SPECIAL REPORT Part 3: Okorocha, family, relatives feed fat while Imo people suffer

Posted by McLord Obioha | 5 December 2016 | 6,530 times

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Anambra is busy constructing industries and factories and attracting foreign investments. The number of industries in Anambra today is overwhelming. At last count, over $3.2 billion dollars have been invested in Agriculture alone. Here is a brief list: $220 million EKCEL Tomato Farms in Omasi; $160 million Joseph Agro Limited Rice Farm in Omor; $150 million Coscharis Farms in Anaku; $50 million NOVTEC Farm at Ndikelionwu and $50 million Songhai/Delfarms Integrated Organic Farm at Igbariam just to mention a few. The state is currently making money through the export of Flutted Pumpkin vegetable to Europe and other countries.

While investments are flooding into our sister state, Anambra, there is no single government sponsored or owned Industry in Imo. There is not even a block industry or Pure Water making factory built by Okorocha’s administration! Agriculture is either paid a lip service or is heard only on the radio. The Ahara Ugbo farm is abandoned and dead. Ihitte Uboma rice project, dead and forgotten. Ikuolanknwu programme, which is a joke anyway, is DOA, Dead on arrival. ADAPALM? Moribund and gone. Where are all the Tractors, Bulldozers, Graders, Pay loaders and Caterpillars used in IRROMA program which Ohakim handed over to the governor? Couldn’t they have been used to beef up agriculture in the state?

Whatever happened to all those industries former governor Mbakwe earmarked for the then 21 local governments in the old Imo State? There was the Owerre-Nkworji Beweries, Extrusion plant, Inyishi, to name just a few. Continuity in governance demands that the governor completes what previous administrations approved and gazetted before embarking on new ones? Not so in Imo!

Talking about continuity, former Governor Ohakim started a good project of 150 kilometers Interconnectivity Muti-Lane Express Way that would have enabled travelers or tourists to go round Imo in hours, passing through 500 communities, 19 local governments, 39 markets, and paying at any of the 13 electronic Toll gates as obtains in many developed world. On getting into office, the emperor threw out this idea without reviewing it. The result is that this project which starts at the northern part of Eke Atta market and terminates at its southern side remains abandoned. Again, it is a relic for our future generation to see when a good idea was thrown overboard due to a vaulting ego.

There is the abandoned Scientist College of Imo, or the “Harvard of Imo” that was hyped as a competition that would make Harvard University preparatory school run for its money.  Many are wondering when it would be opened for our young scientists.  There is the abandoned Imo College of Advanced Professionals, which is also yet to open for studies. Where is the money that the government collected as enrollment, acceptance fees etc, from exasperated students to enroll into these colleges? Instead of ICAP, the building now has Imo Film Academy sign hanging on its gate. This was after the building meant for Imo Film Academy easily collapsed due to another faulty structural design that gave way when a Trailer slightly rubbed shoulder with it. Need we add that this place remains also abandoned and overgrown with weeds? Why all these many flip flops?

Governor Okorocha once promised that his government would partner with a Kosovo-based company to fly an Imo Airline. Goodnews, five years later, the governor recently reassured Imolites that it will start flying by October 2016. This is November 2016 and Imo is still waiting!

What happened to the satellite campuses of Imo State Polytechnics, which the governor promised he would build in the three senatorial zones? Are they still in the pipeline?

The governor once promised that he would provide school uniforms, furniture, sandals, drawers and desks to all the schools in Imo. Apart from few schools that received these freebies, many are yet to get them. Wait a minute. Has the governor suddenly stopped handing out the N100 stipend to school children as he did during his first term? What happened to his promise that he would be giving teachers monthly wardrobe allowance of N10,000 each? No one is questioning what happened to these budgets?

Every year, Imo continues to have the highest number of candidates for JAMB and WAEC than any other states. Logically, the cost of education for these students would be unbearable to most parents. Enter candidate Owelle Rochas. He studied the need and psyche of Imo voters and quickly cashed in on their desperation.  He promised them free education at all levels. It was such a bait that they could not resist and lo and behold, he was swept into power. But has education been really free in Imo?

Here is how his Free Education at all levels adds up. Imo State Government gives a student a N100,000 Draft as part of tuition fees that totals N120,000. To cash this check, a student must pay a draft of N20,000 called augmentation fee and additional N75,000 as Acceptance fee. Meanwhile, the Statement of Result fee has been upped to N20,000 as against N1,000.  Certificate and Gown which used to be N5,000 is now N20,000. All these exclude payment for handouts, miscellaneous fees and others hidden levies, which are not officially stated. To finance his so called free education for Imo indigenes, the governor raised the tuition of non-Imo State indigenes astronomically high. Thus, if Imo State indigene pays N40,000, non-indigenes will pay N150,000. Most non-indigenes see this as discrimination.

