In Ebonyi State, dissolution, resignation and removal from office have taken the centre stage in the camps of the two dominant parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – after Governor Dave Umahi dumped the PDP for APC, UCHENNA INYA reports
It is an interesting political time in Ebonyi State as the two major political parties in the state – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – strengthen their respective platforms in order to gain more ground and support ahead of the 2023 general election.
The state governor, Dave Umahi, has already defected to the APC. He formally joined the party last week after speculations that he was making serious moves to join the ruling party but about three members of the state executive council have resigned their appointments as commissioners and special assistant.
Few days to Umahi’s formal declaration for the APC, his Commissioner for Inter-Governmental Affairs, Lazarus Ogbee, a former House of Reps member resigned his appointment. Ogbee’s resignation was contained in a letter dated November 12, titled: “Resignation of appointment as honourable commissioner” and stated thus: “I wish to inform His Excellency that I have decided to resign my appointment as the Honourable Commissioner for Inter-Governmental Affairs in the Ebonyi State Government, effective from today, Thursday, November 12. “The reason for my resignation is personal as I thank Your Excellency for the opportunity given to me to serve as a commissioner in the state.
I equally thank the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) family and my colleagues in the executive council for the cordial working relationship I enjoyed while in office as a commissioner. “Please be informed that the official car with Chassis No. KMH3813DLU109706 Model-Hyundai Tucson Jeep, Colour- Metalic Ash and other government property attached to my office are to be duly handed over to the Secretary to the State Government with immediate effect. May God bless you as we look forward to a better Ebonyi State.”
Ogbee is believed to be a core loyalist of the senator representing Ebonyi Central Zone, Senator Obinna Ogba and who is a former chairman of the PDP in the state. Ogba is believed to be eyeing the governorship seat in 2023 and has been reaching out to stakeholders of the party, particularly outside the state to ensure that he gets the PDP ticket. Ogbee is said to have been promised a return ticket to the National Assembly either as a senator or member of the House of Representatives.
He was in his second term as a member of the Green Chamber but was sacked by National Election Petition Tribunal in Abakaliki and Appeal court sitting in Enugu, which all declared Hon. Chinedu Ogah of APC as the winner of the for Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency election in 2019. However, succour came his way when he was appointed commissioner by Gov-ernor Umahi about three months ago.
But when it was clear that the governor was on his way to the APC, he immediately resigned his appointment. Ogbee’s resignation was followed by that of the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Rebecca Ogbuewu, who is the wife of former Nigeria’s ambassador to Greece and ex- Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Frank Ogbuewu.
Unlike Ogbee, Mrs. Ogbuewu did not make her own resignation public the way Ogbee did. The belief is that she was appointed as commissioner by Umahi to compensate her husband for his support to the governor’s administration.
Ogbuewu served as chairman of the state Elders’ Council put in place by Governor Umahi to offer advice to his administration when it came on board. Following her said resignation, the governor immediately dissolved the state Elders’ Council and announced a former commissioner in the state, Engr. Ben Okah to immediately take over its chairmanship in acting capacity. Amb. Ogbuewu is said to be eyeing the Senate in 2023 to represent Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone under the PDP.
He is also said to have fallen out with Governor Umahi before his wife’s resignation. The dissolution of the state Elders’ Council was contained in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji. The statement read in part: “In a bid to inject more altitude to the leadership of Ebonyi State Elders’ Council, the governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, has directed the dissolution of the leadership of the state Elders’ Council with effect from November 18.
“Consequently, the governor has approved the appointment of Engr. Ben Okah to immediately take over the chairmanship of Elders’ Council in acting capacity.” After Mrs. Ogbuewu’s resignation, Chidiebere Egwu, the Special Assistant to the governor on Internal Security and Public Utilities (Urban), also resigned his appointment with the state government. Egwu’s resignation happened as Umahi, who had left the PDP formally joined the APC.
He submitted his resignation letter to the Secretary to the State Govern-ment, Kenneth Ugbala, on Thursday. The letter read in part: “I hereby respectfully resign my appointment as the SA on Internal Security and Public Utilities (Urban) with effect from today, November, 19.
My resignation should not be a misconstrued as an affront to your person, thus, but in tandem with my principle never to betray my master and anyone else.” Egwu is a loyalist of Senator Ogba and is said to have resolved to support him for the 2023 governorship election.
He had earlier served as South-East Zonal Youth Leader of the PDP, executive assistant to Governor Umahi, SA to the governor on Youth Employment and caretaker committee chairman of Ikwo Local Government Area.
Political watchers believe that he was given those appointments by the governor to abandon Senator Ogba but his resignation has shown that he was with the lawmaker all through. Besides the resignations, Governor Umahi had few days after joining the APC, sacked many political appointees from Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state.
