Agbaso impeached as Deputy Gov
By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR AND CHIDI NKWOPARA
SIR Jude Agbaso was, yesterday, removed as the deputy governor of Imo State by the State House of Assembly upon the adoption of a report of a judicial panel which investigated allegations of impropriety against him.
Following his removal yesterday evening, the House immediately screened and approved the erstwhile chief of staff to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Prince Ezeakonobi Madumere who was nominated by the governor as the new deputy governor. Before developments climaxed in Owerri yesterday evening, it emerged that the N458 million bribe money at the centre of the controversy had been traced to two banks in Lebanon and Dubai.
The transfer of the money according to details of forensic investigations obtained by Vanguard yesterday, however, showed that the funds were transferred to two accounts in the name of one of the officials of the company, who ironically, accused the erstwhile deputy governor of receiving the bribe money.
Meanwhile, Chief Martins Agbaso, elder brother of the former deputy governor said yesterday that irrespective of the actions against his brother that the one term agreement he signed with Okorocha would be effected in 2015. The motion for the removal of Agbaso was moved by the Majority Leader and member for Ahiazu Mbaise state constituency, Mrs. Adaku Ihuoma, while 23 lawmakers voted in favour of the motion.
Confidence in the seven-man panel
Vanguard also gathered that one lawmaker abstained from casting his vote while two votes were declared null and void. In moving the motion, the House was told that the Deputy Governor did not appear before the seven-man judicial panel as requested on the alleged ground that he had no confidence in the panel.
Attempts by Agbaso, earlier in the day to stop the impeachment proceedings initiated by the State House of Assembly suffered setback as the state High Court presided over by Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe threw out the suit as being incompetent.
Justice Duruoha-Igwe, was of the opinion that from the facts before the court, Agbaso was not denied fair hearing as the applicant bitterly complained about. On whether the court was competent to hear the suit, Justice Duruoha-Igwe affirmed its competence but further ruled that the Deputy Governor was not denied fair hearing. Meanwhile, some of the former deputy governor’s aides, including his media aide, Chief Onyema Opara, were barred from removing their personal belongings yesterday evening.
Governor Okorocha and his Deputy, Agbaso when the going was good…
Confirming the development to Vanguard in a telephone chat, Opara said he was there to pick his personal effects but was told by security personnel that there was an order from above not to allow any car from leaving the place.
“I simply picked my bunch of keys, left the car in the premises as directed and called my wife, who later came to the place and picked me up”, Chief Opara said.
Elder brother of the former deputy governor, Chief Martins Agbaso who briefed newsmen in Lagos yesterday also made available certified true copies from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC of the ownership structure of JPROS Limited, the company at the centre of the bribe allegation.
The share structure revealed that a serving Special Adviser to Governor Okorocha was appointed as a director in JPROS after the award of the controversial road contract to JPROS Limited in 2012.
Agbaso also provided MTN call logs of his younger brother, Sir Jude, for the period of February 2012 to show that there was no communication between him and Mr. Dina to counter the allegation that he, (Jude Agbaso) forwarded the account numbers of the two bureaux de change for the transfer of the alleged bribe money by a text message as alleged by Dina.
Mr. Dina, Managing Director of JPROS Limited had alleged before the Imo State House of Assembly that he paid a N458 million bribe to the deputy governor from the N1.3 billion contract he was paid to re-construct the Dei Sam Mbakwe Road, Owerri.
Briefing newsmen on the forensic audit yesterday, Agbaso, himself a former gubernatorial candidate in the state said:
”According to the findings of the investigators, the N458 million (Four Hundred and Fifty Eight Million) alleged to have been paid as gratification to the Imo State Deputy Governor, Sir Jude Agbaso was actually sent by the official to his company accounts overseas.
“The findings of the investigators revealed that, the official first paid the sum of Three Hundred and twenty five million naira into Three Brother’s Concept Ltd. GTB Account. The money was used to raise the sum of $1,930,000 which was subsequently transferred through Dubai, on February 21, 2012 to the official’s account No LB55001400002302300179018010 with the Kaslik Branch of BLOM BANK SAL in Lebanon.
“The purpose of the transfer as stated in the transfer document was “to import construction equipment. “The second tranche of N133,000,000 was similarly paid into the IHSAN BDC Ltd’s account No. 1015334698 with the UBA by the official. Again the money was used to raise $800,000 and transferred to the official’s account No. AE360200000036374395130 with HSBC Middle East Ltd at Dubai Internet City, Sheik Zayed Rd, Dubai.”
Noting the irony, Agbaso said: “So, while the official was accusing the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Sir Jude Agbaso of demanding and receiving a bribe of N458 million, the said money had been converted by the official himself and his associates, and paid into the official’s foreign accounts in Lebanon.”
He alleged that the impeachment process was wholly initiated to truncate the agreement between him and Okorocha for the latter to serve only one term following which the governorship would be rotated to Owerri zone in Imo State.
Alleging a conspiracy against his brother, he said:”He (Okorocha) is the governor of the state but he doesn’t have the right to tarnish the image of my family which goes back several generations of men and women who have worked very hard to build a name.”
“Being head of the Agbaso family, my primary concern became to clean.
It is of primary importance that my family name is cleared of all these allegations.”
He further denied allegations that Okorocha compensated him financially for providing the political structure for his successful 2011 governorship bid.
“There were no pecuniary considerations in any form or shape as I have heard from some quarters that some people said ‘we settled Agbaso.’ I have not received one penny from Chief Rochas Anayo Chukwu Okorocha ever since I met him till today. Quote me loud and clear.”
“Our consideration was that he was going to be governor for one term and return the governorship in 2015 to Owerri zone. That agreement is still valid. 2015 is Owerri turn, it is a written document.”
Source: Vanguard, 29th March 2013.