Only recently, the governor owned up to the reality that the state is near bankruptcy can no longer afford to fund his so called free education. With an average Internally Generated Revenue of N650-N700 million, if you believe his newly appointed Commissioner of Finance, Obinna Mbata, it is practically and logically impossible for the governor to make education free at all levels in a state as Imo with such exploding population of pupils and students. Knowing the futility of fulfilling such promise, the governor owned up and recently told the people the blunt truth. But he couched the reason for this retraction in a language that needed decoding. He is abolishing free education because Imolites in his words, are ingrates who do not appreciate his unsubstantiated claim of plowing his annual N4.2 billion Security vote into the program. Majority of parents are now bracing up with the reality of paying for their ward’s education and learning that nothing is free, even in Freetown.

The Federal Allocation to Imo state is hardly enough to cater for governor’s projects, not to talk of his free education program. Being aware of this fact, he twisted the arm of his rubber stamp Imo State House of assembly in 2011 to pass a 4-year rolling budget instead of the traditional annual budget that is obtainable in all the other states. Thanks for the then Speaker of the Imo State House Assembly, Ben Uwajumogu, who presided over its passage in two hours. Just two hours folks! Welcome to Imo Assembly. As a payback, the governor campaigned vigorously and pulled all stops for him to insure that he is elected as a senator. Hurrah, Speaker Ben Uwajumogu is today the Imo senator for the Okigwe senatorial zone of our Republic. You scratch my back, I scratch your back. And this is the same governor who told a crowded press conference that he has killed godfatherism in Imo? Please….

Along with Owelle’s so called free education is its attendant problem. To accommodate the burgeoning number of pupils enrolling in Imo school system, more school buildings were erected. But these buildings are just sitting there in many communities while many pupils continue to suffer classroom accommodation problems. Sources have it that these buildings are caught in the quagmire of claims and counterclaims by the state and the federal government over who really built them. The issue reared its gory head during the last gubernatorial elections when the former President, Goodluck Jonathan berated the governor for claiming that his state government built these buildings. This prompted former president, Goodluck Jonathan to order his aides to put a stamp of UBE on all the buildings so as to let the world know that Federal, not Imo State Government built them.

In his first term, Rochas turned a nondescript building that housed what used to be a small Rochas Foundation Secondary School in his village into a gigantic university called European University. When many Imo citizens criticised it as unnecessary project in these hard times, he quickly abandoned the project. Or so it seemed! But trust the governor who knows how to deal with Imolites. When the fire of criticism cooled off, he quietly resumed the project. He renamed it Turkish University and this time he was unstoppable. The university which is nearing completion with state of the art buildings has helped turn Ogboko hamlet, into a university town. This was after half of the state money has been invested into it. No one dare question now much of Imo state money went into it before it was “stopped” or baptised into Turkish university. At present, it is hard to decipher who owns this university now? Is it owned by Okorocha, European, Turkey or Imo?

The governor once told our brothers and sisters in Diaspora that he will help to facilitate their coming back home by erecting some 500 Texas model houses nicknamed, Diaspora Village. He disclosed that he has signed a contract with a Houston, Texas based company with a phony sobriquet, Jesus, Mary & Joseph to build them. He assured that he would spread the houses to Orlu and Okigwe. Many Imo citizens in the Diaspora jumped to this promise but little did they know that five years later, the plan would still be on the drawing board. As if to rekindle that promise, the state government has recently started to sell forms for these unseen, uncompleted projects at a nonrefundable fee of N100,000 to interested parties. But is anyone taking the bait?

The quality of roads built by Okorocha in Imo today is another story. It’s horrible! There is no stone base in their foundation.  No sooner it’s done than it’s washed away by rain after few months. To those who query the science behind the mixture or what is now called China road, the emperor has an answer. “China road is better than no road,” his agents counter. Everywhere you go in Owerri, there is one billboard or the other extolling the governor’s foresight of “making a way where there was no way.”

Making a new way will include two tunnels along Owerri-Port Harcourt Roads which he started but abandoned due to cheap, faulty structural design. When it rains, the tunnels become waterlogged and traps vehicles. More troubling is whether they can withstand the heavy trailers and trucks carrying loads of cements and other heavy materials when they are on top of it in a holdup.

