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Posterity And Soludo’s 100bn Loan Request

 

By Igboeli  Arinze

 

I will give it to Soludo, his administration has been in the news for a number of wrong and right reasons! If it is not the news that the state’s finances are in a very poor shape then it is for the botched teachers recruitment exercise where the commissioner described teachers who attended the interview as “stupid and filthy”. There is also the issue of the new tax regimes imposed on the ordinary Anambra citizen which has seen Soludo like the biblical Rehoboam impose stinging like levies and rates on market men and women as well as transport operators across the state in a time when the average citizen is presently battling with inflation and the rapidly rising increase in prices of goods and services. But then before they call me a trouble shooter and perennial nay sayer, the Soludo administration has also done some good, its urban renewal programmes seem to be well intended , even though for reasons best known to the administration mountainous refuse dumps which have sprung up all over the state have continued to defy such a programme, also his drive to block all leakages to the state’s internally generated revenue by attempting to digitalize payments made to the state’s coffers deserves some commendation.

Recently Governor Soludo had written to the Anambra State House of Assembly seeking approval to secure a N100 billion Global Limit Multiple Term Loan Facility for the construction and refurbishment of key infrastructure in the state. As I write this piece, the House of Assembly, typical of a classical example of rubber stamp legislature has granted the approval. This will obviously mean that the Soludo administration will get the money and nothing much can be done about it but for the sake of posterity, a number of us will still add our voices to the loan request because we are involved. I had expected the Dr. Uche Okafor led assembly to raise a number of questions concerning the loan request, perhaps institute public hearings on the matter and weigh the pros and cons of such a request.
This is not to say that I am against the loan request, no, I do not belong to the ignorant tribe that sees or views any topic broaching on loans by government for development as evil. Loans taken for development or to prop up production of properly managed and utilized will naturally spur development, the challenge then lies much in the intention of such a loan and much more importantly its utilization as our history is rife with a number of debt burdens arising from the non utilization of loans earlier taken.
How a state house of assembly can speedily grant such an approval without a clear description and roadmap for the number
of projects the administration seeks to deliver using the loan remains questionable. What are the specific projects targeted by the administration for such a loan? How many roads are we looking at? How many bridges? Which local governments, towns and communities will benefit from such utilization of the loan? For accountability sake, did these factors not matter? How then do we scrutinize the utilization of the loan? How then do we monitor its deployment ?
Again, will such an infrastructural drive cater for the challenges of urbanization such as the creation of jobs, density of housing and the cost efficient transport solutions. Will such an agglomeration of projects correlate with the reduction of poverty in these areas targeted?
There are also unanswered questions about the loan’s interest rate, will it be at single or double digit rates? What about its duration and the likely deductions that will come in the name of servicing such a debt? When will the funds meant for repayment probably emerge from?
Lastly, the fact that the state house of assembly speedily approved such a request in less than two weeks, when we are not at war or in some sort of emergency situation is indeed baffling, should anything go wrong with such a loan then I believe that this state house
of assembly should be prepared to bear full responsibility but in a democracy like ours do they understand the meaning of such.
Come to think of it, is this not the same Soludo that confidently announced in his baritone voice against all known logic and prisms of stark reality that “it wasn’t broken yet in Anambra” What has changed ? Why is he then seeking such a loan ? Surely the administration he made such lofty comments about, which was that of his predecessor , Governor Willie Obiano ought to have left a humongous amount of money for Soludo to play with and not a debt profile of over N100 Bn.
Finally, Soludo will likely have to contend with posterity. He has yet a golden opportunity to place Anambra on the pedestal of development and I pray he does such because whether he succeeds or fails we all will be involved .
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Features

On Soludo’s 100bn Loan Request

 

Kate Uchegbu

 

Following the request by Governor Chukwuma Soludo to the Anambra State House of Assembly seeking its approval of a loan of 100 billion naira for the state, anambratimes.com has gathered that the request has been generating a lot of outrage from citizens of the state as well as from members of the opposition party.

