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Uzuegbuna Okagbue At 45 Years: When Hard Work Contends With Privilege

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By Ebuka Onyekwelu

Being born with a silver spoon is no one’s making, but what someone does with his or her privileged birth might be their own making.

Born on the 1st of October 1977, Uzuegbuna Okagbue, the former Chief of Protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff to the former governor of Anambra State, was born to the family of Chief Chike Okagbue, a renowned businessman who owned chains of businesses around the Southeast and beyond.

Uzu grew up in Onitsha which then was a mega commercial nerve centre with equal or more attention of today’s Lagos.

Indeed, Onitsha in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s was a city in its own class, adorned at every spot by the super rich of those days.

Although many may argue that lack of money is the most dangerous problem, yet, it just might be more difficult to be able to afford all of one’s needs and luxury at ease, only to remain focused on work.

If one can afford his luxury at ease, what next; what else should he work for?

Hence, the problem of too much money might just be more difficult than the lack of money problem.

Perhaps, it is a bigger challenge for someone to find a meaning and purpose in life irrespective of privileges one already has and enjoys, than for one to work hard to earn privileges that he did not have.

To buttress, it is easier for someone to work hard when he or she has bills and needs to meet.

But for the person whose bills and needs are already met by virtue of his birth, it takes more than working for what he already has to remain focused on the things that matter.

This is the story of Uzuegbuna Okagbue, the last son of Chief Chike Okagbue of Bessoy fame.

Uzuegbuna Okagbue whose pristine albeit unsuccessful campaign to represent Anambra Central at the senate has been variously acknowledged as a remarkably disruptive venture, has gained reputation as an excellent manager of men and resources.

An astute senior banker of about a decade, and business owner across Nigeria’s major cities, all of which he founded independent of his privileged appendages.

Growing up in Onitsha, Uzuegbuna declined the offer to attend privileged schools and rather opted for government schools.

At the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha, he distinguished himself in learning and character which earned him a “Certificate of a Good Dengramite”.

Uzuegbuna gained admission to study Political Science at the University of Abuja. Upon graduation was deployed to undergo his National Youth Service at Fidelity Bank in Abuja.

Against the bank’s policy of not retaining corps members that served in the bank, Fidelity Bank retained him on the strength of his personal commitment to excellence and to duty translated to exceptional performance.

Within a few years, Uzuegbuna rose steadily to the executive cadre in the bank.

It was while he was doing his job with total dedication and precision that he was commended by his Regional Manager, to the bank’s management and that was how his parts crossed with Chief Willie Obiano, who was Executive Director, Business Banking of the bank, at the time.

At every turn, reviews of Uzuegbuna’s time in Anambra State Government House as Chief of Protocol and Deputy Chief of Staff to the former governor, is unblemished.

Uzuegbuna is astute and has his eyes fixed on the goal in perpetuity, a go-getter extra-ordinaire, has deep conviction and he is a compassionate man.

Indeed, Uzuegbuna Okagbue is one of those ‘rich kids’ in the glory days of Onitsha, whose hard work and commitment to duty comes first, while his privilege comes secondary.

For Uzuegbuna, Chike Okagbue of Bessoy is not Uzuegbuna and Uzuegbuna is not Chief Chike Okagbue. Stories of how he severally cautioned persons who referred to him as “Uzu Bessoy” abound.

At 45 years old, Uzuegbuna Okagbue has successfully founded and managed businesses.

He has successfully pursued a beautiful banking career and has also contributed without blemish, to the governance of Anambra State.

His insightful grip of tradition and Igbo oratory which thrills guest to his country home during festivals while performing the traditional kola breaking rites makes one wonder if he’s ever lived outside the village.

Married and blessed with children, Uzuegbuna’s marriage is one of the most beautiful I have seen amongst privileged people.

For him and for such a man, there could only be more and more grounds to cover. There could only be more opportunities to serve.

Uzuegbuna is a man that did not allow his privilege to define him; instead, he defined his privilege, kept it by the side, put on his gloves and went to work.

In Uzuegbuna, hope is renewed that there is more to life than the benefits of privileged birth and affluence.

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EFCC launches manhunt for Kano APC senatorial candidate, Abdulsalam Zaura over ‘$1.3m fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is making efforts to arrest Abdulsalam Zaura, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Kano central senatorial district, over alleged fraud.

Ahmad Rogha, counsel to EFCC, said this on Monday while speaking with journalists at the federal high court in Kano.

BACKGROUND

In 2018, EFCC had arraigned Zaura, better known as A.A. Zaura, on a five-count charge bordering on fraud before a federal high court in Kano.

