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Published On: Sat, May 11th, 2013

Ochei, E.K.Clark and the IPP Contracts: My Musings

Speaker Delta State House of Assembly, Hon Victor Ochei

By Frank Ofili
It has been 72 hours since grand-father E. K. Clark, former senator, former minister of the Federal Republic, an Ijaw statesman and President Jonathan’s political hatchet man, gave his (now) famous press conference in which he fired verbal salvos at Elder Godsday Orubebe, current Minister of the Niger-Delta and Rt. Hon Victor Ochei, Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly. Chief E. K. Clark had berated both for daring to show their interest in the Unity House Asaba in 2015.
A thorough deconstruction of his speech failed to reveal to me why Chief E. K. Clark should vent so much umbrage on Elder Orubebe for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of expression and aspiration to any office. However while he limited his criticism of Orubebe’s “offence” as that of an errant political infant, he went over the top in the case of Ochei whom he accused of fleecing the state to the tune of N18 billion. Hear him: “This is a young man, a contractor who got a mega contract of twenty seven billion naira contract for an Independent Power Project, IPP, at Oghara or Oghareki. He has collected eighteen billion naira from the Delta State Government, but nothing has happened on the site. This was the situation report about 2 years ago. The position today has still not changed because recently on Friday 3rd May, 2013, I sent 2 men to again visit the site. They found that the Delta State Government had tarred the road to the site where there are 3 containers, and that the site is overgrown with grasses and trees.”
Ochei has so far not responded to the accusation. Even his usually boisterous media aid, Nkem Osu, who is usually quick on the up-take, has maintained an undignified silence. It could well be that Speaker Ochei and his media aid are digging into their political archives to unearth facts and figures before responding. Or it could well be that both are students of Fabius Conctatus, the war strategist who opines that preliminary skirmishes should not be fought with major artillery.
Whatever the case may be, it is safe to conclude that this unusually loud sound of silence from the Speaker’s camp is ominous and tendentious, given that Elder Orubebe’s apologists have reportedly vowed that E.K. Clark cannot stop the minister’s ambition. Clearly Orubebe understands the danger in keeping mute. If you are the subject of an allegation of such magnitude and you choose to keep quiet, you leave the field wide open for conjectures and speculations. In the absence of a rebuttal, people interpret allegations any way they deem fit and they will be justified to do so. Yours truly would be excused therefore, if he seeks to join the fray and exercise his right to interpret the face-off between E. K. Clark and Ochei any way I deem fit.
I am not in the least surprised at what is emerging from unofficial quarter’s a’la E.K. Clark. PDP is notorious for committing both political incest and political cannibalism. Any of its members who dare to aspire to political office without seeking the blessings of the godfathers risks either being politically destroyed or being untimely dispatched to the great beyond. It is the way of the PDP, and it is not about to change.
What we are witnessing today is a proxy war. E. K. Clark just happens to be the convenient tool in the hand of the hidden undertaker. Clearly, E. K. Clark is fast emerging as the Aneni of Delta State. For all intents and purposes Ochei has been marked for political Siberia. Unless he is able to redistribute the N18 billion among the PDP power elites, and the matter settled as a family affair, his governorship ambition has become a still birth. This is real politik a’la PDP, and there are no prisoners taken in proxy warfare.
Not that I am vouching for Ochei, but I would be very surprised if he, and by extension Anioma, is not being set up for Urhobo reprisals. Here is an IPP project to be located in the heart of Urhobo land, awarded to an Anioma son, and money paid but the contract not executed. What kind of reception would Urhobo accord Ochei if he were to go there to campaign? It will also not surprise me if the State House of Assembly wakes up tomorrow and commence impeaching proceedings against Speaker Ochei.
We should not forget that President Jonathan and James Ibori were never the best of friends; so it will also not surprise me if the attack on Ochei is the beginning of a clamp down on Ibori’s political empire. Ochei of course is a prominent member of that corrupt empire, and as 2015 draws near there is no way the president would not want to install his own political structure to midwife his second term bid. I admit this is conjectures of course, but any discerning fellow will not fail to notice the crafty way Chief E. K. Clark made the connection between Orubebe’s declaration of governorship interest with Ochei and the IPP project. What is the connection? I fail to see one. Couldn’t Chief E. K. have simply addressed Orubebe’s declaration of governorship interest without dragging Ochei into it? More so since he claimed that it was the phone calls and text messages he received from party faithfuls about Orubebe’s declaration that informed the press conference.
Before the press conference, the public was never in the know that the IPP project was awarded to Ochei, but all the relevant authorities including the EFCC were aware about it for about two years now. So my question is how come the EFCC closed its eyes to this scam for two years now, and what has happened to make E. K. Clark now want to bring it to the public domain? The way it is now, EFCC has no choice but to act. It has been craftily boxed into a corner and their “Oga at the top” can conveniently claim not to be the one who instigated it.
With the destruction of Orubebe and Ochei’s governorship ambition, it seems someone is clearing the coast for fiery lawyer Festus Keyamo. When he (Keyamo) declared a few weeks ago that if he is elected governor of Delta State he would destroy PDP’s corrupt machinery in the state, what he actually meant was that he would destroy Ibori’s political empire. On what party’s platform he is seeking to be elected governor, Keyamo is yet to say. I think it is all too clear now that it will be PDP. We should not forget that Keyamo is counsel to PDP-controlled EFCC. I see EFCC moving against an impeached Ochei and Keyamo would be the lawyer shuttling the courts – something that would popularize him as a dress rehearsal for 2015. And from what I understand about the intriguing and shameless politics of PDP men, either the Oracle or the Anioma Senator would not mind to line up to be his running mate. That is if the later would not somehow be railed in anyhow. PDP is a party without conscience and those who dine with it must have long knives.
What has been made obvious once again is the rot in PDP and the monumental mis-governance of our state. Ochei’s decision not to respond can only help to give credibility to E. K. Clark’s story. Those of us who are wont to give him the benefit of doubt now have more reason to be less sanguine. No one knows yet whether E. K. Clark told the truth or not. What we do know is that a man at his age would normally have his facts before he speaks. Therefore for Ochei to choose not to clear his name is akin to committing political hara-kiri, not to mention the fact that as the chief lawmaker of the state he ought to be morally, legally and constitutionally bound to be above board. That his name is linked to this scam is to say the least unfortunate, embarrassing and disappointing to the generality of the state.
But who do we really blame? In a robust democracy, this kind of scandal is raw meat for the opposition party. But what do we have in our state? An opposition party whose only strong point is that its governorship hopeful was made popular only by virtue of the fact that he once bankrolled a failed military coupe d’état. In advanced democracies such people ought not to come near the political field. Also, opposition parties in organized societies have shadow cabinets with well-articulate d programs and policies they would implement should they be voted into office. Not so in Nigeria. A tragedy.
Source: Legisreport

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