Response to Mr Eze Monday Williams In His Article Titled: 'Poverty and Slavery New Political Weapons In Ebonyi State'
.....By Philip Nweze
I always refuse to respond to most online articles I read or to make acomment in the usual comment sections as it is usually a play ground for mostly unruly people. I however feel compelled in this case to save unsuspecting ebonyians from the clutches of a liar on a rampage.
It has become glaring that the near illiterate howler, who parades as a journalist manages to eke out a living by his continuous reckless character assassination. Since May 29, when Chief Umahi was sworn in, he has continually expressed his anger over the electoral defeat his political patrons suffered in the hands of the incumbent governor. Such a character clearly lacks the moral rights to critique anyone and cannot be the one to rely upon for serious information. Moday and his likes are pathetic products of a delusive segment of the pen profession that has gone completely rogue and vindictive after the unfavourable election weather.
He went ahead, without any iota of evidence, to pass judgment on Gov Umahi. In the bid to satisfy his fancy and in the ecstasy of hate as if permanently divorced from reality, Monday recited a truck load ofallegations. Few however, mostly caught my attention.
Among other things, he alleged that "Ebonyians are confined by His Excellency, Deacon David Umahi to low-profile lifestyles through high taxes, job losses and pay cuts, his government is doing white elephant and high profile projects as if Ebonyi State is in a period of economic boom!"
It seems like Monday has just woken up from his slumber to realize there is a global economic recession. Perhaps his sense of reasoning went on vacation. That is why he has labelled Governor Umahi the architect of the poverty in the land. Everybody in Nigeria knows that at this season of austerity, not even the Presidency has been spared the fury and lashings of the economic recession.
There was nothing compelling or urgent in Monday's delivery. Rather, it was a forced attempt by a compulsive critic at being seen to have taken his turn in commenting on a man who has become a staple for misguided opposition critics.
First, he tried to curry the pity of civil servants by painting the governor as an anti-labour man. I challenge Monday Eze to prove to the contrary the proposition that Gov Umahi had done for workers more than what all past Governors of the State did for them in Ebonyi State.
Under the present Government, and for the first time since the State was created: Salaries of civil servants is paid consistently on or before 15th of every month. This is followed by the recent liquidation of arrears of owed State Pensioners in the state.
So what exactly is Monday saying about workers becoming disenchanted with Umahi? As for his noise on increment ofworkers' salary, can Monday name any state governor who is talking about salary increment in this inclement economic condition.
Unlike in his earlier pieces, when, drunk with the inexplicable passion of hate and with cavalier contempt for the truth, Monday also Painted Umahi as a Machavilian who is pauperizing everyone else in order to emerge as the last man standing financially and politically during election season.
If there is any governor whose impact has been felt on human empowerment over the last one year it is Engr Umahi. His calm, but tactical approach to issues of governance has engendered the stability prevalent in the State today.
His rating among the five best governors in recent time had been attributed to his hard work, mastery of his mandate and courage of his convictions.
Monday has also failed to mention why Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has ordered the immediate sack of some non-academic staff of the state university and college of education.
In a state like Ebonyi it is not economically viable for the institutions to recruit adjunct staff in the non-academic cadre, as the employees will be redundant in their duties. It does not make ‘economic sense’ for the institutions to employ 400 cleaners as one wonders the scope and nature of work they will be doing. Even though the managements postulated ‘professional sense in employing such workers. but, with the prevailing economic situation in the country, it is only wise to effectively merge it with ‘economic sense.
The governor also placed embargo on promotion of staff in both institutions until the visitation panel and the state’s fiscal responsibility commission conclude their duties.
With this fiscal probity measures tuition fees can be reduced as obtained in other states of the South East geo political zone.
The said promotions was never terminated but suspended pending the conclusion of screening exercise of all the staff by a committee to determine genuine, ghost, fake and non-existent staff among them.
Understandably, the Government is very much worried and concerned with lack of proper documentation on each of them and therefore, deemed it necessary to establish their true status in order to save public funds from been diverted using ghost workers or unjustifiably collected by absconded staff who only showed up at the cashier’s table at the end of every month.
I was disappointed that he was silent on why Gov. Dave Umahi directed the immediate disengagement of 83 staff of the state College of Education, Ikwo, who came in through the back door. While, it is normal to recruit staff to achieve institutions accreditation objectives, the fact remains that they are not permanent staff.
Worse still, these officials made the appointments without recourse to the geographical spread of the state. The Governor has no apologies for insisting that appointments should reflect all areas of the state as it is the only way it would remain peaceful and united while achieving all its developmental objectives.
