By Stanley Okoro Emegha
Abia Onyike is an iconoclast whose vituperations against conventional order, constituted authorities or institutions have been classified by psychologists to mean different things to different people: an opportunist whose capacity for mischief and evil makes him an evil genus hated and chastised by all; a sadist whose miserable life of frustration is injurious to the society; a controversial man who does not disguise his penchant to abuse every privilege; a perpetual parasite desirous of cruising to victory at the expense of survival of others; a domineering character who tenaciously cling to the top by crook, commission or blackmail and egocentric man who hikes himself up by assuming what he is not.
His miserable life of boredom can be traced to his pitiable background and poor parental upbringing due to the early separation between his father and mother. This lacuna paved way for him to be groomed under the tutelage of his mother which in later years in life adversely affected his inter-personal relationship with people and this perhaps may have caused the break-up of his marriage barely one year after wedlock.
However, one school of thought described Onyike as an arrogant, selfish and self centred mischief maker who will always stoop low once he is looking for something and after getting his heart desire turns to a violent tiger. In a bid to buttress this assertion, this school of thought gave a graphic analysis of Onyike’s manifest life of greed, militancy and antagonism that estranged his relationship with the public. For instance, the narrative goes to state categorically that the first controversy that exposed him to public glare was in 1995 when he declared his intention to contest the Chairmanship Election of the Abia State Chapter of the NUJ. Like the devourer he is, the euphoria of emerging as NUJ State Chairman for an office he was yet to occupy, made him become haughty to the extent that he launched an unprovoked attack against his boss, the then Commissioner for Information, Dr. Emmanuel Ikokwu vis-a-vis the Abia State Government. His palpable action was quickly rebuffed as the State Government incarcerated him two days before the NUJ election which was eventually conducted peacefully without Onyike contesting.
While Onyike’s attempt to head the Abia State Chapter of the NUJ Council was marred by crisis, his emergence as the NUJ Chairman in Ebonyi State in 1997 was an easy work-over due to the tacit support he received from the Feghabo Military Administration and Dr. Mike O. Okoro respectively. Ironically, the first victim of Onyike’s tirade thereafter was the Faghabo Administration whom he later accused of complexicity over the gruesome murder of one, Emmanuel Nnachi at Bencof Hotel, Abakaliki. This was the pay back package Onyike had for the government that made him relevant in the state while Dr. Mike Okoro on the other hand received his own backlash later.
In line with the law of gravity which stipulates that action and reaction are equally and opposite, Onyike’s show of ingratitude against the authorities did not go unpunished as the State Government made sure that his re-election bid in 1999 was mission impossible. Consequently, he was short-changed by Iduma O. Iduma in the said NUJ State Council Election. Onyike’s shameful defeat however paved way for his emergence as the NUJ Deputy National President during the 2000 NUJ National Delegates Conference following his adoption by the NUJ Presidential Hopeful, Smart Adeyemi who is now a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who in his volition used Onyike as his running mate.
The initial rapport that heralded the relationship between Adeyemi and Onyike made the NUJ President to give his Deputy the free hand to operate including sending him to South Korea in 2001 where he attended an International Conference. But Onyike later exhibited the animal tendencies in him which unarguably distanced him away from people, by plotting to overthrow his boss which made the NUJ National Executive Council to expel him, having stayed for less than two years in office. By this development, it is on record that Onyike is the first NUJ National Officer who was disgraced out of office with ignominy.
This unwholesome development jolted Onyike beyond expression and constrained him to go back to the drawing board to strategize on how to repackage himself for public acceptability and also to work his way to the corridors of power. Consequently, he voluntarily accompanied the then State PDP Chairman, Chief Obinna Ogba to the 2006 Constitutional Conference which made it possible for Ogba in conjunction with the former Personal Assistant to Governor Egwu, Chief Collins Agbo to recommend him for appointment as Commissioner. The endorsement of the said recommendation by Dr. Mike Okoro as a major stakeholder of Edda extraction culminated to the appointment of Onyike as the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in October, 2006 by the Egwu administration.
