Former Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, has said that the over three years of his successor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, in office has set the state and her people several years back in terms of development and vision, specifically alluding to an economy he claimed is now in shambles.
Ohakim, who is aspiring to return to office in next year’s governorship election, however admitted to having made mistakes while in office, saying that he has learnt from his mistakes.
While noting that some of the critics of his administration did not exercise sufficient patience and allow his vision to crystalise, Ohakim said: “Now, they have seen the difference. The economy of the state is in complete shambles. In my four years, Imo became a tourist destination. Nearly every seminar or conference facilitator chose Imo as venue.
“The tourism industry in the state began to experience a boom. Hotel occupancy rate rose from less than twenty per cent to over 90 per cent. Total hotel rooms rose from 2,000 in 2007 to 10,000 by the time we left. Real estate value rose to over 300 per cent by 2011. But all that has now crashed.
“We ran a programme that was designed to create jobs. But the administration that took over from us refused to continue from there, thereby denying Imo people the benefits of that collective vision. By so doing, the administration set both the people and the economy several years back. And you will agree with me that nobody can complete a project better than the initiator,” he said.
Regardless of the mistakes of his administration, Ohakim insisted he did very well as governor, given his vision and policy for the development of the state.
“In the four years that we were in office, the economy of the state became very attractive to players in the private sector. At least two airlines were doing two flights each to Imo; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Today, they reluctantly do one late afternoon flight to Abuja and Lagos. That is not good enough for a state that has vibrant social and political elite.”
He therefore contended that “Since I already had in place a framework for building the economy of the state, I think it would be wrong for me to shy away from coming out since the constitution permits me to do that. And like I said, several well-meaning Imolites believe that we should return to take that vision to the next level.
“I know people will abuse Ikedi Ohakim for coming out again but I am prepared to take every abuse because I know I am doing the proper thing by offering my service to my people once again. No doubt, we made mistakes but we have learnt from them.”
He reiterated that “I want to return to put Imo back to work; to put Imo back to the path of economic prosperity. There have been calls by well-meaning citizens of Imo State, who have been worried about the economic loss of abandoning the key projects we started that would have laid a solid foundation for a take-off into sustainable economic growth.
“If you recall, the thrust of my administration was to establish an economy for the state. That was why we went ahead to start some mega projects. But because such things take time to mature, some people did not have the necessary patience. Some of my colleagues who got their second term after 2011 are just completing some of their key projects. Some will not even complete theirs before they leave in May next year.”
On what transpired during his re-election in 2011, Ohakim noted for the records that: “We did not lose the 2011 governorship election. We won that election on April 26, but because there was a conspiracy to stop me by all means, one thing led to the other and there was a supplementary election on May 6, 2011.
“I am sure you have read several accounts of what happened on April 26, when the State Returning Officer refused to admit the results from Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area, which had already been declared at the local government area level and we got over 28,000 votes as against that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which got a little above 3,000 votes.
“You know what happened at the supplementary election. Our party members and supporters were chased away by soldiers using armoured vehicles. I do not want to go into details but all I can say is that I am running to prove that if anybody thought that Ikedi Ohakim had been sent to political oblivion because of what happened in 2011, I am sorry they will be disappointed.” – Thisday
Ndi Imo, what do you say?
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