June 17, 2009

Umeh speaks, but not about that N250m

By  Afam Ofomata

EMEKA ETIABA has been very busy with his state-wide consultations involving all stakeholders who are now beginning to accept his message of delivering a befitting state capital in Awka, committing our security votes towards fighting crime in the state, overhaul of primary and secondary health care in the state, returning back to basics in education, a continuation of road projects but with an emphasis on strategic link roads, revamping agriculture as a strategy towards job creation and self-sustenance.

Victor Umeh finally broke his silence in many publications in the last few days but unfortunately, did not speak on any of the subjects that Anambrarians are interested in, namely: daily armed robberies, politically-motivated killings and abductions in the state.

He chose instead to attack Emeka’s most honorable ambition to rescue a seemingly helpless state from the clutches of evil politics of character assassination among many ills. Umeh more than anyone else knows that Emeka does not suffer fools gladly and does not waste his time engaging in small talk.

Today, because of his economic interest in Obi’s government, Umeh is trying to divert our attention from the alleged N250 million scam and the reported N7.8 billion Next International Mall in Abuja. None of these issues merited one line from Umeh, not even in defence his kinsman and partner, rather Umeh described Emeka Etiaba as a “political neophyte who doesn’t have any political value”.

If that is so, why is he afraid of Peter Obi losing APGA primaries to a “political neophyte without political value”. Umeh claims that APGA cannot conduct primaries because none was conducted for Dame Etiaba in 2007 despite an APGA member offering him money, land cruiser jeep and a house in Abuja .

Emeka told Umeh that he lied because he and Peter Obi had to beg Dame Etiaba in Ojukwu’s residence to contest that governorship election and save APGA from embarrassment of going into that election without a candidate. Umeh has now modified his previous statement by claiming that the ANPP candidate was the one that offered him these goodies. The question now is, was Umeh Chairman of ANPP as at 2007? Was it his responsibility to conduct primaries for non-APGA members?

Umeh said that it is “morally wrong” for Emeka to contest an election against a man that brought his mother to political limelight. Can Umeh now tell the world why it is “morally right” for him to stab a man that brought him into political limelight, Chief Chekwas Okorie, who single handedly made him National Treasurer of APGA against every advise of those who knew Victor Umeh’s attitude to money very well? Can Umeh now tell the world why it is “morally right” to sponsor a false ‘report’ on the pages of national newspapers last week against the man that brought Obi into political limelight, Prof. ABC Nwosu?

Where is the morality in the way they treated Hon. Ben Chuks Nwosu whom the Etiabas recruited to fight Obi’s impeachment in 2006? What is morally right about imposing a man sacked by ANPP as APGA state Chairman? What is morally right about disseminating false information to unsuspecting public even in churches every Sunday?

What is morally right about Umeh’s well documented defence of Dame Etiaba’s integrity and loyalty only to end up somersaulting now just for convenience? What is morally right about the way Obi allegedly supported another candidate in the 2007 governorship election after asking Dame Etiaba to contest the election for APGA?

What is morally right in destroying the name of a Deputy Governor that loyally stood in and handed power back to her boss?

Umeh like Obi is not a democrat and this is why APGA has failed to begin preparations for the conduct of governorship primaries in Anambra State. This is why his APGA government has failed to conduct local government elections since 2006 and this is why the party has failed to win a single election in Anambra State since Umeh’s tenure as National Chairman. Peter Obi’s governorship tenure was won under Chief Okorie’s leadership of APGA.

In the last National Assembly re-run elections, both Umeh and Obi sabotaged the APGA candidate in the Senatorial bye election, Chief Azuka Okwuosa so badly that the House of Reps. APGA candidate Chief Ray Ileka did not even bother to contest. That is how bad things are now in APGA but not for Umeh who is having the time of his life, using a political party that was once a mass movement as his meal ticket now.

The job of National Chairman is not being the campaign manager of the aspirant with more access to money. For Umeh, APGA is just a political vehicle for only one passenger-Peter Obi but if Obi suddenly loses control of the state treasury, Umeh’s song will change automatically. How sad, for this is why the usually well-measured Okey Ndibe has now come out to aptly describe Umeh’s APGA as ‘rag tag’.

Umeh also describes Emeka Etiaba as “somebody who lacks good moral upbringing”. This raises the issue of pedigree. Emeka is the son of the highly respected Dame Etiaba and the revered and renowned Barrister BMC Etiaba of blessed memory, called to the English Bar of Gray’s Inn in 1959. That is some pedigree. Can Umeh please tell the world who his parents are, for he personally invited this question.

Umeh in the same interview described Dame Etiaba’s emergence as the Deputy Governor of Anambra State as a “disaster”. Victor should be glad to note that here, I agree with him totally for Her Excellency has been a disaster for Umeh and Obi, by disagreeing at every turn with their proposals that would amount to legitimising activities that are against the interest of Ndi-Anambra.

For three months she was the Executive Governor of Anambra State, a lot of money that ordinarily would have ended up in ‘cars being taken to Lagos for servicing’ was not allowed out of the state treasury.

Umeh should take a study of other National Chairmen in Nigeria for despite criticising INEC’s Maurice Iwu, he has himself failed the very minimum test of democracy, that of internal democracy in APGA which is directly within his control. Emeka himself has promised to lift the current embargo placed on employment by this present government on day one of his assumption of office as Governor of Anambra State.

It appears now that there is a deliberate attempt to shift the media  towards discussing red herrings by a bunch of desperate men. Who is afraid of Emeka?

Mr. Ofomata, a lawyer and political analyst,  writes from Lagos.