MILITARY DISMISSES CLAIMS OF PLANNED ATTACK IN SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

MILITARY DISMISSES CLAIMS OF PLANNED ATTACK IN SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA

 

The Nigerian Armed Forces have dismissed media reports claiming there is a plan by Boko Haram terrorists to attack some south western states.

 

The Defence Headquarters on Saturday said the claims were not only baseless but lacked substance in its entirety.

 

“It should be disregarded,” the military stressed.

 

A statement by the Defence Headquarters said “more worrisome is the claim that the terrorists have infiltrated the western states”

 

“While the military and other security agencies have made tremendous successes in degrading and decimating the terrorists who are now in disarray having lost their centre of gravity, camps and their source of logistics.

 

“It would be unthinkable to raise these unfounded rumours of Boko Haram terrorist planning attack in not only in the west but any other part of the country for that matter”.

 

“Nigeria versus Boko Haram”

 

The statement further said that the coordination and synergy between the military and other security services, which led to the arrest of some ring leaders of the terrorist group in some states, was instructive to their incapability to wage any coordinated attack.

 

The military further urged Nigerians to be wary of suspicious individuals or groups in their localities and to report such to security agencies for prompt action.

 

“This war is Nigeria versus Boko Haram terrorists, hence it requires collective contribution of all Nigerians for timely ending of this terrorism.”

 

The Armed Forces also appealed to Nigerians, particularly in the western part, not to lose sleep over the unfounded and fictitious reports and to go about their normal and legitimate businesses, as the Defence Headquarters and other security agencies were monitoring the situation with all seriousness.

 

The Nigerian Armed Forces are waging war against the Boko Haram terrorists, with their strong hold in the north-west, to end their activities before the end of December in line with a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The President had in August mandated the military to end the over six years activities of the terrorist group that has pledged their allegiance to IS, another terrorist group which carried out attacks in Paris, France on Friday.

 

OBIANO DENIES OBI’S N75BN HANDOVER

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

 

OBIANO DENIES OBI'S N75BN HANDOVER

 

GOVERNOR Willie Obiano yesterday denied the claim by predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi that he left over N75 billion to his successor.

 

But Obi said the state government’s statement was full of inaccuracies.

 

Addressing reporters yesterday, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, described Obi’s claim as a hoax.

 

He said: “The N75 billion was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best it can be half truth”

 

Chukwulobelu said instead, the state government inherited a total contract sum of N185.1 billion as liability from the Obi administration.

 

He said the explanation had become pertinent because of the ground the rumour of the N75 billion was gaining, both in the social and traditional media.

 

Chukwulobelu said it took the state government this long to reply to the claim in other to put the rumour finally to rest, urging the public to discountenance the claim because it does not exist.

 

He said: “In the real sense, what the Obiano administration inherited from Obi was N9billion cash and N26billion near cash.

 

“Based on the figures detailed above, which are taken from the handover notes from the previous administration to the current administration, it is evident that the actual and voluntary cash investments made by the previous administration amounts to approximately N35.5billion consisting of mobilization paid on contracts for shopping malls and hotels, cost of two business parks in Onitsha, investments in Eurobonds, amongst a few others.

 

“Items such as counterpart funds held jointly with domestic development finance institutions, land contributions, FGN refunds differences in bank balances and investments made directly by the federal government on behalf of the three tiers of government totaling approximately N39.5bliilon have been reclassified as “illiquid investments, FGN receivables and involuntary investments.

 

“However, to provide a true and fair picture of the state’s net position on March 17, 2014, the investments handover notes ought to have captured current liabilities and contingent liabilities also borne by the previous administration as at the time of handover.

 

“To put this to context, the total portfolio of inherited projects valued at approximately N185 billion was however not captured in the breakdown of the handover notes.”

 

But in a swift reaction, Obi described the state government’s statement as untrue.

 

Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, Obi said it was a deliberate attempt by the state government to misrepresent facts.

