“Greg why are you against your Governor?” was a question posted on my face book page by a female old friend of mine who has long lost track of the state and possibly relies on the propaganda and sentiments churn out to online and other press media for information about the state. Its pertinent to make this clarification that some of us that write, comment and criticize the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha in Imo state; and of cause any other for that matter, are not doing so for our personal or selfish aggrandizement but to honestly serve as checks and balances in a society where real political opposition is often muzzled into trenches with states’ resources. Therefore for few of us blessed with the gifts of education and the mastery of alternative means of communication to keep silent in the midst of intimidations and executive brigandry would amount to the sale of our birthrights. And to keep praising, singing and clapping for a leader who suddenly went berserk and became an emperor overnight simply because he won a seat via the instruments of masses’ revolution and religious propaganda would equally amount to watching the she goat tether itself to death while giving birth. This will amount to praising and clapping for the man that dances the surugede without knowing that the surugede itself is a dance of the spirits.
Without being immodest, the Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha in just about one year in office has achieved so much on air to be truly praised in the eyes of the masses and the public. These “achievements” have been constantly documented on the Africa Independent Television (AIT) where millions of Imo state’s scarce resources are being wasted on both quarterly retainership and news coverage basis. I had the opportunity of viewing one of such wasteful and insulting episodes and was miffed that an entire delegation of Governor Okorocha’s officials was transported to far a less economically advanced country as Kosovo to source for foreign investors for Imo state.
Kosovo, with due respect and no protuberance intention just declared its independence in February 2008 after many years of fighting with Serbia and subjected as a United Nation’s controlled territory; a country less the size of Lagos state and not more than 2million people with only few solid minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, etc as its economic products. Kosovo is not even a member of the United Nations and it is still fighting to gain recognition by many countries of the world. This is one of the countries visited by the Imo state governor in one of his numerous tours overseas in search of investors. I consider that wasteful trip and its publicity a displaced priority, deceit and public grandstanding. I think Governor Okorocha can do better slowing down on those regular media shows and concentrating on creating a peaceful and developed Imo.
For those of us who reside in Imo and do our private businesses here, we are the ones with the shoe and know where it pains. Our dear state has been visited by a monster. Calamity has befallen us and we do not know where or who to run to because we are truly the architect of this disaster. Just like the children of Israel in the holy bible who approached Samuel and insisted on having a king like other nations (1 Samuel 8). The Lord through Samuel forewarned of the catastrophes that would befall them if they go for a king but they insisted and had Saul as their king. What followed later can be read in the remaining parts of the bible’s text quoted above.
Just before the PDP made Owelle Rochas Okorocha the Imo state governor; (yes because there wouldn’t have been this governor if the named party had put its house in order), Imo was seriously yearning for development, connection to national economic grid and advancement in all strata. These agitations and noble expectations were promised and assured us by an orator who described himself as the “Grand Commander of Free Education” because he is entrusted with the responsibility of collecting our N1000 from international donor agencies and releasing to us a paltry N50 in the name of free education.
Imolites were promised jobs, free primary and secondary schools education even when this has already been taken care of by the Universal Basic Education Commission all over the federation; free University education even when some of us knew it had never happened anywhere in the world; free healthcare, free everything and the masses fell for the bait and the spell in the air infested even the churches. Today, thousands are daily sacked from their jobs beginning from the ministries down to the cleaners in the Teaching Hospital. The first victims were the 10, 000 youths offered jobs by the previous administration in the state. Although theirs served them right (because they denied from beginning that former Governor Ohakim never gave anyone a job), but it is another deceit that a governor who promised jobs for all before he became one has adopted sacking of workers as his only weapon to save money for the state.
Earlier on inception of office, the media became flooded with stories of Governor Okorocha’s sharing of money to pupils and students in Imo schools. This was highly applauded by some parents who refused to see the moral implication of training a child with such psyche. Others even became so carried away to observe that the governor who just accessed the money made available by the UBEC for compulsory daily free meals for primary school pupils have been criminally reduced and stolen. By the UBE’s free meal policy all over the federation, a pupil in Imo ordinarily entitled to a free meal that is worth about N250 daily is now receiving only N100 monthly and even sometimes in three months. The balance disappears into thin air. What a deceit!
Similarly, this governor who claimed he is giving Imo people free primary and secondary education has refused to tell Ndimo that there’s been a free education policy in all primary and secondary schools all over the federation and financed by the UBEC, not Okorocha. The governor should rather tell us why the rate paid by Primary Six pupils for their First School Leaving Certificate Examination (FSLCE) rose from N800 to N4, 500 under his administration. Governor Okorocha should tell us why his promise of University Free education is currently being shrouded in controversy and has refused to kick off. He should tell us the fiscal appropriation and how much Imo money spent on his alleged Imo state University built in his village, Ogboko and why he has recently converted the multibillion naira complex into his private university, Imo-Euro University.
