The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, South East Zone has condemned what the rights group described as the profligate style of the Willie Obiano administration in Anambra State calling on him to make a drastic change and commence aggressive development of the state instead, even as his second tenure gradually winds up.
CLO South East Zone in a statement issued in Onitsha on Thursday signed by its Zonal Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah, said the group is embarrassed that the governor has taken serial actions of engaging in ostentatious outings at the expense of the state treasury while checks and balances from the appropriate organs of government have been on recess in the state.
The political leader and chief executive of the state at the inception of office took oath of office as stated in the 7th schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended which inter alia states that
“ .. I do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as the Governor of ……… State, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerit ….that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria …”
The group regretted that Governor Willie Obiano embarked on vacation to America for at least four times last year, 2019. In all of these travels, the state House of Assembly was not communicated officially while he never handed over to his Deputy to hold forth as Acting Governor while he was away.
THE CLO added, “While he was away, the state operated like an auto pilot while serious matters were handled through telephone conversation. People of the state were also inundated with pictures of the governor and the family having their nice times either in their living room or beside a swimming pool.
“While we know the governor has every right to go on vacation, it also behooves on him to do the right and legal thing while he travels.
“His recent travel towards the last yuletide celebration was when tipper drivers in the state embarked on total lockdown of the state in protest two days to Christmas over the issue of extortion, double taxation and thugs’ brutality.
“The governor never uttered a word over the issue but stayed abroad all through the Christmas period until the second week of January when he junketed to Rome on a supposed spiritual journey.
“On January 15, 2020, the media space was awash that the governor has been knighted as a Knight Commander of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Francis in ‘recognition of his enormous contributions to both the church and the society’.
“Some individuals back home in Anambra were airlifted to Rome on the bills of the state government to join the governor over there in the honour.
“The Governor’s media handlers and information managers went on a wild binge celebration of the papal knighthood and described Governor Willie Obiano by the new status as the ‘now leader of all Catholic knights in the Southeast geopolitical zone’.
“The media handlers also went far to rub the insult more on the sensibilities of the citizens when they described such personalities who had received papal knighthood before now like Chief Sir Victor Umeh, Mr Peter Obi; Dr ABC Orjiako and Sir Tony Ezenna as ‘just papal knights’ while Governor Obiano is now a ‘knight commander’ ‘the highest honour bestowed on a lay Catholic anywhere in the world’ according to them.
“They went on to conclude the insulting piece by saying: ‘This great papal honour is just the shape of things to come for the people of Anambra State.’
“The CLO has been wondering what benefits the Governor’s Papal Knighthood investiture would bring or have brought to the Anambra people? We also wonder what difference the Papal Commandership makes with the papal knighthood and why ferrying people to the Vatican in Rome when others who received such honours in the past simply did it at the various Catholic Cathedrals through their local Ordinary, the Bishop or the Archbishops who performs such solemn ceremony on behalf of the Pope.
“Before now, Governor Obiano has become legendary in picking titles and hosting parties in grand scale while he superintends affairs of the state as Governor. In May 2019, the entire state literarily relocated to Ado Ekiti when the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe conferred on him the title of Aare Amuogun of Ado-Ekiti while his wife went home with the title, Erelu Amuogun of Ado-Ekiti.
“Since the inception of the democratic setting in Nigeria in 1999, we have not seen any governor from the West that relocated his people to the East to come and take a Chieftaincy title in Igbo land.
“The governor also traveled the same road of ostentation and sheer waste of state resources during his daughter’s graduation from the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston on 18 May 2017. There were reports that 179 people were allegedly flown in a private jet from Nigeria for the ceremony. Though his media handlers refuted the number, what was incontestably clear was that more than 60 people were allegedly taken on an all expense paid trip, first class tickets, to the lavish event organised by the governor.
There were also reports that Gov Obiano allegedly rented the luxury Ayva Centre in Richmond Avenue, southwest Houston for the ceremony for $10,000 and also allegedly paid Nigerian star Flavour 10m naira ($31,700) to perform at the event.
He also allegedly paid for travel and accommodation expenses for Flavour and his crew while the video where the governor danced to the ukwu salambala beats by Flavour during the event later surfaced online.
“It should be stated in clear terms that the CLO is not questioning the private conduct of the governor and neither do the organization also condemn taking of titles, receiving papal knighthood or celebrating a daughter that has graduated from a high school.
“But the CLO is worried on the level which such events were taken and executed while there is no clear cut distinction between the governor’s personal wealth and public funds.
“The conduct of any public officer is also subject to public scrutiny at all times. The ideal thing for the governor to do is to suspend all title taking and lavish honours till after quitting public office. Alternatively, a mini reception at the state capital, Awka for such ceremonies could have taken care of those unnecessary spending and bogus travels.
“The silence of the power brokers, influential people including traditional rulers and religious leaders in the midst of such obscenity and lavish lifestyle calls for questioning. The Anambra State House of Assembly has also not hidden its posture as a complete rubber stamp made up of the governor’s handpicked lackeys.
“But like the Emperor that frolicked while Rome burns, Anambra is in serious need of aggressive development. Six years of Obiano’s administration, the neglected communities in Anambra North, the Olumbanasas, Anambra West are still crying for a saviour.
“There are abandoned road projects littered across the length and breadth of the state. Local government administration and development projects have been crippled. Roads in Awada area which the governor awarded during his second tenure campaign have been stalled.
“Residents of Oba Avenue/ Solar Lawrence Road/Rainbownet in Awada/Odume behind Army barracks are at the verge of death over the deplorable condition of their roads. Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish and schools in the area are closing over the same condition. Oduke Layout in Obosi axis is suffering same fate.
“In Anambra, beautiful roundabouts and street lights are springing up while many roads are inaccessible. It is like dressing up the grave yard while the inside reeks of stench.
“We call on the governor to reorder his administration’s steps and priorities. He can make a positive difference in the next 10 months of this year or else the twilight of his administration will finally consign him into the ignoble hall of infamy.
“To the Governor, the CLO says -End Profligacy and return to aggressive work now!”