Ohaukwu is where a former governor of the state and senator Representing Ebonyi North Senatorial Zone, Dr. Sam Egwu, hails from. Though the sacked political appointees did not commit any offence, their removal may not be unconnected with the governor’s alleged plan to bring in loyalists of a former senator, Tony Agbo; a former member of House of Representatives, Peter Ogeali; Amb. Nwanne Ominyi and the immediate past state Chairman of the APC, Eze Nwachukwu, who are all indigenes of the local government. The stakeholders are expected to nominate some of their loyalists to replace those that were sacked by the governor though some of them may be re-appointed, especially, loyalists of the local government chairman, Omekannaya Odah.
A statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala listed the political appointees in Ohaukwu, who were removed from office as all the Coordinators, all Executive Assistants (EAs), all Senior Technical Assistants (STAs), all Technical Assistants (TAs), all Liaison Officers and all Management Committee members of Development Centres in Ohaukwu LGA. The statement read: “In avowed determination of Ebonyi State government to allow greater participation of Ebonyians in governance, His Excellency the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, has approved the removal from office of the following political office holders from Ohaukwu Local Government Area with immediate effect.
“They are: (a) All the Coordinators (b) All the Executive Assistants, (EAs) (c) All the Senior Technical Assistants, (STAs) (d) All the Technical Assistants, (TAs) (e) All the Liaison Officers and (f) All the Management Committee Members of Development Centres in Ohaukwu LGA “In view of the above, all the affected former officers are directed to handover all government property in their possession to the Secretary to the State Government before the close of work on Monday 23rd November. Please ensure strict adherence to this directive.”
The governor also dissolved all boards and commissions that are not tenured by law in the state. He is expected to reconstitute the boards and bring in APC members who were not in those boards and commissions.
A statement on the dissolution of the boards and commissions signed by Ugbala read: “In the effort of Ebonyi State government to reposition the government, promote inclusiveness and enhance service delivery, His Excellency, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dr David Nweze Umahi, has approved the immediate dissolution of all Boards and Commissions that are not tenured by law.
“Sequel to this, all the former officials affected by this announcement are directed to hand over all government property in their possession to the Secretary to the State Government and coordinating commissioner before the close of work on Monday 23rd November,.
Please, adhere strictly to this directive”. Meanwhile, Chief Sunday Inyima, the state Commissioner for Water Resources, has debunked insinuations of his resignation from Governor Umahi’s cabinet, saying that he cannot resign on the social media.
Social media, especially Facebook was recently awash with reports of Inyima’s resignation occasioned by Umahi’s defection from the PDP to the APC but the former chairman of Ohaukwu council disclaimed the purported resignation on Saturday, while addressing journalists. He said: “I cannot recollect collecting my appointment letter from Facebook or the radio station, where I purportedly announced my resignation.
Instead, I collected my appointment letter from the governor through the Secretary to the State Government and will follow such channel if I intend to resign. The former commissioner for Lands and Housing said that he did not attend the last State Executive Council meeting because he was attending a World Bank Regional Water Conference in Enugu.
“My absence possibly fueled speculations of my resignation but the trip to Enugu for the conference was approved by the governor. It is unfortunate that our people engage in gossip and backbiting and this was engineered by a particular political office holder from the area.
The fake news of my resignation, however, showed me that I am still relevant and important and I am gratified over it,” he said. He declared his support for the governor’s defection to the APC, noting that it signified a new dawn for the state.
“It is time to connect Ebonyi and the South-East Zone to the national ‘grid’ and make it available where things are shared with other states and zones. We are now operating on an electric high tension and Ebonyi and the South-East Zone are qualified to produce the president of the country,” he said. In the camp of the APC, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Nwoba Chika Nwoba resigned his position.
Nwoba, who was suspended by his Ekpelu Ward of the party, in a statement, expressed gratitude to the APC and its leaders for finding him worthy to be elected to the position in 2018, at the age of 27. He explained that he was leaving the APC because “I cannot work with Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi.”
In another development, the APC Caretaker/ Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) announced the dissolution of the Ebonyi State Working Committee, following the refusal of various factions of the party in the state to withdraw court cases as directed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) and submit to internal party resolution mechanisms initiated by the CECPC.
A statement signed by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, named a 15-member caretaker committee to manage the party’s affairs and carry out the planned membership registration, update and revalidation exercise in Ebonyi State.
The caretaker committee members are the state Commissioner for Internal Security, Stanley Okoro (chairman), John Nwankata (vice chairman, North), Peter Nworie Ndubuisi (vice chairman, Central), Ozoemena Njoku (vice chairman, South), Charles Ofoke (secretary), Ogbonnaya Igboke (organising secretary), Chidi Ogbuatu (publicity secretary) and Ikaa Ukeni (legal adviser).
Others are Paulinus Ali (treasurer), Joseph Ozibo (financial secretary), Ogochukwu David Elem (youth leader), Odo Oluchi Juliet (women leader), Ogbonna David Nshii (auditor), Adum Uchenna Basil (physically challenged) and Francis Obike Nweze (welfare secretary).
Nabena, on behalf of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC, added: “We urge our supporters, members and leaders in Ebonyi State and other chapters to support and work towards the achievement of the peace and reconciliation mandate of the CECPC.”