I am still trying to figure out why this gist slipped my memory last week. During the Yuletide period, some cousins or brothers of Governor Godswill Akpabio, led by Prince Akpabio, distributed about 31 SUV jeeps to certain PDP stalwarts and some anointed aides. There is a gist in town that the vehicles were valued at about N620 million, apparently inflated to about N20m apiece. The money, the source continued, is from a certain pool that is funded through monies routinely milked from the local government councils.
A source which is a PDP chieftain in the state craving anonymity said, “I witnessed the distribution of a fleet of brand new 31 SUVs, to PDP stalwarts and some questionable ‘loyalists ‘in the state. The fleet scheme is master-minded by one of the clan members, Prince Akpabio fondly called ‘Mega’ by his political associates, at a cost of N20 million per unit, totaling N620 million. The money is allegedly removed from local governments’ purse and each LG is taxed N20m for the illegal project.”
We learnt that the 31 SUVs were parked for weeks in front of the residence of the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Samuel Ikon and that of the Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, before finally being distributed by ‘Mega’ to some select PDP members who were believed to have ‘served’ their masters well.
Political pundits are lamenting this trend of the LGAs being continually drained by these ‘afternoon millionaires’ aside the persistent huge deductions of money at source from the LGC allocation by the executive. The source has it that the LGC chairmen are usually forced to part with these deductions under threat of being removed should they fail to meet these routine demands, and this development compels them to frequently run to the banks cap in hand to borrow money for the payment of salaries and other entitlements.
AHEAD 2015: UDUAGHAN GUNS FOR THE SENATE
Finally, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State last week declared his intention to run for Delta South senatorial district election in 2015. Before now, it was discussed in hush-hush voices with denials upon rebuttals stemming from the inner precincts of the Anwai Villa Delta Government House that Uduaghan was going back to his first love, medical practice come May 29, 2015.
But after a meeting of the kitchen cabinet held last week, the man at the centre of it all has now come out to say that there was an unwritten zonal arrangement on where the senatorial race would go at every point in time.
And that this unwritten understanding gives the opportunity to the Itsekiri race, in the senatorial district, to take its turn and he has every right to do that, stating that when it comes to the issue of election, he has a lot to offer, but the election being one year from now is not what he is going to break his head over.
Uduaghan, a foundation and a life time member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has also refuted the allegation that he was defecting to another political party if he was denied a senatorial ambition, insisting that there was no need for such a move, as there is nothing that will ever make him to leave the party.
This year, there has been a very striking and unprecedented unanimity by certain leading media houses as their kernel of their coincidental judgment has bestowed on him the honour of 2013 Man of the Year in befitting recognition of his exceptional leadership and vision.
In this last leg of his tenure, Dr. Uduaghan’s vast ideas and achievements, especially the Delta Beyond Oil initiative has been described by many an elder statesman and technocrat as a worthy product of a grand vision, and recommended for emulation at the national level as a transformation formula for national redemption in due season.
AMIDST CONTROVERSY, MORE KITCHEN CABINET MEMBERS RESIGN FROM AMAECHI’S CAMP
As politicians across the nation get busy fine-tuning their strategies in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, it is becoming very obvious that the period is not the best of times for the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
And with the New Year hardly settling in, his new party, All Progressives Congress (APC), is already experiencing irreparable cracks with the resignation of his key officers and foot soldiers.
The first salvo was shot by Chief Azubuike Nmerukini, who before his sudden resignation from Amaechi’s fold was the chairman of Rivers State Local Government Service Commission. Nmerukini, before calling it quits with Amaechi had been a very close and strong supporter of the maverick governor. He had also served as the Mayor of Port Harcourt Municipality as well as member, Rivers State House of Assembly under Amaechi’s leadership as Speaker.
While Amaechi was still licking the wound and trying to recover from the shock of losing the support of such a high profile member of his camp and fellow Ikwerre political juggernaut, his Housing Commissioner, Hon. Marshall Uwom last week tendered his letter of resignation.
Sources say Uwom, the only member of Amaechi’s cabinet from Abua/Odua LGA refused to abandon the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC insisting that he had in the past served the PDP in different capacities and positions of trust. He becomes the fourth close ally of Amaechi who decided to identify with the general wish of Rivers people against the governor’s political lucre.
It would be recalled that shortly before the yuletide holidays, his long time-close aide and staunch supporter, the Abonnema-born-politician and Commissioner for Urban Development/Physical Planning (UDPP), Dr. T. W. Danagogo threw in the towel, a development that sent jitters down the spine of the numero uno citizen.
Appointed Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs on November 7, 2007, a portfolio the politician held for four years, and re-appointed in Amaechi’s second term in 2011 to serve as the UDPP helmsman, Danagogo, aside exhibiting total submission to the will of his boss (Amaechi), especially on issues that border on justice to the people and development of the state, held the record of being the most credible and performing member of the state exco.
We heard that the resolve to dump his boss was reached at a consultative meeting with his kinsmen and political allies, where he was advised not to, because of political expediency, act unethically by decamping to the APC with Amaechi.
Before then, Hon. Charles Anyanwu, a Senior Special Adviser had earlier blazed the trail when he handed his resignation letter to the saddened Governor Amaechi.
A very potential political source has it that in the nearest future, there will be a mass exodus from Amaechi’s camp to confirm the position of the Reconciliation Committee of the Felix Obuah-led-State PDP which had hinted of letters of solidarity and identification from some serving commissioners.
PLANET FM OWNER, TONY AFIA YANKS SEN. ALOYSIUS ETOK OFF AIR
The owner of Planet 101.1FM, Uyo, Mr. Tony Afia (a. k. a TAF) last week yanked Sen. Aloysius Etok off air on the station. Etok, who represents Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District at the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly, was set to be interviewed on a live programme on the station and the OAP announced that the senator was live in the studio. Etok was set to go on air when they returned from a commercial, and while the commercial was on, the Uruan LGA-born- owner of the broadcast station, Afia called the Head of Programmes, Cleo not to allow Etok go on air, even with his bags of money. Ultimately, Etok, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, as well as member of the Finance, Pensions and Allied Matters, didn’t go on air and left the station embarrassed and thoroughly ruffled.
Scoops here and there have it that there are several politicians who are on the blacklist of Afia who may suffer the Etok treatment if they seek publicity from the rave-making station.