Posted by Collins Ughalaa | 18 May 2018 | 1,964 times
The attention of His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim has been drawn to a newspaper advertorial by the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, Sir Eche George, on page 13 of Daily Sun newspaper of Thursday, May 17, 2018, wherein he made uncanny and baseless claims on his career in the Imo State civil service and against Dr Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of Imo State.
Whereas Dr Ikedi Ohakim is not a member of the so-called coalition against Governor Okorocha in his APC in Imo State, and whereas he does not wish to be dragged into their internal party crisis, there is urgent need to correct the blatant lies contained in Eche’s advertorial and to set the record straight, as far as it concerns Dr Ikedi Ohakim, so that once more the public will know that officials of the Okorocha government will stop at nothing in peddling lies against Ohakim who served Imo State selflessly.
We will like to place it on record that Sir Eche’s claim that “When neither Governor Achike Udenwa nor Governor Ikedi Ohakim for reasons best known to them refused or neglected to make me Accountant General despite that I was the most qualified at the time, Governor Achike chose to award me a command position, for which I am grateful, while Governor Ikedi Ohakim chose to promote me out of my Accounting career line and made me a Permanent Secretary – instead of Accountant General”, is not only a blatant lie but an absurd show of ingratitude and greed. Eche portrayed Ohakim in the advertorial in question as having humiliated him by appointing him Permanent Secretary instead of Accountant General. He equally portrayed Ohakim as a Governor who did not follow due process in governance. And this is most untrue.
Sir Eche George and other well meaning Imo people and Nigerians at large should recall that Governor Okorocha had upon assumption of office in 2011 illegally sacked 13 Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Deputy Directors (some of the finest, more sound and bolder than Eche).
The ego tripping advertorial has, however, confirmed in unmistakable terms that demoting Eche by appointing him the Accountant General by Okorocha was for a ‘purpose’.
Sir Eche George needs to be reminded that it is the prerogative of the Governor to make appointments into the state's civil service and to relieve those undeserving of their appointments only in line with the rules. Governor Ohakim chose to promote him to the position of Permanent Secretary even when he did not deserve it, which is clearly a career growth for him, a position higher than that of the Accountant General; but because of his inordinate desire for filthy lucre he desired the lower position of Accountant General and now bears grudge against Dr. Ikedi Ohakim for not appointing him Accountant General.
Imo people can now see the larger picture in Sir Eche George’s claim, which is that of greed and selfishness, which is nevertheless the common trait and culture in the Okorocha’s government. It is rather unfortunate that Imo State inadvertently found herself in the vice grip of egocentric self-serving leadership and officials who think that Imo exists for their benefit, instead of vice versa. A leadership that has elevated falsehood to state policy. This unbridled selfishness and desire for the filthy lucre is the main reason Imo State is today a humanitarian disaster. A situation where public assets including monies have been converted to private ones. It was therefore greedy of Sir Eche George to have dreamt of being appointed the Accountant General of Imo State when there was no vacancy in that position when Ohakim became Governor in 2007.
For the records, Governor Achike Udenwa, Ohakim’s predecessor, had appointed Chief Paulinus Ajoko, the Accountant General of Imo State on the eve of Ohakim’s inauguration. Ohakim in spite of political pressures refused to remove Chief Ajoko as Accountant General in obedience to the civil service rules and democratic tenets. That has been the grouse of Eche against Ohakim which motivated him to mobilise against Ohakim’s reelection in Ngo okpuala LGA. Sadly, it was Governor Okorocha whom Eche is worshipping today that flagrantly removed Chief Ajoko and appointed Eche Accountant General in his place directly he took over. Those who occupy top public positions in Imo State government today do so not because they are the most qualified but because they belong to the “Agburu” Rochas.
Imo people and Nigerians in general should note that if Governor Ikedi Ohakim did not make Eche a Permanent Secretary, he could not have become one. If he had irregularly sacked him like Okorocha did to some others, may be he could not have become the Accountant General and the Secretary to the Government of Imo State. Eche should therefore owe his much talked about fortune to Ohakim.
We are however, not shocked that Eche, the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, told blatant lies on the pages of the newspaper because the Okorocha’s government which he represents thrives in lies and deceit. We are not also shocked that because he was appointed the Accountant General and Secretary to the Government of Imo State by Governor Okorocha, he is ready to lick his booth.
It is worthy of note that Sir Eche George was not “the most qualified person at the time” to be appointed Accountant General as he claimed, even though Governor Ohakim did not make that appointment. The records available to His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim shows that Eche’s predecessor, Chief Ajoko, had a Degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) about 26 years before his appointment as the Accountant General, and a Master’s Degree in Banking and Finance prior to the same appointment. He was also a Chartered Accountant. Eche also was a Chartered Accountant but had only a Diploma in Accountancy. The Master’s Degree he now flaunts is not in the civil service records with Dr Ohakim and must have been acquired after his appointment as Accountant General by Okorocha in 2011. Sir Eche George was therefore not suitable by the rules and convention even to be made a Permanent Secretary at all, but Governor Ohakim had to go out of his way to make him a Permanent Secretary to ensure that the good people of Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State were represented in the state’s bureaucracy, coupled with his burning desire to have the younger generation to be in such positions.