No sooner did Onyike’s dream come true than he branded Obinna Ogba who is currently a serving Senator as a stark illiterate who was not in any way his intellectual class, noting that a blind man does not lead a visually sound mind otherwise both of them will fall inside a ditch. This was how they later parted ways. Dr. Mike Okoro on the other hand was not spared of Onyike’s act of man’s inhumanity to man. The man’s appearance on the occasion of the symposium organised by the Federated Edda Students Association (FEDDAS) in 2007 where Onyike’ was the Guest Speaker, offered him the opportunity to tongue lash the elder statesman whom he described as a spent force. Onyike then wondered why Dr. Okoro refused to acknowledge the fact that he was no longer relevant in contemporary Edda politics. However, Onyike promptly received a clear dose of what he bargained for following the spontaneous reaction of the audience who nearly lynched him and thus the symposium ended abruptly.
Dr. Sam Egwu’s appointment of Abia Onyike as Commissioner for Information in 2006 may have been against his wish. This made the Governor to have placed Onyike under close surveillance. However, what appeared to be the first face-off between them was the accusation that Onyike carted away some sensitive materials which was packed at the Ministry of Information store, No. 1 Onwe Road, Abakaliki for safe keeping. The said items were meant for the construction of the new Ebonyi State Broadcasting Service which was relocated to Nkaliki. As the rumour in respect of the case of pilfering of government facilities was making rounds vis-a-vis the speculation of possible probe against Onyike, fire mysteriously gutted down the store in what analysts regarded as the cry of a witch at night and in the morning the child died.
The endorsement of Elder Anyim Ude as the PDP senatorial flag bearer for Ebonyi South zone by Dr. Egwu in 2007 further exacerbated the relationship between Onyike and his boss. His frustration forced him to voluntarily withdraw to his cocoon during the 2007 electioneering campaign at a time his services as government image maker were highly needed especially against the backdrop that his principal was nursing a presidential ambition.
The adoption of Chief Martin Elechi as PDP consensus gubernatorial candidate in the state in 2007 gave Onyike a glimmer of hope that his political fortunes would once again be turned around following Elechi’s declaration of his intention to use him as his running mate. Unfortunately, Onyike’s hope was dashed as a result of Dr. Sam Egwu’s stiff opposition threatening not to allow Elechi to inherit a beast of burden who will paralyse his administration in future.
However, the integration of Onyike in the Elechi administration was influenced by the then Commissioner for Inter-Party Dialogue, Chief Egwu Chima who pleaded with the Governor to bring on board his friend in the administration. Chima dramatized his request by mapping out the most dangerous strategy of embarrassing Chief Elechi especially during public functions, to accommodate his friend, claiming that he was a political orphan in contemporary Edda politics without Onyike joining forces with him to deliver in Edda. The eventual appointment of Abia Onyike as Personal Assistant to Gov. Elechi on Media Relations was celebrated by Chima with fanfare at Grace Court Hotel and Suites. Ironically, the romance of convenience between them was short-lived as Onyike soon declared Chima his mortal enemy because of the man’s rising political profile in the Elechi administration, having gotten what he wanted from Chima.
Of course, Onyike had an axe to grin with Chief Martin Elechi for endorsing Sen. Sonni Ogbuoji for a second term mandate as PDP Senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South zone in the 2015 General Elections. With the unfolding events at the time, Onyike’s calculation thereafter was that the administration of Gov. Elechi had collapsed in his hands due to the mass resignation of members of the State Executive Council at the time as a result of the crises that rocked the State PDP. Onyike took advantage of the situation and wrote a trash against Chief Elechi, abusing the elder statesman and calling him alls sorts of names, describing his boss as a deceit who claimed he went to university whereas he merely attended Fourabay Collage, Siere Loene and therefore attributed the poor performance of the Elechi administration to low education.
Onyike’s outrage was nauseating and multidimensional. Firstly, was his confusion over the factionalization of the ruling PDP in the state into two diametrically opposed camps led by Elechi and Umahi respectively which left him in doubt as to which group to join. The bone of contention was that Elechi in his ambition to install his successor as the next Governor of the state forced the incumbent State PDP Chairman, Prince Ugorji Ama Oti to resign, promising to give the former party boss ticket for Federal House of Representatives. Alternatively, the former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Ben Akpa was appointed as the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party.
