This year, Governor Rochas Okorocha embarked on several Economic trips in the interest of the state. Some of them took him outside the shores of Nigeria where he sold Imo State to the western world.
One particular trip that stands out most was the Governor’s trip to the United States and United Kingdom in July. Governor Okorocha had marked his one year anniversary in office two months prior so there were many questions lingering on the minds of citizens in diaspora who were curious to know how much the administration had achieved so far. Aside from business meetings lined up on the Economic trip, various town hall meetings were scheduled for His Excellency to interact with Imolites.
The first port of call was the State of New Jersey.
The economic trip kicked off with a breakfast meeting hosted organized by Humanity for Africa Foundation in partnership with Rutgers University.
His Excellency is seen arriving the venue in company of the distinguished Senator Osita Izunaso. Also in the entourage are Honourable Commissioners for : Economic Planning, Mr.Nick Opara -ndudu ; Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Hon.Uche Nwosu; Information & Strategy, Mr.Chinedu Offor, Housing, Prince Charles Onuoha and Agriculture – Mrs. Adaora Ijezie among other government functionaries.
The breakfast meeting went very well. Rutgers University promised that its students will visit Imo State as part of an exchange programme designed to help improve education in the State.
Pledging to assist in sustaining the Free education programme, Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr.Diane Hill said that students of the institution would visit Imo as part of an exchange programme.
The event paved way for members of the New Jersey General Assembly to take the stage. They presented an award of recognition to Governor Okorocha for his contribution to Educational development.
In his remarks, Governor Rochas Okorocha assured that his administration would continue to prioritize Education.
Speaking earlier at the event, Vice Chancellor Hill also disclosed that prior to the Governor’s visit, the University had set up a student committee to collect school materials to donate to Imo state.
Rutgers is the state university of New Jersey. Founded in 1776, it is listed as a leading national public research university in the United States. The collaboration of both states will go along way to strengthen the quality of education here in Imo.
Gift presentations were made to the New Jersey General Assembly and Rutgers University.
As the Breakfast meeting came to a close, Governor Okorocha proceeded to a Business Luncheon coordinated by the the City Council of Newark, New Jersey.
The Council Commissioner for African Affairs , Mr.Innocent Okemezie told IMO STATE BLOG that the target was to provide His Excellency a forum to interact with the business community who were interested in working in Imo.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lagos Liason Officer, Ms.Lisa Asugha & Newark City Council Commissioner, Mr.Innocent Okemezie.
Asugha played an active role in the coordination of the Governor’s Economic tripserving under the Capacity as Special Assistant, Public Affairs.
In a brief chat with IMO STATE BLOG, she explained that the event was put together to foster the relationship between the good people of Imo and the United States.
Imo citizens around the world are eager to meet with Governor Okorocha so I created this opportunity through the Humanity for Africa Foundation.
The tour is to give Imolites an opportunity to see first hand on the Governors one year in office achievements and also share in the vision and key into the Governors Rescue Mission Agenda. She said.
City of Newark, New Jersey has pledged to assist Imo State in Infrastructural development, Education and Development. Vice President of the City of Newark, Mildred Trump also promised to work towards strengthening cultural ties.
” Imo State and the state of New Jersey shares a lot in common. I believe with mutual cooperation,we will achieve mutual benefit for the people of both states who share the same ancestral link to Africa”
Ms.Trump who expressed the readiness of buisness men from the State of New Jersey to explore the potentials of Imo State promised to help the state achieve its full potentials by linking it up with other State Governments and businesses in the United States.
The Governor was decorated with a Medal of Honor from the City of Newark. The presentation was made by the President of the Council Honorable Donald M. Payne Jr and Councilwoman, Honorable Mildred Crump.
By this gesture, His Excellency became an Honorary citizen and member of the City council of Newark.
Taking the stage, Governor Rochas Okorocha explained his economic agenda and noted that Imo State had great potentials for investors. He called for partnerships in education, agriculture and infrastructural developments.
Senator Osita Izunaso was named an Honorary Citizen of the City of Newark. Reacting to this honour, Senator Izunaso said the presentation came as a surprise. He said he was humbled by the recognition and inspired to do more for those in need.
For years, Sen.Izunaso has been committed to improving the lives of the physically challenged in Nigeria through his KpaKpando Foundation.
Pictured above, Eze Samuel Ohiri (Chairman of Imo Council of Traditional Rulers). Eze Ohiri was also named an Honourary citizen of Newark.
In true fashion of our culture, gift presentations were made to the City Council of Newark for their gesture and hospitality. The presentation was made by Eze Samuel Ohiri on behalf of the Governor.
Few more photos from the event 😀
His Excellency poses for pictures as he makes his way out …the day was not over yet.
At a Dinner Gala later that evening, Governor Okorocha was presented with a Lifetime achievement award recognizing him as the Grand commander of Free Education in Nigeria.
Above, His Excellency exchanges pleasantries with Nana Otimpie Abeng II (Makola Foods) who received an Award for community development.
More faces at the event:
Commissioner for Lands, Survey & Planning, Hon. Uche Nwosu accepts an Award on behalf of the Chief of Staff to the Governor.
Next was Houston, Texas.
