Only God Saved Delta, and Nigeria
Ibori took eight years of our state life by fraud and plucked off all the fruits he saw in the orchard into his personal winepress, and became not only despicably and foolishly rich but every inch pompous and arrogant. The pomposity and arrogance of Ibori came to a peak in the last days of Yar’Adua when darkness and rot overwhelmed all three arms of government at the centre, and the wheels of governance was not only punctured but the whole nation remembered the darkness of the Abacha years. May this country not see those days again! But we in Delta state have had much of it up to the brim over the years. May Delta state not see those days again whether by proxy in Uduaghan or anybody else! All vestiges of Ibori, and that include Ovie Omo-Agege who has also become stinking rich at our expense, must go. That is how to heal Delta state fast.
Indeed, Richard Wilson, a British writer may well be referring to Charles De Gaulle when he wrote: “An improbable creature, like a human giraffe, sniffing down his nostril at mortals beneath his gaze”. That is truer with Ibori. De Gualle is a military man and great general, and so that can be somewhat understood. Ibori is not. Ibori has never enrolled into the force. But he was probably close enough to Abacha to be dangerously transformed.
Else, how could one civilian man under democracy think he could rubbish our mandate, the electorate, and our treasuries perpetually without any wink; or rubbish the rule of law and our courts at all levels unendingly without blush; or hold Aso Rock, our National Assembly, judiciary and the nation, ransom. This causes strings of perplexity to say the least.
Having bankrolled the election campaigns cost of Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s presidential bid (one state governor footing electoral bills of two colleagues who were themselves governors like himself) with the monies of Deltans, he became an improbable (difficult to believe) creature, like a human giraffe, sniffing down his nostril at mortals beneath his gaze. ONLY GOD SAVED ALL OF US (NIGERIA).
Besides the eight years he stole from us, he wanted to give by fraud another eight years of our state life to Uduaghan, the extension of himself. The ‘mandate’ that Uduaghan had in 2007 was Ibori’s mandate that attracted the compulsory nod of members of his Executive, the state legislature (who were selected and planted by him of course), local government councils (who were also selected and planted by him), board members etc and all of whom constitute hierarchies within that obnoxious cabal that pulled down anything pleasant in the state. The people know well enough that a vote for Uduaghan is a vote for Ibori. They couldn’t have voted for Uduaghan. They won’t do that.
Uduaghan: Actions and not Mien
Uduaghan is Ibori’s disciple. Like Ibori like Uduaghan; therefore like Abacha like Uduaghan! And that is logical, rational and plausible! Abacha-Ibori-Uduaghan: A political blood stream that is.
Uduaghan may not have the military facial fierceness of Abacha or the facial toughness of Ibori. He may be free from Ibori’s gawps and intimidating stares that sent many running under. Uduaghan’s presence may not be nerve-cracking as his boss’s. His posture and carriage may be different from Ibori’s. But this Uduaghan’s mien could be deceptive.
To serve Ibori as commissioner in one term, then in another term as secretary to government; a post that put him in-charge of the rot Ibori occasioned in the state, and to eventually take over the baton of un-mandated gubernatorial management of the state unarguably to cover Ibori’s tracks, you can appreciate the point being made here. It takes a heart diametrically opposed to or facing away from the mien that Uduaghan present to our glare to do all that. The heart it is. It speaks louder, for it speaks (by) actions. Mien could be deceptive.
Ask African Independent Television (AIT) how it came about pairing Abacha and Uduaghan together in its pairing of each past head of state with each present governor in one of their pictorial package it beams at us from time to time. You think it is coincidence? And you say too that if that package was dreamt up in the days of Ibori and Ibori was paired with Abacha that would have been okay. Who is Ibori and who is Uduaghan? Different faces but same heart. Isn’t that not why Ibori thinks that the baton must be dubiously Uduaghan’s? It takes one heart to trust another as his; and another to do the perfect bidding and realize the full expectation of the other. But they have failed.
