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.
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.
(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)