 

Obienyem insisted: “Obi left over N75 Billion in cash and investment. The breakdown is as follows: N27 billion in local currency investment; N26. 5 billion in foreign currency investment and N28.1 billion in Certified State/ MDS balances.

 

“Even in the final handover document, Obi deducted N10 billion approved Federal Government refund, as well as the salary, pension, gratuity, money on certificates raised on contracts for the month of March which all amounted to N5 billion before arriving at the balance of over 75 billion he bequeathed his successor.

 

“As a financial expert, Obi went to his end of tenure event with Gov. Willie Obiano and said all these in the presence of all the bank MDs in whose banks the monies are lodged. In fact, as at March 17th he handed over, he got all the certified statements of Anambra’s accounts from the banks this monies were and handed them over to his successor. If they were confused on where the monies were , why would they not call Obi who kept them to explain the whereabouts to them as much as he knew?”.

 

He said it was good that the state government did not deny the fact that before leaving office, Obi paid billions of naira for the completion of Agulu Lake Hotel, Onitsha Hotel, Awka and Nnewi shopping malls, and invested in SABMiller Breweries in Onitsha, value of which, he said, has tripled.

 

He added: “It is curious that the denial came at a time the state government had concluded arrangement to massively borrow money from banks and financial institutions”, adding that they did not need to paint Obi black to do so, especially when the man, since leaving office, has not for a day commented on what is happening in Anambra, even with the daily drench of blame coming his way as being responsible for whatever, right or wrong, that are happening in the state for making his successor a governor, single handedly.”

Vanguard

 

Andre Ayew, Yaya Toure and 3 others nominated for BBC African footballer of the year award

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

Andre Ayew, Yaya Toure and 3 others nominated for BBC African footballer of the year award

 

Swansea City forward Andre Ayew was on Saturday morning named as one of five players shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 BBC African Footballer of the Year award and this year it seems he is the overwhelming favorite for the award. Algeria's Yacine Brahimi, the 2014 winner, is on the shortlist along with Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ghanaian Andre Ayew, Senegal's Sadio Mane and Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast.

 

OGHARA ELITE FORUM (OEF) PASSES VOTE OF CONFIDENCE ON IBORI

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

OGHARA ELITE FORUM (OEF) PASSES VOTE OF CONFIDENCE ON IBORI

 

Oghara Elite Forum (OEF) the apex political/Social Organisation in Oghara Kingdom yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Honorable Member Representing Ethiope West Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly (HON ERHIATAKE IBORI ) at her Oghara Residence. In what was a gathering of political big wigs in the Kingdom, the group Led by Hon Henry Oghenochuko Ofa the President General of the forum accompanied by top executives of the forum congratulated the Honorable Member on her resounding victory at the April 11th General Elections.

 

They described her numerous activities aimed adding value to the lives of her constituents especially those at the grassroot as laudable as it was a rare feat in the area.

 

The group through her leadership assured her of their support towards her activities and that of the Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa administration which was out to bring Prosperity For All Deltans. 

Hon. Henry Oghenochuko Ofa in his words expressed confidence in the Fact that Hon. Erhiatake Ibori will deliver on her promises to her constituents calling on the people to give her the required support to enable her perform optimally. The group unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the Hon. Member, a decision taken after a meticulous survey of her activities.

 

In her response the Honorable Member Representing Ethiope West Constituency; Hon. Erhiatake Ibori thanked the organisation for their support even as she assured them of her firm resolve in ensuring that the interest of her constituents is treated with Utmost priority in the legislative arm, she also assured the forum of her passion to ensure that she leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time.

 

High point of the Ceremony was the presentation of of Certificate of Vote Of Confidence to the Honorable Member by the Chairman of Ethiope West Local Government Area Hon Solomon Golley and the presentation of a congratulatory Card to Hon. Erhiatake Ibori For her well deserved Victory.

 

 

DR. OKOWA BACK IN THE DAYZ: NOTHING GOD CAN NOT DO.