So, no one should be deceived by some mien. Actions should be rather mirrored. And the people have their good mirrors. In those gruesome eight years of Ibori and of Uduaghan, the secretary to government that took notes or refused to take notes for about four years, they (the people) saw a lot and knew so much. And the people also swallowed so much venom directly under Uduaghan who was imposed on us as governor by Ibori: the lies, cover up and shameless defense of the past eight years of Ibori, the twisting of the hands of the courts, the continuity of serious corruption and the wasting of their lives. And they see the government sponsored news, features and paid adverts et cetera on broadcast and print media exactly as what they are: rubbish, fables and fictions.
Uduaghan’s Abracadabra as SSG
Immediately Ibori appointed Uduaghan secretary to his government he (Uduaghan) rolled himself out in high pretence. This is representative of what I mean: The year was 2004. The media had just ran a news story (January 20, 2004) on a complaint by Uduaghan, now the SSG to the Delta State Government in what could be described here as a stunning confession. According to the report, the then SSG had in a circular to heads of ministries and extra-ministerial departments in the state, written that “disturbing reports have been received that some ministries and extra-ministerial departments do not prepare contract agreements before contracts are executed and payments made to contractors”. He even went further: “the danger associated with this unhealthy practice is indeed very grave, because when a contractor is in breach of contract, it becomes difficult and obviously impossible to take legal steps to recover any money paid or contractor to remedy any defect in job executed”.
And he was to even own up that the procedures on documentation of contracts as spelt out in paragraph 9 of the circular letter No. SGD10/T/234 of September 28, 1999 on approved contracts, purchases, as well as the limit of authority to incur expenditure in Delta State was not being complied with. Fine, you may say. But wait a minute.
I took him up immediately on that. In the Vanguard of February 6, 2006 I did a piece about that with the caption: Uduaghan’s Escape Route. I asked who the then Delta State SSG was trying to protect and exonerate through his revelation on sharp practices in the award of contracts by some ministry officials.
I wrote: “At least, it is enough that some home truth is now being said in matters that are already public knowledge to a sentient electorate. It has been well documented as to why we have woes befalling Delta State since the inception of this democracy, despite the enormity of fund at the governor’s disposal. What many may not savvy nor cotton on to is that some N175 billion may have gone down the drain with this act of conscious and deliberate deviance or omission by dubious government officials. This is the very sad import of the SSG’s casual confession and disheartening gibberish; some N175 billion that may never be accounted for”. Note that this is 2004!
The piece threw up so much that was happening then in the state. It still represents a must read for all who want the best for Delta. There was no rejoinder. There was no defense put forth. There was no hammer or stic
k for those in the said ministries and extra-ministerial organs whose actions and inactions represented ‘disturbing reports’ to Uduaghan. No probe, because sharp practices has been the in-thing since 1999 when Ibori came on board with his boys, Uduaghan apparently being the most faithful and trustworthy of them in this Ibori’s affront on us all and our livelihood. Any serious probe would have sent a mammoth crowd to jail. And anybody in government would have been swept along in that current of riddance. So, no one ventured a probe. It was not even muted. And then there was dead silence! And if you thought hearts of men would thereafter come alive, you were dead wrong. Nothing changed till Ibori promoted Uduaghan from SSG to governor. And nothing has changed since then.
That circular only helped to deceive some that government was putting up some new face. It only tried to put us off guard so that ‘the boys’ can go on with business as usual. This drama reminded us of a sinister company foremen who shouts pretentiously on their equally sinister workers when superior officers or heads of such companies are around just to please their superiors momentarily ((and the boys being aware of the pretence) but the moment the bosses show their backs everything returns in situ. And of course, that is not without pinching and twitching themselves, giving each other the ‘high five’ and their foremen the thumbs up, just as they freely let out laughter, and engage in feast of smear and slur directed at their bosses, now, in their absence. We all know that in democracy the people are the bosses.
That circular was intended to put us to sleep so that the thieves can continue their menace: burrow more into our finances, without yell and screech from outside or outsiders. And so, having sent many to look the other way the sharp practices went more furtive. And the mirth resumed: The pinching and twitching, the ‘high fives’ and thumbs up, and the laughter on the one hand and the smear and slur on the other hand. Meanwhile, they are furiously leeching our blood bank and dripping blood. NOTHING CHANGED!
