In this piece Kalu Thomas, writes on the allged scam rocking the IFADLIFE-ND program in Abia state
It quite shocking and at the same time disheartening to observe that the reward for hard work seems to be deprivation and intimidation in the number one state of the federation (Abia-God’s own state).
This scenario  is evident in the just concluded IFADLIFE-ND interview conducted in Abia State on the 3rd – 4th of November 2019.
Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project – Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) is an IFAD assisted for rural youth and women through sustainable Agricultural enterprise development.
LIFE-ND is an offshoot of the completed IFAD-financed Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP), a project that lasted for 10 year (2005-2015).
Selection of states to be funded by IFAD in LIFE-ND is based on excellent performance in the areas listed LIFEND Project design report, page 5, No. 20. Abia is number one on the list to be funded by IFAD, not by Alphabetical placement alone, but based on her excellent performance in CBNRMP.
CBNRMP was moribund in Abia State till July 2014, when Mrs. Ngozi Queen Obioma Ph.D (a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agric) took over from the retired State Project Coordinator (SPO) and invested her adept experience as an Agricultural Extension/Communication expert into the project, with the counterpart fund made available by former Governor Theodore Orji’s Government.
She transformed the staff to a formidable team that catapulted Abia CBNRMP from the last to the first position, which attracted an award of excellent performance to Abia State during  the programme wrap-up ceremony in 21st March 2016.
The then Commissioner of Agriculture (Rt. Hon. Azubike) and the Permanent Secretary (Barr. Mrs. Uzoamaka Ikonne celebrated the award in one of the managing meetings of the Ministry of Agriculture; a clapping ovation was given to the SPO and her team.
Paradoxically, the Commissioner announced that Dr. Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu, a lecturer from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUAU)/PA to the Governor had been made the new State Program Coordinator (SPC) of IFADLIFE-ND (a project that was still at the designing state), while the Permanent Secretary mandated Dr. Mrs. Obioma immediately after the management meeting to hand over the IFAD office key to the “Annointed” SPC.
Then I asked this big question “does it mean that reward to hard-work in Abia State is deprivation and intimidation?
However, IFAD country office didn’t recognize the appointment of the anointed SPC on the note that it is strictly by interview. They kept corresponding with the state through Dr. Mrs. Obioma as the SPO of CBNRMP and on each occasion she submitted invitation letters from IFAD country office for LIFE-ND design meeting to the Commissioner and the Perm. Sec, (7TH April, 24th Nov. and 23rd Dec, 2017) and they took the anointed SPC along with them and left Dr. Mrs. Obioma in a bid to cut her off from the whole process, even though their anointed SPC could not tell the success story of Abia State in the meeting; which raised a suspicion that Abia State success story in CBNRMP was a scam. One would wonder what these three people stand to gain by all these gimmicks, the answer is obvious.
"The Commissioner, the PS, the Director of Finance and the Annointed SPC are all members of one click".
IFAD/NDDC team subsequently came to Abia  on field investigation/evaluation and the Commissioner mandated Dr. Mrs. Obioma to take them on 2-day field tour. She applied for fund for logistics, but the Perm. Sec. vehemently refused to approve it so she personally funded the 2-day field trip, knowing that Abia will lose without the field-based convincing evidences. Being overwhelmed by what he saw in the field, the team leader asked her why she couldn’t explain Abia’s success story during the LIFE-ND design meeting on the 24th of Nov. 2017; she told him that she had been removed as the SPO; he marveled and asked the same question I asked “is deprivation the reward of hard work in your state?”
LIFE-ND was advertised in Vanguard newspaper on 5th March  2019 with the prequalification for each post well spelt out and application was online; the Permanenet Secretary announced it both in the management meeting and on BCA radio and Dr. Mrs. Obioma applied on the 4th of April 2019.
The panel of interviewers was made up of representatives Federal Ministry of Agric, NDDC and LIFE-ND regional Office, with the Per. Sec. (Barr. Uzoamaka Ikonne) as the chair person. She picked Prof. Alozie Anyim – Director Agric to represent the Commissioner (as the Commissioner of Agric was yet to be appointed), Mr. Udensi Johnson and the PRO  of the ministry as her local organizing team. The shortlisted names vying for SPC position were seated in the exam hall as the PS called out their names:
Oziri Ebere Simon
Egboegu Maduabuchi Nicholas Ph.D
Queen  Ngozi Obioma Ph.D
Promise Obilo
Earnest Nwogu, waiting to start the written test by 10am  as she scheduled.
The P.S on seeing that the anointed SPC’s name was not shortlisted, she connived with Dr. Oyebaji Olumide (One of NDDC representatives and shifted  the interview to 4pm. She called on the anointed SPC, Dr. Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu to  come and participate in the interview, weather prequalified or not and use some other persons she also called to cover their gimmicks, to the extent that she collected their application letters right there in the hall after 8 months of online application, but threatened to punish Mr. Udensi Johnson thus for going close to Dr. Mrs. Obioma” why are u telling her that we are about to start when we are trying to eliminate some people from the interview. Do you know that I can punish you severely for that?”
Eventually 8 candidates participated in the interview. Thus is an outright violation of procurement procedure and due process.
Of course, one doesn’t need the seven Roman gods  to predict the result of the interview; the anointed SPC was recommended as the SPC of LIFE-ND according the PS’ report (that is SPC2), confirming the ideology that, THAT THE REWARD FOR HARD WORK IS DEPRIVATION AND INTIMIDATION IN ABIA STATE.

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