Reading John Okiyi Kalu’s aka Nwandugbom or JOK revisionism with the title “Between Peter Mba and Alex Otti: When Experience Makes A Difference” which contained several lies ,concocted figures and evil thoughts did once again throw one into deep thoughts about the evil master minds that dished out lies and painted glorious pictures of the State while it was being looted under the Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu infamous regime. For the untutored, John Okiyi Kalu was the Chief Propagandist of the Ikpeazu regime as the Commissioner of Information of that infamous era. One thought that came to my mind on reading that trash was to ignore it as it was not worth the paper on which it was written but it is often said that lies repeated severally often acquires the semblance of truth. It is this axiom that informs this rejoinder. The summary of JOK assumptions in the said article was that the Enugu State 2024 Budget proposals which he watched on TV according to him has turned Enugu State into an Eldorado. He limped from there to do a hatchet job of dishing out fictitious figures about Abia State public expenditure as well as a feeble attempt at a comparative analysis of the six month old administration with past administrations in Enugu State. He went further to cast aspersions on the personality of Dr. Alex Otti. The main kernel of the distasteful write up was to denigrate and insult the Government of Abia State as well as the personality of His Excellency Dr Alex Chioma Otti. The curious thing about John Okiyi’s half-baked and ignorant treatise is that he did not mention any of the past government of Abia State in his comparison with Enugu State or the personalities involved. Again, JOK displayed crass ignorance about Public Policy Analysis basic principles when he failed to understand that objective research data is usually the basis of such comparative analysis he set out to do and not information that is derived from Budget proposals that one watched on Television Sets. Research efforts based on verifiable Budget Performance is usually the basis of such comparative analysis in Public Policy Analysis. How well a government has done or is doing is derived from verifiable facts and figures and not imaginary and concocted figures. Again, his escapist tendency to compare previous Enugu State Governments with the Present one in Abia would have made more sense if he did such comparison with their past counterparts in Abia including the one he served as the Propaganda Chief. JOK comparisons has no tail or head. It was a concocted tale of an evil mastermind whose mission was to bring into disrepute the popular performing Governor of Abia State or at worst bring confusion and bickering between the people and Government of the two sister States of Enugu and Abia State who have for long enjoyed very peaceful and cordial relationships irrespective of partisan differences. It must be stated however that both the Governor and people of Abia State have deep respect for their Enugu State counterpart and there has always existed a very cordial relationship between the two sister states and their Governors. I can equally assert that nothing will break this cordial relationship. Not even the evil thoughts and machinations of characters like the said John Okiyi Kalu. Be that as it may, it is good to put Dr. Alex Otti’s ascendancy and performance in office in its proper context. Dr. Otti’s inauguration into office on May 2023 could be metamorphically be likened to Chinua Achebe’s tragic hero “Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart” who started out in life with nothing due to the character failure of his father “Unoka” who was a drunkard and a lazy man whom Achebe would describe thus “in his days, he was a lazy and an improvident man and quite incapable of thinking about tomorrow”. Achebe further categorized Unoka thus “if any money came his way as it seldom did, he immediately bought gourds of palm wine, called round neighbors and made merry. Unoka was of course a debtor and owed every neighbor some money, from a few cowries to quite substantial amounts. That was years ago when he was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat. People laughed at him because he was a loafer and they swore never to loan him any money because he never seldom paid back”. The net effect of Unoka’s physical and mental altitude was that his family was plunged into poverty and people laughed at them and his son Okonkwo started life from ground zero. It its exactly this Achebe fabled scenario in “Things Fall Apart” that played out in Abia’s recent political history. A State that is rich in human and material resources was plunged into debt and abject poverty and made a laughing stock due to the mental and physical laziness of its rulers. The tragic thing about the Abia situation is that it is the jesters and evil master minds like John Okiyi Kalu and Eze Chikamnayo who dished out lies and painted glorious picture of achievements as the information commissioners while the state was being looted. However, it is often the case that every day is for the thief and one day is for the owner of the house. In Abia the day of reckoning was 22nd April when Dr. Alex Otti, their chief nemesis was announced as the winner of the Governorship Election. Dr Alex Otti like his literary metaphor “Okonkwo” inherited nothing on assumption of office. Rather what he inherited were humongous debt and a government whose activities had long been grounded by the mental and physical laziness of his predecessors. In fact as at May 29th 2023 when Dr Otti was inaugurated into office, all the government offices in Abia State were under locks and keys as a result of the strike action embarked upon by public sector workers on account of salary arears amounting to over N70B that was owed to them. Most of the physical infrastructure of the state were all at various stages of decay and dilapidation. Most state contractors had pulled out of sites on account of debts owed to them. His Excellency Dr Alex Otti started from ground zero and it is against this background that any objective assessment of his six-month-old regime can be based rather than a nebulous comparism with the budgetary estimate of a sister government in a far away Enugu State. The truth of the matter is that His Excellency Dr Alex Chioma Otti has fully overhauled and reset the governance structure in the state since his assumption of office in May 29th 2023. His promise of paying public sector workers on the 28th of every month has been kept just as well as he is gradually tackling the backlog of salary arrears of the workers. It is also good to recall that Dr Alex Otti is not only very prudent in the management of the public treasure but also has imbued government processes with a lot of transparency and openness. