Dr. Obinna Duruji is the Commissioner for Information, Imo State. In this no-holds-barred interview which was syndicated to John Mgbe, he makes clarifications on some of the current controversial and topical political questions in Imo State. Please read on:
On what gave rise to the Community Government Council (CGC) which some people refer to as 4th Government.
The government is bent on the policy of 4th tier government, better called Community Government Council because the policy is part and parcel of a larger policy of decentralization which is the 4th cardinal principle of Rochanomics.
During the campaign, Governor Okorocha addressed the communities, and assured Imo electorate that if elected he will turn things around by establishing 4th tier of government and the basis or reason for its establishment is because of the failure of the local government system to drive development to the rural areas. To achieve that objective of rural development, it has become imperative that the frontiers of governance be decentralized from state and Local Government to the Communities; hence the 4th tier concept.
Above all, the workers are afraid of losing their jobs.Any guarantee of job tenure?
It is only fear and fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. There is no reality to it and there is no basis for the fear. Nobody will be retrenched. It is not even redeployment in the negative sense. It is a matter of secondment. Secondment is temporary transfer for specific assignment. Secondment is a preferred terminology than transfer. While transfer may connote in some sense permanence, that you have been moved from one place to the other; secondment is clearly a temporary relocation for specific assignment.
Some people insist that the Community Government Council(CGC) is illegal.Why do you insist on continuing with it?
Their insistence that the 4th tier arrangement is illegal does no constitute illegality. What is their basis? Did they cite any section of the constitution that has been violated or that prohibits it? Something can be illegal by virtue of prohibition or by contravening an existing section of the law. In this case did they cite any authority or explain the basis for their insistence. The mere fact that the opposition is saying it, does no make it a fact. Section 7 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 as amended authorizes the state House of Assembly to establish a system of governance for the Local Governments. The Constitution recognizes 774 Local Governments and empowers the State House of Assembly to establish a system of government for them, and it is within the premise of the authority, that the House of Assembly is creating the Community Government Councils. Local Government Councils cannot hang in the air; they are made up of autonomous communities. Under Law no 6 of 2006 the State House of Assembly, established criteria for creation of autonomous community and within that authority to create autonomous community is also the authority to establish a structure for their governance. What is the authority? What section of the constitution is violated? Or what section of their constitution prohibits it – none, and I want to be quoted.
Who gains from this policy?
Imo state stands to gain. Imo citizens stand to gain because of the inherent advantages which include but are not limited to the following:-
- The Community Government Council (CGC) will fast-track rural development which the Local Government system has failed to do and which the state by its distance cannot effectively do.
- It will stop rural – urban migration.
- It will enhance the value of rural lands.
- It will inculcate a sense of back to land consciousness for Rural Agricultural Programme, whereby each community will plant a minimum of 20,000 palm seedlings between now and December 2012, and each community is required to provide about 100 hectares of land for Rural Agricultural Programme. The communities will benefit, through the establishment of basic infrastructure, like water, electricity, administrative offices, town halls, and markets where they do not exist.
People all over the communities are commending His Excellency. Only the minority but vocal elements are shouting foul. And even at that, it is understandable that no matter how good a policy is, it will be difficult for the entire citizenry to applaud it. Some people will still be opposed to it while some others will still ask questions.
During the three work free days granted the workers to go home and register, the workers were scrambling for the forms. Some of them look forward to the opportunity to be closer to their homes and contribute their own quota to the development of their communities. Some have been away in various duty posts for over 10 – 15 and 20 years. Many of them are excited at the mere opportunity to return home. It is a question of who is calling the shot or doing the criticism. If they are doing the criticism from the mountain tops, ask them to seek the opinion of people at the grassroots. You will be surprised at what they have been able to do.
