Why drowning Askia took a straw at POC
By Jon Egie
The recent shake up in the board of DESOPADEC was intended for internal consumption and understanding of members for the sole purpose of gearing the Commission towards goals achievement.
But one of those affected by the shake up, the erstwhile Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Askia Ogeah was uncomfortable with the development and resisted the change for obvious reasons that he had some skeletons in his cupboard and hence, made public issue of the shake up; Spy News has learnt.
Members of board of the Commission noticed that after a year of assuming office, the Commission could hardly present anything tangible in terms of its set goals and in an attempt to be accountable to the people of their mandate areas, Chief Pius Ovbije aka POC who represents Ughelli North and Ethiope East LGAs in the board moved a motion, during a recent meeting of the board, to shuffle the positions of the four Executive Directors of the board.
This was in line with the laws of the Commission which in part, recognize that as an interventionist agency, it is imperative to subject the Commission and its activities to periodic reviews and ensure that that the key objectives are realized in the face of dwindling resources.
One of the statutory functions of the Commissioners of the board who operate on part-time basis was to assign jobs for the four Executive Directors and following the motion moved by Chief Ovbije, three Executive Directors except the Executive Director (Finance and Administration), Chief Askia Ogeah accepted that there was need for shuffling of positions. Askia Ogeah, it was learnt, insisted that he would remain in his position and this prompted some members of the board to suspect that he had some skeletons hidden in his cupboard and hence his refusal for a change.
A democratic approach to resolve the issue was adopted and in a vote, seven members of the board voted for shuffling of the positions of the Executive Directors while five voted against the move. The chairman of board would not vote and one Commissioner abstained from the exercise.
Consequently, the positions of the Executive Directors were shuffled and Askia Ogeah was moved to Social Services. But angered by the development, Askia went for the jugular of the initiator of the shuffling move, Chief Pius Ovbije.
We learnt that he (Askia), like a drowning man, embarked on a campaign of calumny to incriminate and pulled down Chief Pius Ovbije, as a survival straw, alleging that the latter criminally earned remunerations from DESOPADEC as well as the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), as a Director of Finance in Warri South LG Education Authority, having not secured a Leave of Absence following his appointment as a member of the board of DESOPADEC.
But the attack missed target as our findings revealed that Chief Ovbije was innocent of the allegations.
Documents available to Spy News showed that soon after the inauguration of the board on August 28, 2015; Chief Pius Ovbije who until the appointment as a member of the board of DESOPADEC was a Director of Finance of SUBEB attached to Warri South LGEA, wrote a letter dated Sept. 15, 2015 to SUBEB notifying the board of his appointment and requested for a stop of his salaries for the period he would serve in the board of DESOPADEC. This was in response to the letter of appointment issued to him by DESOPADEC dated Sept. 15, 2015.The letter was acknowledged on Sept.18, 2015.
A letter with reference number LEAW/P/88/1576/17 dated Sept.21, 2015 and signed by Chike Okogba on behalf of the Executive Chairman of SUBUB informed that as part time member of the board of DESOPADEC, “Pius Ovbije does not need to secure a Leave of Absence, similarly, he is to retain his office at Warri South LGEA as staff without salary and draw remuneration from DESOPADEC for the 3 years duration of appointment with effect from August 28, 2015.”
In a follow up letter signed by the Head of Personnel Management (HPM) of Warri South LGEA, Mr G.J. Aganuzo dated Sept. 21, 2015; stopped the salaries of Chief Pius Ovbije.
The facts, we learnt, were presented before the accuser and the board without hesitation exonerated Pius Ovbije to the shame of Askia Ogeah who we learnt is now making frantic effort to mobilize a critical mass from political and ethnic groups to prevail on Governor Okowa to let the status quo ante remain.
Efforts to reach Chief Askia Ogeah for his comment were unsuccessful at press time.