This property freak of a governor should tell Ndimo how much he paid in compensation to landlords he deceitfully acquired their plots of land for the various personal property projects he has embarked upon with government’s name and the contractual worth and obligations of these projects. In Orlu, one of the Local Government Councils in the state, people’s structures and property located at a popular central motor park were illegally snatched from them just two months after this governor assumed office. Today, a shopping mall with about 200 shops has been forcefully erected there. A good edifice, I must give him that but with a N2m rate placed on each of the shops, none of the common bread and biscuits traders or even the common trader in the area have been able to purchase a single shop in that complex. Meanwhile, over 85% of the shops have been acquired by a certain ghost individual and 10% gone as compensation to some hungry traditional rulers and politicians. Who is this ghost individual? This trend is the same in all the property projects being the only area being quickly completed by this administration in the state ever since its inception. Deceit!
This governor introduced and began experiment on his so-called 4th-tier government and promised a management team of some elected officials in every community in the state. According to him, the Traditional Rulers would chair the community administrations and would be given a monthly funding of N5million for the running of their Communities Government Councils (CGC). He demystified Igbo traditional stool by suggesting that traditional rulers would hence emerge through elections. The frenzy became so hot in the state that some people started employing assassins to eliminate their traditional rulers so as to take over their offices. Town Unions’ Presidents-General were pitched against the governor’s so called “Community Speakers”, and or Traditional Rulers. The state became a boiling battle ground. Kidnapping became on the increase. It was confusions everywhere and blood flowed. Fortunately, Ndimo being a prayerful people refused to shed much blood as expected by the imported demons in the state and thus the “Speakers” theory was discarded, and the candidates abandoned to their perils; the same way the Community Government Council (CGC) is set to be abandoned by the governor’s recent disclosure that only a million naira (no more N5m) would be released to every community that is able to raise a 25% counterpart funding for his pet CGC project. Another big deceit!
Readers must have read and heard the lingering disagreement between the Imo emperor governor and the 27 elected Local Government Councils with their councilors and officials in the state. It would be recalled that in his maiden broadcast to Imo people on June 6th of 2011, Owelle Rochas Okorocha in a flagrant disregard to due process and in a manner suggesting “I am the new sheriff in town” dissolved the democratically elected Local Government executives and replaced them with some stooges as Transition Committee administrators. He equally over painted his speech that day as “I hereby dissolve, I hereby terminate, I hereby suspend” suggestive of the arrival of a conqueror became a cliché in that broadcast. As law abiding citizens, these elected officials went to the courts.
It was on record that Justice Njemanze of the Owerri High Court ruled in September 2011 that governor Okorocha does not have the power to dissolve the elected chairmen even as Njemanze cowardly refused to make a declaration that they should go back to office. The chairmen again went to an Appeal Court which gave its ruling early July, 2012 ordering the chairmen to be reinstated forthwith and the Transition Committee members sacked. One week after that ruling, the Imo governor in his characteristic lawlessness refused to respect the judgment of the courts but rather employed armed thugs to take possession of the Local Government secretariats. Expecting and praying for a show down that may result to bloodshed in the state through this action, our sadistic governor jetted overseas and left the state in utter stagnation and uneasy calm. Again, Imolites refused to spill their own bloods until the intervention of the Chief Law officer, the Attorney General of the Federation who directed every party to the dispute to respect the court’s judgment; a directive that then moved the Nigeria Police to protect the elected councils’ officials into their various councils’ offices on Wednesday, 18th July, 2012.
But just like the devil, non relenting, constantly and persistently plotting out evil and pains on humanity, so is the Imo Governor Rochas Okorocha adamant, persistent, constant and sadistically designing injurious strategies against Imo citizens. As at the time of this post, thousands of youths from Imo state seeking recruitments into the Nigerian Army had lost their chances as they were not able to access some vital documents expected of them from their various councils of origin; courtesy, the Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha’s senseless and vindictive declaration of indefinite public holidays in the councils.
Imo state is currently losing Millions of Naira on daily basis as a result of the irrationality of its governor. Having woefully lost all strategies to prevent the elected chairmen from returning to their offices, the governor quickly declared an indefinite public holiday in all the 27 Local Government Councils of the state. This public holiday that was announced same day the chairmen were led into their offices (18th July) has remained till this day with workers now confused and complaining.
Also to cover up all sharp financial malpractices committed in his more than one year of non adherence to due process in financial expenditures, he had since that day summoned all the principal staff of the councils – the Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS), Heads of Personnel Management (HPM), Treasurers, etc to Owerri for an alleged seminar where they are being groomed and used to retire and build up vouchers for monies misappropriated illegally and without records. What a shame!
While this is not intended to disparage the governor’s utopian vision to make Imo state a model city, it is to call for transparency in his pursuit of this dream. It is to ask him to learn how to think before acting as many of his actions before thinking had not only created confusions and disappointments among his numerous fans and citizens of the state. but had equally pitched him at a disadvantaged position against his opponents while he is speedily losing grip of the populace, especially in the civil service who were the bulk supports for his rescue mission. The hour has come for this rescue mission to be rescued first.
GREG NWADIKE is the Coordinator, SAVE IMO GROUP (SIG) and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org