Ex-Abia Finance Commissioner, Oriaku ‘Dancing Naked in Market Square’
By Chukwu Samuel Nnamdi
There is a popular saying that, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad”. This can be said to be the case of Mr. Obinna Oriaku, a former commissioner for Finance in Abia State, who has been ‘dancing naked in the market square’ lately.
Of a truth, the comments credited to Mr. Oriaku making the rounds, where he made some unfounded and illogical allegations against the State and its treasury which he presided over for years, is disappointing and sad for a supposed “honourable”, to say the least.
Oriaku told the world how he was supposedly collecting N1.6 million to attend the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursement monthly for 4 years; how Abia State House of Assembly was purportedly being run with the sum of N140 million as against what he termed ‘the standard elsewhere’; how each member of the House bagged and pocketed monthly the whooping sum of N9 to 10 million and other sundry such claims.
All these cash disbursements were sanctioned by Obinna Oriaku as Commissioner of Finance from 2015 to 2019 from what we know. This leaves us with the question which is: If Obinna Oriaku is or was financially prudent and disciplined a cause he now champions, why did he wait till he saw and sat out his tenure as Commissioner before coming up with his unfounded claims?
Ever since he was removed as the Commissioner for Finance, Obinna Oriaku has been behaving like a bull let loose in a Chinese shop. It is understandable because he thought he was going to stay in the office forever. Forgetting that every position, including life itself, is transient, Oriaku has allowed his sulking to snowball into anger and frustration such that he has used every opportunity to attack the very system that brought him out of obscurity and poverty. Just like the nwanza (bird) which challenged its chi to a duel after over feeding itself, Obinna Oriaku thinks he has made money and therefore can brazenly challenge Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu and the system.
His recent ranting on a programme called “UNCENSORED” has exposed him as a greedy, melo-dramatic and egoistic opportunist who is not ashamed of his past. If he had any sense of shame, he would have been more circumspect in the self-indicting allegations he threw against the State government. It is a pity that a man who served as a Commissioner for Finance could not brandish any iota of achievement apart from stopping some people from receiving their salaries in cash!
In his warped tantrums, he had equally alleged that each member of the Abia Assembly receives N3 million for the passage of annual budgets while their take home pay is purportedly N10m as against N1m paid to their Ebonyi counterparts. He also alleged that the House receives an overhead of N140 million (annually or monthly) as against Enugu’s N36 million.
Assuming, but not conceding, that he is right, why did he not raise the alarm while he was the Commissioner? What is his motive of inciting people against an Assembly that is hailed by the people of Abia State as the most vibrant and dynamic in recent times? Again, what does the law say about their constitutional entitlement? If indeed, he participated in bribing the Assembly, it presumes that he has proof and that he is also guilty of a crime.
When Obinna submitted that he, alongside the Accountant General and the Auditor General were collecting between 1.4 and 1.6 million monthly to attend FAAC meetings, what did he want us to do with the ‘information’? Did he for once refuse the money? Has he paid back the more than N60 million he collected for the 48 months? What kind of hypocrisy is that? If he considers that payment to be unlawful, why did he not complain officially?
In any case, is it not shameful that as Commissioner for Finance, he wasted millions of naira paying consultants to pay civil servants salaries. Can he be honest and tell Abians how much he paid LOIDANT CONSULTANT for their services and how the money was shared between him and the company. Is it also not curious that as a Commissioner, his job was only to disburse funds while he made no effort to present Exco Memo on how to increase the IGR of the State? Yet he alleged that IGR was diverted to private pockets.
Be that as it may, can Obinna Oriaku tell us why parastatals and pensioners were owed for two years whereas the Commissioner before him ensured that they were paid? Who is to be blamed if gratuities had not been paid for several years? What efforts did he make to change the narrative? What policy initiative did he bring to the table to assist the government of the day to serve the people better?
Is it not funny that somebody who claimed to have served as Commissioner does not know that recurrent expenditure is often higher than capital expenditure in budgets even at the Federal level? That goes to confirm the fears that Obinna Oriaku was a misfit in that office. Again where is the Exco Memo he sent to the governor concerning the issues?
Well, apart from the frustration of losing his job and the attendant hunger, Obinna Oriaku might just be jealous that his successor in Office is doing better than him in less than one year after his appointment. Parastatals are now getting their subventions monthly. Pensioners are now being paid promptly. And the state is saving millions of naira because no consultant is being used to pay salaries. And more than that, the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Aham Uko is not only disbursing funds, he is also formulating policies on ways of increasing the state’s IGR and enhancing the financial status of the state generally.
It is unfortunate that Obinna Oriaku did not tell us the one man whom he accused of running the whole affairs of the state and dictate what happens. That man can only be the Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu. He was elected by the people of Abia State. Any official serves at his pleasure. He reserves the right to relive anybody of his appointment just as he did to Obinna Oriaku. That power is not shared. That Oriaku was powerful as a commissioner did not mean he could share power with the governor. He abused the privilege extended to him by a benevolent man. And when his excesses became unbearable, he was shown the gate. That is the reality Obinna Oriaku. Live with it.
We are convinced without any reasonable doubt that Oriaku’s sudden outbursts and attack on his former allies and the State reveals his personal conviction that they will not endorse him in his gubernatorial ambition after discovering how he looted the state dry as Commissioner in charge of the state finances, revenues, and commonwealth.
Abians are wiser and cannot be fooled by a man who came in as Commissioner of Finance empty-handed and left the office a billionaire. We sympathise with Oriaku who is disillusioned, disgruntled and depressed because he was relieved of his duties when his incompetence and inadequacies became so glaring and unbearable.
Chukwu Samuel Nnamdi writes from Obingwa