UN appointment: Jonathan’s legacy of peace speaking for him -Timi Frank

…Cautions Buhari against ICC

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Timi Frank, has described the United Nations’ appointment of former President Goodluck Jonathan as one of the rewards for leaving behind a legacy of peace in Nigeria.

Frank, however, cautioned General Muhammadu Bubari to think of the kind of legacies he will leave behind at the expiration of his tenure, adding that International Criminal Court (ICC) is no respecter of any president.

The United Nations (UN) Monday announced the appointment of Nigeria’s ex-President as its Special Envoy on Crisis Management. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterre made the announcement.

But reacting to the appointment through a statement Tuesday in Abuja to congratulate the former President Goodluck Jonathan, Frank said “GEJ’s uncommon trait of leadership in Africa and beyond is an asset to the whole world.

“We will be praying to God to give Goodluck Jonathan wisdom, knowledge and understanding to manage this honour as the first African to hold this position.

“Jonathan’s love for humanity is a virtue every living being must imbibe. His humility, through the grace of God is beyond ordinary. Though being vilified at home by some elements of darkness but International community, where things work daily recognise him. A big congratulations to a peaceful leader,” Frank stated.

Recalling some of the statements of peace credited to the former President, Timi Frank said: “Statements like ‘if I lose this election, of course I will go back to my village. The country is not my father’s estate,’ My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian,’ and ‘Let nobody rig for me,’ among others will forever differentiate Jonathan from the current General Buhari.

“In 2019 presidential election, when General Buhari was asked whether he will congratulate the winner if he loses the election, he (Buhari) simply said he would congratulate himself. That is desperation of the highest order.

“While Former President Jonathan is being honored worldwide, by the time General Buhari will leave office anytime from now, the world will be waiting for him to answer some questions bothering on human rights and the rule of law among others,” Frank stated.

The political activist also commended the United Nation for the honour done to Nigeria’s ex-President, saying “the body should not also fail to reward bad leaders for their contributions to humanity as well.”

Frank to Nigerians: Current Labour leaders are traders, ignore them

…Says it’s too late to cry

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progreasives Congress (APC) Comrade Timi Frank, on Friday said that Nigerians should not take the leadership of the nation’s of the Labour Unions serious over their threat to call our workers for a strike threats if the government refuses to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

Frank described the labour leaders as ‘traders’ and said that they have been compromised to the extent that they can no longer fight for the welfare of their members.

Reacting to the latest threat by the organized labour to go on strike if federal government refuse to meet their demand, the political activist, in a statement in Abuja, urged Nigerians to ignore the threat, saying the NLC’s cry cane too late.

He lamented that with the current imposed charges on telecommunications providers, Value Added Tax, increased bank charges, proposed tollgates and partial closure of land borders, the N30,000 minimum wage has become useless.

According to him, already, on every recharge card Nigerians buy there is 5% being charged VAT, wondering why burdensome policies on the common man by the APC’s Government.

The activist said he believes that the labour leaders were making empty threats so as to be seen as serving the interest of their members while they wine and dine with top administration officials.

Going down memory lane, Frank recalled that during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration that “gave more attention to Nigerian workers’ plight, TUC, NLC, ASUU, Health workers and others were always in the news for one demand or the other and frequently embarking on strike and demonstrations but they can no longer bite because most of their leaders are now card carrying members of the APC.

“The Buhari-led federal government promised the Nigerian workers heaven on earth before the general elections but has been complaining of no money to pay workers just N30,000.

“However, when it is time to use money for elections, the administration will not mind to deep hands into various revenue generating agencies to prosecute their selfish agenda.

“The money being looted daily under the current administration is enough to pay even more than N30,000 as minimum wage to Nigerian workers but no one will blame the government because the current labour leaders are weak and compromised.

“They have been used and dumped by the same administration and they can only bark and not bite.”

Frank said the politicised Labour Union is one of the problems of Nigeria as they have refused to take action to resist bad policies of government.

He wondered how the Buhari-led government would accomplish their pledge to bring out 100 million Nigerians out of poverty when it has refused to pay ordinary N30,000 as minimum wage.

“All over the world, Labour Unions are always the first to speak up against unnecessary increase in taxes, bad policies and other actions that have direct bearing on the citizens but in Nigeria, most of the Union leaders are compromised and have turned a blind eye to the plight of their members,” Frank said.

