In February 2018, a mysterious Python was said to have sneaked into the accounts office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital and made away with N36 million cash. This according to a sales clerk in Makurdi office of JAMB, Philomina Chieshe, was the reason the that large amount realised from the sale of examinatiin recharge cards could not be accounted for.
Her bemused audience was a team of top JAMB top officialls of the board, led by none less than the Registrar, Prof. Ishak Oloyode.
The revelation, which received wide media coverage instantly became something of a daylight movie shot in the medium of humour, yet conveying a serious message. One commentator described it as a best seller.
For weeks on end the social media hosted the trending story, relishing the voices, and the hits as the story refused to go away, try as one could. Of course the rain had poured and after that it was time for the sun to shine. Indeed it came in the form of an Economic and Financial Crime Commission ( EFCC) investigation into the movement of the funds, which invariably meant tracing the footprints of the snake with a midas touch.
Of course EFCC is not new to bursting financial crimes ,but never in its double- decade history has it burst monies in the belly of an African Python.
It is this expertise gap that are leading many to believe that while EFCC was consulting on how to chase the snake, and the language to take the statement of the snake in explanation for keeping human money, this snake may have smartly moved southwards, crossing Enugwu State to enter Anambra state, and is apparently residing in Ihiala local government secretariat, where it may have additionally swallowed #1,348,098,665.3 billion being the total amount the council received from federal government as statutory allocations in six months after gaining financial autonomy in June.
But unlike the Makurdi case where pastors and prayer warriors have been called in as witnesses to the N36m swallow, now a pittance compared to the breath- taking amount in one of Anambra State’s oldest local governments, the Ihiala case is quietly mysterious .
Not even those with primary duty of care for the funds in question are able to open their panic- stricken mouths to hazard a guess on the route taken by the python.
Could it be that this python has stayed long enough to perfect the signatures of key Local Government impostors in the guise of a council? Or human beings are in cahoots with the otherwise human- eating reptile which now loads the money in cash for other destinations beyond the LG? Or,has the python reclaimed the original wisdom of the serpent which Adam and Eve held a historical seminar with in the Garden of Eden,leading to the recognition of their nakedness?
With this wisdom as we are told, the python,rather that stay the dangerous animal we think it is, has surprisingly become too friendly with the creme de la creme in Ihiala LG, including the hi-five team that were handpicked as caretaker committees for the LG, and the adopted snakes, despite the Supreme Court’s insistence that LG officials must be elected?
But why Ihiala? What has Ihiala LG done to a Bennue snake trying to assume Anambra State surname without marriage , except that new found funds,fresh from offical clutching of the clueless state government in Anambra into the snake- controlled fingers of an unelected Chairman Barr Greg Okafor . Or how else does one explain that nothing is speaking for the human beings milling around the headquarters of Ihiala LG , where enough bushes exist in the surrounds to host enough migrating Benue pythons, with their superlative skills.
The difference though may be that Anambra’s Ihiala is one of the hottest beds of public life and being home to the men of timber and calibre have easily become the neutralisers of political beds, who can comb the bushes sooner or later to catch a wise serpent of a python in the middle of its game.
When? Many would ask? Perhaps when the elders ,youth , middle aged, women and senior citizens alike for an opinion that allowing these pythons all the room to swallow all swallowables , only find money missing , but find that the children of hiala, and their hitherto golden future have gone with it.
What seems to rankle the more, however, is that nobody appears to care what happens to the huge allocations accruable to Ihiala local government every month at a time when statutory functions such as the repair of local feeder roads, streets, construction of public health centres, maintenance of local dispensaries, parks, gardens as well as markets and abattoirs, which the local government could easily perform, are essentially left unattended to. This python has really spread its fangs far and wide.
Shall Ihiala rise with sticks ,matchets cudgels and guns to smoke out the python? Shall Ihiala neighbours join them in anti- python match where the object of the chase is not dancing ,let alone smiling. Or how are we to know which of the neighbours of Ihiala or indeed which other LG in Anambra State shall play host to the long general of the tropical bush?
The answer lies in the womb of time, as the solution lies in collective action.
Comrade Remigius Ojukwu is the Acting LG Publicity Secretary for All Progressives Congress ( APC) in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.