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Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Peep Into FGN Projects In South East:  A Case Study Of Imo State(Part 1) – By John Mgbe



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This viewpoint is written for two reasons. The first  is that  during the  visit  of President Jonathan to Imo State to  receive  a group  of  politicians  who  defected  to PDP from other  parties, the  opposition  members  of All Progressives Congress(APC) were  singing the mantra: “Where  are  President Jonathan’s Federal Projects  in Imo  State”? They accused him of coming to Imo State to commission expired politicians who defected (decamped) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). A day after that  presidential  visit, the  women of APC trooped out  in large  numbers  on the streets  of Owerri, especially  Wetheral Road  and  environs  clutching  swathes of brooms – the  symbol of APC- with which  they  embarked  on the  shameful  and  satanic  task of sweeping  off the  footsteps  of the President and  the  PDP members  from  the state, especially  from  Dan Anyiam Stadium, the  venue  of the event .Their  grouse was  that  President Jonathan and his PDP members  desecrated  the  land  during the  visit. What  the APC women did  on that  show  of  shame  was a  dangerous  violation  of the  culture  of Ndigbo where it is a taboo to  sweep off the  footprints  of  your  guest, more so, when  he  is  not a dangerous  visitor. It  is  my opinion that a  President  who  made  a  flag stop in Imo State  to  honour new  members  of  his  party  cannot  be  described as  a  hostile  visitor, more so, since  about seven  APC governors  and  their  faithful  had  earlier  visited  Owerri  to  honour  Governor Okorocha  when  he dumped APGA and   defected  to  APC. In spite  of  the  sadness of  a majority of Ndimo  on  Okorocha’s  abandonment  of All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), they  trooped to  the Heroes square  and  manifested  their  outward  signs  of hospitality and  cordiality to  the   unwanted   visitors. Nobody  swept  off their  footprints ,  booed  them  or  tampered with the  flex banners  and  bill boards  which  were  mounted  all over the  state  to  add colour to their visit. I addressed that episode in my viewpoint entitled “Imo Brooms Gate Scandal …”   of the Weekend Nigerian Horn newspaper  of March 14-16, 2014, pages 5 & 15 .You may also Goggle the headline and read online.

Another reason for  writing this  viewpoint is that  in my viewpoint  entitled “Why Maj.Gen Buhari(retd)  must quit politics now: His  many sins” which was also  published  on The Nigerian Horn of April 25-27,2014,Page 4 &11,  some  of  the  readers  made  various comments in line with  their  perception.You may Goggle  the  headline  and read online. In fact, one  of  the  fans, a very prominent  personality said  that  after reading my viewpoint, he was  more  confused  on  who to vote for in 2015.   He also joined some others to  ask  to be given  a list  of federal government presence  in Igbo land. He then asked me  to  do a viewpoint  entitled: Is President Jonathan an Igbo Hater? Some respondents said I was silent on   the sacking of some Igbo political appointees in President Jonathan’s Administration. In order to  inform, educate and  gratify the  information needs of these  my  fans, I will use  the  small space  available  to  prove  that the  federal government  is  well represented  in Imo State  On the  issue  of  federal  government projects  in Igbo land, I will limit  my  scope  to  Imo  State because Igbo land  is  a large sample to  be  handled  in the  little  space  at  my disposal. Further more, I do  not  wish  to  be   seen as  a  busybody  or a  meddlesome  interloper   discussing  an area  that I do  not reside, even though we  are  in a global  village  where you  can  stay in the  bucolic  confines  of your hamlet  and  yet  discuss an event  that  is  happening  in New York or  even  any part of the world. In fact, it was  the Canadian Professor  Abraham Maslow who around 1971  fantasized with  what  he called  a  “planetary village” but  little  did  he  know  that  his  brainwave, so to speak,   would  be  an actuality so soon.Welcomne  to Professor  Abraham Maslow’s Global Village. The  issue  of  the Igbos who were  sacked  in President Jonathan’s  Administration will be  discussed  soon in another viewpoint.

