Prof Nwala: ADF President
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), on Saturday, described the ongoing feud between the Ebonyi state Governor Engr Dave Nweze Umahi, and ADF’s Spokesman Hon. Abia Onyike, as tragic, adding that the dispute is not in the interest of the people and government of Ebonyi state in particular, and Ndigbo in general.
In a statement signed by Prof. T. Uzodinma Nwala, and Prof. Nath Aniekwu, ADF president and secretary respectively, and made available to SummitNews in Abuja, the group described Onyike as one of the “finest and most committed sons of Alaigbo, who has devoted his life to the fundamental democratic values of human society.”
In the statement entitled ‘Hon. Abia Onyike: Victim of serial political vendetta in Ebonyi state,’ the organization appealed to Gov. Umahi, to respond to Onyike’s allegations against him and his government, instead of resorting to “jungle justice.”
The group described as disgusting the threat by some government officials, and other citizens from Edda in Afikpo South LGA of the state, to ostracize and banish Onyike from the state if he failed to apologise to Gov. Umahi within 48 hours.
It said it would send a delegation to Gov. Umahi, to seek ways of resolving the faceoff between him and its spokesman.
The statement reads: “The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) has read with deep feeling of utter disgust the full page advertorial signed by some Government Officials and a few other citizens from Edda (Afikpo South LGA), in which they gave Hon. Abia Onyike 48 hours to apologize to the Governor of Ebonyi state, Engr Dave Umahi.
“If Hon. Abia Onyike failed to do so, according to them, he would obviously be ostracized and perhaps banished from the State. This resolution was announced in the Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (EBBC) on Sunday, 21st June, 2020.
“And what is the crime of Hon Onyike? -for criticizing the Governor on 9th June, 2020, during a panel discussion on Leadership and Democracy in the South East at Dream FM, Enugu as part of ‘the celebration of 21 years of unbroken Democratic governance in Nigeria.’
“This action came after the signatories had met for two days at the Government House in Abakaliki and later met at Edda, Afikpo South LGA.
“In February 2020, the Governor of Ebonyi State had ordered the arrest and detention of Mr. Abia Onyike by the Nigerian Police.
“According to information we received, the Governor had directed Mr. Stanley Okoro, Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution to forward a petition against Hon. Onyike alleging economic sabotage and taX evasion.
“There was a prior threat to seal his residence. And what was the nature of this economic sabotage for which Hon. Abia Onyike was accused?
“He was subsequently charged to court for failure to pay tenement rate which, incidentally, is an issue under the jurisdiction of the local government.
“The other day. Hon Abia, the Journalist, whose role falls within the essential service category, was accused of travelling out of his home atate -Ebonyi against the COVID-19 ban on inter-State movement and so Mr. Abia was ordered by the Government of Ebonyi state to be quarantined in his house, and subjected to test for COVID-19
“Who is this Hon Abia Onyike?
“Hon. Abia Onyike is one of the finest and most committed sons of Alaigbo who has devoted his life to the fundamental democratic values of human society. And the story of his life is the story of this unceasing quest for human emancipation.
“Look at the story of his life from his student days at the University of Calabar, and later at the University of Nigeria Nsukka;
“Check out the molding of his activist orientation -:
“Frontline Student Activist at University of Calabar. Member of the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN),Chairman, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Abia State, 1991-95-Member, Campaign for Democracy (CD), 1993-98, Founding Member, Democratic Alternative (DA), 1994-98
“Go further to check the consistency of his activist orientation in his entire career —
“Elected Pioneer Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ebonyi State Council, 1996-99-Elected Pioneer Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ebonyi State Council (1996-2000); Elected Deputy National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ, 1999-2003).
“Mr. Onyike is a veteran Journalist, life Member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and West African Journalists Association (WAJA).
“Still go further to see his role as one of the founding fathers of Ebonyi State–
“He was active in the movement for the creation of Ebonyi state and actually submitted the Memo for the Inclusion of Afikpo South (Edda) in Ebonyi State.
“Thus, without Hon Abia Onyike, and his compatriots, there would have been no Ebonyi state, and thus there would have been no Engr Dave Umahi as Governor of an Ebonyi State today.
