The feud between the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and billionaire businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, got messier at the weekend as groups took over the fight on their behalf.
The two Anambra prominent sons engaged themselves in a verbal fight after 13 traditional rulers from the state were led to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on a thank-you visit without the permission of Governor Willie Obiano.
Joining in the fight, Igbo youths under the aegis of Igbo Youth Renaissance Forum (IYRF) at the weekend issued a seven-day ultimatum to Governor Obiano to revisit and implement the report of Justice Keazor-led “Anambra State Contract Review and Debt Recovery Tribunal.”
According to the youths, the report of the tribunal allegedly indicted Arthur Eze and some other contractors involved in many failed contracts, including the African Development Bank (ADB) water and rural electrification projects in the Anambra State portion of the ADB credit facility granted the Old Anambra State, comprising Enugu, Ebonyi and the new Anambra State.
The ultimatum was contained in a letter to the governor, signed by IYRF President, Winston Ifedi and Secretary, Clinton Okwuchukwu.
The group urged Governor Obiano to dust up the Keazor Report immediately and ensure the full implementation of its recommendations in line with the ongoing anti-corruption war of President Buhari.
The group noted that since ex-Governor Peter Obi lacked the courage to implement the report during his administration, the onus lies on Governor Obiano to implement it in the interest of the good people of Anambra State, who suffered the consequences of non-execution of the projects, for which huge amount of money was paid to the contractors in dollars and naira.
“Government is a continuum. Hence, Obiano government is a continuation of the Anambra Liberation Government of Senator Chris Ngige and thus, should recover the people’s money from these contractors.”
IYRF called on the governors of Enugu and Ebonyi states, to key in to Buhari’s anti-corruption war by investigating Prince Eze for alleged unexecuted contracts on critical infrastructure in their states, especially the failed ADB loan projects for water and rural electrification between 1995 and 1998.
The group also condemned “the latest attempt by Arthur Eze to destabilise the Anambra State government, using some disgruntled and gullible traditional rulers.”
The youths told the governors that “if nothing is done, they will be forced to head to court to compel them to do the right thing.”
The group regretted that while the governments of the affected Southeast states have been groaning, servicing the huge debts incurred from the unexecuted contracts using their very meagre and lean resources, some of the contractors have been proudly driving around in long convoy of very posh and luxurious cars.
“They go about in chartered aircraft, while claiming ownership of private jets, doling out money in millions of naira to government officials as bribes and advance fees for protection from the law against possible arrest and prosecution for their fraudulent activities,” they alleged.
The group, however, commended Dr Ngige for liberating Anambra State from the clutches of godfathers like Arthur Eze.
Also rising for Prince Eze in the fight, some persons from the Alor community, town of the minister, numbering over 5,000 yesterday staged a protest against Dr Ngige.
The protesters, which included youths, aged women and men of the community, were led by the President General of Alor Peoples Convention Caretaker Committee, Hon. Chris Okudo whose committee was appointed and recognised by the state government.
In a speech during the protest, Okudo on behalf of the community expressed disgust and disappointment at the actions of Dr Ngige, alleging that for some years now the minister has engaged in activities that have caused acrimony, bitterness and hatred in the community.
Okudo said that the community has endured enough of the subversive actions of Dr Ngige, which they claimed has brought hardship and disunity to the town as brothers and sisters no longer work together for the development of the town because the minister has introduced a system of separation and misunderstanding amongst the people of Alor town.
He emphasised that the Igwe of the town has always been neglected and subjected to public ridicule through some publications in print electronic and social media sponsored by Ngige, who he also accused of not according any atom of respect to the traditional ruler of the town who was duly presented to the state government by the entire Alor Community and recognised by the state government.
He said that the formation of a parallel town union in the community known as the Alor Poeples Assembly was one out of many rebellious actions of Dr Ngige against the people of his hometown.
In a traditional mourning outfit, the Chief Priest of the community performed some libations and traditional actions, which they claimed was a way of burying indigenes of the community who have sinned against the gods of the town and have done things that are against the land and culture of Alor community.
The protesters carried placards some of which had inscriptions like: ‘Ngige enough is enough,’ ‘We want peace and unity in Alor,’ ‘Allow peace to reign in Alor Dr. Ngige,’ ‘We have nothing to do with you in Alor again.’