It would be recalled that Igbolive.com reported in its October edition in its Candid Camera column that there was something wrong with this structural design which the governor prefers to call a Flyover instead of the Underpass at Okigwe road/Orji. Back then, Igbolive.com reporters visited the site and took photographs of tiny rods used in the construction of this underpass that is supposed to carry and withstand many vehicles even on hold up. They raised alarm. Today, the Nigerian Society of Engineers is currently investigating the materials used in this Underpass…. sorry Flyover and this is the reason behind the delayed opening of this Flyover and the tunnels?

While the governor is busy demolishing houses in Owerri, the Federal Government through its agency, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is busy repairing some of the bad roads in Owerri, complete with good drainage system and culverts.  Many people in Owerri continue to think erroneously that Imo State Government is reconstructing Owerri inland roads. This fact would have been more pronounced if this was a People Democratic Party, PDP federal government. Currently, a total of 28 roads, which includes Port Harcourt Road portion before Owerri Girls Secondary School, Control Post Roundabout, Onitsha Road by Control Post, Dreamland Roundabout, World bank Road, Hospital Road, Umuguma, Titanic View Hotel by Dreamland, etc, is being handled by NDDC.

Recently, Imo State government came out with an announcement directing home owners to re-register their properties or have their Certificates of Occupancies revoked and properties sealed. It also ordered all home owners to produce their Building Approvals Plans to see if they violated Owerri Master Plan. The irony is that while the government demands for these plans, it is yet to make public the so called Master plan which it says it is using as guide in its demolition exercise. Needless to say that most property owners, who have had enough pain and suffering from the government, have chosen to ignore this call and that exercise is as good as dead. Going by past action of many previous governments, they fear that the administration may be using this exercise as a ploy to dispossess them of their properties again.

Today, the governor is busy acquiring properties in Imo State. He has become what the former State Governor of Abia, T. A. Orji, was to that state. According to the comedian, Uche Ogbuagu, Okorocha had over 630 Certificate of Occupancies in his name and counting. That was years ago. Some impeccable sources say the number today is more than the figure Ogbuagu quoted.

In the past, the government acquired a large expanse of land at Ihiagwa, close to the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO, for a Housing Estate. Over the years and with no estate in sight, a source revealed, that the governor is now a landlord to over 75 percent of this land. Meanwhile, the Estate is still on the drawing board. The big question what happened to the budget for the estate?

The governor recently announced that all adults in Imo must pay N3,000 as development levy. Imo people calls it tax but the governor prefers to call levies. Each community must make a return of at least N6 million. He has perfected plans to have traditional rulers collect these levies for the newly created State Development Councils, SDC. According to the state government, all traditional rulers will now be rated by how much levy they collected. If a traditional ruler collects most, he will be a first class Eze, followed by a second class Eze, and a third class Eze. Any Eze who collects less will be demoted to ordinary Chief. How much insult can these Ezes who are on the payroll of this emperor take? But is anyone in the village listening? Hardly. Most adults who have no means of livelihood have vowed to resist this tax.

If there is one thing all Imo citizens will remember Owelle administration for even when he’s gone, it is the roundabouts he has constructed at most junctions of the roads. Owerri is now a showcase town for roundabouts, reminiscent of Eastern Europe. If the idea is to use it as an alternative to traffic lights, it has failed woefully. Put pointedly, these roundabouts coupled with traffic lights that stay over three minutes before changing, have created traffic nightmare to road users instead of enhancing it.

Perhaps, in no state in Nigeria has workers suffered and endured so much challenges and hardship with fortitude than Imo State. As if the slashing of their salaries to 70 percent and 50 percent was not enough, the governor suspended 200 ITC staff, a director of Ministry of Justice, Board of Internal Revenue while many workers of ADAPALM were redeployed. Since the governor assumed office, no one talks of promotion as a way to encourage them for their good work, going on annual leave or collecting leave allowance anymore.

The State Government owes pensioners over 3 years pension, and workers, some 10 months back pay. But you won’t know all these if you live in Imo and listen to the government owned media propaganda. Like the claim that good clean pipe borne water is running in Owerri, everyday, government owned radio and television stations continue to beam the white lie that “government has paid workers and pensioners their pensions and salaries.”

