The executive governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Chief Rochas Okorocha while narrating the full import of his government’s rescue mission likened it to the Israel’s rescue operation in Uganda tagged “90 minutes at Entebbe”. Although, the Entebbe raid was acted with exquisite sense of timing, its target of rescuing Israeli hostages from Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada was of vital strategic importance to Israel’s prestige as a nation. Nevertheless, the rescue operation as mission accomplished had all the hostages rescued and airlifted to Israel.
In view of the foregoing, governor Okorocha’s rescue agenda in Imo State lacks vision, since it was likened to the Israel’s operation in Uganda, which has its distinctive circumstance. In fact, such an imitation cannot pass for a vision. It can be a mere daydream, which most times, cannot be turned into reality due to lack of originality and reasonable concordance.
Apparently, within 10months in office, a state government that purports to be on rescue mission could not pass simple litmus test as it still appears insensitive to the two factors, namely to rescue people in supposed desperate plight, and to achieve it within a time frame. Thus, the only question on the lips of Imo people is “who is the rescue government actually rescuing or for whom is effort made in that direction?”
Is it the Transition Committee (TC) Chairmen at the Local Government Councils (LGCs) that have neither members nor appointment letters and all the paraphernalia of office? Or, is it the stooge members of the Imo State House of Assembly (IMHA) and the rescue government appointees who act as guinea pigs in the midst of being denied the pleasure of using brand new official vehicles and the benefit of all the entitlements attached to their offices? Or, is it the state civil servants who are at a crossroads between asking for a stop to an endless screening of certificates and craving for the actual computation of the hyped N20,000 new minimum wage, which should have placed them above the federal civil servants?
Let’s tell ourselves the bitter truth! Is governor Okorocha in all sincerity paying the state civil servants far and above their counterparts in the federal civil service who are earning N18,000 minimum wage? What is this lackadaisical mentality beclouding Imo people that a spade can no longer be addressed as such? Nevertheless, the civil servants know too well that the table used by governor Okorocha in calculating the so-called N20,000 minimum wage does not give a value worth up to N11,000 minimum wage, and they are afraid to voice out this truth for fear of victimization.
BUILDING TRUST AND ENGAGING THE PEOPLE
One is worried at the level of lies, falsehood, deceit, and abracadabra, which the Imo people have brazenly admitted to contend with.
* It is beyond every reasonable doubt that governor Okorocha did not cut down any state security vote as claimed. Reference to the 2011 budget reveals that the said state security vote was N2billion and not N6billion. Therefore, for governor Okorocha to claim that he cut down the said state security vote to N2.5billion is a criminal projection aimed at hoodwinking the Imo people for self aggrandizement to the tune of N500million. This is fraud.
* Imolites are no daft to be deceived that governor Okorocha paid 2-12years pensions to retirees whereas he merely paid 3months arrears in a dramatized interactive session. This window dressing to attract undeserved applause was stage –managed to portray the past governors of Imo State as insensitive to the plight of the retirees while masquerading as “a self acclaimed messiah”.
SECTORAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE
(a) PUBLIC WORKS/INFRASTRUCTURE
* The totality of the public works and infrastructural projects embarked upon by governor Okorocha are all at their teething stages that should not warrant any self glory or applause. It is sad to note that the award of these contracts did not follow due process because according to governor Okorocha, “in rescue mission, there is no protocol”.
* The verbosity in respect of breaking the age-long jinx about Okigwe and Orlu regarding the location of such white elephant projects as a five star hotel, a civic centre, a modern stadium, etc are the usual fallacious promises of governor Okorocha. It can be likened to the N100million development fund promised to each of the LGAs in the State, which till date is yet to be realized. To add salt to injury, governor Okorocha promised another N1billion to each of the LGAs in a manner that presents him as one in need of psychiatric diagnosis and spiritual deliverance so as to bring his flippancy to a bearable level.
* Governor Okorocha has made a ruse of education in the Imo State public school system with his ill conceived free education programme. Disappointedly the governor is busy politicizing the N100 stipend to school children, while the imprest to run the schools have not been made available, which invariably affects the quality of the so-called free education. Recently, the school children were restive on why the state government could not live up to its words of N100 daily stipend, which was paid for the first (and last) time in October 2011.
* In the face of the above, governor Okorocha perfected another lies and deceit phenomenon where he promised free education scheme and mouthwatering bursary for all Imo State undergraduates in the Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri and the Imo State Polytechnic (ImoPoly), Umuagwo. If Lagos, Rivers, and Bayelsa States whose Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) surpasses the federal allocation to Imo State cannot offer free tertiary education programme, and are finding it difficult to grapple with that of the secondary and primary schools, one marvels at why governor Okorocha thinks he can always play on the intelligence of the enlightened Imo citizens.
* Imo people witnessed how governor Okorocha rebranded all the Hilux vans and Healthcare delivery hummer buses in the State to credit his so-called rescue government. Even, the additional 100 Ford Ranger Trucks, which he claimed to have purchased were actually donated by banks to the State government. The said governor was not ashamed to present these trucks to Imo people as his achievement in his first 100days in office, which he earlier planned not to celebrate.
* In the same manner, the said governor re-allocated all the official vehicles (acquired by the past administration) to his political appointees who invariably were denied the comfort of brand new official vehicles. Thus, the money so conserved from not purchasing any new vehicle is not seen to have been meaningfully utilized by the Okorocha’s government.