Following the preliminary endorsement of Sen. Sonni Ogbuoji’s second term ambition by the Elechi administration, Onyike considered it apt to settled for the Federal House of Representatives position and with the support of some good Samaritans, raised some money which enabled him to purchase Nomination Form
The PDP National Working Committee in reaction to the illegal appointment of Chief Ben Akpa as Chairman, dissolved the Caretaker Committee and consequently reinstated members of the PDP State Executive Committee with the former Deputy State Chairman, Chief Joseph Onwe as Acting Chairman. This development jolted Chief Elechi and compelled him to defect to Labour Party with his supporters. When Onyike who initially decamped to Labour Party following PDP endorsement of Barr. Iduma Igariwey as its Federal House of Representative flag bearer for Afikpo North & South Federal Constituency discovered to his disappointment that there was no vacancy in the Labour Party for the same office in Afikpo North & South Federal Constituency, he elapsed into coma and was hospitalized.
Onyike’s pathetic plight attracted the sympathy of the PDP Gubernatorial Candidate at the time, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi who in his magnanimity resolved to rehabilitate the prodigal son accordingly. Consequently, Umahi appointed Onyike as the Director of Media and Publicity, Divine Mandate Campaign Organization and charged him to work in synergy with other committee members for efficient service delivery. This was not to be because Onyike in his predetermination to leverage on the opportunity preferred to work alone for his selfish personal interest. The worst case scenario was that of one of the members of the committee, Dr. John Otu who was the former Commissioner for Information & State Orientation at the time Onyike returned back to the Ministry, having been expelled by NUJ and chased out of Abuja in 2002. Unfortunately, Onyike in his solo lifestyle, permanently sidelined Dr. Otu as a result of his bottled-up grievances which he developed against his former boss despite repeated warnings by Engr. Umahi, urging him to carry along every member of the Committee.
When it dawned on Umahi that Onyike’s greed and selfish desire to maximise gains at the expense of diligent performance was going to affect the result of the election, he appointed Sen. Emmanuel Onwe as Chairman of the Media and Publicity Committee to steer the ship of the campaign which made it possible for Onyike to take instruction from Onwe. From that moment, Onyike ought to have known that he had lost out completely in the power equation since the action of his boss was tantamount to passing a vote of no confidence against him.
After the 2015 General Election, Gov. Umahi in the spirit of being magnanimous in victory appointed Onyike as the General Manager of Ebonyi State Government Printing Press merely to enable him put food on the table for his family and not because he wanted to pacify Onyike for performing his duties creditably during the election. Therefore, the failure of Onyike’s 2019 senatorial ambition like previous adventures was an inter-play of the mutual distrust and antagonism which his detractors over the years cultivated against him as a result of his brash nature. This accounts for why out of the 9 senatorial aspirants in Ebonyi South Zone then, Onyike scored the least votes in the mock primaries which he has in his usual life of self deceit bluntly failed to tell the world the truth.
The frustration of losing his senatorial ambition which political observer presumed was only feasible in Onyike’s mindset, made him become emotional, hysterical and confrontational against every body around him as if the project is tied to his life. Consequently, he began to cast aspersions against Gov. Umahi, whom he described as a half baked graduate and the least personality that ever government the state and therefore attributed his self assessed dismal performance of the State Chief Executive to inexperience and lack of exposure to the dynamics of public service administration.
Onyike’s disillusionment has been traced to two pronged causative effects. Firstly, the frustration of selling the four bedroom bungalow allocated to him by the Elechi administration in his quest to lobby for support for the senatorial mock primaries which he woefully lost thereafter whereas he had not completed payment for the allocation fee since 2007 the building was allocated to him. Secondly, Onyike’s travails in life apparently stem from his weak intellect which makes it difficult for him to understand when he crossed the borderline.