“That is not all of the roles of this frontline leader of Ebonyi State. He has served in critical positions in the making of Ebonyi state for which he gave his life –-
“Worked as Information Officer in three Core Igbo States, namely Imo, Abia and Ebonyi (1989-2014) and rose to the position of Director of Information.-
“He was appointed Commissioner for Information, Ebonyi State by former Governor, now Senator Dr. Sam Egwu (2005-2007). Appointed Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations by former Governor, Chief Martin Elechi (2008-2011)
“ Currently Abia is the Spokesman of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) a frontline organization committed to the Rebuilding and Development of the Igbo Nation and the Advancement of the Spirit of her Culture and Civilization.
“It is doubtful if there are many with his pedigree, of long varied activism in public service that would still be standing tall today without hiding from the long crude arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?
“We doubt if there is any way Hon. Abia could be found culpable after his long public career without the Governor, given his present aggressive disposition against Mr. Abia Onyike, not easily introducing him as a guest of the Nigerian EFCC..
“ Abia Onyike’s Crime?
“What does the Governor have against this veteran pro-democracy activist, freedom fighter, one of the founding fathers of Ebonyi State with blameless public service career?
“He has not paid his tenement rate and so the Police was directed to arrest and detain him.
“He criticized the Governor so Government officials and traditional rulers and what have you under the patronage of the Governor are directed to meet for two days at Abakaliki and at Afikpo to issue an order to Mr. Abia to withdraw all his criticisms and apologize to the miracle-working Governor or probably be ostracized and banished from his community.
“A Journalist whose role falls within the essential service category –
“He is held culpable for travelling out of the State against the
COVID-19 ban on inter-state movement and so Mr. Abia Onyike should be quarantined in his house and subjected to test for COVID-19.The State Security are being incited against him for criticizing the Governor. All these are very unfortunate happening in Ebonyi state against an Igbo citizen.
“Hon. Abia Onyike’s criticism of His Excellency Engr Dave Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State:
“He has accused the Governor of Nepotism – converting the Government of Ebonyi State to his private and family estate.
*Destruction of the Civil Service – Payment of half salaries to workers; Non-payment of gratuities for the retired workers
*Cancellation of scholarship scheme
*Personal enrichment by the Governor and his family members
*Over borrowing of domestic and foreign loans
*Punitive taxation policies
*Misappropriation of local government funds,
*Destruction of Secondary School boarding facilities
*Impoverishment of Ebonyi youths through zero employment into the State Civil Service
*Destruction of the contract system in the State by awarding 95% of contract to selected companies where the Governor and his family have interest
*Engaging in white elephant projects such as Ecumenical Centre, Shopping mall, international cargo airport, Olympic size stadium; New Government House. These projects where invented to serve as conduit pipes for siphoning public funds into private pockets while Ebonyians continue to wallow in abject poverty.
*General impoverishment of the citizenry through the lodging of substantial amounts of state accounts to generate interests which are siphoned into private pockets.
.*The government of Engr Dvae Umahi, is also lawless and it is wrong on the basis of impunity, the governor hates to take advice from experts. His own vision of development for the state is self- opinionated and this is why his government is neither consultative nor people oriented.
*Money is not flowing in the state because the resources have been high-jacked by few people that is why there is poverty.
*The inhuman nature of the administration has driven it to treat the citizenry with disdain. Tax agents of the government and other officials of the state beat-up the citizens mercilessly sometimes with imported koboko from Arab countries.
*Harassment, using the Nigeria Police to arrest and detain opponents,
*Harassment by members of the Governor’s family members –Mr. Austin Umahi, is cited as operating as the Governor’s hatchet man
*Running the state for five years without Permanent Secretaries.
7. Why not respond to these criticisms in accordance with the principles of Law rather than resort to jungle justice?
“In respect of all these criticisms, what the civilized world expects is that the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi and his men should debunk them on the basis of facts.
“In a democracy, citizens have the fundamental right to criticise their government. This is in aid of accountability, rule of law and good governance. The Government of Idi Amin became a joke in those days precisely for hounding the citizens of Uganda and denying them freedom of speech.
“Let us not destroy our Stars!
