The attention of the Government of Imo State has been drawn to some spurious comments and claims credited to Chief Ikedi Ohakim, the immediate past Governor of Imo State at a Book Launch held in Owerri on 11th December, 2012. The said comments would have been roundly disregarded but for the avowed resolve of this Administration to always place the facts before the Imo public, hence the following reaction:
(i) Aladinma Shopping Mall
Chief Ikedi Ohakim claimed that the Aladinma Shopping Mall which was the venue of the Book Launch was started by him in 1992 while serving as Commissioner in the State and was also completed and commissioned during his tenure as Governor.
What manner of a leader would publicly canvass to be given credit for conceiving a medium – sized Mall that took 19 years (1992 – 2011) to realize. It is either that the project was not well conceived or it was seen as not viable. Only God knows the amount of scarce resources expended in executing the project within the almost two decades the job lasted.
(ii) Chief Ikedi Ohakim at the said book launch claimed that he left the sum of N13.5 Billion in the State Treasury at the end of his tenure. This is most ridiculous. To say that Chief Ikedi Ohakim left an empty treasury is an understatement. The truth is that he engaged in borrowing spree ranging from the N40 Billion Imo State Development Bond of which over N18 Billion was drawn down by his administration, to various sums of money taken as bridging facilities/loans from Commercial Banks. These borrowed funds were unfortunately squandered as the projects for which the loans/bond were taken never took off. Indeed, he mortgaged the tenure of generations of Imolites yet unborn through indiscriminate borrowing during his 4 – year tenure as Governor.
As if the huge debt overhang he led the State into was not enough, he left two months arrears of salary of Civil Servants unpaid (April and May 2011), several months arrears of unpaid subvention to other Agencies and Parastatals. It is common knowledge that the present Administration of Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha (OON) did not waste time in settling these arrears of salaries and subventions on assumption of office.
It is also worthy of note that under the watch of Chief Ohakim who claimed to have left N13.5 Billion in the Treasury, Imo State University (IMSU) operated on bank loan amounting to about N800 Million which the present Administration has also repaid.
(iii) Chief Ohakim claimed that he brought Consultants that designed and built the Heroes Square as well as the design of Oguta Wondered Lake Project.
Imolites are witnesses to the unprecedented transformation of the former Cenotaph which the Ohakim administration left in a state of desolation into a classic Events Square now known as Heroes Square. It is therefore laughable for Chief Ohakim to lay claim to this edifice which was conceptualized and realized by the Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha administration in less than eight (8) months of his assumption of office.
The Oguta Wonder Lake project which Chief Ohakim claimed to have assigned only existed on the internet at the time he left office despite floating of a N40 Billion Development Bond purportedly meant for the funding of the project. However, the present Administration has come to the rescue of the hitherto white elephant project by consistently enhancing the tempo of work on the Conference Centre and some other components of the project as reviewed.
(iv) Chief Ohakim’s comment on the level of insecurity in the State which he described as unprecedented is most unfortunate since it was under his watch as Governor and Chief Security Officer of the State that the image of Imo State became tainted as a kidnap prone area. In fact, the seed of kidnapping and other high profile crimes which the present Administration inherited and is battling to check was sown and watered by Chief Ohakim’s administration.
It is very pitiable that an ex – Governor who, for 4 years presided over the rot that was the lot of Imo State during that regime and took the developmental strides of the State several decades backwards could still sneak into the State to celebrate his loot and spite those that he left impoverished. It is high time these questions begging for answers were put to Chief Ikedi Ohakim:
·What has happened to the dredging of Nworie River and the billions of Naira earmarked for it?
·What of Oak Refinery? Where is it located and when is it coming on stream.
·What happened to the Oguta wonerlake Resort and Conference Centre which he promised to leave as a legacy to Imo people for which a development bond was floated?
·What of Air Midwest and the huge sum of money invested in it? Imo Airport yearns for regular flight schedules and Imo people cannot wait to fly their own Airline.
The long and short of it is that for four years (29th May 2007 – 28th May, 2011), Imo People were bamboozled with empty promises of world class projects, only existing on the internet. Chief Ohakim should stop reminding the people of that inglorious era of his, and allow them to nurse their bruises in silence. He should desist from further unwarranted distraction of the vision – laden and highly focused administration of Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha (OON).
Even the blind can see that the present administration means well – the free education programme from primary to tertiary level, the robust health programmes, the massive urban and rural road projects, the model primary school building projects, the provision and upgrading of other infrastructural facilities in the State to meet international standards to mention but a few, are no mean feat and quite unprecedented in the history of governance in Imo State and the country at large.
Conscience they say is an open wound which truth alone can heal. It is right that Imo people should know the truth. It is also noble that the truth should be upheld at all times to the glory of God.
Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy