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Behind complaints of a disillusioned Enugu State House of Assembly against the army

A few days ago, the Enugu State House of Assembly was in the news, after years of unflatteringly idle and comatose legislative existence for all the wrong reasons. One of its principal officers, “Dr” Chinedu Nwamba, who chairs the House Committee on, wait for it, “Public Accounts and Anti-corruption,” rose on the floor of the Assembly with a motion that was designed to chastise what was alleged to be the involvement of the Nigerian army and other security forces, in election manipulation during the March 18, 2023 Governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.

First, I read the stories published in a number of newspapers and blogs. I must confess that since I began to pay attention to the activities of the Enugu State legislative assembly over the past seven years, I have never witnessed such vast coverage and reportage of its activities, populated as it is by a set of people who have acquiesced to the ignoble destiny of executive rubber stamp.

The one and only time I have seen this assembly of people appear busy, was that period a couple of years ago, when they hurriedly moved, in their traditional “Yes, Your Excellency” style, to approve a Bill designed to pay humongous salaries and allowances to former governors, their deputies and spouses. Other than that, you only get to hear these guys towards the end of each year, when the governor stokes them into approving, mostly without question, the annual appropriation bills.

But since the elections, controversial and dubious as it was, of March 18, 2023, the assemblymen have been busy. First, they took ample time to take stock, having realised that the people of Enugu State have, through the sweat, toils, and risks of the ballot, taken the feeding bottle from their mouths. But for the Governorship candidate of their parasitic party, the PDP, nearly all the members of the Assembly have found themselves in sudden retirement, and by May 29, 2023, will have no jobs.

I think the problem of the Enugu State House of Assembly was that in playing this role, the deployment of nonstate actors for election purposes by the PDP got so adversely affected that people like Nwamba, Speaker Ubosi, and many other PDP goons with no real grassroots electoral capital were shown the way out from their underserved entitled dependency on the state

Even as some of them were drunk in melancholic gloat over the pyrrhic victory of Peter Mbah, the Governorship candidate, there was no missing the reality that their future survival will now be solely dependent on the mercies of a Governor they must also be remotely conscious of the precarious state of his INEC-enabled ticket.

And so, they have to make a case for their imperiled existential situation. Hon Nwamba, apparently concerned, shamed is the better word, about his political misfortunes, sponsored a motion where the army was blamed for all the woes that the PDP as a party brought upon itself in Enugu State during the elections.

Thanks to a few friends who shared a copy of the Motion with me, it has become possible for me to appraise the quality of the people that have been responsible for making Laws for the good governance of my people all through the years. Running through the three pages of that motion, it became clear that the members of the Assembly are a bunch of people who are either too illiterate to be trusted with legislating for the people or have over the years, become used to untidy and shoddy ways of life that they do not even retain any respect for the job they do.

I have seen error-prone official documents in my time, but I doubt if I have seen such poorly written, grammatically embarrassing Motion of a House of Assembly before. Right from the very opening paragraph Chinedu Nwamba, who goes around with the prefix, DR, failed to observe the simplest rules of grammar. For someone seeking the attention of the president, he did not need to be reminded to capitalise the name, Federal Republic of Nigeria. For him, it was alright for “federal” to be in small caps, while “Republic of Nigeria” is capitalized.

I do not also know if I should begin to teach a very senior Assembly member the meaning of words. In paragraph five, page two of the Motion in question, “Dr” Nwamba wrote about the “manhandling and FRAGRANT intimidation, especially members and supporters of the people’s (sic) Democratic Party…”

I do not think it is my business if Nwamba chooses to write the name of his own political party in small caps. That is for him to worry about. But everyone should get worried when arrests and intimidation, in Nwamba’s words, become colognes that have “fragrances.” It is shocking the depth of ignorance paraded by people in exalted positions in Nigeria. You would feel like choking when you reflect that such culpable ignorance is being displayed in an educationally advanced state such as Enugu State. That Chinedu Nwamba does not know the difference between FLAGRANT and FRAGRANT is infinitely shameful. It is even worse if anyone attempts to explain this away as a typographic error, because that then goes to show just how unserious the business of law making is taken by this bunch of airheads.