Rochas Okorocha: APGA ‘ll Give Igbos Sense of Belonging
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State turned 50 in September, but he decided to mark his birthday along the 10th anniversary of the Rochas Foundation last week. On the sidelines of the activities marking the anniversaries, the All Progressives Grand Alliance governor spoke with Chuks Okocha on developments in his state and the country. Excerpts:
INTERVIEWWhy did you decide to mark your birthday and the 10th anniversary of Rochas Foundation together?
I want you to understand this from my pedigree. I have over 6, 000 students who will be graduating after their successful completion of their secondary education. Education is one of the major industries in the state. The graduands are my children. So as a mark of honour, it was decided to mark my birthday and the 10th anniversary of the foundation together. The schools are located in Kano, Jos, Ibadan and Owerri.
What is the idea behind your decision to forgo your statutory security votes?
Imo State has a security vote of less than N4 billion. It is the sacrifice I have to make to my people for the purpose of good governance for the benefit of good education and to create employment in the state. Of what value is the security vote when there are several challenges facing the state? Of what value are the security votes, when the schools are in bad shape? Today, we are building new blocks of classrooms in the 325 wards of the state. All are from the security votes. This is the sacrifice I have to make by forfeiting my security votes.
My decision to use the security votes for other things has not affected the security of the state. Imo State has made several donations in terms of vehicles, logistic support and other communication gadgets to the police and other security agencies.
What is the state of agriculture under your administration?
When I came as governor, I changed the name of the palm plantation from Ada Palm to Imo Palm. Today, the Imo Palm has generated for the state no less than N3.2 billion. This was a farm that was running almost at a loss. Today also the poultry in Avutu has been made productive. Both the Imo palm and Avutu poultry are employing more than 4, 000 indigenes of the state. Most of them are graduates.
Imo State is rich, and when I say that people wonder. But my Bible told me that my people perish for lack of vision. We are rich because we have the vision and that is what is driving the state. We were able to turn both the Imo palms and the Avutu poultry around with the help of our foreign partners.
What is your vision for the South-east, especially, ahead of 2015?
APGA is the political party of the Igbos and it is my mission that by 2015 the party would be in charge of affairs in the zone. This will give the Igbos a sense of identity and sense of collective bargaining. APGA is not part of the PDP. What we said in 2011 was that the party will not field a presidential candidate and that we will support President Goodluck Jonathan.
But in the new dispensation, it is expected that APGA, as the party of the Igbos, will have a domineering influence in the South-east and this will help our sense of identity and collective interest. This is my mission as the governor of the heartland of the South-east zone.
Would you return to PDP?
Even if I contested the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the PDP, I would have failed the election. I paid the first rent for the PDP to take off as a political party. Solomon Lar, the former national chairman of the PDP, and even Professor Jerry Gana can attest to this, but the PDP has not been fair to me. I won the governorship ticket in 1999, I was denied the ticket, I won the Orlu senatorial ticket, I was again denied the ticket, I wanted to be national chairman because I have the national acceptance, and I was again denied the ticket. I came second in the presidential primary election, when late President Umaru Yar’Adua was elected the presidential candidate of the party, yet there was nothing to write home about it. For me, there is no light in the tunnel for the PDP, unless the party becomes born-again.
How would you explain the controversy surrounding the Oguta State constituency seat?
The INEC chairman said that he consulted from judges, both serving and retired, and Senior Advocates of Nigeria and it was agreed that there should be a supplementary election and some local government elections were cancelled. With the cancellation of some local governments election, how come that INEC came to the conclusion that election will be conducted in only four local governments. This was what made all the political parties to boycott the election. There are still lots of explanations on the side of INEC on how it reached the conclusion to conduct the bye-election in only four wards, instead of all the local government.
Can you throw light on the local government chairmen’s tenure saga?
The state House of Assembly has said their tenure expired on the 8th of August. So, if their tenure expired on the 8th of August, you cannot go into another person’s tenure. It is a law gazetted. But you can see now, they are using all kinds of media campaign, trying to portray the governor as somebody who is not obeying court order. I have gone beyond obeying court order to stupidity. One, I have an appeal in the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, that is still pending. It is supposed to be heard in the month of September. These violent people went in against the court proceedings and implemented their judgement at the Court of Appeal level. I said, okay, hold your judgement, let us go with you. Now, I also offered them an olive branch and said, how can we also work together before the election is conducted, just for peace to reign.
But you were accused of abridging the tenure of the council chairmen.
I cannot grant them tenure elongation; it is not within my powers. I suggested that we should work out a way, whether it is through a sole-administrator system or a transition committee system, where they are allowed to continue before the election takes place. My idea was to conduct election as quickly as possible. But to my greatest surprise again, this gentleman’s agreement that we had arrived at was abandoned. These men went to court and brought an ex parte injunction stopping the government from dissolving them on the 8th of August when the law that brought them into office talked about two years. I don’t have the power to dissolve or not, the law has dissolved them.
What is the philosophy behind the fourth tier government introduced by your administration?
The states are the federating units. The essence of what we are doing is to ensure that the communities are involved in the day-to-day affairs of the people. If you embezzle money at the local government level, nobody cares, but when you take a goat that belongs to the community, they will ensure that you account for it with the public odium. Community Government Council is what has been in the tradition of our people. It is called Town Union. What we are having is a modified town union of government which is in line with the culture of our people. We believe in it and we seem to do better with it. It is the government of the people by the people and for the people, not interfered with by INEC or police or security agencies. These people come out to choose the leader they want and it is already an established system. We are only modifying this for purposes of promoting agricultural practices and to ensure security and also bring back our culture into full fledge, especially speaking of the Igbo language.
How would you describe your relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan?
Cordial, more than cordial. I knew him before he became the president. In fact, our relationship started when he was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
Source: This Day, 28th October 2012.
Police in Imo Swing Into Action
BY CHIDI NKWOKPARA
When Mr. Baba Adisa Bolanta was posted to head Imo State Police Command a few weeks ago, some indigenes and residents, especially those who know his pedigree, leaped for joy. Apart from this, Bolanta had served as Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, in the state, a few years back.
