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Governor Okowa and the failure of leadership….

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Over a year after his election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the manner in which Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has conducted the affairs of the state, in terms of governance and delivering the dividends of democracy, gives enough cause to worry about both his preparedness and capacity to deliver on his central electoral promise of inclusiveness to, assumedly, better governance. Rather, contrary to general expectations, Delta state has been hijacked by a cabal of political contractors and sundry jobbers, who have captured and taken the state hostage, even as the governor appears clueless and confused on the way forward in addressing the life and death challenges facing the people of Delta state. Honestly speaking, Okowa is carrying about as if he sought to win power first and then plan what to do with it after; he is just so unprepared for office, that not a few Deltans are having voter’s remorse. It is axiomatic that Okowa has set himself to fail. This is an embarrassing letdown by a man to whom much has been given; and from whom much is expected.

Since the creation of Delta state in 1991, the people have suffered under successive corruption-ridden, intrigue-filled, undisciplined and rapacious governments; the poster child of which was James Ibori, who was convicted of corruption and money-laundering and currently serving jail time in Britain. The people had waited to see a change for the better and Okowa’s election held out that promise and hope that a new Delta State was possible. So far, that hope and expectation has turned out to be a luxurious desire as Okowa has put on display, the most embarrassing verdict on his poor leadership credentials, proving to be worse than even his predecessors. Okowa seems addicted to primordial sentiments and prebendal instincts. Granted that before him, the Anioma people of Delta North and the Ijaw have never occupied the exalted office, that in itself; should not justify the abusive patronage and clientelism which Okowa has elevated to instruments of statecraft and governance.

Okowa has return to the old order when Delta state was a jungle in which political warlords and rent-seekers held sway to the detriment of the people. Looking like a man in a hurry, Okowa picked up the baton with gusto and went to work with aplomb, determination and zeal to rehabilitate his disgraced political mentor, James Ibori. To begin with, he stuffed his cabinet with relics of the old guard; people bereft of integrity in all its ramifications. Okowa’s choice for Commissioner of Finance had served in that same capacity in the Ibori administration. His Commissioner for Education was charged alongside Ibori by the anti-graft agency the EFCC. After sacking 3000 workers, Okowa seem not satisfied with the dubious title of “Governor Delta is broke.” He has taken corruption to obscene levels. His modesty in public appearance is put to shame by the splendor of ostentatious living, advertised so gleefully, by his entourage and cronies, who are boasting to anyone who cares to listen that “this is our time to chop.”

It is incredulous, that Okowa, who has elevated the phrase “Delta state is broke” to a personal motto found nothing wrong awarding an airport renovation contract worth N5 billion to ULO Construction Company owned by one of his side-kicks, Uche Okpunor. With practically no experience in the aviation sector, Okpunor sold the contract to a Chinese firm for N500 million and pocketed the difference as commission. The Chinese outfit has abandoned the project and Okpunor defended his action by claiming he received only half of the N5 billion. The balance N2.5 billion reportedly went to underwrite the cost of securing Okowa’s victory at the election appeals tribunal. It is worth noting that the same ULO company received hundreds of millions of naira to renovate the presidential lodge but did a shoddy job, resulting in a fire; only to be rewarded with another contract to renovate the damaged building.

In another paid-to-play scam, Okowa approved a three-year N360 million contract for Daily Independent Newspaper for coverage of activities of the Delta state government. The funds were disbursed by the Managing Director of the Delta State Oil Area Producing Communities (DESOPADEC), William Makinde, an Ibori proxy, who has taken financial recklessness to a level, never before seen in Delta state. If Makinde has seen anything wrong with combining public office with incurable money-mindedness and lust for material aggrandizement, his actions are yet to reflect it. Here is a man who could not pay workers their salaries for the month of December 2015, but spent N50 million in a lavish end-of-year party at the Brown Hill event center. Makinde claims to have paid N5 million to rent the venue, whereas the standard rent was N1 million. Makinde runs DESOPADEC as his private kitchen.

Under Okowa, the developmental aspirations of Delta state have taken a back seat, and everything he does is to empower and fill the pockets of his Ika kinsmen to the exclusion of people from the central and south areas. He has missed no opportunity to reward his political sinecures. A case in point is the decision to re-constitute the moribund board of Direct Labor Agency (DLA) with former Speaker of the legislature, Frank Enekorogha nominated Director-General. Besides the fact that Okowa provided no evidence how the DLA would benefit a state in dire financial straits, that the governor would be opening more drain pipes on the public treasury, at a time workers and contractors are owed arrears, tells badly on his understanding of political leadership as a trust from the electorate to put the people’s interest above any other.