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements may yet be reckoned to be his recruitment pattern into the top echelon of the Public Service where he has recruited top professionals from diverse fields to manage critical sectors of the Government. Governor Otti with his able managers has so far ensured that public policies and executions are conducted in ways that ensure not only quick service delivery but also that government procurement is achieved at minimal costs. Such innovative and prudent strategy has ensured the flourishing of the once moribund Government Ministries and Parastatals. In fact, the enthronement of transparency and due process in public sector procurement has ensured that the Abia public derives maximum benefit from government procurement activities. The resetting of all government tools by the Dr. Alex Otti administration has occasioned a quantum leap in the development of Abia State. This fact can be attested by a few significant checklists. All the internal roads in the major streets of Aba and Umuahia which were at various stages of dilapidation are now undergoing rehabilitation through the direct labour policy of the state government with its policy of “Zero Tolerance For Pot Holes”. This is just the same way that major arteries and link roads have been contracted out to reputable contractors who are delivering same at agreed time schedules. As at date, no state government in Nigeria can match Abia State in the quantity and quality of roads delivered and commissioned under the administration of Dr. Alex Otti within these past six months. This is also the same way that the hospital systems are being rehabilitated and wearing new looks. It is equally important to note that the free medical services being offered to people on weekends is still ongoing and have helped to ensure that a lot more people have access to quality healthcare. The “Light Up The City Project” which has led to the lightening up of our once dark cities of Aba and Umuahia is still progressing at a good speed. It is also good to mention that there has been an aggressive rehabilitation of public sector buildings and equipment of same in other to provide conducive atmospheres for government workers to carry their duties. This is a significant feat if we recall that most government buildings were at various stages of decay before may 29th 2023 due to neglect. Again, any one driving around the major streets of Umuahia and Aba and seeing how clean they appear may not remember that just six months ago, these cities were characterized by refuse and filth that filled out all its nooks and crannies. Dr Alex Otti has also been aggressive in laying the foundation of a meaningful industrialization drive in the State. The commissioning of the Abia Innovative and Industrial Park at Owaza and putting in place structures that will enhance “Ease of Doing Business” are just some of the measures that have seen the influx of Investors into the State. Indeed, Dr. Alex Otti has engineered a renaissance in Abia which has made the State the number one investment destination centre in Nigeria. All these feats have been made possible because of the transparency and honesty which has characterized government business since Dr Alex Otti assumed duty as the Abia State Chief Servant. The Governor himself leads through personal examples of hard work, humility, Christian Chastity, diligence, honesty, sacrifice and efficient deployment of scarce state resources. However, the likes of John Okiyi Kalu and his ilk who milked the State dry are blinded by these self-evident facts. They deliberately refuse to acknowledge all these positive developments. They are blinded by their evil thoughts. They had since loosing power engaged in acts that will undermine the Dr. Otti’s led achievement through various frivolous litigations and cheap propaganda. They will fail as it has been ordained by the divine powers that liberated Abia State from their iron grip through the Leadership of His Excellency Dr Alex Otti and The Labour Party. However, the times and the wicked machinations of the dark forces that held Abia State down for several decades calls for greater vigilance amongst Abians. The liberation which Abians are currently enjoying and which came through the blood and sweat of several patriots some of whom paid the supreme price should not been taken for granted. Abians should be vigilant and learn from the admonitions of the first Israeli Prime Minster Ben Gurion when he warned the Israelites in the twilight of their declaration of the Jewish State in May 1948 thus: “as Jews and more so as Zionist, we must forgo facile optimism and barren despondency. Basic fact are our allies. The tragedy of the Jews, the desolation of the land with it, our creativity. They have brought us thus far” And I will add to this admonition by stating that the struggle to liberate Abia State from the kleptomaniacs that held her down for several years took several years to achieve. Those who looted the State are still prodding around with their ill-gotten wealth angling for opportunities to scuttle the monumental developments that is ongoing and which has been engineered by Dr Alex Otti. Abians must resist them no matter what form they raise their head. They are a desperate lot and the times calls for greater vigilance amongst our people. I will end this write-up by abbreviating a favorite refrain that was popular during the civil war and which made a lot of impression on my young mind then and it goes thus: “Onye ndi iro gbara gburugburu neche ndu ya nche mgbe nile” Umu Abia, Unu e hikwala Ura. Hon. Jones Nnanna Ike General Manager/Editor in Chief Abia Newspaper & Publishing Corporation