Bayelsa Governorship: Your election rigging plans ‘ll fail, Nabena tells PDP, Dickson

— Petitions IGP on worsening security situation

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena has declared that the plans of the outgoing governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson to rig the state’s November 16 governorship election in favour of his stooge and disputed candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will fail.

The APC deputy spokesman, however, warned the governor to forget about all form of violence agenda that may distrupt peaceful transition in the coming poll.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja Wednesday, on the violence that erupted in the state capital, Yenogoa on Monday following the disputed removal of the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Nabena also raised an alarm over the level of insecurity in the state ahead of the governorship election.

The APC chieftain revealed that information at his disposal has it that some elements of the PDP had mobilised thugs with dangereous weapons from neighbouring states to cause unrest in Bayelsa state ahead of the poll.

The Bayelsa born politician said a petition has, however been sent to the Inspector General of Police earlier on the worsening security situation in the state.

“As witnessed in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly violence, Governor Seriake Dickson is already arming thugs and deploying the state security outfit, Operation Doo Akpo to harass political opponents in his party PDP and APC members, supporters and leaders in the state ahead of the governorship election.

“With the popular APC candidacy of David Lyon, Bayelsans have already decided to do away with the failed administration of Governor Dickson and his stooge which he has foisted on the PDP. No amount of rigging and intimidation will deter Bayelsans. The wind of change is blowing across the state, regardless of party leanings.” Nabena said.

According to the Bayelsa-born APC chieftain, “Before the 2019 general election, I had called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu to probe the illegal activities of the state security outfit. Operation Doo Akpo is no longer a crime-fighting outfit but now a political tool assisting Governor Dickson and chieftains of PDP to rig elections. The security outfit must be proscribed and disbanded for the safety and security of the state.

“We cannot allow the governor for the sake of his selfish politics, undermine and rubbish the work of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure lasting peace and security in Bayelsa State and the entire Niger Delta. Governor Dickson should also be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the coming election.”

Operatives of Operation Doo Akpo are drawn from the Police, but report directly to the governor.

Activist tackles Ebonyi gov, Umahi for gagging Aides

A political activist and social com entator, Amb. Pascal Oluchukwu has criticised the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi, for issuing a gag order banning all public officers and employees of the state government from expressing any opprobrium against the government.

Ambassador Oluchukwu, who is also the spokesman for the Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (OESID) said gag order not only demonstrates Governor Umahi’s lack of any clear grasp of the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution, which he (Governor) has sworn to uphold and defend “but also brings to the fore his thoughtless sycophancy and ignominious search for the attention and gratuitous commendation.”

The spokesman of the Ebonyi state Governor on New Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, had issued a statement on behalf of the Governor warning all Ebonyi state government employees to refrain from making any uncomplimentary remarks against the person or government, threatening outright dismissal of whoever float the order.

But responding through a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, the political activist said it is the right of every citizen of Nigeria to hold and express his opinion which he said the Nigerian constitution 1999 as amended has provided in chapter 4, Part 1 Section 33 (1) thus: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

“Within the context of this constitutional provision, Governor Dave Umahi has got no power to deny the people of Ebonyi state from expressing their opinions on anything and anyone.

“There are libel legislations and security and confidentiality disclosures that are guided by the laws of the land and when anyone infringes on these provisions, the law would be the one to take its course and remedy the situation. But once there are justifiable grounds to hold and express an opinion on anyone, no government or governor should have the powers to truncate the guarantees enshrined in our constitution.”

Ambassador Pascal, however, called on the Ebonyi state governor to always respect the laws and regulations enshrined in the constitution.

The activist also warned that any attempt to silence the voices of Ebonyi people will be resisted vehemently without fear or favour.

“The intimidation on the good people of Ebonyi must stop; each and everyone is entitled to hold and express an opinion on anything. So, Governor Umahi, should stop the charade of banning Ebonyi public officers and employees from holding and expressing their opinions.

“It is part of their fundamental human rights guaranteed under the supreme laws of our country,” Pascal stated.

Fidelity Bank workers demand Okonkwo sack, threaten to paralyse company’s activities over entitlements

Workers with Fidelity Bank Plc across Nigeria have vowed to disrupt business activities of the bank if demand on payment of their entitlements by the management is not met within five working days.

The workers, under the aegis of Concerned Note Counters Association of Fidelity Bank (CNCAFB) and Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) are reacting to a statement credited to Bank’s Divisional Head, Brand and Communications, Charles Aigbe on September 26, that the employees are deliberately casting aspersions on the bank in order to give it a bad name.