Federal Projects in Imo State: I wish  to  state from the  outset  that  I am not a  member  of  the PDP and  also  not  a  media  aide to  the President. So, I will do  my  analysis  from the  prism  of  a  media  professional  who, not  being on government pay roll,  may  not  have all the  information, especially with  the  short  notice  which  my  readers  have  asked  that  this  information  be  presented. The  ubiquity and  pervasiveness of  Federal  projects  in Imo State  are  so  glaring that  it  rankles  when  one  hears  some  misguided  opponents  of the PDP  make  snide  remarks  on the  so-called  lack of federal presence  in Imo State. The federal government  is an entity that  dates  back to antiquity such  that  its  presence  in any state cannot  be  attributed  to  a  particular  president; the  federal  presence  in any state   is a cumulative effort  which  straddles  several  administrations, more so, since governance  is  a continuum. In this wise , we  can now  take  a peep  into  federal  presence  in Imo State. Since  Human Development  index  has  become  a  major  criterion  for  development by  global  rating  agencies, let’s take  a  look at  the  education sector .The  education sector  is  ,perhaps,  the  area  the  federal government  has  excelled  through  its  timely  interventions. Let’s start  with:

(1) Federal University of Technology (FUTO),Owerri .This  is  one  of  the  first grade  tertiary institutions  in Nigeria  with  special  bias  to  courses  in the  area  of Engineering, Technology and the like. A  visit  to  FUTO  will be  an awe inspiring  experience to  those  who  are  cynical  of  the  presence  of the  federal  government  in Imo  State. It’s  a model  tertiary  institution  that  has  acquitted  its  self  creditably  in  the  areas  of teaching, research, and community development. FUTO  is  a citadel  of  entrancing  and  scenic  beauty  which  occupies  a  wide  expanse  of  land  in  which  are   built  numerous imposing  buildings depicting  a masterpiece  in modern architectural design.  FUTO  showcases  an  eye-popping array  of  the  exquisite  and   modest  facilities  which  one  expects  in a  modern and  model  citadel  of  learning. Aside standard Classrooms there are   series of  conference  halls, entrepreneurial studies  complex and  the  like. A  state  of  the art  administrative  block  and  several  building  interventions  are  seen in the  nooks  and  crannies  of FUTO.

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During the  just protracted  strike  by the  members  of  Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), the  Vice Chancellor  of FUTO, Professor Asiabaka, once  decided  that  FUTO  would  withdraw  from the  strike because  the  school  did  not have  any reasons  to   keep  the students  out  of  classes. He  said  that  the  institution was  well funded  as  they  were  receiving the  necessary  financial  needs and  all their  capital / recurrent projects  were  progressing as  planned. The  object  lesson is  that contrary  to  the  allegations  of  marginalization on Igbo land,  the  Federal Government  has  not  discriminated  against  FUTO  as all its  demands  and  entitlements  are  provided  by the FMG  as  at when due.

(2)Federal Polytechnic, Nekede: This is another   great   institution of learning in Imo State which  is owned  by the federal government. In terms  of sophistication, academic  performance, infrastructure and  facilities, the  Federal Polytechnic, Nekede  is  at  par  with FUTO. So, the  explanations  made  under  FUTO  can  also  be  applied to POLY, Nekede. Perhaps  , the  only difference  lies in the  fact that  while FUTO is a university-a  degree awarding institution, Poly, Nekede is a  polytechnic  which awards  diplomas  at  the  National and Higher Diploma  levels. These  two  institutions  have  had  the  rare  luck  of  being  headed  by  very  highly  committed   and  dedicated  Vice Chancellors  and  Rectors  over  the years.

(3)Federal College  of Land Resources: This is  another  federal  government  owned  tertiary education  institution in Imo  State. It is a specialized polytechnic which specializes in agriculture and land resources. It awards National and Higher Diploma in the affected  courses. Imo State is one  of the  very few  states  that  are  blest with  about four FEDERAL  tertiary  institutions. Not   all the states are so richly endowed. In fact, President Jonathan  recently  approved  about  nine  federal  universities  for  some  states  that  did  not  have  them. This  shows that  even while some  states  did  not  have  any  Federal university, we  already  have  four tertiary  institutions in Imo State.

