Indeed, this postulation by an erudite scholar belies the notion in some quarters as publicized in some social and mainstream media that the member, representing Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal constituency i.e. Ikwuano,Umuahia North and Umuahia South, Rep Sam Onuigbo, decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of a prolonged crisis in the PDP.
Who says lies are not told and accepted in the midst and congregation of fools? William Shakespeare in one of his books, Macbeth, declared thus, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Certainly, like a commentator rightly observed concerning the declaration of Macbeth in the book, “one can easily understand how, with his wife dead and armies of war marching against him, Macbeth succumbs to such pessimism”.
However, in the case of Rep Sam Onuigbo, there was no crisis nay army marching against or battling the PDP to warrant his succumbing to the motivation of jumping ship. He said he left PDP and join APC because of prolonged crisis in his former party, PDP and “neglect by its stalwarts, elders and leadership, including the alleged impunity and hijack of party structure in his Ikwuano local government area by the National Organising Secretary of PDP, Col Austin Akobundu Rtd.
It is intriguing that the media, social or conventional or indeed general public could accept such paranoid view as an evangelical truth. Come to think of it, when did PDP have such a prolonged crisis that the Ikwuano/Umuahia people that gave Rep Sam Onuigbo the mandate to represent them twice in the Green Chambers do not know?
Is it a question of individual being smart or believes that he can outsmart his benefactors? If there is indeed a crisis in his former party, can’t Rep Sam Onuigbo, with his height as a Member of Parliament (MP) not capable of confronting it frontally and with the support of others and tries to resolve it until it becomes perspicuous that it can longer be sorted out?
The truth of the matter is that Onuigbo jumped ship because of some selfish and appointive motivations that may not be of any benefit to the people of Ikwuano/Umuahia, not in the present time or in the future.
This is a man that benefited so much from the PDP right from the time he left the American Embassy where he last worked before joining politics. Onuigbo is the only politician that has been given the rare opportunity to serve as House Representatives member two times in Ikwuano Federal Constituency. It has not been done in the history of the three local government councils. The representation has always been done rotationally; amongst the three federating LGAs i.e Ikwuano, Umuahia North, Umuahia South; each goes according to its turn.
In the first, second, third and fourth republics, no politician served as federal lawmaker for Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency twice except Sam Onuigbo. In1999, Rep Acho Obioma from Umuahia South started the representation. He served from 1999 to 2003, thereafter, Rep Emeka Atuma from Ikwuano. His tenure ended in 2007. Then Rep Stanley Ohajuruka from Umuahia North stepped in and indeed completed his representation in 2011, thus providing another opportunity for a fresh rotation.
In the second stanza, Rep Oluchi Ibeji from Umuahia South was elected and he served from 2011 to 2015 before Rep Sam Onuigbo stepped in. His representation should have ended in 2019 but for the supposed ‘magnanimity’ of some elders and leaders of the PDP in the federal constituency which ultimately has turned to naïveté.
Let’s consider his reasons for leaving the PDP point by point. Rep Sam Onuigbo claimed that he left PDP because “some fellows sit in their rooms and foist on people their personal wishes, suggesting impunity”. No politician that I know who is from Ikwuano extraction sits in his bedroom to select who gets what in the political scheme of things in the area. The republican nature of Ikwuano LGA would allow for such malady.
However, he cannot be divorced from the assertion because his numerous appointments and elections were overwhelmed by such maneuvering and subterfuge. He had served as Board member, International Glass Industry, Commissioner for Land and Urban Development, Commissioner for Finance, Member of House of Representatives twice under a spate of five years in politics. Ironically, it was even Col Akobundu that made some of these appointments possible.
Conversely, it was he that organised a parallel congress at a primary school in Ikwuano during the PDP congress in March 2020 against the guidelines of the party which states that all congresses of party must be held at the party’s Secretariat/office. The state headquarters of PDP rejected the list of his elected officers and rather accepted the one conducted at the party office, prompting his camp to proceed to court. The case was subsequently thrown out for lack of merit in July 15, 2020.
Actually, politics is all about an individual pursuing his personal ambition, but does that mean that the individual should throw caution to the wind?
Like Homer, 9th century Greek poet observed, “Of all the creatures that creep and breathe on the earth, there’s none more wrecked than man”. What happened in the last LGA polls election held in December 2020 was surprising. It is important to underscore the fact that Sam Onuigbo imposed unpopular candidates at various Wards in Ikwuano and when that couldn’t fly, he chose the exit door.
In his Ibere Ward 2, he outright ignored and disregarded the already laid down zoning formula and imposed his “choice” candidate. He left the said candidate in the middle of elections, causing his people to defect to labour party and gave a protest vote. Today, as a result that singular act, the people he abandoned without biding them farewell see him as an ungrateful person.
Even at the Ikwuano LGA level, Sam Onuigbo’s impunity knew no bounds. He brought in an under aged girl from Lagos to serve as Councilor in Usaka Ward against the decision of the elders and people of the Ward who told him in unmistakable language that they had a better qualified person. It was discovered that the underage girl doesn’t even have a voter’s card and doesn’t know the political terrain in the Ward. Based on this, the entire Ward voted against the PDP and his protégé lost.
