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Wednesday, 1 August 2018


By Louis Odion, FNGE

With Monday’s purported impeachment of Eze Madumere as Imo deputy governor, the conversion of the acclaimed “Heartland” of the South-east to Rochas Okorocha’s comic show now appears complete. But the trouble is that the entire gallery is already deserted and the theatre crew left to seek pleasure only in self-entertainment. 

With another clown already being dressed up as replacement before the conniving state assembly, Okorocha’s Imo cearly tops the chart as one with the highest turnover of deputy governors in recent memory. He was barely months in office when he stabbed the then deputy, Jude Agbaso, in the back and hurriedly buried his political remains in a shallow grave. 

Starry-eyed Agbaso had to carry the cross of his elder brother, Martin. Migrant Okorocha had entered into a deal with the senior Agbaso for accommodation in APGA for the purpose of contesting the 2011 governorship polls. By some accounts, shekels of gold exchanged hands. The other trade-off was for the junior Agbaso to be the running-mate. 
But typical of all pacts rooted in something less than holy, one party was bound to betray the other. Okorocha was first to draw the dagger. So, he pressed his political slaves domiciled in the state assembly to impeach the deputy on charges that were mostly trumped up.

Now, the proverbial cane used to lash the first spouse has been deployed against the second mistress.

On the surface, the plot against Madumere has been disguised as a noble defence of great virtues and high values, with a long scroll of his sins unfurled before the state lawmakers. But on a closer look, any objective eye will not fail to recognize same as nothing more than a tissue of lies, comical as its very author. 

The joke is actually on the governor. They accused the deputy of disobeying his boss’ directives. But while fawning Okorocha is affecting a fidelity to the command-and-obey doctrine here, the supreme irony is that he himself is in utter contempt of the law by disobeying a valid court order against proceeding with the impeachment process. 
With his ears plugged furiously against voices of reason, Okorocha would also appear resolved to turn a blind eye on the verdict of history. In the past, similar actions by deluded governors in Enugu, Bauchi and Taraba States in their desperation to impeach their estranged deputies despite subsisting court order were eventually voided. 

So abused was impeachment as an otherwise extreme legislative tool that in Enugu, for instance, among the infractions listed against the deputy governor removed was the accusation that he found time to breed chicken in his official abode, with fears expressed that the fecal waste so generated was capable of at least causing environmental nuisance to long-suffering neighbours, if not already posing grave ecological danger to the fabled Coal City at large. 

Now, the chief comedian in Owerri seems too absorbed in his theatrics to learn from history. Or, maybe he estimates that if Madumere ever got a vindicating judgement in future, it would by then be at no personal cost to him after office.

But beyond the sophistry by the colluding 19 lawmakers, everyone knows Okorocha only seeks Madumere’s political scalp on a platter as ritual offering to pave the incestuous path for his own son-in-law to be his successor next year. 

Madumere’s real crime is actually not more than a refusal to forgo his ambition to be governor and be part of Okorocha’s morbid bid to reduce the state to a monarchy in which his lineage will emerge the sole ruling house. The Owelle already has everything well laid out like a piece of cake. With the son-in-law becoming governor from his present perch as Chief of Staff, his beloved daughter too inherits her mother’s own mantle as First Lady. 
As for the wife, she is rest assured of her full dues as the new queen mother. 

Indeed, Okorocha’s empire-building obsession transcends Imo shores. While he covets the Orlu senatorial seat even after being two-term governor, he earlier dangled Owerri’s senatorial ticket to Madumere as consolation prize in lieu of his governorship ambition. Then, a lackey, Chike Okafor, will continue in the House of Representatives on behalf of the Okigwe South Federal Constituency. 

Overall, it is not only the value of decency that appears ensnared by Okorocha’s shenanigans; also under assault is the time-worn communal charter of equity and justice. Nwosu’s aspiration would mean Orlu zone monopolizing power potentially for another eight years after Okorocha. At the expense of Owerri and Okigwe senatorial zones. 

Will the imperial majesty currently luxuriating in Douglas House get away with this one last perfidy? Time will tell. 

