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Soludo: Passing six no be passing sense

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By Sunny Igboanugo

 

Last month or so, Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, was on Politics Today, the popular current affairs programme on Channels Television. There, his host, had asked him a direct question about his choice between Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi, of the Labour Party (LP), both contesting for presidency in 2023. It could have been an attempt to corner or bait him, in some way, for maximum effect, as journalists are trained to do.

But beating the former Governor of Anambra State, two-time Senator and now Minister in the game of politics is akin to carrying coal to New Castle, or selling snow to the Eskimos. Trust the old political horse, to see through the obvious trap. Adept and well pruned, he cleverly did the needful – jump and pass – as the local people would say.

I have my PVC, I have only one vote. On election day, I’ll go and cast it for a candidate of my choice.”

Now, Ngige, is a serving Minister on the platform of the ruling APC. But he is from Anambra State. Not only that he’s one of the most prominent Igbo men alive today. Given that the generation before him, which tried and failed, is fast receding and thinning out, he shares in the burden of producing an Igbo man as President of Nigeria. So, between party loyalty and that onerous duty, lies the imperative of emotional intelligence. How far critics faulted him for being reticence, during that outing, would therefore be hinged on how such individual appreciated his peculiar circumstances, or politics in general.

Don’t forget the story of Obi and Ngige,  which is supposed to make them the bitterest political enemies there is. Indeed they are, actually. They don’t see eye to eye, politically speaking. But there is a limit when it comes to the larger picture. That’s what the Minister, seems to underscore and for which history would record him at the appropriate time, for recognising the dictum – all politics are local.

Even Dave Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State, Emeka Ihedioha, former Governor of Imo, seem to be at home with this reality also. Regrettably, Chukwuma Soludo, the current Governor of Anambra State doesn’t. His outing on Channels Television on Thursday, October 10, 2022, exactly a month after Ngige underscore that much. It was the direct opposite of Ngige. Such tactlessness, naivety and total lack of emotional intelligence! For a man who is supposed to be the current father of Anambra State and the bastion upon which the Obi campaign ought to rest on! Terrible.

Hear him on the programme, few hours after presenting a N258.97bn 2023 budget proposal to the Anambra State House of Assembly in Awka, Soludo told his host on the programme: “I think there was something I read about somebody speculating about whatever investment. With what I’ve seen today, the value of those investments is worth next to nothing. So, let’s leave that aside.”

See the background. Obi arrived office in 2006 with a clear economic template. He decided to keep a fraction of the yearly state revenue as savings as part of its template for long-term economic programme. This was to be followed with investments in businesses with potentials for yielding high dividends that would add to the financial pool.

His thinking was actually tailored at recreating the magical economic feats of countries like China and other Asian Tigers – a strong financial husbandry – a pool of funds the state would rely on in future as a bulwark for massive investments and expansion of the industrial base to the extent that it wouldn’t have to rely anymore on the federal allocations that comes at the end of the month, but transform Anambra into a model of a distinct, self-sustaining entity of an economic hub, not only in Nigeria, but even Africa.

In other words, the investments and savings were never meant for his own government, but his successors, giving that he had just eight years, maximum to be in office. By the time he was exiting office, he had a huge reservoir of N75billion, captured in local and foreign currencies at various banks.

Outside other investments totalling N27billion, in such entities as Nigerian Independent Power Project (NIPP), of N9billion and Orient Petroleum of N4billion, among others, he made a huge input into the SabMiller company, a local offshoot of the International Breweries Limited, totalling $12.5million as one of the landmark achievements in this regard.

Now, this is what Soludo, completely rubbished. In fact, the controversy, had started when months ago, the governor had to come out openly to debunk a story credited to Obi that the SabMiller investment, had grown to $100million. It has not been confirmed that the former governor actually made the claim. Nonetheless, the vehemence with which Soludo, who practically came out smoking, went about the rebuttal, raised not a few eyebrows about his intentions.

It is against this background that the Thursday outing is being situated. What was the governor up and about with those snide comments and scornful body language for? What purpose were those sneering, contemptuous and disdainful dismissal of Obi’s efforts meant to achieve?

Now, you don’t need to look further for the answer. It lies in one element – politics. How? Well, this was the selfsame Soludo, who in September 2021, acknowledged the sterling performance of Obi in the state. During the governorship debate prior to his election, when the issue of the former governor’s achievements came up, the same Soludo, rather than dismiss, actually hugged them with pride, only that he argued that the feats were achieved as governor of the All Progressives Congress (APGA).

