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Ray Nnaji: Contriving bitterness and blackmail for stomach politics

By Prof. Edeoga Eze

It was not surprising to many who had listened to the Urban Parliament on Friday morning where one Mr. Ray Nnaji, ostensibly out of frustration and malice, launched a vitriolic assault on the government and people of Enugu State in his desperate scheme, or perhaps, subterfuge, to arm twist Governor Peter Mbah to offer him a political appointment. Over the past administrations where Ray appeared to hold sway and recognitions, notoriously becoming an archetypal of a career politician, he did this through his infamous proclivity for venality. He is known for everything but integrity, honour and morals. If any of these was ever associated with him, definitely that could have been lost decades ago having become a scoundrel and protagonist of stomach politics propagated and achieved through ruthless means.

Ray’s uncouth speech and the prima act of barbarity in which he presented issues and overturned logic exposed his conscientious ignorance regardless of his claim of being a lawyer; a trade he had unsuccessfully paraded and got nothing to show outside the space of politics. Indeed, politics should have limit, and the earlier people like virulent Ray Nnaji distinguish the line between politics and governance, the better for them.

At the Urban Parliament, Ray, who had gained notoriety for failure as a former local government chairman, commissioner, special adviser and national auditor, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had lamented that all the letters surreptitiously written by him to the state governor on the choice of people to appoint as commissioners were treated with ignominy and disdain as the governor aloofly ripped them into theead. A quick perusal of the disorderly composed letters revealed Ray’s penchant for his usual lobby for appointments and how his had been bewitched by hunger and near rejection from the public space.

Ray had solicited audience with the governor on the ground of having requisite experience to hold any public office assigned to him. He further anchored the need to appoint him into public office on his long standing friendship with the governor, and most fundamental, on his survival as his law practice was already crumbling and tumbling into oblivion. Stomach politics in action. However, like the former governor of Anambra State and presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, rightly decorated Mr. Chijioke Edeoga, Enugu State Labour Party governorship candidate, who had claimed more experience than Obi having been in power since 1991, in one of his outings in Arise Television’s Morning Show, those political jobbers claiming years of experiences in politics were only boasting of their experiences in corruption, failure, incompetence, looting, and plundering of the state resources rather than offering transformational leadership and good governance to the people.

The above is necessary to lay a proper foundation on the reason(s) behind Ray’s outbursts on Urban FM. Dawn on him by the recent appointments of commissioners by the governor where his name was starkly missing, the disappointed and disgruntled Ray Nnaji quickly procured a slot at the Urban FM to resort to his ruinous blackmail as an alternative means of cowering the governor into doing his bidding. Ray should have known that Mbah cannot be tossed around or blackmailed into going against the promises he made to the people of Enugu State during his campaigns and at the oath taking ceremony on the 29 May, where he audaciously reiterated his commitment to lift the state out of the dungeon of poverty, leapfrog the economy from its present asphyxiation of $4.4 billion to a towering envious height of $30 billion, provide water to the people within 180 days of his administration, spur the state to industrial revolution through disruptive innovation, and other creative ways of doing things differently. But our friend, Ray, with an archaic and lethargic understanding of the modern global economy driven by digital revolution wanted to be either commissioner for finance, Secretary to the State Government or commissioner for justice and state attorney general. Such a ridiculous thought from a man who sees anything technology as a rocket science, and dwells on the age-long, almost phrased out paper memos.

That aside, Ray, in his bitter journey of playing the ostrich policy, had taken a swipe on the governor, his laudable policies and his appointees. Ray’s tissues of lies will be dissected and deconstructed one after the other as may be necessary. I had decided to take this course despite friends adverting my mind to the fact that Ray suffers from extreme diarrhea of the mouth as a loquacious with some touch of mental infirmity. The warning is quite appreciated, however, this riposte will serve the gullible minds Ray had poisoned a vital antidote.

First, Ray said he picked a personal offence with the list of commissioners the state recently released, alleging that he found no merit on the appointees. He particularly singled out two of the commissioners—Barrister Lloyd Ekweremadu and Mrs. Adaora Chukwu, to pay for the sins of their parents; Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Barr. Sullivan Chime, whom Ray had locked horn with over the years despite burnishing and raising him and his family from the pit of poverty where they lived in almost destitution and hunger. Although, giving Ray and his family life was not by merit but through his predilection for blackmail and character assassination. Does the belligerent Ray have any issue with Sullivan and Ekweremadu? He should go and settle it with them and allow the youths breathe.

The appointments of the duo, according to Ray, was predicated on compensatory ground. In his usual lamentations, he claimed the two commissioners would have no value to add to the governance of the state because of their age, and said he was scouting everywhere to see where Enugu people, whom he lampooned as docile, would condemn their appointments. Wailing further, Ray took over 40 minutes of the short time allotted to him to justify his position when he was reminded by the programme anchor, Yagazie, that the young commissioners were coming from the private sector background with a fierce opposition members as majority in the House of Assembly already got them cleared. Ray retorted that the most important job for a commissioner is the attendance to mails (letters, files, etc) which the commissioner would find recondite to understand. He alleged that the governor had succeeded in handling over power to permanent secretaries who would literally control government policies and overshadow the appointees.

Sadly for Ray, Governor Mbah has said repeatedly that his government would be driven by innovative ideas rather than the usual ways of doing things that had never yielded positive results and impact less on the well-being of the people. This is what he called “business unusual” during his inaugural address. Things must be done differently to achieve impactful results. Both Lloyd Ekweremadu and Mrs Adaora Chukwu had come prepared from the private and development backgrounds. Before their appointments, they’d been doing Enugu proud in their respective endeavours. Both of them had attended some of the world’s best institutions equipped with the modern skills required to drive a paradigm shift in governance.

