SAM EGWU DIDN'T REPATRIATE WORKERS FROM ABIA -AIDE
Barrister Kelechi Igwe, an aide to Dr. Sam Egwu, the first Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, in the chat below denies that the former governor sent home workers from Abia State in Ebonyi in 2002.
Sir, how true is the allegation by some group in Umuhia that His Execllency, Dr. Sam Egwu, sent packing some civil servants of Abia State origin in 2002?
Well, I was in the service on Sunday, October 16, 2011, when I started noticing an unusual flow of traffic on my two direct mobile lines. That was the first sign that alerted me to the fact that something was amiss since my friends and those who know me closely will normally wait till the end of the church service before communicating with me.
When I finally, opened my phone, I saw lots of missed calls from all round the nation and text messages that demanded to know and drawing my attention to a loosely, unedited, fabricated merchandised advert about the person of Dr. Egwu. Initially, I couldn't make up my mind on what to do and I must confess I was equally confused on where to start in responding to the issues involved. So, my first reaction was placing a call on the advertised line on the paper in this age of GSM. Once the line was completely dead, I then realised that another set of faceless touts, who have easy access to government funds, are on the loose looking for excuses to justify looting. After due consideration, I thought it wise to call you to state the facts right.
So, as it stands now, what is the true position of things?
On page 26 of The Nation, October 16, 2011, in response to an earlier advert placed by Association of Anambra State Development Unions, Abia State The Abia Youth Movement in an advert signed by Dr. V.O. Ikpeazu and Hon. Ajike Anya alleged in paragphs 8 & 9 and I quote verbatim: 'Recall that in 2002, the government of Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Anambra, Imo and some Northern states repatriated thousands of Abia State employees in their service. Abia State Government absorbed all these returnees without a murmur, complaint nor reprisals. While all these discriminatory practices were being inflicted on our people, all these self-appointed guardians of public morality looked the other way.''
'It is on record that Dr. Sam Egwu in Ebonyi, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani in Enugu and Ikedi Ohakim in Imo, shipped Abia workers in their service back to Umuahia in very undiginifying manner. Some were even sent back to Abia after retiring to receive their pensions in a state they never worked for. Imo State recently returned all the pension and gratuity files of Abia indigenes, who had meritoriously laboured in its civil service back to Umuhia without any golden handshake. It is analogous to working in the railwyas and getting paid in UAC.''
While I will try as much as possible not to join issues with this uninformed and totally misguided youth movement, it is most expedient on the side of His Excellency, Dr. Sam Egwu, and most importantly for the purpose of history to state the obvious fact as it is. Perhaps, in doing this I might be using one stone to kill two birds by not only correcting a wrong impression, but also teaching these youths an unperverted history. It is most disheartening and totally disgraceful that an organisation that claims to be speaking on behalf of a state government will go to such a length to manufacture lies against an elder statesman on issues that are easily verifiable to justify an illegality. If the signatories to the hatchet advert mentioned above are really worth the prefix attached to their names -Doctor & Honourable-then simple common sense demands that they do a little research before attaching their names to a historical fact.
The issue is, did Dr. Sam Egwu repatriate Abia indigenes when he was Governor of Ebonyi State?
For the record, I want to state that for the eight years Dr. Egwu served Ebonyi State as a governor, an Abia man was representing Abakiliki in the State House of Assembly. His Excellency, Dr. Sam Egwu, appointed several Abia people as SA's and PA's through out the eight years that he served. It is on record that Ebonyi State was home to every Igbo person as his administration never for once discriminated against any race.
Many Abians and other Igbo people from the various South-east states were fully employed and accommodated in the state civil service as principals of schools, headmasters and headmistresses and today, most of them have been promoted to the position of directors in the civil service since they were retained by Gov. Elechi. There was no governor in the South-east that equaled his record in accommodating and empowering any Igboman in the South-east States, not minding his state of origin. Any other state that has a better record should roll it out with facts and statistics and not to hide behind that mask of uninformed and socially derailed youths to waste the tax payers' money in dishing out lies when there are so many leadership challenges that urgently require such funds.
As a governor one of his greatest challenges was how to uplift Ebonyi State from an educationally disadvantaged state to an advantaged state. He devoted most of his energy basically to change that situation. Ebonyi State had very little human resource and as a new state and as the first democratically elected governor, the challenges were much. Any informed person need to look at the man power development in the young state and then recognise and realise that Ebonyi State needed extra competent hands to help, especially in education. So, Dr. Sam Egwu's most important guideline was using what was on ground to uplift the young state and most of the then manpower on ground was from Abia and Enugu States where Ebonyi was created from.You know initially people were saying that the North is where you have the most educationally disadvantaged people, forgetting that in the South-east you still have places in Ebonyi State were you can count numbers of graduates per local government. That was the situation we found ourselves when Egwu took over as a governor, that I will say was most challenging to him.
Graduates are something you will find in every family if you talk about the East, but in Ebonyi State when he came in; a whole local government will have just a hand full of graduates. Under such circumstance, how could Dr. Sam in 2002, just three years after coming to office, embark on the repatriation of Abia indigenes, who were the much needed human resource personnel? So, as you can see these uncoordinated lies beat all reasonable imagination.
In essence, you're saying that there were not enough personnel talk less of deporting the few available ones?
Exactly, when you talk about the manpower capacity development, as a state, you will discover that no matter how much you love your people, you don't depend on unqualified people to come and run the state for you with the manpower needed, just because they are from your state.
Because, of course, you are talking about the issue of health facilities; you talk about hospitals, teachers and technocrats and that is where the issue of man power really comes in. You need doctors to run the facilities for you. So, when you are talking about infrastructure you talk about the human resources that are going to man the facilities for you. These are areas you don't colour with ethnic consideration since they must critically be manned by core qualified technocrats and professionals. And these experts don't come in a twinkle of eyes, they take years to train.
Dr. Sam Egwu's tenure was based on three developmental issues; physical development, infrastructural development, human, resource development and then the spiritual development. But upon all these things, his greatest challenge was that of human resource development. He paid so much attention to education by making sure that every hindrance, the obstacle to educational development was removed by making sure that every young kid in Ebonyi, irrespective of his state of origin, especially the very bright ones got educated as everybody was given an opportunity to reach his or her potentials. Both the Hausa and Igbo communities that largely dominated Ebonyi State benefited from this without discrimination whatso- ever. And there was no way he could have achieved all these without the competent services of experienced and advanced hands from other states, which Ebonyi was lacking then as a young state.
Most importantly, in every position of service that he has been privileged to hold in this country, those who worked with him will testify that he is a highly detribalised person. And presently, his personal staff is made up of people from across the nation and if indeed he had intended to sack or quit Abians in Ebonyi State in 2002 as alleged by the said write up, he couldn't have retained his Abia staff. One of his most trusted personal drivers for the past 15 years is from Item in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. And one of his very close media assistants presently is from Abiriba, in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.