Oyibo no be our language, must be the excuse. But I am sure that if you ask this “honourable member” to write this document, which our children will likely refer to, and cite in the future, in Igbo, he will still struggle.

I do not wish to even question the rather abusive misuse of the word, WHEREAS in the Motion. It was clear to me that it is a parliamentary vocabulary, but I doubt if anyone is allowed to start a sentence with “Whereas” and end without properly infusing the objectification. “Whereas” is a conjunction and in documents such as the Motion “Dr” Nwamba dropped before the House, should end with a semicolon, to indicate that the succeeding paragraphs sustain the thought(s) being expressed.

I doubt if I should continue on this didactic trajectory. The people concerned are not bothered about improving their knowledge anyway. For them, once their pockets are filled to sickening overflow, once they have the people under their feet, what use will knowledge serve?

Chinedu Nwaba, Sponsor of the Motion

But the Motion as presented on the floor of the Enugu State House of Assembly by Chinedu Nwamba is as disgustingly insensitive as it is embarrassingly untrue about what everybody knew happened on election day in Enugu. It is a document littered with contrived alternative facts that constitute putrefying moral burdens to its purveyors while also constituting existential insults to the soul and essence of Enugu State.

I understand why the House of Assembly, including its Speaker, Edward Ubosi is crying. Everyone in Enugu understands this as well. Having seen the handwriting on the wall ahead of time, what the PDP in Enugu State started preparing for was not an election, but a war. Rejected by almost everybody, except the handful of beneficiaries of the government’s prebendalism, it was clear to the party that the only way for them to remain in control was not by the strength of the ballot. They knew that only force and electoral manipulation were going to make them win.

Having been given a troubling foretaste during the Presidential and National Assembly elections where the sitting governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, lost his senatorial contest rather woefully, and seven of the eight House of Representatives seats available in the state went to Labour Party, traditional PDP people began to prepare for war.

Thugs were known to have been hired from far-flung places such as Kogi State, Taraba State, Benue State, and Aguleri in Anambra States. Nearly all the notorious brigands in Enugu State were fully armed and mobilised for the PDP. Videos of hired thugs being driven out of Enugu State Government House on the eve of the election were captured and circulated by disgruntled civil servants. The idea was to ensure that as many of the people as possible who had in mind to vote for Labour Party were kept away from the elections out of fear.

On that election day, the army was never anywhere near the polling booths. They kept a measured distance but stepped in when the hired thugs wanted to do their business. As a matter of fact, the preoccupation of the security agencies on that day was to limit the movement of these hired thugs and prevent, as much as possible, their movement to targeted electoral zones. A clear example was what happened at the Union Primary School, Nsukka, where a known PDP thug, Oliver Ozioko, alias Oliver Plaza, brazenly confiscated the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine meant for that polling unit. Oliver Plaza was captured in a trending video, walking away, with the BVAS machine clutched like a personal diary under his armpit. It took a soldier to stop him and recover the essential voting equipment.

Enugu State was under the perennial infestation of blood-thirty thugs. Three days before the Presidential elections, a Labour Party senatorial candidate, Barr. Oyibo Chukwu was gruesomely assassinated and heartlessly incinerated in Enugu. There were similar, though less devastating attacks on political opponents across the state, and it took the presence of the army to convince the people that it was reasonably safe to leave their houses to cast their ballots.

Speaking of the assassination of Barr Oyibo Chukwu, it was curious that the Motion that was found worthy of presentation in the “harrowed” chambers of the Enugu State House of Assembly was one seeking to chastise the army for doing its job. Chinedu Nwamba and the rest did not think it was proper to observe a minute’s silence in honour of a great son of the state that was so gruesomely murdered. Ditto, the dastardly killings that have turned the streets and pathways of Eha Amufu into rivulets of blood. Such is the (poor) quality thinking of the people who sit in our House of Assembly.

But for the gallant Nigerian soldiers and other security agencies that were on the streets and communities of Enugu on that election day, nobody would have been able to vote, and I give instances.