He knew what the state looked like before he was transferred. He must have equally read from the national dailies and weeklies what he was to inherit on his return to Imo State.
It did not therefore baffle close watchers of the state security situation that on arrival in Owerri, Bolanta quickly reassessed the crime situation, as well as got briefs from those on ground before his second "missionary journey" to Imo.
In an apparent move to match what he was told with what was on ground, Bolanta commenced a programmed tour of the divisional police headquarters and addressed his subordinates, traditional rulers, town union executives and opinion leaders in all the places he visited. Bolanta centered his address on the need to make Imo a crime-free state or possibly reduce it drastically.
So far, the new police boss has introduced radio and television jingles, warning the people to distance themselves from crime and criminals. He has also erected bill boards at strategic places in the state, wherein he enumerated telephone numbers that should be called when people find themselves in danger. This is the first of its kind since the creation of Imo State.
At an earlier encounter with Crime Guard in his office, CP Bolanta was particularly worried about the spate of kidnapping and armed robbery cases in the state. He promised that he will not only see any community that harbour armed robbers and kidnappers as waging a war on the state and its people but will also visit the full weight of the law on such communities.
He equally read the riot act to his officers and men. While assuring them that he will do everything within his power to make their duties lighter, Bolanta however warned that he will, in like manner, prescribe commensurate punishment for anybody that engages in unethical practices.
Armed with Bolanta's directives, his men not only went to work but have remained visible in varying places. For instance, on October 9, 2012, at about 2.30pm, one Chibuzor Oguzie was seen hovering around a first generation bank located at Mbari Street, Owerri.
This bank was bombed some time ago by hoodlums. The inexplicable presence of this man attracted the attention of the bank's security personnel and they quickly alerted the police patrol team. On sighting the police, the suspect, who was riding an unregistered motorcycle at the time, zoomed off towards the city. The police pursued and arrested him along Douglas Road.
On interrogation, the suspect denied being an armed robber but explained that his modus-operandi was to move around with master keys, looking for anybody that would cash money from banks and put in the car. He, however, affirmed that as soon as he identifies a possible victim, he would alert members of his gang, who would trail him/her from the bank premises to wherever the car would be parked.
The suspect named Chidi (surname unknown), a native of Amuri Omanze and another person identified by his nick name, "Nwa Aba", as his colleagues in crime. Continuing, he said on the day he was arrested, the master key they came with was in Nwa Aba's Toyota Sienna, while the motorcycle belonged to Chidi, who was driving in the Sienna, adding that "as soon as I was arrested, Nwa Aba and Chidi drove off in the Sienna."
Bolanta and his men have equally nabbed trans-border hoodlums. First to be arrested was one Kingsley Ikechukwu, and following his confessional statement, one Chidi (surname unknown) was picked up by the police. The police boss told Crime Guard: "They operate within and outside Nigeria. Their operational bases include Cameroon, Dubai and other African countries.
The money they realized is what they used in buying all the properties police saw with them."
The properties in Chibuzor Oguzie's possession at the time of his arrest included: an unregistered Q-Link motorcycle, unregistered Mercedes Benz convertible car model SIK30, Toyota Camry car with registration number AY 412 WER, HI-GI audio power amplifier with its speakers, small size LG refrigerator and small Q-Link standing fan.
Kingsley Ikechukwu had Infinity QX4 Jeep with registration number BK 810 AKD, Mitsubishi L-300 bus with registration number YB 726 FST, Mitsubishi L-300 with registration number XB 143 UNC, two unregistered Q-Link motorcycles and an unregistered Sinoko ladies motorcycle.
On October 18, 2012, the police rescued an Eze-elect, a Catholic priest and another 72-year-old man from kidnappers den. Bolanta told the story better."At about 7.30am on the fateful day, an Eze-elect, Nelson Orisakwe and Sir Godwin Orisakwe, both from Umueke village, Owerre Nkworji, Nkwerre local council area of Imo State, left their village for Owerri to attend a court session.
On getting to Eziama Obaire, also in Nkwerre local government area, four armed men jumped out of the bush to the highway. They shot sporadically into the air. This forced the hapless citizens to stop abruptly. Two of the armed men jumped into the Mercedes Benz V-booth the Eze-elect and his brother were in and drove away.
Source: Vanguard, 27th October 2012.
Imo Commissioner Of Police Calls On Banks In Orlu To Resume Work
The Commissioner of Police in Imo, Mr Adisa Bolanta, has urged banks in Orlu to resume work as security in the area has been reinforced.
Speaking with newsmen in Owerri on Friday, Bolanta called on the banks to disregard the rumor of security threats to banks in the state, saying there are enough security personnel on ground to handle any incidents.
The commissioner said more patrol vehicles had been deployed to the area since the armed robbery incident which made some banks to close shop.
``Security has been reinforced in Orlu since that incident, especially in the banks. Two days ago, we met with the regional bank managers and reassured them of our readiness to secure their premises.
``Their refusal to start work till now is because of fear which is unfounded because there is no cause for alarm,’’ he said.
``The incidence of crime in the state has greatly reduced because we are battle-ready and we want everybody in the state to go about their lawful duties without fear,” he added.
The commissioner also called on the people to play the role of informants to the police in order to help them fight crime more effectively.
``The only problem we have is that people have this bias against the police; bring us information and we will treat it as confidential. This information has helped us severally to prevent crimes before they happen.
``Security is a collective responsibility, we work in synergy with other security outfits but the cooperation of the people is very crucial to the total eradication of crime,” he said. (NAN)
Source: Leadership, 12th October 2012.
Imo govt. Embarks On Decongestion Of Owerri
Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo, accompanied by some government officials, on Friday embarked on the sensitisation of Owerri residents to government’s plan to decongest the town.
Okorocha, who walked through Bank Road to Douglas Road, said the level of congestion along major roads had become worrisome.
The governor said that the exercise was to ensure free movement of people and vehicles and armed robbery attacks and kidnapping in the city.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on Oct. 5, banks in Owerri closed operations midway, following a rumour that armed robbers planned to attack them.