Currently, the coffer of the state government is not looking good at all.  But for the handouts from the Federal government, the state is insolvent. Ohakim revealed how he left a sum of N26.27 billion for the governor and he is yet to explain what happened to this money. Instead, he has continued to take loans to buffer the cost of white elephant projects such as Akachi Towers and many other phantom projects around the Sam Mbakwe Avenue which one child mocked as “too much Blow-Blow” projects. The governor took a loan of N26.8 billion to clear outstanding debts but is yet to account for its expenditure. No one dare ask or question the emperor.  It would also be recalled that the governor took a loan of 85 billion on behalf of all the 27 local government of the state which he used to build 27 Hospitals in all these local governments. In a bid to show that his administration is on course with these projects, the government recently displayed a photo of a fully equipped hospital for Mbaitoli LGA. The internet quickly caught fire with comments ranging from “this was a masterpiece Photoshop job” “fowl” “fraud” to question as to why the showcasing was only in Mbaitoli, leaving the other 26 hospitals. Others asked where this furnishing was in Mbaitoli so they can go and verify. Only recently, the governor embraced the galling truth that with its dwindling resources, there is no way the government can afford to equip or run even glorified dispensaries in 27 local governments which he prefers to call hospitals, so it secretly concessioned them to private individuals amidst cries and criticism by many Imo citizens. But the repayment of the loan remains for future Imo children to pay.

The governor’s once promised that he would also build 27 hotels in all the 27 local governments where tourists can rest when traveling within and around the state. He is in his second term and Imo is yet to see a single hotel in any of these Local Governments.

Owelle has stated many times that he neither collects salary nor his annual security vote of N4.2 billion and that he uses the vote to support the free education program. It is hard to reconcile this claim with the kind of lifestyle the governor lives. How is a governor who does not collect salary and security vote able to build a multi-billion Naira magnificent edifice where he currently lives? Sources has it that the original plan for this home was 15 plots but as a governor and using the power of Land Use Decree, this architectural wonder is now sitting on a 15 hectares plot spanning three local governments. He has decreed that no one should build any house that is beyond a storey building structure around his house to avoid inquisitive neighbors from peeping into his palatial home. President Muhammed Buhari even chided him over this questionable opulence when he visited this country home during the campaign.

Sometime in 2012 or so, the governor visited the premises of Imo Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the state-owned newspaper, Nigerian Statesman. During inspection, he saw two expensive printing machines valued then at N1.5 billion each that were idling away. He told the staff that these machines were old and needed to be refurbished. That was the last time that these machines were seen. While no one can give account of what happened to them, sources revealed that it is cooling somewhere and may one day start printing “The Moon” newspaper probably in competition with “The Sun” newspaper owned by former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu. It would be recalled that Kalu converted the printing equipment meant for Abia State owned newspaper, “The Ambassador” to that for the printing of “The Sun”.

Meanwhile, the compound of the renowned Nigerian Statesman has been converted into Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies. The skeletal staff of this once renowned voice across the east of the Niger recounts ruefully how they contribute money whenever they can, to come up with an edition or so.

Currently, there is no more Government Press, Amusement Parks, Open Spaces, Museums, etc, in Imo. All printing jobs for the government are now being handled by the governor’s Lamonde Printing Press while the governor’s surrogates, family, relatives, in laws and cronies control all the open spaces and Amusement Parks. How do you spell cronyism or nepotism?

Similarly, in a bid to destroy the new Imo Modern International Market, the governor brought in Shoprite Stores, a South Africa-based company. A Mall was built to house this Shoprite and other companies. Is this the Multi-Million Shopping complex that a former Anambra Senator once told the press that he has entered into partnership with Okorocha administration to build? Nobody knows the arrangement that brought this shopping outfit but what we do know however is that what is in Owerri today is a not the original Shoprite. Sources said this is a franchise with governor’s interest represented by one of his blood relatives.

Following his election, Okorocha abolished all the so called Development Areas created by his predecessor and replaced them with Community Government Council, CGC. He said that CGC was the fourth tier government that would “bring government closer to the people” and advised all the communities to go into farming. After all the advertisements and campaign by his former Commissioner, Obinna Duruji whom he later fired, it appears that the idea has died a silent death.  Except for some references by historians, we don’t hear much of it anymore. Rather, it has been re-baptised into a new name, State Development Councils, SDC. Government said this is the real council that “will actually return power to the communities”. What’s the difference in the alphabets? The governor said that the newly inaugurated SDC will pay all the security outfits, teachers, pensioners, handle contracts, etc while the CDC will remain the main government in the community. Confused? Welcome to Imo State. Meanwhile, these alphabets soup have succeeded in wiping out Imo’s once powerful Town Unions.