 

According to the letter, which was read by the Speaker of the Anambra House of Assembly, Hon.Uche Okafor, the loan facility will be for the construction and refurbishment of key infrastructure in the State.
But members of the opposition have pooh poohed the idea of a loan and have based their discomfiture on a number of reasons. For example, the lawmaker representing Dunukofia State Constituency in the Anambra House Assembly, Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu told our correspondent that there was need for the Soludo administration to give a breakdown of the loan request to the people so that Ndi Anambra could know what specific set of infrastructure the loan was being sought for.
Ezeudu who is also a candidate for the House of Representatives seat for the Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency, noted that he had no challenges with the present administration taking a loan in order to reposition the state of infrastructure in Anambra, he however stated that there was need for the administration to give a breakdown of projects it intended to tie up such monies to.
Also speaking on the subject, Chief Chibuxor Obiakor, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC told AT that the Soludo administration should give a breakdown of the specifics of such a loan which he said would then help determine whether it was worth it. Obiakor stated that it was not enough for the administration to just announce that it was going to take the sum of a N100Bn but to tie such a request to specifics. Such as the number of roads, bridges, schools and hospitals etc such an amount would likely cater for.
Obiakor explained that such a gesture would help in ensuring that a misappropriation of such funds does not occur given that the previous administration had also taken loans for a number of reasons and yet Ndi Anambra were yet to feel the impact of such loans previously taken.
He emphasized that if such occurred then it would be easy for the House of Assembly, communities and citizens to effectively monitor the deployment of such a loan.
A former member of the House of Representatives who opted for anonymity wondered why Soludo was seeking a loan when he had earlier told Ndi Anambra that the state was in a good financial state.
There are a number of other fears concerning this loan such as the alleged lack of clear repayment plan and the state’s rising debt profile, are among these fears.
For example, the state’s debt burden stands at N100.732 billion and can be broken down to its domestic debt standing at N59.013 billion while  its foreign debt stands at $115.886 million. Is it thus wise to add another 100 Bn to the state’s debt burden? 
However many are afraid that with the body language of the state house of assembly, it may not critically examine such a request which would help address such fears as expressed by a majority of citizens.
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Features

Anambra Indigenes Lament Bad Roads

  • Urge Anambra State Government to carry out palliative works. 
  • Keke and shuttle bus drivers groan about payments to touts

Okwudili Nkem & Kelechi Nwangwu

 

Indigenes of the capital city of Awka have bemoaned the poor condition of roads in Awka asking the state government led by Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo to come to their rescue.

 

AT  gathered this while our correspondents went into the state capital to see for themselves the challenges faced by a number of motorists were while plying such roads.
Roads such as the ifite-Unizik road from First Market junction to Unizik and beyond the university. Other roads include the  roads leading to Ukwu Aki , the Okpuno Access road, Aroma junction, Ahocol road and the Kenneth Dike Library road, all within the Awka South Local Government Area which houses the state’s capital are all in deplorable states causing those who use the road much anguish.
Commuters who spoke to our team of correspondents lamented their daily experiences while commuting on these roads describing it as unfair.
For Maxi Udeagharanya , a business man he lamented that with the rains  it was a tasking drive everyday from his home to his shops in Eke Awka market where he dealt in electronics. Udeagharanya complained about the damage the roads did to his car as he was now a regular visitor to his mechanics.
For Mrs Chinwe Orajiaka, a teacher and entrepreneur, the deplorable state of the roads had led to increased traffic along her route from her house to her school in Regina Caelli and then to her provision store in Okpuno and back to her house.in Ifite Awka, she had thus become accustomed to leaving very early in order to get to her school on  time.
Public transport  providers such as drivers of tricycles  and shuttle buses are not left out of the complaints galore. A tricylcle driver who conveyed one of our correspondents lamented the damage the roads were doing to their tricycles and urged us use our medium to beg the Soludo administration to begin palliative works on such roads while awaiting the end of the rainy season to begin serious works on such roads. The tricycle driver who goes by the name Tony, also bemoaned the huge amount of money collected from tricycle drivers by touts despite Soludo’s directive that such collection ought to stopped pending the deployment of the revenue framework.

 

Efforts to reach the.commissioner for works proved futile as calls placed to his phone were not answered.

