Politics they say is a dirty game, a real house of cards where one involved needs to know the rules of the game or end up being played and thrown to the dogs. New participants of politics should know who and who to get in bed with and who not to offend and that is simply the case of Hon. Maria Ude Nwachi, the former Ebonyi state female legislator popularly called ”Afikpo chick”, whose only crime was contesting and winning an election from an opposition party.
The former legislator was a lawmaker in the Ebonyi state House of Assembly, representing the people of Afiikpo North-east having won the seat during the 2015 general elections and sworn in on the 6th of June, 2015 the same year. Her victory was a win for the people as her people and constituency stood their grounds and voted en-masse for her.
However, her stewardship quickly became a drama filled one following her suspension from the House for allegedly sponsoring protests demanding for the restoration of electricity in her town having experienced total blackout for almost 3years, this was quickly followed by another suspension for “being a photographer” which according to some of her colleagues brought shame and dishonor to the House.
“…on the 18th day of August, 2015, it accused me of leading a protest to demand for the restoration of electricity in my town which had bemoaned its fate in doomful and total darkness for nearly three years. As archetypal of the Umahi administration, I was not only ‘summoned’ and threatened to apologize to the Governor but was immediately and unilaterally suspended indefinitely, the first perhaps in the history of Nigeria to be axed just a few months after taking oath of office. The House, directly under the unholy and excessive control of the Governor, led by Rt. Hon. Ogbonnaya Nwifuru as the Speaker quickly released its sledgehammer on me without first setting up any disciplinary committee to investigate and perhaps, discipline me. Since then, the Umahi-led PDP government in the State unilaterally and without any formal probe continued to humiliate me and my constituents by severally suspending me indefinitely multiple times, without paying me even my statutory entitlements and basic allowances paid my colleagues” Ude Nwachi reveals.
When her constituents thought they have seen the worst of the undue attacks on their supposed ‘saviour’, they were nonplused by claims by Maria Ude Nwachi that Gov. Umahi who like ‘Pharoah’ has become a tyrant to non party men in the state owes her unpaid allowances and salaries totaling over N80,000,000 (Eighty Million Naira) panning the entire five (5) years in service allegedly due to the fact that she refused yielding to his evil schemes and controls.
Perhaps poised on frustrating the projects nominated to be carried out in her constituency, it was alleged that Gov. Umahi also gave strict directive for funds allocated for the execution of these projects to be withheld alongside other allowances and entitlements paid to her colleagues.
“…In April 2018, I was denied my N15 Million Constituency Projects Allowance made to every member of the House. This is in spite of the fact that I had delivered an ultra-modern public toilet project among others with my personal funds. I have never borrowed money from a bank in my life but I borrowed from Fidelity bank to complete some of the projects for my people. Thank goodness I have completely paid off that loan; which was a thorn on my flesh. All the projects I executed in my constituency was done with my personal funds, support from loved ones and loans I collected from the bank”, Ude Nwachi alleged.
Having being nominated for re-election by her constituents following her good performance in the state, Ude Nwachi who claimed to have become broke due to the antics of the governor hence had no money to organize campaigns, was quickly defeated by her closest rival Hon Iduma Igariwey of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was the anointed candidate of the governor in 2015 but was initially defeated by the former at the polls.
“…the elections were rigged by directives from Gov. Umahi because he doesn’t want me to go further than his chosen slot in the house where he constantly humiliates me for standing up for the interest of my people”, she stated.
It is also alleged that in November 2019, all members of the immediate Past House of Assembly where she was a duly elected member, were paid several allowances amounting to about N4,300,000 (Four Million Three Hundred Thousand Naira) by the speaker on direct instructions from the state governor but her name was carefully omitted from the list.
In a bid to arm strong the lawmaker into submission by all means possible, it was gathered that Gov. Umahi callously withheld all financial entitlements and benefits due to her. “Since I was elected into the State House of Assembly in 2015, and throughout my embattled Four-year tenure which ended this year, I never received the monthly stipend of N500, 000.00 each, regularly paid my colleagues by the Executive arm of government under the leadership of Engr. David Nweze Umahi. This sum up to a total of N24 Million for the duration of my troubled Four year-tenure as a Lawmaker”
“I was again, denied another N30 Million Constituency Projects Allowance paid all my colleagues in February 2019 on the orders of Governor Umahi… Sometime in October this year, all members of the immediate-past Assembly in Ebonyi were paid a parting gift to the tune of N3 Million each. Again, I was denied this entitlement by the Governor… At about November ending this year, all members of the immediate-past House of Assembly in Ebonyi have been paid their Severance allowances of N4.3 Million (1st tranch) by the Speaker on the direct instructions of the Governor. I was again, denied this right”
It was also gathered that the Governor who will not allow anything to stand in his way in showing the ‘Afikpo chick’ that he is a ‘Goliath’ to his oppositions, did not spare her Special Assistants and Personal Assistants in this inhumane treatment as they were also allegedly denied of their severance packages.
“Neither my Special Assistant nor my Personal Assistant were paid the N1.1 Million and N1 Million Severance Allowance respectively that was paid to other House Member’s Special Assistants and Personal Assistants in or around November 2019” Ude Nwachi lamented.
In indicting the Speaker of the House as rubber stamp and a puppet in the hands of Gov. Umahi, the Afikpo born lawmaker stated that “Terribly irked by these denials of my rights and entitlements, I was compelled to put a Phone-call across to the Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly who coincidentally presided over the last House that I served. As I queried why I hadn’t been paid like my colleagues, the Speaker simply said that I should call and text the Governor!”.
Ude Nwachi has however urged NGOs within and outside Nigeria particularly Women Rights Groups and Human Right Groups to solicit for her, stating the actions of the governor is an abuse of her rights as a Female seeking equal opportunities.