Remain Focused On A Better Democratic Future For Ebonyi – ex-SSG, Odoh Reacts To Court Judgement Sacking Umahi, Deputy, Lawmakers

Prof. Benard Odoh
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Remain Focused On A Better Democratic Future For Ebonyi – ex-SSG, Odoh Reacts To Court Judgement Sacking Umahi, Deputy, Lawmakers

A former Secretary to the Ebonyi State government, Professor Benard Odoh has appealed to the people of Ebonyi State to remain calm and law abiding over the judgement of an Abuja Federal High which ordered the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi and his Deputy, Eric Kelechi Igwe to vacate their offices for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

The Presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo had also declared vacant, the seats of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ogbonnaya Nwifuru and 16 other members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly who also defected with the Governor to the APC.

Noting that there has not been a judicial precedent of its kind since the advent of the Fourth Republic, hence the varied interpretations and reactions greeting the verdict, Odoh remarked,
“For reasonable and discerning minds however, the prevailing situation, including the varied interpretations are yet all within the confines of what democracy permits.”

He said, “While I appeal for calm on the part of fellow Ebonyians, urging them to keep their hopes for a better democratic governance alive, it is, however, needful to recall that since the November 17th, 2020 defection of Umahi and his Deputy to the ruling APC, a simmering relationship between him and his erstwhile People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders has only headed for the worse – all of which has been to the detriment of the delivery of some meaningful, purposeful and credible democracy dividends for the common Ebonyian.

In other words, the masses who are at the receiving end of this entire political theatre continue to bear the brunt of the gross inadequacies the economic and social sectors that have direct impact on their lives”, he continued.

Borrowing from the past, Odoh recalled, “Needless to buttress the fact that, like I reiterated in my April 2nd 2018 letter resigning from the Umahi administration and also in some of my reactions to the very obnoxious policies, outrageous actions and inactions of Umahi in the media, the interest of any good leader should have been to fulfill the Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarian philosophy of achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of Ebonyians.

He however added that, “The reverse has however been the case with Ebonyi under Umahi as his regime has been utterly complacent or aloof to the glaring facts that his government has rather multiplied poverty in our land instead of providing prosperity with many hare-brained and selfish policies that scare investors and people with good intentions out of our clime.

Referring to a data from Statista.com in a recent publication quoting the National Bureau of Statistics, the former varisty don observed that the “poverty headcount rate in Nigeria by State listed Ebonyi as the fourth poorest State with 79.76% as its share of people in poverty – trailing only about 8% behind Sokoto, Taraba and Jigawa respectively. Though Umahi deserves commendations for some of his infrastructural projects, many of which are yet misplaced and done for ego rather than genuine mass-oriented development sake, some critical sectors such as Education, Health and even Agriculture that is ordinarily our forte have all been abandoned for some cosmetic projects and beautifications, thus, making Ebonyi in the eyes of many a painted sepulcher.

It is not surprising therefore that Ebonyi under Umahi’s very watch is, statistically speaking, the poverty capital of the entire Southern Nigeria and no laws or policies are being deliberately made to change this ugly narrative. Rather, laws such as the Cybercrime Prohibition and Ebubeagu Security Network have been surreptitiously enacted by the Umahi regime to suppress free speech and stifle the rights to freedom of association of those he considers as political opponents. Nothing brings to national exposure the very fact that Umahi is grossly intolerant of dissenting or contrary opinions than his media bashing of Honourable Justice Ekwo and indeed the entire judiciary and his whimsical proclamation that he has chosen the verdict of the court he rather would obey as though he is shopping in a judicial supermarket.”

He further opined that, “With the welter of public condemnations now trailing the reaction of Umahi, the rest of the world can now see and feel the harrowing experiences which the average Ebonyi masses have had while his dictatorial regime has lasted. I strongly condemn the attempt to ridicule our judiciary which Umahi has in several cases benefitted from the profound verdicts and wisdoms of our judges. That emotional outburst, though typical of Umahi’s dictatorial style is the least of what any sane person would expect from a democratically-elected Governor of a State.”

Added the Professor of Geophysics, “I therefore join my voice to those urging him to apologize; first to forthright Honourable Justice Ekwo, the entire respected judicial bench and bar, and then to the Ebonyi masses who he has also put to shame by his condemnable conduct. Rather than continue to make embarrassing public comments, ousted Umahi should tow the path of the law by seeking redress ‘upstairs’ rather than subjecting the entire judiciary to a vindictive campaign of calumny. This is not the time to make further provocative and reckless comments!

Furthermore, on my part as someone who have and will always speak and stand for the Ebonyi masses, I am optimistic that this verdict whichever pendulum it swings will indeed help in enriching the Nigerian adjudicatory system on election matters and some of the issues that had hitherto been left vague will be duly rectified. And for my fellow Ebonyians, I once again appeal that they should not keep their eyes off the ball in electing a competent, credible and capable democrat who understands the core issues of governance to pilot the affairs of our dear State especially as the opportunity avails itself through the 2023 elections.”

On the way to a better future, Odoh said, “The goal of every right thinking lover of our dear Ebonyi State is to look critically into the credentials and antecedents of all who may present themselves for election into the exalted office of a Governor and choose the man with the best proven democratic disposition in character and conduct. For this is the only way our State can be rescued from the hands of those who think themselves Lord Manors and our negative development indices and statistics reversed. As we have all seen and lived with the facts; overhead bridges, concrete tracks and other ostentatious ego-projects selfishly conceived to deceive unsuspecting members of the public and enrich those in power haven’t delivered the requisite jobs and employment opportunities which our hapless and willing youths have been yearning for.”

He warned that, “Ebonyi people will live in deep regret if they don’t take active part in the politics of enthroning a sincere and genuine servant leader in 2023 especially due to the neglect of human welfare and empowerment, including the downright neglect of some critical sectors such as education, health, agriculture among others by the embattled Umahi administration. These were and have remained my fears, hence the reason I did not only boldly resign from the Umahi government but also sought an opportunity to govern Ebonyi in 2019 so that by God’s grace, we can tackle and redress some of the many challenges plaguing us as a people.”

By Famous Reporters

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