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Ohakim, Imo and the ghost of 2011, By Gift Okechimaghalam

By News Express on 02/06/2018

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•Ex-Governor Ohakim
•Ex-Governor Ohakim

To flow with this essay, the reader is advised to first put on the cap of objectivism, as reading without it will be tantamount to wasting scarce energy, reading the “nonsense” that is not.

Recently in Owerri, at the Wetheral Road Roundabout, curiousity drew me to one of the news-stands where I was greeted with the caption on one of the local papers, entitled: “Polls Favour Ohakim for Imo Governor”. My first natural reaction was indifference, as I do not have the singular power to make or deny anybody from being what he or she is destined (desires) to be.

However, throughout the night, I unconsciously busied myself thinking aloud who truly deserved to be/best as governor for Imo come 2019. This was after considering reactions that trailed my last published article with the caption “Ndimo, please know your enemies.”

In that article, I summarily adduced that all characters today in the so-called “Allied Forces” in the Imo All Progressives Congress (APC) – seeking to dethrone Governor Rochas Okorocha for what he is – are also enemies to Ndimo. I explained their sins one by one and showed some of the roles they all played in bringing in the Okorocha pestilence upon Imo. That they are after Okorocha today is not just by good intent, but for survival war against the fact that Okorocha desired to retire them from their continued looting of Imo, while he (Okorocha) and his family eat alone. That is what the fight is all about.

At the point of his un-ceremonial handover to Okorocha on May 29, 2011, available records, now indisputable, showed that ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim handed over about N28 billion in cash to our governor. These were monies from balance of bond money from the Federal Government (FG) acquired to work on the dredging of Nworie river in Owerri; another sum was from the education sector (SUBEB/UBEC), and the rest of them. There has been no mention till today that Imo State was indebted to anyone at this point in 2011. As a matter of fact, it is even being claimed in some quarters that previous debts of the state acquired in the days of Dee Sam Mbakwe were cleared and paid off under Ohakim, after former governor Achike Udenwa started it.

Ohakim also handed over lots of monies and assets, such as buildings, equipment, industrial layouts, lands and such other capital-related properties to Rochas Okorocha that the Ogboko-born quick-talker exclaimed to the world that “Imo State is very rich.” But today, and at the last count, Imo State under Okorocha is said to have borrowed so much that it has now plunged Imo into further debts, running to more than N100 billion, with nothing meaningful to show for the huge waste.

I have never been a fan of Ohakim. In fact, I was one of the people who demanded for his head when it was alleged that he beat up a reverend father. It was mainly because of that allegation that many of us hated him and celebrated his removal. Today, the world has come to know that Ohakim never truly beat any cleric. I was shocked and pissed off with myself when I watched the trending Youtube video of Rev Father Mbaka, telling all who cared to listen and watch that what was levelled against Ohakim was all lies by politicians, and that his personal investigation showed that Ohakim had never even set eyes on the Rev Father Eustace Okorie, let alone raising his hand on the anointed man of God. 

I have since then hated Mbaka for leading that struggle through a song he composed at his Adoration ground against Ohakim. I blamed him for speaking outside the guide of the Holy Spirit. But his humility in apologising to Ohakim, after he discovered in 2014 that he erred won him my respect. My take-away from that video, however, are his prophecies after blessing Ohakim. I will come back to these on another day and with a different title.

Imo State under Okorocha’s governance has lost a lot! All properties belonging to Imo, which were handed over to Okorocha, have been looted and many converted to personal ones. Part of the land and buildings housing the Imo State Liaison Office in Abuja has been taken over by Okorocha and handed over to his former chief-accomplice, Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu. Uwajimogu, today, has converted that property into his Heartland Hotel. Imo House in Lagos has also been sold off by Okorocha, among many others that Ndimo do not know or have records of.

Here in Imo, we see different properties sprouting all over Owerri and environs being associated to Okorocha, and Uche Nwosu who was an applicant just about six years ago; Okorocha’s sisters, brothers, in-laws, ‘ndi agburu oshi ha’, etc. We also see conversion of government landed properties into personal ones, such as the old secretariat that has now been taken by Okorocha’s wife and rebuilt into what is called Woodi Wellness Centre.

We have seen Imo State’s money used in building a university in Ogboko, which is today Okorocha’s. Okorocha is also building a university in Kuje, Abuja and has converted the IBC quarters, Orji, to a private college. Demolition is still going on at the Shell Camp where new houses are also coming up, with Okorocha and his cronies smiling as owners of houses there. We have seen the acquisition of all government reserved areas by Okorocha. We also have seen peoples’ properties destroyed and so many others taken away by the operators of the government. Examples abound all over the state with Imo bleeding profusely and our people wailing that any new government coming on board in 2019 may wobble and derail out of confusion. Why?

Imo State is currently running on auto pilot economically, with huge sum of debt hanging over its neck. Only a recovery of some, if not all the looted money and properties of Ndimo, can help the state in slightly recovering. Everybody and all aspirants know this and, perhaps, have it in mind to go after these looted things when in office, but who among them really can deliver on this ambiguous assignment? Who has the political will and leverages to do this? I believe only Dr Ikedi Ohakim can do it. And, how, you may ask?

First, there are only two people now in Imo State that can perfectly attempt the description of Imo properties and worth. They are Udenwa and Ohakim. Both served as governors and had compilation of properties belonging to the state. Ohakim has an updated stock of Imo belongings more than Udenwa because more were acquired under him which Udenwa does not know. Ohakim also has a legal backing to be a governor again while Udenwa does not. So, only Ohakim has an updated record of Imo State belongings and can easily point them out, if requested, after Okorocha.