With all the squandermania, Okowa cannot definitely move Delta to a higher level on the scale of development. It is trite to state that development strategy is anchored on some essentials. Following health and housing, transportation infrastructure is arguably the next human imperative and critical factor essential to development. So far from the look of things, the Okowa administration has done next to nothing to improve service delivery and the welfare of the people. Rather, it has been a special purpose vehicle for an admixture of people who, like soldiers-of-fortune, have migrated to where the fortune is, persons driven by greed and self-interest who will stop at nothing in their quest for personal financial gain. This is not what Deltans voted for and it is no exaggeration to suggest that unless he changes direction, Okowa will not win a second term, even if he is foolhardy enough to seek re-election.

Given that Delta State has peculiar developmental challenges, the legitimate expectations for someone coming into the job with impressive grassroots and public service credentials, was that the new governor would bring some sobriety and decency into the governance of the state and possibly surpass the performance of his predecessor. Alas, Okowa has failed. The question now is how long will Deltans tolerate his vampire government? With Okowa having lost his way so early in the day, and if as the saying goes, morning shows the day, then are these signs of worse days ahead? No one except Okowa can answer these questions. To continue to hide behind “Delta state is broke” while lining the pockets of your cronies is hypocrisy that stinks to the high Heavens.

It is indeed pathetic that a man who was given the chieftaincy title of Ekwueme of Ika (meaning a man who does what he says) would turn out to be such a terrible disappointment, yet arrogant and disdainful to the electorate. Because leadership is key to change the present sad state of things in Delta state, the governor must commit himself to, and be seen to so do, a life of rectitude and an integrity-driven government. The only effective leadership is by example and Okowa as the pinnacle of state authority and power, must earn and claim without an iota of doubt, the moral high ground from which to exercise leadership. This, certainly, can be done. The only thing required is for Okowa to walk his talk and lead by example. Surrounding yourself with parvenus, court-jesters, opportunists, political touts and rogues who see their appointments as an invitation to “come and eat” instead of an opportunity to serve is not governance, not to talk of good governance.

 

 

By: Emmanuel Asiwe

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Our Client Wanted To Say ‘Pupsy’, Not Her Private Parts — Lawyer Defends Embattled Nigerian Polytechnic Female Graduate

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Barrister Ikechukwu Nwaopara, a legal practitioner representing the interest of Sharon Ogechi Okoroafor, the graduating student of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, who went viral on social media for saying that she graduated with the help of God and her private parts, has said his client was misinterpreted.

The lawyer, who made the appeal to the institution’s management in a statement made available to newsmen, claimed that their client had no intention of disparaging the institution’s reputation, standards or integrity.

The statement reads: “We are solicitors to OKOROAFOR OGECHI SHARON (our client under our Pro Bono (Free Legal Services) on whose behalf we write this memo to you.

“We are aware that she will be facing the school disciplinary panel this morning, and we wish to use this medium to express our confidence that the panel will carry out their duties in compliance with the principles of Fair hearing, good conscience and natural justice, devoid of harassment, intimidation, and threats.

“We have met and discussed with our Client and evidence before us shows that she has no intention to defame the character, standard and integrity of the institution. In her words what happened in the said viral video was a slip of tongue as a result of her uncontrollable ecstasy over her graduation. Her intended words were “God and Pupsy” in appreciation of the Almighty God and her dad.

“It is clear, therefore, that she had no intention whatsoever to use such a “foul word” in the said viral video to cajole or blackmail the institution, as no lecturer or name of the institution was mentioned or referred to in the said viral video.

“Our lawyers are already on ground at the institution now to follow up the proceedings at the panel against any form of intimidation or harassment. The integrity and standard of the said institution is not in doubt especially since my senior brother, Rev Dr Arimanwa took over as the Rector. Indeed, justice is for all parties.”

We had reported that after Sharon’s video went viral on the internet, the management of the institution announced that it would investigate her action as it was capable of dragging the reputation of the school to the mud.

 

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Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Witness Reveals How Kogi Assembly Candidate, Atumeyi Fraudulently Benefitted N681m from Union Bank Customers’ Accounts

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The first prosecution witness, PW1, Olusegun Falola, in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, and two others, on Monday, January 31, 2023, told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N681m (Six Hundred and Eighty-one Million Naira) was paid into Atumeyi’s business account.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that “sometime in October 2022, during the periodic internal review of accounts of customers, we observed that some accounts that were placed on No-debit were debited.

“In the course of our review, it was observed that the methodology employed in debiting the said accounts was different from the way accounts are being debited in the normal banking activity.

“Based on this, the case was assigned to me for further internal investigation. During the review, I observed that beyond the few accounts that were referred to me for investigation, there were other numerous accounts that were being debited.

“Furthermore, the debits on these accounts were traced to two beneficiaries, Atus Homes Limited account and Fav Oil and Gas Limited.

