Published On: Wed, Aug 7th, 2013

Delta Assembly Splashes N1.2b on USA Leadership Training Jamboree

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Members of Delta State House of Assembly under going leadership training in USA

LAGOS AUGUST 7TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Mixed reactions continue to trail the Delta State House of Assembly’s alleged N1.2 billion leadership training jamboree currently taking place in faraway Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, San Francisco, USA.
Twenty-nine members of the House as well as Emma Okoro, the pioneer Speaker of the House who is now Chief Adviser to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on Legislative Matters, along with directors and aides to key officers of the House led by the current Speaker, Mr. Victor Ochei, are said to have left the shores of the country two weeks ago for what has been described as a jamboree at the expense of tax payers.

The size of the Speaker’s entourage, which our correspondent learnt has about 40 persons, is already generating ripples among Deltans who described the “training” as a waste of public funds that has no direct positive impact on Deltans, questioning the justice of elected officials funding such training from the public purse.
According to the Speaker, who spoke on the phone from the United States, the training programme being attended by members of the 5th Assembly in California is to prepare them further for the challenges ahead.
“The training programme is a must for all members of the House as capacity building is a priority to the leadership of the fifth Assembly.”
He said the choice of the School of Public Policy, was because of the institution’s track record in capacity building training, adding that certificates would be issued to participants at the end of the programme on August 9, 2013.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state who sopke with our correspondent condemned the training, describing it as a “kangaroo training” for the purpose of looting public funds.
“We learnt here that the training programme is focusing on the power of legislation in sustainable development of society, leadership and public management, social media and public policy, public and private partnership, innovation and sustainable development, Californian political system, education as well as the place of agriculture in human development. Our question is that this is not the first time they are embarking on such frivolous trips abroad and what has been the gains and impact on the people?
“Has this stopped them from being contractors, has this stopped them from been corrupt and fraudulent? The answer is no,” he declared.
A House of Assembly staff who spoke under condition of anonymity described the act of the lawmakers as unfortunate saying that the lawmakers are among the many problems facing the state right from the beginning in terms of corruption and amassing wealth for themselves.
“Ask them what has been their contribution to the growth of the state and democracy, apart from their usual votes of confidence passed on the state governor so that “Ghana must go” bags will keep on coming. Just look at the list of the persons that went, what has the training got to do with directors, Uduaghan’s aid and aides of the speaker if not to waste and loot public funds?”
One of the lawmakers participating in the training who pleaded that his name not be mentioned confided in our correspondent that the whole exercise is nothing but fraud. “Honestly speaking, this training is a waste of funds as far as I am concerned because it will not have any impact on our people, it will not change our way of life, rather just to siphon public funds all in the name of training abroad.
“I was telling a colleague of mine that rather than wasting taxpayers’ money why not we hold this training even at Calabar or any other place in Nigeria and the purpose will still be achieved. For over two weeks we arrived here if I tell you how much taxpayers’ money that has gone you will be shocked. Though, I must tell you the truth, Ochei is only doing all this to impress us the House members so that we don’t nurture any mind to impeach him since he is contesting for the governorship position come 2015.
“Are you talking about the bills for our accommodation alone at the Hotel Shattuck, Berkeley?” he queried. “ What about the feeding, drinking, hanging out with all these Oyibo girls, what about the money for our instructors taking us the programme?”
But when asked to give the total figure expended so far in the programme, he declined but simply said “several millions of Naira my brother.”
Reacting to the development, a socio-political pressure group, Emede Political Focus Forum (E.P.F.F), Isoko South local government area of Delta State, described the lawmakers as “mere rubber stamp” who are just amassing wealth to the detriment of the people.
In a press statement, the Founder/Secretary General of the group, Comrade Geoffrey Osiama, expressed sadness and disappointment, describing the trip as “a waste of resources” and a way of undermining such institutions as the Lagos Business School, Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies in Jos, and the Center for Development Studies within the country which can offer capacity building training on Governance and Leadership.
“The lawmakers should realise that with this recent accord with University of California, they have passed a vote of no confidence in their own universities which some of them are currently attending and some graduated from as well as the numerous federal and private universities in this country.”
Said the group, simply, “The clamour for foreign training among public servants is the “the quest for estacode.”
Also reacting, a member of the state executive council who pleaded for anonymity stated, “This is insensitive distraction on the grounds that a lawmaker ought to have his ideas on leadership and governance before running, if he does not then he can hardly be of any use. It is truly unbelievable that our lawmakers could even think of such a wasteful project as enhancing their capacities through a stint at California or at any University outside our shores. We need to know who would be paying for the workshops and seminars-for that is what such stints invariably boil down to.”
The executive council member pointed out that the likes of Nasir el Rufai, former FCT Minister; and Frank Nweke Jnr, former Minister of Information; recent graduates of Harvard’s one year fellowship programme attended the school at their own expense after serving in the Nigerian government.
While lamenting that the trip to California may have cost the Deltan taxpayers millions of dollars in airline tickets for the lawmakers, directors and aides in payment of bloated official allowances and hotel accommodation, the executive member lamented: “This is just another intelligent avenue for squandering of scarce public resources.”
A clearly outraged Delta state chairman, Campaign for Good Governance and 2011 Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Governorship candidate also expressed his outrage.
“I think there is an urgent need for them to be called to order by well-meaning Deltans,” he said. “What impression are they giving to the outside world? The same government that is talking about attracting investors to the state through road shows to various countries of the world and without anything to show for such wasteful trips and adventures now trooping to America as tourists with tax payers money.
“I’m beginning to feel that some of us will soon look towards the direction of the courts for urgent intervention to stop these kinds of counterproductive summer jamborees. Many of the putative legislators came in into the house with very doubtful pedigrees and in most cases with forged certificates so, one is not surprised at their desperate attempts to jump at every opportunity of openings of exposure and phony certificates.
“Besides, the allocations and provisions for them in the 2013 budget for globetrotting and transfer of illicit funds have to be thoroughly exploited. But again, the cry of the traumatized and over exploited Deltans will soon come to an end because 2015 is just staring us on the face. They are all “Teke, U, fares sin” they are all found wanting and are moving precariously towards their political retirement. They cannot be termed or named as legislators. They are lootercrators,” Unuafe said.
On his part, the state chairman of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Chief Tony Ezeagwu stated that it’s all a waste describing it as a terrible thing.
“They have nothing to legislate upon, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan is absolutely in charge, the legislators are out of the governance and instead of sitting here in Delta state wasting their time they have to create a kangaroo programme and travel abroad to enjoy themselves at the expense of the tax payers hard earned money.
“What is happening in Delta State one cannot reconcile, I don’t even see the kind of leadership they are going far away in the United State of America to learn and come and practice in Nigeria. What kind of leadership training, the leadership which you are seeking that you waste tax payers’ money? Is it to come and make laws on how to tar our roads, make laws so that we can have good water, electricity or what? It’s all waste of public funds, waste of resources and tax payers’ money.”
On the involvement of five DPP lawmakers on the training trip, the party chairman said his partymen could not have turned down the offer in view of the fact that other legislators were going. “Don’t they like good things too? They should go with them if that is the way and manner the House is operating, they should operate with them. We don’t have the majority, assuming we have the majority they would have called the House to order since the training is seen as a jamboree.”
As to whether the party would scold them, the chairman disagreed, saying that since the money is for all of them they should also go and waste the money because it is for all of them, and if they are going to share the money let them share too and enjoy with them as well.
Source: Saharareporters

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