The anti-graft agency had accused Zaura of defrauding a Kuwaiti national by obtaining the sum of $1,320,000 under the pretext that he is in the business of building properties in Dubai, Kuwait, and other Arab countries.

In June 2020, Lewis Allagoa, the presiding judge, found the defendant not guilty and discharged him on all counts.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the EFCC approached the court of appeal.

In April 2022, a court of appeal sitting in Kano ordered a fresh trial.

TRIAL STALLED OVER ABSENCE OF JUDGE

On Monday, the trial of Zaura was stalled because Mohammad Yunusa, the judge, was absent from court as he was said to be attending to other national issues outside Kano.

In the previous court sitting, the trial judge had ordered the EFCC to produce the accused person in court owing to the latter’s absence.

Speaking on the development, Rogha said the defendant was supposed to be in EFCC custody, adding that the agency will ensure he is in court at the next sitting.

“We are looking for Zaura and he will be arrested as soon as we find him,” he said.

“Ordinarily, he was supposed to be in our custody and the court has affirmed that. But I can assure you, he would be arrested and brought to court on the next adjourned date — 30th January, 2023.”

In a counter argument, Ibrahim Waru, counsel to the defendant, said EFCC does not possess any legal authority to arrest his client.

Waru also said it was not necessary for his client to be in court on Monday since the court did not sit.

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Budget Padding: Senate clears Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed

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The Senate has on Monday cleared the Minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning , Mrs Zainab Ahmed of alleged insertions in budgetary provisions of some Ministries , Departments and Agencies ( MDAs).

The Senate gave the Finance Minister a clean bill of health on alleged series of puddings in the proposed N20.51trillion 2023 budget when she appeared before the Senator Barau Jibrin, APC, Kano North led Senate Committee on Appropriations to make clarifications on the issues

Satisfied by her submission , the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin said that the clarifications presented by the Minister were well understood by all the committee members and thereafter hailed her for ensuring transparency with capturing of such loans or grants in the budget .

Meanwhile, the Senate has frowned at shoddy implementation of the National Social Investment Programme ( NSIP) based on lack of records of verifiable beneficiaries .

In her presentation, the Finance Minister told the Committee that the various sums some heads of agencies feigned ignorance of during their interface with relevant committees for budget defence , were approved by the Federal Executive Council ( FEC), before budget presentation itself by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday , October 7, 2022.

Ahmed said, “All the proposed budgetary sums like the N206billion in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development , the N8.6billion in the Ministry of Defence , N195.468billion in the estimates for the Ministry of Power etc , were all captured before presentation by Mr President.

“Most of these sums are bilateral or multilateral loans captured in the budget of agencies selected for projects execution for sole purpose of transparency.

“The totality of such loans captured in the proposed budget of the relevant agencies is N1.771trillion .

“Had heads of the affected MDAs carried out thorough scrutinization of their approved budgetary proposals , the issue of insertion or budget padding wouldn’t have arisen at all, realization of which made the Minister of Defence , Bashir Magsshi to apologise after feigning ignorance of N8.6billion in his Ministry’s budget during interface with Senate Committee on Defence “

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Naira redesign may be declared illegal if challenged in court, says Falana

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the redesign of the naira may be illegal if President Muhammadu Buhari did not seek approval of the national assembly for the funds used for the initiative.

On November 23, Buhari unveiled the new currency notes at the state house, Abuja.

The redesigned naira notes are expected to be in circulation on December 15.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had on October 26 announced the plan to redesign the naira to control money supply and aid security agencies in tackling illicit financial flows.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, said the president’s endorsement of the CBN’s naira redesign policy is not legally sufficient.

He said the president should have presented a “money bill” to the national assembly to seek approval for the funds used for the project.

Falana said the expense is not captured in the 2022 budget, adding that the president must comply with the provision of section 59 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

“However, the official endorsement is not sufficient as the president is mandatorily required to present a money bill to the national assembly for the withdrawal of the billions of naira from public funds earmarked for the printing of the new naira notes,” the statement reads.

“Specifically, section 59 of the constitution requires “an appropriation bill or supplementary bill including any other bill for the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation of any money charged thereon or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal.

“Since the fund for the printing of the new naira notes is not captured in the 2022 appropriation bill, the president is advised to prepare and present a supplementary bill to the national assembly to authorise the withdrawal of public fund from any account of the federation for printing the new naira notes.

“Otherwise, the printing of the new naira without appropriation by the national assembly may be declared illegal and unconstitutional if it is challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

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