Of Cobwebs In Govt House And Enugu’s SSG
Enugu Governor, Peter Mbah and New SSG Prof. Onyia

Of Cobwebs In Govt House And Enugu’s SSG

1 year ago
5 mins read

The month of July actually opened as the defining period of Nigeria’s season of forgery allegations. Both the petitioners and respondents in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) closed their cases, with the highpoint being the veracity or otherwise of the purported academic certificate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu among other details of his work history.

The arguments over the genuineness of academic and sundry certificates were not limited to Abuja, the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Around the Southeast, Anambra and Enugu competed with the PEPT disclosures for the national headlines.

While the case of doctoring of her Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Examination’s (JAMB) score by Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme enjoyed vigorous online and mainline media attention, in Enugu, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) continued its disagreement with the state governor, Peter Mbah, over his NYSC discharge certificate.

The controversies over documents and results are not the purview of this write-up, because while the disputations over the authenticity of certificates raged, another disturbing development reared its head in Enugu, the capital of the Southeast geopolitical zone.

Reading and listening to reports from the Government House have been confusing to residents of Enugu State. It is as if the state is back to the days of Sule Ahman, one of the former military administrators of the state. It has all to do with the current Secretary to the State Government (SSG), “Prof”. Chidiebere Onyia.

On Tuesday, May 30, when Governor Mbah announced Mr. Chidiebere Onyia as the SSG, many people believed that fresh ideas were coming to define governance in the state. But, nearly two months after his inauguration, Mr. Onyia has continued to raise doubts about his understanding of his job description and demands of the office of SSG.

Shortly after he was sworn into office as SSG, Mr. Onyia did a short video message. In the video clip the SSG could be heard announcing that Governor Mbah comes from the private sector, while he was coming from development background. “The pair is good for Enugu State,” he declared, assuming or rather giving the impression of his office as equivalent to that of a Deputy Governor.

No doubt, Chidiebere Onyia seems to be enjoying himself and his office. Anyway, being about the first time he is enjoying such exposure, the man is behaving like the proverbial old man that did not dream that the ozo title could be bestowed on him, decided to extend the ozo threads to his knee lengths.

At every outing that Governor Mbah invites him, Mr. Onyia insists on making pronouncements as if he is also a self appointed spokesman or Information Commissioner. The office of the SSG is often described as the engine room of the state government, because that is where policies are synthesized for efficient and effective implementation.

However, distracted by some craving to be in the eyes of every citizen, Mr. Onyia does not allow a day pass without issuing a declarative statement among other releases that define military regimes.

One of such was his demand that the compensatory allocation of land by the state government should cease with immediate effect. The magisterial way he conceives and delivers public communication motivated a closer look at the man’s background.

It is possible that Governor Mbah was mistaken in appointing the SSG unless Mr. Onyia was imposed on the administration to satisfy latter day godfathers, religious leaders or attempt to deodorise the stench of post-election disputations. Appointment of a Secretary to the State Government is expected to be a blend of political strategy to build social harmony and enhance good governance system.

READ ALSO: Enugu Gov’ship Election: NYSC Tenders Documents Against Mbah To Support Labour Party’s Petition

By appropriating powers that his office does not have, Mr. Onyia continues to expose the symptoms of an unsteady ego and a personality in a hurry to belong, impress or intimidate. One thing is clear, although one does not have to be a professor to be a good SSG; Chidiebere Onyia ought to have understudied previous occupants of the office to decorate it with the usual finesse.

When Prof. Simon Ortuanya was the SSG in Enugu, not many people got to hear or see him dishing out orders like the commander of the man o’war brigade. May be the absence of the state cabinet left the governance field wide open for the SSG to idle about, but he is gradually constituting himself into a needless and additional political nuisance and burden to the beleaguered administration.

With his verbose style of writing and rapidity of public communication, the current occupant of the office of SSG in Enugu State leaves the impression that Dr. Peter Mbah must have been swayed by the bloated image and doubtful but bogus accomplishment Mr. Onyia brandishes. The lack of emotional intelligence embellishes the inefficiency contained in his public statements, which neither conveys Government Executive decisions nor House of Assembly resolution, but rather his fleeting imagination.

The SSG appears naïve and leaves one with the conviction that he had never occupied any executive office either as a head of department or such highly responsible assignment at top management level. Mr.. Onyia is too available as if he is in want of what to do or how to make the government work.

In his statement announcing Onyia as SSG, Governor Mbah had tweeted: “I have just appointed Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, new Secretary to the State Government (SSG).” But, questions are being asked whether the SSG is actually a Professor.

In Enugu State, many people have been wondering how the SSG graduated from prancing around a respected Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Obiora Ike, to the lofty claims of being a visiting professor to Godfrey Okoye University and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Being a visiting Professor suggests that he was fully employed in a higher institution, where he supervises, teaches and mentors Masters or P.hD degree students. But, not much is known about the SSG’s academic or research works and outputs. Even the internet is not helping out. Could it be that he is pretending or professing qualifications he does not have?

Upon his appointment as SSG, Onyia was advertised as “a visiting professor of education at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, and a former visiting professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

“He serves on the governing council of two private Nigerian universities, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, MBA and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

“He also had a post-doctoral scholarship in Education Policy from the Ivy League Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.”

A distinct feature of “Prof.” Onyia’s resume is that he appears to be hiding the institutions he attended, work history and the institution that promoted him to the rank of a professor. You need to be a professor before becoming a visiting one. For the avoidance of doubt, to become a professor involves, certain number of years of full-time teaching, research, particularly research in a recognised University or other equivalent high institutions; Evidence of postgraduate research supervision; Intra-university administrative experiences; Extensive academic and journal articles publications with good citations indexes: Many years of conferences presentations and established leading research in a chosen area of interest.

These are the minimum requirements for a university to appraise an academic staff for appointment or promotion to the rank of a professor.

Then, a search in Google has no indication of any steady (10 years or more) academic position in any University or higher institution. The question that arises is, in which University was he originally appraised and promoted to the position of Professor? There is also no indication of who he has mentored through a Master’s and/or Ph.D. degree programme/studies, no specific area journal/research publications or conferences attended that are linked to him.

So, as the Enugu State SSG continues with his ubiquitous presence and constantly churning out statements, he should tell Nigerians where his title of professor came from.

Ugwu writes from Enugu

Douglas Ugwu


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