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

DR. OKOWA BACK IN THE DAYZ: NOTHING GOD CAN NOT DO.

 

In the middle of this photograph is the present Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa. Who would have thought that he will be Governor of an oil rich state? ?

 

TRUST IN GOD AND NEVER YOU UNDERESTIMATE ANYONE. 

 

Today might be yours today, tomorrow might also be someone else. 

 

My prayer for you today.

 

MAY THOSE  WHO LOOK DOWN ON YOU TODAY, LIVE LONG TO LOOK UP TO YOU. 

 

DIEZANI: LIFE AS A CANCER PATIENT

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

DIEZANI: LIFE AS A CANCER PATIENT

 

What you are about to read is probably the most anticipated story of the year birthed in the long awaited authoritative investigative newspaper of the future. This pregnant saga fell into labour last week in the pre-natal wing of Pendulum ward  and it has now given birth to a big bouncing baby christened, The Boss.

 

This is an apt metaphor for the melodramatic scoop which is the cover of the first edition of what I believe will be a catalyst for unbiased investigative reporting in Nigeria. The Boss had long been conceptualised as a  leadership newspaper to occupy the void created by lack of true and credible investigative journalism in some traditional and online media. The original plan was to launch in December or early January. But the Diezani-Alison Madueke story changed all that. It was too compelling to restrict to the Pendulum column alone.  And here we are with what promises to be an exciting addition to the media landscape in Nigeria and beyond featuring an enthralling cover story that will run and run.

 

After that effervescent introduction of the meeting between this reporter and the embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, published in Thisday, everyone requested for details of the encounter. Some unbelieving Thomases even suggested the story was pure fiction, or at the very best “faction” to borrow Kole Omotoso’s word. They wondered why a more comprehensive interview could not be published, garnished with clear crispy pictures of Madame Diezani.

 

It was obvious many had read the story in a hurry and did not assimilate the carefully worded tale of a woman in deep pain and anguish for variety of reasons. Of course there were insinuations that it was a public relations stunt but mercifully most readers thought it was a well-balanced story. It even went viral.

 

At any rate, those who took their time would have noticed that I had to settle for such a gripping monologue because it was virtually impossible to extract more information from a cancer patient who had spent her day with her medical team in a private London hospital. Our protagonist had also probably taken the risk of meeting this reporter in order to check if he was going to play the quintessential antagonist or do his job professionally and dispassionately.

 

That meeting obviously impacted on her decision to open up eventually, two days after Episode One. A call came through on Friday, November 6, 2015, from a female aide of Mrs. Alison-Madueke to request for a meeting the following day at 2.30pm at a location yet to be determined.

 

The appointment was immediately approved. Later in the evening, this ubiquitous aide made yet another call shifting the appointment forward by a few hours to 11am the same Saturday. My response again was yes. The pot that would eat pepper must endure some heat, says a Yoruba proverb. The Diezani story was worth all the sacrifice in the world. In other climes, journalists would have shown more than cursory interest in chasing that super exclusive chat. Her copyrighted picture would have fetched a few million dollars, probably. Anyway…

 

A text message flew into my phone very early Saturday morning. It contained the address and full postcode of a new venue different from the one of two days earlier. Not to worry. My wife offered to chauffeur me again but without her sister this time around. While on our way, the female aide called to ask if we were going to make the 11 o’clock time pronto or arrive late. I replied we would arrive earlier rather than later. I would soon understand the import of her question. Madame Diezani was apparently on her way and I was expected to be comfortably seated prior to her arrival. Presumably, so I would not know how and from what direction she had come.  There was no sign this time of any overbearing or anxious security man.  Mrs. Alison-Madueke had laughingly dismissed as funny my James Bond imagination of Thursday, in any event. Since the meeting was supposed to be strictly one-on-one, my wife had to wait in the car while I was away. The venue turned out to be a popular restaurant near Regent’s Park, famous for its breakfast.

