Former Commissioner for Information and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State, Chief Abia Onyike, has quit his membership of the ruling party and declared for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), citing irreconcilable differences with the state governor, Engr. Dave Umahi.
Onyike who announced his defection to the opposition party in a statement on Thursday, argued that the governor has shown since he left the PDP for the APC, that he is not ready to uphold democratic principles.
According to him, “After a critical review of the current political scenerio in Ebonyi State, especially since November. 19, 2020, when Gov. David Umahi decamped from PDP to APC, I, Abia Onyike have decided to return back to the People’s Democratic Party(PDP). My decision to return to PDP is based on the following reasons:
“1. That Gov. David Umahi is not prepared to turn a new leaf in his dictatorial autocratic leadership style in the governance of Ebonyi state, a situation that has unleashed mass poverty and mass impoverishment on Ebonyi citizenry. In my own Afikpo South LGA, Gov. Umahi has failed the people through his inability to bring to justice a political block which operates the ‘MoreCanBeDone killer-squad,’ and his failure to set up a panel of inquiry to investigate recent killings in the area. This has made the political faction more impudent and virulent in the vicinity. Umahi’s government is far from being a democracy.
“2. Gov. Umahi wants to continue in his usual government of anarchy, through which instability, violence and lawlessness are exacerbated in the governance of the state. As we speak, a new wave of violence and is gradually unfolding in Ezza North and Ezza South LGAs of the state, no thanks to the regime of mpunity prevalent in the state. The political space is already fouled by antagonistic propaganda being fuelled and targeted against those wanting to toe a different and independent path of political party affiliation, especially those who have expressed their resolve to be in PDP.
“Gov. Umahi sees public office not as an instrument for the provision of welfare for the citizenry, but as a platform for personal and family agrandisement. He runs an anti-people government and has by so doing declared himself the enemy of the people. He is self-willed, self-opinionated, self-serving, self-centered and selfish.
“3. I am convinced that those who make up the PDP in the state now are tested leaders and like-minded Patriots who are committed to the genuine development of Ebonyi state, hence my decision to identify with them at this critical moment.
“4. I will remain opposed to Gov. Umahi’s government because of:
“i. His lawless approach to governance and administration, such as appointing the State Accountant-General from outside the civil service to facilitate looting of public treasury. Take note that from 2015-2019, Gov. Umahi ran the state without Permanent Secretaries, which was deliberately done for free for all looting of funds without administrative checks and balances. Ebonyi looks like being in a state of war because of Umahi’s extremely greedy, covetous and nepotic administration.
“ii. His commitment to selfish and useless White Elephant Projects which serve as conduit pipes for looting public funds. Umahi built unnecessary projects such as the N7 billion Ecumenical Centre, the N6 billion Shopping Mall and new Government House, Ochudo City, just to create conduit pipes for siphoning funds. Within nine months as Governor he amassed illegal wealth scattered all over and built more than 20 mansions in his village residence at Uburu with a private stadium, aircraft landing facility, hotel annexes and cinema complex with the asphalting of the compound sprawling in several hectares of land.
“iii. Lack of Pipe Borne Water in Ebonyi State, especially Abakaliki, the state capital. Ebonyi is the only state without a Water Board in Nigeria. This has fuelled fears of a possible return of the guinea worm scourge. But the 419 government built water fountains in major roundabouts to deceive visitors that all is well. Take note that Section 390 of the Criminal Code is on Stealing while Section 419 deals with Stealing by tricks including the stealing of public funds. Gov. Umahi’s disruption of Ebonyi civil service and his refusal to follow the rules of the public service in running Ebonyi state is the waging of war against order and lawful governance. They break the law in order to embark on looting and pillaging of the common patrimony in a predatory manner.
“iv. Continuous deliberate impoverishment of Ebonyi Citizens, through the evil policy if non-payment of gratuities to retired workers since 2015, payment of half salaries to Ebonyi civil servants, denial of promotions since 2015 including the liquidation of the Democratic ethos in the local government system in order to facilitate looting of council funds with impunity. Others include the introduction of punitive taxation policies targeted against landlords, artisans, traders and rice dealers. 80% of the funds coming to the state enters Umahi’s pockets. And some Ebonyi people have noted that his hands are also in the pockets of Ebonyi Citizens, including retirees(lma aka na akpa). Now, non-indigenes are leaving Abakaliki in droves this December and may not return after Xmas as their shops were seized or destroyed without compensation. While Ebonyians are hungry, Gov. Umahi has been sending trailer loads of rice to Northern Chiefs in his desperate ambition to become President in 2023.
“v. Seizure of Construction activities by the Governor’s family’s construction companies, refusal to award contracts to other contractors. Insistence on using direct labour to execute projects worth billions of Naira which is illegal and runs contrary to procurement rules. The Abakaliki Indigenous Contractors Forum which had been in operation since the incipient days of the return to democracy has been rendered moribond by Umahi. Refusal to patronize the Abakaliki Building Materials market, thereby jeopardizing the circulation of money in the state. He has personally taken over the mining of solid minerals in the state. Mining business is a tradition in Ebonyi and the pencil used for mining in Nigeria was produced in Abakaliki by colonial masters because of the quality of the lead which is 85% pure Galena.
“He downgraded the state-owned Ebonyi Hotel and converted it to his Ekubaroha Youths outfit. Then his own personal hotel-Osborne La Palm hotel became the official hotel in the state. He transformed the ongoing new Ebonyi Hotel facility near Nkwoachara to the Department of Engineering of EBSU but today, nothing is happening there.
“vi. The destruction of Ebonyi State University and College of Education, Ikwo. Gov. Umahi reduced the funding of EBSU from #250m to #100m, started threatening salary deductions for Lecturers and then unilaterally and illegally proscribed ASUU and NASU. Under the previous governments of former Governors Dr. Sam Egwu(1999-2007) and Chief Martin Elechi 2007-2015), the monthly subvention to EBSU remained at N250m. Umahi abolished scholarships in Ebonyi and made a policy of zero employment in the state civil service. No single employment of the youths has taken place in the state since Umahi became Governor, even though people are retiring from service monthly. He always preaches that people should go to the private sector but when he became Governor in 2015, he brought all his blood brothers who were living in several parts of Nigeria to come and join his Government and chop. He also attacked the Judiciary workers in Ebonyi state in July, 2020 by forcefully changing their leadership while trying to break their strike. He had factionalized the trade unions in Ebonyi state so as to paralyse the collective power of the working class movement in the state. During the 2019 elections, Gov. Umahi, then contesting under PDP wangled his way by getting his moles in the APC top hierarchy to divert the funds meant for his opponent, the APC guber candidate, Sen. Sunny Ogbuoji, who found it difficult to continue with the election and Umahi was returned. This is a high profile political crime for which Umahi may still be tried at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Perhaps not knowing how criminal it is for one to subdue your opponent in that manner in an election, he recently boasted that he will sow seeds of discord in the opposition party and will be seeping his champagne while they fight themselves.
“Gov. Umahi has annexed about 50 hectares of Ochudo City for himself, thereby distorting the Ochudo Masterplan.
“vii. Declaration of war against Ebonyians through the use of hunger and starvation as instruments of instalmental deaths. Any body who criticizes the Governor is ruthlessly dealth with. Just like me. Gov. Umahi seized my monthly pensions and gratuity. I have not received any pension since June. 2020. Then he instigated his appointees to initiate several court cases against me.
“viii. The PDP in Ebonyi state must be used as a liberation movement to rescue Ebonyians from the stranglehold of Gov. Umahi, whose inordinate ambition is to hand over power to his proxy with his son as the next Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, come 2023.”