He warned street traders and illegal motor park operators along the roads to relocate immediately to the old stadium, relief market or Ekeukwu Market.
Okorocha said government would sanction any person, who violated the order, adding that a task force had been constituted to ensure compliance with the order on a daily basis.
The governor announced that the state government had abolished payment of fees by traders till January 2013. (NAN)
Source: Leadership, 12th October 2012.
Imo Spends N19.4b on Health Sector, Tackles Erosion
FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA
TO boost health care services delivery, the Imo State government has earmarked N19. 4 billion for building, equipping and furnishing of General Hospitals and ancillary health projects in its 27 local councils.
Meanwhile, Governor Rochas Okorocha has urged the Federal Government to immediately come to the aid of people of Mgbe Umuchima in Ideato South to tackle the gully erosion which had cut the road connecting the area to the rest of Anambra State.
It was learnt that several billions of naira would be required to contain the erosion.
In a chat with The Guardian on Monday in Owerri, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Obi- Njoku said health centres would either be built or refurbished in the 637 autonomous communities in the Community Government Council in the state.
He said about N514 million had been released by the government to complete abandoned health projects in the state.
Njoku further disclosed that the state government had increased subvention of Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Orlu, from N66 million to N264 million, while N264 million subvention was now being made available monthly to the Health Management Board (HMB) for its operations.
He noted that the increment was to take care of the Consolidated Medical Salary scale (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Workers Salary Scale (CONHESS).
On the concession issue in health sector, Njoku said the government only approved of the team of medical experts from British health institutions for the project of manning hospitals to make revenue and sustain the institutions with provision of facilities and health care needs.
Before engaging them, he said he had led a guided verification of “due diligence” of the qualification of the concessionaires.
“We are talking a health care tourism, to make Imo State a health care destination. Imo is spending NN19.4 billion to build hospitals and provide health equipments and facilities,” he said.
On the provision of home delivery health services, Njoku said the ministry was involved in the Health –At- your- door- Step scheme handled by the office of the wife of the governor.
He said many patients of Imo State origin had been offered health assistance by mere calling with their phones to be attended to in health needs and referred to bigger health institutions for more attention.
Okorocha sought assistance against the erosion menace when he, in company of his deputy, Jude Agbaso, government officials and journalists visited the affected area. The erosion was caused by heavy rain that occurred at the weekend.
Other five local councils in the state are currently suffering the same fate as a result of erosion while people of the affected areas have started deserting their ancestral homes.
“What we are witnessing here today is a land slide on the Federal Government road. We saw this coming and we made frantic effort to stop it before it got out of hand.”
Okorocha’s deputy, Agbaso, who doubles as the Commissioner for Works, said the government had created alternative road for the people and expressed regrets that the state could not contain the situation.
He urged the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to work harder to tackle the erosion.
Source: The Guardian, 12th September 2012.
Okorocha Stuck in Owerri as Erosion Cuts Road to His Home
By Amby Uneze in Owerri
A major road linking Owerri-Orlu-Mgbe -Ideato-Anambra has been cut into two as erosion over the weekend wreaked havoc on the road, thereby preventing the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha from accessing his community in the nearby Ogboko in Ideato South local government area of the state.
The governor who went on an inspection tour to assess the extent of the devastation on the ever-busy link road, however, cried aloud to the Federal Government, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the organ responsible for the ecological funds in the country to come to the rescue of the people of the area so that those trapped could get out.
Okorocha who could not get to his village from Orlu because there was no access road to reach to his country home alongside his deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso, and Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, said the problem was huge and beyond the state government.
According to him, “this road is very essential to my people as well as the people of Orlu zone in Imo State, Ugah and Aguata in Anambra State because the people are predominantly traders and farmers and the road is the only route they use to transact their business as well as convey their farm produce to the point of sales.”
Conducting the governor round the erosion site, the site engineer of JP Construction Company, Mr. Peter Garry, expressed dismay over the devastation but stated that they are trying to create a temporary route to enable people gain access to their respective homes.
Some of the traders and villagers who confided in THISDAY urged the government to contact a reputable construction company like Julius Berger to handle the construction.
Source: This Day, 11th September 2012.
Ohakim: They Can’t Find Anything
By Amby Uneze
As war of superiority rages in Imo between the state government and immediate past regime, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Gozie Anwuka, has disclosed that the Rochas Okorocha led administration would soon make open how the former governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, allegedly misappropriated the state funds while in office.
But in a swift reaction, the former governor through his aide, Dr. Ethelbert Okere, in a telephone interview lambasted the present government, describing it as a directionless administration without a road map, even as he regarded his regime as one of the best in the country.
Anwuka, who spoke with members of the Correspondence Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in his office in Owerri Thursday, accused the Ohakim-led government of wasting public funds, which left the state with high indebtedness, adding that the Okorocha regime had cleared all the debts.
The SSG, who could not give accurate account of the debts paid when asked, only said: “the governor has been able to pay off all the indebtedness caused by the past governor that is why we are being starved.”
Describing himself as the hub of the administration that holds the key, he vowed not to allow those who mismanaged the resources of the state to come and dictate for them, adding “as the hub of the administration, I hold the key that locked out those characters that had mismanaged the resources of the state. They are refugees who now left Imo to reside in Abuja in shame and from there they are blowing their trumpet of lies.”
He maintained that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had never won any election in the state since after Chief Achike Udenwa, as Ohakim did not win election as a PDP person but PPA.
According to him, Okorocha won his election overwhelmingly because he had a model leadership for the state which was close to what the people wanted.
On the statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Senator Ahmed Gulak, Anwuka expressed disgust saying that his statement was an insult to the sensibilities of Imo people.
He said “for an errant boy from Abuja to insult on the sensibility of Imo people to impeach the governor is the most stupid statement from the Presidential Political Adviser.”
He also accused those who contested election under the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state as lacking in vision for the Igbos but to promote the Yoruba agenda because according to him Igbos are for APGA that stands for her unity.
