Cornucopia: ACTDA CEO, OSITA ONUKO IN THE EYES OF THE STORM, TAKING SOLUDO’S BULLETS

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By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD

Today, I don’t want to write about IGR collection and auctioning of IGR windows and other appurtenances thereto. Should I write about the House of Assembly as the legislative arm? Or should I write about the baby factory and pregnant girls accusations at La Cafe Hotel, Awka? Is it about the news on disabled homes at Aguleri and Oba Idemmili abandoned, yet government is releasing money, like N16M and N10m, for the skill acquisition centres there when it’s not working. I couldn’t reach out to Mrs. Oyibo, the Principal, to know why everyone is unhappy: Awkuzu Community Secondary school known as Awkuzu Boys has been allegedly taken over by reptiles, particularly snakes, and it’s terrorizing the students? Sir Emeka Offor of Oraifite, aka Sir E, was said to be an oldboy of the school?

I settled on my desk to write about the Adine’s of Ngodo Village, Nise, Awka South Local Government Area, particularly Ifeanyi Adine, for speaking ill of me in secret. Mine is the court of public opinion over the case of Ugochi Adine and Chekwube Adine, a lawyer. I wanted to write under oath. Time was 12 midnight. I and Ifeanyi grew up together. He shouldn’t have spoken against me even in secret. The zeal was overwhelming to tell the story of a lawyer and a media worker/broker’s marriage within one year. The two families shall be x-rayed, even in-laws, everyone’s role, but I got distracted by a flashing news I read on my tablet. It was about the MD/CEO, Awka Capital Territory Development Authority, ACTDA, Hon. Osita Onuko, a.k.a. Ife Igbo. What a name? The name struck me. Let me rehearse my first encounter with him.

I led a team of journalists to visit ACTDA MD/CEO, Osita David Onuko, on courtesy. He was unassuming and welcomed us warmly. For the first time in 20 years, I lost my composure that has led me thus far and shouted “Ife Igbo”, the sobriquet of Onuko. I shouted like a fan expecting a handshake, if you understand. My team never saw me that way. It was a reflex that never came up in my line of public life. I didn’t stop there. I told him that in months to come his name shall be a household name though for all the good reasons. Ife Igbo caught my attention and I resolved to write and thank Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo for empowering so many young men like Onuko in various capacities.

More so, after listening to his trailblazing efforts in championing a course of developing all communities in Awka Capital, I bowed, but….! His operation clean and green, operation zero potholes and many more are outstanding. He needs commendation, not spanking.

Let me focus on the issue that diverted my attention. There was anger online. The social media was, and still is, awash with anti-Osita David Onuko theories. Everyone had an opinion. Every Tom, Dick and Harry danced Azonto to the arena simply because Osita Onuko is Soludo’s appointee. At the last count, he has over 20 court cases hanging on his neck in just one year in office.

The cases were mostly from land speculators and those building without approvals. In one year, building approvals have reached 1000 which never happened. 340 kilometers of road awarded by Governor Soludo’s government is ongoing, mostly in Awka Capital Territory and beyond.

So many people loved the outburst by social media minions, influencers and users who were collectively against Onuko and ACTDA. All these people were not against Onuko nor ACTDA but were targeting the Governor and his administration. Everyone’s interest purportedly was to poke at Soludo. Onuko is taking Soludo’s bullets. The bullets are coming in torrents, but is he capable? Ossy is truly in the eyes of the storm for Soludo.

Ositadibamma or Ositadimma is his name and he won my heart by his humility and flexibility in the face of the massive campaigns of calumny against his personality and office. There were even lies and calculated propaganda against him and his office, but luckily Osita Onuko never got distracted. His eyes focused on the ball. Even, shockingly his party APGA in the state led by Barrister Ifeatu Obi-Okoye disowned him because he was preparing what he called Anambra Central Mega rally with Prince Obinna Ndigwe for a solidarity to Governor Soludo tagged: “Solution team”. The party’s reason for canceling the rally became pedestrian and attracted sympathy from the National leadership of the party as the National Publicity Secretary of APGA supported Onuko for the rally, insisting Obi-Okoye has no such rights. Who blinks first?

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Could you imagine the jubilation because everyone thought and wished that Ossy is a goner.

 Onuko installed as Patron, National Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Chapter.

But, for me, Ife Igbo is unique and polished. He made a mistake – either him or his aides or even unsuspecting cheerleaders. He took responsibility and apologized publicly. He even went to the hospital to see the man he was alleged to have brutalized but was denied access.

I was shocked when people were wishing him evil. Some prayed that his political career shall end simply because he made the mistake or his men made a mistake and he took responsibility as a disciplined and polished Onye Anambra. Even if he wants to be a Deputy Governor with Soludo after now, what evil has he committed?