 

I was a bit surprised and disappointed at the choice of location. I was hoping she was going to give me access to her now famous apartment which was said to have been bought at a most staggering amount, or the new multi-billion dollar home that was rumoured to have triggered the alarm leading to her arrest, claims she would dismiss as tales by moonlight.

 

Glimpse

 

I called the mobile number I had been given as I approached the doorway of the restaurant and her female aide emerged from the bowel of the restaurant to lead me to a somewhat secluded corner where a table had been reserved. I was seated facing the entrance and hoping I could catch her glimpse whenever she arrives.

 

After waiting for about 20 minutes or so, I heard some footsteps and the once most powerful woman in Nigeria surfaced. She looked slightly better than at our last meeting for which I was glad. I sprang to my feet as we exchanged pleasantries. I mentioned to her that she looked better and she said she’d  been resting and gaining strength in preparation for the radiotherapy sessions expected to last five agonising weeks.

 

She ordered for full English breakfast while I settled only for a cup of cappuccino. But when the meal arrived, she didn’t eat it because she had lost appetite for food generally and was more on fluids but had hoped this would return if she saw the food.

 

She then asked for American coffee, water and fresh lime instead. She also ordered for tea at some point. Most of the time we spent talking, she coughed intermittently into a napkin and dabbed her mouth with it but she was clearly determined to pour out her obviously heavy heart despite the discomfort I could notice she was struggling to endure.

 

Let me reiterate for the sake of those who missed the first part of this story that our two meetings took place on Thursday, November 5 and Saturday, November 7, 2015 at different locations. The first was in a private apartment while the second was in this restaurant. Unlike the first which lasted less than half an hour, we were able to spend more time together this time. Indeed, we were at it for a total of just over four hours, and I believe she spoke from the heart, I believe, but the reader is always the judge.

 

There were several off-the-record interludes. More than anything, we were both careful not to discuss in detail matters which might impact on the cases and legal problems now bedevilling her.

 

I did not expect otherwise. Mrs Alison-Madueke is a smart and intelligent woman and had recently benefited from being advised by lawyers both in the UK and Nigeria in connection with her arrest in the UK and the search of her Abuja home.

 

Paronoia

 

Getting and persuading her to talk in detail about a lot of issues was therefore very difficult. There were other reasons. First, was her obvious paranoia of the Nigerian press. She’s been bruised, battered and blistered, especially in print and on social media. She’s been scandalised, summarily tried and precipitously convicted by the media, according to her. She did not expect anyone to lend her an ear or listen to her now muffled voice.

 

On top of her problems, she’s having a running battle with the most dreaded form of cancer of the breast and she’s had to undergo surgeries to remove the lumps and later some chunky tissue. The treatments have not been that successful and it’s been a ding-dong affair for this once ebullient and elegant lady.

 

We had to give assurances of not sensationalising her story if granted access. Of course it has never been our practice to do so and thus, this was not a problem.  We promised not to embellish her stories in any way or reveal off-the-record discussions which were truly personal and confidential and had nothing to do with her travails. There was a strict proviso that no form of recording would be allowed and we had to adopt the novelistic style. The result of that covenant is what you’re reading today.

 

We must note that we were highly restricted and encumbered by strings of events as well as existing litigation and other possible future developments. We could not get as much revelations as we expected but the little we managed to get provided enough insight into a woman who had achieved so much and enjoyed substantial accolades before the sad turn of events. Had she remained in Shell, where she became the first and only female Director, and shunned the murky water of Nigerian politics, maybe she would have savoured the klieg-lights forever.

 

We knew it was going to be very difficult getting pictures in her present not too genial or glamorous condition. That was practically tough on our first meeting as she was just returning from her hospital rounds and looked totally exhausted. We however succeeded in getting a few pictures this time some of which we are revealing for the first time today.