(4) Alvan Ikoku  Federal College of Education, Owerri: This is a  very old College  of Education which  has been  taken over  by the federal government  and  is  on the  verge  of  being  upgraded to a university of education. Presently, the  institution  awards the National Certificate  in Education(NCE) and  in  partnership with the University  of Nigeria, Nsukka,  Alvan awards    degrees  in education studies. Since the federal  government  took it over  a  few years ago, the  skyline  of the institution has  taken a  new look befitting  a  tertiary  institution. The  plan  to  transmute  to a  full university of  education has  been  sluggish  because  the political  leaders in Imo State   are  not enthusiastic  in   facilitating  the   full upgrade of the  institution to a full blown university. Some  vital  requirements  in regard  to  the  full hand over  of  the  entire  land  area  of the  institution to the  federal government  has  suffered some  hiccups thus  slowing down the  university  status of the school. There  is a  need for  the  members  of  the  state  and  National Assembly  to  show  interest  in what  is  happening at  Alvan in order  to  actualize  its  emergence  to  a  full university.

(5)Federal  Medical  Centre, Owerri(FMC)Owerri: This is another  federal government  presence in Imo State; it’s an institution that  has  contributed  immensely  in the  area  of Medicare  and  healthcare delivery  in Imo State. It is ,perhaps, the  single  largest  federal  presence in Imo State with  thousands  of  staff on its  payroll as well  as  an intimidating  concentration  of  specialists  and  experts  in various  fields  of Medicine.

(6)Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN): Imo  State  is  one  of  the  states  that  are  blessed with  the  presence  of  a Central Bank. Its state of the art palatial edifice   is located on Owerri/Port Harcourt road. Even now,  construction work is  progressing at  a  frenetic  speed  in order  to  provide  the  CBN, Owerri  with  the  necessary facilities  that  will enable  it to  be  compatible  with   global  best  practices. It  is  pertinent  to  state    that there  are  some  states  in this  country  that  do  not  yet  have  a Central Bank or, at least,  a CBN  in the  class of what the FGN has  built in Imo State.

(7)National Library, Owerri: The Federal Government of Nigeria(FGN) has  a  modern library  complex in Imo State. It  is  located  in the  vicinity  of  the  Central Bank  and  the  state  secretariat .In fact, the National  library  could  be  described  as  the  only  functional  library in IMO  State. It is pertinent  to state  that  Imo State  does not have  functional  libraries  in the  entire state including the state capital, Owerri. Just two  days ago,  Governor Okorocha  instuctedd that  the  Imo State  library  complex on Okigwe  Road  round about should  relocate  to  Imo House of Assembly zone. There  are  rumours  that  the   library  which  served Imo  People  for  several decades  will be demolished and  may  be  converted  to  a  car  park. Imo state is  running a  free education programme  without functional  libraries, even the  makeshift  libraries  in the  local  governments  are  being  shut down. In Abia State, Governor T.A.Orji has  built an e-library while Governor Godson Akpabio built an e-library which is said to be the  biggest in West Africa. Just now, Rivers State  has  been  inaugurated  as  the  World Book Centre. Governor Peter  Obi performed  wonders  in the  education sector  hence Anambra State  emerged with the  best result in Nigeria  in the just released result of West African Examinations Council(WAEC).Governor Peter  Obi transformed  the  library/education platform in Anambra  State  thus  bringing library  to  the  door steps  of  the  masses.

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(8)FGN Secretariat:Imo State  belongs to the  group of states  that  are provided with a  workers’ secretariat-an imposing and elegant edifice  that is an architectural masterpiece. Some states do not yet have FGN Secretariats for their workers.

(9)Federal; High Court Complex:    The Federal High Court, Owerri has moved to its permanent site on Owerri/Port Harcourt road. It’s a beautiful piece of complex.

(10)The Court of Appeal, Owerri: Before now, litigants  from Abia  and Imo states  were  subjected  to  intense  hassles  as  they  would  travel to Port Harcourt  in order  to  argue  their  cases in the  Court of Appeal. In order to  facilitate  speedy  access to  the Temple  of Justice  or is it Temple  of Law, the  federal  government  under  the  able  leadership of President Ebele  Azikiwe Jonathan  has  not  only  set up  a District  of the Court of Appeal in Owerri, it  has  completed  the  building   of an  exquisite  secretariat  complex  for  the  institution on Owerri/Port Harcourt road, Owerri. The complex will be handed over to the   Court of Appeal presently (soon).With this  development, both the  Federal  High Court and  the Court of  Appeal  are  brought to  the  doorsteps  of our  people  in Abia  and Imo States. Today,  journalists  who have  a  flair  for court reporting do  not  need to  go  far  to  be  a  part  of  the  legal  gymnastics and brainstorming sessions  that  take place  in our  courts  daily.

