On the Issue of a Federal Secretariat for Abia State: Eze Chikamnayo’s Avoidable Gaffes
By Nnaemka Oruh
On Friday, December 3, 2021, during a simulcast by FLO FM, Vision Africa, Family Love FM, and ABNTV, one of the anchors asked the member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/South Federal Constituency, Rep. Sam Onuigbo, why Abia State does not have a federal secretariat thirty years after its creation. In his response, Rep. Onuigbo agreed that it was sad that the state does not have a federal secretariat.
He pointed out then that he had challenged the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola about this, during a budget defence session on October 23, 2019. Responding, Fashola had asked Rep. Onuigbo to work with his Governor, Dr Ikpeazu, to provide a piece of land for the secretariat and the federal government will come in and build one.
On the strength of that, Rep. Onuigbo had written to the Governor on October 23, 2019, and subsequently met with him to convey the Minister’s challenge. Thereafter the Governor wrote to the Minister on October 25, 2019, conveying the State Government’s intention to provide a piece of land for the Federal Government to build the secretariat.
Rep. Onuigbo followed up on this with both the Governor, and the then Commissioner for Lands, Survey, and Urban Planning, Alhaji Suleiman Ukandu and finally a piece of land was allocated for the secretariat at Ekeoba Housing Estate (see the letter from the Abia State Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Urban Planning, dated September 11, 2020). However, the title documents for the land—Certificate of Occupancy and Survey plan— were not made available to the Federal Government. The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, when accosted by Rep. Onuigbo on March 11, 2021, on why they have not taken action informed him that without the title documents, the Federal Government cannot start the process of costing and including the construction of the secretariat in the federal annual budget. Again, Rep. Onuigbo had reached out to the Governor in a letter dated March 12, 2021, and delivered to his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu, pleading that efforts be made to get the title documents across to the Federal Government.
Again, on Saturday, August 21, 2021, Rep. Onuigbo met the Governor and asked if he received his (Onuigbo) letter of March 12, 2021 and inquired from him if the title documents had been issued. The Governor stated that he had given them instructions to conclude the process in a few weeks.
In conclusion, during the simulcast, Rep. Onuigbo had stated that once the State Government provides the title documents, he is confident that the Federal Government will start the process of building the Federal Secretariat. He pointed out that the process to get those documents is ongoing as he is still in touch with the State Government on it.
However, when invited to respond to the issue during Family Love FM’s “Open Parliament” on December 7, 2021, the Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Eze Chikamnayo instead of toeing the noble path of saying that he is not fully briefed on the development, decided to respond with a barrage of lies and propaganda.
I will now list Chikamnayo’s lies and respond to them one after the other.
First, Chikamnayo said that Onuigbo only decided to raise this issue because he had left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This is a lie. As the attached documents, which include the Governor’s letter to the Minister shows, Rep. Onuigbo began this process while he was still a member of the PDP and even after he left, he has not relented. For Rep. Onuigbo, it is about the welfare of Abia and not political party affiliation. Or did Chikamnayo inadvertently let it slip that the State Government has not released the title documents because they are playing politics with the good of Abians? For those who do not know, Rep. Onuigbo left the PDP on December 17, 2020. As the documents show, he kickstarted this process on October 23, 2019 while he was still with the PDP.
Secondly, Eze Chikamnayo said the title documents have been ready since. Pray tell, why has the State Government not handed it over to the Federal Government? I am aware that the Federal Director of Housing, Abia State, Victor George, has also been going to the Secretary to the State Government to mount pressure for the provision of these documents, to no avail. So which documents was Chikamnayo talking about? Are the documents ready and for some reason the Abia State Government does not want to release them to the Federal Government? This is even after the Traditional Ruler of Ekeoba, His Royal Highness Eze Ifeanyi Nwokenna, had officially written to the State Government through the Secretary to the State Government officially reducing the initial compensation of N35m due to them, to N25m in order to fast track the process! Do they need a courier to send the documents to the Federal Government? If they do, I can personally come and pick them up and take them to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
Thirdly, Chikamnayo insinuated that the Federal Secretariat project is not a “Constituency project” and that Rep. Onuigbo should be transparent about it. The question is, transparent in what way? All of the communications about the process of making this happen have been done openly with the Federal Government even communicating directly with the state government on this. In addition, Rep. Onuigbo had also met the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Chris Ezem twice (first on Saturday, August 7, 2021, and the second time on Saturday, September 25, 2021) and was assured that efforts were being made. In fact, when he met Barr. Ezem on September 25, 2021, Barr. Ezem was in the company of the Abia State Commissioner for Finance, Ahanna Uko, and both of them stated that they are working towards the provision of the documents. Was Chikamnayo shocked that not all politicians are that enthusiastic about pushing for the good of their people as Rep. Onuigbo is and thus felt something else must be his motivation? It is quite understandable that such persistence by Rep. Onuigbo would be viewed with apprehension by those within the Abia State corridors of power. After all, the ideology for them is “I and my friends first, then the people can perish for all we care.”
And lastly, in what can be termed a complete “own goal”, Chikamnayo makes a complete mockery of his capability to be a government official when he says that the hitch with starting the building of the federal Secretariat is that Rep. Onuigbo wants the contract for the building to be awarded to his company. Pray, tell me, friends and foes, how can there be a bidding for a contract that has not even been appropriated for? Was Mr. Chikamnayo actually thinking when he said that, or as usual, he was projecting his usual propagandas and lies which everyone now knows are his stock-in-trade?
What is clear from Mr. Chikamnayo’s outing on that programme is that he is the Abia State Government’s front for lies and propaganda and he does that shamelessly. Little wonder his nature of lying made him contradict what his predecessor, John Okiyi, had earlier said about the deadline for relocating traders at Ariaria market, during the same programme!
Abia State deserves to have a federal secretariat. Those playing politics with it by refusing to process and release the title documents should please, and for once, put the good of the people ahead of their petty politics. Rep. Onuigbo on his part is not interested in their petty politics. He is willing and will always collaborate with anyone irrespective of party affiliations to ensure that the badly battered people of Abia State get some respite.
I have attached proofs of the entire process here in the spirit of transparency. Transparency is the watchword of Rep. Onuigbo.