“The feud between the Governor of Ebonyi State and Hon. Abia Onyike is not in the interest of Ebonyi State, nay the Igbo Nation. Those of us who know Hon. Abia Onyike, are firmly of the view that the face-off between him and Governor Dave Umahi is indeed a tragedy.
“Apart from what we know of Abia Onyike, during his student days and in his days as an activist, we know him to be a patriot with an immense gift of the pen and heart.
“ When we started the journey to rally together Igbo Elders, Intellectuals, Clergy, Diplomats Traditional leaders, Business leaders, Women and Youth, to begin to address the tragic Igbo Question in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon
“Abia was there. He took the stage by storm. The paper he presented at that historic International Colloquium on the Igbo Question in Nigeria was seminal and touched on a major nerve-center of the Igbo Question in Nigeria right from the colonial era. The paper was captioned MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL IN NIGERIA: THE DIALECTICS OF POLITICAL HEGEMONY.
“The paper examines the ownership and control patterns of the media landscape, the prevailing dynamics and impact of the media on the politics of the nation. In his exploration of the dialectics of political hegemony as manifested through media
ownership and control in Nigeria, Onyike states clearly that the press at times and in one way or the other tilts towards sectional pressures and serves the interests of its owners and tends to favor the views and positions of certain power blocks in the polity”.
“(IGBO NATION: History and Challenges of Rebirth and Development vol. 1 p.36)
“Dear Compatriots, you need to read this profound revelation of Mr. Onyike concerning some of the ways those who are in control of the political hegemony in the Federation manipulate all of us including our dear Governors to render us highly vulnerable through media control. This is an awful reality which we do not need any diviner to open our eyes. No. We only need to tap the wisdom of the Abia Onyikes’ in this sphere of our struggle.
“Dear Compatriots, let us ask ourselves: Where are the Zikist Group of Newspapers? – The West African Pilot, The Northern Defender, The Onitsha Spokesman, etc?
“Their contemporaries –The Tribune and Sketch Newspapers -are still there.
“Where is the Nigerian Outlook, The Renaissance, The Champion, The Satellite, The Globe, The New Outlook, etc? Where is Minaj Television, etc?
“The answer to these critical questions as they relate to the dynamic and impact of the media on the politics of the Federation require the wisdom and experience of an Abia Onyike. We need people like him. We should not abandon him to the political slaughter house of powerful political forces.
“On the assumption of office by His Excellency the Governor of Ebonyi State he assigned Hon. Abia Onyike, the job of General Manager of Ebonyi State Printing Press curiously on a monthly salary of N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira only). The day this information came to us in Enugu, we starred at each other and laughed.
“One of us said that perhaps our brother Governor is a miracle worker. (an expression our brothers from Afikpo South LGA used to describe his Excellency’s performance in their recent write-up against Mr. Onyike). But we advised Abia to hang on and let’s watch the unfolding drama.
“We were later informed that the Government had budgeted about N1.4B for the Government Printing Press. We still held our breath. What next did we hear? – that a private company -AGELINK PRESS –owned by His Excellency had been set up. It is this company that has been handling all Government Printing and Publications. What a miracle performance!
“ADF is always in sympathy with our Governors. But we expect them to learn while on the job.
“It is our policy in ADF to be very patient with our Governors. We do not believe that they are magicians. None of them had prior formal education on the art, the ethics or even the science of governance before they became Governors. What we expect them to possess is the basic requirement of the spirit of service and the basic ethics of our culture.
“We equally expect them to learn while on the job, to have humility and listening ears and good advisers. When these are lacking the result is tragedy of governance.
“ADF calls on the Governor of Ebonyi State to take it easy with Hon. Abia Onyike.
“People like Abia Onyike, di Ndigbo Nkpa. We cannot sit by and allow him to be physically, economically and psychologically destroyed by the Government of a State he had fought to see to its creation. Nor shall we encourage him to pull down the house he is meant to sustain for the sake of our people.
“ADF would, therefore, like to send a delegation to see our brother Governor of Ebonyi state if he agrees to receive our delegation so that we can help to ensure that all are on deck to protect and move Ebonyi State and Alaigbo forward.”