OPINION: Obaseki: It’s You

L-R Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu Governorship Candidate Of the APC, The Oba of Benin, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II and Governor of Edo State and Governorship Candidate of the PDP Godwin Obaseki

It’s you and your Deputy Governor the revered Benin Monarch pointedly got under your skins as pocket tyrants, a few days ago to “sheath your swords” as the aggressors as Edo match towards September 19th guber election in the interest of peace.

It’s you, who on your inauguration day in 2016 laurelled Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as your mentor and celebrated his government to high Heaven as the best thing that has happened to Edo State.

It’s you who is screaming blue murder over Oshiomhole’s refusal to adopt you in 2020 and proceeded to acquire Governor Nyesom Wike as your new godfather.

It’s you who shouted, “APC wants me to share the money” until your new godfather in Port Harcourt shouted “PDP National Working Committee (NWC) are “tax collector” by collecting N15b from you to purchase the party’s worthless ticket. 

It’s you who recently collected a $75m world bank loan after you earlier this year collected another facility through SIFTAS, another world bank loan that evaporated, even when Edo State is the second most indebted state in Nigeria, after Lagos. 

It’s you who debased and viciously asphyxiate education in Edo State by shutting down Colleges of Agriculture Iguoriakhi, Tayo Akpata University Ekiadolor, Pa Imoudu’s Institute of Sports Afuze, College of Education Abudu, Institute of Continued (ICE) Benin City, and the three schools of nursing in Benin City. 

It’s you who’s administration shut down College of Agriculture Iguoriakhi by terminating the academic career of the students in the institution, sending the workers in the college into the labor market, in spite of your pretense about job creation at the same time ignoring court judgment directing you to reinstate the workers and reopen the school. 

It’s you who avert your attention cruelly seeing that Edo state has lost 40% of its teaching workforce to retirement and death, yet your government refused to embark on the new recruitment exercise.

It’s you who ignored the recruitment of teachers and saw the appointments of over 1000 SSAs more important than the engagement of teachers, at the same time laying claims to the nonexistent EdoBEST fake educational policy.

It’s you who fantasizes about human capital development, yet 3-year down the road your government is reputed for mercilessly shutting down all major higher institutions in the state, aside Ambrose Ali University (AAU), Ekpoma.

It’s you in 2018 who got your EXCO to approved the sum of N700m as contribution to the modular refinery at Ologbo where records show that the cost of the refinery is $10m and N700m amount to 0.02%, yet you claim the ownership of the refinery for the state. 

It’s you who’s government claims to have bought into Edo Modular Refinery in Ologbo, to the tune of N700m, the refinery being built at an initial cost of $10m while equity stakes of Edo State government are less than 20%, yet you come short of clarifying to Edo people that the private majority owner of this modular refinery is not a proxy company belonging to you and your friends. 

It’s you who undertake the fraudulent refinery voyage without spelling out under which law of the state the project’s investment choreographed by your government will benefit the indigenous Edo people. 

It’s you who, after nearly 4 years in office your government has not been able to promulgate the laws of Edo State and has therefore resorted to the use of laws of Bendel State and in most cases, the laws of the Mid-West Region in the year 2020.

It’s you who has refused to buy official vehicles for serving Magistrates and Area Court Presidents; thereby subjecting judicial officers to undue influence, creating the avenues for manipulation and subversion of justice. 

It’s you who promised 192 health care centers; got EXCO to approve 22 mini stadia across the state, yet there are no mini stadia anywhere only a miserable 22 PHC amounting to 11.4%, suggesting woeful failure.

It’s you who the central promise of your 2016 election campaign was built around continuing the programmes and policy of the immediate past administration under which you served as Chief Economic Adviser, yet the last three and half years of your administration has been breach of your own campaign pledge to Edo people.

It’s you who promised to create 200,000 jobs in your campaign in 2016 without any specific target number of jobs to be created if reelected, baring the fact that your first four years is a complete swindle and depravity. 

It’s you who’s government has fanned out the running of the new complex of Edo State Specialist Hospital to a private venture without public knowledge of under the legal framework of the state the decision to fan out the new complex to private venture is premised. 

It’s you whose government has been dramatising about people-inclusive administration, yet the less-privileged in the state can’t be treated in that health facility today under the shrouded private management arrangement. 

It’s you who abandoned the state capital and other major cities in the state to be washed away by flood and erosion plague, yet the last three and half years of your administration has been used to prosecute political battles, thereby forgetting the crucial Benin Storm Water project.