 

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Features

Anambra Central Senatorial District: Its A Squaring Of Old and New Foes

 

Tony Okonkwo

 

As the 2003 race draws nigh, elections into the National Assembly will also be keenly contested by the big parties such s the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s  Democratic Party PDP each seeking to control both chambers of the legislature in order to ensure that the legislative agenda of each party is implemented should  either of these parties win a majority of seats.

 

Failure  of either party to do so could spell doom for the losing party should it emerge victorious  at the presidential  elections, as the party with the majority  of seats could go on to block the agenda of the executive branch and frustrate its implementation.
Our nation’s democratic  history is filled with such happenings, particularly in the first and second republics for which  the ruling parties then had to enter into an alliance of sorts with certain members  of  the opposition in order to ensure a smooth sail for the ruling party. The Nigerian People’s  Congress, NPC was to enter into an alliance with Zik’s National Convention of Nigerian Citizens NCNC with Obafemi Awolowo’ s Action Group as the main opposition. In 1979, following the National Party of Nigeria NPN’s failure to win an effective majority in the National Assembly, it formed what was then known as an “Accord Concordiale” with Zik’s Nigerian People’s Party, NPP. This was however not the case in the short-lived third republic and the fourth republic.
Anambra like every other state has three Senatorial Districts namely, Anambra North, Anambra South and Anambra Central. Each zone has seven local government areas each from which a senator must emerge from. In Anambra South, it will be a battle royale between four major contenders, namely Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji(APC)  Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, (YPP) Chris Uba (PDP) and Hon Chris Azubuogu(APGA). For the Anambra North Senatorial District it is Barrister Ify Anaezonwu (APC) Tony Nwoye(Labour Party) Stella Oduah(PDP) and former First Lady of Anambra, Ebele Obiano.
For the Anambra Central Senatorial District, it is going to be a war of known foes and new faces as four candidates will be going for the broke come February 23, 2023.
For the likes of Senator Victor Umeh, former National Chairman All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and Senator Uche Ekwunife of the PDP, the 2023 elections will be the third time both opponents will square it off. Both faced each other in 2015 with Ekwunife routing Umeh or so the public thought until Umeh challenged the process by which Ekwunife had emerged as a Senatorial candidate and successfully  had the Appeal Court in Enugu order a rerun which also  barred the PDP from presenting a candidate in that election. Umeh was to later go on to emerge as a Senator after a tortuous process in the courts, however by 2015 he again faced Uche Ekwunife in the 2019 elections losing again. Umeh was to attempt getting the APGA ticket for a third straight time but was to lose to Hon Dozie Nwankwo. Umeh feeling betrayed by certain forces in APGA’s leadership quickly moved to the Labour Party where he will now do battle with Ekwunife , Dozie Nwankwo and Kodilichukwu Okelekwe for the Anambra Central Senatorial Seat.
Ekwunife being the  incumbent has been a veteran of a number of electoral battles having represented the Anaocha, Njikoka and Dunukofia Federal Constituency in 2007 and 2011 respectively.  Matter of fact in the 2011 contest she had seen off Nwankwo in that election before a court ordered a rerun which saw her trouncing Nwankwo a second time. Ekwunife posseses a worthy grassroots hold and also has a sterling legislative career, combining this with her well planned campaigns has seen her win again and again at the polls. However, Ekwunife may not have it rosy this time around as she will have to campaign without a Peter Obi by her side, as the former Anambra State Governor has always backed Ekwunife at the polls. For example in 2019 his nomination as running mate to Atiku Abubakar spurred Ekwunife to victory , today, Obi himself is running  for president on the platform of the Labour Party this may swing a number of votes that have traditionally gone Ekwunife’s way to Umeh who will definitely inherit from his new found partnership with Obi in Labour Party. This is not to say that Umeh will find it easy. He will be running against his former party which has a new leader in the person of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Anambra State. Soludo in seeking to impose his party’s hegemony in Anambra will definitely attempt to deliver APGA’s candidates in all of the elections, using  APGA’s  structure and his goodwill as a fresh governor, this may rub off negatively on Umeh as he would have to contend with APGA in the seven local government areas.
Besides that Hon Dozie Nwankwo would not also be a push over for either Umeh or Ekwunife. While not possessing a sterling legislative career like Ekwunife, Nwankwo boasts of a massive political structure and deep financial pocket to match the duo. He also posseses the much needed experience in electioneering which may come in handy and will likely enjoy the support of the state government’s  machinery.
For Kodilichukwu Okelekwe of the APC, it will not be in the interest of the other contenders to write him off. Okelekwe is definitely not a green horn having jostled for the Senatorial ticket in 2015, nearly upsetting the apple cart then. He will be bringing to the race his years of experience both in the private and public sectors as well as boast of the support of the ruling party, which may decide to throw the kitchen sink and do everything to win some seats in the SouthEast region.
While the elections are some eight months away and campaigns yet to formally begin, the Anambra Central Senatorial District race will definitely be a memorable contest to watch out for with the auguries silent on which way the pendulum will definitely swing.
Have a story for us please call or send a whatsapp message to 07066298357.
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Opinion

