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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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Lagos Lawyer Gboyega Adetunji Delves Into Agriculture, Floats Abundish; A Revolutionary Farm-To-Table Outfit

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Barrister Gboyega Adetunji, a Lagos-based renowned legal practitioner, has ventured into agriculture with the launch of Abundish, a revolutionary farm-to-table service aimed at transforming how Nigerians access fresh, high-quality, and healthy farm produce.

 

Abundish is committed to offtake directly from farmers and supply to consumers promoting sustainable agricultural practices, and ensuring fair market value for produce.

 

The innovative platform offers a subscription-based model, allowing customers to customize their experience and receive curated selections of fresh, seasonal produce delivered conveniently to their homes.

 

“I’m thrilled to embark on this new journey, combining my passion for sustainable living and community development,” said Barrister Adetunji, Founder and CEO of Abundish.

 

“Our goal is to empower farmers, support local economies, and provide healthy, fresh produce to consumers while reducing food wastage and promoting sustainable practices.”

 

“Abundish is more than just a bridge,” says Barr. Gboyega Adetunji.

 

“We are a movement bringing fresh, high-quality produce whether cash or food crops directly from the farm to the end consumer, cutting out unhygienic produce, reducing landing costs of produce, and the convenience of doorstep delivery it affords our customers. This does not only benefits our customers, but also supports sustainable agricultural practices, grows the naira and local economies, and also empowers the farmers who nourish our communities.

 

Reacting to what inspires his diversification, Barr. Gboyega said “I’d always wanted to have my little farm that can cater for at least 80% of my consumption, but then I realized how impactful it would be if this practice could be extended to others, hence the creation of the Abundish brand”

 

When asked what sets Abundish apart from its counterparts, Barr. Gboyega said, “Abundish offers a unique subscription model, allowing customers to customize their experience and receive a curated selection of the freshest seasonal produce delivered conveniently to their homes. By bypassing traditional distribution channels, Abundish reduces food waste, ensures peak freshness for consumers and the amount of time doing tedious work of purchase and clean up”.

 

“Abundish offer fresh farm produce at fair market value, championing food security with sustainable practices” he added.

 

At Abundish, we are not just passionate about delivering farm-fresh produce, we are committed to creating a positive impact on our world. That is why we operate with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind, striving for a more sustainable, equitable, and food-secure future.

 

Join The Abundish Movement, visit www.abundish.info to learn more about Abundish, and subscribe to receive the freshest produce delivered at your convenience.

 

Follow Abundish on social media platforms for behind-the-scene farm footage, exclusive offers, recipes, and our social impact initiatives.

 

X (Twitter) – @abundish

 

Instagram – _@abundish

 

Facebook – Abundish

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US-based Nigerian Jailed 41 Months For Operating Illegal Money Transmitting Business; Funds Wired To Lagos Bank

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A Nigerian man based in the United States Oluwafemi Osinowo has been sentenced to 41 months in a federal prison after he was convicted of operating an illegal money transmitting business.

 

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. in a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Louisiana on Monday, announced that Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick also sentenced Osinowo, 35, of Miami, Florida, to three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

 

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, from December 2016 to January 2019, Osinowo operated an unlicensed money transmitting business.

 

He confessed that he conducted foreign currency exchange business without complying with required federal registration requirements.

During the course of operating the business, money was transmitted from third parties from the Middle District of Louisiana and elsewhere to bank accounts located in Miami, Florida.

 

Once the money was in the bank accounts in Miami, Florida, an individual acting as an agent of Osinowo’s business wired the money to a bank in Lagos, Nigeria. Those wire transfers included approximately 51 separate transmissions in the aggregate total of approximately $722,177.

 

 

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‘Stolen’ $6.2m: What Emefiele Told Us In Kuje Prison – Investigators

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One of the investigators handling the case of $6,230,000 allegedly stolen from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on February 8, 2023, has revealed what Godwin Emefiele, immediate past governor of the apex bank, told them at Kuje prison.

The former CBN governor, who is standing trial on an alleged 20-count amended charge, preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was once remanded at Kuje prison.

He was alleged to have engaged in criminal breach of trust, forgery, conspiracy to obtain by false pretence and obtaining money by false pretence when he served as central bank chief.

In an affidavit filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja, one of the investigators, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, gave details of investigators’ findings and progress made so far.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police was quoted to have said: “We visited Kuje Correctional Centre, where we interviewed Godwin Emefiele, who purportedly approved the memos authorising the payment, as then CBN gov and he denied seeing, talk less of approving such memos.

“We also arrested some concerned staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who denied any involvement in the crime, before we finally arrested Bashirudeen Maishanu, who corroborated the account of Abdulmajeed Muhammad and further confessed to have been involved in the crime which, according to him was perpetrated by himself and the first to third defendants/respondents – Adamu Abubakar, Imam Abubakar and Odoh Eric Ocheme.

“Bashiru Maishanu further confessed that himself, the first and second defendants/respondents (Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar) shared the sum of $2,500,000.00 from the stolen money, while the third defendant/respondent (Odoh Eric Ocheme), being a fellow staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, kept the balance of $3,730,000.00 claiming that he had other interests to settle in the CBN.

“Bashirudeen Maishanu further confessed that both himself, and the first and second defendants/respondents jointly invested the United States dollars equivalent of the sum of N1, 440,000,000.00 into real estate business of Afrolyk Global Ltd.

“The Managing Director of the said Afrolyk Ltd, Aminu Lawal has been arrested and he confirmed the investment by Bashirudeen Maishanu, Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar, and already refunded the sum of $200 000 00 to the Special Investigator’s team as part of the money he (Aminu Lawal) received as part of the purported investment.

“Cash of about $400,000 00 has also been voluntarily returned by Bashiru Maishanu from part of his remaining share of the money in question. The money (the $6,230,000) was received in cash from the Central Bank at Nigeria and also shared in the same cash by the defendants/respondents and others, making it difficult to trace the monies without arresting the defendants/respondents.

“It was later revealed that the third defendant – Odoh Eric Ocheme – was the Personal Assistant to Godwin Emefiele as the CBN governor while the first and second defendants (Adamu Abubakar and Imam Abubakar) are businessmen and associates of Bashirudeen Maishanu.”

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