By Ephraim Okwuosa
Fighting corruption in a nation like Nigeria is certainly a complex phenomenon but it remains a very necessary ingredient that would help strengthen democracy because a victory over financial sleaze in governance will ensure that the collective wealth of citizens are properly utilized for common good. However, when emotions and falsehoods are introduced to misguide interpretations of reality in the fight against corruption, such depletes any good motive and may even create an atmosphere in which could foster great doubts over a society’s morale in curbing corruption.
Specifically, at the state government level, the on-going call on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) by an implied NGO, ‘Delta State Youth for Good Governance (YFGG)’ to institute a probe on the activities of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the immediate past governor of Delta State is exceedingly commendable. Nevertheless, on accusations against Dr. Uduaghan by YFGG, even without a valid formal guilty verdict, the truth is that if really there is anyone or group to blame, it should realistically be the Delta State political class and the good men that kept mute over Dr. Uduaghan’s assumed huge financial misdeeds as presented by his petitioners.
Be that as it may, it is very important to state that the emergence of opportunistic groups like the so called ’Delta State Youth for Good Governance’ and its sister organisation, ’Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum’ as led by one Comrade Prince Kpokpogri serving as mouth piece of Nigerian anti-corruption crusaders is not only ludicrous, dangerous but most unfortunate. This is especially so because the known behaviour and antecedent of these two groups and their leadership approach regarding corruption fight are largely inconsistent with the duties associated with focused NGOs for the very simple reason that both organisations have verifiable records that portray them as poisoned by politics and money.
For the avoidance of doubt, this writer does not in any way oppose the views of those that believe that most state governors in Nigeria engage in many untoward financial malpractices especially given the broad public’s conception that state governors under the cover of the
iniquitous immunity clause run their administrations like Emperors with colossus status that allows them to single handedly conduct the financial affairs of their state with self-interest and greed as top priority. Besides these conjectures of financial misdemeanour which are best left for proper constituted authorities to determine because of the necessity of upholding the presumption of innocence accorded accused persons, however, it will be an inexcusable betrayal for any fair minded person to dismiss any constructive petition that suggests
the possibility of Dr. Uduaghan’s membership of this fold of alleged treasury looters without rationalization.
Whilst it should be the desire of every well-meaning Deltan to support a fair probe of the Dr. Uduaghan’s administration for the specific purpose of returning any alleged looted fund to the Delta State treasury which will be very useful to the new administration of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa especially in this period of dwindling financial resources to state governments, it is however very unfortunate to observe that the past activities and conduct of the two organisations under reference that have dragged Dr Uduaghan to the ICPC which are led by one man have not only demonstrated phony objectivity in the fight against fraud in Delta State but are well noted to be working in conflict with set standards on anti-corruption.
This is why their connection in championing corruption fight in Delta state should be viewed with great suspicion. A clear instance that these purported NGOs on anti-corruption have been operating under false pretexts is visible from the remarks and unprofessional actions of the leader of both groups, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri.
For emphasis, in two recent similar public petitions by these NGOs to the Chairman of the ICPC, vide a letter dated 20th November 2015, captioned “RE: Demand for immediate probe of outgoing (sic) Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan and some Delta State Government officials including Mr. Oritsuwa Kpogho, Mr. Kenneth Okpara, Mr. Daniel Mayuku, Mr. C.C. Agbele and Mr. Peter Onwunsanya over the embezzlement of N225,616,712 (sic) billion funds meant for Delta State Oil Producing
Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC)’, the author of the petitions, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri drew up a long list of yet to be substantiated accusations on how Dr. Uduaghan allegedly ran Delta state as a Banana Republic and looted its treasury.
On the surface, these may be considered as very good information for any financial
crime fighting agency but in reality, it may just be a pretence of corruption fight with a bag full of fictitious claims because on the converse, in an earlier edition of Pointer newspapers captioned “We Need to Celebrate Uduaghan’s Performance –Prince Kpokpogri
http://thepointernewsonline.com/?p=22005”, the same Comrade Kpokpogri tumbled over the edge when he stated that “the governor’s performance should be celebrated rather than castigating him”. He even commented that “every Deltan should celebrate and pray for him for a job well done because the state capital is now destination for foreign investors and tourists due to the peaceful atmosphere coupled with hard work and foresight of Governor Uduaghan”. Quite ridiculous, you may say! One question, with what and when has Asaba become global attraction if not for Kpokpogri’s greed and blindness to truth?
To any objective analyst, the above comments by Comrade Kpokpogri are obvious paradoxes that will lead anyone to be skeptical of his involvement in corruption fight. His volte-face in asking for probe of the same government he praised to high heaven is a sham and dismal
example of his self-styled anti-corruption engagement especially given that the accused, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has even disclosed that this entire Kpokpogri’s epistle is borne out of a failed blackmail attempt to extort N2 billion from him.
Without necessarily holding brief for Dr. Uduaghan or exonerating him from any of the allegations, the fact is that Kpokpogri’s activities in Delta state exemplifies the perilous existence of fake anti-corruption crusaders in our midst and it is sadly obvious that anyone that follows Kpokpogri must be sure that he is taking the wrong turn, as it is very certain that his
intentions on anti-corruption are only of selfish ends.
