Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has warned the Anambra people to be careful in the choice of candidate in the November 6 governorship election in the State, describing it as a choice between freedom and chains.
This is as the minister expressed gratitude to the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano for the truth-telling tribute he sent on his 69th birthday.
A statement from Senator Ngige Media Office in Abuja, Wednesday insisted that Senator Ngige was however not flattered by the rediscovery, since no amount of suppression could kill the truth, noting that “the innate characteristics of truth which are constancy and irrepressibility will continue to frustrate every onslaught. Truth never fails. It can only be suppressed but only for a while and not forever.”
According to the statement “The 34 months renaissance of Senator Chris Ngige as Anambra Governor is indelibly etched in the minds and sub-consciousness of the people and it is very unlikely official lies can ever suppress it. Ndi-Anambra have been faced with this strange official suppression of their history. Thus, the tribute from our Governor is an escape of suppressed official facts from the highest state quarters. For the first time, a successor government acknowledged Ngige as the architect of the modern Anambra, thereby smashing the over a decade long billow of lies from the chimney of mischief at the Government House, Awka
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“Governor Obiano deserves commendation for breaking away from the years-long official suppression of the superlative achievements of the Ngige liberation era. And we pray that this political catharsis by our Governor will break further bounds so that Ndi-Anambra will continue to bind in freedom. The scripture is sacrosanct.
“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set ye free! The State government has finally told the truth that Ngige pioneered a revolution in education, health, security and incapacitated the godfathers who enslaved the state resources.
“However, we wish to add that this re-discovery is non-inclusive of the in-depth exploits Ngige made in these and other areas of infrastructure development. In spite, Governor Obiano’s decision is overly instructive for a time there was when the official policy of the Anambra State Government was to deny and vitiate Ngige legacies.
“It was to the extent that his immediate successor, Peter Obi denied a whopping sum of 13. 8 billion which Ngige bequeathed on 15th march 2006 when he left office. Obi subsequently set up the Justice Ononiba Commission to probe Ngige. The commission’s verdict did not only confirm this sum and others but urged Obi to commend Ngige for his selfless service to the people. Obi never did.
“ Even his attempt to use the judiciary to invalidate Ngige’s years through a suit, Mike Balonwu and others, which he engineered and funded, fell flat, starting from State High court of Justice C.O Nweke on September 17, 2007, to the lead judgement of Justice Victor Omage of the Enugu Appeal Court on June 28, 2008, and finally to the lead judgement of Justice Mahmud Mohammed of the Supreme Court, December 4, 2009, that “the fact that Ngige had to vacate office at the end of court proceedings challenging his elections by the provisions of the Electoral Act, cannot invalidate any powers or duties exercised or performed by him while in office.” Of note is that the three courts – high court, Appeal and Supreme court all pronounced Ngige as Governor de facto and de jure. But even with these pronouncements, Peter Obi pulled down his portrait from the hung portraits of former governors of the state and put it on the floor, face facing the wall. According to his incredible pedestrian reasoning, Ngige prevented him from being governor for 34 months!
“ Ngige did not only return the first set of 14 secondary and 51 primary schools to the mission on November 2005, but he also concluded every arrangement for the return of all mission schools in November 2006. He built new classroom blocks and refurbished old ones, recruited teachers, paid N1.2billion UBEC counterpart funding and buoyed up school enrollment. And to cement the process and save it from the vagaries of funding, he generated an aggregate N2.4 billion UBE fund in the state’s Zenith Bank account. No wonder Anambra won the UBEC prize for excellence
for primary and junior secondary schools, first in 2004 and second in 2005 and 2006.
“ Ngige further built infrastructures at the state university and decentralized it into a multi-campus system, securing accreditation for 32 courses including Law, Engineering and Medicine in 2005.
“ Also, the payment of salaries as and when due was initiated under Ngige in June 2003 through the Governor’s Executive Order, which brought the payment of salaries and pensions to first line charge, ensuring that till today, civil servants and pensioners are paid.