JUST IN: Peter Obi visits Soludo

 

He couldn’t bring himself to cricise Obi then, knowing the consequences, but rather retorted – yes, those achievements were made because he was implementing APGA programmes. What has changed between then and now that the mention of Obi’s name, would conduce such obvious disdain?

As he had always argued, if he were any other Nigerian governor, he would have pocketed the money he lodged in those investments and savings and heavens wouldn’t fall. After all, Nigerians were witnesses to how Willie Obiano, his immediate successor sweated it out in the confines of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the exact day he handed over and tried to sneak out of Nigeria.

Has anyone heard about the case again? With the frenzy created initially, anyone would have thought that Obiano would be in and out of the courts trying to extricate himself from the allegations of monumental pillaging of the commonwealth of Anambra, he was accused of. Obi never suffered such indignity, either as governor or any other public office he has held, including as Chairman of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

So, where did he go wrong? That he decided to invest money and not steal it or that he saved for posterity and not steal same? Intriguingly, Soludo, a supposed world-class economist, who ought to be at home with figures, should have told his audience, what the investments were worth, even if just one kobo. But did he?

By implication, he appears to be telling the world that Chief Obafemi Awolowo is to be blamed for the collapse of the O’odua Investment Group (OIG), and the companies under it that saw the rapid growth of Western Region at his time, including the effortless prosecution of free education or that Saduana of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, should similarly be blamed for the collapse of the Kaduna Textile established by then Northern Nigerian Development Company (NNDC) or that Michael Okpara should be assailed for the the parlous situation of Golden Guinea Brewery, Nigercem or Hotel Presidential Enugu.

Anyway, the governor should be told by those close to him that hiding under one finger is impossible. He should quit being clever by half, because no one can eat a crab in secret. The walls have ears and what is hidden in the dark is usually exposed by light. Many know where he’s coming and that road has been trod in the past.

We hear that he has been promised that he would be the next President if only he could scuttle Obi’s chances. It was said that immediately he showed early signs of supporting Obi, including offering him the Anambra Government House to launch his campaign, the hounds moved in to sow the evil seed of ambition in his heart. Don’t you know you’re the one we’re preparing for the job? That was it. Like Macbeth, whose vaulting ambition led astray, our governor has not relented in providing his own bit to the massive plot to stop Obi, ever since.

How sad that in his obvious blindness, he couldn’t hear that the same promise is being made to his compatriots next door by the same people. Sadder still is that he couldn’t even recollect the fate of others before him. But ambition is a deadly phenomenon sometimes.

Our governor, my governor, must however not forget that though envy and jealousy made the brothers of Joseph throw him into a well and later sold him as slave, God gave him authority with which he saved Israel. That Soludo, doesn’t see the hand of God in Obi’s present journey, even with his education, is what beats me. But, passing six no be passing sense!

Igboanugo, a Publisher of Whirlwindnews, wrote from Lagos

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Soludo: Dangers of Ezeonyeagwanam and Amachamiheuwa

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By Sunny Igboanugo

 

Two things! Have you heard the stories around the mythology of Ezeonyeagwanam and Amachamiheuwa. Both are two well-pronounced Igbo concepts, which find expressions in some sort of elevated societal structures. You have to be a man of certain level of means before you could take the title or assume the toga of ezeonyeagwanam successfully. You couldn’t be a commoner and be ezeonyeagwanam. It is either you are feared or respected.

In the same vain, you cannot be a dunce and answer amachamiheuwa. So, ordinarily, where both derive their origin – knowledge and power ought to be good enough to earn respect for their inherent positive nature. Who wouldn’t want to be respected and who doesn’t want to have knowledge? It is the excess the ideas connote that become the problem.

Yes! Ezeonyeagwanam, the king who forbade people from speaking to or correcting him, went to toilet where his robe was smeared, but because of his injunction, attracted public ridicules as flies followed him into the public square without his subjects alerting him. On the other hand,  amachamiheuwa, claimed so much wisdom that he tied his yam on his beard, only for a slight fire to claim both the beard and the yam. Both tragic stories, you might say! But the connote quite instructive lessons.

