Cornucopia: Governor Soludo and his apostles

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By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD

Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Right Hon Somtochukwu Udeze is a good man. His looks, attitudes, speech and everything about him exhudes honesty, sincerity of purpose, tolerance, equity, discipline and humanity. He has no betrayals in him, showing signs of good family upbringing. He desires more solidarity and support from journalists to Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo led government. He was perturbed, but…we reassured him of this partnership, because he asked. However, our visit is a story for another day.

National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance,
APGA, the third largest party in Nigeria or so I think, Barr. Sly Ezeokenwa is also a goodman, and a progressive. He doesn’t want to usurp any duties that should be for the State Chairman of APGA. What a just and sincere mindset! He too is worried that Prof Soludo’s strong footings on Agriculture is underreported, even when he has array of journalists to tap from in the state. He needed serious collaboration with journalists to market Soludo’s footprints in the sands of time. You see genuine concerns of a good man from a good family.

Listening to Hon. Barr. Ezeokenwa is like reminding yourself about eloquent Senator Victor Umeh and garrulous High Chief Ozomkpu Victor Oye, both former National Chairmen of APGA. We shall revisit this.

2023 NUJ Games for journalists in Anambra State ended in praise though the early morning rain nearly affected our grand finale. But, the ‘I can do spirit’ of the official sponsor of the event made it memorable and impressive to onlookers in Anambra state, particularly the moment we stormed Aroma during our road walk. Yea! We had a road walk! Not, walk for life!

The official sponsor is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Arnold and Associates Ltd, Hon Arnold Chukwuebuka Ekweoba. Young and dynamic even versed in the biblical zone as he spoke ex-cathdra to journalists on estate promotion and dealings, using biblical verses.

We ended up calling him Pastor Arnold. Though, he maintained he isn’t one. He won the golden prize from the road walk. He promised journalists free training and more, appreciating the enormous work journalists do in the society but added that with their gifts they would become millionaires overnight by partnering Arnold and Associates. More on this later. This was Saturday September 23rd, 2023. There were sports like
fill in the basket, eating , drinking , skipping, tug of War, and rotate and pick competitions.

Earlier on Friday September 22, 2023 at ABS field, Catholic priests from Awka and Ekwulobia Dioceses slugged it out with NUJ team in a Novelty match flagged off by the traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Benneth Emeka, Okebo II, who commended journalists for the thought to unwind sequel to the busy work schedule they have. Igwe Emeka wasn’t in a hurry to leave even when he was returning from a trip for the event. He enjoyed himself till the end of the match which ended 1-1.

There was egg race, sack race won by the chairman of NUJ, Dr Odogwu, bottle flip and one hundred meter race among others. There were 15 games with wonderful prizes won. For the Chairman, NUJ Games planning committee, Dr Stanley Onunkwor, with his secretary, Chris Obileri, that was dream fulfilled.

Meanwhile, before this event, we attended the 90th Inaugural Lecture of Prof Gladys Ahaneku at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka entitled : “The Human Heart: A Workaholic With Numerous Saboteurs’.

According to Prof. Ahaneku, the cardinal saboteurs include ignorance, poverty and underdevelopment hence she appealed for jealous protection of The Heart.

Prof Ahaneku is the Dean Faculty of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi Campus. The husband was the former Vice-Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
She called on the citizenry to work on the preservation of their hearts to enhance their longevity. She encouraged regular exercise, reduction of salt intake and junk food by advanced adults.

She said women should avoid old age pregnancy which can lead to congenital infant disorders. Men who went for the lecture nearly protested when she condemned excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and drug abuse as saboteurs. She sounded warning on the need to avoid those saboteurs because medical studies have shown that blacks are more predisposed to diseases such as stroke and kidney failure because of lack of awareness.

Surprisingly, she said research has proven that plantain contains more carbohydrates than yam which have been found to contain protein. She advised diabetics to take yellow yam which contains more protein than white yam which in the past was discouraged for them.

