The face-off between Anambra billionaire, Prince Arthur Eze and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has not abated as they swipe at each other at the slightest provocation .
It all started with the visit by 12 monarchs from Anambra State to Aso Villa, at the instance of the billionaire businessman and without approval from Anambra State government, to see President Buhari and thank him for his developmental strides in the southeast.
Ngige who’s traditional ruler was among the suspended had expressed unflinching support to the suspension of his Igwe and even urged that the monarchs be banished, including their sponsor.
But Prince Arthur Eze faulted Ngige on the call to banish the monarchs, saying, the call has no legal or constitutional
The Minister yesterday, berated Prince Arthur Eze, for casting aspersions on him over his advice that the 12 traditional rulers suspended by the Anambra State Government, should be relocated from their communities to avert breach of peace.
Ngige described Prince Eze as ‘a fair weather politician’ who befriends “any government in power,” and uses his wealth to intimidate, oppress and brutalise the downtrodden people in Anambra State communities, bordering his Ukpo hometown in his land grabbing spree”.
“Arthur Eze is a fair weather politician, a political turncoat and an apostle and Commander-in-Chief of members of “any government in power,” (AGIP) in Nigeria”.
In a statement from his media office signed by Emmanuel Nzomiwu, the labour Minister explained that as a former governor and elder of the state, he had only advised Anambra State Government to relocate the traditional rulers out of their domain for administrative and security reasons.
According to Ngige, “when officials of government and in this case, these government certified traditional rulers are suspended from office, they cease to perform the functions of the office and hence, they should not be allowed to be visiting or threatening those carrying out their functions by still visiting the office whether it is in the palace or elsewhere.
“Much more importantly, those suspended traditional rulers have started experiencing violent protests, demonstrations and calls for their outright dethronement in their respective communities of Abacha (Idemili North LG), Alor (Idemili South LG), Aguleri Enugu Otu and Mkpu Nando-Otu Aguleri, both in Anambra East LG as well as in many other places, thereby raising security concerns.” Ngige said.
“These two reasons are very compelling and serious enough for the Anambra State Government to relocate these persons, especially the one from Ngige’s community, Alor, who was never crowned by the community abinitio but was imposed by the Anambra State Government of Peter Obi on the Alor community as a retaliation and punitive action for their loss of the 2011 senatorial election to Ngige who defeated and trounced their candidate, Late Dora Akunyili, sponsored by the then Anambra State Government of Obi.”
The statement noted that “there is no time Ngige as a man of rule of law, asked for banishment of Arthur Eze, an act which would have run against the tenets of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
“Arthur Eze had sabotaged the Anambra State Government by gathering a group of disgruntled persons, some gullible and even non recognized traditional rulers for ‘a thank you visit’ on behalf of the South East when in actual fact, no traditional ruler from Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo States, was in his motley gathering of Ezes. The Chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers was not there, same with the Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers. He also neither involved nor informed South East federal ministers, not to talk of those from Anambra State, even out of courtesy.”
The statement equally debunked the claim that Ngige lived in FESTAC before Arthur Eze rented a decent apartment for him in Lagos and helped him change his Volkswagen car.
“In 1980, he was already living in comfort in the 1004 Estate, National Assembly Wing, Victoria Island, having been moved from his temporary accommodation in the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island where he stayed when he arrived in Lagos as a youth corps medical doctor.
“Rather, it was Prince Arthur Eze who had been a family friend since 1967 that relocated from his elder brother’s house in Kirikiri to squat with him (Senator Ngige), he(Arthur) having come back from the USA in 1979 and doing the petty trading, buying and selling trips (Afia attack) to London, in the United Kingdom.”
The statement maintained that the Minister had a hand in growing Arthur’s petty business in the early eighties, from his buying and selling of T-shirts, ladies pants and Bra, to VHS cassette business, even as he provided him and his young trading associates with shelter and food whenever they returned from business trips from London into Lagos. He equally introduced him to many VIPs from where his business metamorphosed from supply of VHS Cassettes to NTA and Anambra TV to construction of TV Stations in the 80’s.