The SSG maintained that the recent state House of Assembly re-run election for Oguta State Constituency which Eugene Dibiagwu of the PDP won was against the earlier decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which had annulled the election in the local government of April 26, 2011.
“INEC announced that the Oguta election was cancelled and a court somewhere ruled otherwise. Court has no jurisdiction to decide whether election is credible or not. It is INEC. The power solely is invested on INEC”, he said, adding “the PDP knows that if Dibiagwu is sworn in, they would regard the entire election in Oguta as legitimate and since the matter is still in court through the ACN governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, they would hold it against us.”
He also disclosed that in the effort of the government to ensure that all the roads in the state took their normal shape by end of the year, government has assigned all the local government roads to their members in the state House of Assembly.
Source: This Day, 7th September 2012.
Problems, prospects of Imo’s fourth tier government (1)
By emmanuel enyioma anyawnu
The government of Imo State recently introduced another tier of government at the automous community level.This so called fourth tier government is expected to assist in the performance of government functions at the grassroots rural community levels of the state. It is perhaps for this reason that it is also known as the Community Government Council (CGC).
Participation of citizens is one of the underlying precepts of democracy. CGC is therefore expected to serve as incubator for budding grassroot politicians,thus offering them political training opportunities. However, such political decentralization which involves transfer of decision-making powers to communities can only be complete with concomittant decentralization of administrative and fiscal decision-making powers.
Nigeria’s federalism is a constitutional arrangement with three tiers of government: Federal, State and Local governments These tiers of government have functions which are ,to some extent, independent and clearly specified in the constitution. However, the constitution does not prohibit the state government, through the House of Assembly, from establishing or laying out a structure or system for the third tier local government or town union administration. Perhaps, this provided the basis for the intention to establish the fourth tier government which is also called Community Government Council.
The concept of fourth tier government may be easily understood, in its simplest form, as a sub- arm of government that brings dividends of democracy of the government in power to the grass roots through the use of a community governing council. Under this arrangement, traditional ruler, town union executives of the autonomous community, other appointed and elected indigenes are to be empowered as the CGC to participate in governance.
Some civil servants in both the state and local governments will be drafted to their various local communities to implement the policy. The civil servants would facilitate the establishment of the fourth-tier governance (on transfer to their communities of origin in line with the state civil service deployment policy) and eventually hand over the reins of administration to the permanent staff after few years of tutelage. In proposing this policy, the governor during the sensitization tour of all the local government areas declared his desire of bringing development to the rural areas through the use of this system of government.
Working in concert with the state government, CGC becomes both the overseer and conveyor of development of their communities. The Community Council is composed of a town union president-general, community speaker, women leader, and youth leader. According to the Imo State Government, the new CGC will be headed by the traditional ruler of the autonomous community. The women leader, youth leader and President-General will play advisory roles while the actual implementation of government policy, disbursement of monetary allocations and execution of government activities will be undertaken by civil servants drawn from both the state and local governmentsSince this policy was introduced, it has generated a lot of controversy bordering on its constitutionality, workability and prospects of its life beyond the present administration.
As a citizen of this state, it is expedient for me to contribute to discussions on this burning issue of the moment by examining the problems and prospects of application of this policy to the socio-economic and political development of Imo State. The stipulation of a political role for traditional rulers as head of the fourth tier government is worthy of consideration.
The obvious implication is the politicization of our traditional institution,thereby reducing our royal fathers to errand fathers of any government in power. Undoubtedly this will conflict with their traditional functions. Generally they are the custodians of culture, norm and traditions of their people.Infact, they are expected to operate as the standard bearers of their autonomous community’s value system. However, there is also no gainsaying that some of our traditional rulers have integrity/credibility problems arising from their past still haunting them and yet others, through their unwholesome emergence, are even the arrowhead of the unending conflicts in their communities.
It is therefore counter productive to not only add political roles to them but also make them political leaders of their communities. Besides, Nigeria is a Republic and to that extent, citizens must be consulted through a referendum on the role of their royal fathers in a republican political space. It should not be smuggled through the back door. It is doubtful if an appointed autonomous community head of government can be held accountable by the people and possibly be removed for non-performance through the ballot box. This is the crux of the matter with royal father as appointed head of government.
The liaison officer is also not elected but requires confirmation by the state legislature to serve. Only the secretary, women and youth leaders are expected to recieve their mandate from the community through election. The implication here is that the elected and appointment members of the government will have mutual suspicion and mistrust between them in the process of carrying out their assignments and functions.
Their mode of emergence dictates that each group deployed significantly varying degrees of efforts and resources to be in the government. Following the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, the three tiers of government have the rights to generate income and spend same in the process of undertaking their assignments and functions.
The implication of this is that, since autonomous community is a sub-set of the local government(the third tier), it cannot raise income and spend same without interfering with the jurisdiction of the latter. Accordingly the resource base for maintenance and execution of the duties of fourth tier government MUST come from the state government.
The state government also illegally controls their funding and deliberately inadequately funding them as well. Fiscal autonomy and capacity are very crucial in effective administration of expenditure responsibilities of any government. The extant laws must be amended to enable the CGC exercise substantial control of their local affairs including the powers to impose taxes, mobilize local resources and execute policies relating to agriculture,cottage industries, infrastructural development, etc. Government must be free from the asphyxiating strangle hold (even if remotely) of its political, administrative and fiscal responsibilities.
This is the plight of our Local governments since the current democratic dispensation. Since the same actors are still on stage, the fourth tier government is speculated to have similar fate awaiting it. The continuity of the fourth tier government after the state government in power that introduced it is also a veritable source of concern. Is there any in-built mechanism at this early stage to guarantee continuity? A positive answer is imperative if the lessons of our experiences are taken into consideration. To be continued Prof. Anyanwu writes from Owerri.
Source: Sun, 6th September 2012.