Talking about community development, the governor inaugurated a 135 member Elders Council spread out in every community. As if being an elder is synonymous with sickness, he promised to give members of this council free medical treatment at the state’s Ochie Dike Medical Centre, whenever they are sick. Regrettably, some of those he appointed to these councils dissociated themselves from it after they had their appointments on the radio without due, prior consultations.

Like most Igbo governors, Governor Okorocha has not been able to conduct a local government election since he assumed office. Instead, he has tightened his grip on these councils by inaugurating caretaker committees to run their affairs. This has given him a good chance to control funds meant for these councils through the State-Local Government Joint Account Allocation Committee, JAAC. He doesn’t even mention local government election anymore in any of his public outings or discourse. What is happening in Imo today is a classic example of why many Nigerians are calling for abolition of these councils because they are moribund and have been hijacked by many governors as their personal properties.

When Imo Transport Company, ITC, was created, many believed that it would help solve the transportation problem in the state. Former governor Ikedi Ohakim bought 500 Logan cars, 500 Toyota cars, 20 luxury buses, 500 Nissan Buses which he gave to Imo citizens at low cost.  This was a boost to the company. Currently, ITC is knee deep in problems and has been unable to solve Imo’s transportation problem. A source reveals that the governor is contemplating to move it from its present premises and has a plan to float his own transportation company soon after he leaves office.

A while ago, government sources claimed that the uniform for the Imo Security Network was imported from China. However, investigation by our news crew revealed that the uniform is actually being sewn at the Owerri prisons at N400 per piece by inmates who were tailors before their incarceration.

What of the governor’s promise that he would build 27 hotels in all the 27 local governments where tourists can rest when traveling within and around the state. Imo is still waiting for answers?

Does anyone know the conclusion of the Jude Agbaso and JPROS contractor scandals? What happened to the money that was involved in his scam? So much for Imo must be better slogan!

Politically speaking, the governor is working hard to enthrone his successor. He wants his in-law, Uche Nwosu, Ugwumba to be the next executive governor of Imo state and there is an undercurrent going on now in order to accomplish this plan. He appears to have jettisoned his very loyal deputy who has served him very obediently in all his political life. Just recently, during the launching of a book written about his deputy, the governor candidly revealed what many political observers already know: That Madumere may not succeed him after all. Poor Prince Eze Madumere! He may have lost out in this game of the more you look, the less you see of Rocha’s political chicanery or what Igbo call, Eji okwe erie okwe. It appears that Madumere may have gotten a hint of what is coming his way, hence the hidden war going on between his camp and that of Ugwumba, Uche Nwosu. As for the recent promise by the kingmaker that he would make Lady Nnanna Okoro the first female governor of Imo state if Hilary Clinton wins the US presidential election, it was at best, one of his Greek gifts.

Anyone who doubts if the governor has the muscle and might to accomplish his hidden plan to make his in-law, Uche Nwosu, Ugwumba the next executive governor of Imo State, should look at what happened at the last senatorial election at Isiala Mbano. It was a dress rehearsal of what 2019 will be. When the governor bragged that he knows who will succeed him, he actually means business. On one hand, he claims that PDP cannot win any election in Imo State again and just recently, he also lamented that his “My people” have rejected him. Although it is still too early for him to say that, one thing many Nigerians agree on, is that many second term governors don’t do well. They use their second term to build their financial nest.

Compared to who he was when he assumed office, Governor Okorocha has really mellowed down. Here was a governor who appointed so many people to so many funny posts. There were Special Assistants and Special Advisers to all manner of jobs and duties. There was SA on Refreshments. There was SA on Conviviality and Abuses. There was SA on Entertainment.  There was SA on Cultural Cooperation with other Cultures. There were SA’s for anything imaginable. Recently, his finance Commissioner assured Imolites that the governor has pruned the number of Commissioners to 13 from 22. Only the Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has so far bested this governor with his over 1,106 aides.

The governor has made a lot of mistakes which only goes to show that he is human after all. But he has also done things that are worthy of commendation. There is no denying the fact that he has really developed the state compared with those who ruled before him. But that was during his first term. His planned relocation of Eke Ukwu market is another plus for him. Almost all the governors have tried in vain to relocate this boisterous and booming market which causes traffic hold up along Douglas road to another site. Each time any administration tried, it has come up with resistance from the people of Owerri, who do not want their ancestral market to be moved.  Their claim that there were fetish and hedonistic rituals that were performed before the market was established is retrogressive, pedestrian and not progressive. Owerri should embrace modernity.  It is only fair that if Eke Ukwu goes, so shall Ama Hausa. Imo cannot develop with these hustling and bustling markets impeding traffic in the heart of the heart of the capital town of Owerri.

