The leadership and members of Imo Youths for Good Governance and Democracy (IGGD) cannot hide their disappointment on Governor Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha, aka Rochas Okorocha, over his recent reply to the letter written to him by former Governor Ikedi Ohakim. For the benefit of those who did not read the letter, Governor Ohakim had on March 29 written his second letter to his successor highlighting very worrisome developments in the state and proffered solutions and asked him to turn a new leaf.
Ohakim had asked Okorocha to mellow down and behave more like a governor and stop fighting his opponents and hitting below the belt, even when elections were over. Ohakim called the attention of his successor to his continuing altercation between himself and a prominent traditional ruler in the state, HRH Eze Dr. Cletus Ilomuanya, and his recent threat to ban him from the state. Calling on Okorocha to waste no time to reinstate Ilomuanya, Ohakim referred him to a letter from the Attorney General of the Federal under the APC government instructing him to reinstate Ilomunaya. But Okorocha had even challenged the gods, and like the stubborn fly, he wants to follow the corpse to the grave.
Okorocha has put up his reply, this time around very prompt, unlike the first that took him weeks to come up with a shallow response demeaning the office of the Governor of Imo State. But going through the reply which was signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, we cannot but align with Governor Obiano of Anambra State that “Indeed Okorocha ‘is an example of what a leader should not be’”. We take the statement that Okorocha does not have anything to say to mean that he cannot counter the facts presented by the former governor. And on this note Imo youths call on His Excellency Governor Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha to resign as the Governor of Imo State.
That the Governor is proud to advertise his obvious failures and the dismemberment of the state as achievements leaves us to recommend him to seek urgent medical attention. The Governor has shown lack of understanding in the said letters, which should have helped greatly in creating a new lease of life for the people of the state who labour under the heavy yoke of the rescue mission government. And as the youths of the state and future leaders, we are ashamed that Okorocha who should have held the light shining is busy dimming the light handed to him. We feel shortchanged that such a leader of mean thinking who sees edifices as achievements sits as the Governor of a state like Imo. We are ashamed that our Governor is always on the run from facts and reality but runs amok once a microphone finds its way into his hands; a man who is believed to be a rabble rouser and “a motor park personality” by his contemporary, Chief Willie Obiano.
When Okorocha said in his reply that “the Former Governor…could not fault our repeated claim that the achievements of Governor Rochas Okorocha so far have surpassed the achievements of all those who had governed the state before him put together”, did he read the killer lines from Ohakim, or his sight failed him: “[Imo] people are dying in their hundreds”. Ohakim added that “A scientific study by one Dr. Damian Okoli in 2016 has confirmed that some of your anti-people policies have direct negative consequences on the growing hardship and misery index among the people of Imo state. The study went ahead to confirm that over 50,000 people who were gainfully employed in both the public and private sectors before May 29, 2011 are today out of job.”
Ohakim continued: “The socio-economic implications of this are too grave to contemplate. The only industry thriving in the state today is the burial industry. Imo State under your watch does not even have a single medical consultant in its employment with its attendant implications. The state now has a total of 58 mortuaries, from 20 in 2011.”
Imo youths want to know whether there is any medical consultant in any of the hospitals in Imo today. Imo people want to know what Okorocha has done in job creation. Apart from erecting buildings and pulling down people’s homes, what else has Okorocha done? Is it not true that water does not run in Imo State since Okorocha became Governor? Did the Governor read Ohakim’s deposition that “it is on record that more than 90 per cent of those building are substandard, are not under use and are of no economic value to the people Imo state whatsoever”? Did the Governor read that good governance “means not awarding contracts to companies whose engineers are not known to the governing body that regulates the practice of engineering in the country, etc”? Did Governor Okorocha not read Ohakim’s lamentation that “The good people of Imo state have never lived in this type of fear [as they now live under him]”?