 

Intrigues of power play

 

The Diezani Alison-Madueke story is a classic study in the intrigues of power-play. Barely months ago, she was at the pinnacle of the temple as Minister of one of the biggest oil-producing nations on earth. She was elected the President of the powerful Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). And the world was at her feet. The cancer issue had crept in, like a thief in the night, but was being treated and managed by the best doctors available in England. There was that optimism that all shall be well at the end of the day until everything that could go wrong started going wrong, like in Murphy’s Law.

 

Madame Diezani confirmed that she and the government she served loyally and passionately never thought for one second that the Nigerian general elections could turn out the way it did or that they would suffer the crushing and devastating defeat that they did. The first and major casualty would be the woman who controlled the destiny of Nigerians as Petroleum Resources Minister. Under her care, a whopping $20 billion was alleged to have literally vamoosed into thin air. Till this day, no one has come forward to authenticate the veracity or otherwise of such mind-boggling claims. Instead we’ve received conflicting figures on the supposed infractions.

 

This is a story like no other and it cannot be told like any other. It is a tale from the super highway of power and the fast lane of confusion. Nothing is sweeter than power and money, in no particular order, as long as you have both you are in the rarefied company of national decision-makers. And nothing is sadder than having both and falling from grace to grass or from fame to infamy. Mrs Alison-Madueke had the world not just at her feet but firmly in her palm. She could apparently turn a certified pauper into a certificated billionaire within the twinkle of an eye. In short, she could make and unmake. Diezani was the subject of many fables. And this is the crux of the matter. Her closeness to President Goodluck Jonathan and the influence she wielded on him was never a hidden matter. This lent credence to the mystical power over the Nigerian economy that it was claimed she possessed.  I fired my first shot from that direction and it was as if she expected it.

 

“Is it true that a sister of yours has a kid or kids for President Jonathan?” I asked. “That is totally untrue as I don’t have any such sister or relative!”, she said.  She wondered how people could fabricate such blatant lies.

 

Family friends

 

I soon followed with what I regarded as an upper-cut: “It was said that you and the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan were in permanent conflict; why was it so?” She responded that their relationship was cordial enough and she gave the former First Lady the respect she should give the wife of her boss. She went further to say: “What people don’t know is that we’ve been family friends for long. My mum, Mrs Beatrice Agama, has always played the role of a godmother in the Niger Delta and all the militants love and respect her. I come from a royal privileged background and lacked nothing.” She said she was not unaware of certain insinuations about an intimate relationship with the former President but she never bothered her head about them because some people had made up their minds to spread those ugly tales about her. “If you are in the corridor of power, you must expect anything, including mud and even bricks being thrown at you.”

 

Now wait for the next shot!  “You’ve been linked to so many young guys who made so much money from you and later absconded or turned against you… What was between you and Chris Aire, Kola Aluko, Jide Omokore, Tonye Cole, Dapo Abiodun, Wale Tinubu, Igho Sanomi and others?”, I queried her.

 

Madame Diezani’s response was calm and unruffled: “I vehemently deny any intimacy or liaison with any of these gentlemen.” She noted that she is happily married like most of them are happily married and asserted that she is not the Scarlet Lady that people paint her to be. She sees those rumours as insults on accomplished women who cannot be seen in sensitive positions without running riotous with some men. She said it was important to put in context how she met most of them:

 

“I was the Chairman of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board and I did my job to the best of my ability and intentions. My boss and I were determined to empower Nigerians, especially the young ones, who had the brains and guts to dare.” She pointed out that her firm belief and desire to empower Nigerians stemmed from the manner that she and her parents and siblings were unceremoniously dumped out of Shell Camp where her father worked and lived while she was young.

 

Worst days

 

The memory was apparently traumatic as I could notice her wiping her eyes with another napkin.  She said: “I remember that day vividly.  It was definitely one of the worst days of my life.  We were not even allowed to finish eating before they hurriedly packed our belongings, threw them into trucks and drove us into an uncertain, unknown future.”  She continued: “I was determined that what my father fought for, which was to ensure that Nigerians had a greater say in the scheme of things in Shell and thus in the petroleum industry, would be championed and achieved by me in government”.

