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Like a blind man,Obasanjo led Nigeria into the ditch Ė Ngige

Posted by By Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka on 2008/04/06 | Views: 741 |

Like a blind man,Obasanjo led Nigeria into the ditch Ė Ngige


Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, says revelations at the on-going power sector probe by the House of Representatives are a reflection of the myopic and visionless leadership of the former President Olusegun Obasanjoís administration.

Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, says revelations at the on-going power sector probe by the House of Representatives are a reflection of the myopic and visionless leadership of the former President Olusegun Obasanjoís administration.

Ngige told Daily Sun that the misappropriation in the power sector started when Obasanjoís administration wanted to divert state funds in the federation account to build power plants and its accessories, which he (Ngige) said he challenged at the Council of State.

He described the probe or public hearing as a welcome development, hoping that the House Committee on Power and Steel would remain firm, and ensure that all who have hands in the mess are brought to book.

Ngige also spoke about the PDP, describing it as the gathering of looters, adding that he has some fears for the new national chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, because he does not number among the ďgarrison commanders and buccaneers in the partyĒ.

Power sector probe
Well, I think basically put, the power sector public hearing being organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Power and Steel is a very welcome development and it is a step in the right direction. That probe or public hearing has exposed inadequacies in power policy formulation in the country, power appropriation bill in terms of material resources. All these in totality mean that we have paid lip service to the idea of power generation, transmission and distribution which are the key components of power for the common man in this country.

It also brought to the fore that the Obasanjo administration did nothing in terms of power generation. The problem was that the leadership that organized power project was a leadership that was myopic. It was a leadership that was not visionary at all. And so, there were so many areas of waste without any concomitant value for the resources that were expended. I tell you, a lot of us saw this thing.

If I remembered correctly, when the idea was mooted that the money from the Federation Account would be diverted to the building of power plants, and its accessories, I asked many questions at the Council of State meeting and even at the National Economic Council chaired by the Vice President and Council of State chaired by Obasanjo. I did ask why the Federal Government which has sole responsibility for power generation and distribution should go to the Federation Account and take monies that belong to three tiers of government, the Federal Government, the state government and the local government to fund the project. He shied away from bringing a revenue allocation formula, contrary to the advice given to him by the Revenue Mobilization Commission in 2001 and then even in 2004, he shied away and the Federal Government now took large allocation more than their two shares, more than they needed.

We all know we want power in this country and we all know that we as states can contribute, and when we contribute it by ourselves, of course, the logical thing there is we would like to know how our money is spent. We would have demanded to be part and parcel of the execution, but they donít want that. Due Process was not followed, oh, there was a waiver from Mr. President on Due Process Certificate for payment to the contractors. And you know when you start all these waivers and cutting corners and things like that, you canít supervise contractors.

Well, the problem with Nigeria is contract management, contract administration. And it is very painful that this has spilled over into the power sector. We had it on roads throughout the federation; the federal roads are the dilapidated ones you see. If you are moving from Lagos to Ore to Benin, to Onitsha and to Aba, Port Harcourt, bad federal roads, you can never use them. Go from Lagos to Ibadan, from Ibadan to Ilorin, from Ilorin to Abuja, bad federal roads. So, they are not ashamed about that and they took us again into the power sector, with the result that when Abdusalami left in 1999, we had about 3,000 megawatts of electricity, today, we are talking about 1,800 megawatts. It is a big shame.

What is the way out?
Way out? Way out is to have good leadership, the last leadership we had was a blind leadership. A blind man cannot lead; he will lead everybody into the ditch. A lot of us have fallen into the ditch in Nigeria now, thatís what it is; we are trying to climb out from the ditch. Nigerians, we have been led blindly and we have followed blindly and we are all inside the ditch, expect for the sycophants who feathered their nests, but again, the feathered nests are in the ditch. They donít have power in the places, they own 10 generators, they donít solve their problem, because with 10 generators, they still donít have diesel, even if they have diesel, sometimes they give them adulterated diesel. So the problem is still there, you have not escaped, even if you think you have accumulated billions.

So, we must ask ourselves questions, the elite, we must make our place good, thatís the only answer. We must offer honest, transparent and good leadership here to our people. We must not be sycophantic, praise singing for leaders, even those who are not doing well, they call them fathers of modern Nigeria, for whatever they want to get from the man. But you can now see it. It is time for stock taking; a lot of things have gone wrong. The refineries are not working, five refineries all down, we are importing PMS, Premium Motor Spirit, the one you call petrol, AGO, DPK for the aircraft and for the people in the village to cook with their stove and to light up their homes because they donít even have electricity.

Punishment for those indicted in the probe
Well, when I started, I told you that it is a step in the right direction, a journey of a 1,000 miles starts with one step. So, I praise the committee, the chairman in particular. I watch him, Elumelu, a young man but with a lot of courage, you can see he is knowledgeable. Heís not an electrical engineer and that is the mistake people make, they think as a leader, you must be an expert in something. No. A good leader must have knowledge of the different facets of management, of life, whether its engineering, you acquire a little bit, in medicine, you acquire a little bit, law, acquire a little bit. You donít need to be an expert or a specialist, but you must be knowledgeable. I am really impressed.

Itís good, at least, we have people coming out to say oh, I was Madam Due Process, I was in charge of Due Process, but by the time I left, they started violating the procedures and it was all violated by the President of the country himself, I never expected they will do so. That is Obiageli Ezekwesili for you, then the finance minister also saying that we got this certificate for waivers. What are you waiving in Due Process? What are you waiving? A process is a process, it either exists or it doesnít exist.
So, I also pity the former minister of power and steel who is now the Governor of Cross River, a good friend of mine, but maybe he was overwhelmed by what he saw and he now started asking for waiver. But I donít think that is the best thing to have been done in that circumstance. But you know, one cannot really know why he had to do that, but if I was the chief executive of the country, I wouldl not come for a waiver. You donít make laws and unmake laws, you canít probate and reprobate at the same time.