It’s you who parrots the preeminence of education in civil society as one of the critical sectors of nation-building, yet your government hasn’t recruited a single teacher for public schools in the 3-plus-year since you became Governor.

It’s you whose administration has been criticized for building substandard roads, most of which are without drains and sidewalks and, without supervision whatsoever, coupled with the charge that one company owned by your personal friend, Mr. Dele Edokpayi, is responsible for these mushroom road construction activities. 

It’s you who all members of the State House of Assembly are from the same political party under whose ticket you became Governor, yet your glory in the exclusion of legislative democracy as against the overall benefit of good governance in Edo State.

It’s you who increased the security votes of your administration from N500m to N800m per month, yet the state continued to play host to criminal elements, with reports of kidnapping, murder, armed banditry everywhere, even when neighbouring states have initiated alternative approach to securing public safety and public order, using vigilante outfits across the local government areas, while your administration ignored admonition to explored workable option. 

It’s you who have been accused of importing non-indigenes as your handlers in government; namely, your PA is from Delta State, the manager of the Specialist Hospital is from Delta State, your personal photographer is from Ogun State, the contractors handling the secretariat complex renovation is Lebanese, the official cook for all official events are from Lagos, without any commitment or intention to build local capacity and content, yet your new mantra is Edo is not Lagos.

It’s you who made 25 trips to India, China, Belgium, and other countries in search of investors between 2017 and 2019 without attracting investors into the state, not even the much talked about Gelegele Sea Port or the industrial park for which Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was deceived to lay the groundbreaking ceremony. 

It’s you whose MOUs government promised the people of Edo State that you will build a brand new museum within 20 months, beginning from 2017, yet Edo people are still waiting for the status of the new museums.

It’s you, who in your campaigns recently labeled APC as a failed party without any achievement forgetting that you have been the governor under the APC in Edo State until June, 2020.

It’s you whose government the National Bureau of Statistics stated in their last week report that Edo State did not record fresh investments in the last few months, contrary to your claims that Edo State ranks best among the comity of state in the country as an investment hub.

It’s you whose claims of creating 200,000 jobs have not resulted in a jump in your PAYE Tax collection by the EIRS, yet you’re not telling Edo people whether the phony new jobs are tax exempted or not.

It’s you who promised to eliminate thuggery in the state, but under your watch thuggery and hooliganism witnessed a climatic upsurge and the crime rate is at his highest peak with your designated head hunters, roaming the city center, unchallenged.

It’s you and your Deputy Governor who mobilized thugs to vandalized the State House of Assembly in broad daylight and tipping stone at the entrance of the assembly complex, yet still striving up till to date to have the seven thugs caught with arms and ammunition in police custody released. 

It’s you whose messiness of Edo State’s democratic process wrecks of fraud, brazenness and banality.
Yes, It’s you, indeed!

By Erasmus Ikhide,  a journalist and communication expert writes from Lagos

Follow him on twitter @ErasmusIkhide1

NNPC: Setting The Records Straight By Erasmus Ikhide

L-R GMD NNPC Mele Kolo Kyari in a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari

LEGENDARY author Chinua Achebe once echoed the eternal phrase that “if you don’t like someone’s story, please write your own”. It doesn’t add up in climes like ours that every now and then we throw stones at maladministration and official graft, yet never make conscious efforts to effect a positive change when given opportunity to lead.

It is common place for many at the helm of affairs in MDAs and parastatals to reinforce failure, but there are some conspicuous ‘few’ such as Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, who have vowed not to disappoint themselves and the nation as well.

They come prepared because success is when preparation meets opportunity. Christopher Columbus was not a fool when he warned that you can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Without being economical with the truth, it is a fact that many are wont to raise their eyebrows just at the mention of NNPC because the corporation is widely regarded as a cesspool of corruption, a cash cow that feeds the insatiable greed of those who found themselves calling the shots there.

Yes! A cesspool of corruption in a nation where joblessness, poverty and insecurity remained unchecked. A nation where tens of thousands and millions of children of school age roam the streets freely, begging for bread and constituting public nuisance. A nation where billions of dollars allegedly disappeared from the NNPC, still unaccounted for.

In fact, the downtrodden on the streets of Nyanya, Abuja, will readily appraise anyone working at the NNPC as a millionaire because the rogues fleecing the nation of its resources are predominant there.

This may explain why President Muhammadu Buhari couldn’t trust any other Nigerian with the Ministry of Petroleum and decided to make himself the acting Minister of Petroleum. But with the benefit of evidence, one can state here that the coming of Mele Kyari promises to change that ugly narrative for the better as far as the NNPC is concerned.