 

She noted that in every government, some people must land the big jobs which every human being would love to have. She said: “I chose to empower mostly Nigerians and took the power away from foreigners who used to dominate the sector. That was why we pushed for the Nigerian Content Bill, which mercifully we got through. So you cannot expect some forces not to hate me but I was shocked that Nigerians themselves were ready to crucify me mostly on rumours and not verifiable facts. Most leaders before me have suffered a similar fate, so I take some comfort from that experience.”

 

She added that people seem to forget that she is happily married to Rear Admiral Alison-Madueke and would not do anything to jeopardise her marriage or smear herself in the eyes of her husband, children and family. She also said that some of these men were unknown to her until she became a Minister and that although, in some cases, they later enjoyed a cordial relationship with her, it was no more than the kind of relationship she enjoyed with other successful Nigerian businessmen who respected and admired her for the way she was bringing Nigerians to the forefront of the industry: “It is unfortunate that things didn’t work perfectly all the time as expected and as a leader I take the blame for those imperfections, but I’m certainly not a demon as being portrayed. I have no doubt that I served my nation well, the reason my colleagues at OPEC supported me despite the opposition from my own people. I still maintain that level of relationship with my former colleagues despite not being in government.”

 

I then asked, why is she so controversial? “Controversy has nothing to do with your qualifications or performance. As a matter of fact, people often hate you for knowing so much and for being efficient and confident which they mistake for arrogance. We had to confront so many challenges, including oil theft and general insecurity but we did very well even if we did not succeed 100 percent. I must say that some of our own people delivered responsibly while a few of them breached the faith and wasted the opportunities handed to them by my boss, President Jonathan. Unfortunately, no one ever remembers the things that went right but everyone remembers and tends to emphasise the things that went wrong…”

 

We soon moved the discussion to the many allegations of financial impropriety under her tenure, especially the alleged disappearance of $20billion and other wasteful spending authorised by her.  She observed that she could not go into any real details because of the criminal investigations in Nigeria and England as well as the civil case here.  However she told me she would try and provide general details about these matters because it was important to shed some light on her own involvement from the vantage point of someone actually in government who believes these things simply cannot happen.

 

She was visibly angry at the mention of the $20billion: “If there is one issue I must pursue in this world it is the biggest lie of this money.

 

How can $20billion disappear just like that? Where did it disappear to? Is it possible that such an amount would not be traceable? This is more painful coming from someone I considered a good friend who should appreciate the gravity of such allegation. I challenge anyone to come forward with facts showing that I stole government or public money. I’ve never stolen Nigeria’s money…

 

“Rather, I worked hard to halt the rampant business of round-tripping. When I brought in Reginald Stanley to clean up the place, I requested for a list of the defaulters. There were about 92 of them and I made sure we sanctioned them. You can imagine the threat to my life but I was ready to defend the economic interests of my country. In fact, we were able to reduce the oil subsidy by about half. No one has applauded our effort.

 

“There were those who said the then Governor of Central Bank must have been angry at me because of the way the Presidency treated him. In all honesty, he was being blocked from seeing the President by some of Oga’s people (presidential aides) but it had nothing to do with me. I was the one who even told Oga about the development and Oga said he would meet him in London on one of his trips. Unfortunately my boss fell ill and was rushed to King Edward Hospital and the meeting was aborted.

 

“Sanusi and I had been friends. There was no way I would have done anything bad to him. He even came to my house to inform me about his interest in heading the African Development Bank and we discussed for about two hours. I promised to support him and I spoke to Oga about it. We were together on the Reconciliation Committee that looked into the accounts of NNPC. Yes, there were gaps but not on the alarming scale being circulated. Markafi (former Governor of Kaduna State) did a thorough job. You know he is a very sound accountant.”