It had earlier been reported that Fidelity Bank said the planned disruption of service and social media attacks on the bank by some outsourced workers was unwarranted and misdirected.

A statement from the bank had read, “Our attention has been drawn to the planned disruption of service and social media attacks on the bank by a few outsourced staff who were recently recalled by their employers.

“The move, which is the handiwork of the outsourced staff who were on secondment to the bank as note counters, is aimed at casting the bank in a bad light. Their employers have confirmed to the bank that their recall was conducted in line with their existing contracts and according to extant labour laws.

“As a responsible financial institution, operating in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is guided by the laws of the land. While we are not against the right to lawful assembly, the planned actions directed at Fidelity Bank, by these misguided individuals, are clearly unwarranted and misdirected.”

But reacting through a statement jointly signed by Abdulrahman Abdulraheem, Director of Media of GICN and Josiah Olusanya, Welfare Officer of CNCAFB; which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday, the employees faulted the Bank’s claims, arguing that they are not “contract staff” and as such, they should not be ill-treated.

The employees said, “Let it be put on record that Note Counters are not “contract staff”. They cannot be used, ill-treated and dumped at will by Fidelity Bank without being paid terminal benefits.”

They explained further that Note Counters were employed by Fidelity Union Securities Ltd (FUSL), they were all seconded to Fidelity Bank Plc and carried Identity Card of the bank as well as received salaries from the said Bank.

The workers expressed shock over the emergence of new company in the bank, describing as ‘kangaroo’, the new company’s name – FSL Management Services Limited which carried out the “unwarranted” sack order.

They insisted that whether sacked or willingly resigned, the workers are entitled to their benefits.

“Incidentally, the new kangaroo company named FSL Management Services Limited to sack the Note Counters for daring to speak out is also a subsidiary of Fidelity Bank Plc. This means that the terminal benefits due to core staff of the Bank should also be paid to Note Counters whether they resigned willingly or are disengaged by the Bank.

“We concede based on the provisions of the old Staff Handbook that applicable rates and terms of the Bank’s gratuity scheme may change from time to time depending on management’s consideration.

“However, our argument is that such change must be introduced with the consent of all employees of the Bank, including the Note Counters. Every bit of policy change so introduced into the Staff Handbook must conform to the employment laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Be that as it may, application of the terms of the April 2015 Reviewed Staff Handbook of the Bank wherein it was stated on page 15 thereof that the gratuity scheme terminates effective December 31, 2015 should be without discrimination against any category of staffs.

“The Note Counters who are either still serving or left employment of the Bank through sack or voluntary resignation should be paid their due entitlements for the sake of justice, fairness and equity,” the statement explained.

They, however, called on the shareholders and customers of the bank to hurriedly stop transacting with the bank, saying actions taken against the employees by the Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo can jeopardize their fortunes.

“We wish to make it clear that the wicked acts being perpetrated against Note Counters by Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo in his position as Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc are capable of jeopardizing the interest of shareholders and customers.

“We use this medium to warm that the fortunes of shareholders and customers may no longer be safe with Fidelity Bank Plc”, they said.

Timi Frank to CAN President: Stop aiding Corruption

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank yesterday called on the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle to stop denigrating Christians in Nigeria.

Frank in a statement in Abuja also urged Dr. Ayokunle to face his priestly duties instead of using his sacred office to aid and abet corruption.

He said it was a mortal sin for the CAN head to portray the highly reverred Christian body in the country as being pro-Corruption through his recent comments.

It could be recalled that Ayokunle, visited Osinbajo in Abuja on Friday and later spoke with reporters at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, where he met with top members of CAN.

He declared Osinbajo innocent of the N90billion allegation against him without proof and vowed to mobilise Christians against any act to destroy the works of the Vice President.

Frank said: “As a Christian, I am ashamed of the attitude and character of this present CAN president in the person of Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle.

“CAN in its original form represents the body of Christ and Ayokunle ought to have known that it owes the citizenry or at least God, an obligation to win souls, be good ambassadors of the church and crusade for good governance.

“As a supposed shepherd of the nation’s Christian body, if two of your sheep have a misunderstanding, I think you ought to have heard from both parties before taking a position.

“I am however not surprised because like pregnancy evil cannot be hidden under tainted cassocks and collars.

“I have heard from not a few reliable quarters that he often goes cap in hand before politicians in the name of praying for them.

