David Umahi: The Man The Mud Cannot Taint
I have read the open letter of one Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo dated 2nd January, 2018 in which he made several infantile but futile efforts to disparage the person and office of the Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Chief David Nweze Umahi. My first reaction was to ignore the rantings of Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo who is a career contemner for the offices of both the Governor of Ebonyi State and that of the President and Commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; but the need to set the records straight for the benefit of the unwary masses which Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo has set out to deceive compels this reaction. Before I begin to canvass the issues raised by Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo, I wish to point out that it is instructive that Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo is no longer writing to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. Having realized the fact that Chief David Nweze Umahi is the Governor of Ebonyi state and that it does not matter whether he likes it or not, he is now directing his unedifying epistle to his Governor.
1.UMAHI'S ATTITUDE TO RULE OF LAW AND CONSTITUTIONALISM: As usual, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo's epistle was laced with dramatic ironies reminiscent of the Duke in Robert Browning's classical poem, "My Last Duchess". In Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo's futile effort to darken the sun by presenting Governor Umahi as a man with a penchant for unconstitutional acts, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo gave evidence to the contrary when he pointed out that "Your [Umahi's] administration has more civil suits than the suits against the past two civilian administrations combined together." The statistics of court cases against the various administrations in Ebonyi state from a man like Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo who is a career antagonist of any administration that fails to settle him may not be doubted, but if indeed Umahi's administration has the highest number of civil cases in the history of Ebonyi state, it summarily confirms the fact that Umahi's administration is compliant with the Nigerian constitution and the principles of rule of law; and this is a credit to Governor Umahi. An administration which prefers canvassing her issues in the court of law to resort to self-help and brute force as was the case in the previous administration deserves human rights laurels and accolades! However, in his characteristic love for half-truths, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo refused to tell his audience that 99% of the cases involving Ebonyi State Government under Umahi [including the ones instituted by Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo] were all decided in favour of Umahi's administration! What other type of vindication does a lawyer of Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo's standing expect from Governor Umahi's administration in this regard?
2. GOVERNOR UMAHI'S TREATMENT OF EBONYI WORKERS: The issues canvassed in his letter under this heading by Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo have given him out as a fugitive who has lost touch with the extant realities in his state. Notwithstanding the low income profile of Governor David Umahi's Ebonyi state, Ebonyi state has permanently retained its place as one of the nine states in the federation which has not owed workers' salaries since May 2015 till date. Apart from paying workers' salaries not later than the 20th of every month, Umahi has donated four big buses to take Ebonyi workers to and from work at highly subsidized rates; increased Ebonyi workers' salaries by 5% since October, 2016 and constantly paid annual mega bonuses known in Ebonyi labour parlance as "13th month salaries" to Ebonyi workers. This practice was recently copied by Enugu state. Added to this was the provision of routes to alternative income to Ebonyi workers through the Agricultural revolution programme and the Ebonyi State Government's partnership with Bank of Industries which has given rise to the two billion naira business facility made available to Ebonyi workers on a single digit interest rate. Governor Umahi went further to clear the arrears of leave and other allowances which has piled up since the previous administration. From this January, 2018, all workers' allowances have been worked into workers' monthly salaries to make it truly consolidated and, thus, prevent the opportunity of workers being owed allowances by anyone who succeeds Umahi in 2023!
Comparative analysis of Umahi's "treatment of Ebonyi workers" and the treatment of workers in Benue state where Governor Ortom beat his chest for ensuring that "Benue workers receive a month salary in every quarter of the year"; Governor Okorocha's Imo state where workers are owed salaries and allowances for close to a year; El-rufai's Kaduna state where 22,000 workers have been sacked on the spurious allegation of failing competence tests instead of offering the said workers opportunity of retraining; and in Bello's Kogi state where frustrated unpaid workers commit suicide on daily basis while 1,774 others who refused to hang themselves have been sacked, all prove that Governor Umahi of Ebonyi state is both an icon of humane labour relations and a friend of Ebonyi workers! The organised labour constituency in Ebonyi state which comprised the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress unequivocally said so in the well attended but unprecedented solidarity rally which they organised in support of Governor Umahi at the Abakaliki Township Stadium on Monday, 18th December, 2017 where they honoured Governor Umahi with the title of Enyi Ndi Oru Ebonyi State before the entire world! Of course, one does not expect fugitive Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo to acknowledge this monumental positive development in his infamous and mischievous epistle which is simply a product of a heat-oppressed brain.
3. THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM IN EBONYI STATE: Following the inauguration of elected council chairmen and ward councilors last year, Ebonyi state became a full-fledged democracy. Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo admitted this much when he stated in his letter that "what we have in Ebonyi state today are elected Local Government Chairmen". Ebonyi state equally operates State and Local Governments Joint Account System as provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Ebonyi State House of Assembly exists to make laws [including appropriation laws] for the good Government of the state as provided by the constitution. As a lawyer, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo is expected to approach the court of competent jurisdiction to set aside any unconstitutional enactment of Ebonyi state legislature or government policy. Resorting to the gallery in the hope of generating discontent against the people-centred administration of Governor Umahi is foolhardy because the unique thing about the present administration in Ebonyi state is that most of its policies evolve from the people! Above all, in an information technology age as we have, people are wiser and can always crosscheck the contents of any letter especially the ones coming from despondent personalities. It is instructive that Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo has abandoned the frivolous allegations of embezzlement of money meant for the purchase of bulldozers which he raised against Ebonyi State Government and the Local Government chairmen in Ebonyi state in his letter to President Buhari dated 13th September, 2017 even when the equipment were already in use before then!
May I conclude this letter by admonishing my friend, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo, to invest his great energy in meaningful enterprise or to at best eschew gutter languages which have potentials to land him in trouble as he practices his new-found vocation of writing letters to constituted authourities like his Governor and his President. I say this because beyond the thread of libel which runs through the letter under review, Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo even strayed into the precincts of the crime of sedition when he threatened in paragraph three of his letter to "fight" the Governor of Ebonyi state "with fire"!
Considering the fact that all the mud which Ndubisi Chibueze Agbo has been splashing has been unable to taint the integrity of Governor Umahi and his administration, I am by this token equally appealing to Governor Umahi to forgive his prodigal son who, I am certain, will soon regain his senses. This, in my opinion, is the best way to celebrate the vindication which God has constantly given his David.
It is well with Ebonyi state!