– Written by Sam Okoro, a Public Affairs analyst
The Abia chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) on Friday made a startling and damning revelation concerning the unwholesome perspective of the winding down process by the PDP-led administration in the state.
The leadership of the association, which came on a solidarity visit to the Governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti, in his Umuehim Nvosi Isialangwa Village, was armed with a petition about the mind-blowing thievery and destruction of government property at the Aba General Hospital.
The petition, entitled “Doctors alert Abia Governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti, on the looting at the Aba General Hospital, was signed by the state
Chairman and Secretary, Dr Isaiah Abali and Dr Daniel Ekeleme.
The association alleged the wanton looting and destruction of government property in the hospital, ahead of the imminent change of government in the state.
It, therefore, called on the governor-elect “to ensure that he restores the hospital to its once envious status as the foremost health facility in Abia”.
It stated: “This is a hospital that predates most of the doctors in Abia and a centre that has contributed tremendously to the health care of the inhabitants and its environs.
“We urge your incoming government to do its best in the restoration of this once great facility.”
Part of the petition reads: “Sir, it is disheartening and alarming how the landmass of the teaching hospital, Aba has been eroded on a steady basis over the years as different portions have been given to cronies of the outgoing administration.
“Presently, a gigantic structure is sitting right in front of the hospital, a private structure erected on the hospital land.
“It is even more appaling to hear that the structure is a private hospital.
“Sir, it is unprecedented. We wish that you could address this issue and others like this once you officially assume office.”
Ironically, the revelation by the medical doctors coincided with the recent alarm raised by a senior government official about the alleged looting spree at the Government House.
The official told newsmen on the condition of anonymity that government property was mindlessly being looted on a daily basis with government vehicles that were escorted by armed police personnel in Hilux vans.
The source further said that the stealing was more prevalent in the Office of the Governor, his Deputy and Office of the Governor’s Wife, even in broad daylight.
Unfortunately, while Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, characteristically looks the other way as the looting persists, the Deputy Governor, Chief Ude Oko Chukwu, was said to have long abandoned his office for Ikpeazu and his Ukwa-la-Ngwa kit and kin, who now enjoy a field day, doing the final clean up, with the Deputy Chief of Staff, Don Ubani, supervising the odious and obviously demeaning act.
“Never in the history of the state since its creation in 1991
have we witnessed this level of stealing of government property on the eve of a transition from one administration to another,” the government source said.
It further alleged that a similar criminal act was also happening at the Commissioners’ Quarters, ministries and government establishments.
It listed the items largely looted to include office furniture and equiment, such as plasma television sets, split unit airconditioners, fans, computer sets, printers, photocopiers, generaring sets, water tanks and water dispensers, among others purchased with government’s funds.
It was also learnt that the nefarious act began in January but was intensified immediately after the governorship election result was declared on March 23.
“The day Alex Otti was announced the winner of the governorship poll, many terrible things happened here at the Government House.
“Top government officials engaged in wanton removal of both personal and government property, as if war broke out,” the source further said.
Meanwhile, some rights activists in the state have risen to the challenge to boldly and sarcastically kick against the ugly development, occurring in the twilight of Ikpeazu’s uninspiring eight-year administration.
They condemned the act and the dramatis personae in very strong terms, describing the looting as the height of “deliberate sabotage” against the state and incoming administration.
The Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Aba chapter, Prof. Charles Chinekezi, blamed the development on adopted attitudinal behaviour of long years of looting without consequences.
Chinekezi stated: “Abia people are not surprised at criminal antics of the officers and appointees of outgoing PDP government in the state
“The euphoria from 24 years of mass looting and no consequences has left them senseless and partially insane, so there must be correctional consequences.
“The larger population clearly understands the group is made up of large scale looters across board.
“But these shameless public thieves must have in mind that not one item belonging to Abia people will not be accounted for to the last letter.
“Because the era of impunity has actually come to an end.
“Because all Abia people are their victims collectively, the public should provide needed information to track the looted items and looters themselves to members of the incoming government, human rights groups and the police for proper action after May 29, 2023.”
The fiery activist identified the stolen items as government vehicles, electronics, machines, power generators and furniture.
He further alleged that certain unscrupulous commissioners had, in the spirit of the looting escapade, appropriated and shared public property, including buildings and undeveloped lands, amongst themselves, with Don Ubani, shamelessly and callously calling the shot.
He warned that the “madness must stop for Abia to have a positive direction”.
In a similar vein, the state chapter of the Human Rights Cum Activists Office, decried the abominable act of stealing of government property.
In a statement by the organisation’s
Secretary, Mrs Azodo Roseline, the body described the phenomenon as condenmable.
As the sun finally set on Abia PDP and its chieftains sobbingly and sorrowfully count down to the irreversible May 29 terminal date, the good people of the state, call for an immediate end to the looting jamboree.
They also expect the incoming government to retrospect on the ignoble act and take decisive measures – orthodox or otherwise – to recover all that were brazenly and rascally stolen by top actors of a callous and insensitive administration.
The next government must muster the political muscle to bring commissioners and heads of government agencies to account for inventoried properties of their various ministries and establishments before and after the May 29 handover.
According to Chinekezie, the “madness” should not be allowed to disappear with the winds “without consequences”.
There must be consequences for every action – positive or negative.
Sam Okoro writes from Umuahia.