By Friday Nwigboji
On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Chief Press Secretary to Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Mr. Emma Uzor, published an article in Daily Sun with the above headline, wherein he malign the former Governor of the state, Chief Martin Elechi.
Before descending on the very substance of that article, one would wish to say that it reminds one of an obituary publication on the late Olubadan of Ibadan, whose achievements included, among other things, that he witnessed the laying of the foundation stone of the then Western House of Assembly, witnessed the laying of the foundation stone of the first Television Station in Africa – WNTV – now NTA, Ibadan and that he also witnessed the laying of the foundation stone of the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan. To reasonable minds, the above best captures Uzor’s analogy of the immediate-past and the present government in Ebonyi State. I however congratulate him for taking up the task of talking about a revered statesman called Chief Martin Elechi
Uzor described Elechi’s defection to the APC as ‘a marriage of the snake to the monkey and a ‘suicidal’ move.’ One wishes to clearly posit otherwise. Elechi’s entry into a political party that suited him with the advent of democracy in 1999 was the All People’s Party (APP), a party that is today one of the tripods of the mega parties that merged into today’s All Progressives Congress (APC). He is therefore not a stranger in their midst. It is instead like a hen coming home to roost. But fate later found him in the PDP by the grace of God Almighty, where his destiny as governor manifested. His entry into that party was with pomp and ceremony, his emergence as a governorship candidate and eventual emergence as governor were also glorious. So also was his exit after eight years of reign, with historic, monumental and with gallantry-filled achievements.
In spite of every effort by some political charlatans to pollute and truncate his exit with partisan cancer and infections, he left office with respect, honour and dignity after eight years of meritorious service to the state. It is, therefore, ridiculous to see somebody open his mouth widely to talk about a government, in the mid-trajectory of its first tenure and whose own achievements are best blown and advertised.
One therefore, finds it most insulting, mischievous and scandalous the attempt to compare and contrast between Elechi’s purposeful government, which was laden with many monumental landmark achievements and known contractors, indigenous and foreign, including his successor and a government that embarks on the beautifications of an infinitesimal fraction of a state it is asked to govern. This is particularly nauseating when such beautifications bother on the most mundane and antiquated, such as painting an otherwise respectable state capital with Paleolithic colours.
In further contrast to Uzor’s claim, in paragraph 10 of his piece, where he averred that Umahi’s predecessor knew that his successor had performed beyond explanation just with the mere construction of some needless fly-over bridges, a Federal Government project his boss chose to embark on for business purpose rather than sincere development of a capital city that has more fuel stations than number of vehicles. Uzor must know that Chief Elechi’s government successfully built more than 36 bridges of unity with accompanying asphalt-paved roads, which earned him a National Award as the governor with the Best Record of Rural Development, again, with known contractors, which included the present Governor of the State and his construction firm.
It is probably noteworthy and greatly exhilarating that two years after Chief Elechi had left office, the quality of his conducts and achievements while in office are still reverberating through awards. For Examples; the PAN African International recently presented to him an Award of Recognition as “WINNER OF THE PAIR AWARD 2017”- a Lifetime-Achievement that covered his eight-year tenure between 2007-2015. Also, on June 18, 2017, the Men Organisation of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja honoured him with “EXAMPLARY CATHOLIC MAN OF HONOUR.” It may further interest you to know that the Lifetime-Achievement Award by the PAN-African International was awarded to only two persons in Africa; His Excellency, Chief Martin Elechi and the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.
He built and ultra-modern digital Radio/Television Stations which is now the major monopolistic and propaganda organ of the government of the day and which even denied the architect an access to even paid statements. Chief Elechi also built the ultra-modern OchoUdo city, which is about the best States’ Secretariats in Nigeria. This gigantic achievement of a modern city is now being ridiculed with a rather mischievous effort to rename it to a Centenary City even when the State itself is less than a jubilee. The multi-faceted state of the arts largest modern market-
Within the 8 years of Elechi’s government, he conducted Local Government elections and not only allowed this stratum of government to operate free-handedly but he also ensured the fulfillment of the constitutional provisions of the mandatory 10% by the State to the Local Governments. With Elechi as Governor for 8 years, there was no form or evidence of political, social, psychological, religious, cultural and philosophical molestation ridicule, innuendo, mockery, abuse or manhandling of anybody in the State. Journalists operated in the state and did their jobs unhindered without any embarrassments, abduction or torture of any sort. Is this the same scenario now?
Local Governments and their Chairmen and Councilors had no issues with Chief Elechi on how their allocations were shared and distributed. They enjoyed their tenure unencumbered. Development Centres had the same coordinators for six years before new ones which tenures they enjoyed. All the systems of government worked democratically unhindered under Elechi’s government. Is the same system working now? It even bothers placing on record that this is the only government in history that is operating without Permanent Secretaries except Permanent Secretaries and solicitor-General, whose prime purpose, is intended because he must sign the loan forms for the government. It is also on record that this is the only State and under this administration where the post of a Permanent Secretary that had remained bureaucratically sacrosanct is being put up for public advertisement.
When one chooses to talk about Elechi, ridiculing his age at 76 and with his efforts, sweats, commitments, industry and great personal sacrifices in the struggle for the creation of the State, one should be wary of recent contemporaneous political events in Nigeria. If not that Awolowo died at 78, he was still warming up to run for Presidency. Zik was still active in politics till close to 90, about the time he died. When Abiola tried to ridicule Awolowo to please his then political friends, Awolowo in his reaction had admonished that him to watch his back as he would soon suffer a fatal fate in the hands of the same people. It did not take long after and Abiola quit politics out of frustration. The same people he had worshiped later told him when he came to vie for Presidency in 1983 that the NPN Presidential flag was not for sale to the Highest Bidder.
Rather than face Chief Elechi who exercised his democratic right, the government should be wary and watch its back against the numerous citizens who need no education on the quality of governance they have now.
• Dr. Nwigboji, a native of Enyibichiri-Alike Ikwo and a political affairs Consultant, sent this piece from Abakaliki.