We are deeply worried that Okorocha has continued with his attitude of Eze Onye agwalam despite clear light from stakeholders like the former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, who obviously cannot sit down and allow things get worse without uttering a word. It appears to us that it is only in Okorocha’s mind that Owerri looks like “a new city with eight-lane roads” In making this claim, Okorocha shied away from the fact he has destroyed Imo State and that the next Governor would have great difficulty repairing what he has damaged. For example, with the callous road expansion reaching to people’s homes and constituting security threats to banks and families, it is almost impossible for any government to lay any sort of pipes in the state, especially water pipes. This means that if Imo State does not get a very capable and kind hearted person, water might have been “banished” forever in the state by the Okorocha government. The callous road expansion has also foreclosed Imo from any future investment that might entail laying underground pipes. Where would they be laid? Inside people’s bedrooms or kitchens? But this is what happens when a government is clueless and callous. When Okorocha travels abroad does he 8 lane road in the streets? Does he see any government tampering with street planning? But he has done all of this and wants to go on to shut everyone else up.
During Ohakim’s era, no one had any reason to fear for what they fear now. And if Okorocha is proud of the environment we have in Imo now, where all vegetation is cut off and the state exposed to environmental hazards, then the need to seek medical attention becomes more urgent. There can be no debate on which government is people-oriented between that of Ohakim and Okorocha. Ohakim sacrificed his comfort and that of his wife and stayed in the old government house because he wanted to, and made sure, that he paid salaries and pensions as at when due. He also made sure that the pensioners and workers did not protest or go to court. But today, Okorocha with the new government house cannot pay salaries and pensions. Imo pensioners are in court against the state government. Only Okorocha has achieved this unpadonable sacrilege, selfishness and indifference to the plight of the people, especially the old ones, whose pensions remains their life-wire. If Okorocha is not ashamed, then we wonder whether he still has a conscience.
In Igbo land, any adult who does not care about what others say about him is regarded as a fool. Therefore, when Okorocha says that “in an ideal clime, Chief Ohakim should be celebrating Rochas Okorocha for achieving so much”, we wonder whether he read what his fellow Governor and contemporary, Governor Willie Obiano, said to him: “In other climes, people like Okorocha cannot ascend to the high Office of Governor. This [his becoming a governor] is another indication of a lacuna in our laws that should make room for the scrutiny of the antecedents of individuals who aspire to such sensitive offices. Therefore, that Rochas is a Governor today in Nigeria is indeed an insult on our collective psyche.”
If you have not been to Imo State or does not know much about the state you would be deceived to believe the claim of people oriented programs of the Okorocha’s government. But no fool can be fooled by the false claim of the Governor. In Imo State today, the Chief Judge is asking the Governor to appoint more judges. The Hon Judges are owed up to 7 months salary arrears. There are more than 250,000 contractual cases pending in the state’s judiciary against you and some of the contractors have passed on due to High Blood Pressure and related ailments. Did Okorocha not hear the Imo State NBA Chairman, Barr L.U.N Nwakenti, during the 2016/2017 Legal Year celebration in Owerri with the Governor present? The NBA Chairman had told the Governor regarding the nonpayment of salaries and pensions in the state: “I know that the normal excuse will be that there is a recession. We are aware of it, but what is the essence of preaching recession as an excuse and at the same time spending huge sums of money on Christmas decorations? Such decorations can only be for the living and the dead.”
Nwanketi added: “Many months ago, all the Directors [in the Ministry of Justice] were suspended without pay for no reason, followed by Deputy Directors in the Ministry of Justice. We understand that some of them are being punished for losing government cases. Why would they not lose a case where the government is the unjust aggressor against its own people? I do not believe that my colleagues in the Ministry of Justice are miracle workers who can raise the dead. Therefore, punishing them for losing a bad case deliberately foisted on them is ungodly and must be condemned.
Decrying the Okorocha’s claim of running a “people-oriented government”, the NBA Chairman went ahead to condemn the illegal sack of 1,000 local government workers, and said that “The purported slash on the accumulated pension of pensioners in Imo State by 60% is…a huge embarrassment and a gross affront on the rule of law and constitutional democracy…no one can alter the accrued pension of a pensioner to his disadvantage.”