Uduaghan and Corruption at DESOPADEC
Few months before Uduaghan was made governor by Ibori to continue the siege on us, Ibori sent a bill to the State House of Assembly, a bill that eventually created the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and which was actually an attempt to try to silence the opposition that has long hammered on the need to give reasonable part of the derivation money that come to the state to the oil bearing communities, the absence of which being a reason for the squander mania that existed in Asaba. It was an attempt to preempt such a bill coming from the opposition when it either get back its stolen mandate or get another mandate which was imminent. And it was to deceive the people and make them believe that government was now being reasonable. But why was it few months to go? The election was ahead, and Ibori thought it can weaken the position of the opposition. And it soon became apparent that DESOPADEC had another reason that fathered it.
It is no longer news that the looting that took place in DESOPADEC touched Everest. And Uduaghan was now the governor under Ibori’s watch. When the opposition canvassed an instrument that will give the oil bearing communities the right to partake in the expenditure of their money it was not recommending a drain pipe. We were properly informed, guided and well-intentioned. Those that stole the people’s mandate hurriedly thought they should preempt us. Without a heart for it they went into this. It was no surprising therefore that they launched a sweeping and most cruel attack on almost all that was allocated to DESOPADEC. The monies that go to DESOPADEC can handle the old Bendel state in prudent management. But most sadly, DESOPADEC was handled as their private property. If you are looking for multimillionaires, go to the leadership of DESOPADEC and those that gave that leadership to it.
It is apical looting. This went on and on with excessive severity, hurting us to the marrow all these three and half years. Then again, with few months to go Uduaghan just relieved the board members of DESOPADEC, and constituted an interim management committee in its place. He merely lamented that he has so far released N79 billion to the Commission. By our calculation that money was released within three years or under, and with nothing to show that one-forth of that sum was really spent on Deltans and their environment. And no one is probing into the books. Scores of countries in the world don’t have such money you know. And he also expressed surprise, as it were, that total amount of contracts awarded by the Commission far exceeded its annual budget. And that was all about it. Then he reasoned that it was such excessive award of contract that indebted the Commission to contractors. Excessive award of contracts! Financially bloated DESOPADEC indebted to contractors! Even when we do not see in our oil bearing communities executed jobs commensurate with one-quarter of what DESOPADEC gets, and even when some of the few we see are shoddily done! And he was to add this too: “I hope that in a couple of months we will put behind us the issue of contract debt in DESOPADEC, contractors whose contracts are genuinely awarded should be patient with us”. What about those not genuinely awarded? Silence! And when you know how DESOPADEC was run before the desolation of the board, you will understand the silence.
So, the same old game: Few months to go! The same old story: no probing! And they hope to placate us with a caretaker committee and put the past of DESOPADEC behind. I do hope the opposition under Ogboru will probe that body when it comes on board less than eighty days from now.
Uduaghan, Asaba Airport and IPP Projects
The airport in Asaba, originally earmarked for N1.7 billion, took a leap to N6 billion. And while tongues were still wagging over that awful bloat, about N18 billion was already expended, with a whooping N40 billion now the new target. Why? They say this airport is going to be the best in Nigeria, or is it Africa or Third World? But go to the airport today; it is not worth N5 billion yet. But about N18 billion is been spent (actually swindled) already. No one quarrels with an airport in Asaba or any part of Delta for that matter.
But do we need a Harsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Heathrow Airport or Tokyo International Airport in Delta? ‘Why not’, I hear you ask? These leading world busiest airports (by passenger traffic) have annual passenger traffic of 84, 846, 639; 77, 028,134; 67,530, 197; and 65, 810, 672 respectively. We are talking of tens or even scores of millions. All the passenger traffic in all our Nigeria’s 21 airports (as at three years ago) have annual passenger traffic of 7.2 million. That is when even Johannesburg Airport alone has 9 million passenger traffic and Cairo Airport 8 million (as at three years ago). If passenger traffic in Cairo or Johannesburg is more than all the airports in Nigeria put together who is telling me at Asaba that Asaba airport is designed and being constructed to be the best (in the universe?). Who is fooling us? Who is stealing what?
This is why we cannot but agree with Ogboru: “What do you need a N40 billion project in Asaba for? Where people haven’t good schools, where we don’t have industries that are working. Where our health facilities are not functioning and where the peasant farmers are not given any form of assistance. So you will question that kind of investment”.