Even, her husband’s people were on ground as well as her own people, but I didn’t get my usual handshake.

The Vice-Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, FAS; a member of Ahiara Mbaise delegation to the event Lady Uzoamaka Nwokocha; the traditional Ruler of Owerre Ezukala, Igwe Thomas Ogbonnaya and many others already joined her crusade by warning smokers and chronic alcoholics to desist from the practices or face the music, though Esimone has been an advocate, campaigning against such indulgence.

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For me, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo is preparing for a second term in office. All the indices have been proven but he is calculated and schematic about it. He isn’t jumping into the fray. Aside journalists, who he is yet to look into their bags of differences with him particularly Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, he has practically retraced his aloof stance with every other sector, even now struggling to put off that Professorial arrogance and impunity everyone talks about even if in hushed tones. Some of what people say about him and who said what is before his table because, he is a local breed. That stood him out too. His native intelligence and empathy most times to the poorest of the poor in villages though, endeared him to me against every breech on my colleagues in correspondents chapel since he assumed office but… He is also outstandingly smart in many fronts, first class aside. Let me not go into that now. If I am not a leader of journalists now, I shall see so many areas as easy and walk over but I haven’t find my feet too, leading a crop of journalists not more than 1000 registered members and about 3000 not registered with 1000 Associates and retired members. But, Prof Soludo is presiding over 5 Milllion people- the good, the bad and the ugly. Kudos Nwannem! But, journalists aren’t ghosts!

It was interesting that at last the campaigns for immortalization of our own literary icon, Chinua Achebe has been actualized. It’s made possible by the Governor of Anambra State, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Anambra State International Airport, Umueri is now to be known as Chinua Achebe International Airport, Umueri, Anambra State. Perfect one indeed! That was vintage Soludo at the 63rd Independence Day Anniversary speech. As a member of Society for Young Nigerian Writers, SYNW Anambra State chapter led by Izunna Okafor, this has been our song in several years. I shall dwell on this someday.

For the first time aside journalists who are watchdogs of the society by constitution and profession, added to cacophony of voices in the social space, a sizeable number of youths under the aegies of South-East APC Young Progressivss Forum led by National Convener, Pascal Candel
and Anambra state Coordinator, Comrade Michael Chibuzo are asking too many questions on the Prof Soludo led government. Of recent it is asking for explanations on the free Education announced when it alleges free education was on during Peter Obi even before him and after him. The group talks about UBE grants and scope of the free education as illegal fees are rampant. It accused Soludo government of so many things in the education sector, but we shall revisit them.

I didn’t like the way Commisioner for Education handled the JAMB saga of Miss Mmesoma, but she is trying to remedy that.

What an ephemeral life? Recently it was Willie is Working and now Solution Tsunami. During Peter Obi, what was the acronym? Was it Millennium Development Goals or MDG’s?

I read about Head of a Local Government beating a woman and the man denied accusing the woman and the NULGE President in Anambra of conniving with the woman to let him down. This should wait until I investigate. I have two acquaintances in the Government of Soludo. Two of them working in one office. One hates journalists with a passion even refusing to release money given to us by the one who loves journalists. But, even if I am a leper, why should I give approval to an organization as an authority, someone sits on it? Tufiakwa! Does he actually love journalists or pretending to? This is because a journalist called severally, yet, you didn’t pick didn’t return call or text? What was this journalist trying to find out?

Let me say a big congratulations to them anyway, for the successes they have recorded in office, even though I still doubt their actions. They are both in JAAC, sharing resources to the Local Government Areas. Mr Commissioner, Hon Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, who is also the Chairman of JAAC has empowered party members strongly in his place even bought Vehicles for party officials, and his strong supporters. We would have asked him for one of the Highlanders but the little one they promised us couldn’t be released, one year after. That’s a great feat as many who climbed through the party often abandon the party. He is a young guy with future prospects. Probably may have a shot at Deputy Governorship position if not Governor.

