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REVELATION TIME (ABIA): Obinna Oriaku Reveals How Aides To Gov. Ikpeazu Ganged Up Against Him

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In this write up below, former Abia State Commissioner for Finance Honorable Obinna Oriaku gave an insight into that battle that ensued after he accepted the offer to be Govenor Okezie Ikpeazu Chief of Staff.

 

 

Appointment as the Chief-Of-Staff And Associated Politics.

 

 

Before the 2019 general elections, there was serious gang up against the name Obinna Oriaku by the inner cabinet members of Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration over my firm position on how things should be done to guarantee the change we wanted .

 

Unfortunately, some politicians, civil servants and some misguided appointees had one reason or the other to be against me. It was a gang up of a few but they were inner caucus stakeholders of the Ikpeazu government.    

In retrospect,beyond normal interest shown at the early stages of who wins the  Governorship nomination ,my first contact with Abia State government in 2015 stemmed from a  formal request from the Abia state  government to my employer, First bank of Nigeria Ltd , requesting for my services. Having served successive governments of Dr Chimaroke Nnamani and Barr Sullivan Chime as offical banker and member of their economic team the government perhaps felt I could be useful to the economic tink tank of the Ikpeazu administration. The  arrangement was facilitated by our then Group Managing Director Elder UK Ekeh, a passionate Abian whom I will ever remain grateful to .

 

Consequent to the successful negotiations First bank seconded me to Abia and graciously approved a four year contract with Abia State government, on a probono(Abia never paid my salary)status with an option of renewal.So, I was not a liability to Abia state but an asset. I didn’t either come in as a politician but as a technocrat.May be I should give the credit of my present political consciousness to Governor Ikpeazu.

 

Since the expiration of my contract with Abia state was sometime in June 2019, the option of either return to First Bank or renew the appointment was left between the state government led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and i.  However, the Governor insisted I stay back to provide leadership until he reconstitute his Exco.He once rhetorically asked me “Who are you leaving the government for? “

 

Though I had always noticed the subtle gang ups and calumny against me,  as many were obviously unhappy with the economic reforms that I championed,I still trudged on believing that the governor will protect me since I was convinced I had his support and mandate in all I did which I don’t regret even till date .

 

The bubble however, busted when the governor dissolved the State Executives with only six members left to keep functioning till May, 29th, 2019. Some of which included; Hon. Eziuche Ubani, Hon. Emma Nwabuko, Hon John Okiyi Kalu and an aide to the Governor, Chineye Nwogu etc. The team was saddled with the responsibility of reviewing all contracts and jobs done within the first tenure and thereafter forward  recommendations to the governor. 

 

The team only met twice and was disbanded because Chinenye Nwogu had deliberately lied to the Governor,who was then in far away China, that I and his men in the team were only identifying jobs that were poorly executed, positing that such exposure would land the government in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC. The committee was startled that such a lie could be fabricated by a member for reasons they could not fathom.

 

We understood Chinenye’s visciousness because the committee had copiously interrogated his management of the N200m loan secured from a commercial bank for the then non existing Abia Micro Finance bank without following due process .

 

As if the above was a baptism of fire, the rank of those that wanted Oriaku out of government kept swelling on daily basis until it became fashionable to be identified as one of those against the Commissioner for Finance. 

Before now, many who were related to the Governor especially those from his local government had openly bragged and vowed that the Commissioner for Finance will be heading back to his office at the bank, as he will never make the new government.  

 

The decision of the anti-Obinna group was to build unfounded tales of mendacity around his stewardship as the Commissioner for Finance.  They came up with lots of unfounded stories, ranging from selective payment of contractors, outright refusal to carry out the Governor’s instructions and spurious allegations that he was richer than the State and the Governor, among others.

 

They deployed both social and mainstream media to carry out their ploy and character assassination. It was an expensive venture both ways because I was poised to refute their allegations as silence is never golden in Abia.

 

On a particular day six national newspapers and sixteen bloggers carried news about how Obinna Oriaku had become the problem of the state and how things will improve including payment of salaries, pensions and contractors, once he is edged out of government. My bank officials drew my attention to the publications  which I reported to the Governor and he assured me that I will be vindicated in the end.

 

On 28th of May, 2019, being the eve of the swearing-in ceremony, the Governor invited me to the lodge at Umuahia and insisted I must wait to see him no matter how late . While waiting to see him, the Head of Service walked in with a mail seeking his approval for the dissolution of the remaining 6 exco members.