If you become too arrogant with your authority that nobody could approach you outside court jesters and sycophants or too wise as to become uncontrollable, impenetrable and impervious to advice, then power, authority and knowledge become problems to you and you in turn become a problem to your surrounding and ultimately, the society at large.

Many leaders, who turned out monsters in power in history, were ordinarily good men, who lost it simply because they allowed themselves to degenerate to the level of ezeonyeagwanam and amachamiheuwa. I’ve told this story a thousand times probably, but I’ll tell it again for obvious reason.

Back then, as a journalist in this state, I used to have this governor friend of mine. We were friends and ran things together before he became governor, so there was really no gap between us. In the early days, there was a standing instruction to his security that I must have unrestricted access to him at any point. Of course his securitymen were aware of our relationship. So, most evenings, I ended up at the governor’s lodge before heading home, most times into the late nights, because on many occasions, we rarely had the opportunity of private talks till very late because of the traffic.

So, it was one of such occasions as we were chatting privately that I brought up the issue of the demonstration that took place in the state earlier in the afternoon. What demonstration? he asked. He obviously was not aware. Then I took time to fill him in on the issue. He practically dropped the glass in his hand when I told him that we had actually filed the story. Then, he said something that amused me – “I’ll be here one day and they’ll come and carry me o without anyone telling me.”

That moment, he summonsed a cabinet meeting, calling everyone himself. But the intriguing thing was when the next morning, one of his commissioners, a friend of mine equally came to my office and we reviewed the activities of the previous night. “Don’t you know your friend again. You could lose your job outright, if he was in a bad mood and you became the harbinger of such bad news,” was how he put it.

Of course, he didn’t have to tell me. I knew “my friend” enough to acknowledge what the commissioner was talking about. Of course, before the end of his first tenure and into the second and final lap,  the destructive effect of  Ezeonyeagwanam and Amachamiheuwa had taken so much root he practically became a monster such that the main character in the epic – Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, could easily be taken as a learner.

I don’t want to recount the atrocities associated to him to the extent that even murders committed in other states, were attributed to him. Yet, this was one of the kindest and tenderest persons I’d met in authority. At the ordinary level Ezeonyeagwanam and Amachamiheuwa, could be controlled. But they could conduce such terrible outcomes when combined with raw power, especially the type we have in Nigeria. I saw it with my korokoro eyes destroy my friend, who ordinarily, ought to be one of the reference points in Nigeria today for his ideas about governance. At first, the negative instincts seep in gradually. In fact, before the bubble burst, I heard my friend remind me countless times, during argument, because we argued a lot then  that he was the governor with power of life and death and was going to deal with me. We usually laughed it off or waved it aside as part of jokes, but when things started going awry, I couldn’t help but make the connection. They soon became real, because he actually carried out the threat. He did not attack me physically, but he threatened my job at least – trying to use state money and power to reach my employers. Even though he met a stonewall, but he at least tried. My very good friend o! That’s how bad it could get!

Of course it couldn’t be him that ordered the atrocities surrounding him, at least not all. But on the other hand, he didn’t have to. How could a prisoner know what is happening outside the walls? They simply act in his name. The major and immediate prompt in this case is fear. The effect of him suddenly losing popularity at that level, naturally drives him to seek help and protection against enemies, real and imagined. Then the collateral damages. I witnessed all these with my friend.

That is the danger today in Anambra. What I really fear the most about Chukwuma Soludo, Governor of Anambra State, my governor, amid the hullaballoo, the kankan-gwogwo, in recent days, is that the snake, which bit my friend several years ago, may whip him with its tail. May it never come to a point when he would feel that the love of Anambra people have left him that like it did in Saul, and begin to hear strange voices that would urge him to seek power and protection outside the normal realms. Yes! Leaders, who lose popularity and natural love, try to force them willy-nilly.

Or, do you think for one second that the din from the cataclysmic eruption and groundswell of condemnation you hear across Nigeria, since his rather unnecessary, if not infantile diatribe against Peter Obi, would resonate in Agu Awka, his office or Amawbia, his lodge in the same manner? Certainly no! If anything, he would have been receiving high-fives since then from the multitude of sycophantic that populate government houses across Nigeria.

I know enough of such environments to confirm that there might not be a single close ally from hence that would be courageous enough to look him in the face and try to leash him for the simple obvious reasons. Not when power , money and the fear of losing privileges are the major elements that drive the relationship between people and the governor, most times. At best, they’ll keep silent. But you could be sure that even his domestic servants would be cursing him in their private meetings in the kitchen or living quarters, away from prying eyes and ears.