Kuje Prison Attack: It’s About Time We Break The Pattern (1)

 

By Igboeli Arinze

No serious country would have watched the news about the attacks on the Kuje Custodial Centre and not feel a tinge of shame. No nation would watch the news and not ask questions about how a rag tag army of misguided religious zealots stormed a prison located within the Federal Capital Territory and then go on to have a field day by releasing their comrades who were held in that same centre. Any nation that does otherwise has no business existing and perhaps should need another bout of colonialism.

 

Such occurrence remains a blight on the security architecture of the nation and calls to question not only the effectiveness of the security architecture but also the efficiency of those who manage such architecture as well as the integrity of such architecture. The Kuje prison attack is one attack too many and is slowly helping to demystify the nation’s approach to security as presently witnessed.
The question then should be where do we go from here ? Who should bear the brunt for the laxity witnessed before, during and after the attack? Which heads should obviously roll for such a national shame that has made us the laughing stock of the comity of nations? If Kuje could fall in so short a time and with little or no resistance by members of the security personnel found there is it not possible that such could be replicated in other areas of immense import to the Nigerian nation? With airports , schools, shopping malls, embassies military barracks and bases lying at the mercy of these terrorists? It may be that we have been running on a wrong road and may very much need to break such a pattern!
President Muhammadu Buhari while breaking protocol to visit the centre following the attack just before he headed to Senegal lamented on the failure of our intelligence services to help detect, plan and foil the attack. Had the intelligence units being up and doing they would have marshaled the resources adequately needed to repel such an attack, probably nip it in the bud before the bandits arrived in Kuje. While understanding that the war against terrorism is much of an asymmetric war and thus puts conventional intelligence gathering under much strain, there is still the fact that for such an attack to have occurred in the FCT, there must have been a build up and coordinated movements of men ,materials and arms between their bases and Abuja, how our security agencies with such intelligence failed to nip this in the bud before these terrorists struck is indeed alarming. Now the DSS has come out to say that they got such notice of an impending attack and passed it to the “necessary authorities” The question is who did the SSS pass the information to ? Did the institution feel that it was enough to have passed such to the leadership of Kuje prisons only? Was the National Security Adviser briefed? If he wasn’t then we need to ask why? If he was then we ask what steps did he take to prevent all of this from happening.
Again, what sort of policy sees the remanding of terrorists in one single facility? I mean what kind of security text books or manuals are these guys reading or implementing? What sort of security architecture accommodates these kind of criminals in one shared space where they can easily have access to each other?
Finally, the fact that these terrorists had a field day and could with ease move within the correctional facility and release their comrades goes to show that the Nigerian security architecture is saturated with fifth columnists and persons sympathetic to certain causes both domestic and foreign that seek to much undermine the territorial integrity of Nigeria. When President Goodluck Jonathan cried out while he was president that Boko Haram has infiltrated his government and had recruited their acolytes into the government then and security agencies,many of us thought that it was merely his incompetence that was speaking. Today, while still not taking anything away from such incompetence, recent events suggest such a statement to be true.
While we await the comprehensive report as ordered by President Buhari, it is important to draw the attention to our authorities to the glaring fact that whatever pattern presently being used by the security outfits of our nation in its bid to tackle insecurity is not effectively working and there is indeed dire need for a rejigging!
With the continuous news of kidnaps and attacks which have led to the loss of lives of our citizens and the reduced confidence in the ability of our security agencies to effectively protect the lives and properties of the citizenry, the present authorities need no auguries to know such.
Igboeli Arinze is the Managing Editor of HawkEye Communications, publishers of Anambratimes.com
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Features

My Takeaways From The Various Presidential Primaries (2)

 

 

By Igboeli Arinze 

The APC Primaries was the much heralded event of all the primaries, asides from it been the ruling party, it paraded the biggest array of aspirants, big names in the nation’s politics, the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,  Governor David Umahi, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Rochas Okorocha, Governor Badaru and Emeka Nwajiuba had all indicated interest  in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.