 

By 1am of 29th, we met at the back end of the Governor’s lodge, Umuahia  commonly called “Sahindrine”.He asked that we review the last four years and identify areas we failed and areas that needed improvement as we move into the second tenure. I was able to point out the areas I felt we failed especially after the death of then Chief of Staff, Chijoke Nwakodo; as many hawks who were not part of the  conceptualisation and visioning of the Abia we wanted took over center stage . He concluded from my analysis that the absence of a functional or substantive Chief of Staff was a major factor, aside other issues which we all  agreed .

 

As we rose from that meeting, he inquired if i am asked to make a choice of continuing as Commissioner for Finance or to take up the position as Chief of Staff. I requested to be given a few minutes to discuss with my wife who had arrived from Enugu for the swearing-in ceremony and was waiting at Austin Ogbonna of DSS’s office in same building.  The Governor insisted I give him answer immediately. I then told him that considering the threats, noise and anger of some of our brothers about my style in managing the State resources and for my own safety that I will prefer the Chief of Staff position which is more administrative. The Governor was excited about my choice .  

 

I had asked when the announcement will be made official which he said would be next day, 30th of May, 2019 and we agreed to keep the discussion within ourselves pending the offical announcement. The Governor left to join Raymond Aliga and Rt Hon  Acho Nwakanma who were still waiting in the seating room.

 

After the swearing-in, I waited for the announcement as days turned  to weeks and months . It was later I realised that same Chief of Staff position had been offered to two other close aides of the Governor. It was alleged that the governor’s dispositions to me angered some who had insisted that I must go or the State will burn.

 

This “war” divided what can be called the “kitchen cabinet” of the Governor as our group led by myself called the Integrity Group and the other group led by our other brothers struggled over the soul of the new  administration. They re-stretegized on their blackmail media approach as they recruited more people who were willing tools, and huge sum was budgeted for the  purpose of fighting Obinna for that position. 

 

One of the Governor’s close  friends was the first to break the news to me that the Governor has just informed him that I have been chosen as his Chief of Staff, followed by another close friend of the governor. Infact they all congratulated me. 

 

Few days later, I met the Governor at Umuobaikwa and asked why he told these people when we agreed to keep it secret until official announcement,he said he deliberately let out the news in preparation for the official announcement. 

 

The  intrigues on the appointment continued as the Governor assured that  he was reaching out to placate some who felt I stepped on their toes and  “owners of the state” in carrying out my function as Commissioner for Finance. 

 

Within this period, the management of First Bank led by the Executive Director North visited the Governor at Abuja lodge and inquired about my future as the first tenure had ended. The Governor in my presence assured them that I had already started my job as Chief of Staff hence, I was with him to attend World Bank meeting. He gave the same answer  to the current Deputy Managing Director of Zenith bank when she inquired. 

The Governor further set up a 10 man  committee headed by De Chinwe Nwanganga to identify and advice on the reasons for the gang up against Oriaku by the three major gladiators who incidentally were close aides of the Governor. 

 

I appeared before the committee and told them that my issues with all of them had to do with my management style which I strongly believe is the best approach if we must make positive impact and my position about how government funds should be used. The other people also appeared before the committee but the final report by Dee Chinwe which reinforced my position did not go down well with many of the committee members.

 

This back and forth continued for almost 6 months without a substantive Chief of staff; the Governor while in far away China announced Prof  Agbazuere as his Chief of staff. The rest they say is history.

 

It is instructive to point out that I never solicited for support from anybody to be made the Chief of Staff and was never desperate especially as I had the assurance of the Governor. Unfortunately,all those involved in that game of conspiracy suddenly have all fallen apart till date, they hardly see eye ball to eye ball. They never lasted to share the spoils of war .

 

The honeymoon never lasted more than 8 months after Oriaku left before they all went their separate ways till date. Dont conspire against someone who is innocent and has enough Grace .

 

Without sounding immodest, I doubt if the Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu led  administration has survived that avoidable war among brothers who were supposed to work together and make a difference in the state and the resultant effect is what we see today. It is left for us to compare how we fared in the first tenure with all the distractions/ litigations and this last tenure.

 

I thank God for His  grace to have survived all that were lined up ahead of me in that struggle. If I had gone like others, My story would have been forgotten like those ahead of me. Thank God, who sees the end from the beginning. Today I can see why God allowed all to happen. I have sincerely forgiven everybody involved including my immediate brothers in that blackmail, and conspiracy game as many have openly apologized for all what happened during that time . 

 

Obinna Oriaku

Ekwe Dike 

21/12/22

 

Culled from my unpublished book. My experience in government….

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