You actually heard him say that many people indeed prevailed on him to refrain from reacting initially, but that he defied them. If you thought for one moment that those advisers would do an encour, then you underrate power and influence. What it means is the courageous ones who could have spoken out, but now feel sufficiently appalled would simply walk away, leaving him further in the depth of loneliness. Guess who fills the gap?

What have I been saying? Let me emphasise! When you lose popularity, love and influence, as a governor, you not only try to force it through brute force or coercion, you also try to protect yourself. Naturally, those around you might no longer be people with genuine love, but those in it for profit. The immediate effect is loss of focus. Truth takes flight. Everyone tells you what you want to hear. Yet, these people don’t come cheap. Because they don’t, that’s when you’ll start nibbling at the common till. After all, is it not a common saying that if fire falls on you and your child at the same time, you first put off yours before your child? Is than not what is called self-preservation?

But the clock continues to tick. Soon, the second term demand comes knocking. This time, it becomes a matter of ego and desperation and not a natural course of events. The fear of your enemies prevailing, takes a more choking grip. Or do you think our governor is deaf to the vow of many hitherto friends and supporters, who have become enemies overnight to avenge his childish act? No? What then are the options? They are either or. Either he throws his hands up or he fights back. Should he fight back, what are the weapons? Buy the votes or buy the structure. What if the resources of the state are not enough – then borrow! Deeper and deeper the mess – down and down Anambra goes.

Wasn’t this what happened in the same Anambra when Willy Obiano, practically emptied the purse of the state to sponsor his elections rather than be defeated after eating the capital and gains of the state in wild, wanton revelry, merrymaking and picking unnecessary fights, such that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission couldn’t even wait for a day to pick him up immediately he lost immunity for the obvious crime?

I hope a miracle happens to change the course of events. I truly hope that Peter Obi wins the 2023 presidential election, because that is the only way to mitigate the anger of Anambra people against Soludo at this time. Otherwise there is no telling that like Obiano, the only option would be for him to do anything to avoid the obvious doom.

Yes! There is no way Anambra people will not blame him in the event of Obi’s failure and there is no way they will forgive him. Indeed, the devil works in such a terrible way. Someone told me that if Joe Anatune, his erstwhile media manager, who died few days into his government were alive, he wouldn’t run into the present mess, because he had the capacity to leash him. I don’t know how far this is true.

In my mental estate, I couldn’t stop calculating what a Soludo governorship could do to my Anambra, if he kept his eyes on the ball. Picture this! Flyovers at Nkpo junction, Nnobi, Agulu, Ekwulobia, Umunze, Uga. If you’ve ever been at these areas during Christmas period and undergone the experience, you’ll understand the danger ahead. Just imagine that for starters. Till date, he’s still driving Innoson as his official car. Picture the outcome of the lofty ideas he has in the offing. Now, the devil seems to have set in to destroy everything. why did the devil put those question into the mouth of Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television that started all this?

Yes! The enemy must have done this! Perhaps, prayer might help. Just like Obi said he won’t stop praying, Ndi-Anambra must take it as a duty to do the same. Father Ebubemuonso and other clerics like him must lead the way to pray Soludo out of this mess, even self-inflicted. Otherwise!

Anambra must never experienced another Obiano catastrophe, when after frittering away the privileges he got freely, he got the state sunk into the morass of bad behaviour. Presently, millions of Nigerians are praying God to send Obi to clear the present mess in Abuja and across the land. Ndi-Anambra, though, leading in this regard, must never in their well-deserved anger forsake their son back home at this time. May God exorcise and cure Soludo of the dangerous spirit of  Ezeonyeagwanam and Amachamiheuwa and ultimately save my state!

Igboanugo, a journalist, lives in Lagos

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Caveat Emptor: Before they scapgoate the Igbo again

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Don’t be surprised if they spin the narrative to indicate that those who pelted the convoy of my friend, Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State with stones and other dangerous objects in the heat of the #EndSARS protest are Igbo. I can see you opening your mouth to say that is nonsense talk.

You would also say the same if you are told that the daring youths in the neighbouring Osun, who actually succeeded in sticking an axe in the car of Gboyega Oyetola, the governor of the state are Igbo. You would probably take the narrator as insane and the story as childish. I’m sure you will also dismiss the story about the jailbreak in Benin and the other violent actions thereof if you were told that the onslaughts were led by the Igbo to achieve their aim. You would describe it as pure bunkum for its sheer incredulity.

But, then, you would be among the reasonable ones around. You may also not be given to baying for blood or possessed by the evil spirit of scapegoatism. Of course, you will also not be an Igbo hater. Else, you will not only accept the narrative, however infantile, obtuse and asinine, but join in spreading it, using whatever platform available to you – telephone conversations, village meetings, underground channels, social media and even the traditional media.

That is exactly what they are doing now. Go to your social media platform and read what some people are saying. If you have not seen one, then you are not just in the right place at the moment or you have been busy doing other things. There is already a surfeit of it spreading around that the Igbo are at it again.

When Chinua Achebe, in his treatise – The Trouble With Nigeria, wrote that the only project where all Nigerians would put their differences aside and agree to pursue in unison and then return to resume their bickering thereafter, is the Igbo project, many people would see him as promoting the conspiracy theory narrative. The Igbo are their own problems, they will say. But you see it manifesting everyday.

Yes! The story now is that the entire #EndSARS protest is an Igbo-engineered project. Or better still, the destruction going on in Lagos, are done by the Igbo, or have their imprimateur. Don’t laugh it off. They have their narrative. The people that invaded the Iga Idugaran, Lagos Island palace of the Oba of Lagos, spoke Igbo. Don’t even ask what an Igbo man would be doing with the staff of office of a Yoruba monarch. If you did, you would be reasonable. And here, being reasonable is not needed. What is, is sentiments and emotions. That’s what the purveyors want for the project ahead. And you know what that project is all about.

If you’re still in doubt, there is one of such that is being circulated right now. Read with me: “Sir, for those who cannot divorce politics from hatred and envy, I have questions for them. They would say “Tinubu is a thief. Tinubu owns Lagos. Tinubu is Fulani slave. Are Yoruba Land and Yoruba heritage Tinubu’s property?

“They are hiding under protest and hatred for Tinubu to execute coordinated attacks on Yoruba interests and Yoruba are hailing them. BRT Buses and stations, media houses (People’s Vioce and means of livelihood, County Hospital, Lekki Toll Gate, Oriental Hotel, NPA Headquarters, Ajeromi/Ifelodun LGA Headquarters, Akiolu’s Palace.

“They were heading for the railway workshop at Ebute-Meta before police repelled them. But Trade Fair is intact, Ladipo is intact, Mazamaza is intact, Jibowu and Iddo parks are intact, Alaba is intact.

“Yet Tinubu is their target! Where are Afenifere, OPC, YEF, AGBEKOYA? LAGOS indigenes? ẸNI TI TIẸ TI JONỌN KO KỌ KI TI ELOMIRAN DI EERU O!” The one who consented to using his father’s house as battle ground has lost the battle before the battle begins.” This is just a sample of the many now circulating. You know what it means. If you don’t get it yet, it is a battle cry to start targeting the Igbo properties in the already identified areas and perhaps their persons as well. If it extends more, it will also means reclaiming the land and their patrimony “stolen” not “bought” by the Igbo, a project that many have been hatching for years!

What’s more? They now have “evidence.” Nnamdi Kanu has claimed ownership of the mayhem through the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the selfsame Kanu, who escaped to London in 2017 after boasting that he would vanquish the entire Nigerian Army if they dared come to the South East during the Operation Python Dance. Of course the rest of the story is clear. Many of his footsoldiers collected bullets with their chests, not only in Umuahia but in many other parts of Igbo land – many are still collecting even now. You saw how the lucky ones were being asked to swim in mud water and gutters by the same army he was going to wipe out, when they eventually came calling. Yet, all powerful Kanu did it! The all-powerful IPOB who have not been able to do anything in the South East, apart from sending out press statements, now came to Lagos, marched to the palace of the Oba, the symbol of traditional institution in Lagos and took away his staff of office. No! Stop laughing. Some people are already using it.

Now, if you have lived in Lagos long enough, you’ll not be lost about its demographic structure – you’ll know who lives where and who is in control and where. Much as the Igbo populate virtually all parts of Lagos, as indeed Nigeria, there are areas they don’t have the strength or capacity to do anything. If you say that these violence happened in Ajegunle, Amuwo-Odofin, Festac, Alaba or Okokomaiko, your story might have a veneer of credibility.