In fact, a man with an antecedent that connotes the use of deception for personal gains should have no justification finger pointing. Simply put, what this really does show is that at times, life presents itself as a phenomenal process of long list of strange events that are most times too difficult to comprehend. Otherwise, how can someone even imagine that the basic pretence all along by Kpokpogri in cunningly orchestrating media outings that project his anti-corruption
endeavours as an activity that would benefit the society was just a farce to make money for himself?
Furthermore, the issue of blackmail and extortion associated with Kpokpogri as alleged by Dr. Uduaghan raises significant issues of hypocrisy and deceit that should be of substantial public interest and important for the attention of the ICPC, otherwise, ignoring a thorough investigation on the activities of Kpokpogri by the Nigerian Police will be a slap in the face that may even portray the nation’s anti-corruption war in a bad light.
Again, the aim of this write up is not to stop any investigation on the allegations raised against Dr. Uduaghan but to halt Kpokpogri from thrusting the ICPC’s credibility into his pit of delusion for self-enrichment. Already, across the internet and Delta political spectrum, Kpokpogri has shown that he is not only cunning but highly misrepresenting information with a dubious agenda. This is why the crime fighting agencies, which he claims to forge close ties with some of their officials, should not be blind to the many obvious inadequacies and inconsistencies of the petitions written by Kpokpogri and his cohorts.
Another faulty end of Kpokpogri’s misdeeds is on the long list of officials of the Delta state government he claimed are guilty even before any trial. Nevertheless, this is not surprising because manufacturing accusations that are false or fabricating reports to undermine most government officials is where Kpokpogri’s seeming expertise in anti-corruption lies. That he exploits the weakness and timidity of innocent people that are baselessly afraid to face the
anti-corruption agencies by demanding money from them is well known because it is on record that where such persons reach a compromise with him, he goes to the crime fighting agencies to withdraw his petitions as reciprocal concessions.
Perhaps, this may be the reason why some media outfits have reported that Kpokpogri does not respond to requests for clarifications or calls to authenticate his accusations which points to the possibility that he may not be relying on any credible evidence to back his petitions but on his ignorant belief and opinion that once you are a government official, you must be corrupt and a potential client for his antics.
In any case, such a false belief by Kpokpogri is clear indication of his lack of knowledge, dishonesty, and all-round limited information despite his self-acclaimed status as an anti-corruption crusader. In fact, Kpokpogri’s attempt to criminalize everyone in Delta State
government by picking anyone that holds public office as corrupt including some persons that were recently praised for their prudence and sacrifice to protect the state treasury in the twilight of Dr. Uduaghan’s administration shows his undesirable drift from corruption
On this, it is common knowledge that many people have quietly denounced the approach of Kpokpogri but out fear have remained taciturn. However, the mounting complex web of allegations on extortion against Kpokpogri has raised the need to put a fresh focus on the way he castigates and accuses people with no shred of credible evidence until they meet his terms or buy his friendship.
This is absurd and has the potential to wreck the nation’s corruption fight, if left unaddressed because a man that portrays an anti-corruption image, yet embarks on a drive of intimidation against those that do not conform to his terms is an implicit threat to the genuine efforts of organisations like the ICPC.
Once again, I affirm that the need to probe the Uduaghan’s administration is laudable and meets our collective quest to address corruption, but with Kpokpogri, it will only produce some absurd results except he is made to authenticate some of his accusations with credible evidence before leading the ICPC into a wild goose chase.
For now, the narration of Kpokpogri as a corruption fighter is a depressing one because his grotesque failures in the past to extort money from people are well documented and these have taken corruption fight in Delta state to a frightening landscape that lack the creed of
objectivity. Simply put, Kpokpogri is not far from the description of a man that is desperate to blunt the truth in an attempt to achieve his commercial interest. When EFCC does not listen to him, he turns to the ICPC; a case in point is this petition under reference that was initially directed to the EFCC but presumably discarded.
There are plenty unanswered but important questions surrounding Kpokpogri’s involvement in corruption battle and these issues are no doubt complicated and beyond the scope of this write up. Nevertheless, one thing that is beyond all doubts is that Kpokpogri is a charlatan aided and abetted by his two NGOs for extortion and his activities reveals the complex twists in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
This whole indescribably appalling episode is one major example that the operations of the ICPC if not well managed can be abused with impunity by people with ulterior motives.
The unabated irrelevance of Comrade Kpokpogri’s fight against corruption in Delta state needs to be addressed as part of sustaining President Buhari’s credibility in the fight against corruption. Otherwise, the likes of Kpokpogri may in their warped logic and conduct simply assume they are the smartest men around. Indeed, we need not bow to his extortion tricks, otherwise very soon, we all shall become his victims or be accused as co travellers in a fake
To state that Comrade Kpokpogri is dangerous for a society in search of truth and redemption is an obvious reality and the anti-graft agencies under President Buhari’s administration must
watch his activities more closely.
Dr. Okwuosa is Co-ordinator, Anti-Corruption Advocates. He wrote in from Area 11, Garki, Abuja, FCT