My father had this mythological sense of the old New York and he used to tell me stories about these old gangs, particularly the forty thieves. -Martin Scorsese
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to office. -Aesop
This piece is targeted at the children of anger( apology to Reuben Abati ), who have sworn an oath with Lucifer to milk Delta State coffers dry, the sophisticated pinging demons who parade themselves as girlfriends of the dishonorable members, while our money is spent on them in Dubai. This piece is for the criminals in the Delta State rotten house of assembly whose past time is to pass monetary budget with nothing tangible shown for the money passed in their various constituency. Yes, this report is against the selected boys and girls of Governor Uduaghan masquerading as lawmakers. Who are they making laws for?
You still don’t know where yet I’m heading to, right? Just hold on. For those die hard supporters of Mr. Victor Ochei and the other twenty eight members of Delta State House of rotten assembly who are very good at mathematics and statistic, don’t correct me yet by telling me that there are no forty one members in the rotten house of assembly. The above title, which is what they are, refers to Ochei and the thirty nine members he led from the shores of the country to Goldman school of public policy, University of California, USA for a two weeks legislative training.
Don’t correct me yet that I am mathematically wrong by saying the title makes them forty one members, sir and madam, hold your peace! Ochei and the forty thieves include the university who knew that the trip is not right but accepted to ‘train’ them, so that they can share in our oil money. Before this trip was to take place, a source in their den of assembly has hinted me on the plan of the speaker and few members’ resolution to go to Harvard University, before finally settling for Goldman. Can you imagine these bands of criminals haggling between Harvard and Goldman on where to spend our collective wealth? At first I took it for a joke, knowing full well that they had just returned from a secret trip to South Africa, and won’t be so insensitive to go on another spending spree, but how wrong was I?
On the 27th of July, they flew to Lagos and on 29th of July, they arrived at the beautiful city of Berkeley, just few days of my own arrival in uncle Sam country, and yet no Nigeria media could raise an editorial for it, or even a report condemning such, until an online media published the outcry that it was generating in the Delta State. Now, I do not begrudge the trip so much, but do they realize that apart from the twenty nine of them that were selected during the 2011 general election, the rest members are not legislators, and therefore should not attend such expensive ‘trainings’ at the expense of Deltans? For crying out loud, what is Emma Okoro, the rotten assembly pioneer speaker, who is now chief adviser to Mr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on legislative matters doing in the trip? What businesses do directors and aides to key officers of the house have to do with lawmaking that should warrant their being in the crew. What is the rationale behind Barr. (Mrs.) Lyna Aliyu Ocholor, who is the clerk of the house for going to USA for the ‘training’?
For Ochei who have been a member of the house since 1999 when we returned to democracy, and has been among the looting class, it goes to show that he does not have the interest of the state at heart. If this is a man who wants to become the governor of his state, looting the treasury in this brazen manner as a speaker, one needs no prophecy to tell what the future holds for the state if such a man is handed over power to run the affairs of the rich state. Information available says that those that went to the trips as female aides are girlfriends of the legislators while the young men are those that are being compensated for the roles they played during the election. This trip that cost over a whooping #1.2 billion naira is not just right. This amount of money is enough to turn Ochei’s own community, including Agbor, Kwale and Ethiope West to a mega city, yet a group of elected bandits can sit in the hallowed chambers and appropriate such money to themselves, as travelling expenses, estacodes, training fees, hotel and inconvenience allowances to themselves.
I’m going crazy as I type this, when I recall that these dubious elements, during the end of the second of the 5th Assembly went to California University on 18th June 2013 for a legislative training. Have they forgotten all that they were thought that in less than a month, they had to negotiate with Goldman for an undisclosed amount of money to train them again? Truly, Jimmy Breslin was right when he opined that “the number one rule of thieves is that nothing is too small to steal. As a reporter who has covered the American legislators, I have never seen or known them leave the shores of the US for a legislative training. Why must we be different? Couldn’t the lecturers be invited to Tinapa or even the Songhai tourist centre in Sapele for the forty members to be taught? I felt ashamed when a reporter friend of mine with the daily California newspaper mailed me that what are we feeding our lawmakers with, that shows their protruding stomach in their various cloths in the classroom, ending sarcastically that he was sure they have not come to learn but for their various individual business interest in God’s own country. I could not agree less, knowing that the training was just wool for the actual purpose of going there.
That Uduaghan will agree to such unnecessary jamboree is no surprise, when he swims in the same ocean of corruption like Ochei and his cohorts. For a rotten assembly which is in the pocket of the state governor is a pointer to what 2015 portends for the state. An assembly that could not challenge the governor’s refusal to conduct local government elections is embarking on a training which will not be practiced at home. Let them not be deceived, what they are taught are all available for scrutiny and this is where the checks would begin, now that they are back home, to see if they will effect any. Truly, I weep, when I know full well that the speaker has amassed wealth that his generations cannot finish forever, all gotten from the coffers of Delta State, using his company, Davnotch Engineering. This is a man who was given the contract to fix the independent power plant in Oghara, which he could not do after collecting millions of Naira, now squandering over #1.2 billion for a two weeks lecture. I do not expect lawmakers like Efe Ofobruku, who was a wretched man with a dead vehicle in Warri before contesting and winning to challenge him, but I expected Osanebi, who from all indication is going for the House of Representatives, and a multi millionaire before he became a lawmaker to look him in the face and say no to this criminality. Are there no sane members in the house? Couldn’t John Nani, a lawyer from a good family background be singled out in this crass and asinine show of animalistic criminality?