The most laughable part of Monday Eze's article is the claim that it was the caretaker chairmen's threat and the need to cover up high profile interference with council funds that led to their hurried dissolution and reappointment. This utterance is replete with gaping holes both in facts and logic. His unsubstantiated statement that the amendment of section 6 (3) of the law to make it impossible for the caretaker committee chairmen and members to resign from their respective positions arbitrarily has reduced their appointments to slavery and compulsory or forced labour which, according to him, "were prohibited by section 34(1)(b) and (c) of the Constitution of theFederal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 (as amended) and therefore
makes the law null and void, is the biggest joke of the year! This has become a clear case of a character seeking fault and seeing it even among the saints.
To set the record straight, the recently accented Ebonyi State Local Government Councils and Development Centres amended law 004 of2016 caters for and clearly spells out the tenure of office of caretaker committee chairman, and making provision for their reappointment for another period of not more than three years. Similarly, there is an amended section of the law which would help to checkmate indiscriminate cross carpeting of party members from one party to another without formal resignation.
The amended law therefore ensures that any intention for resignation must be brought to the knowledge of both the executive and the legislature to conduct checks on the individual record to ensure that he is free from corrupt practices. This is a sharp contrast with Monday Eze's idle postulations.
The author also extended his verbal missiles at Ebonyi State Commissioners names by addressing them as “Hungry and Impoverished commissioners”. I think he ought to be summoned to explain what he meant by that. Believe me, Monday, you are millions miles distance away from any of the state Commissioners, they are doing wonderfully well in their different ministries, they are neither poor nor impoverished.
The Commissioner for Works, for Agriculture, for health, for power, for water etc name them, which of them can you address as being poor? Am very sure you lost your memory at the time you were writing this paragraph. I implore you to apologize to the state for openly disrespecting its leaders and your elders.
Equally incomprehensible is his allegation that Umahi is on an "agenda of total pauperization of Ebonyians" and enthronement of hunger and starvation. I want to understand how the governor is doing this. Did he close anyone's business or stopped people for going about their legitimate beats? Has he confisticated their cooking pots or annexed their bank accounts? — This is coming on the heels of efforts by the Governor to deploy over N600m to empower at least 2,400 women and youths in the state. Which is part of his administration’s effort to ensure that women and youths were made to engage in productive activities to fend for their families and contribute to the development of the state.
Similarly, his outrage following the government’s decision to construct overhead bridges is unfathomable.
Abakaliki was more or less a stone-age town before Umahi took over. We hope the person that comes after Umahi will move it many notches up, but I challenge Monday to tell us what other past Governors did to the town. The fly over projects are counted among the indices of development.
The ongong overhead bridge construction is the first of its kind in the history of infrastructural projects in the state.
When Governor Umahi announced plans for the construction of the flyover a year ago, citizens of the state, I inclusive, received the news with a measure of surprise and disbelief, with many of us wondering if the project would not be abandoned halfway.
But gradually, inch by inch, the construction of the historic 780-metre overpass has progressed to appreciable level and would be completed soon.
One of the problems we have in Ebonyi is the terrible condition of Federal roads, yet Monday will never use his column to bring such to the attention of the Government.
Instead, he will bury himself in cynical pessimism denouncing everybody with violent hyperbole. He reaches a dizzy height when it concerns Gov. Umahi. Now he has sharpened his hammer and nails to crucify the governor over his proposal to introduce tollgates. Mondays mind which is as wretched as war-ravaged Mogadishudi ddn't remind him that the measure was targetted at boosting the state's depleting IGR or that such proposal is in vogue in most states of the federation and is constitutional.
If you have been following Monday Eze’s write- ups, you must have noticed that he has not written a single article that is idea-based; it must be this person or that person. He is so childishly personal and should be told that public interest articles are meant for serious people that understand it and is for them to generate ideas and propagate them.
If you interprete his character triat to an elder in the village, he will surely conclude na nwataa ga-akpa nsi.
Gov. Umahi, in spite of Monday's outburst will remain one of the best things that have happened to Ebonyi State. He is at home here and he is delivering because long before he became the Governor, he had disciplined his body to always deliver, his appetite to moderation and his thoughts to objectivity. He has been tested and he faced the tests with amazing stoicism. He lives an exemplary life, untouched with any scandal of gallantry or intrigue. This may mean nothing to Monday.
The profundity of Aristiphus mind has never ceased to amaze me. He said humorously that just as, in a far northern city, words froze into ice as they were spoken, and were heard in the summer when they thawed, so the words spoken by Plato to his students in their youth were fully understood by them only in their old age.
Likewise the deeds of Gov Umahi, understood by the brightest and the most experienced now, will be understood by others in future.