July 1, 2022 8:07 pm

Brouhaha In A Serene Environment

By Our Reporter

Hon. Obinna Ichita is currently the Member Representing Aba South State Constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly. Ichita is one of the young legislators in the 7th House. He is a member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.

Like other legislators, he was elected by his constituents with a strong belief that he had internalized the tenets of democracy by engaging executive arm on legislative business.

They also believed that he must have known the rudiments of parliamentary laws and have been tutored on processes and ways of making laws; and what is expected of him at the legislative house, which include carrying out  oversight functions for effective representation. Put to practice, it will ensure that his constituents enjoy quality representation.

To some extent, some of the expectations of his constituents might also be for Hon. Ichita to lobby with facts on issues he want to be changed in the state or his Constituency through dialogue rather than being confrontational to ensure a robust legislation.

           Committees Featured

Some months after the 2019 State House of Assembly Election, the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly Rt.Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji during Plenary announced the Reconstitution of the Standing Committees of the Abia State House Of Assembly, where Hon. Ichita featured as, member, Committee on Tourism and Culture; member, Committee on Trade and Investment; member, Committee On Public Accounts and Due Process; member, Committee On Agriculture; member, Committee on Transport; member, Committee On Lands, Survey and Urban Planning; member, Committee on NDDC, ASOPADEC and Petroleum Matters; Chairman, Committee On Public Utilities and Water Resources; member, Committee on Sports and Youth Development; member, Committee On Education; member, Committee on Energy and Solid Minerals; and member, Committee on SMEs and PPP.

Recently, the State House of Assembly set up an Adhoc Committee to investigate a petitionbrought before it on an alleged misuse of the Paris Club Refund funds as carried in the media and credited to a former Commissioner for Finance, in the State, Mr. Obinna Oriaku.

At the plenary, the Speaker announced this while ruling on a petition titled “Petition on Abia Paris Fund Refund and urgent need to investigate the allegations of engaging and disbursement of billions of naira to a shady consultancy firm alleging to have rendered services to Abia state government, trending in our news room” and gave the adhoc Committee headed by the member representing Isuikwuato State Constituency and Chairman House Committee on Judiciary and Public Petitions, Chief Emeka Okoroafor one week to turn in their report.

The Committee was to among others ascertain the validity or otherwise of the allegations,determine charges by the consultancy firm and determine if the procedure of engagement, negotiations and payment of the firm was done in line with International Best Practices.

                  Threat Allegation

Few days back, Hon. Ichita came up with a press release which he personally signed and made available to newsmen, where he raised the alarm and alleged that his life has come under a serious threat.

He however restated that no amount of threat would deplete his belief in  accountability in the use of Public funds especially as it relates to the over 27 Billion Naira world bank intervention for flood control and  construction of major roads in Aba south through NEWMAP, which money has been paid  in full by the World Bank to the State Government.

According to him, “My duties as a member of the Abia House of Assembly especially as it relates to the Ad hoc committee investigating the allegations and controversies surrounding the 22 Billion Naira  Paris Club refund to the State government would continue to be discharged without any fear of intimidation from any quarter”. 

The release partly read, “I Obinna Ichita, wish to inform the general public that my life has come under a serious threat. Accordingly,  the relevant security and intelligence agencies have been notified. 
“The Office of the National Security Adviser and the Headquarters of the AU Committee on Intelligence and Security Services have been furnished with details of this  threat.

“The Heads of Diplomatic Missions of European countries in Nigeria, The European Union,The US Embassy and the UK High Commission have all been alerted.

“The need for a thorough investigation by the appropriate  superior authorities is accentuated by the plans of some persons and quarters  to hide under the shadow of insecurity in the South East geopolitical zone of Nigeria to perpetuate heinous crimes in the hope that culpability for such crimes would be placed on the doorsteps of  unknown gunmen ”.

            Abia Government Reacts

Addressing some of the issues raised by the legislator, the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu in a press release carefully reminded Hon. Ichita that Gov. Ikpeazu’s administration has never been and will never be associated with political killings or harassment of citizens based on their opinions and political views even when such views are sometimes considered too toxic and beyond the threshold of globally acceptable standard of freedom of expression, rather the administration continues to receive accolades from within and outside the state for being the most peaceful in Nigeria with all political views and orientation accommodated.

According to Okiyi, “It is desperately malicious and or a hallmark of ignorance for a state legislator to claim that a World Bank project fund of N27.4b has been paid in full by the World Bank to the state government and insinuate possibility of misappropriation whereas the practice is for such funds to be held in a project account supervised by the Bank with contractors payments released to them on the basis of agreed milestones and no objection certificate from the World Bank itself. It is elementary for a state legislator to know that the state government cannot pay out ONE KOBO from that account, even if it wishes to, without approval and concurrence  by the World Bank which must have also certified work done as we do not not have direct access to the fund.