With the PDP concluding its own primaries, all eyes turned to the ruling party alongside the accompanied accoutrements of prophecies of doom and foreseen implosions. A number of hack journalists had even alleged that there was a gang up against its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, others shouted to the rooftops that there was no way the North would allow the South have its way with the ticket. Matters were not also helped when the likes of Governor Badaru and Ahmed Lawan declared for the Office as well as the emergence of Atiku Abubakar.
These conspiracy theories were however fueled by the continuous shifts in the dates scheduled for the primaries. Everyday a new theory would evolve as to how Buhari had endorsed one particular candidate and how the same Buhari had just endorsed another. There were stories of how the party had disqualified ten aspirants and how the party had arrived at a false consensus.
However things began to take shape when news reports filtered in that the Northern Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had agreed to support a Southern Candidate.
In a statement signed by 11 Governors, they said it was a question of honour for the APC and that after President Muhammadu Buhari had completed his eight years in power it was the turn of the South to take its shot at power.
But there happened to be another twist to the convention, a rumor had somewhat found vent that the party had settled for Ahmed Lawan, such a pronouncement was to mar a number of permutations as well as unsettle the party, since all the aspirants had settled for an elective contest and anything short of such would cause an implosion and do the party’s electoral chances a certain level of damage.
But like the heroes of this nascent democracy, the Northern Governors stuck to their guns and there would be no going back. By virtue of such an act these governors had helped save the APC as well as preserve the fabric thinly holding the nation’s stability!  This was one big takeaway from that convention, and that was the fact that there was or there is still some honour in our politics. The Northern Governors could have used the superiority of numbers and the latent excuse that democracy gives to have one of their own elected as the APC candidate, but understanding that the Nigerian project is bigger than anyone  or region chose to bury such aspirations and allow the South produce a president.
The primaries itself was a carnival of sorts and the drama that ensued could make the producer of the famous political series ‘House of Cards’ grin with envy. As a number of aspirants began to step down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu with that of  Governor Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the bellringing exemplars it became obvious that the election was for Bola Tinubu to lose and win he did!
Another big takeaway from the APC primaries was the fact that all politics is local or should I say regional! While the SouthWest seemingly appeared to close ranks and see a sitting Governor and serving senator put away their aspirations for one of their own ( Despite the fact that the trio, Bola Tinubu, Fayemi and Amosun were not prior to that period the best of friends) the SouthEast played theirs like some circus. We had an Orji Uzor Kalu playing the perennial spoiler as he rooted for Lawan, while we had a David Umahi, Emeka Nwajiuba and Ogbonnaya Onu in the race. Again, it did appear that asides from Umahi, the rest of the SouthEast aspirants were banking on an “anointing” of sorts, while their fellow aspirants traversed the nation, seeking the support of the delegates.
When such an anointing failed to come we saw what I call a melodramatic appearance by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,  who bellowed out the words “Where is the justice? “ decrying the non decision of the party to zone the ticket to the SouthEast Region. While many may have agreed with Ogbonnaya Onu’s stance, one other takeaway from the APC Primaries is that power is taken and not served a la carte.
Lastly, Tinubu’s acceptance speech as well as his conciliatory visits to his fellow aspirants should as always suggest to many Nigerians that politics is about interest alone and there are no permanent friends nor foes. Such a move has helped managed the fallouts of the primaries and  paved the way for him to unite the APC and meet the PDP in the polls where it should  be all about issues and the party’s relative performance in power.
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Features

My Takeaways From The Various Presidential Primaries (1)

 

By Igboeli Arinze

By now, a number of political parties would have concluded on who would bear their presidential flags in the forthcoming general elections come 2023. Now, while a number of these parties have succeeded in meeting INEC’s rescheduled deadline. It is obvious that except there are a few upsets, the forthcoming elections, particularly that of the presidency would be at most a two party race, not even Peter Obi’s move into the Labour Party, will help change much. However, we are sure that Nigeria and Nigerians will experience a new high within our political process, one the country can hopefully build upon for a better polity.