Problems, prospects of Imo’s fourth tier government (2)
By Emmanuel Enyioma Anyawnu
Although the current state government’s intention is to amend, through the legislature, the community government structure law of 2006 to accommodate CGC ,the step does not appear quite reassuring. Generally, lack of continuity in government policies and programmes, especially in their implementation, greatly hamper the progress of developmental activities in the country.
For instance, in Imo State the Clean and Green programme expired with the administration of the initiator of the policy. The common practice is that a new administration demolishes the structures of its predecessor to erect its own on the same policy and programme rather than build on it. Although, our governments’ performances are scarcely evaluated by standard indices, the survival of the fourth tier government would largely depend on the level of success it will achieve in transforming the various communities.
Its capability to elevate life styles of folks in these areas is also very important. This should be enough reason for any state government NOT to abandon and/or repeal the CGC law in future. Furthermore,the urgent need for a more effective, efficient and dynamic community council government than the existing local council government cannot be overemphasized.
The opportunities for economic development and emancipation afforded by an emerging form of local community government practice that is more heavily engaged in identifying and addressing community needs are enormous. Such a system is expected to be easily amenable to closing possible gaps between what is doable and what is expected. It must be noted that we cannot achieve such a system without major advances in strategic focus and brilliant initiatives in the formulation, financing and targeted delivery of government policy.
This is still possible in our time but it will require the reworking of the operational aspects of the First-Second-Third tier system of governance to include the Fourth tier with legal rights enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic. Doing so makes it possible for the new Fourth tier government to advance beyond the contradictions of this era of its introduction. In line with the current practices in the federal, state and local government tiers, officials of the fourth tier government are also going to be saddled with hordes of political aides in form of special assistants, advisers, security operatives,domestic staff, etc. that perform unprofessionally the assignments of career civil servants.
All these usually contribute significantly to the overall cost of running our democracy. It is even scandalous for a system that is unable to provide the basic needs of food, shelter, social services, etc. to the citizens to wastes its resources servicing government officials. The fourth tier government as presently formulated has no legislative and judicial components. To that extent, it is an incomplete government.
Therefore, any act of tyranny, oppression, victimization, etc in such government would lack appropriate checks and balances germane to democratic separation of powers and the rule of law. It is my considered opinion that a transformed ‘Aladinma’ Congress can play the legislative role while a standing committee of elders not less than 75years old serves as the judicial arm. In this way the time tested traditional village/community hall and elders council meetings serve as fourth tier government checks and balances and conflict resolution organ respectively.
The third tier local governments have been under the control of Cater taker Committees since the emergence of the present political leadership in Imo state following the sacking of elected members by the governor soon after inauguration. The state government is responsible for stifling the smooth operations of the constitutionally recognized Local Councils of the third tier government through incongrous operation of Care Taker Committees rather elected members. But recently the Court of Appeal reinstated the sacked elected local government chair men and their councillors.
These local government chairmen are expected to be at the forefront of propelling the implementation of this policy. Since the initiator of the fourth tier autonomous community government and these elected officers of the third tier local government belong to different political parties, it is not difficult to predict the fate of implementation of this policy. Overall, their disenchantment with the administration over the protracted litigation for their reinstatement and the forceful manner of reclaiming office even after court victory are bound to influence their relationship with the government,thereby making them clogs on the wheels of progress of this administration.
Recent events indicate that the problems between the state government and elected local government officials still persist. Just on August 9, 2012 an Owerri High Court ruled that the tenure of the reinstated local government chairmen in Imo state expired on August 8, 2012 which marked their second anniversary,as stipulated by law. Swiftly, on August 10, 2012 less than twenty four hours after this judgement, Imo state government announced the appoinment of Directors of Administration and General Services(DAGS) of the LGAs as the interim heads.Thus ,it is incumbent on the government to device strong mechanism to sensitize the people on the gains of this policy through mass education, media campaign and on-the-site grass root publicity.
The common practices of citizens providing social services like water, healthcare, security,etc. for themselves,including generating own power are the strong predictors of absence of government. This is partly responsible for our women turning the month of August of every year since after the Civil war as period of home coming for raising fund and/or embarking on community development projects. These indulgencies clearly indicate that community development is based on charity donations by citizens rather than statutory obligations of the ss government to the governed. It is even sad to observe that wives of successive governors have exploited such meetings for political gains of their spouses.
No matter the excuse, if such trends are not reversed, there is, inevitably, bound to be an irreversible consequence of citizens providing their needs while government officials continue to appropriate funds meant for such development to themselves.
With little funding for maintenance of existing infrastructure and equipment, government services and manufacturing industries will continue to decline. The local council governments are currently in states of stupor due to rapidly dwindling A fully implemented fourth tier community government would not be complete without a formal perfomance measurement system.
This system may be designed to rate the community government overall performance or it may focus on specific life changing/enriching project(s) undertaken. To be effective, it is necessary to first determine what service(s) is/are most important and construct performance measurement system to focus on it/them. Unfortunately, the bill considered by the state legislature does not have any provision for performance measurement. Concluded Prof. Anyanwu writes from Owerri.
Source: Sun, 7th September 2012.
Okorocha’s impeachment: Count me out – Ohakim
By RAZAQ BAMIDELE
Former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, has said he was not involved in any plot to remove Governor Rochas Okorocha from office.
Ohakim, in a statement by his media aide, Ethelbert Okere, claimed that the report in Daily Sun yesterday: “Plot to remove Okorocha thickens: An ex-Imo gov coordinating scheme,” was referring to him.
He pointed out that “this veiled reference to “an ex-governor” left no one in doubt as to the identity of the ex-governor.”
Clearing himself, his media adviser wrote: “For the avoidance of doubt, however, Ikedi Ohakim is not involved in any plot to remove Governor Okorocha.
“There was no meeting of whatsoever type, between Ikedi Ohakim and the re-instated local government chairmen in the state. And there was no forum, whatsoever, where Ikedi Ohakim claimed that he had been mandated by the Presidency to co-ordinate the plot to remove Governor Okorocha.”
However, the story did not mention the name of the ex-governor.