We are not forgetting that shortly after he assumed office in 2011, the government of Okorocha announced that Imo State Government House, especially the Office of the Secretary, went on fire and all government records destroyed. It is, therefore, believed that the government has lost records of all belongings to Imo State. This is where the setting for the looting of Imo by Okorocha started. They had planned it that Ndimo will no longer know what belongs to them. But Ohakim, must have his duplicate records. Only he can nail Okorocha with facts and figures.

Second, Nigeria as an unfortunate democracy is fashioned in such a way that happenings in its states are usually influenced by external forces from the centre, or most often from the caliphate. Their interests are often pressed on the states. It is not just enough for any of the gubernatorial aspirants to claim he could probe Okorocha. If Okorocha remains in the good book of these external forces, who among these aspirants that is constitutionally entitled for a second term in office would risk his second term ambition to try Okorocha when the centre or the caliphate shows interest in the matter?

Can Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who is loyal to the Sokoto State governor and his former boss at the House of Representatives, Governor Aminu Tambuwal muster courage to probe and try Okorocha, if the Sultan of Sokoto and spiritual father of Tambuwal and all Muslims ask him to drop the probe? Can Chief Ifeanyi Ararume risk his second term ambition, if he is threatened by the northern elements to drop probing Okorocha? Can the businessman, Hope Senator Uzodinma who, from inception of Okorocha’s government has been under Imo State payroll, even attempt to try Okorocha? Or can Prince Madumere, who was part of Okorocha’s atrocious crimes also probe or try himself if elected governor? Who among these other butter-livered governorship aspirants can muster the courage to try Okorocha and attempt a recovery of our stolen things? None! They will all prefer having second term in office to probing Okorocha. Only Ohakim can. He has no second term to seek.

During his first term in office, only Ikedi Ohakim mustered courage to demand from the then vice-president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan what he would do for Ndimo, if he was supported to take over from the then president, Umaru Yar’Adua. He so insisted then that GEJ must negotiate with the South-easterners before he could extract their support. Until the doctrine of necessity was applied by the National Assembly to bring in Jonathan as president, Ohakim strongly advised Ndigbo to negotiate with the Ijaw. No negotiation took place though, and. at the end, no one can truly say this is what and what we as a region benefitted from Jonathan. It is worthy of note to say that Ohakim’s challenge to GEJ contributed to the former president insisting that he would not return for his second term, a position that Okorocha benefitted from.

For a man with such courage as stated above, he is the only one who can boldly demand from Okorocha to account for his stewardship to Ndimo without being intimidated by the central government or anyone from the North. He has nothing to fear, because he won’t be seeking for a second term. His only charge would be to help Imo recover some of its assets and monies, then design deliberate strategies to hand over power to a new crop of leadership class to be led by an Owerri man or woman. By so doing, Imo would have peacefully returned to respecting the charter of equity that was originally designed to give Ndimo peaceful transitions.

Third, is the fact that Ohakim, among these other aspirants, seems the most aggrieved. While we are not aligning to a governor who would waste our time witch-hunting, Imo will experience faster recovery when the next governor begins his recovery operations with an ignited anger. We all witnessed the humiliation meted out on Ohakim by Okorocha at the point of his loss of election in 2011. Okorocha swiftly froze Imo State’s account from his Ogboko home, making it difficult for Ohakim to pay salaries during his last days in office. Till today, Okorocha has also not paid Ohakim any of his pensions or benefits as a former governor, among other harms meted out on the Mbano-born former governor. It won’t just be a bad idea to have someone who would make Okorocha taste the same soup he served others, and that person is certainly Ikedi Ohakim.

Ohakim remains the lesser among all the dangerous “devils” seeking to govern Imo State. And Imo, at this stage, should not be run by trial and error format. It requires a governor who already understands the workings of the Government House; the one who would start dishing out instructions from his home the very first day he is declared winner; the one who had interacted with Ndimo in the past and clearly understands who and who to trust to work with. Imo needs to sacrifice 2019 to 2023 just for its recovery. How unfortunate that Ndimo ignored the warnings of one of Nigeria’s most revered leaders, President Olusegun Obasanjo, when he said he gave us “a common thief” but we went for an “armed robber”! We must not make that mistake again.

During his four years in office, Ohakim’s monthly allocation ranged between N1.8 and N2 billion, unlike Okorocha’s that run between N5 and N8 billion. With so little, Ohakim gave out quality roads, paid pensions and workers’ salaries. He maintained politicians, gave out more with little and created many younger leaders and respected judiciary and civil service, even as he was engrossed with Ararume and Agbaso’s various court cases, which never allowed him free hand to work for complete three years in office. As a matter of fact, it could be said that Ohakim only served for a year in office, because the Supreme Court finally ruled on all cases around May or August of 2010.

But we were unfair to him and to the Okigwe zone. You do not snatch a man’s wife from him just because he has a smaller testicle. Ohakim was intimidated out of office through lies and propaganda. He deserves some apologies and a come-back, otherwise the ghost of 2011 will keep haunting Imo. If Orlu was allowed to go for a second term under Chief Udenwa, Okigwe would have been also allowed through Ohakim. This must be corrected before Owerri zone must get their fair share.

•Gift Okechimaghalam writes from Egbema, Imo State, and can be reached

Source News Express

Posted 02/06/2018 6:39:54 PM





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