In Obukpa, thugs were already torching the homes of political opponents on the eve of the election and it took the intervention of the army to restore order. More than 35 armed thugs were apprehended in this town by vigilant soldiers. Some other thugs were also dislodged from a hotel where they were quartered in the same Obukpa. At Onumkpu Ogerenyi, in Obollo Eke, attempts to hand fake uniforms of security agencies to hired thugs were busted by the army. In Owerre Eze Orba, one person who was asking Labour Party supporters to go home or face dire consequences was also dislodged.

In Enugu, there was a video of a PDP stalwart announcing to voters that it was safer for them to go home than remain behind to vote Labour Party. He did not even pretend, and he knew he was being recorded, but continued to threaten voters. In Mbu, thugs of the PDP took over the collation centre long before voting even started and ensured opposition agents were not allowed even a peep. The story of the shameful militarization of the elections in Enugu cannot be complete without mentioning the thugs arrested at the Government Guest House in Ikem, Isi Uzo Local Government Area on the eve of the election. More were arrested on election day, armed to the teeth. A certain report indicated that those arms might have been issued to these agents of destabilisation from the pool of arms purchased by the Enugu State Government for the Enugu State Neighbourhood Watch and the Forest Guard.

Documenting the series of incidents of attempts to thwart the will of the people by the PDP apparatchiks in Enugu using nonstate actors will take pages of painfully revealing literature. What happened at the Cornerstone Primary School, Enugu is well known. What about the incidents in Igbo Eze South Local Government Area, where the results of entire polling booths were confiscated by very senior PDP men? People also know what they did in many areas in Awgu, Aninri, Oji River, Uzo Uwani, Ezeagu, Igbo Etiti, Enugu South Local Government Areas, and then the unhinged desperate and senseless heist at Nkanu East Local Government Area.

I could not help but laugh at the childish attempts by Chinedu Nwamba to condemn the role the army played during the elections, using certain convenient case laws. But my dear Mr. Nwamba, the military did not interfere in the elections in any way. They never got close to any polling unit. The role they played on that day was no different from the roles that they have always played in supporting efforts at ensuring internal security. I am aware that the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has donated sundry operational vehicles for this purpose. Many flashpoints in the state, including major highways, are manned by soldiers at the behest of the state government, and to a great extent, they have helped contain marauding robbers, kidnappers, and other criminals.

I think the problem of the Enugu State House of Assembly was that in playing this role, the deployment of nonstate actors for election purposes by the PDP got so adversely affected that people like Nwamba, Speaker Ubosi, and many other PDP goons with no real grassroots electoral capital were shown the way out from their underserved entitled dependency on the state. They never saw it coming and when it came, it hit them like thunderbolts, forcing them into poorly thought-out reactions.

The people of the state spoke through the ballot and rejected PDP totally. But for the governorship ticket, which is in their captivity, Enugu was already totally liberated, thanks to the efforts of the military at containing the thugs unleashed on the people by a party without soul, without conscience, a party so used to preying on the people they do not realise when posterity is demanding of them honour, rectitude and selfless statesmanship.


Ikem Okuhu is a journalist, a Public Relations professional, brand strategist and teacher. With a career that traversed Print Media, Oil & Gas, Banking and entrepreneurship, Ikem is the author of wave-making book; PITCH: Debunking Marketing’s Strongest Myths, a dispassionate exposition of the dos and don’ts of successful engagement in the marketplace, especially the Nigerian marketplace. He is the founder/publisher of BRANDish, Nigeria’s first nationally circulating Brands and Marketing magazine. He has also handled the PR and reputation management consultancies for a number of brands, businesses and public figures.

  • Chidibere Francis Ezeh

    Crying woof by decoy”. That is my summary of the PDP heavily underperforming legistlative arm in Enugu. For over 7 year’s no action and suddenly in defeated and drunken state they found their low keyed voices. There motion smarks of stark unintelligent and lacks any iota of intellect. This a moment of sober reflection to all men of goodwill that power is indeed transient. Thanks my brother for doing a good job in enlightening us in the above subject matter.

    April 7, 2023 at 7:44 pm Reply

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