“These two accounts received the sum of N681m and N1.38bn, respectively from the account of 429 customers.”

He also told the court that further investigations revealed that Atumeyi is the signatory to the Atus Homes Limited account, while the signatories to Fav Oil and Gas are Shuaibu Yusuf and Nurudeen.

According to him, all illicit debits on the customers’ accounts were done via internet banking on one of the bank’s platforms known as Union 360.

Giving further testimony, he said: “As at the time of investigation, over 600m had been withdrawn from the account of Atus Homes Limited and over N800m withdrawn from Fav Oil and Gas.

“We also realized that they were able to make those fraudulent transfers because the bank system was fraudulently manipulated.

“It was this realization that made us know that only a person with privileged information on the bank’s information technology could have carried out such illicit transactions.

“It was based on that knowledge that we reported the matter to the EFCC for further investigation.”

Oyedepo sought to tender the petition written to the EFCC, the correspondences between EFCC and the bank as well as the defendants’ statements of account that had been identified by the PW1.

However, counsel to the third defendant, Babatunde Ogunwo, objected to the admissibility of the attached statement of account on the grounds that the prosecution had not sufficiently complied with Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act.

“I strongly believe that the prosecution has not satisfied the provisions of Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act. All I heard the witness say is questions put to him by the prosecution.

“However Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act gives conditions more than what the witness has stated.

“There are four legs as stated by the Evidence Act and the witness has only answered one. These conditions have to be complied with.

“I humbly submit that the prosecution has not complied with the conditions stated for the admissibility of the statements of account”, Ogunwo argued.

Responding, Oyedepo said that the argument of the defence counsel was misconceived and also missed its target.

He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence.

He also submitted that the certificate of identification as enshrined in the Section of the Evidence Act “is not a ritual that must be performed in achieving admissibility of computer-generated evidences.”

He further argued that “where the issue is as to the failure to comply with procedural steps towards admissibility, the order the court will make is not to reject the document, but to urge the tendering party to regularize.

“This document is relevant in the determination of this matter and I urge my Lord to so hold.”

In a short ruling, Justice Ringim overruled the objection of the defence and admitted the evidence in exhibit.

Justice Ringim also granted the second defendant, Dominic, bail on the same terms of the 3rd defendant, as granted on January 6, 2023.

The matter was adjourned to February 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.

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Transcorp increases power generation to the National Grid as it commissions rehabilitated GT Unit 20

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TransAfam Power Ltd, a subsidiary of Transcorp Group, has announced the completion of the rehabilitation of its Afam 5 GT unit 20 Gas Turbine power-generating unit located at Okoloma – Afam, Ndoki in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State. The rehabilitated unit, which has been successfully commissioned and synchronized to the national grid, bringing an additional 138MW to its existing capacity.
Engr. Vincent Ozoude, MD/CEO of Transafam Power Limited expressed his delight about the newly rehabilitated unit, which is able to power up to 100,000 homes in a year. “Since the administrative handover of the Afam Power Plant in March 2021, we have been working diligently to realize the full potential of the plant. We are pleased to have successfully completed the rehabilitation of GT20, having been out of service for over 15 years prior to our takeover. We are glad to have achieved this feat, using a combination of our in-house resources and other local technical support, with about 20% of foreign expert support in the rehabilitation project, showing our commitment to local content development,” Ozoude said.
“It is impressive how far we have come from 48MW average generation, when we took over, to raising production to 120 MW generation within the first two months,” Ozoude added, as he expressed appreciation to the company’s host community, Okoloma-Ndoki, and other stakeholders.
Dr. Owen Omogiafo, President and Group CEO of Transcorp, who was accompanied by the members of the Technical Committee of the Board of Directors, expressed delight at the commissioning of the rehabilitated Afam 5 GT 20 power generating unit, stressing its significance to Transcorp Group and their commitment to transforming the power sector in Nigeria.
“Our purpose at Transcorp Group is to Improve Lives and Transform Africa, one investment at time. We are pleased at the progress we are making to expand access to electricity in Nigeria through our investments in the power sector,” Dr. Omogiafo said. “You cannot achieve sustainable economic transformation without reliable power supply. It is that understanding that has led us at Transcorp, under the leadership of our Group Chairman, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu CFR to invest in the power sector. We are happy with the progress we are making in our power plants and strive to continue to optimize our available generation capacity, with improved gas supply, which has become increasingly challenging. We will also continue to build our local capacity by investing in human capital development and positive engagement with our host communities and stakeholders” Omogiafo added.
Transcorp Group had in 2013, through its power subsidiary, Transcorp Power Limited (TPL), acquired the 972MW gas-fired Ughelli Power Plant, which has since been phenomenally transformed. With the acquisition of Afam Power Plc, Transcorp has further cemented its position as a key player in the power sector.

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