While Lloyd had practised as a legal practitioner for many years where he consulted for international organisations, financial institutions, multinational companies, oil and gas industries, development partners, the Nigerian State among others in multi-sectoral and diverse capacities, achieving and accomplishing goals only achievable by people with dominant skills in technology, innovation, artificial intelligence, Adaora could be better described as a Amazon in development, infrastructure, renewable energy, power, minerals and extractive industries, finance, agriculture and innovation. Ray would be shocked to learn that most of these young commissioners are not just the “Made-in-Akpugo” breed of lawyers, but Harvard, Queen, Cambridge, London Business School, MIT products where they had enmeshed themselves in skills that would take the Nigerian State half a century or more to achieve with the pace of its education standards.

For the record, it would interest Ray that the two commissioners he particularised did not just perform excellently well in their private businesses, they also did as public officers while working with the federal government. Without sounding immodest, both of them can individually employ the service of Mr. Ray, pay him for the rest of his life. That is a fact not in issue. Even the Labour Party members of the House of Assembly that he incited were mesmerised by the practical brilliance and display put up by the young commissioners.

Second, aside the criminals enforcing sit-at-home in Enugu State and their financiers and supporters, the people of the state and even outsiders have been pouring encomiums on the governor for the decisive, audacious and timely response from his administration to put an end to the vicious, catastrophic and hydra-headed monster that had almost brought the zone to its knee. Sit-at-home is an affliction of enslavement in poverty, intellectual decay and mental deprivation that kills creativity.

Before the general election, Ray, during the governor’s townhall meeting at Akpugo, even though he is known for his chameleonic politics of Labour Party at night, PDP in the morning and APC in the evening, had appealed to Mbah to do something about the insecurity in the state when he won. It was the same Ray who cried SOS that he had become a stranger in his own Akpugo home as unknown gunmen terrorising them had taken over as overlords that is today condemning the presence of security operatives in the state. Ray wanted a ruthless approach to deal with insecurity before he was finally converted as unknown gunmen’s sympathizer.

One of the promises to the citizens Mbah made was to deliver a fatal blow on insecurity and rid it in the state. Quoting section 14 of the constitution, Mbah said it was his primary and most fundamental responsibility to guarantee the life and property of the people. This he must do by his strategic and tactical approaches to flushing out anything resembling insecurity in the state. The security of the people is non negotiable. Evey government with its ball must muster the political will to eliminate crimes. On assuming office, Mbah issued a strong warning to fomentors of trouble to immediately quit the state or be forced to quit. He cancelled the illegal sit-at-home order which had nearly destroyed the achievements of Ndigbo since the end of the civil war. That was his promise to the people.

However, Ray, filled with venoms of disenchantment, accused the governor of taking the wrong approach to ending sit-at-home in the state. To justify his crass position, Ray misdirected himself with blatant lies when he noted that sit-at-home was almost gone when Mbah pulled the trigger and reawakened the menace, pointing at his swearing in ceremony day which was Monday. Mr Ray, you lied! Before the cancellation of the disasterous sit-at-home, there was no life on Mondays in any part of the state. No movement. Shops were not opening. Markets were usually under lock and key. Schools remained shut. Public and civil servants reclined in their threshold, and palpable fear enveloped the land. Enugu was a shadow of itself and the entire state had been described as a ghost city. The boys Ray is fanatically lusting around held sway and notoriously strutted the streets like locusts in broad daylight.

Of course, Ray also condemned the presence of security operatives in the state, lying that he had been harassed for hooting just to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Complaining of security operatives’ presence in the state gave Ray away as a sympathizer who thrives in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity. He must be investigated. He has questions to answer for working with terrorists.

I would like to put Ray in a proper perspective as regards the issue of those that violated the state order and had their shops sealed. The government has the power to seal up any shop that violates or contravenes the law or directives of the state. If Ray is a lawyer as he purportedly claimed, he could have appreciated the position of the Land Use Act 1978, the state tenement and rental law, among others empowering the state to revoke licences, shut down premises, seal up shops, sanction any infraction of its laws and directives. The governor is not forcing anyone to come out as Ray claimed, however, the tenement law provides for the opening of business premises for economic activities. I also need not remind Ray of the need for psychiatric attendance to his health. He was at the radio claiming that many hoodlums were killed at the Ogbete Market violent protest by IPOB criminals, even when he was reminded that the fact on ground recorded one casualty from the riotous marauders.

Third, Ray, who had before the appointment of Professor Chidiebere Onyia as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), was parading himself as either the next SSG or the Attorney General. His disillusionment probably left him after the announcement of the development expert as the secretary. He could have waited for the right time for his pound of flesh. Urban Parliament presented such opportunity. Launching the bazooka punch, Ray scathed the SSG of misleading Governor Mbah whom he accused of not being in charge of the affairs of the state. He argued fruitlessly that the SSG was behind the problems of the state.

Ray should come out of his delusion and accept the reality. Enugu State has an SSG who is dedicated to his job. He takes no action without being delegated, and all actions taken by him are in the best interest of the greater majority of the state. He should be commended for his innovative policies which are bringing much more reassurance of a new modern state. It is our hope that he would do more in executing those policies outlined by the Mbah administration.

Finally, with some roads undergoing maintenance and reconstruction in the state, with waste management system taking aggressive measure, with water flowing gradually, with the state witnessing relative peace and security, with arrears of pensions and gratuities getting immediate attention under Governor Mbah, Ray said he had not seeing anything. That is called, progress blindness. Envy and resentments are like Ray taking poison and expecting Enugu State government to feel his self-affliction. We could only sympathise with his ill health and poverty of the mind.

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