By Chike Udemba
I am not Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s spokesman or his appointee. I don’t need to be to say things the way they are. Facts are facts. They are constant, verifiable and sacred. I have since realised that unlike other professions, journalism in recent years has been hijacked and dominated by quacks, who promote quackery and purvey falsehoods at ease.
This has become prevalent since the advent of social media platforms with no regulatory framework or regulations or severe punishments for offenders, miscreants and deviants.
Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry are overnight journalists and have capitalised on the loopholes and seeming freedom on social media platforms to abuse it. Some people have made themselves handy to be used as e-rats to do dirty job for desperate politicians on social media for a peanut.
That is why anybody with Android phone, data, social media accounts and psuedo accounts today claims to be a renowned journalist, pundit, analyst, commentator and expert in all fields including leadership, government, economy and governance.
To this kind of person, training, tutelage or practice is not required or needful. They fabricate and spread lies at will to delude the gullible and susceptible people. This is the greatest challenge of journalism practice today. Too many mechanics have made it difficult for people to know who are the madmen.
I was baffled reading one fallacious and malicious write-up titled Gov. Ugwuanyi vs Gov. Umahi: Why is Enugu State is Behind written by one Chris Ogbobe who claimed to be a journalist and comrade.
Perusing through the poorly written piece laced with malice, obvious and verifiable lies I wondered where the Ogbobe practiced or is practicing his acclaimed journalism, if not on social media platforms where anything goes.
Social media e-rat like Chris Ogbobe who is parading himself as a journalist without experience and qualifications has not learnt anything from what happened to another social media urchin like him, Mr. Godfrey Chikwere, who was arrested recently by security agents for spreading falsehoods on social media platforms against Ebonyi state government without any evidence or facts to substantiate it. It took the timely interventions of the leadership of Enugu Youth Council and other highly placed personalities to save Chikwere from landing himself in jail.
What some social media hirelings like Chris Ogbobe does not know is that there is no absolute freedom of speech or writing anywhere in the world, especially when it has to do with sedition or libel.
I have followed the activities and writings of renowned journalists in Nigerian media space for more than two decades, I have not seen such name like Chris Ogbobe anywhere in the mainstream journalism.
If information on Ogbobe’s facebook account is anything to believe, he is just a graduate of Anatomy from University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. There is no detail of the media house he has worked with or working with now to buttress his questionable claim that he is a renowned journalist.
For a journalist to be renowned, he or she must have a name, face, verifiable platforms, integrity, armed with facts, sound in knowledge and must have paid his dues in practice. Ogbobe does not possess these requisite attributes of a renowned journalist by his writing.
On Ogbobe’s unsubstantiated and fallacious attacks on Ugwuanyi’s government and his personality, who is that Nigerian including Chris Ogbobe that does not know that Nigeria’s economic buoyancy nosedived drastically and suddenly in 2015 Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi assumed office, following the sudden crash in the price of crude oil? Governments at all levels were practically insolvent.
Who does not know that state governments across the country, including that of Enugu were given bailout funds and other loans arranged by Federal Government to kickstart governance in 2015 because of the economic recession that triggered dwindling government revenue?
Who in Enugu does not know that despite the economy buoyancy witnessed in Nigeria between 2011- 2014 when crude oil sold at N120 dollar per a dollar and excess crude money regularly shared among three tiers of government, Ugwuanyi government inherited backlog of unpaid salaries and pensions from successive governments in 2015?
In short, who does not know that out of 17 council areas in Enugu state, only three were not owing backlog of workers salaries. Some like Nsukka and Uzo-Uwani council areas were owing up to 10 month plus.
On assumption of office, Ugwuanyi knowing that government is a continuum came to aid of the local government by providing money to offset the backlog. Since then, the Enugu state government and all local governments in the state have continued to pay salary regularly till date, despite the increase in the wage bills due to several employments given to majorly unemployed youths by the government?
Who in Enugu does not know that even in the midst of enough financial resources, successive governments in the state went on borrowing spree leaving heavy debt that amounted to N67. 880b for Ugwuanyi’s government in 2015?
Who in Enugu that does know how Ugwuanyi’s government improved and reformed the IGR of the state and has judiciously used it alongside the lean monthly Federation allocation to keep the state on a good financial stead in the face of compelling financial constraints?
Who is in Enugu that does not see or has not seen the completed, equitable and ongoing capital projects across the three Senatorial zones, 17 council areas and 260 wards in the state?
These projects include the popular Opi/Nsukka dual carriage way that has changed the face of the sleepy town of Nsukka, 22.443k Neke-Mbu-.Ogbodo-Abba – Obollo- Etiti road, 12km Harmony Estate-Adoration road in Emene Enugu,4500 recruited primary and secondary school teachers, more than 4000 renovated, constructed and equipped primary schools, ongoing flyover bridge at popular T-Junction at Nike Road, ESUT Teaching Hospital Igbo Ano, Enugu State University of Education Awgu and many others?
Who is in Enugu that has not witnessed or experienced the peace and security in the state which was made possible and being sustained by Ugwuanyi’s government and his leadership style in collaboration with security agents for the benefits and wellbeing of Enugu people?
I wonder where the so called Chris Ogbobe got his information that Enugu State debt profile in 2014 was N22b and Ugwuanyi’s government borrowed it up to N68,754,361,083.75 in 2021, without stating how and when such money was borrowed and from where.
By Debt Management Office record, Enugu debt profile in May2015 Ugwuanyi assumed office was N67, 088, 934.02. Due to Ogbobe’s ulterior motive, selective amnesia and ignorance, he does not recognise that government does not borrow secretly, but procedurally and constitutionally. Besides, the debt profile of three tiers of government in Nigeria is not hidden.
So, why should someone in his wildest imagination choose to deceive people with lies on issue like state debt profile that is open, if not that such a person is doing a hatchet job or on a vendetta mission.
It is known that authentic documents or information on the country’s debt profile is available at the Debt Management Office, National Bureau of Statistics and Central Bank of Nigeria and not on social media platforms, where majority of information is lie and fabrication.
Let no one be buoyed or mesmerised by the concoctions peddled by Chris Ogbobe in his emotional and paid write-up against Ugwuanyi’s government on his Facebook wall. Ogbobe by his writing is neither altruistic nor factual. He flaunted his quackery, bias and ignorance of the workings of government and constitution.
That Ugwuanyi’s government has not given Ogbobe appointment or rehabilitated the dililapidated Federal road that lead to his town is not enough reason for Ogbobe to malign him and his government on social media platforms. Ugwuanyi’s government has constructed and asp halted more than 5000 kilometers road across cities and rural areas in Enugu since assuming office in 2015 and still doing more in the face of scarce resources.
As the rainy season subsided, Ugwuanyi’s government has commenced massive rehabilitation of the dilapidated sections of roads across the major cities in the state. It would have been waste of resources and foolhardy of Ugwuanyi’s government to embark on such rehabilitation at the peak of rainy season.
If Ogbobe is jobless and needs job, he cannot get it by blackmailing and maligning Ugwuanyi’s personality and government. Ugwuanyi has not betrayed the emotion of a leader that easily succumbs to cheap blackmail of emotional blackmailers like Ogbobe.
The likes of Ogbobe are among those who have hid under the guise of constructive criticism on social media platforms to bastardize and abuse professional journalism in Nigeria.
His likes are nothing but junk journalists and social scaremongers with no known or verifiable platform, address or means of livelihood, except engaging in social media mudslinging and slandering without weighing or knowing the consequences of their actions.