“ He subsequently cleared N22billion state salaries and gratuity arrears as well as N15billion at the local government, and liquidated debts owed banks and international lenders. He recalibrated pensions; hence Anambra State became the second state in Nigeria to pay 143 percent increment. Thus, pensioners who were earlier referred to as deadwood by his predecessor started receiving N21, 000 up from N8000.
“ In health, Ngige ended the infamous 18-month strike by doctors in the state and re-opened all the government-owned hospitals closed under the Mbadinuju administration. He set out to upgrade four general hospitals in Onitsha, Enugwu-Ukwu , Amaku Awka and Ekwuluobia to specialist centres, starting with Onitsha which Governor Obiano truthfully acknowledged that Ngige brought “ to scratch,” to standard. He also brought in medical and hospital equipment from the USA in two forty feet containers as well as ambulances. He further attracted home, renowned physicians, Prof. Nwako, Mbonu and Dr Enweonwu from UNTH Enugu to Onitsha to bring the institution a standard fit for the training of specialists in residency programmes. The accreditation came two months after Ngige left office.
“Ngige recruited a total of 73 doctors and posted some of them to the rural areas under a special incentive package, opened eye clinics in all the general hospitals and hired ophthalmologists to run them, apart from the Guinness Eye Centre at Onitsha. At the same time, he equipped and fenced the Enugwu-Ukwu General Hospital and others who were then at the mercy of weeds and land grabbers.
He built the School of Health Technology at Nkpor and further attracted international health agencies like UNICEF, UNFP among others. His plan for a modern, comprehensive teaching hospital was not executed resulting in the halfhearted centre, we have now.
“ Ngige also revived the Onitsha and Awka township water supply and decongested the Onitsha metropolis by developing a new market for building materials, textiles and electronic/electrical at Ogidi-Ogbunike, BridgeHead and Oba respectively. He also mapped out agricultural zones in Anyamelum towns of Omor, Ifite Ogwari and Ogboji in Aguata L.G.A .
“ His impact on security through a law by the State House of Assembly, creating the Anambra State Vigilante Service which reduced crime to the barest minimum is lasting. Under him too, Anambra was changed to the Light of the Nation.
“Little need talking about roads which are on the lips of all but to note that 109 roads, stretching 500km, across all local governments and zones, some leading to the neighbouring states of Enugu, Imo, Abia and Rivers States, are the only roads standing like the Rock of Gibraltar in the state today.
“ Ndi-Anambra did not forget their hero for in
2007 governorship election, though Ngige was banned from contesting, the masses sighted the broom of the Action Congress and poured in votes. Of course, we all know how that election ended.
“In 2010, when vote suppression and disenfranchisement in Idemili North and South, as well as Onitsha, couldn’t ease the design by the then INEC, Ngige’s votes were decapitated
with over 45, 000 votes to return Peter Obi with a paltry 96,000 votes in a governorship election in which close to 2 million Ndi-Anambra registered for!
“2011 was not different as Ndi-Anambra backed Ngige to defeat a formidable combination of the incumbent Governor Peter obi, Victor Umeh and Uche Ekwunife who amalgamated with late Dora Akunyili for APGA against him in the Anambra Central Senatorial election at a time it was a taboo to mention Action Congress of Nigeria, CAN, in the South East.
“Therefore, Governor Obiano’s birthday tribute has offered me another opportunity to urge all political office holders to strive to live in the minds of the people through quality stewardship. I have done my best to liberate our dear state. I didn’t only lay a new foundation; I also took the building above the lintel.
“While I acknowledge that my predecessors have as well done their best, I state that the rest belongs to the people and the Almighty to judge. The burden of eternal vigilance over our freedom falls squarely on Ndi-Anambra. To me precisely, the November 6 governorship election is theirs to choose between total freedom and chains.
Vanguard News Nigeria