It is noteworthy also that Ohakim did not appoint any Accountant General throughout his tenure in obedience to the civil service rules and therefore could not have refused or neglected to appoint Sir Eche George the Accountant General of Imo State which he had longed for. Ohakim inherited Eche’s predecessor who was ebulliently more qualified but he was maliciously and irregularly removed by Eche’s godfather, Governor Rochas Okorocha, before his retirement and replaced him with Eche for reasons not unconnected to Eche’s rumoured heavy financial contributions and mobilisation towards Okorocha’s governorship election in 2011.
It would interest Imo people and Nigerians at large to ask what kind of Accountant General Eche became. As Accountant General, Eche is said to have misguided, misadvised the inexperienced and new Governor Okorocha to acquire loans from banks at unforgivably exorbitant rates and afterwards became rich. Today Imo State debt to revenue ratio is about 70%, one of the highest in Nigeria.
Sir Eche George is said to be the biggest financier of politics in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State. What is the salary of a Permanent Secretary? The total remuneration of Sir Eche George from the day he joined the civil service to date, including loans and advance, is not more than N439m. How could Eche therefore have acquired assets in excess of N60b including a palatial residence in his Umuwoma Obiangwu community estimated at N5b. Our records shows that Sir Eche is one of the heaviest investors in Real Estate and Education in Imo State just after becoming the Accountant General of the state, and now aspiring for the Ngor-Okpala/Aboh Mbaise Federal Constituency which he said is “my political goal”?
Under Sir Eche George as Accountant General of Imo State, he advised Governor Okorocha to move projects that were hitherto done at the ministries to the government house, rendering Projects Officials at the ministries redundant and leading to both public buildings collapse and substandard projects. Under his regime he advised the Governor to take away local government funds from the LGAs while more than N200bn was borrowed by the Okorocha's government with local government allocation as collateral. Under Eche as Accountant General contracts failed and contractors ran away with state money. A good example is the celebrated case of J.PROSS that ran away with N1.5bn belonging to Imo State. Under Eche as Accountant General huge sums of money were paid to companies even before they were registered, such as ELASON GLOBAL ENTERPRISES AND LUFTANZA ENGINEERING SERVICES. Under Eche as Accountant General nonpayment of gratuities and pensions as well as the illegal cutting of salaries and pensions started, which has led to an unprecedented level of poverty, pain and death and contributed immensely to the destruction of the state economy.
Nothing good has happened to Imo State under Okorocha and Sir Eche George as Accountant General and Secretary to the Government of Imo State. While all manners of corrupt activities have gone on under his watch, he has refused to pay Governor Ikedi Ohakim and his appointees their entitlements 7 years after leaving office.
We are only compelled by a profound sense of duty and inexorable responsibility to set the record straight, because people like Eche, a replica of Okorocha whose trade mark is colouring the truth or telling blatant lies are not worthy of the trust of anybody, and definitely not qualified to hold any public office. Moreover, as Imo people see that the reason people like Eche want to remain in government or are running for higher office is purely selfish and inordinate desire for filthy lucre, they should not be allowed to feed fat on our common wealth. This is moreso when all that Sir Eche George knows as far as politics is concerned is the destruction Okorocha has brought to Imo State.
Sadly, while Imo people perish in poverty in the inhuman Okorocha government, Eche has spent well over N3m in media advertorial and publicity on nothing but how ‘I STAND WITH ROCHAS’. We therefore demand a retraction of that aspect of the advertorial as it concerns Dr Ikedi Ohakim and a follow up apology.
The cookies are crumbling. The panic in Okorocha’s ‘Agburu’ has just started and lying will surely not save them, no matter how many lies and propaganda they try to manufacture. Ohakim as a Governor submitted to the rule of law, maintained the integrity of all institutions of governance and ensured due process in every material particular. Imo under Ohakim never lost a kobo to any fraudulent company.
Imo people should therefore be rest assured that so far as they have resolved to do the right thing and vote Dr Ikedi Ohakim back to office as second term governor in 2019, he will do all it takes to ensure that all public assets illegally acquired, including all monies stolen from the public purse, will be recovered to the last kobo. Ohakim will bring to logical conclusion the unresolved issue of contract failure and the lingering issues of illegal cutting of workers' salaries and pensions by recovering and repositioning the state’s civil service, paying full salaries and backlog of unpaid salaries, pensions and gratuities, including resolving all outstanding contractual obligations and judgement debts.
The peace, happiness and development of Imo people shall be the preoccupation of Dr Ikedi Ohakim. He has sworn to do all it takes to resolve the issues of demolition of buildings, markets and destruction of small business holdings which is the engine of the economy. Ohakim will completely obey all court pronouncements regarding the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri Market and others.
Ohakim will ensure that the government regains its lost confidence, give financial and administrative autonomy to the LGAs, restore the moribund town union system that drove development in Igbo communities after the civil war, recover and revive our traditional institutions and give the traditional rulers the honour and dignity they once had. Under his watch our teaming and energetic youth population will find jobs to do as he will create 600,000 jobs and make Agriculture very attractive to all. And together we shall put Imo State back to God’s hands and we shall all smile again.
•Collins Ughalaa, Chief Press Secretary to His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim, writes from Owerri.
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