Interestingly, the former Chief Press Secretary to the Pioneer Civilian Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Larry Oyim was the first person who in 2002 identified Onyike’s mental weakness and gross insensitivity when Onyike attacked his former boss, Dr. Emmanuel Oko Isu. Consequently, Larry advised the infant terrible to liberate himself mentally by going to school and allowing the school to pass through him, believing that this is the only way Onyike will be able to outgrow his personal idiosyncrasies of allowing himself to constitute nuisance to the public by persistently insulting leaders and elder statesmen who are not in any way his equals. This admonition momentarily made a tremendous impact on the life of Onyike and however compelled him to enrol for a Doctorate Degree Programme at Ebonyi State University four years later. Unfortunately, he discovered much to his disappointment that his brain was white washed to undertake such a futile academic exercise and thus abandoned the programme unceremoniously thereafter.
In fact, it is on record that Onyike’s constant attack against Gov. Umahi and other eminent personalities of Igbo extraction is a premeditated action conceived by him as a cheap ploy to blackmail, intimidate and extort money from his targeted victims. The initial attack against Umahi as programmed was a significant financial gain to Onyike as his action soon attracted the intervention of the Vice Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Prof. Chinedum who quietly bankrolled him on a monthly allowance of N150,000.00 although the man had charged him to stop tarnishing the image of Igbo leaders for no just cause. It is obvious that the university don wanted to play safe by being friendly with Onyike so that he does not rubbish his reputation in due course. Therefore, it can be said without equivocation that Onyike’s sensational write ups in all ramifications is a carefully designed programme conceived to blackmail eminent personalities and heads of Federal Establishments, believing that the sustained action would boost his extortion business in future.
Regrettably enough, Onyike in his unrepentant character has continued to tarnish the image of the wonder working Governor of Ebonyi State over nothing. His recent tantrums, accusing Gov. Umahi of destroying the state and impoverishing the people over a purported lack lustre performance in the area of education, health, water resources and non-payment of retirement benefits to pensioners is laughable. This is against the backdrop that the man at the centre of his criticisms is a well known great achiever who has been adjudged to be an exceptional leader; a man who in all ramifications is not in any way Onyike’s equal; a man who has received several accolades and awards nationally and internationally as the best Governor in Nigeria and to cap it up, a remarkable builder whose modest achievements would outlive his generation.
In fact, it is indeed an incontrovertible fact of history that Gov. Umahi’s performance index in the affected areas under reference surpassed that of his predecessors in the state and beyond. In his unwavering commitments re-position the education sector, the workaholic Governor on assumption of office, inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Committee to evaluate the state of affairs in all primary and secondary schools in the state. The result of the baseline survey prompted the state to pay her accumulated Counterpart Funds owed to UBEB from 2010 to date. This made it possible for the Umahi administration to augment the UBEB Matching Grants due for the state with other available resources for the purpose of the renovation of classroom blocks, construction of new classroom blocks including storey buildings, fencing of schools, procurement and distribution of instructional materials to schools for effective teaching and learning. The Umahi administration also established vocational schools to encourage self reliance among graduates of the said vocational schools who are usually assisted by the State Government to start up small scale business of their own. Similarly, the State Government established special schools for gifted students in each of the three senatorial zones in the state. And it is on record that students of the affected schools are on government scholarship to study at all levels.
Similarly, the Umahi administration adopted a holistic approach towards promoting a robust healthcare policy. To that end, the State Government fenced, renovated and equipped all existing General Hospitals in the state, granted regular subvention to Mission Hospitals, sponsors overseas treatment of patients suffering from life threatening diseases such as renal failure, liver, heart etc. In addition, the State Government queued into the National Primary Healthcare policy which makes it mandatory for participating states to have functional Health Centres in all her political wards. The Umahi Administration also built and handed over to the Federal Government an Ultra Modern Virology Centre, the first of its kind in the West African sub Region, for treatment of lasser fever and other hormonal diseases.
In the final analysis, integrity, discipline, self control and the fear of God are enduring character traits that shape the morality of a unique personality. Unfortunately, Onyike certainly lacks these attributes. His character and actions as enunciated above clearly portray him as the sadist he is. Fighting against the society is not a solution to his fantasy neither is his failure to go to the senate because of this ugly antecedent enough justification to pull down heavens. After all, he is not better than the former Executive Secretary, Corporate Affairs Commission, Dr. Dennis Ekumankama who narrowly missed the same ticket for three consecutive times and still maintained his peace without terrorising the world.
Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha
Commissioner for Internal Security &
Border Peace writes from Abakaliki
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