Ngige and the parable of the stolen fowl

Still smarting from a grave slip of tongue in Ekiti on the eve of the July 14 governorship polls by mentioning Fayose instead of Fayemi as the person deserving victory, it is not exactly known if Chris Ngige’s difficulty with Yoruba names also extends to the proverbs of the Oduduwa land. 

Otherwise, he should be conversant with the common saying which roughly translates as follows: he who steals a pauper’s fowl will have to deal with the nuisance of becoming the subject of relentless nagging. 

In the context of the growing tension over the non-inauguration of the board of NSITF (Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund) almost a year after presidential pronouncement, one could be pardoned to equate the Nigerian labour movement to the proverbial pauper. As can be inferred, organized workers surely have more than a passing interest in the agency. Nominees from the labour congress are statutory members.

So, when Ngige elected to stall the board’s inauguration for reasons that appear subjective, he should have known he was seriously courting the wrath of such vested interests unlikely to keep quiet for too long.

The first salvo came from no other than a labour titan, Frank Kokori, on a live television to a captive national audience during the last June 12 memorial at Aso Rock. 

In the course of his speech that day, the NUPENG hero made an aside in which he lamented to President Buhari that he was yet to formally assume the chairmanship of the NSITF almost a year after being named. 

As they say, if it takes twenty years to learn madness, how many years will such an apprentice have left to actually practise it?

True, last week’s open hot exchange between the Labour minister and APC national chairman, Adam Oshiomhole, on the same issue can hardly be cited as ideal in intra-party communication. By pulling off his gloves publicly, the latter obviously betrayed an instinctive bias for his primary constituency - the organized union. 

However, Ngige’s own defence only seems to have deepened public curiosity. In a loaded innuendo, the minister declared that “NSITF will no longer be a cash cow.”
Of course, such rhetoric is quite seductive. 

But the argument that the board inauguration was being delayed in view of the investigation of the massive looting by the erstwhile board is very syrupy indeed. Otherwise, similar argument could also have been canvassed that Ngige’s own swearing-in be withheld in 2015 until the said filth in the ministry was cleared. Are the new appointees also suspects in the alleged fraud? In what way would their activities jeopardize the probe of their predecessors?

Even more laughable is Ngige’s frantic waving of empty hands in the air as if such token gesture alone proves moral hygiene following suggestions that his action is a power-grab ploy. He started lecturing us on the operation of the Public Procurement Act and how its letters make it impossible for political appointees like him to influence contract award.
Ha, Dr. Ngige!

True, in theory, nowhere in the statute is the governor or president expected to get involved directly in dispensing contracts. Of course, there is the tender's board, in fulfillment of all righteousness. But the devil actually lurks in the approving authorities. Unless Ngige would have us believe that, as governor in Anambra, his commissioners had the final say and authorized payments. Of course, it is the preserve of the minister or commissioner to table memo detailing such contracts before the federal or state executive council for consideration. 

So, who does not know how to hide a piece of meat in the mouth and pretend that it's missing?

Against such shifty backcloth, insinuations are therefore bound to be made that the Minister is actually unwilling to let go of such agency with very fat wallet. Already, the referenced “pauper” (the labour) has drawn attention to alleged secret recruitment of additional 350 senior managers into NSITF by the minister while his panel would appear to be looking for what is no longer missing. 

If true, it is doubtful if the minister could have acted so unilaterally without the buy-in of the board. Meaning that new iniquities are being perpetrated under the guise of punishing old ones.

In what would then appear an afterthought, Ngige played another familiar card in filibustering later in the week. He raised another committee to look into the implementation of the findings of an earlier panel. Now, we may have to consult the oracle to tell when the new body will finish their own assignment. And to imagine that the administration practically has less than a year to the expiration of the current mandate!

Of course, Ngige is free to continue to pretend he does not know that the board appointments are meant to be “empowerment” for party loyalists. Pray, if Kokori were to sell Buhari in PDP-dominated Delta in the coming months, what will he be telling his own people he has benefitted other than the custody of a glossy appointment letter as NSITF chair?
There is no more excuse for Ngige. 

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