“It is shameful that the CAN President has turned the body of Christ into a political pressure group.

“At least, even if it is now a political party, he ought to have allowed its spokesman to speak on behalf of the organization.

“A President of CAN who could not get to interview the COZA pastor in view of the yet to be proved rape allegations against him, now deemed it expedient to defend fraud allegations against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,” he said.

He added: “I have not seen the CAN president visit Plateau or Benue States and other cities in Nigeria where a lot of Christians and innocent Nigerians are being gruesomely murdered by herders.

“Let the CAN President visit grieving Christian families in affected villages or for once speak out against oppression and bad governance in the country instead of banding himself together with queer characters to grant press conferences in support of corruption.

“The CAN president ought to know that it is utterly reprehensible to turn a sacred priestly body into a partisan vehicle for alms solicitations.

“People like Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and Patience Jonathan have been falsely accused in this country but CAN never interfered in any manner.

“Also, where was Ayokunle when Prof. Yemi Osinbajo accused ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of sharing N150billion within two weeks prior to the 2015 general elections – an allegation that was widely reported by the media?

“Could it be that Mr. CAN President, sorry, Chairman of CAN Political Party (CANPP) took part in the illegal disbursements of taxpayers’ funds at FIRS?

“Let him tell Christian leaders who elected him how much Osinbajo and Fowler gave him to organize such an ignominious press conference.

“These are men of doubtful character that must be urgently tamed before they inflict further harm on the reputation of Christians in this country.

“The character of this man is highly suspect but I apologize on behalf of all well-meaning Christians and their leaders for this attempt by Ayokunle to stain their garments.

“Late Martin Luther King jr. was a religious leader, who used his position to fight for the oppressed and downtrodden in society.

“Let Ayokunle learn from such noble men how to be a voice for the voiceless in Christendom.

He called on CAN to immediately take steps to bring on board a leadership that truly embodies the aims and objectives of the body.

“This CAN president is a no show and I urge the governing body of CAN to act swiftly to correct the evil impression or else the present CAN leadership would henceforth be regarded as the servants of mammon rather than servants of God.

“Very soon, God would expose him and every other person that is bent on giving CAN and by extension Nigerian Christians a bad name,” he said.

He called on Osinbajo to steer clear of Mr. Ayokunle and his band as they are only out to benefit from his predicament.

“As a learned gentleman, I humbly advise Prof. Osinbajo, not to take the intervention from CAN as an endorsement. Let him be wary of characters who are out to drag him into further trouble,” he said.

Osinbajo must defend allegations against Jonathan, Saraki – Timi Frank

…Insists VP should resign

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Timi Frank, has said that now that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has sued him, it is time for the RCCG’s pastor to prove several allegations he made against former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Senate President Bukola Saraki, among others.

Frank told the Vice President that he won’t be intimidated by by going to courr, saying the VP has record of intimidating the media, Civil Societies and social crusaders.

Reacting through a statement Thursday to the declaration by Osinbajo that he would waive his immunity to pursue a libel case against him, Frank asked “why didn’t he (Osinbajo) do the same when the issue of alleged misappropriation of 5.8bn contract at NEMA came up?

“Why didn’t he sue the wife of the President when she alleged that the Social Investment Programme of this administration has failed. As one who oversees that, I would have expected him to sue the wife of the president or waive his immunity for the relevant graft agencies to investigate him.

“More recently, it was alledged by the spokesperson of the foremost anti corruption agency in Nigeria that the same N-SIP is riddled with corruption. I wonder why he’s not suing EFCC or the spokesperson.”

While recalling some of the allegations Osinbajo made against some other public officials before, Frank said: “Osinbajo should be informed that his statements against the likes of former President Goodluck Jonathan and Sen. Bukola Saraki will also be used as evidence against him once he enters the dock.

“It is worthy to note that it is in the character of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to intimidate Nigerians, media houses and civil societies by court processes. He rushed to court and filled a motion ex-parte in 2015 against AIT and NTA not to air a documentary of him. Another case in hand was when Prof. Osinbajo through his solicitors asked google to remove/ suspend a video published by Roots TV from YouTube as it was termed ‘defamatory publication’. Why does he not want Nigerians to scrutinize his person? Is he hiding anything? Has he forgotten he is holding a public office?

“If I were Pastor Osinbajo, what would bother me at this point would be the numerous allegations from within as well as manifest plot against him because of his alleged financial dealings in some of the agencies under him.”

