Of recent, the media have been wondering why the panic in Imo State. Governor Rochas Okorocha and his motley crowd in Owerri have, of late, lost their composure and have resorted to actions that spell nothing but desperation.
Part of that desperation is the series of media offensive in which the Governor and his aides made outright fabulous claims and falsehood.
First, let me say that I recognize that government is a continuum. So when people say to me that Okorocha has no new ideas, but is just implementing Dr. Ikedi Ohakim’s programmes, I say to them, that is how it should be. But Okorocha is not man enough to come clean and not mutilate Ohakim’s visionary ideas. For example, we all in Imo recognize Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency, IROMA, when they see it in action. Ohakim set up IROMA and by the time he left office, IROMA had graded over 2700 rural roads and acquired assets estimated at N12 Billion by the World Bank. IROMA attracted Imo State a World Bank/Federal Government Rural Access Mobility Project, RAMP, facility worth US$ 6 million a year. But Okorocha disbanded IROMA, confiscated its equipment and Imo State lost the RAMP facility.
Today Okorocha is carrying out IROMA projects, grading roads; except that this is only in Owerri urban where it attracts him cheap political points. Owerri lies on low land, yet he asks contractors to be scrapping the roads without asphalting them.
We all know whose concept Imo as one-city state was. It was Ohakim’s well-documented vision and he embarked on road projects that were designed to give meaning to this. Most of those roads, including the Owerri outer ringroads and their flyovers are today abandoned by Okorocha, while he embarks on mere deceptions. He claims that he has tarred 2000 kilometers of road in less than one year. Pray, the distance from Lagos to Owerri is just 550 kilometers! Where did Okorocha tar 2000 kilometers of roads in Imo?
We know who in 2011 vowed to make Imo a huge construction site after the rains. We also know whose policy the operation zero-potholes were. In fact, in terms of projects, for which nobody, including his greatest enemies, has faulted Ohakim, there is no other way to go but Ohakim’s way. So, if Okorocha is carrying some of them out, he should not fight shy of the fact that he is continuing with Ohakim’s programmes. As I said before, that is how it should be.
Okorocha lately has been confusing Imo people and even confusing the media with some false claims and his abracadabra. He himself is even confused. By all counts, Imo should rank about 17 among the states in terms of Federal Allocations. But he is making Imo look like it ranks with the likes of Akwa Ibom and Rivers. Contractors are just lured into construction work all over the place without any due process or contract papers, on the promise that payment won’t be a problem once they mobilized to site. Contractors have jumped into the scam, making it look like Imo has so much money or that he is making savings through prudence. Contractors are now trapped in the construction scam.
Okorocha does not know the difference between political statement and policy statement. He promised free education from primary to secondary level. He recently suspended the salaries of the Commissioner and Permanent Secretary for Education for three months because of late payment of teachers’ salaries. The fault is not with the Commissioner or the Permanent Secretary. The ill-digested free education is in trouble! Yet out of panic, he announces free education up to university level! Till today, there is no law backing his free education! Free education is not captured in his budget approved by the rubber stamp House of Assembly.
Another confusion he sets up in Imo is the one he calls ICAPS, Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies, where he wants to turn an English or geography graduate into an engineer in six months! What type of engineer? Is there any statute setting up such a school? No! Has it been accredited by COREN or NUC or NBTE? No! What degree will such institution be awarding? Nobody knows!
Okorocha has no patience for the rule of law or due process. There are over 100 court cases against his government. He does not obey court orders. He sacks tenured institutions without due process. He used soldiers to chase away elected Local Government Chairmen after an Owerri High Court presided over by Imo Chief Judge, Justice Njemanze, ruled that he had no powers to remove the LG Chairmen. Anarchy reigns in Okorocha’s Imo as armed gangs and kidnappers roam the state.
Governor Okorocha is busy fighting everybody. He is fighting fellow South East Governors. He has factionalized his borrowed party APGA and now wants to return to PDP. We all recall how he was used in 2003 to destabilize the All Nigeria Peoples Party, after which he returned to PDP to be rewarded with the post of Special Adviser to President Obasanjo. He has divided Imo State House of Assembly, after using it to reverse some of Ohakim’s policies. The people of Owerri zone are today gnashing their teeth for the insult Okorocha is dishing to them. After helping him to power, he hijacks Imo State University from the permanent site Ohakim relocated it in Ngo Okpala/Mbaise to his village in Ogboko to complete the asset stripping of Imo started by former Governor Achike Udenwa!
Rochas Okorocha has shown his true colour. He told Imo people that he would govern for one term and use Imo as platform to contest for president in 2015. He was asked in a recent press interview if he was going to keep his words. He quickly denied saying so, insisting that after four years he would ask Imo people what next they would want him to do! Incredible arrogance and deception! After sacking 10,000 workers employed by Ohakim, he claimed that he had screened and recalled 2500 of them for a start.
Till today, not one of them has been recalled. Rather he goes about promising that he will create 20,000 jobs in a tile factory alone! Let us ask his so-called Italian partners how big their own tile factory back home in Italy is, and if it employs up to 5000 people? Okorocha must be a magician!
He claimed recently that he gave each local government N2 billion. That would amount to N54 billion. Where did he get that? Was it budgeted for? He also deceives Imo people every month about the allocation given to LGs. Do they really receive the advertised amount? Let him show Imo people proof!
He talks about prudence, yet he would build a new edifice as office for his wife, when the former First Lady’s office was renovated by Okakim and is very impressive. Talk of Imelda Marcos syndrome! He built another office for Deputy Governor when the new Governor’s office built by Ohakim was to become Deputy Governor’s office when the Government House moves to Area “P” in the New Owerri! He talks of prudence, yet he abandoned the new Multi-Purpose hall, the Ahiajoku Cultural Centre, which is part of the new Government House in Area “P” completed by Ohakim only to build another multi-purpose hall inside what would soon become old Government House! His Deputy cum Commissioner for Works knocks down the magnificent Deputy Governor’s Lodge to build himself a new one. There is a scramble to demolish and rebuild structures that are not priority.
He has jeopardized the chances of most of the federal projects attracted to Imo State by Ohakim of being completed. He is not paying counterpart funds to attract other funds trapped at various federal and donor agencies in Abuja. He has caused work to stop on Nworie River that should, among other things, drain Owerri. He claims he is dualizing Mbaise Road, Okigwe Road , Orlu Road , all Federal roads that Ohakim dualized their entry into Owerri! Yet he abandons the completion of road networks started by Ohakim that have economic benefit to Imo State! However, he is yet to apply to Federal Government for that, let alone meeting the conditions set for states that want to dabble into Federal roads.
He claims that he has drastically reduced the cost of contracts. There is a difference between scaling down the scope and concept of a project and reducing its cost. For example, after misinforming Imo people while in opposition with Udenwa and co; that Ohakim’s Wonder Lake project was only existing on billboards, he goes to the project, renames it Blue Lake of Treasure and orders a contractor to build him a hall in the middle of the golf course, that he did not want a conference centre as conceived by Ohakim. Surely that is not reducing cost but scaling down the project! Everybody knows that there is a world of difference between a hall and a conference centre!
While in opposition he told the world that Ohakim had embezzled the N18 billion bond money sourced for Wonder Lake and other projects. Ohakim handed over to him N13 billion of that money and till today he has not told Imo people that he received such money, where it is or what he has done with it. Unfortunately Imo people are too afraid to ask him! That is why they are not asking him the owner of the companies he sold ITC, Adapalm and Imo Concorde too.
May God save Imo people!
Written by: Emenike Nsu Emenike. He writes from Owerri.