“It will therefore be unnecessary talking about mundane things like cars and abode. For now, the Minister is a very busy person with state duties and he ordinarily, should not waste precious time responding to this innocuous vibes, but to put the facts straight, Arthur Eze is still his friend but he should heed the advice given to him by truthful friends like Ngige and other Eze family members, that he should refrain from partisan politics like other highflying businessmen, such as Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Femi Otedola and BUA Group Chairman, Alhaji Samad Rabiu who he claims are his contemporaries, and face his business and establish industries that can create jobs for numerous unemployed people, especially the youths in Anambra State, thereby lifting these Nigerians from poverty through job creation, which is the primary agenda of this administration.
“Instead, he had in the last decade used his money for fruitless political ventures, victimisation, oppression and tyrannical behaviour to the downtrodden people of neighbouring communities of Abba (the hometown of award winning creative writer, Chimamanda Adichie), Abagana, Ukwulu, Nawgu, among others, where he has engaged the people in forceful land acquisition, arresting and detaining people of the area at will on trumped up charges and igniting and fuelling kingship disputes in many areas like he is presently doing in Awka, Alor, and Ukwulu Kingdoms to mention a few.
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Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment
“Given that his style of politics is that of a political turncoat, especially when everybody remembers vividly his appearance in January 2015, at a TAN rally in Enugu, shouting ‘Jonathan for life President’, it is detestable that at the same rally he called Ngige and APC’s then Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari names, alleging that they were arrowheads of Boko Haram party,APC. Later when Buhari won the Presidential election and Jonathan lost, Arthur turned around to claim a total love and loyalty to Buhari by September 2015.”
Also yesterday, the media directorate to the foremost industrialist business mogul and oil merchant, Prince Engr Arthur Eze responded to the call by Dr Chris Ngigie to banish him and the monarchs that went to Abuja.
The statement said Nigige by accident of history became the minister of labour, employment and productivity.
“We would have treated his ranting as the ranting of an ant who by all social and political equation is an inconsequential product of history.
“We are however tempted to add a voice in view of his undeserved portfolio as a minister in a government that has been acclaimed as the best in Nigeria’s history under the able leadership of our most beloved President Muhammadu Buhari.
“One would have thought that anybody occupying such a respectable office like Ngigie should be a person with sound mind, articulate, well educated and with broad knowledge of contemporary issues in the country’s orbit of partisan politics.
“One wonders how a minister and a former governor can wake up from slumber over night and start calling on a state governor to banish traditional rulers whose only offence is that they took a trip to Abuja to commend his boss, the president, for the magnificent jobs he is doing for the people of their geo- political zone.”
The statement further read: “Dr Ngige as a minister did not take time to study the underground colourations given to the trip for political reasons by the state govt.
“Accepted is the fact that he has been involved in serious traditional leadership crisis in his community over the Igweship but this should not becloud his sense of judgment to make calls that has no legal or constitutional backing.
“As a minister, Dr Ngige ought to know that no section of the Nigerian constitution empowers a state governor to banish or trample on the fundamental human right of any Nigerian citizen as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“Any governor that attempts to heed to Dr Ngige’s call certainly should be taking an action that is against the letters and spirit of the Nigerian constitution.
“It is now clear that the compulsory etiquettes induction course usually organised for appointed ministers was initiated for appointees that fall within the rugged class of Dr Ngige.”
The statement said that for Dr Ngige to call for the banishment of a man of Prince Engr Arthur Eze’s stature not only in Nigeria but the entire world is, to say the least, most irresponsible, callous, derogatory and unbecoming of an accidental minister.
“It should be recalled that if not for Arthur Eze’s benevolence, Dr Ngige would not have been able to pack out of his former two bed room slump apartment in Festac village some years ago to a decent apartment in Lagos. Mention must also be made of how Arthur Eze helped to change his Volkswagen car which he uses in Enugu and is today resident for rats and cockroaches at Ogui Road, Enugu.
“Let us warn that if Chris Ngige makes any further unpleasant statement against our principal, we shall be left with no option than to publish some facts and materials at our disposal which will shock Nigerians on the person and individual known as the labour minister.
“Arthur Eze’s personality is a profile of world recognition on grounds of philanthropy, industrialization, business acumen, economic vibrancy and political sagacity.
“I have instructed my Media Directorate not to further reply or dignify the tirades of Dr Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s most unfortunate and accidental minister with a response for I should not expect respect from he who once dragged his biological father to court. I think his irresponsible behaviour both to the National Assembly, his Alor community and the public as a minister is genetic as he also lacks social comportment and public decorum”