There was heavy rain on Tuesday in Egbema. The rain this year could bring in the flood. It managed to disturb everyone’s movement but we were determined to see Johnson at a neighboring town. We drove on, fairly close to an Audi in front. The driver inside the other car was moving at a snail speed and preventing Dan from overtaking so he beeped at him. He threw his hands up in disbelief. It was so unbelievable that Dan was expressing displeasure at him. He do complain about people driving out of control and far too fast. Here he is, complaining about how unbelievably slow someone was. It’s as if today was the first time the man inside the Audi had been behind the wheel. I seriously felt like we were in a driver’s education class. Whatever! We continued driving down the road that way. The road was fine and smooth. Up ahead was a fairly busy street where we stop.
Johnson and his friends were already waiting for us. I emerged from the car smiling like a small child, kicking an empty water can on the road. I kicked it all the way to the entrance of his home. One of the guys in his parlor could barely stand to greet us. The way he was talking was hilarious. He couldn’t put together a complete sentence. A giant truck with sits like four feet off the ground, alongside two other SUV’s were parked closed to Johnson’s place with fierce looking policemen hanging around. Sitting close to them was Mr Kinsley Uju, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor of Imo state . He is from a close community. He was drinking with friends at the compound, nearby. They were making weird whooping noise followed by incessant cackling.
It was alleged that Uju collects N5million monthly from managing directors of the Imo State oil producing areas development commission (ISOPADEC) as ‘agbata-eke’. This man, with a deceptive appearance is the conduit pipe for some corrupt Imo bourgeois politicians in the looting of the 13 percent oil derivation funds of the State. To him ‘’onye ube ruru ya rarama’’. In his convoluted and banal imagination, he sees himself as a Lord. He calls himself ‘onye ahia attack’. Because of “ihe o ritege” he has connived with the capitalist thieving baboons in the state to cripple ISOPADEC the body set up as an intervention commission for the oil producing areas . He receives monthly “ratu-ratu” and has sold his conscience leaving communities and families of the oil kingdom whose farm lands and fishing ponds/rivers were destroyed by oil exploration to suffer . He is the man behind the moribund condition of ISOPADEC and also behind the failure of the commission in addressing the crisis of power shortage in the oil kingdom. Don’t forget that ISOPADEC was taking care of electricity expenses of the oil kingdom during the former government. Uju is also the man responsible for the total refusal of the oil companies in our areas to stick to corporate social responsibilities.
The right steps for corporations in our areas should be honesty, having ethical practices, forging mutually beneficial partnerships with communities, taking a stewardship role with the natural environment, and being socially and culturally responsible and respectful. In this respect, companies are supposed to invest in the host communities so that communities should enjoy the benefits realized from the natural resources on which they sit since natural resources are finite in nature. But SPDC, Agip, Waltersmith, Addax, Chevron and other companies in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta are not doing that . All because of ‘’ratu-ratu’’ getting to some morally challenged persons like Mr Uju. I call them “ndi ogbu mma” I went to Addax , Waltersmith and Agip headquarters with high class recommendation letters for employment but they refused to call me not because I am not qualified.. They have refused to employ our people even though we have all the academic qualifications and required skills. If we protest, they are ready to use government apparatus to kill, rape, destroy and burn down our tattered houses and properties so as to maintain their profits. Yet they are employing non indigenes to work in our land.
For some time now there have been civil disturbances within the Asaa, Obile and Awarra Autonomous Communities in Ohaji Egbema . What has been Mr Uju’s contributions in bringing peace to the communities as a high ranking political appointee from the LGA? An unspecified number of persons have been reported killed while others injured in a clash between rival cults in Awara community of Ohaji/Egbema Local Government of Area of the state. The incident which started in Awara community extended to the neighboring communities of Assa and Obitti where lives were lost. If you asked Uju,he will tell you, government organized amnesty for cultists where some boys were hired to surrender hunter’s guns. All na wash- wash. After the fake amnesty show on Tv what has happened since then? The boys are still stranded with no assistance from the state government so far. Ndi mmadu self!
Imo got N29 billion as 13percent oil derivation funds from June 2011 till date. Where is the money? Ask them what they have done with the monies, they will tell you they built a permanent office for ISOPADEC, gave amnesty to the youths of the area. All na wash-wash. ISOPADEC has gone moribund because funds belonging to the commission have grown wings at the detriment of the oil producing areas who are under developed. The Commission which is supposed to be one of the vibrant intervention agencies of the state is so broke to the point of not being able to pay their office electricity bills, no thanks to capitalist thieving arrangements.
Some are saying I should stop talking. I will keep talking so they can hear. The anti-poor policies of governor Okorocha have made more and more Imolites poorer and the rich minority richer. Corruption among the elite has not only remained, it has become more sophisticated since June 2011. Imo State has become one of the most unequal societies in the nation, with one family, their in-laws and members of their thieving baboons getting 90% of the state’s total income while Imolites are left to struggle for just 10%. Currently Imo faces gargantuan problems in all areas of socio-economic and political endeavors. The State has further nosedived under the Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s government, lower than any other time since 1999. If you visit our LGA’s the only conclusion you will come to is that the Okorocha’s government has failed Imo people resoundingly. No LGA election since the governor came into power. Mind you, when I say Okorocha has failed Imo , it is not an isolated opinion. Indeed this is the opinion of the mass majority of Nigerians. According to a Famous naija opinion poll conducted in May 2017 , 91% of Nigerians assessed Okorocha’s performance in Imo as very bad; but only 9% assessed his performance as very well and fairly well. In April 2016 another Famous naija opinion poll was conducted and 85% of Nigerians think the present Owelle Rocha’s government has performed very badly in improving the living standard of the poor while only 15% think he is doing well. As Imo State continues to bleed under the Owelle’s chains of misery wrapped firmly around its neck and the abyss within shouting distance, my prayer remains “ka Imo pụọ n’ọhịa, na aha nna,na nwa, na muo nso” Amen. Ekwem na Chukwu!
Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria and can be reached via 08037982714