 

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP produced an Atiku Abubakar, a Fulani from the NorthEast and one time Vice President of the Federation. A perennial presidential aspirant cum candidate since 1993, Atiku’s decision to run for President this time around portrayed him as one without principles and desperate for power. This same Atiku had in 2011 insisted on the zoning of the presidency to the North in order to maintain the sacrosanctity of PDP’s zoning arrangement. He had even contested the primaries suffering a resounding defeat at the hands of the then incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. Matter of fact, Atiku’s decision to quit the PDP for the APC was borne on the body language of Jonathan to again seek another term in office. He however criss crossed back to the PDP, picking up the ticket but losing again to the incumbent in President Muhammadu Buhari. This time around, Atiku withstood every sensible and just clamour for the PDP to zone the presidency to the South, following the near completion of President Buhari’s eight years in office. Sadly, Atiku was to have his way beating Nyesome Wike, the present sitting Governor of Rivers State at the PDP’s convention. Atiku’s emergence was due to the lack of Southern Solidarity as SouthWest and South South delegates allegedly cast their votes for Atiku. Not even the maverick like decision of Governor Tambuwal to step down for Atiku pricked his Southern counterparts, they sold Governor Wike out and ended the hopes of the PDP producing a Southerner for President.
For Governor Wike, history will be kind to him. Wike was the brave face of the South in that convention, even though he lost due to the evil machinations of his Southern counterparts. Unlike some politicians who much preferred to chicken out of the race a few days to the primaries after grandstanding at some mausoleums, Wike, became the symbol of the South in the PDP attempting to match Atiku, man to man.

 

The PDP primaries witnessed a heavy dollarizarion of the process as a majority of the party’s aspirants engaged each other in an all out scramble for the votes of their delegates, a sad reminder that our democracy is still the play thing of the rich and mighty.

 

The primaries of the Labour Party was to follow suit, and with the entry of the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi into the party, following his chickening out from the PDP’s race on the alleged story that the process had been heavily monetized. Yet in his bid to portray himself as a saint with one watch and two shoes, our Hong-Kong /China exponent forgot how he nicked the APGA ticket in 2003, supplanting in a manner even the Medici’s would be ashamed of the would be winner of that primaries in the person of Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, the current National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.

 

Even at that, I can boldly say that Obi’s decision to quit the PDP was a political blunder, his name on the PDP ticket would have bolstered the party’s chances at the polls and would have dealt a more serious blow to the APC’s desire to retain power. Obi’s choice of the Labour Party makes him a king in a small fiefdom as elections are not won on the platforms of social media or on ethnic rabble rousing. Elections are won via party structures, which are built over the years and political climes like Nigeria, have not afforded media creations or myths like Obi the opportunity to blossom beyond their immediate spaces, the likes of Azikiwe, Awolowo, Aminu Kano and Nuhu Ribadu are classical example. Even the incumbent in Muhammadu Buhari experienced such trends until the formation of the All Progressives Congress which had a national outlook.

 

The biggest upset did not occur in the two political parties but in the small ones, with a Kingsley Moghalu losing to an unknown Dumebi Kachikwu. Moghalu, who had featured brilliantly in the 2019’elections was hoping to do an encore in the 2023 elections only to lose to Kachikwu who happens to be the younger brother to Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu.