If Okoroch was not done with that he should listen to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) who lambasted him in Owerri on Thursday, saying that the “health system in Imo is the worst [in Nigeria], new HIV/AIDS cases are on an alarming ratio, while people already living with the infection are abandoning their treatment in droves because they can no longer afford cost of the high Medicare in the State owned Government hospitals”.
Warning that despite the spread of Meningitis towards the South, the State Ministry of Health had yet to begin public awareness programs to educate people on how best to curb it when it arises, the branch chairman of the NBA, Darlington Akuku, in conjunction with his predecessors, Hyacinth Emele and Jideuma Egwim, warned that the condition of health delivery system in the state was the worst throughout the country.
Particularly, the NMA Chairman, Dr. Akukwu, warned that the health sector in the last six years under the watch of Governor Okorocha was grossly neglected, just as he condemned the choice of the Governor to had appointed a legal practitioner as the state’s Commissioner for Health. Can Okorocha claim to know more than the doctors? Wait a minute! The Principal Officer to the Governor on Electronic Media, Abasiodu Idiong, said that the medical doctors had left their professional duties and joined the opposition in discrediting the good works of his principal.
Away from the NMA and NBA Chairmen, we have Obiano’s judgement of the people oriented programmes. He said that “…but for Okorocha, instead of facing the serious task of assisting his people to come out of poverty he specializes in erecting Christmas trees worth over ten million naira during the yuletide.” Obiano added that “[Okorocha’s] governance of Imo State has been a catastrophic and unmitigated disaster.” Did the Governor not read this?
When Okorocha says his “free education has become a huge success”, he centers it on “the school enrollment”, even when the figures are cooked up. The state government has never bothered about the quality of the education and the deceit and fraud the system has become. Okorocha would continue to shy away from why Imo State lags behind in performance in education, when states like Abia and Anambra that are not on free education take the lead. But Obiano said that Okorocha’s “free education at all levels has been a fluke and at best an over bloated media hype. His other so called programmes have also been discovered to be mere flash in the pan as the people of Imo State have seen through his tricks and treachery as well as other clandestine tendencies.”
Okorocha’s claim of “infrastructural revolution in the state” is at best laughable. The same infrastructures the Governor boasts of are the “poorly articulated roads” and buildings that insult our sight. They are the same infrastructures COREN has placed danger signs on and described as death zone. By the way, if someone gives N982bn to a trader in Ekeonunwa Market, will that trader not build more roads and houses than Rochas? But under the rescue mission government all the health infrastructure in the state have ceased to exist, even after they were sold.
But let us remind the Governor that recently two students fell down from the school he erected at Egbelu-Obube community in Owerri North LGA and gave up the ghost. Since then the students have abandoned the building. Is that what we should be proud of?
It is only a blind government that would say that Ohakim did not build any road. Yes, Ohakim did not build substandard roads because he considered such as frauds against the people of the state. He ensured that the people of the state got the best value for their money. And they did, and today those roads are still strong, including the one leading to the Governor’s house in Ogboko. In the case of Okorocha he builds culverts several times on the same spots because they keep breaking down few weeks after. And of course, when Okorocha challenges anyone “to publish the judgement” on Ilomuanya he is asking the AGF who wrote him a letter to reinstate Ilomuanya to publish the court judgement. Nigerians can now see what we have been lamenting, that Okorocha is a big threat to our democracy. The AGF is a member of the APC government. Is he also an opposition figure against the Governor in the state? But all this point to one thing: that we might have mistakenly installed “a motor park personality” as Governor.
Okorocha’s attempt at disparaging COREN and their report has been seen for what it is: it is a shameful display of crude method to governance. If Okorocha is not shielding the contractors, he should not see COREN as a “blackmail platform” but rather go on and disclose the contractors that handled the flyover and other projects. Shielding them means that the Governor has skeleton in his cupboard. The energy the state government is dissipating discrediting COREN should have been channeled to providing the information required. Attacking everyone who questions the government is mere callousness.