On the statement that he was ready to waive his immunity, the political activist said: “As heartwarming as Prof. Osinbajo offer to waive his constitutional immunity is, it is really not his to waive. The immunity from prosecution applies to him as long as he remains the Vice President.
If he is certain that the allegations levied against him from all quarters in recent times are false, then he can choose to resign from office to challenge me and others with libel suit. This is against the background that as a sitting Vice President, he is likely to interfere in the judicial process as well as use public funds.

“I am a social crusader and all I have done all my life is to fight for the common man and no amount of intimidation and blackmail will stop me. Prof. Osinbajo is out solely to intimidate the media and civil society groups but I can assure him that I can not easily be intimidated. He knows the people fighting him and giving him out. What should bother him is his associate that have betrayed him.”

N90bn scandal: Stop threatening media Houses, sue me, Frank tells Osinbajo

…Urges DSS, EFCC, others to investigate his allegation

…Urges VP to resign

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Timi Frank, has challenged Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to sue him instead of threatening Media Houses over his latest revelation of N90 billion used for the last general elections.

Frank said he was anxiously waiting to receive court summon from the Vice President, assuring that such move will afford Nigerians and the international community opportunity to hear more about the activities of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastor (Osinbajo).
He also asked Osinbajo to resign as VP to give room for thorough investigation and unbiased prosecution in court, saying “this is important so as not to influence the judiciary as well as use public funds to pursue the case as a sitting Vice President.”
The political activist had revealed how the VP allegedly collected about N90 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to fund the last presidential election.
Responding through a statement to a letter Osinbajo sent through his lawyer, Femi Falana to Vanguard Newspapers for a retraction, Frank said he is rather expecting the VP to sue him instead of threatening the media House for keeping the general public informed.

“I understand Prof. Osinbajo, through Femi Falana has written Vanguard Newspaper, demanding for a retraction. It is a move to silence the media and those of us speaking for Nigerians. I challenge Osinbajo to sue me and not Vanguard Newspaper. I’m prepared to meet him in court whenever he is ready to do so.
“The VP should know that I can not be intimidated by his threat. We shall meet in court

“The VP is trying to intimidate everyone including the media but he has forgotten how he accused others like former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Senate President Bukola Saraki without any evidence,” Frank stated.

While urging Vanguard and other newspapers to stand firm, Frank called on the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Director of the State Security Service (DSS), Independent Corrupt Practices Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate his claims objectively.
“Osinbajo is trying to use his position as Vice President to intimidate me and especially the Vanguard Newspaper but he won’t succeed.

“I have also spoken with Femi Falana, the VP’s lawyer who has confirmed that he has a letter from the Vice President for me but I’m yet to receive the letter,” he stated.
Frank also challenged the EFCC to quickly release the reports of its earlier investigation of the activities of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) under the current leadership.

Timi Frank to FIRS: I stand by my statement

…Says I shall meet you in court

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to bury their faces in their hands in shame over their gross act of corruption recently exposed by him.

Frank in a statement in Abuja in response to a riposte to his press release by the tax agency, said he cannot be intimidated by the agency’s threat to sue him.

He described the agency’s rantings as a puerile attempt to sweep the main issues in his public statement under the carpet.

He said that the FIRS thinks they can continue to deceive Nigerians by claiming unfounded budgetary fidelity.

Frank said: “I read the statement by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and I am rather disappointed at their intellectual laziness.

“Who is the FIRS trying to fool by claiming that their annual subvention is not up to a N100 billion? That is an unintelligent attempt to fool the public.

“The FIRS, like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission are revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government that do not depend on budgetary subventions.

“These agencies are able to appropriate huge funds from the monies they generate for their use.”

He urged the agency to come clean and tell Nigerians the reason for the discrepancies which exist in their records of tax collection.

“For example, on January 7, 2019, the Federal Inland Revenue Service announced that it had broken Nigeria’s all-time revenue generation record, by generating N5.3trillion in 2018.

“However, on 18th August, 2019, the FIRS’ boss was queried for poor performance and under remittances to the Federation Account by the Chief of Staff to General Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari.

“Kyari’s letter to the FIRS’s Boss, Tunde Fowler, was to the intent that the reported ‘record breaking’ revenue the agency claimed to have generated was in reality not up to the revenues generated in the previous Peoples Democratic Party-led administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The query, which was widely published in all newspapers and online media channels, was as a result of the N90billion that the FIRS illegally funneled to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the 2019 elections which led to the shortfall.