In Azuiyi Oloko where he brought in a candidate that was not a member of the PDP and imposed on the Ward, the people revolted by kicking his candidate out of the poll. Indeed, his impunity is glaringly manifest in virtually all the 10 Wards of Ikwuano. It is only when he saw that can no grass root person tolerated his impunity that he jumped ship.
His allegation that the people who did not participate in the electoral process emerged as eventual winners is spurious. It is important to note that 10 political parties participated in the last LGA election, including the APC which he has become a bride to. Surprisingly, despite producing his “choice candidates” and buying forms for them, he abandoned them midstream for a new marriage. Why did he leave them for a new relationship without carrying them along?
Certainly, in the eyes of the Law and the Electoral Act, Sam Onuigbo should relinquish the PDP’s mandate since his marriage with the party has ended abruptly. Culturally, a child cannot till the farm for a woman and still trots into another woman’s hut for his lunch or dinner. Legally, democratically and morally, the best option left for Sam Onuigbo is to call it quit with the House of Representatives; resign forthwith and come back home so that the people would right their wrong!
This is because, having stabbed the people of Ikwuano, Umuahia North and Umuahia South at the back; he has subsequently and ultimately lost their confidence. Interestingly, Sam Onuigbo was Chairman, House Committee on Climatic Change until the 8th National Assembly eclipsed on May 29, 2019. In the 9th Assembly, he was not considered as chair of any Committee, hence his decision to defect to the ruling APC to be considered. Does that show he can be trusted?
Now, various accounts from his country home describe his claim of attracting projects from the APC as outrageous, ridiculous, absurd, and bizarre.
Said one account from Ikwuano; the area mostly affected by his infidelity: “First, let us sound it clear to the defector that he never attracted any of those projects. He is simply a BENEFICIARY of the manifesto of the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“He should not also forget that he has a senior colleague, in the person of Senator T.A Orji, who is also pulling the strings of these projects behind.
“Since has decided to cite projects as one of the justifications for joining the kitchen party, APC, it would be pertinent and germane to spell out a few facts. On May 4, 2019, FEC approved N169.74billion contracts for 10 roads of which the rehabilitation of the Umuahia (Ikwuano)-Ikot Ekpene Road was part of.
“The road contract was awarded to Messrs Hartland Nigeria Limited/Raycon and Company Nigeria Limited in the sum of N13,296,283,958.68 (Thirteen Billion, Two Hundred and Ninety-Six Million, Two Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Eight Naira) with a completion date of 48 months. It is now one year and seven months, what is the update on the road?”
“The bridge you constructed at Itunta has collapsed. You claimed to have spent N150, 000, 000. (One hundred and fifty million naira) to construct this bridge. How did a bridge that cost you N150,000,000 collapse so soon? Was it built with sand?
“Also you made mention of Okwe. Aren’t you aware that the portion of this road has failed? This same portion you claimed to have spent N650,000,000. (Six hundred and fifty million naira) to construct. Is there something we don’t know?
“We are also aware that you built a skill acquisition centre at Umuahia. However, why are all your skill acquisition programs holding in kolping hotel? Is the center now moribund?
“Ever since you assumed office, you have been working on a three (3) blocks classroom at Ekebedi Community School. The building has remained uncompleted for over five (5) years now. Obviously, you have abandoned the building. What is your excuse?
“Moving away from federal government roads and projects, we are aware that you receive funds for constituency projects. What and what have you channeled your constituency project funds to? In all equity and fairness, we will not say you didn’t attract any project.
“It is no longer news that you attracted a transformer in front of your new estate just to have steady power for yourself. It is also no longer news that you fixed ten streetlights in the street where you are building your house, while the other areas in that same street remained in darkness.
“Even the House Committee on COVID-19 response of which you are a member, what has been your impact so far? We are aware that at the heat of the pandemic last year when your fellow Reps members devoted their two months’ salary to help their respective constituency lessen the scourge of the covid-19 pandemic, all you could give to the people of Ikwuano in the middle of hunger was 23 buckets and 32 hand sanitizers. In a time when your fellow colleagues were giving numerous bags of rice and other food items to families, you were giving facemasks, buckets, and sanitizers to Ikwuano LGA which has 57 communities.
“Are the 32 hand sanitizers and 23 buckets your two months’ salaries? Who is deceiving who? As much as you tried to wash your dark reasons for defecting, the truth is very glaring that the reasons you gave are just the exact definition of your character.
“Have you forgotten how many Graduates and Master’s Degree holders that laboured for your election? Yet after they got you into power, you disposed them and employed your family members?”
Certainly, the intention of the write up is not to conclude that Rep Sam Onuigbo did not attract any project to his constituency, but the skewering of the facts and projections of contemporary Ikwuano/Umuahia narratives by some social media handlers in his favour often make it seem that other federal legislators of Abia origin are bystanders when the facts on ground speak differently.
The truth of the matter is that politicians hardly consider the plight of their constituents before taking any major decision. The people of Ikwuano/Umuahia elected Sam Onuigbo under the platform of PDP. And in taking a decision that will see him exit from the party, they ought to be consulted. After all, the mandate is theirs and they are free to take it any time they want.
It is based on this fact that I submit that Onuigbo should go.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.