But there are still questions as to why the governor chose the rainy season to carry out this relocation. Did he give enough notice to the traders and natives and have consultations with them to explain the reasons behind his action?  The problem with the governor may be lack of communication?

Only recently, governor told Keke operators who were his greatest support base that helped sweep him into power that their days of operating inside Owerri town may be over. He told them that it would end after this coming Christmas. That will be bad news to many who depend on this form of mobility to go about their businesses and good news to many who see the exit of these petulant operators as a good riddance. Anyone who has been to Owerri recently will see that the town has become the Keke capital of the world, after India. It has exploded with an uncountable number of Keke swarming like bees and impeding traffic flow. What started as a good replacement to the old Okada has again become a gadfly and waiting to be exterminated. This goes to support the Igbo proverb that says that if one sells a dog and buys a monkey in its place, it still has a stooping pet in the home. No town can develop with this kind of Keke operators everywhere.

As a preamble, the governor has assembled an array of taxi cabs at the ENTRACO office along Aba road, Heroes Square and Convention Centre waiting to replace Keke. But the problem is that these cars are very small and not spacious enough to accommodate passengers. He has just also released few buses which are plying the streets of Owerri at N50 per drop. The review for these buses is still mixed.

Prior to the coming of this administration, incidents of armed robbery and kidnapping were very rampant. The truth must be told: the governor has succeeded in making Imo safe. The governor created the Imo Security Network, ISN, which was stationed at the local government levels. Their job was to help police curtail crime at the local government levels. If ISN succeeded in curtailing crime, the creation of Imo Community Watch is the best thing that happened tom Imo. One can now travel safely whether at night or day, in and around Imo without being confronted by hoodlums, armed robbers or kidnapers. Once, yours sincerely drove from Owerri to Orlu at the wee hours of the morning after a weekend groove in Owerri without molestation. (Hope my wife doesn’t hear this). Okorocha’s model of community policing is working. It disarms critics of community policing who do not see the need to decentralise our police. If one wants to know the benefits of community police, look no further than Imo where Okorocha’s has achieved a huge success.

I close this piece, with a discordant note by one of the former commissioners under Rochas Okorocha. Writing in the Owerri based Newspaper, “Trumpeta” after he was fired by the governor, Comrade Phoenis Owen wrote inter alia:

“ … My (first) happiest moment was the day I got news from the radio that I have been appointed the Honorable Commissioner for General Duties under Owelle.

By 9 am, I was there. So also were other newly appointed Commissioners, but some of the returning Commissioners managed to come in by 10:30 am because they knew that nothing works accordingly and normally in the system.

Another shocker was that more than five times, the arrival of the governor was announced but in vain.  It was not until 11:55 am that he (governor) came in with air of authority, looking disdainfully at us. He did not sit down before he began to address us. First, he turned to the SSG and gave him a mild raw deal for not coming to see him before leaving for the EXCO meeting. At his Principal Secretary with whom I gathered he has some kind of genealogical relationship, he praised him for keeping to the instruction he gave him two days ago in respect of a letter concerning one of the other governors. Equally, he picked on few old returning commissioners, some he had good words, others he abused for one reason or the other. In fact, before he sat down, he had taken a swipe on few of us.

Once he sat down, he merely welcomed us all. For all the returning Commissioners, he asked them to thank their stars for coming back because, “after all, some of you have poor performance records. I merely brought you back to manage you because I believe that the job of governance should be spread among the LGAs so that some of you who are disturbing me through several sources could be helped to find something to eat, if nothing.”

My second happiest moment came on the day the governor addressed us for services rendered. His speech was so flat and bereft of any substance or even partying gift or positive and robust thank you. Yet, I was so happy to leave if only to regain my honor, personality and integrity instead of being treated with disdain and incredulity.

Need I say more?  Do we have a dictator or … what? Cry not Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho. At least you spoke up for posterity.  As for those who have remained silent, they should know that “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” as Martin Luther King, Jr. said.

Goodnight, Imo. Would someone please wake me up when you come back to normal.


•This insightful piece originally appeared in Igbolive.com under the headline “Going, Going, Gone… Imo State Is Dying”. McLord Obioha, a veteran journalist, is the publisher of Igbolive.com. Photo shows heaps of refuse in the Imo State capital, Owerri.

Source: News Express

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