Credential Upload, Not Verification: Abia Govt Clarifies NLC, Civil Servants

 

Abia State Government has refuted claims by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) about commencing another verification exercise for public and civil servants in the state.

 

The Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu made the clarification while briefing Journalists on the outcome of this week’s Executive Council Meeting presided over by Governor Alex Otti.

Prince Kanu stated that the government is merely conducting an online upload of workers’ credentials in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), as well as in the 17 Local Government Areas.

 

Recall that the leadership of the NLC, Abia state chapter had released a communique ordering Civil Servants not to be part of any verification exercise by the state government.

 

The information Commissioner further explained that government’s decision stemmed from a need to review credentials, especially after discovering discrepancies in some senior civil servants’ files.

 

Prince Kanu said that government aims to streamline appointments and promotions within the civil service, hence the request for workers to upload their credentials online.

 

He urged workers not to dismiss the exercise without understanding its purpose and criticized the NLC’s misrepresentation of the situation.

 

“Government is not embarking on any verification rather what is going on is that workers were asked to upload their credentials online.

 

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“The government had planned to make certain appointments from within the civil service and when the files of some senior civil servants were brought forward, it was found out that there were no papers (necessary documents) in those files.

 

There were questions as regards the credentials with which these civil servants were working with. On what basis were they employed? On what basis have they been promoted over the years? Questions and more questions.

 

“It got to the point that the state government decided on a “Show- Your- Credentials Exercise”, but just to make it easy for workers so that nobody congregates together to do all that, the government directed that the upload of the credentials be carried out online.

 

“So, that’s not a verification exercise but suffice it to say that asking workers not to embark on that exercise without interfacing and finding out what exactly is the issue is not fair to the state government“, Prince Kanu said.

 

On the issue of Pensions, Kanu expressed disappointment with the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), who issued a statement alleging misrepresentation by their Executives during discussions and subsequent agreement that led to the payment of their outstanding pensions in the state.

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He highlighted the government’s commitment to resolving pension issues and questioned the timing of NUP’s complaint, especially after pension payments were made.

 

They embarked on a unilateral action and decided to write a public letter to the government without first seeking for clarifications from the government officials concerned. That’s not the right way to go about it; not with a government that means well for workers.

 

“This is a government that has paid Abia pensioners their outstanding pensions with some dating back to 2014. A government that promised to pay pensioners their full monthly pensions going forward and has fulfilled that promise in the month of April and is poised to sustain the payments going forward.

“A government that has come to your rescue after being owed several years of pensions, that’s not the way to show gratitude.

 

“While members of NUP were busy doing that over the weekend, Abia Concerned Pensioners went round the City of Umuahia commending His Excellency ,Dr. Alex Otti OFR and the government. And what that speaks to, is the fact that yes, we have pensioners who show gratitude to the government and you now have this other group that is now going about in disagreement.

 

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“We feel we will use this opportunity to let people know that, that call by the NUP is not a right one.Their Executives were the people who, over the months have been interfacing with the government, and at the point when their outstanding pensions were paid, there were no complaints and suddenly they woke up to say that they don’t accept the outcome of the agreement.

 

“And there is a part of that agreement that says that , in the event of any disagreement that both parties should come together and mutually resolve such a disagreement but the NUP did not do that”, Prince Kanu stated.

Commissioner for Housing, Mr Chaka Chukwumerije and the S.A the Governor on Media, Ferdinand Ekeoma were present during the briefing.