For the secretary of JAAC Anambra State, and a Lecturer at Federal Polytechnic Oko, Dr Leopold Nwankwo-Ikwueto,
he deserves all the congratulations for taking the prestigious Ozo title of Amaokpala community. His handsome looks had a splendid befitting to the regalia. He is now a titled man. He is no more to be spoken to anyhow. We pray he soon parks into his new residence at Udoka Housing Estate? We shall celebrate with him because most times people pretend over blessings of God, but for him, needless mentioning it.

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I have called to check on my friend to say congratulations, but my calls were not picked. I had also wanted to ask him to stay away from industrial union politics, because I am not happy they are dabbling into union affairs. It exposes one’s anus easily. What I have on my table now from industrial unions against him, if not them are really disturbing but needless going into this mess. They won’t understand it as a professional doing his job. Their hatred or pretence for journalists may increase. I heard one saying unprintable things about journalists, the other day. For me, journalists remained the best, anyone can make friends with if they agree to. Before now when I was in the rings completely as the field Marshall, I had no friends, no foes, everyone is in my radar. I lost, the society gained.

Now, the discussion isn’t about their achievements but why Prof Soludo stopped JACC check off dues of industrial unions through management of JAAC in violation of Trade Union Act? Check off is part of money being deducted from workers salaries and once salaries are paid without check off dues, it implies that the Government have paid incomplete salary. It is on record that trade unions in Anambra state just received their withheld check off dues. That means only NULGE is the trade union yet to recieve their check off dues in arrears of three months (July, August, and September, 2023 respectively). Why this? Who directed non remittance of NULGE check off dues which violates Trade Union Act?
Should I call the office President of NULGE, Comrade Chikwelu Adigwe?

Staff of the unions depend on check off dues to earn their own salaries and pay their children school fees? If check off dues are backed by law as in the Trade Union Act, why dabbling into it? Why should our leaders not know their boundaries? Is there any reason to usurp the functions and duties of the Local Government Service Commission in the areas of training by anyone? Training is one of the primary functions of the local Government Service Commission. Soludo loves training, even though we didn’t get his nod for our own training. It doesn’t remove that fact. Why should anyone usurp this function of Local Government Service Commission from them? Is it about greed or flexing? Why should the computer literacy training of workers in the 21 local Government initiated by NULGE and Local Government Service Commission be sabotaged by those who should ensure it’s done? Why should anyone fight over contracts for the supply of computers to the workers? This is ridiculous! By this singular reason, the computer training has been relegated to the background. Why?

The most painful is that even a NULGE resolution written through the Local Government Service Commission to JAAC for deductions of about 900 naira for the production of workers identity cards have been stagnated for over four months now. Why can’t NULGE and the commission do their things? What has the management of JAAC to gain from constant interferences in the administration of Local Government Service Commission? Why is anyone interfering on NULGE activities in the state? Why is anyone interested in stiffling constitutionally elected NULGE Executives in Anambra State?

Is it proper for anyone to be having meetings with Local Government workers (Head of Local Government Administrators and Treasurer etc) to thwart Local Government Service Commission policies? Who is in charge of staff in the Local Government? What is the duty of the Local Government Service Commission? Whose duty is it to book flight tickets for all the Heads of Department of budget, statistics and planning in the 21 local Government for Revenue mobilization in Abuja? Before Soludo, it’s a project which is being sponsored through the individual Local Government Areas in the past, while the circulars are being disseminated through the Local Government Service Commission but now JAAC management does all of these, award and executes contracts by themselves.

Is it right to say that Local Government Service Commission is dead now since Prof Soludo emerged Governor? They are just looking? Is it true, the Ministry of Local Government , Town Union and Chieftaincy Affiars hijacked the trainings meant for the Commission? How true?

What is the role of NULGE in staff welfare? Is it true that the recent increase in running cost /overhead of Heads of Departments in the Local Governments was single handedly done by management of JAAC without involving NULGE incharge of staff welfare? Why using some Association of HLGAs, Treasurers etc in place of NULGE which is the only constitutionally recognized Union in the Local Government. Is it true that JAAC management has continued to interfer in the administration and activities of the NULGE in Anambra state? What does JAAC management want to achieve? Why is JAAC management fanning disharmony among NULGE members in 21 LGAs of Anambra state and Nigeria at large? Why this stopping NULGE elections at the Local Government Areas even when security clearance has been obtained?