(11)The channels of Radio Nigeria and its kindred organization, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), are well represented in Imo State. The  Radio Nigeria (a.k.a Heartland Radio) is a  very  effective  radio channel  which  has  represented  the  voice of reason and  conscience  of the  people s in an environment  where  the  states and private  radio channels  have  persistently  violated   professional  ethics. Unlike the  state  radio and television channels  which have  been hijacked  by political  demagogues and desperados, the  Heartland  Radio Channel  has  remained  a  credible  source  of  news and  information kitchen in this zone.

(12)Still on education, Imo State  is  blest  with  three federal  secondary  schools- two Unity Schools and a Police  secondary school at Nwangele Local Government Area. The Unity schools are the Federal Girls’ Secondary School, Owerri and the Federal Secondary School, Okigwe- a school for boys and girls).Most  states  are  not  so  richly endowed with two Unity Schools and a Police College.

(13)Education Parastatals: In the same vein, all the  parastatals  in the  education sector  are  well represented in Imo State. They include the  West African Examinations Counci(WAEC), the National  Examination Council(NECO), the National Business and Technical Examinations Board(NABTEB).A few  years  ago, most  of  us  had to  travel  outside  Imo State  to  benefit  from the  services  of  these   organizations.

(14) Ministries,Agencies and Departments(MADs):  In order to  hook Imo State  on the  federal grid,  a  large  number  of  federal  government  parastatals, agencies, and departments(MADs) have  relocated to Owerri. They  include the zonal  office  of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria(APCON), the zonal office  of the Chartered Institute  of  Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) was  recently  relocated  to Owerri from Aba in Abia State, the  Consumer Protection Council ( CPC) is  in Owerri,  the Public Complaints Commission(PCC), an alternative  Dispute  Resolution (ADR) platform of the FGN,  is  in Owerri. The fact that  our  people do not  seem to  take maximum  advantage  of these  facilities  is  not the  cause  of President Jonathan or the FGN.

(15)SECURITY GROUPS: All the security/quasi-security agencies are   fully represented in Imo State. The 34th Brigade of the Nigerian Army is in Obinze, the Nigerian Police  is  here, the Navy is at Oguta the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC)  is here. So, with these  federal government  security agencies, it  was  unnecessary for Governor  Okorocha  to  employ (is  it  really employment?)over  8000 youths  into  the so-called Imo Security Network.Haba, 8000 youths  for Imo Security Network!!?  Are we fighting a war in Imo State? Even in the A.P.C  Boko Haram States of  Borno, Adamawa and Yolo, the  State  Governors  do  not  embark  on such  a  wild goose  chase  because  it  is  not  economically  feasible.

(16)NDLEA: There is also  the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA),the Immigration Department is  not  just  in Imo State, it  has  a big School of Immigration in Umuowa in Orlu LGA, the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS)  is also  here  as well as  the  Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC).

(17) EFCC & ICPC: In the same vein, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) are  also  here in Imo State, although the  two  institutions  are  not useful  to  Imo State. The two  institutions  are  part of  the  reasons  for the  very high level  of  corruption and  pillage  of  the  state  treasury  by   politicians  in Imo State. The  performance  of  the EFCC and the ICPC in Imo State  must  be  condemned  in its  entirety as  they  have  turned  a  blind eye  to  the  menace  of corruption  by  our politicians to  the  extent that  they have aided and abetted  corruption  in the political  sector in Imo State.

(18)SURE-P FUND: The almighty SURE-P office is also in Imo State on Okigwe road. SURE-P is short for Subsidy Reinvestment & Empowerment Programme. As  a result  of the  Federal Government’s  decision  to   remove  subsidy  on Premium Motor Spirit(PMS) in Janoary,2012,  the SURE-P  Fund was  launched. The boss of SURE-P programme in Imo State is Chief Lonjers Anyanwu. The SURE-P Fund is  a  critical Federal Government intervention  which  purpose  is to  provide  succor  to  the  masses, the youths  and women. If the Fund is not effective in Imo State, then, it’s not the fault of President Jonathan. As  a result  of the  strategic  nature  of this  FUND  in the  empowerment  of the  youths in Imo State, it will be  given  a  more in-depth  appraisal  in due  course.*(TO BE CONTINUED)





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