In conclusion, we leave Okorocha with a word from Governor Obiano: “He (Okorocha) should strive to work hard so that the good people of Imo would also love him. Of course, we leave him to continue thinking about what Ohakim told him regarding how a people-oriented government behaves: “Because the people mattered to us, we deliberately and, in spite of paucity of resources, created over 500,000 jobs including 350 in IROMA, 300 for public water maintenance, 600 from the Finishing School programme, 10,000 graduates employed into the public service, 6,000 ENTRACO workers including women sweepers as well as 80,000 private sector jobs (30% in the hospitality industry). We provided interest free loans to 2,700 traders, direct financial intervention grants to 70,000 youths under the Imo Youth Empowerment programme (IYEP), N2billion Imo farmers’ loan scheme under the Imo Rural Development Scheme. Over 2000 local small scale contractors were used for projects and infrastructure maintenance scheme in the 305 wards. They in turn employed over 60,000-strong local workforce.”
Moreover, we remind you that you did not dispute any of the facts stated by Ohakim in his letter. Ohakim said you owe the state judges 7 months salary. Is it true or false? Is it not true that there is no medical consultant in the state? If you have anyone tell us where and whom the person is and when he was employed.
What Ohakim’s letter is saying is that you promise Imo people that you would conduct local government election three months after you were sworn-in in 2011. Since then you had promised to conduct local government election six times and failed. This notwithstanding how much the people spent on the severally aborted elections. Ohakim raised this issue but you dodged it. We want you to answer, and stop bothering us about building government house or a million buildings. After all, how many Imo people come to the government house and how many have anything to do there. You gave the promise that once in power the government house would be the home for everybody; that you would give free food to the people every day. Today, what has happened? The government house, the way you have made it, is your house and not for Imo people because we don’t come there at all.
Furthermore, your colleague in the South East, Governor Dave Umahi, is two years old in government and his local government election is ongoing. In Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu conducted local government election in less than two years. But you have been in government for six years, yet you cannot conduct election into the local governments.
We need to also remind you that you have destroyed commerce in Imo. Everywhere you go now people lament of bad business. The reason is that when you refused to pay workers and the pensioners, the market women will not sell. After destroying the civil servants and the pensions system, you went ahead to destroy commerce, much like you destroyed the health system. That is what Ohakim is saying.
Moreover, to resort to retelling the overused cliché of Ohakim slapping a Rev Father shows how low you have brought governance in the state, because when a government finds pleasure in spreading clear falsehood, such is no longer worth of its name. By the way, Imo people know that you were among the elite that manufactured and sold that lie, and many of those who bought the lie from you have confessed publicly and apologized. A case in point is the public confession of Rev Father Ejike Mbaka in 2014. You cannot be more honest than Rev Father Mbaka, who announced to the whole world that Ohakim did not beat a Rev Father. Imo people and Nigerians at large are laughing at you for saying that.
These distractions are irrelevant things. Ohakim mentioned relevant things and you must answer them. If you cannot answer them then you must resign, because anyone who is associated with you has always been like you. Moreover, we cannot continue to have a government that finds pleasure in manufacturing and spreading lies.
Resign now. You must resign as Governor. We don’t need you again. You are bringing almajiris from the North to come here and demonstrate that you have performed. We the Imo youths will soon do our own demonstration. Then you will know whether the government belongs to you or the people. We the youths have seen the light and we are behind Ohakim. He is our leader. We will follow him: the market men and women, artisans, students, civil servants, old and young, employed and unemployed, church leaders, everybody. Ohakim is saying the truth.
Ohakim is leading and we are following his leadership, because it is obvious to us that he remains the man since you have continued to compare your government with his, you having spent about six years. You still do not know that there is no longer basis for comparison between you and Ohakim, because Ohakim did only four years and you have done six years. This is why we the youths of Imo State want Ohakim to come back to government so that the real basis for comparison will be there. Most of Ohakim’s legacy projects were in incubation when he left and you have abandoned them. If Ohakim had spent extra six month, Imo would have been better than London.
Imo Youths for Good Governance and democracy hereby states that if Governor Okorocha feels very strongly about his claims, we challenge him to a public debate with Ohakim on any radio station or public forum, so that we can lay everything bare before the people. We want this debate between now and May.