So, it is not something that could fly at all.
So many things have also gone wrong there and it is good we are talking about them now and that will help us fashion out a good energy policy and implementation and I do hope that after this probe, whether we sanction people or we donít sanction people in that sector, I can assure you that people will now stand straight and the right things will be done. We will now construct, at least, our gas pipelines to those power plants, we will now also look down for alternatives to gas, hydro-electricity, we have to tap them. We have coal in Benue, we have coal in Enugu State, and we have coal in parts of Plateau going to Kwara.

We must develop coal power plants, we must, and if there is anywhere we can see gas, we can also develop a power plant there. Anambra is sitting on a hub of gas and when I asked Mr. President, Obasanjo then, why is Anambra not in the Niger Power Plant Companies, he said, emÖ well, after you come and Iíll explain the reason to you, just to rub off the question. The question I asked him is a pertinent question, basic studies have shown that Anambra is very rich in gas, especially in the Anambra River basin area.

No gas plant, the one at Owerri, at Ala Orji at Aba is supposed to get gas from Abia and Rivers and the rest of them all. Even that plant was made a BOT plant, Built, Operate and Turn over by the government, and it was not until the former president called us as stakeholders and some of us refused that it would be a BOT plant and after fighting with him at that meeting, he never called for the meeting again, he abrogated the meeting and in the next budget, because of the pressure he had to make it a non-BOT project. So, you can see that there was parochialism in the whole set up and it was not going to help anything. You are supposed to look at the thing with a nationalist tendency, but it was not done.

PDP convention and the use of consensus
The word consensus presupposes that everybody agrees to something conventionally, all agree thatís what it means, consensus, but that is not what is being practised in the PDP. They use consensus sometimes when it suits them, they use affirmation when it suits them. Affirmation means we affirm again, it connotes again everybody saying yes. But I am telling you that in most of those things, they are talking about, elected through consensus or affirmation not everybody agreed. These are tools being used by godfathers to perpetuate godfatherism. Consensus and affirmation are twins and they are anti-democracy as being practised in the PDP.

I donít know, yes, it could work but in PDP is not working; it will not work because many strange bed fellows are there in PDP. It is a gathering of people who want to loot, I was there, itís a gathering of people who want to oppress the ordinary Nigerians, and it is a bazaar, people with different philosophies. In that place, it is a disadvantage for you to be overqualified for something, it is a disadvantage for you to work hard, it is a disadvantage for you to be seen to love to work for your people. So you can see that that party needs a lot of prayers and touch of the Holy Spirit to get them out from where they are.

Ogbulafor the Messiah?
Well, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor has a very good family pedigree. He comes from a very noble home, his father, Eze Ogbulafor, was a very, very good Igbo man, he was one of those who held that Igbo resistance during the Nigerian civil war, during the pogrom a lot of people received help from him. Prince, his son, is a man too with a very large heart. Iíve had very sincere interactions with him while we were in the PDP, when he was secretary, I was NEC members and when I ran for governor, and he was one of those who screened me, one of those who gave me support to run. Because when I was running, all the officers of the party said that this is the first time former officer of the party is running. I was assistant national secretary, so they all gave me support from day one. And Chief Vin Ogbulafor is somebody who I know is not abrasive, he is not talkative, he is not troublesome, he is a religious man too, heís a very good Catholic and a Catholic Knight.

So my fear for him stems from the fact that he is not in the mould of the scavengers, the garrison commanders that are in the PDP. It could work well for him because garrison commanders, the scavengers and buccaneers might be afraid to come to him with their proposals, it could also work for him because they know that this is the manís pedigree and character, so they will let him alone, so that he can do his work well. But I fear very much for him because I know that those people are evil, they can do anything to have their way and Vincent is not the type that is pugilistic. But we give him prayers, he has started well, he said he would abide by the constitution of the party and do many things, he will implement Ekwuemeís report which is a report that was put on the shelf by the Ahmadu Ali administration.

If you remember well, before I left PDP, I said that Ahmadu Ali will bury the party. I called him an undertaker, and today if you looked well you see that PDP is six feet below the ground, waiting to be covered with sand. Theyíve buried PDP but I think the head is still out in the grave and the new chairman has a lot of work to do for them.

I am no longer a member of PDP by my volition. I have a court judgment which quashed my expulsion from the party, that judgment is not challenged, and PDP did even appeal it, but by my volition, I donít want to stay with them anymore because like I told you, it is a disadvantage to be honest while in their group. It is a disadvantage to work for your people, it is a disadvantage not to bring the treasury for looting, it is a disadvantage when you want to enthrone due process and rule of law in whatever you are doing if you are a state governor, and it is a disadvantage to speak the truth. It is a disadvantage to be kind, to be non-sycophantic; it is a disadvantage and is even a crime with them especially when General Obasanjo was their leader.

Will you go back to PDP if they want you back?
When we get to the bridge, we cross it, but I can only tell you that I am a member of AC and I am happy in that party. I am very happy where I am. I speak out my mind, we make robust argument, and we disagree among ourselves. I will disagree with Bola Tinubu on issues, marshal out my argument, he brings out his own and the superior argument will carry the day. We can even disagree with Atiku Abubakar, we marshal out our argument, and he brings out his own. That is what a political party should be, it should be a brotherhood, like minds, progressive thinkers, not when you do that they say youíre stubborn and a trouble maker.
Obasanjo will try to say, you want to show you know book and that kind of derogatory talks meant for little minds. So, I donít want to associate with such kind of people, am happy where I am.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your ‚Äúevening life is better than evening life‚ÄĚ?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.