 

Igboeli is the Managing Editor of Anambratimes.com

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Features

For Charles Amilo. (1945-2021)

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.”- Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses

I was at a wedding of the sister to an associate of mine, angry at the non presence of palm wine, I was obviously bitter as I had earlier served notice on this associate of mine that one would care for the drink of the gods as I wasn’t agreeable with the green bottles he lavishly supplied to my table even when we were on the cusp of seeing the Old year off and welcoming 2022 when I received a call informing me of the demise of a one time Member of the Old Anambra State House of Assembly, commissioner for information and present Chairman of the board of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, a father and a man who was like a friend, Chief Charles Amilo. Udobodo Enugwu Ukwu.
I was immediately jolted by such news as I had earlier planned to go and pay him a visit in the new year, he had been sick and after seeing him in October last year where he had gifted me another big box of Coffee, we discussed a number of issues including his health and how he was pulling through, little did I know that such a day would be my last to see him.
I pay homage to one of Anambra’s finest politicians, scholar, encyclopedia of knowledge and image maker. I like Mark Anthony over the pyre of burning wood, much akin to the sorrows of losing such a man, yet but seek to extol the man, Chief Charles Amilo, sorry he was not a mere man, he was one of the Titans, the last of them, a model even in the cold ground.
Amilo was born in 1945 and like every young lad had his primary and secondary education in the Eastern Nigeria region.As a brilliant mind, Amilo was to attend the University of Nigeria, Nsukka from 1967  to 1974  where he obtained a degree in Microbiology. Seeking further the golden fleece,Amilo went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Rutgers University from 1976 to 1978.
With the first stanza of the retirement of soldiers to the barracks, Amilo was elected as a Member of the Old Anambra State House of Assembly during the 2nd Republic under the platform of the National Party of Nigeria., NPN. One of the shining lights of that House, Amilo was to distinguish himself across party and legislative lines that he was gifted with another term. Using the gift of garb, oratory and a rich knowledge of the nation’s history, Amilo, effusively weighed in on several debates and helped the House pass numerous motions and bills.
Again, in the botched Third Republic, Udobodo participated in the politics of that era, ensuring that the likes of Chukwuemeka Ezeife emerged as Governor of Anambra State. By 2005, with the heightened battle royale between Governor Chris Ngige and his estranged godfather , Chris Uba, there was the general consensus that the gains of the then Ngige administration was not been marketed positively to the public. A quick search of capable hands were sought and within days the name Amilo was all over the place,  his nomination was to follow suit and Ndi Anambra began to feel the difference.
I will always remember my first meeting with Chief Amilo in Awka,circa 2009. Amilo candidly listened to my request to join the Chris Ngige Media Machinery that was been set up for the 2010 polls, that was after he had read some of my articles then in the dailies. Amilo not only ensured that I was appointed into the media committee, he also sought to give me the neccesary encouragement then as a young man,
Today, I am a voice heard because of the opportunity he gave me, I recall how I would reach out to Amilo and he would bellow ” Ah, I just read your column in the Nation, well done Arinze” I can only say that it was his words of encouragement over the years that landed me such an opportunity and many more because he, Amilo believed much in me.
Amilo was an encyclopedia of knowledge; history and politics were at his beck and call, I still remember the numerous times he would regale us with stories of the 1st Republic’s politics,  the alliance between the NCNC and the Action Group to form the United Progressives Grand Alliance, UPGA and the Civil War. I recall the day, he and ECJ Nwosu had a fierce but yet friendly and enlightening argument on who won the 1983 guber elections in old Anambra. Amilo against all voices present that day and entitled to comment vehemently insisted that it was C.C  Onoh’s NPN, his party that had won; much to Kpakpando’s angst who countered that it was Jim’s NPP that actually won.
One key trait of Amilo was his loyalty to causes he believed in. Amilo’s loyalty was not only to those who occupied offices as is the present trend, nope, Udobodo would always stick with his principles as well as his friends, both young and old. A clear example was his relationship with Chris Ngige, who after leaving office saw a huge majority of his lieutenants seeking new camps, Udobodo stuck with Ngige, despite the latter’s notoriety for clannish politics and even when it was not favourable to him (Amilo). This makes him a shining example to our youth,for in an era where many switch parties at the speed faster than light, Udobodo in his Herculean manner remained steadfast to his principles.
As I write this piece, I mull over our last meeting, where I had frank discussions with him, I shudder that he is no more, that sonorous voice and gentle soul that would always seek peace even with his identified enemies. I yet again recall the numerous times he would call me to admonish me on some of my exuberances, particularly that quick temper or righteous anger as I would style it and he would simply say, “I did not teach you this way”. Indeed, he was like a father figure to many and a man of many parts, Amilo was an enigma and it is my hope that he will find peace with his creator.
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