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Of what benefits are these divisions and crises being created to the union by Government appointees? But for the intervention of the National President of NULGE Comrade Ambali Akeem to douse the tension already created in Anambra State, by now there would have been industrial disharmony.

Why again is Mr Commissioner after inviting the National President of NULGE comrade Ambali Akeem who doubles as the NLC National Treasurer to Anambra state, is now inviting one Rasaq Lawal, a retired General Secretary of NULGE, parading himself as President against court judgement to Anambra state as President of NULGE?

Why did he recieve people elected at what was described as a kangaroo election at Aguleri where 14 persons gathered to form opposition to constitutionally recognized NULGE leadership in the state? Of what political value is the dealings with a body already declared illegal by the law court which has been served to the Commissioner by the Union’s Secretariat? Are we not aware union matters are on exclusive list and unions are being governed through their National Secretariats? The affirmation letter from NULGE National Secretariats to the Governor and Commissioner is for what if he continues to deal with legal and illegal bodies at the same time?

Why setting up a fact finding committee on union matters instead of following the proper channel of obtaining clarity from the Union National secretariat through the office of the Head of the industrial union in the state? Government of Anambra state has that office.

Why would Hon Tony Collins Nwabunnwanne write to invite the National President of the union NULGE, the State President of the Union in Anambra, Comrade Chikwelu Adigwe on 12th October, 2023? And he also invited the illegal body of Rasaq Lawal on same date? What’s the intention? To set the state and Local Government on fire? Commissioner even when he is not Head of industrial unions in Anambra invited National President of NULGE, he came, why is he inviting another declared illegal by court and never recognized by NLC, it’s parent body? Let’s hope it’s to restore peace. If it’s the mission, thank you.

Should I even not lay the blame on the Secretary of JAAC abi Executive Secretary as they claim now, not doing the right thing or is he a lord unto himself as JAAC was issuing orders at will, acting independent? Why should anyone stop the remittance of NULGE check off dues since July 2023 till date. Does it mean that appointees of Government are there to create industrial disharmony in the state for the Governor? Why violating laws and constitution of the country at will, which can lead to industrial disharmony? While Mr Governor is busy trying to pacify the workers in Anambra state to cushion the hardship in the land by providing palliative, the management of JAAC is busy creating hardship for union staff by witholding NULGE check off dues for three months from which they draw their slaries. Are the appointees working in contrast to Mr Governor’s vision and mission as well? Or is management of JAAC hell bent to cause industrial disharmony and working against Mr Governor? What shall the Chief of Staff to the Governor say? Hon Ernest Ezeajughi is a simple man and has nothing worrying him much. He is always hugely at shock on some of the things happening here, but, the politicians take advantage of his simple mindset and confuse him the more on issues he should have taken decisive stands in interest of government. So many matters brought before him didn’t go straight as should as a firm CoS, not listening to biased perspectives. Anyway, who does he know their history of deciet and greed? I pen off for now?

On a good note, I met my friend, Chief Maja Emeka Alex Umeh, former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Anambra State. He was also former Political Adviser in Anambra State. He served then Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state, the presidential candidate of Labour Party in the last election. Let me wish him happy birthday. He will be 63 on 7th October, 2023. Okwuaka Amichi as I fondly call him, hails from Amichi in Nnewi-South local government area of Anambra state. I missed him, but, life is just like that particularly when you are a professional journalist. It’s always no friend, no foe!
I have to bury Journalism soon to regain some of my friends ,how visible ,I don’t know. But, we got talking. He is still his usual self. He even understood me more than I taught. I shall tell you more.

Shalom !

Cornucopia is a weekly column of Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD.
Odogwu is a known Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant, Social Analyst, 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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