Source: Sun, 10th August 2012.
Okorocha Warns Contractors Against Bribery
Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo has warned contractors handling projects in the state not to bribe any government official.
The governor gave the warning on Wednesday in Owerri when he met with the contractors at Ikemba Ojukwu Convention Centre.
He accused some contractors of indulging in the illegal act in the belief that it would influence government to release funds for the projects.
Okorocha warned the contractors that such act would be counter-productive.
He also expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace at which some contractors were executing government projects and urged them to ensure timely completion of projects.
The governor directed contractors handling hospital projects in the 27 local government areas of the state to complete them by the end of September.
He assured the contractors that his administration would not owe those who executed projects on schedule and in accordance with specifications.
Okorocha, however, commended some of the contractors for being patient with the government over the delay in payment for some jobs already completed.
In another development, Imo state Ministry of Transport has suspended the collection of fees on its behalf by individuals and organisations.
The suspension order followed the discovery that some group of people had been collecting arbitrary fees from unsuspecting motorists, commercial tricycle operators and traders in the state.
In a statement issued in Owerri on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Transport and Public Utilities, Dr Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, directed all revenue contractors to the ministry to cease functioning on its behalf.
He said that security agents had been notified to apprehend any person or organisation that posed as revenue contractor to the ministry.
The statement added that the public would be notified after the review of the fees to be paid by the affected residents of the state. (NAN)
Source: Leadership, 8th August 2012.
Recalled Imo Council Chairmen Shun Okorocha’s Invitation
FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI
THE recently reinstated chairmen of the 27 local councils in Imo State, all of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday shunned Governor Rochas Okorocha’s invitation for a parley at the Government House, Owerri.
Okorocha had on Monday after a week-long trip to the United States, extended an olive branch to the recalled chairmen to come for a truce meeting for a way forward yesterday.
That was the first invitation meeting called by the governor, after the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, chaired by Justice Uwani Abba Aji, ordered the reinstatement of the council chairmen, stating that neither the governor nor his aides has power to sack elected chairmen.
But the state government filed an appeal and Motion of Stay of Execution at the Supreme Court. Dissatisfied, the chairmen, with the assistance of security men, found their way and took their seats at the council headquarters last week.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state of conniving with the Treasurers and Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS) to manipulate figures of funds allocated to the 27 local councils in the state.
According to a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Chief Blyden Amajirionwu, on Wednesday and read severally on the Hot 99.5 FM, the party said it discovered that since the historic judgment of the Court of Appeal in Owerri, restoring the sacked elected chairmen, manipulation of financial figures has been going on, urging the public and anti-graft agencies to take note.
But a member of DAGS who preferred anonymity, denied the allegation. He said the state government was organizing a training programme for them.
At the Expanded Sam Mbakwe Executive Council Chambers, the governor, at the meeting attended by his deputy, Jude Agbaso, commissioners, monarchs, two retired justices, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), some opinion leaders in the state and journalists, said he wanted peace between him and the chairmen, regretting that they were absent.
“We are preaching a gospel of peace. Let peace reign. I therefore restate that local council chairmen report to the Sam Mbakwe EXCO come Monday at 10a.m. I will address them as state governor,” he said.
Source: The Guardian, 28th July 2012.
Forensic Experts Probe Death of Nine Family Members
By Our Reporter
FORENSIC experts, led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Dr Wilson Akhiwu, have arrived in Imo State to strengthen the search for the cause of the deaths of nine members of a family.
The family of nine, comprising the father, mother, five children and two in-laws, died on July 8 after a funeral ceremony for their relation in Emekuku, Owerri.
The experts, who were requested for by the state government, proceeded yesterday to Holy Rosary Hospital, Emekuku, where the remains of the deceased were deposited to extract specimen for the test.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Obi Njoku, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the test would be in furtherance of the autopsy earlier conducted by the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owerri.
He urged the public to desist from peddling misleading information about the possible cause of deaths.
Nine persons, all members of the same family were found dead mysteriously on June 8 after the burial of their 98-year old mother the previous day, at Umuakuru Village, Owerri North Local Government Area.
Governor Rochas Okorocha has raised a five-man committee to unravel the mystery behind the death.
The health Commissioner said the committee would be headed by the Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr. Johnny Ihebereme.
Source: The Nation, 17th July 2012.
Family of Eight Die Mysteriously after Mother's Burial
Dead family members
By Amby Uneze in Owerri
Tragedy struck in Umuakuru village, Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State as nine persons, including eight members of the same family, died in their sleep under mysterious circumstances on Saturday night after the burial of their mother. The tragedy has thrown the community into mourning as many villagers bemoaned the bizarre fate that has befallen the family.
Those who died were Mr. Paschal Njoku, who until his death, lived in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, his wife, five children and two other relations. Njoku only returned recently to attend the burial of his late mother.
The Njoku’s children who died along with him were Ebere, Ifunanya, Chibueze, Jackline and Uchechi.
A member of the bereaved family, Mrs. Christiana Uba, who is married to an indigene of Umualum Uratta in the same local government area who came for the funeral of their mother along with her friend, Mrs Catherine Ahunonu, also died along with her.
According to sources, the nine were found dead with foam-like substances in their mouths yesterday morning.
As at press time, THISDAY could not ascertain the actual cause of the tragedy because members of the community were too shocked to talk about the incident.
Family sources said the bodies of the deceased were discovered when the owners of the canopies used at the funeral came to dismantle them in the morning. The owners of the canopies had gone to the house of the deceased to inform them that they had come to move their canopies. But none of the family members responded to their greetings or the knocks on their doors. The pervasive silence around the deceased house aroused the curiosity of the people, leading them to force open one of the doors in the compound.
A neighbour who came to sympathise with the other family members told THISDAY that Njoku had visited home recently to take active part in the burial rites of his late mother whose remains were interred on Saturday, adding that after the funeral and other ceremonies, the entire family retired to sleep only to be found dead by yesterday morning.
No one could ascertain if the generating set was running as to generate carbon monoxide, which if inhaled for a while, could cause death.
