Projects, we remind them of the already awarded projects of over 7 – 10 years ago, as stated previously. Further, part of the 30% in NDDC budget for new projects for the years of 2016 and 2017 should be accounted for and be allocated to roads in the Coastal, riverine communities of Utchi, Ibrede, Lagos Iyede, Iyede Ami, Onuogbokor, Akarai, Umut, Umuolu, Adia, Utuoku, Warri Irri, Onyia, Ase, Asaba Ase, Ibedeni, Azagba and Epe, in the LGA. The Step-down of the IPP project at Okpai, Ndokwa East LGA, for the whole of Ndokwa Nation, should not be abandoned as was done before. It is the height of INJUSTICE to have the IPP project built in Okpai, stepped down in Obosi, Anambra State, and which supplies light to 14 States in the South and no Light for Ndokwa Nation.
PRESIDENT, when YOU do the above, you will not be as remorseful as Ex President Jonathan when you vacate office. You not only need the Best and the Brightest, you also need patriotic Nigerians, whether poor or rich, North or South, with Godfather or no Godfather. I am offering myself in that capacity, but I must reclaim my Stolen Mandate by scaling the hurdles of party primaries in Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency, Delta state, whose lost mandate I labor to reclaim. Like