Imo state government and the crisis in Ohaji/Egbema – By Kenneth Uwadi

question3Governor Rochas Okorocha’s second term ambition has thrown Imolites at the crossroads, thereby shooting the State’s political temperature to one of its most frightening levels in our political history. Obviously, the Governor is facing the biggest credibility crisis of his political life. A man who in 2011 was widely perceived as a unifying force by Imolites and enthusiastically elected to the State’s highest public office, is sadly today treated with distrust and detestation by fellow citizens. What could have been wrong that a governor who had enjoyed enormous support in 2011 is today more tolerated than loved by majority of Ndi-Imo ? The answer is simple. Imo people are not happy with the impunity going on in the state.

I have severally criticized this Governor for bad administration. I have also observed that a tiny minority is already busy casting aspersions on me for talking against the impunities of the Governor. Without a doubt, a tinier minority from this tiny minority are doing so either from pure ignorance of what is happening or just to force me to keep quite. Yet it needs to be said that anyone who takes seriously the name callings on me by this tiny minority needs a crash course in basic logic. Of course, those calling me names for speaking against the ills in government are only the government leeches who don’t enjoy the truth slimed down their faces. No doubt, they need to live in denial to justify their fealty to filth.

You can pummel truth with all sorts, but when things clear up, only truth will remain standing. As a bearer of truth, i need no encouragement to stand by it so those who continue to murmur grudgingly against me need not worry. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not mince words when it declares that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.Also section 39(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) reaffirms the above by recognizing every person’s right to freedom of expression, stating clearly that “this right includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. Section 39(2) even upholds every person’s right to “own, establish and operate any medium for dissemination of information, ideas and opinions”.

Things are going wrong so i must talk. Take for example what is happening in Egbema where i come from. It is nauseating and mind boggling to observe that in spite of the many destruction done to Egbema environment due to oil exploration and in spite of the fact that we are part of the oil producing area in Imo state , the state government under Governor Okorocha is satisfied with our precarious condition of existence as unemployed, marginalized, impoverished and oppressed as well as exploited Nigerians.

Thirteen communities in Egbema form part of Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State. The area is one of the oil producing areas in Nigeria. Hot pressure pipeline criss-cross our landscape. Oil spillages have brought about the despoliation of our land, the destruction of biodiversity, flora and fauna. To worsen things, gas is being flared twenty four hours at very close range to our residential homes. Research carried out recently showed that our people have the tendency to die young as a result of poison from oil activities. Roofs easily leak in our area due to acid rain and this acid rain impoverishes our soil by rendering them infertile for cultivation. Heavy financial allocation from FG comes to Ohaji /Egbema for the development of the area through the council and through ISOPADEC but the money is looted monthly leaving the people to suffer.

The story of Ohaji/Egbema in the hands of the present Imo State government is like the story of Pharaoh that maltreated the Israelites in the bible. It is a sad, sorrowful and pathetic tale to be recalled with bitter memories. Okorocha should check his developmental drawing board in Ohaji/Egbema on the following scales: electricity, schools, health care, housing, agriculture, water, road, security and youth employment. The existence of the above mentioned indicators in an area is what development is all about. We want Okorocha to tell the world what developmental achievement he did in Ohaji/Egbema as regards to the above mentioned criteria since 2011.

Now that the governor is aware that Ohaji/Egbema will not vote for him again in 2015, he has been sponsoring crisis in the area to destabilize the place. Recall that youths are fighting in Egbema leaving on their trail, tears and blood. The entire villages of Obiakpu, Abacheke and Mmahu have been sacked. The three mentioned villages today look like ghost areas with eighty percent of the people running to neighboring towns and cities. Over 40 persons including prominent men have been killed, and others maimed for life. The youths operate with dangerous weapons like guns, machetes, axes, acids et cetera, and carry out their nefarious activities even in broad daylight. Prominent men killed include Chief Emmanuel Opara (Akurulo 1 of Egbema) who is from Obiakpu and Chief Anthony Aligbua (Ezeagu 1 of Egbema) who is from Mmahu. 18 other prominent politicians and chiefs have been pencilled for elimination.

After every attack, the youths would retire to the farms belonging to neighbouring communities from where they launch the second phase of their activities- raping women, both young and old, and harassing farmers. Like farmers in the North, who no longer access their farms because of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, those of Mmahu, Abacheke and Obiakpu in Imo State no longer go to their farms either to plant or to harvest.

Some concerned youths of Egbema community in Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo State have accused the Imo State Government of sponsoring the crisis in Egbema communities where many lost their lives and some houses were burnt. Comrade Maduagwu speaking on behalf of the youths made the allegations when briefing the members of the peace committee set up in Egbema. He and other concerned youths said that the State government and the security agents know the truth and the remote cause of the crisis which they alleged was because of 2015 election. They fingered Professor Anthony Anwuka (Secretary to the Imo state government) as the government agent fuelling crisis in Egbema .

We are appealing to Professor Anwuka and the Imo state government to stop sponsoring crisis in Ohaji/Egbema. We also appeal to them to stop calling us ogogoro drinkers and Indian hemp smokers. Okorocha told a church congregation that the reason for lack of development in Ohaji /Egbema is because we the youths of the area are ogogoro drinkers and Indian hemp smokers. Where are the people currently representing us at the Imo House of Assembly and at the Federal House of Representative? Where is Hon Luke Chukwu? Where is Hon Gerald Irona ? Where is the Mayor of Orlu zone? They are afraid to talk. They too want us to vote for them again in 2015. People in power from our constituency like Hon Chuwu, Irona and Goddy Obodo kept quite when Imo Poly courses were taken away from Umuagwo to other areas, Adapalm sold without consultation to leaders of the area, Umuokanne General Hospital removed, ISOPADEC in comatose, council funds looted and no state government road by the present administration.

What happened to the 16 billion naira ISOPADEC funds for 3 years now? What happened to Ohaji/Egbema council funds? ISOPADEC and the local government council that should serve as source of employment and award of contracts and minor jobs to the locals is in comatose. All the schools, basic infrastructure and amenities in the oil producing communities in Imo State are now in sub-standard conditions. Where our money? From May 2011 to December 2011 the sum of 1,356,992,310 came as allocation to Ohaji/Egbema LGA from FG, where is this money? In 2012 the sum of 1,924,401,821.95 came as allocation to Ohaji/Egbema LGA from FG, where is the money? In 2013 the sum of 2,091,611,213.59 came as allocation to Ohaji/Egbema LGA from FG making a total of 5,373,005,346.51. Where are the monies?

-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema , Imo State, Nigeria

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