The soul of Ochei we know breaths corruption, but not in this manner. Couldn’t he have hidden his penchant for corporate stealing through his companies till 2015, after the election, than this open show of charade? We are aware that they are unfaithful to their wives, but must they spite them by taking their girlfriends to USA for a training that is not meant for them, which is funded by our collective sweat? Ochei truly does not know what he has begun, neither do any of these dishonorable members know what they have done, but they can be rest assured that the battle for their political survival has just begun. They have beaten the drum in the market place and should be prepared to dance naked in the market square. Deltans cannot be taken for fools anymore; the era of bread and butter politics must give way, and this rotten house of assembly may just be the scape goat. Their prowess for rigging elections and buying votes is never in doubt, but the electorates are tired of their rice and #2000 sharing politics.
They yearn for representation, not the type that Ochei and the forty thieves have come to represent, with probably an exception to John Nani, whose activities according to various sources have performed fairly well. There are no two ways to call a thief, but the very word ‘thief’. If the Aniomas, who Ochei represent can call him a criminal from the pit of hell, let no one cry more than the bereaved; let no one be holier than the pope. Ochei has stolen Deltans blind enough for fourteen years in the Delta State rotten house of assembly. Is the house meant for him alone or are his constituents telling the world that they have no better representatives in the whole local government than a first class pen robber? If this is so, I dare say it’s a shame. They can then bid goodbye to unity house come 2015, if the likes of legislathief Victor Ochei is all they have to present.
Did I tell you that when I went to the MMA airport on their return to catch a look at their ‘theifing’, I could hear them complain to their various aides that came to welcome them, that the Nigeria press in the social media is not fair to them by quoting #1.2 billion as amount spent on the trip. What then is the actual amount, dear dishonorable members? While I do not expect you to give the actual amount, may I squeal to you that Greg Mauldin( who was away from 29th July to 12th August), the General Manager of Hotel Shattuck Plaza hotel, located at 2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, a five kilometer walk to California University is not like the Goldman lady who I reliably gathered was asked not to disclose how much was spent, neither is Eric LaPlante who ushered you to your various rooms or Patrice Brault, whose services you enjoyed for food and beverages.
As always, we have all the details of the amount squandered on your globe-trotting. While I welcome you back from your corporate wastage of suffering Deltans money, please, publish to the press the true amount spent. If you don’t, we will.
RESPONSES TO ‘WHAT IF IBORI DIE TODAY’
When I set out to write the Ibori issue, I didn’t expect the kind of atention it got, generating various comments with national and international media syndicating it. Yes, I knew I would not be glorified, but vilified, however, I was proved wrong as the write up has generated various investigations by media houses on why Ibori alone is being jailed while others walk free. It has opened up the Ibori chapter again. With over hundred mails, below are few of readers’ comments.
Na wao o! What an inspiring article by Fejiro Oliver! – Chief Eze Chukwuemeka
Please be kind enough to tell us how else you would have had Ibori judged if you were a judge. You would have looked for another name to magnify it, like guy man, sharp man, man wey sabi, rather than calling him a thief that he is. The fact that many are committing sin those not change the name and consequence of sin. This is a lesson to all those who think they are having fun now at the expense of the Deltans. If it could happen to Ibori, it could happen to anybody when the Pharaoh that does not recognize Jacob arises. They that have ears should hear, those with eyes should see- Andrew Omeonyezor.
You surely can move a stone heart with your style of writing. At least you made me pray for Ibori release today in my prayer. But if I may ask, how many millions of naira were you paid for this great work – Nurideen Yaya
This work is out of breath, thought provoking and worth pondering over. Let Ibori be released. I pray our leaders don’t begin to use you for their media work against the masses – Amaka
Whatever amount of money you were paid by Ibori boys to do this job is worth it. You have convinced us all – Abiodun Sule
Great! You have written Ibori’s epitaph already and this is surely what the papers will write. Haven followed you write up for long, I hope you don’t become another Abati – Andy Billy
Nigerians like praising their leaders when they are dead and you just exposed them. Cool cash in your pocket – Praise Ikechukwu.
I want to thank you very much for your inspiring write-up on Ibori. I never knew we have such a wonderful journalist like you from Delta, with high level of objectivity and boldness…May God continue to bless and keep you! I love you. Keep it up brother – Asemota Japheth
For those who feel money exchanged hand in the Ibori write-up, let it be known not a dime was collected. Let truth be told.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist can be reached on [email protected] and +2348026797588 (sms only please)