For the first time in June 2020, he killed one medusa by publishing the 2018 Audited Financial Statement of the NNPC. The statement covered all the 20-plus subsidiaries in the NNPC group. It was the first time in 43 years NNPC accounts would be audited and published for scrutiny!

Before then unaudited monthly financial and operational reports were published, but Kyari is the first Group Managing Director, GMD, to subject the accounts to an independent audit. However, sarcastically, the audited accounts exposed the very reason why previous GMDs failed to embark on such a suicide mission. The NNPC reports were usually calamitous.

Again, Mele deserves an applause for taking the bull by the horn and exposing the drains through which our common patrimony was distributed among the few. Mahatma Ghandi posited that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.

In the light of this, Mele Kyari scored another A1 by mediating and securing a truce between Almighty Shell/Belema oil, operators of OML 25 and the oil well’s host communities in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. This happened just a few weeks of assuming office in July 2019.

Addressing conflicts with oil-producing communities in the oil-rich Niger Delta region is a sine qua non for stable oil production capacity which in the long run will translate into millions of dollars needed by the country to service its recurrent expenditures, capital infrastructures and huge debt burdens. Luckily enough, crude oil production under his watch has continued to sky rocket. The NNPC under his eagle-eye also executed the NPDC OML 65 project which should generate more revenue and create jobs in the areas of operation.

The NNPC under his proactive leadership has continued to canvass for a shift in the mono-cultural economy of the country; this is hinged on the impact of COVID-19 which has reduced the demand for oil and made oil prices to plummet. In a tweet on August 19, 2020, Mele asserted thus: “A year ago, #NPDC was producing around 136,000 bpd. Today, we are doing 260,000 bopd. This is a magnificent growth in any upstream company. Our target is to grow this to 500,000 bpd. This is possible within two   years as we have lined up projects to achieve that “. Impressive!

He posits again in the accompanying tweets that “#NPDC is a top grade company that’s producing oil at a cost cheaper than most of its competitors. This is part of our target of bringing down the cost of production to $10/barrel. We are using the #NPDC as a benchmark so that once it delivers, every other company must deliver”.

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, is a fully-owned subsidiary of the NNPC engaging in oil and gas exploration and production activities in the hydrocarbon-rich regions of coastal Nigeria, both onshore and offshore. Under Mele’s supervision, the NPDC has become the largest producer of gas in Nigeria.

Another milestone is that Mele’s NNPC is breaking new frontiers with its partnership with Akwa Ibom State government to establish a logistics base in Ibaka. This is part of the efforts to develop capacity and grow local content.

The project is sited on a 2000 acres of land contributed by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. Hear Governor Emmanuel on transparency at the NNPC: “Since I became a member of the National Economic Council, I have had cause to interact closely with the oil and gas industry.

I want to tell you that we are feeling the positive impact of the present NNPC board and management in terms of accountability and transparency (and especially) in financial reporting.

We hope that they keep this up”. What can be more sterling than this unreserved commendation to NNPC- led leadership. Simultaneously, the NNPC exported $378.42m worth of crude oil and gas in June 2020 and thus earned $4.60bn from crude oil sale in one year.

These figures were contained in the NNPC June 2020 monthly financial and operations report! The uninterrupted fuel supply in the country in recent times is a testament of Mele’s innovativeness. Prior to his appointment, hiccups in the supply of petroleum products were a common feature in the Nigerian economy.

The incessant disruptions in fuel supply affected Nigerians’ ability to plan effectively. They could not predict when the next fuel scarcity would hit the country and families were often on panic mode, spending days and nights in long fuel queues at filling stations.

But that is no longer the case, thanks to Mele’s managerial acumen. His midas touch can also be seen in the commissioning of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, gas pipeline which had been a story for the gods since the 1980s.

To mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the people, the NNPC under Mele introduced the launch of a Petroleum Industry Intervention Fund which garnered a pledge of N21billion and is being used to fund medical interventions across the country’s six geo-political zones.

These include ongoing construction of an infectious Disease Hospital in Maiduguri, Borno State and partnership with ThisDay Media Group, Sahara Energy, the CBN and others to build the 230-bed ThisDay COVID-19 isolation, recovery and treatment centre in Abuja.

Though the NNPC is not out of the woods yet, it is safe to applaud the guts of a GMD who aspires to clean the augean stable instead of being an impotent king at the NNPC Towers. Ikhide, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos