By Philip Nweze
Chief Martin Elechi’s latest outburst on Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state has simply portrayed the former governor as sanctimonious, misleading, self-serving and discomfiting.
First, it is quite surprising that Chief Elechi could descend this low and forget so soon. During his reign, there was much suffering in the land. The people were hungry. Yet, the person responsible for this unsavoury state of affairs relishes in adding insult to the people’s injury. He makes statements that are not only reckless but also untrue. We know the former governor is still nursing the wound of defeat but rather than generalise his anger, Elechi should speak for himself.
With due respect, Chief Elechi failed this state many times over than all members of his generation failed this country. He talked of Governor Umahi completing his abandoned projects. If he had served his state well, would there be any. Chief Elechi’s abandoned projects are stamped in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
Chief Elechi wasted all the golden opportunities that he had to make this state great, first as a foremost stakeholder in South east politics from the defunct old Eastern region and later as a two-term civilian governor. It is too late in the day for him to now cry foul. He had his chances and blew them!
It is laughable that he talks about the governor’s intolerance to credible opposition views. Here is a man who neither recognised nor entertained any advice or opposition even from his inner circle. Those who dared him were paid fatal visits by his youth assembly attack dogs. He said his APC has come to salvage decaying political values caused by misgovernance of one man who has lost focus of what political leadership and governance entails. Yet even the leader of APC and Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari thinks the governor is a super performer.
Chief Elechi has the right to feel bad that he suffered political defeat in the hands of his former deputy and therefore feels an obligation to shoot down and disparage every move he makes. But he should know his limit.
It is the irony of the century when Elechi says the governor prefers to embark on unrealisable elephant projects that have no direct bearing on the lives of the people. Isn’t this the same man who frittered millions of dollars on the Centenary City Secretariat. The Ebonyi Centenary Tower Elechi constructed at the centenary city is the most compelling evidence of financial recklessness. The Tower was supposed to last for the next hundred years but the supposedly monument failed few months after its completion. The Califco power plant saga and the abandoned 8, 000 lock-up shops in the international market are also topping the strings of Elechi’s white elephant projects.
Chief Elechi also accused his successor of abandoning the Oferekpe water scheme. Well, let us recall that Elechi’s government expended over thirty six billion naira on this same project and procured pipes that will cover fifty two kilometers from Oferekpe to Onuebonyi in Abakaliki Local Government Area at the cost of over nine billion naira. The cost implication is not the issue, but the most annoying thing is that the project was never designed to be functional. 90% of the projects Chief Elechi initiated were mere conduit pipe for embezzlement designed by his aides to fleece away the tax payers’ fund. His lieutenants raped the state economically to a bleeding point.
Chief Elechi also accused the governor of insensitivity to the plight of pensioners and ordinary Ebonyians. Perhaps, Elechi has gone senile with age hence the twisted information concerning pensioners being owed months of arrears in Ebonyi state. Let me remind Chief Elechi, incase he has forgotten, that precisely in August this year, the Umahi-led government released over N1.5 billion for the immediate payment of pension and gratuity to retired workers from 1996 when the state was created till date. Specifically, the sum of N750 million was approved for the payment of the pensions arrears and gratuities of retired State Civil Servants and an equal amount of N750 million also approved for the payment of the pensions arrears and gratuities of Local Government workers. The governor also released another N400 million for the immediate empowerment of over 2000 widows domiciled across the 13 local government area of the State. Similarly, over 3, 000 women and youths have been empowered with 250, 000 Naira each to do any business of their choice. The governor through the office of his Senior Special Assistant has also made it a monthly ritual to settle medical bills of indigent patients who could not offset their bills.
Governor Elechi’s broadside on his successor is simply laughable and bereft of facts. Chief Elechi should give us a break. There is no denying fact that he failed the state. The least he can now do is leave the governor alone to clear the peculiar mess he and others of his ilk got this state into. Let him quietly retire into obscurity; fade away from the limelight; and allow us our peace and serenity.