But from where would an Igbo man derive the capacity to cause mayhem in Ikorodu, Isale-Eko, Mushin,Ketu, Ojota, Ebute-Meta, Egbeda, Iju-Ishaga or even Lekki of Ikeja? But then, you’ll be reasonable if you began to think this way – a fatal error, because thinking – good thinking – is not needed here. What is needed is emotions and sentiments.

Now, in the last fortnight or so, when the #EndSARS protest was on high steam, Nigerians clearly knew who the motivators were. The celebrities – musicians, actors and actresses, the activists, the social media gurus were all known. Amongst them, I couldn’t recall any that bore Igbo name, at least, none that was prominent enough to be celebrated. All the ones that basked in the sun and had the accolades, granted interviews here and there, grew the cloud base, which in turn would attract them some fortunes as well, were none Igbo. The Igbo contributors on the social media, at best, walked under their shadows.

Yet, while they take the accolades for all its worth and probably smile to the bank, the backlash will now go to the Igbo. They’ll pick up the trash. Presently, Flavour nwa mama, the ukwu sala mbala exponent and Phyno, the fada fada singer, are licking their wound for trying to also play the same role. You may have heard how they got their fingers burnt by being told that they’re not Enugu enough and they should go back to their state, Anambra. Are you “sorrying” for them? But that’s the lot of the Igbo man. Always left with the trash can!

So, don’t be surprised when you see Alaba, ASPAMDA, Ladipo, Mazamaza, Jibowu and Iddo parks go up in flames tomorrow, because we know that there are many who are trying. And if God allows it, for He is the only one that could say otherwise now, don’t hold the hoodlums you’ll see in the streets liable. They’re mere instruments. The real culprits are already out there. They’re highly educated and discerning – gifted men and women – powerful in many ways – but who decide to use every good things God has given them to harm their neighbours for no other reason than evil.

They know that Igbo man had no hand in the Wild Wild West and Operation Wetie. They know that the Igbo did not lead the repeat in 1983 that claimed the heads of Chief Olaiya Fagbamigbe of Fagbemigbe publishers and Kunle Agunbiade, whose head, it was claimed, in some quarters was severed from the neck and served on a platter to some leaders. But mind you, if and anytime it’s convenient to introduce the Igbo element in it, that will surely come. They know that no Igbo man led the attack on Tinubu’s property or indeed any of the attacks in Lagos. But, for as long as a single property or business that has the imprint of an Igbo man is still standing in Lagos, some people will not rest until it comes down. And there is an opportunity to do that right now! Only God can prevent it. – The Tiny Voice!

 

Posted by  Sunny Igboanugo |  22 October 2020, 04:26am

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Now, who will save Nigerians from the SARS called electricity Discos?

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If anyone, especially officials of the electricity distribution companies, otherwise known as Discos, or their collaborators in government tells you that the companies are not making profit, don’t spit in the face of that person, because it will be considered aggression and you could go to jail for that.

But be angry, angry enough to stand up and walk away. However, don’t take that walk without at least telling that person that he is a liar and how God and good men hate all foul liars. You are entitled to that and posterity will not only bear you witness, but defend you beyond here and before the King of Host, your maker and creator of heaven and earth.

For that is what they are – inveterate liars – thieves. You had Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). But here comes another SARS with a different acronym. Call them Serious Acute Renegade Stealers (SARS) and you will be right.

Their modus operandi is the same. Both, have absolute powers – unquestionable powers – powers that leave the people completely helpless – powers with which they oppress, torture, brutilise and even kill the same people they are supposed to serve and protect. The only difference is that whilst the SARS associated with police employ the use of physical force and use their arms to shoot, maim and kill their victims, their Discos counterpart, employ the tactics of gradual economic asphyxiation to squeeze the life out of their victims.

However, the motive is also the same – money. They are both fired by the same engine – greed, absolute, unquenchable, insatiable greed. You would think that a policeman could stop if he got millions from their victims. But you heard how the parents of one of the Awkuzu SARS victims, Chijioke Iloanya, paid in millions to free their son. They sold all they had and paid in millions of naira just to free their 22-year-old son, which all came to naught. They would have kept paying today to the insatiable SARS officials, if they did not get words that their son had been killed. That’s how wicked and greedy the police SARS were.