THE prescription of a dress code has not gone down well with some of the staff in the Civil Service
When you say prescription, without debating the issue, you hire people, you prescribe rules and regulations for them. What is wrong with uniform for civil servants that make them look dutiful, that enhances their sense of decorum, their sense of prestige, enhances their sense of self worth, enhance their sense of performance? What are the negative connotations? Has anybody articulated any negative factors associated with the uniform – black suit on white shirt and red tie for men and black suit on white blouse and red scarf for women? Has anybody faulted it in anyway? The workers themselves have not complained. They have applauded it instead.
What informed the introduction of commercialization in Imo State Ministries?
Commercialization of Imo State Ministries, Departments and Agencies is a programme totally calculated to raise the bottom line of the average MDAs in Imo State. Over the years as you are aware, Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been solely dependent on subvention to the point of complacency; to the point of non-performance and lack of productivity. To change things around, His Excellency has come up with an innovation that parastatals should boost their activities with a commercial orientation and they should be able to be self sustaining so as to not depend on the subvention any longer. With effect from April 1st 2012 the Ministries, Departments and Agencies are no longer going to be getting subvention which is a challenge for a place like IBC, Imo Palm Plantation. These are parastatals. Others are Imo Statesman, ENTRACO, Imo Orientation Agency, etc why will they be getting subventions? Government Press for Instance, if they have the potential to generate profit, those opportunities should be exploited to the benefit of the parent Ministry. People call it all kinds of names, reason being that it is in the very nature of human beings to resist change. So they are reacting to what they are not used to by calling it names and nobody has highlighted any negative impact or connotation of the commercialization programme other than fear which is false evidence, appearing real.
Apart from the Community Government Council(CGC) issue, another controversy is the relocation of Imo State University to Ogboko,the governor’s home town.What informed this opinion?
The relocation of Imo State University was informed by the National Universities Commission’s deadline to the state government to relocate the Imo State University or the University will lose its accreditation. So of all the contentious sites for possible relocation of Imo State University, the only one that is not in contention is the location in Ogboko where there is a lot of space, there is serenity for academic endevours. It is not in contention and the people very much welcome it. Those are the concerns of the University Relocation Committee. All the other possible locations are in contention. For one reason or the other it is also important to state that Ogboko is in Imo State and there is no legal prohibition against relocating the University to Governor’s local government or home town.
How can you assess the government in the last one year.
Well I am the Spokesman of the State; the people had better be the judge. But speaking from the point of view of advantage, I like to say that this government has exceeded the widest expectations of Imo people. Nobody expected in the last one year that Imo State will embark on free education as was promised during the campaign, that even then it will be extended beyond the campaign promise to the tertiary education level.
The massive road construction in the State is nothing short of a revolution. Already over one thousand roads are under construction in all the rural communities across the State, not including Orlu main town, not including Okigwe main town and Owerri main town. These are rural roads in the excess of one thousand and this does not include the massive resurfacing and patch works across the State.
In the area of infrastructural development, legacy projects like the Hand of God “Akachi”, – the tallest hotel is being built in Imo State, the tallest tower in the world is being built in Imo State, and many more. So in the last one year it has been nothing short of a revolution in Imo State. This is also inclusive of human capacity building.
Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies (ICAPS) is a capacity building institution; the Imo State University has received N148,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Forty-Eight Million Naira) for accreditation programmes, paid off the contiss/conua salary structures to the tune of N772,000,000.00 (Seven Hundred and Seventy-Two Million Naira). N252m per month and 100 thousand scholarship to every IMSU undergraduates.
In fact there is no sector of the Imo State economy that is left out in the revolution. Agriculture has received a boost. As it stands each community is required to donate a minimum of one hundred (100) hectares of land for rural agricultural programme.
Security has been beefed up by the provision of vehicles and state of art technology. Now there is a reward of One Million Naira N1, 000,000.00 (One Million Naira) for anyone who gives any information leading to the arrest of a kidnapper or to the bursting of a kidnap ring. These things are going on, on a daily bases and it couldn’t have been any better. No state government has recorded the kind of feat that this Administration has recorded in the last eleven months.