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Monday, December 4, 2023

Joe Igbokwe: Com’on FERMA, Stop This Fraud In Lagos State

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by Joe Igbokwe

“FERMA is now putting signposts on areas and roads where we have worked, deceiving its employer in Abuja that it is working. I have taken photographs of the area and sent to the Minister of Works, to note that I hope FERMA is accounting for its budget because all the works they claim that they did, the state government did them. That is the fraud that is going on now. They use money from SURE-P and they are moving about deceiving people in Abuja that they are using it to work in Lagos. To their minds, that is what they will use to win elections here by next year, but the people of Lagos are no fools.” – Governor Fashola

These are very interesting times in Nigeria. As 2015 Presidential elections draws near hell has been let loose in Nigeria. For the ruling party PDP, it is a do or die affair. If they have to empty the entire treasury to achieve their inordinate ambition, so be it. All over Nigeria money is being deployed massively for the sole purpose of remaining in power at all cost beyond 2015. Scandals, scams, financial misappropriation, stealing are brewing everywhere at the Nigerian federal sector in a way never experienced since our flag independence in 1950, Friends across Nigeria, various organizations, markets, churches etc continue to give graphic details of how the President’s men and women have infiltrated their groups throwing millions and billions at them for 2015. One dares to ask; is this all it takes to win elections in Nigeria? Where are the common people and their welfare for which governments exist and for which election of leaders happen on periodic basis?

The ‘missing 20 billion US Dollars’, the kerosene subsidy scandal, the oil subsidy scam, the SURE-P looting, and all sundry leakages within the system are all meant to stash trillions of Naira for 2015 elections. Not that these would be devoted to projects that would remove the shackle of poverty, disease and want from which Nigerians suffer and die in their tens of thousands everyday. Not that these monies are ploughed into the worsening power sector to rescue what is left of Nigeria’s formal sector from total annihilation. Not that these huge monies are invested in our woeful health, educational and welfare sectors to rescue the 120 million Nigerians who, by World Bank statistics are living below the poverty line. Not that these trillions of Naira that develop wings everyday in Nigeria are moved into the industrial sector to create jobs for the millions of hopeless Nigerian youths who are moved into crime by the absnce of jobsm even after graduating from the universities. Not that these trillions are used to improve the worsening security crisis Nigeria faces at present. Sure, Boko Haram can continue to kill college students, our mothers, our fathers, Nigeria can continue to be in darkness, let unemployment take care of itself, let our schools continue to go down, let our hospitals remain mere Consulting clinics, let the infrastructure continue to decay, let the economy continue to nose-dive, so long as we remain in power.

These trillions of Naira are being looted and part of it saved for politics. Yes, politics of poverty where Nigerians are exposed to mass poverty and wait for morsels at election time. Yes, morsels that flow from the profligate table of politicians who are so adept at the politics of poverty-the type PDP has been unleashing on Nigeria for the past fifteen years. It is what is in vogue today, as President Jonathan’s government battles for re-election after a woeful showing for the nearly five years he had been in power.

In Lagos, PDP members are working so hard so they will not be left out in this vicious game plan to continue to decimate and plunder Nigeria. Last year Chief Bode George gathered them somewhere in the metropolis and told them that time has come for PDP to leverage on 200 Federal Roads for election purposes in Lagos since Lagos State can set up KAI and LASTMA and ‘use them for the same purpose’ .With a cash cow like SURE-P (Subsidy Re-Investment and Employment Programme) at hand to fund anything that will help them, Lagos PDP went back to resuscitate the dead FERMA foot soldiers who terrorized Lagosians in the days of Adeseye Ogunlewe as Federal Minister for Works.

For record purposes the SURE-P fund is the money made from removal of Petroleum Subsidy from January 2012 which President Jonathan promised to use in building our refineries, build railways, build hospitals, rebuild schools, roads establish industries and generate employment, create jobs, build our woeful power sector, flood Nigerian roads with affordable mass transit buses, etc. Today SURE-P funds are used mainly to service PDP. Today SURE-P has become a sluch fund for the recruitment of PDP thugs and hoodlums who are given peanuts as monthly allowances. Nigerians who suffered the extortion of N32 from each liter of fuel they buy since January 2012, are left high and dry as their standard of lives plummet. We all recall that recently, SURE-P was hit by a financial scandal where over N500 billion was stolen from the fund and this led to the resignation of its Chairman, Dr. Christopher Kolade. That is what PDP is using to train the so-called FERMA Road Officers in Lagos. Lagos has close to 10,000 roads. Out of this, federal government owns about 200 roads. Now tell me where Chief Bode George and his co-travelers in PDP will deploy these officers to? What will they be doing? To control traffic in Lagos? We all saw the tragic results on Lagos roads when they were deployed by Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe few years back. It was a fierce battle between them and LASTMA/KAI Officers in Lagos and many lost their lives, some maimed and disfigured. Is this what PDP wants to reenact for its elusive pipe dream of gaining a foothold in Lagos?

There can never be another state for PDP in Lagos. There is only one state led by Governor Fashola of APC. Any attempt therefore by the Lagos PDP to put spanners in the works to jeopardize the relative peace Lagosians have been enjoying for years now will be met with stiff resistance. The projects the governments of Tinubu and Fashola has been painstakingly doing for the past eight years are now being claimed by hoodlums deployed to cause mayhem and brigandage in Lagos for the political interests of those who do not believe in performance in public office. The green lawns and gardens Tinubu and Fashola built to make Lagos not only livable but beautiful are now being dented with FERMA signposts and spurious claims that they were done overnight by FERMA. The bad federal roads the Tinubu and Fashola governments rebuilt are now being claimed by FERMA, possibly as a way of generating non existent achievements of a failed government and fool Nigerians as the critical 2015 election approaches.

Lagos PDP cannot reap where it did not sow. Lagos PDP cannot leverage the good works of Governor Fashola of APC just to impress Abuja. It is a primitive, 21st century fraud that will not stand. The other day I saw a road grader scrapping a bad portion on Ikorodu Road and probably to resurface it and I saw about three young men each holding cameras or video machines, recording what is going on. Now for what purpose will you deploy three men to take pictures of a small repair job on Ikorodu road? Does this represent federal intervention on dilapidated federal roads in Lagos at this very age? God have mercy! This is absurd and reprehensible. It is scam, a horrible trick on the intelligence of not only the sophisticated people of Lagos but Nigerians as a whole.

PDP, whether in Abuja or Lagos is deficit in creativity, deficit in character, deficit in planning and execution of ideas, deficit in robust thinking and debates. In a mad house full of subhuman mongrels, dolts, brainless nitwits and rapacious greedy lots, it is hard to expect anything that is good, bright and beautiful. Let no right thinking Nigerians ever hope that PDP still has anything to offer Nigeria now and in future. Give them another 20years they will still be dilly-dallying and hopelessly looking for roads where there are no roads. They are neither innovators nor are they influencers. They are clueless and classless leaders.

I want the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen to call what is known as Lagos FERMA to order. Is FERMA a Lagos agency? The Minister must act now before it is too late. May the people I saw being trained at old Toll Gate Lagos never be deployed on the streets of Lagos for any reason, whatsoever. Do not let Chief Bode George and company deceive you. Playing politics with the lives of Nigerians can backfire. We have seen it before, with its tragic consequences and may we never repeat this ugly history. I want the National Assembly to take more than a passive interest in the gale of annoying illegalities being sponsored by the PDP in Lagos before it snowballs into another national crisis.

Joe Igbokwe is Interim Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC). He writes from Lagos.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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