And then the Independent Power Plant (IPP) project: This one is outright fraud! Almost everyone knows this except, perhaps, EFCC. Many have pensively drawn attention to this project that has already wolfed N16 billion with nothing on ground to show for it. And we must also recall that in a petition sent to EFCC and sig
ned by 23 members of the Delta State Elders Forum led by Chief Edwin Clark, they accused Uduaghan of alleged fraud in the contract for the Independent Power Plant in Oghareki. According to the Elders, despite the staggering sum the project is said to have already guzzled there is nothing on ground to show that such amount of money has been spent. In this petition dated 22nd of November, 2010 the elders said that various petitions show that there is nothing on ground as what is left is an empty land overgrown by bush.
Where is Delta N800 billion Plus Derivation Money?
As Ogboru reminded us recently, “it is on record that from June 2000 when the 13% derivation principle was started that Delta State has received over N800 billion but that money is not invested in the State. Eight hundred billion! This is too bad.
And that is besides locally generated fund however poor and lean it is. Of course, poor and lean because the robbers of our mandate and skewers of our destinies see governance as allocation of resources, and not generation! And if government is even just about allocating ready made food we would not even mind so much if ALL that is to be so allocated go to those it is meant for, i.e. all segment of society, the total citizenry. But not so in Delta these whole decade plus.
NOTHING suggests that 15 percent of that N800 billion is here with the masses of Deltans. But we have ex and current this and that living as though they inherited Bill Gate-like estate from their fathers. You really cannot represent on paper the evil that has reared its head to Everest in Delta. Mephistophelian elements are in the saddle here. And generality of Deltans are pauperized. But give N800 billion to a democrat, one who truly believes that democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people and see what becomes of Delta State.
And when you add other forms of income and loans received by Ibori and Uduaghan so-called governments overtime we may be talking of a trillion plus. Almost all that money is in private possessions. Somebody in Abuja may need to come down to Delta to find that out. And even right now the interim government of Obi has asked for and perhaps received loan to the tune of N20 billion for him to spend in TWO MONTHS. Jamboree!
Be it as it may, the next re-run election is the hope of all Deltans. Not to say that there is no frantic effort and do-or-die game plan on the part of the looters of our commonwealth to see that Uduaghan must be sworn in as governor, since they dread what could be their end with Uduaghan out and Ibori and family drowning deeper and deeper each day. They don’t want to account for stolen monies. This is the reason for the frantic effort they are putting up. EFCC MUST TAKE NOTE! AND INEC TOO!
Uduaghan in the Corruption News
The Street Journal (Sunday, 07 November 2010) reported that Uduaghan is indicted in Ibori’s money laundering case. It states that “the present Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has been named as one of the accomplices of his predecessor in the on-going money laundering trial.” The prosecuting team led by Ms. Sasha Wass in her closing statement before the London Southwark Crown court on the morning of Saturday, 06 November 2010 told the court “that Dr. Uduaghan, SSG in Chief Ibori’s regime, facilitated some illicit deals. The Lead Prosecutor, Ms. Sasha Wass disclosed to the court that Dr. Uduaghan authorized most of the heavily over-inflated contracts that went to one of Ibori’s front companies (Sagicom Ltd). She also told the court that most of the contracts were for N1.8 billion or above, including for the supply of fine wine and beverages. Dr. Uduaghan was also alleged by the British prosecutors to have personally used his office as the Secretary to the State Government to authorize payments that were made to Christine Ibie-Ibori, sister to former Governor James Ibori.”
According to the Lead Prosecutor, the payments made included one of £69,000 and another of £79,000. Reference was also made to N39 million in cash, which was allegedly delivered to James Ibori’s sister in two boxes. The prosecutor said that a company called KOLN was used to transfer funds out of Nigeria for the benefit of the governor’s sister, and into her account. It is an open secret that Governor Uduaghan and Chief Ibori enjoyed a very good relationship while they served in government together. Street Journal “also gathered that while Chief Ibori’s country home has been repainted, the Delta State Government had already planned a rousing welcome for him in anticipation that he would be allowed to return to Nigeria from Dubai. The expectation however fell through as the Dubai court hearing his case ruled in favour of Ibori’s extradition.”
