In 2011, soon after he was sworn in as Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha promised Nigerians that he was going to be a brand new governor that will rescue Imo state from poverty, joblessness and under development. More than three years after that statement was made, the Imo masses now know for better what it means to have a con man as “rescue” governor.
Rather than having a reprieve from poverty and hardship, the Imo working people and youths faced severe attacks on their living and working conditions by the Okorocha’s government. Many working class people who had mistakenly voted for him in the 2011 elections for one reason or the other are now full of regret.
The party leaders, the financiers, the okada riders, the market women, the farmers, the students, the workers, etc that enthroned Okorocha as Governor in 2011 are all weeping now in Imo State. Every group has its own painful story to tell. Even those working for him in government today are suffocating. For self respect, endurance, suffering and smiling have become their motto. Governance in Imo State has been reduced to one huge con game.
The market women fought for him in 2011. What is their reward today? They are being driven out of most of their market locations. What affordable alternatives have they gotten up till now? Their children are among the 10,000 workers that Okorocha sacked and among the sacked 30,000 LGA workers. What have they benefitted from him apart from tears and harsh conditions?
Teachers fought for this man who they saw as a Messiah in 2011. Today, instead of bread, Governor Okorocha gave them stones and gravels .5000 teachers were among the 10,000 workers that he sacked. Teachers are owed salaries. He sacked Education Secretaries in Imo State and even made jest of teachers by saying that some of them will be drafted to teach the Hausa’s in Imo under contract.
Okada riders fought for him in 2011. He promised them so many things when elected. Today, they know better. Where are the Okada’s in Owerri? Even the disabled are crying. Owerri the once cleanest city in Nigeria is now very dirty. While Okorocha continues to amass fabulous wealth for himself, albeit through, stolen public resources, the majority of the people of Imo continue to live in abject poverty.
There is no gainsaying that Governor Okorocha who never prepared for governance has ended up destroying Imo State and its economy with his clueless and inept administration. Today Imo as a state is presently run as an offshoot of Rochas Foundation with his siblings and in-laws visibly milking the state dry with impunity. In Imo one man has sold 80% of Imo state resources including choice lands to himself while 99% of Imolites wallow in abject and extreme poverty.
We are repeatedly being told that Nigeria is practicing “democracy”. But what type of democracy is in Imo State in which governor Okorocha refuse to organize elections into local governments since 2011? Instead, he has, in contravention of the constitution and the democratic rights of the electorate, appointed his cronies into “caretaker committees” and they are running and looting our local council funds with impunity. What a brazen rape on our democratic rights.
The ordinary Imolites on a daily basis suffer harassments, brutalities and other violations of their rights since Okorocha came into power. Permanent Secretaries and public Servants were illegally suspended, houses in Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Anara, Amaraku were demolished without due process and compensations to victims of demolition, plots of lands allotted to so many persons were illegally revoked without due process, Area ‘K’ land belonging to Amawom Owerri people was illegally trespassed when the matter is still in court, land belonging to Umuguma and Naze people in Owerri was revoked and acquired by him, Town Unions in all the Autonomous Communities in Imo State were dissolved illegally as against the provision of the Nigerian Constitution, the Companies and Allied Matters Act and the Imo state laws on town unions.
This same man sacked 10,000 Imo civil servants , sacked 30,000 Imo LGA workers, sacked elected councilors and chairmen, used state fund and land to build private university at his home town pretending to relocate Imo State University to the site, sold Adapalm to his company ( Roche Group),sold Imo Transport Company (I.T.C.), Concorde Hotel, Children’s Park and state General Hospitals to himself for many years, refused to pay severance packages to political appointees who served under him and who served under the last administration, illegally suspended Traditional Rulers of the 106 Autonomous Communities created by the Ohakim’s administration but later approved staff of office to more than 103 new traditional rulers.
This same man stopped overtime allowance to public servants, refused to pay minimum wage to Judiciary workers, deceived Government Contractors into borrowing money to do government projects and refused to formalize and pay for the contracts done, created an unconstitutional four-tier government in utter disregard to the three-tier government recognized by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, appropriated state fund without recourse to budgetary provision, gave out land meant for New Government House Complex in New Owerri to his wife and associates as against the provision of the Owerri Master plan, refused to refund the sum of 5,000 naira being fees collected from aspirants to the 2012 cancelled Community Governing Council election.
This same man illegally deducted salaries of civil servants for government Identity cards, sold all General Hospitals in Imo State to himself, refused to re-instate Elected Local Government Councils in the 27 Local Government Area Councils in Imo State as against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal, used Sole Administrators to run local government councils in Imo State as against Court of Appeal declaration of Sole Administrators as unconstitutional, refused to re -instate Sacked Members of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission against the judgment of an Owerri High Court, refused to obey the Court of Appeal judgment re-instating Eze C. I. Ilomuanya as the Chairman Imo State Council of Ndi-eze and legalized abortion in Imo State.
I can go on and on but In Daniel, Chapter 5, we read that the Babylonian King, Belshazzar organized a great feast and commanded that the golden and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father had taken out of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem be brought so that his princes, wives and concubines could drink from them. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand and wrote the inscription: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin”. When translated it meant God had numbered the kingdom, weighed the King on the balances and found him (the king) wanting. In other words, God had rejected him as King. Yes, God has rejected Okorocha as king in Imo and we the Imolites have also rejected him as our King. We must go away from the hands of this Pharoah. We must be free from this locust in 2015.
One man among the lot contesting as governor can beat Okorocha in 2015 and deliver us from this mess. That one man is Dr Ikedi Ohakim. Let’s bring back Ikedi Ohakim to re introduce his vision that obviously led to massive job creation, youth and women empowerment, industrialization, solid road construction, rural development driven by democratically elected local government system and environmental cleanliness that made Owerri the cleanest state capital in Nigeria during his time. Let the fresh air in Ekiti gets to Imo. Yes we need someone that is more popular at the grass root than the lot, that can defeat a sitting governor as was done in Ekiti.
Ohakim’s chances of defeating Okorocha are very bright, like a shining moon. Go to all the nooks and crannies of Imo, everybody is yearning for him, they want him back. The song on everybody’s lips at the grass root in Imo is that Ohakim must come back. They know the good works he did during his first term in office and they want him to come back and continue these good works. Let me tell you categorically that if he is given his Party ticket and based on one man one vote in the general election, Ohakim will win with at least 80 per cent of the votes in the election. Everybody wants to pay him back for the good work he has done before. The people have realised that he’s one of their own, who would not hold them in disdain, someone who has respect for them, who has good plans for them.
What he has done is enough credential for the people to expect so much. He is a man that will go down to the grassroots and be part of them. He can identify at least 10 people per ward by their names. Some that he cannot identify by their names, he will identify them in the crowd. He is the man to beat. What Imo should expect is an Ohakim that is more elderly, more mature, more responsible and who will listen to their plight and will work with them. He will use the experience of the past, integrate it with this one and be a better Ohakim for a better Imo. Yes, bring back Ikedi Ohakim to make Imo better.
-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State