 

Houses

 

What about the allegations that she owns choice properties everywhere?  “It is so sad that anyone could say such about me. Let me say something to you. I live with my husband in the same house we’ve lived since we married in 1999. Ask anyone who knows us. Our house in Abuja was bought in 2007 by my husband and as an architect and lover of interior décor I did it up to our own taste. It is not over the top because I have good taste and appreciate bargains. I shop in regular shops like B & Q to do up all the places where I live. Anyone who tells you I have houses anywhere should feel free to publish them. That was how they said I bought an expensive property in Vienna. I went to court and I won the case. I never saw the house before except in picture. The house I stay in London is rented. As a woman I love to look good. Some of my dresses and jewelleries are often dumped on me by those I buy from and I pay them when I can”

 

She went on to explain that virtually all the transactions in respect of which allegations of corruption are being levelled against her went through due process and that the Group Managing Director of NNPC was actively involved in ensuring that the best international practices were maintained. She added that her involvement in the conclusion of these transactions was limited and that some of the contracts had been executed before she became Minister of Petroleum Resources.  In some other cases she only got details after the contracts had been concluded when approached by some businessmen who complained about the terms. She usually admonished them to forego the contracts if they felt they were not profitable and seek other ventures within the industry.

 

She reiterated that she could not speak in detail since she is currently facing charges and criminal investigations in England. But she emphasised that her boss neither discriminated against nor favoured anyone. She claimed some of those who benefited the most were even in opposition and mentioned how a renowned opposition leader and vocal critic of the government at the time met her on about three occasions to discuss his interests in the business of oil. “My boss didn’t want Nigerians to suffer because of politics; so we agreed to offer certain support to a company we knew was owned by the opposition once we were satisfied they controlled the market substantially and have what it takes to deliver the goods nationwide. We were that tolerant…”

 

This interview was conducted by Dele Momodu and first published in THE BOSS, his new online publication. It is reproduced here with his  consent

 

PROBLEMS IN EDO STATE: OSHIOMHOLE , IGBINEDION IN VERBAL WAR

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

PROBLEMS IN EDO STATE: OSHIOMHOLE , IGBINEDION IN VERBAL WAR

•He allocated Edo land to his father, alleges Oshiomhole, 

•You’re a sinking man – Igbinedion

 

 

THE current war between Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and former governor Lucky Igbinedion has taken fresh dimensions with the two leaders trading allegations. The development has tended to heighten tension in the area two groups of residents took to the streets last Monday and Wednesday protesting government’s recent introduction of the land charge policy.

 

The anti-land charge protestors who marched through major streets in Benin-City were allegedly sponsored by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

 

But in a counter protest, a multitude of youths said to comprise students and civil society organizations backed the land use charge policy and commended government over what they described as its efforts to collect such taxes from the rich to assist the poor.

 

The group of solidarity protesters marched to the House of Assembly complex and Government House where Oshiomhole addressed them and described Igbinedion’s alleged unlawful withdrawal of $31 million from the government coffers as clear abuse of power.

 

Oshiomhole also said that the Igbinedion family had thrown caution to the winds, using every available means to wage war against him because he recovered over 200,000 hectares of land illegally by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion during the tenure of his son as governor.

 

According to the Governor, “let me thank all of you for coming out in huge numbers to express your solidarity, your support and your endorsement of my stewardship here at Osadebey Avenue.

 

Let me assure you, I will continue without fear of man, but with the fear of God to provide leadership that will deliver prosperity to the great people of this great state. To be able to do that, everybody, everybody born of a woman who lives in this state must be subjected to the rule of law.

 

“In the interest of Edo people, even the ones yet unborn, I want to be remembered after my stewardship not only for roads, hospitals, for schools and much more importantly, I want to be remembered as the man who brought an end to exemption.

 

There is no more exemption in Edo State. I want to be remembered as the man who took from those who have bastardized, raped and privatized the resources of Edo State, used our money to build their private universities and they walk around our streets when they are supposed to be in prison.”