* In late January 2012, governor Okorocha visited Gombe, Bauchi and Kano States for his 2015 presidential ambition. However, he claimed to have visited and held meetings with the Igbos, and found out that no Igbo was killed in any of the Boko Haram attacks. Thanks to God that Rochas abracadabra did not charm the visibly annoyed Chairman of Ohaneze ndi Igbo of Kano State who was quick to respond that, “Okorocha did not enter Sabon Gari to see anybody. He came for his own political business. He did not come to see Ndigbo. He did not set foot in the community”. This is how governance has been reduced to a child’s play where time, effort and money are wasted on frivolities.
(d) IMO STATE CIVIL SERVICE REFORM AND COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAMME
It is on record that governor Okorocha has addressed Imolites on several occasions on the issue of the State being very rich. However, one is amazed on why, in the midst of this professed plenty, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were directed by the governor to engage in commercial activities in order to generate their salaries and allowances, while subventions to these MDAs have since been completely withdrawn. What a contradiction and double speak by governor Okorocha!
(e) REDUCING THE COST OF GOVERNANCE
* Governor Okorocha, in his address on the STATE OF IMO told Imolites that, “one of the biggest setbacks to the development of our nation has been the unusually high and largely unjustified cost of governance. Unfortunately, our State was a classic example of how resources could be frittered away by the excessive overheads and a plethora of unwholesome practices fueled, to a large extent, by greed and avarice”.
The same governor Okorocha who claims to be patriotic and prudent by his so-called rescue agenda deceived Imo people by wasting a whopping sum of N2billion on a trip to woo investors from purported seven countries. Imolites are still waiting for the investors to arrive.
* During the same address on the STATE OF IMO, governor Okorocha disclosed that “my government since inception has not borrowed a kobo”. Thus, the governor should in the spirit of his acclaimed prudent management of the State resources explain the following:
– Who borrowed the N10billion and N50billion respectively in 2011, and which were approved as supplementary budgets by the stooge IMHA?
– Who borrowed N6billion for repayment of purported loan owed to UBA PLC by the past administration?
– Who borrowed another N6billion for supposedly counterpart fund for UBE, ETF, MDG, etc?
– Who, also, borrowed N5billion for fruitless adventure of re-surfacing good and motorable roads in Owerri municipality?
– Who, too, borrowed a whopping sum of N10billion for phantom infrastructural development?
The loans are endless. Who is governor Okorocha fooling? Perhaps, governor Okorocha is right, because he is yet to start the actual borrowing spree.
* Whereas governor Okorocha is busy siphoning the State funds, he turns round with a Catholic look to tell easy-going Imolites what they like to hear about manna falling from heaven. Without fear of contradictions, Concorde hotel has been suffocated in the guise of renovation to pave way for LA MONDE hotel (owned by governor Okorocha) to reap all government sponsored socio-political activities. Roche group International (owned by governor Okorocha) controls all the ETF and UBE contracts at IMSUBEB as well as manages ADAPALM, Concorde hotel, and ITC. LA MONDE Press, LA MONDE Guest House, Concorde newspapers, and Rochas Convention Center Fast Food are other conduit pipes of governor Okorocha for siphoning state fund. No wonder, governor Okorocha once said, “I am here for a mission, and the mission shall come to pass. Don’t see me as a conventional governor, but a radical governor, that is why I don’t observe protocol”.
* As a friend, Kenneth Uwadi once wrote, “Okorocha has been proclaiming heaven that will become of Imo State. Every month, he will make press release, promising Imolites heaven on earth. To get cheap popularity, he rents praise singers who lie to the world that all is honky dory with Imo State. Our ears are sore with ‘we will build this and that’ in place of ‘we have done this and that’.” Indeed, Imo people are yearning for result. Do governor Okorocha realize that he sacked the following groups of Imo people from the government pay roll?
(a) The beneficiaries of the 10,000 jobs
(b) The elected LGC chairmen, the deputy chairmen, the councilors, the supervisory councilors in the 27 LGAs (their personal assistants and drivers).
(c) The Co-ordinators and members of the Local Government Development Centers in the 27 LGAs (including their personal assistants and drivers).
(d) The chairmen and members of the various boards of government departments and agencies (including their personal assistants and drivers).
In fact, these groups result in a combined total of about 16,000 Imo people displaced. Till date, there is no replacement with other Imo people begging for rescue. Then, where do we place governor Okorocha and his rescue mission in the annals of Imo history?
It poses a great difficulty to reconcile the random and reckless utterances of governor Okorocha with the realities on ground in Imo State. A situation where MDAs are subjected to generate their salaries and allowances; where contractors are subjected to fund government projects to completion without payment; where in ten months in office, a government borrowed a sum of money more than the sum total of the borrowings of three previous administrations in Imo State; where governor Okorocha sets up numerous private outfits which took over the management and control of government contracts, departments and agencies for his self aggrandizement; where about 16,000 Imolites were deprived of their legitimate jobs without payment of their entitlements or their replacement thereof smacks of a government cover-up and hypocrisy.
It’s time to stop the lies and deceit. EFCC will, indeed be needed to help Imolites unravel the true accountability of the reckless and mischievous financial transactions of governor Okorocha’s rescue government in Imo State.