“For a legislator who is not known to have passed any bill, including the one related to the said project, and whose political party (APGA) previously petitioned sundry federal agencies in the country including Ministry of Finance to stop the World Bank from funding the projects for the people of Aba South in particular and Abia State in general to turn round and make maliciously false insinuations regarding the project without educating himself properly on it can only be attributed to lack of attention to details, dereliction of duties,  unsuitability for office and mischief.

“Yet, we do not think that ignorance or incapacity should be a basis for anyone’s life to be threatened hence our insistence that the security authorities in the state and elsewhere throughly investigate the petition and make public their findings. 
“With regard to the disbursement and application of the State House of Assembly appropriated Paris Club Refunds, the administration has no reason to interfere with legislative or legal reviews of the application of the funds. We have already stated our position on that and other related issues to the effect that we do not interfere with constitutionally empowered bodies reviewing our management of the finances and other resources of the people of Abia State. Anyone found culpable of misappropriating public funds should be sanctioned according to the law while those who make false and malicious claims should also be sanctioned as appropriate”.

Part of the release made available to newsmen by Chief Okiyi Kalu read, “Our attention has been drawn to a circulating publication by the member representing Aba South State Constituency at the Abia State House of Assembly, Mr Obinna Ichita, wherein he alleged among other things that some unnamed individuals are seriously  threatening his life over his political activities within the state and we wish to unequivocally condemn such threat, if at all it exists beyond the imagination of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Legislator”.

The Information Commissioner who called on relevant security agencies in the state to thoroughly investigate the purported petition by the Lawmaker, stated that, “It is a well known fact that under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, premium has been placed on freedom of expression for all citizens of the State as well as protection of their lives and property”.

He reiterated that the Government remains focused on implementing the kinetic Abia projects that have endeared her to the people and will continue to prioritize security of lives and property of all Abians within a democratically free and open environment.

                       Secured Loan

For most of us in the society and also from the professional perspectives, a secured loan is a loan backed by collateral, financial assets you own, like a home or a car, that can be used as payment to the lender if you don’t pay back the loan. The idea behind a secured loan is a basic one. Lenders accept collateral against a secured loan to incentivize borrowers to repay the loan on time.

            For The Records

One of the National dailies had some months back came up with this headline: IKPEAZU SECURES N27.4BN WORLD BANK FUNDING FOR ABA ROADS, where it reported that the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, in a statement made available to journalists in Umuahia, stated Gov. Ikpeazu broke the cheering news in a live radio programme in Aba.

That the governor announced that five roads in Aba would be reconstructed to world class standard after securing international funding for the projects.

That the sum of N27.4 billion has been secured for the road projects following the successful engagement of his administration with World Bank for funds.

That the global bank released the funds after Governor Ikpeazu’s administration had paid the required counterpart funding, adding that the people of the state would be very proud of the quality of roads that would be built in the commercial hub of the state.

That the roads include Ngwa, Uratta road, Port Harcourt road, Ohanku and Obohia roads, which have been begging for attention over the years, adding that work would commence in a fortnight.

That every arrangement had been concluded for the commencement of the total reconstruction of the five designated roads in a fortnight.

“He attributed the apparent delay in starting work on the roads to the desire of his administration to find a permanent solution to the problems on those roads, hence, the state government had to seek the assistance of international development partners.

“Recalling the challenge of the Ndiegoro water disaster of the 1980s, which effect still lingers till date, Ikpeazu assured the people that the current project has been designed to provide a lasting solution to that problem.

“He appealed to residents of the affected areas to provide maximum cooperation to the contractors as the government will not tolerate any acts that would sabotage the projects, which are guaranteed to permanently and significantly change the infrastructural landscape of Aba for the better.

“Ikpeazu also stated that the road projects would significantly impact on the state economy because 40 percent of the contract sum will be spent on local procurement of materials while hundreds of local construction workers will be engaged in the project”, the report flowed.
It is also on record that one of the online media one morning came up with this headline: HON OBINNA ICHITA OF APGA COMMENDSIKPEAZU’S GIANT STRIDES IN INFRASTRUCTURE, where Hon. Ichita, had in the morning programme of one of the local radio stations tagged, “From the Assembly” commended Governor Ikpeazu on his giant strides in delivering dividends of democracy to Abians, picking the Portharcourt road construction and the state of emergency declared on street lighting of Aba and Umuahia.

He spoke on the need for cooperation across party lines as exemplified in their relationship in the 7th Abia Asembly and also adumbrated some progress already recorded by the 7th Assembly.

He had also during the programme encouraged Abians to keep faith with the government (across the three arms), as they are on the right track and have the gravitas to make Abians proud.

Can one say that the lastest development came as a result of communication failure or inability to digest certain economic terminologies? Also Abia State Commissioner for Information’s statement  that Gov. Ikpeazu’s administration has never been and will never be associated with political killings or harassment of citizens based on their opinions and political views; that Gov. Ikpeazu’s administration will continue to prioritize security of lives and property of all Abians within a democratically free and open environment, stays undisputable.

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