Social media mob became horrible and descended on Ife Igbo, describing him on borrowed robes without knowing that he wasn’t that rude and unforgiving.

For me, Ossy Onuko is a young man who is bound to make mistakes, even though this mistake wasn’t from the heart: it was a voyage misfired. He went to correct a mistake and his men created more problems for him. Onuko is an example of a man with power who still remembers his roots. He apologized, having seen the wrong signals emanating from his actions and inactions. He is an exemplary youth. He should be forgiven for showing remorse, empathy and respect to the public outcry. From his statement, it showed he wasn’t like others who always deny their deeds for convenience sake.

Awka people rose with one voice and condemned their son Ossy Onuko who is Prof Soludo’s appointee. They weren’t shifting blames. They didn’t stand by their son in ignominy. They respected mass appeal. They rather begged Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of G. U. O. Transport Company Limited, to forgive. The Awka kingmakers and Ozo title holders were led by Chief Austin Ndigwe, (Ike Obodo Awka) and former Deputy Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Kelue Molokwu.

Let me not go into the calling out of Governor Soludo and his administration by GUO Company in their press statement. The call out was the first, in writing, to the Soludo administration over the attitude of his aides by such highly placed individuals. GUO Group threatened to take further actions to pursue justice.

Awka people amazed me. Unlike their known stance over issues concerning them and others, they appealed for mercy and forgiveness for their son. They appealed to offset the hospital bills.

They told GUO that the entire Awka community felt bad over the incident which they described as a very unfortunate one for Onuko, a young Awka citizen who has not been found wanting or associated with any social vices before now. The testimonials were appropriate with my stance that Onuko is a rare breed and made a mistake as a youth in exuberance.

Chief Okeke, without bating an eyelid, was happy that a community can vouch for a youth but condemned the resort to brigandage and molestation meted on citizens and residents of the state by government agents in the name of revenue drive.

Unfortunately, Chief G. U. Okeke who has retired from the company said his children managing the company were the ones calling the shots, hence the matter was already beyond him as the company, from its Lagos office, has already pushed out petition to that effect.

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As I predicted, Chief Okeke confirmed that the incident was capable of generating widespread protests and demonstrations sequel to many interest groups, both within the Southeast and other parts of Nigeria and the diaspora, including those living in the USA and the UK who were already spoiling for a showdown if not that he prevailed on all the aggrieved parties to sheath their swords for now.

He frowned against recklessness and acts of brigandage by people within the corridors of power noting that such acts have adversely affected businesses and the economy in Anambra State because many people no longer come to Onitsha to source their goods anymore.

According to Chief Okeke, “All I want in Anambra is peace. Once the government takes care of touts and those who brutalize the citizens, so that traders can operate in a free atmosphere devoid of fear, I can agree not to push this matter further. If this is the sacrifice my family, my company and I can make to end molestation of people in Anambra so that people can come to Onitsha and other parts of Anambra and buy what they want without fear of attack, then I agree”, he concluded.

Ossy Onuko, Ife Igbo, is not disrespectful. We have been with him. I have also been with him. He was a subject of unforseen forces and transferred aggression. He didn’t see the red flags. I know he won’t lose hope in the system. I want him to be determined to overcome the setback to his trajectory. The future is brighter for him. God, please uplift him more. Let this one mistake not derail his ambition as Ife Igbo!

This negative experience is a testament on Ossy’s outstanding character, discipline, and maturity. Ossy has proven that he is a valuable commodity and can be trusted even in the midst of the overwhelming social media sudden hatred.

Ife Igbo, do not begrudge them. Opportunity came and they cashed in on it. You are not a saint. We don’t expect that, but henceforth, be guided and careful for you have seen your feats have bred more foes than friends.

But wait a second! How come this bitterness is more from the youths? Or is it the case of “nwata kpakaria ibe ya na nku, a si na o kpara n’ajo ofia” (when a kid fetches more firewood than his mates, they will say he fetched from the evil forest). I expected the youths to protect their own, but nay, they want him crucified! Should we crucify Ossy for making a mistake? Noooo! Ossy is not a saint and no one is!

Moving forward, harbour no negative thoughts because they breed negativity and unhappiness. The future is bright. Dwell in positivity and happiness, for God’s grace and mercy are sufficient. Of all the aggression and insults, I encourage you not to complain or be discouraged. Don’t be depressed but rather be grateful, strong, and courageous for God is with you. Full maturity is your name now because you exhibited it in grand style.

I have been in your shoes once or twice, even recently when the machinery of government descended on me via the Commissioner for Information, Hon. Paul Nwosu, accusing me over the mass media, but later on, I was vindicated. My only consolation then was that, at some point, every champion takes a bow (apologies to Dr. Julius Nwosu, a pastor and lecturer in Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka).