“The FIRS should bury their head in the mud and apologise to Nigerians for aiding and abetting corruption,” he said.

The Bayelsa-born activist called on the anti-corruption agencies to arrest and prosecute the leadership of the Service for aiding and abetting corruption.

He said: “The big question is: what is responsible for the discrepancy? These are questions that the FIRS should be explaining to Nigerians rather than trying to be clever by half in claiming that they do not get up to N100 billion per annum, when in fact they expend 50 times that amount.

“I therefore call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of the FIRS for fraud and money laundering.”

Frank added: “I stand by my statement and am not going to tender any apology to FiRS. They are the ones to apologize to Nigerians for illegally spending taxpayers’ money on elections.

“I cannot be intimidated by threats. I am prepared to meet them in court. Why are they crying more than the bereaved if they have nothing to hide?

“Why did they decide to respond on behalf of the Vice President, who is the main issue here? Is the FIRS now Osinbajo’s mouthpiece?”

Ebonyi indigenes kick against Umahi’s International Airport

Ebonyi state indigenes living in diaspora, on the platform of Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (OESID) have rejected plan by tbeir state governor to embark on a construction of an international Airport in the state, describing it as “a white elephant project difficult at achieve at the moment.”

The group, however, called on governor Dave Umahi, to prioritise projects that will have direct impacts on the people and “not the one with ulterior motive.

In a statement signed Thursday in Abuja by the spokesman of the group, Ambassador Paschal Olochukwu Ogbonna, the group said while the estimated value of the project has not been made public, “it is trite knowledge that building an international airport usually involves colossal amounts of money which may not be unavailable to the state government at the moment. Chances are, the resources would invariably be borrowed either locally or most likely from Chinese and other international financers.

“But even if these funds were available to the Ebonyi state government, the organization of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora insist that spending it to build an international airport is a gross misapplication of resources,” the group said.

According to the statement, there are better and more people oriented investment that will impact on the development of the state than building an airport that will serve only vested interests.

Paschal said putting the entire cost of building the airport into strengthening public education and public healthcare infrastructure will impact positively much more on the society and economy of Ebonyi state.

The statement described the project as “a clout chasing endeavor by the state governor David Umahi, who clearly has other ulterior motives in initiating this project.”

It also advised the Ebonyi state governor to concentrate the attention of his administration in pursuing “people oriented projects that will directly impact lives of the citizens of the state rather than embarking on this expensive and needless adventure.

“The proposal to sink gigantic amounts of money into building an international airport for Ebonyi state at a time when major strides in human development, poverty eradication and efficient healthcare delivery systems are sorely needed, demonstrates Governor Umahi’s total loss of touch with the reality of modern governance.

“The majority of people are struggling to cope with basic human needs such as food to eat, water to drink, schools to attend and healthcare facilities to visit that diverting their limited resources to construct such a white-elephant project is the height of irresponsible governance.”

The group called on the governor to rethink the project and drop the idea forthwith.

Paschal added that with Enugu International Airport less than an hour away from Abakaliki and similar facilities in Owerri, Calabar and Uyo within reasonable driving distances, the construction of an International airport in Ebonyi is clearly not a viable economic model.

The statement advised the state government to focus its attention in revamping state owned institutions and developing a model of governance that should be evenly felt by all in the state.

“Building an international airport will lead to a forceful takeover of community lands currently being used by small holder farmers in rural areas to help them cope with the debilitating hardships of our time. This will negatively impact on the rural economy and may lead to other unforeseen challenges in the proposed host communities of the airport.

Paschal pointed out that the proposed International Airport Project has already demoralized the people of Aguogboriga and Umuoghara communities, in Ezza North Local Government Area, who went out on protest against the siting of the airport in their community.

“Their grouses included the fact that the airport project is cutting across deprived and neglected communities that are being further pauperized by the forceful acquisition of their ancestral lands for a project that will not help them.

“When you have the unfortunate mixture of Ebonyi states’ legendary record of poor internally generated revenue and paltry allocation from the federation accounts, with pervasive levels of poverty the most responsible path to take is to tore a line of prudence and efficient utilization of scarce resources for the greater good of all. The path chosen by Governor Umahi will not serve the developmental strides of Ebonyi State. It is important that he beats a retreat and cancel this international airport project.”

The statement called on elites and prominent sons and daughters of the state to call the governor to order and make him see reasons why he should get his priorities right and focus on people oriented programs.