A grand reception greeted His Excellency in Houston. Imolites from all corners of the State of Texas gathered in Houston to meet him.
One of the highlights from Houston was the meeting with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. On behalf of the United States Congress, she presented Governor Rochas Okorocha with the Congressional Certificate of Recognition for his selfless service, commitment to Free education and Infrastructural development.
Sheila Jackson Lee is the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 18th congressional district. She has served in the Congress since 1995.
The Town Hall meeting in Houston recorded a very large turnout. The Commissioners were also on hand to address questions related to their respective ministries.
Earlier in the day, His Excellency was presented with a Key to the city of Houston at a business meeting.
Washington D.C / Maryland
The Town Hall meeting continued in the Washington D.C Metropolitan area. It brought Imolites from the three neighbouring states : District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
Eze Sam Ohiri, Chairman of the Imo State Traditional ruling council was also present.
While addressing the audience, Governor Rochas Okorocha expressed the desire to establish a learning center in Metroplitan area where Igbo language would be taught to Imo citizens in the area.
Event Coordinator, Mr.Ferdinand Ibebuchi, disclosed to IMO STATE BLOG that his team had begun exploring ways to kick off the project. Mr.Ibebuchi is the Special Assistant to His Excellency on External affairs/ Resource and also the Deputy Director General for the Imo Foundation.
The interactive session with the Governor was a “no-holds barred” session. Even when the event almost went south following a rude outburst directed at the Governor, His Excellency insisted that the man be allowed to speak.
Governor Okorocha took every thing in good stride and the man was allowed to finish uninterrupted….
In the photo below, Secretary to the State Government, Prof.Anthony Anwukah makes a gift presentation to the representative of the Maryland State Governor, Martin O’malley (Right)
Several meetings followed after the Town Hall meeting. First on Governor Okorocha’s schedule was a business meeting at the United States Department of Agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture is the agency responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture. At the the meeting, representatives of the Agency expressed interest in working with ISOPADEC to set up an agricultural farm in Imo state where they could produce a variety of food products through mechanized farming all year round.
His excellency also met with Groups from the Aviation sector who plan to collaborate with the Imo state government on aviation. (Private Partnership).
Mr.Ibebuchi told IMO STATE BLOG that S.A to the Governor on Investment, Nma Nzeribe had held meetings with the group.
There was also a business interest from another group to manifacture and assemble tricycles in Imo. Mr.Ibebuchi further disclosed that the company had already purchased parcels of land and are in the process of setting up their factory in the state capital, Owerri. While this project will generate employment for the youths, His Excellency was firm in defining that the project would be a completely private investment.
Media appearance at Voice of America
Governor Rochas Okorocha was at the Voice of America studios in Washington D.C . He was an invited Special Guest on their T.V program, Straight Talk Africa. After that session, His Excellency was also interviwed by the Hausa service at Voice of America.
Hosted by Shaka Skali, it examined topics of special interest to Africans.
Behind the scene:
Just as we reported earlier, Governor Okorocha did brilliantly well. It was quite interesting watching him shred the questions apart. LOL
The only thing that appeared really odd was the fact that NOT ONE SINGLE QUESTION ON IMO STATE was posed to the Governor . Infact, IMO was only mentioned when Governor Okorocha was being introduced. When we asked the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, why Imo State was left out in the interview reaching out to millions worldwide, he confirmed that it was deliberate and explained that the idea was to project His Excellency as an African leader not just as a state Governor . For more details on that interview, READ HERE
The economic trip continued in London where Governor Okorocha also met with executive members of the Imo State Chapter (APGA UK ).
Addressing them, he reiterated his desire to make all concerted efforts to realise his promise of completing the Diaspora village project and highlighted benefits of the project to Imo citizens in the Diaspora.
Barrister Mike Merenini, the Legal Adviser and Chief Strategist of the chapter told IMO STATE BLOG that the Governor had entrusted their Chapter with the responsibility of establishing and organising other chapters in other European countries
Just like Governor Okorocha disclosed to Imo citizens in the United States, he hinted the appointment of international ambassadors for communities and towns from among Imo citizens residing abroad.
Furthermore, he talked about establishing a school for Igbo learning for Igbo children in the UK to enhance their knowledge of the Igbo language and culture and he instructed the Chapter to begin searching for a suitable building for the school/project.
People who have never had the opportunity to interact with Governor Okorocha are vulnerable to the voices of those who try to paint him different from what he really is. There is no doubt that His Excellency truly has the interest of Imo State at heart. He is passionate about making a change.
There are so many projects on ground. We have uploaded some in our PROGRESS REPORT section and more projects will be added.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, our leaders are often surrounded by sycophants who are there for their own agenda and don’t really care about telling their principals WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW.
Based on interactions with His Excellency, he appears to be genuinely concerned about improving the welfare of Imo citizens. Most importantly, he is receptive to hearing the expectations of the people from his administration.
Its not enough to sit behind the computer and type away our frustrations. We need all hands on deck to work collectively in making Imo better. Let us play our parts in our respective communities no matter how small . Rephrasing the words of President John F. Kennedy, ask not what Imo can do for you, ask what you can do for Imo and DO IT!.
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