Ossy, please don’t dissipate your energy on egocentric trivialities. Be focused and sin no more, for the Egyptians you see today, you shall see no more.

I read with rapt attention the press statement signed by Ossy Onuko himself, to see his arrogance and veiled insults as alleged by the social media mob, but I was shocked by his innocuous humility and sincerity, even providing us some information we don’t need, like his examination at COOU. Yes! He is a doctoral candidate of the school. A dream vigorously pursued.

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Ossy didn’t lay the blame on the about 100 youths who appeared from nowhere, nor on the police detachment led by the DPO. He took responsibility.

Ossy Onuko is a leader. Hear him: “……I take full responsibility for all that, and I also apologize to the young man, his company GUO, and my friends and well-wishers who have been embarrassed by my association with such act”. It’s only a futuristic minded youth that can do this in an era of self-glory, impunity and arrogance.

Colossians Chapter 1:26 says: the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 1:27 – To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
1:28 – We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Ife Igbo’s ultimate goal at that moment was atonement, not just to satisfy a legal obligation; but to restore a relationship. He refused to justify the situation. He rather apologized, providing opportunities for reconciliation, but internet tigers celebrated his inability to meet the victim.

Onuko did a simple prayer, asking God not to allow him go back to his sins again, but the tumultuous and rented crowd in the cyberspace ate him raw. He chickened out.

Intentionally, I requested from the media covering the agency what Ossy has achieved in the last one year and these were their offer:

They said Ossy’s ACTDA completed so many projects while some are ongoing. The projects are: AROMA ROAD RECONSTRUCTION BY ACTDA; RECONSTRUCTION OF A BAD PORTION OF THE ROAD OPPOSITE NITEL, ZIKS AVENUE OLD ROAD, AWKA; CONSTRUCTION OF FAILED DRAINAGE AND ROAD OPPOSITE APPEAL COURT AWKA; OPERATION CLEAN AND GREEN AWKA (DOBE AWKA OCHA); and AMAKU ROAD REHABILITATION.

Others were AGULU AVENUE ROAD UKWU-ORJI, AWKA; REHABILITATION, BEAUTIFICATION OF AROMA AND AMAWBIA FLYOVERS; FIRST MARKET IFITE ROAD REHABILITATION; REMODELLING OF UMUOKPU MARKET AND GBALINGBA MARKET ROAD; REHABILITATION OF FAILED PORTION as well as ST. FAITH JUNCTION EKE AWKA REHABILITATION.

They continued that Ossy rehabilitated REGINA CAELI ROAD FAILED PORTIONS, even as they said ACTDA DISPLAYS ZERO TOLERANCE TO ROADSIDE TRADING hence a PERIMETER FENCING OF EKE AWKA MARKET and DESILTING OF IFITE ROAD DRAINAGE; REHABILITATION OF PARKERS JUNCTION; REHABILITATION OF ARCHBISHOP A.K OBIEFUNA STREET, RETREAT CENTRE, OKPUNO; and GRADING OF ROAD/CONSTRUCTION OF CONCRETE BOX CULVERT OF UCHE OKAFOR STREET, GRA. They said ACTDA REHABILITATED UMUGBUNU STREET, AWKA.

Others were DESILTING AND CARTING AWAY OF SPOIL FROM BOTH DRAINAGES AT IFITE-UNIZIK SCHOOL ROAD, AWKA AND ATTRACTED THE AWARD OF THE ROAD BY MR.GOVERNOR! REHABILITATION OF AROMA HIGH TENSION ROAD, AWKA; REHABILITATION OF FAILED PORTION OF ROAD AND DESILTING OF DRAINAGES AT ARTHUR-EZE RD, UNIZIK JUNCTION, AWKA; ONGOING CONSTRUCTION/BEAUTIFICATION OF SOLUTION NEIGHBOURHOOD LEISURE PARK, GRA, AWKA; and ONGOING CONSTRUCTION OF A 50-UNIT ROLL OF OPEN STALLS (SOLUTION ARENA) LOCATED ALONG THE CLUB ROAD, AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO STREET TRADING AND SHANTIES IN AWKA as well as ONGOING RECONSTRUCTION OF EZEUZU 2/KWATA ROAD, AWKA. These are laudable and it impressed me that he wasn’t just there answering names.

Cornucopia is a weekly column of Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD.
Odogwu is a known Journalist, Editor, Media & Public Relations Consultant, Media Entrepreneur, Teacher, Motivator, Unionist, Community leader, social analyst and Famous Blogger, as well as Social Media Entrepreneur, Publisher and Conversationalist @ www.odogwublog.com among others.
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