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Akwaihedi Community Drama: Count Us Out Of Illegal Politicking, Says Anambra State Government

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Governor Willie Obiano

Anambra State Will not Engage in Irresponsible Politicking: A Statement on the ongoing Disinformation on Akwaihedi Community, Nnewi South Local Government Area

 

1.      The next gubernatorial vote in Anambra State will take place in 2021 and the next round of general election will not hold until four years’ time. Yet, the Anambra State branch of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has started the electioneering campaign for both the governorship and general elections in earnest. If the party had confined itself to development issues of the day, the people of Anambra State would not have been as alarmed as they are today. But it has rather been igniting and stoking all kinds of fire in a state most Nigerians regard as the most peaceful, the most stable and the most competitive in the whole country.

2.      In the pursuit of the enterprise of what PDP leaders in the state call “Operation Capture Anambra State by All Means Possible”, nothing is considered sacred or profane, big or small. For instance, they have been searching for disgruntled community leaders to recruit in the determination to make Anambra lose its status as Nigeria’s safest state. One of the very few persons they have managed to hire is the controversial ex President General of the Akwaihedi Town Union in Nnewi South Local Government Area, Charles Ekekwe, a man at loggerheads with most people in the community, including the traditional ruler, Igwe Wisdom JOC Onebune, a retired colonel in the Nigerian Army widely respected for his principles and leadership abilities.

3.      The party operatives, working in cahoots with Ekekwe, prepared a statement accusing the Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters, Mr Greg Obi, of abuse of office for removing him as the Akwaihedi President General. But not even one person in the whole of Akwaihedi agreed to sign the statement. In fact, no person in any of the 10 towns in Nnewi South LGA agreed to associate himself or herself with the document because everyone knows that the allegation is completely false, malicious and will ever compromise the integrity of any person who identifies with it. The PDP operatives eventually found someone from a different senatorial zone in Anambra State who, odd enough, has never been to Akwaihedi Town, to append his signature to the statement so as to pass off as the author.

4.        Ekekwe claims that his suspension as the Akwaihedi PG is ultra vires and, therefore, of no effect. Still, he cannot go to court to challenge the government action but rather engages in raw propaganda because he knows he is not interested in telling the public the truth. He knows as much as any other person that his removal is in the public interest, in the interest of peace, stability and progress of Akwaihedi.

5.      If there is any person who has been acting as though he is above the law, it is Ekekwe. For example, he hubristically announced on January 3, 2019, the unilateral dissolution of the Akwaihedi Royal Cabinet. This was an act of sacrilege which most people in Akwaihedi almost equate to regicide, that is, the killing of a monarch.

6.      The erstwhile PG announced on September 3, 2018, the unilateral dissolution of the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) in Akwaihedi in violation of the Anambra State Law establishing the group. The chairman of the Nnewi South Local Government Area wrote a letter on October 19, 2018, to him to rescind the illegal action. He refused. Not even the intervention of the AVG state chairman, Mr Ikechukwu Aduba, one of the most effective and finest police commissioners ever in Nigeria, could make Ekekwe bulge. The state AVG leaders wrote to him on October 23, 2018, noting: “Our attention has been drawn to the purported dissolution of the Central Vigilante Group without recourse to the Akwaihedi Vigilante Supervisory Committee whose members are: 1. The Traditional Ruler (chairman); President General of the Town Union (secretary); 2. Divisional Police Officer (member); and 3.  AVG Commandant (member). All four members are expected to sign off on any changes to the membership of the Central Vigilante of any committee. No one member can effect any changes unilaterally. Based on this, therefore, the purported dissolution of the Akwaihedi Central Vigilante is null and void and of no effect whatsoever”.

7.      The ex PG on assumption of office announced the unilateral dissolution of all town and village committees in Akwaihedi. Of course, no law, tradition or convention vests in him  the power to do so. The dissolution grew out of megalomania.

8.      Ekekwe stands accused of mismanagement of public funds with particular regard to the state government’s immensely popular Community-Choose-Your-Project Initiative which Igwe Onebune led so well that Akwaihedi became the second out of all 179 communities in the state to complete the first and second phases and thus received N40m from the state government. He is also accused of tampering with funds for the payment of electricity bills to the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, and as a result of the tampering threw the whole town into darkness for long. In the face of the allegations of mismanagement of funds which he has not been able to address satisfactorily, the Secretary General of the Akwaihedi Town Union, Mr Emmanuel Ezeani, resigned on October 27, 2018, accusing him of paranoia, among other things. He wrote: “…more than N500,000 was spent on waging wars with imagined enemies of the{union leadership}. ..I am disappointed with myself as a member of an executive committee that cannot settle disputes and internal challenges without dragging all town union executives, the BOT, and our Igwe to the police or the Ministry of Local Government and Town Union Matters”.

9.      Ekekwe unilaterally on October 30, 2017, chose all 11 members of the Akwaihedi Constitution Review Committee, thereby alienating various villages and relevant professional groups. It is telling enough that in this day and age the highest educational qualification of eight of the 11 members is a mere primary school certificate while the ninth possesses the secondary school certificate; only two persons saw the four walls of a higher institution.

10.  To state the obvious, Ekekwe has over the years shown no regard for constituted authority. He has been treating the Igwe in Council, comprising red cap chiefs from the nine villages in Akwaihedi, with deep contempt. These highly regarded chiefs wrote a letter to the Commissioner for Local Government and Town Union Matters on April 16, 2019, complaining of this behavior. The then Special Adviser to the Anambra State Government on Local Government and Town Union Matters, Ikechukwu Onyeabo, a lawyer, reminded Ekekwe in a letter dated January 30, 2018, that he had refused to abide by decisions reached at a peace meeting in the office of the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters held on December 30, 2017.

11.  With the Igwe in Council passing a vote of no confidence in Ekekwe on March 30, 2019, and the Akwaihedi community heading for a cataclysmic showdown, the Anambra State Ministry of Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters took the best line of line of action: it dissolved in May, 2019, the Ekekwe-led Akwaihedi Town Union and replaced it with a Caretaker Committee. Every stakeholder in the community has been cooperating with the caretaker committee which has been doing its best to stabilize the community. The ministry has used caretaker committees in 20 out of the 179 communities in Anambra State and the result in each instance has been amazing. This is the case with Akwaihedi.

12.  Finally, the Anambra State Government wishes to advise the extremist leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state to stop its politics of bitterness and antagonism. The 2021 governorship race in Anambra State and the 2023 general election are still far away. It is absolutely immoral and unfair to the people of Anambra State to start a campaign of demonization and annihilation now. Even if the elections were already around the corner, it will still be absolutely wrong to attempt to bring back the PDP style of politics, the politics of violence, kidnapping, mayhem and arson. Our state has since left Egypt, and nothing can make Ndi Anambra return to the years the locusts consumed.

13.   All Ndi Anambra are enjoined to play politics in the Anambra way, as Governor Willie Obiano calls it. This is the kind of politics of camaraderie, solidarity and love. It is the kind of politics which makes us see one another as our brother or sister, and not an enemy who should be summarily dealt with. Anambra State has since the November 17 2017 gubernatorial vote become a role model in Nigerian politics. The Government and people of Anambra State will do all within their power to maintain their status as Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state where the level of social harmony is impressive by any standard in the world.

God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.

Signed

C. Don Adinuba

Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.

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