By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Abia State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has described as ‘improper, unwarranted and unacceptable’ alleged attack by the state governor on the leadership of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese.
The opposition party was reacting to Alex Otti administration’s response to the church advice contained in a communique issued after its 17th Synod which advised it to fix the economic roads in Aba and desist from sacking civil servants employed in the state civil service.
The Abia PDP however, called on Alex Otti-led government to tender a public apology to the Synod and congregation of the Anglican Diocese of Aba for calling to question the integrity of their Bishops.
A statement signed by the PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary, Hon. Elder Abraham Amah, said rather than take the Church advice in good faith, the Labour Party’s government in the state resulted resorted to usual flagrant display of unimaginable intolerance by bringing a politically irreconcilable angle into the whole saga.
According to the statement, in all the queerness of the response, what is most insulting to the members of the 17th Synod of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese, the entire congregation of the Anglican Communion and in fact to Christendom is for Alex Otti to say that out of the lot of Bishops that attended the Synod and signed the communique only one man, standing behind his personal interest, dictated the letters of the communique and persuaded others to sign a communique whose content is evident even to those who do not live in Abia state.
“The Abia PDP has read with utter disappointment the response of the Alex Otti administration to a simple, honest and genuine advice from the Synod of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese contained in a communique it issued after its 17th Synod which advised it to fix the economic roads in Aba and desist from sacking civil servants employed in the State civil service.
“Without needing the services of magicians, is it difficult for anyone to know that more than 10,000 civil servants have been sacked in Abia State or that the major roads that deserve attention to spur economic activities in Aba notably, Port Harcourt, Ohanku, Obohia and other roads in Aba and its environs have not been given attention, especially as he made a cheap political capital out of this when he hurriedly went on inspection of these roads with construction giant, Julius Beger, immediately he was declared governor-elect. Have those roads been fixed or have they suddenly become unimportant?
“It is strange that Alex Otti would be the one accusing the past administration of not following laid down procedures in the conduct of government business when he is culpable of the offence and to a higher degree. Alex Otti did not follow due process in many things he has done in Abia State since he assumed office and has flouted all the extant rules of the civil service, and many others.
“First, he suspended all the Permanent Secretaries on the day he assumed office and after more than 100 days has not issued any queries, has not paid them salaries as required by civil service rules and went ahead to distort the hierarchical structure by placing subordinates over their superiors. Is that due process?
“Secondly, he placed the Abia State House of Assembly under his thumb by making sure that he used his executive powers to install his minority Labour Party as the majority which produced all the Principal Officers of the House. Is that democratic?
“The same Alex Otti has awarded road contracts without following the provisions of the Abia Public Procurement Act, as no prequalifications, advertisements, public bids were made for those roads and till today, Abians do not know the cost of those roads. Is that not illegal and actionable?
“Last week, Alex Otti informed Abians that about 4700 pensioners have been enrolled into a free medical scheme in primary and secondary health facilities in the State without giving the name and physical address of the Health Maintenance Organization, HMO that is in charge of the scheme and how it emerged the winner in the selection process. Is that transparent and accountable?”
Elder Amah said the Church is the moral conscience of society and it is its duty to speak truth to power.
“For the eight years of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration, the leaders of the Church held him firmly to account and on several occasions commended him as well as knocked him in areas they felt he did not do right but there was never this type of hostile response.
“The Abia PDP feels embarrassed that the hallowed office of the governor which represents the lofty ideals and aspirations of the good people of Abia State has been reduced to a disorganised motor park office where the Chairman barks orders to his subordinates without checks by any officer.”
While demanding an apology for the church, the statement also called on Abia people “to remain eternally vigilant and put a wedge on the speedy slide of our State to authoritarianism and the emergence of an emperor who brooks no dissent, no matter how genuine and constructive it is. Now is the time to write the story of how we stopped an emperor because our democracy is not negotiable.”