 

Alleged land deals

 

According to Oshiomhole, “let me share with you some of the things that are going on and why they are angry. I did not promise to make everybody happy, what I promised was to make the majority happy. I will publish records in black and white and Edo people will be shocked how they have been raped.

 

You are here looking for a small parcel of land and Lucky Igbinedion, former Governor here gave out to his own father, Gabriel Igbinedion over 200,000 acres of government land.   They took that land on the ground that they will use it for mechanized farming.

 

That is what is in the books but what is on ground is that, Igbinedion takes this land and gives this land to cocoa farmers, some of them from Edo, some from Yoruba land. These cocoa farmers will farm and sweat to grow their cocoa on government land, Igbinedion will sit in his house on which he is not paying ground rent and is collecting royalties.

 

Is Igbinedion the Oba of Benin? The great Oba of the great Benin Kingdom never subjected his people to that level of exploitation. Can you accept that one chief collects royalties as if he is a traditional ruler.

 

Based on the powers vested in me, as the elected Governor of Edo State, I used those privileges to revoke the over 200,000 hectares of land that the Igbinedion, the son gave to Igbinedion the father. I revoked it and I returned it to government.

 

“You need to hear as students of AAU how Igbinedion raided Edo State resources. You know that in AAU, we have College of Medicine where we are training doctors. In 2000, when Lucky was in government, AAU was producing Medical students.

 

These medical students are supposed to be attached to a hospital for their clinical. The Igbinedion family decided that AAU will not use the state-owned hospital. They decided on record that our Central Hospital will be reserved for Igbinedion University.

 

Some of you will remember that AAU medical students had to go to University of Jos Teaching Hospital for their clinical at their own expense. When UniJos could no longer take them, they made arrangement to take them to Uniben.

 

When the authorities found out the capacity of Uniben could not accommodate them, AAU students were stranded. In the end, they ended up with Irrua Specialist Hospital. Now, what did they do with the Edo state-owned Central Hospital?

 

Igbinedion the son, entered into agreement with Igbinedion the father that the Central Hospital shall be reserved for medical students of Igbinedion University, Okada. So, whereas Edo State Government owns a university, their own students were denied the use of Edo State-owned hospital. Edo State hospital was obliged to teach students of Igbinedion University, Okada.

 

They agreed that Igbinedion University will pay some fees to the Central Hospital. The amount to be paid was not stated. Every year, the taxes that you pay were being used to provide facilities for the Central Hospital to teach the students of Igbinedion University and they paid zero cost. Edo State Government paid the lecturers, the doctors and provides all the consumables in the hospital.

 

“So I revoked it and directed the Commissioner to write to terminate the MoU and to demand that Igbinedion pays about N30 million per year for those periods and I directed he should be charged to court. That is the fight.

 

“I fight with clean conscience to secure the collective future of our people. My motives are not personal. My mission in government is not to bring hardship to anyone. I just want to correct what is wrong and get going. I am not here to look at yesterday but if you over do it and you continue, we need to put an end to it.”

 

Oshiomhole’s allegations baseless

 

But former Governor Igbinedion in an advertorial carpeted Oshiomhole describing him as a sinking man Igbinedion said that allegation of illegal deduction of money had no basis even as he accused Oshiomhole of a deliberate policy of grounding the industries he established when he was governor.

 

However, Oshiomhole in his 7th  anniversary as governor on Thursday responded to the allegation that he failed to build industries arguing that the industries the Igbinedion administration built were never meant to function, rather to siphon money.

 

“The previous government is quick to tell us that they built a factory in Ehor, Casavita at Uromi, Fertilizer at Auchi and Ikpesi Fruit Juice Factory. The intention of that government was simply to use these outfits to siphon public funds to private pockets. They were never intended to function and they never functioned one day even under their government,” Oshiomhole said.

Vanguard