In sane societies, is not these allegations frightening reason enough for men to resign their position and offices! Does Nigeria not belong to the rest of the world with their enthralling values, ethics and practices! Here, he even thinks of facing the electorate whose billion of dollars is in question. Here, he wants to ask for the vote of impoverished people made so by a clique he belonged for eleven years, was its scribe for four years and led another three and half years. Here, he wants the people’s mandate he helped his boss to steal twice and his boss helped him to steal once. They think Deltans must be some low kind of breed to continue this assault on them. They are wrong. Very wrong!
Ogboru and the next People’s Mandate
The people would once again differentiate the ‘hackers’ buried head deep into our common treasury from the conscience of society that Ogboru has come to represent. It is good that our courts and INEC have decided now to square up and identify with sanity. The game is up. And the state’s books that may still be there and intact shall be opened. Of course, you know it was reported the other day that fire engulfed the State government’s Secretariat. Too bad a society! But there is hope.
So, the spoilers of society may have their stolen billions that they may want to dangle in the forthcoming election re-run in the state. No problem now. As usual Ogboru will have the people’s mandate. They may have brought savagery and loutish style to bear these many times and had their way over a refined people, civilized citizenry, and a state that will not take laws into its hands; and they may have denied a genteel Ogboru the people’s mandate more than ones. No problem now. Now that our laws and practitioners of it are gradually leading away from being on the side of savagery, the game is sure up for Ibori, Uduaghan and their sickening cohorts who have rubbished funds more than enough for the likes of Obafemi Awolowo to turn around the fortune of the geographical region that corresponds with the old Western Region.
As we write some heartless people have lodged these monies in their accounts home and abroad; used them to give further facelifts to skylines across Europe, Asia, America and South Africa; and plough them into businesses to boost those economies. For eleven years this was their chief vocation. They misappropriated, stole, defrauded and embezzled! If only they could convert the mastery and daringness exhibited here into good exercise. But they can’t. Apparently, their background wouldn’t permit that. And for eleven years, eleven richest years that the state knew, we paid dearly. We were impoverished beyond mention. It was no wonder therefore that the recent sacking of Uduaghan by the judiciary was greeted with huge relief and sweeping joy across the state; relief and joy that reminiscences the relief and joy that attended the death of Abacha and then the Ibori’s London travail, and which is just the beginning of the pay back.
And as Deltans go to the polls in a short while, the callousness and pomposity that attended politics this eleven years; the thick-headedness, intimi
dation, terror campaign or terrorization that was our ruin these many years and the sweeping corruption and unmatched looting that find its place into our body politics championed by Ibori and anchored by Uduaghan are the biting issues the electorate will be going with to the polls. They will be going with the biting and harrowing fact that their mandate has been rubbished these many times. They will go to the polls with the joy of having a man in Ogboru who is dogged, a democrat and a believer in the rule of law and one well informed and who could, with the force of good governance, sunder apart all the affront and poverty Ibori and Uduaghan has subjected them to these many years even in the face of plenty. These are the things they are impregnated with, and they will birth them at the polls.
That is what mandate is all about. Knowing that a cabal has tied them down, exploited them at will beyond words, the people’s pensiveness in these matters is never in doubt. And as usual they will be well guided come voting day. And their votes will be secured.
Delta State’s media houses must be living in a fool’s land therefore. Really, for how long will they bring members of the cabal to us to praise Uduaghan to high heavens on television! You will not hear the groaning of the people in Delta State Televisions or any government media for that matter. But the staff of those media houses hears the people’s groaning on the streets and their neighborhood. More than that: we hear what these staffs of those media houses say outside their workplace environment. Very different from the paid job they are doing in those media houses. And you really wonder how men can be real hypocritical because of morsel of bread. Anyway, if anyone especially Ibori, Uduaghan and their myrmidons; all, spoilers of society, want to hear the groaning and see the sighing in the state let him or her go to the homes, shops, and workplaces of the people. O sorry, Ibori cannot even now go to the streets of our dear state, because the state has never been dear to him these eleven years.
But whosoever can, let him go to the streets and chief places of concourse in state: It is all bad story; everybody wants this Ibori-Uduaghan siege dead; and Ogboru is on every lip as the hope. It is not that Ibori and his boys don’t know this as a matter of fact even before now, only that rigging and subversion has been their game. Now, that will not work.