But the Discos SARS are no different. Kunle Joseph, who lives in a flat at Victor Odunaiya Street, Iju-Ishaga shares a similar fate. In 2015, he landed a job that paid him N52,000. Out of this salary, he was paying N2,000. He was complaining that the bill was too much. But by 2017, the same bill began to fluctuate between N3,500 to N4,000. He was off and on at the Iju-Ishaga office of the Ikeja Electricity Company (IKDC) to complain of high bill.

But nobody listened to him. But the greatest shock came in January, 2020, when he got a bill of N11,857.50. He thought it was a huge joke. He again rushed to the office of the IKDC. After making all the noise, the officials checked his bill and compared it with what his co-tenants were paying and discovered that the next highest paying tenant was charged N4,000. Do you know his offence? He had no metre. Actually there is a metre in his flat, but it was malfunctioning and he had been at their office countless times to come and fix it all to no avail. Rather, he was placed on estimation.

The only solution they could offer him is that he should go and get a metre. He had since applied for a pre-paid metre, but has not got as much as a reply ever since. Last month, September, he was slammed with a bill of 17,000. Mind you, his salary has not changed from the N50,000.

Now, take away N17,650 from N50,000, what do you have left? Just N32,350! That’s what he has remaining for him and his family. Now who is he going to run to? He has written a letter to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the only agency he believes would help him, but not a single word has come from them in reply.

His saviour seems to be the current #EndSARS protest rocking the country, which has restricted movements in all parts of Lagos. Else, the workers of the electricity company would have visited his compound. Today, he would have been in permanent darkness because there is no way he could remove such a huge amount of money from his salary to pay electricity alone.

Remember that in 2015 when he got his job, a bag of rice was just N8,000, a sizable tuber of yam was just N200 and so on. Today the same bag of rice is N28,000 while the same size of yam is N1,000. So how does he balance it and live, since his salary has not changed?

There are millions of Josephs all over the country at the moment. They are faced with the same dilemma of the Discos SARS. The implication is that the Josephs of this world cannot make bulk purchase of any perishable good, either of tomatoes or meat, which saved them some money. They will no longer cook soup and preserve in the fridge or freezer after the disconnection of their electricity, which is going to be the next line of action as a punishment. Who will save them?

A friend of Joseph, Dapo, who runs a business centre was slammed with N33,000 bill in July up from N8,000. Out of annoyance, he asked them to disconnect him, which they quickly obliged. The following month, he got a bill of N37,000. That was in August. September was N36,000. This was despite the suspension of supply. He bought fuel for the period but discovered that there was no much difference as the problem was not only that the amount he spent on fuel was slightly higher, he had to contend with constant repairs of generators, which could not power some of his appliances needed for his business.

He had gone back to ask that he be reconnected, and he was told that until he paid fully for the initial N33,000, and the N73,000 for the months he didn’t use power. Dapo, has just secured an Okada from one of his brothers. This was a man that was previously fairly comfortable with his business, which was thriving and providing a lot of succour for his many customers.

Together with the government, they tell you that they are not making. But that is a lie. They did not break even from day one of their operation, but they are making tremendous profits.

The problem is that if the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eko Distribution Company (EKDC), learns that the son of his IKDC counterpart has acquired the latest yacht and is currently on a cruise in Indian Ocean, he would not rest until he acquires one for his son also. Or the one in Benin hears that the latest Rolls Royce is now in the garage of his Enugu counterpart, he goes to acquire same.

Of course, the sustenance of such a lavish lifestyle could only come from one source – the electricity cash-cow. It doesn’t matter for them, what happens to the masses, the geese that lay the golden egg. Let them continue to lay the eggs regardless of the state. As they become famished out of poor feeding, wither and die, another egg will hatch and other geese will grow and sustain the circle and the beat goes.

So, even if government gives them all the revenues accruing from the country in form of bailouts, as have been done before, they will still not break even like the police SARS, which continued to ask for more. For them there will never be enough, because it is all about greed, a human condition that can never be assuaged.

Unfortunately they have their grounds covered adequately. The government you are supposed to run to, when not asleep is a willing collaborator. Each of the officials along the way is covered in the sharing arrangement. If not, in which other part of the world would electricity tariff that was just about N2,000 climb to N17,000-N20,000 in less than five years. So, on what basis would #EndSARS protest abate? Who will save Nigerians from the DISCOS?

 

 

Posted by  Editor |  24 October 2020, 04:17pm

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