Imo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Obi-Njoku, who visited the scene, stated that it could be a case of food poisoning, stressing that if they all ate some poisoned food, they would die together.
He contended that only autopsy could ascertain the true cause of death.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mr. Vitalis Onugu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the command was yet to be briefed on the matter.
Source: This Day, 9th July 2012.
Dana crash: Imo govt threatens to sue airline
By CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI—IMO State Government yesterday threatened to sue Dana Airline over the death of 33 indigenes of the state in the plane crash of June 3 in Lagos.
Governor Rochas Okorocha who spoke during an inter-denominational memorial service for the victims, also announced a N50 million lifeline to bereaved families who were involved in the ill-fated crash.
Okorocha said the government and people of Imo were saddened by the incident and directed his Deputy, Mr Jude Agbaso, and the Attorney-General, Mr Soronnadi Njoku, to commence action on the matter immediately.
He announced that a memorial park would be built in the state in honour of the victims.
Sanitation of the aviation industry
The governor said many Nigerians had lost their lives through avoidable air mishaps and called for urgent sanitisation of the aviation industry to forestall future occurrences.
“Imo got a very negative share of over 20 per cent of the human loss in the plane crash and as a governor and citizen, I am so pained. In our despair, we can only cast our feelings upon God. He alone can be our fortitude and fortress; in Him alone, can we take consolation,” the governor said.
He consoled the bereaved and announced a N50 million donation to the families of the victims to assist them in the burial ceremonies of their relations.
In a sermon, Bishop Innocent Erimujor reminded the congregation that death was inevitable and that what mattered most was what happened to the dead when they had departed the world.
Erimujor urged the people to endeavour to be righteous while on earth to enjoy eternal happiness.
Four Bible passages were read by the deputy governor; the Speaker of Imo House, Mr Benjamin Uwajimogu, wife of the governor, Mrs Nkechi Okorocha, and Pastor Cosmas Ilechukwu.
Rev. Fr. Peter Moka, who represented the Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, the Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, prayed for the bereaved families, while Bishop O.O. Agbai prayed for security in the nation.
Among the indigenes of Imo who died in the crash were Prof Celestine Onwuliri, husband of the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Prof Viola Onwuliri, and Dr Levi Ajuonuma, Group General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NNPC.
Others were Mr Dike Chinwe, SAN, Anyene Maimuna, Anyene Onyeka, among others.
Source: Vanguard, 21st June 2012.
Okorocha threatens to sue Dana Air
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has threathened to sue Dana Air over the death of 33 people from the state in the plane crash of June 3 in Lagos.
Okorocha also announced a N50 million lifeline to families of the deceased.
The governor, who was peaking during an inter-denominational memorial service for the victims, also announced that a memorial park would be built in the state to honour the crash's victims.
Okorocha further called for urgent sanitisation of the aviation industry to forestall future occurrences.
“Imo got a very negative share of over 20 per cent of the human loss in the plane crash and as a governor and citizen, I am so pained," he said. "In our despair, we can only cast our feelings upon God. He alone can be our fortitude and fortress; in Him alone, can we take consolation."
Bishop Innocent Erimujor, who gave the sermon at the service, noted that death was inevitable and urged the people to endeavour to be righteous while on earth to enjoy eternal happiness.
Imo indigenes who died in the crash includes: Prof Celestine Onwuliri, husband of the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Prof Viola Onwuliri;Dr Levi Ajuonuma, Group General Manager, Corporate Affairs, NNPC; Dike Chinwe, Anyene Maimuna and Anyene Onyeka, among others.
Source: Business Day, 21st June 2012.
Udenwa Decries High Rate Of Kidnapping In Imo
FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI
IMO State Governor Rochas Okorocha has been advised to curb the high rate of kidnapping and other forms of criminality in the 27 councils of the state.
Former governor of the state, Chief Achike Udenwa, gave the advice while speaking in Owerri at an event marking this year’s Democracy Day celebrations, organised by the state government to host stakeholders, including top individuals and government officials.
Udenwa, who commended Okorocha for his zeal in the provision of infrastructure in the state, stressed that the environment must be safe for investors, who he said are currently scared of the numerous cases of insecurity.
He said “There are cases of insecurity in the state, especially kidnapping, which is scaring away investors.
“You must work to handle this problem in order not to scare away investors from the state. In our days, it was not like this.”
Udenwa, now a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), urged the Imo people to work in tandem with the present All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) government in the state to provide safe haven for development.
On his part, Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Chris Dega, disclosed that the command has been working hard to curb the problem of insecurity, adding within the last few weeks, the command had rescued about 10 kidnap victims with the aid of technological tools, without payment of ransom.
He urged people to provide adequate information and cooperation to enable the Police track down criminals in their midst.
Source: The Guardian, 2nd June 2012.
Governor Okorocha’s One Year in Office
Written by Keneth Uwadi
26th May 2012
It is one year now since Governor Rochas Okorocha came into power. He came into power on a tidal wave of voters support for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He dispatched Chief Ikedi Ohakim in the governorship election, which saw the APGA take the top post in Imo State. Okorocha was sworn in as Governor
of Imo State on May 29th last year. He promised to reinvent Imo and help create a climate for business and job growth. I once watched him in a workshop organized for his executive, introduce his postulated economic theory, the one he called “Rochanomics”. In that workshop he said that 'Rochanomics' is a political principle based on liberation from political bondage. The 'Rochanomics' political philosophy to him is grounded on restoring of the fundamental essence of government, which is to create jobs ,create an environment where the people are secured in their rights to good life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
One year of his four year tenure is over. The question is how has the Okorocha administration performed in Imo State so far? Is the Imo 'Rescue Mission' on track or do they need to go back to the drawing board? As usual his spin doctors have started celebrating his one year performance on the pages of newspapers with adverts just to buoy their egos and selfish interests. As I write, Okorocha's one year of achievements in office is still running in several Newspapers and online blogs. In their spin they are saying he is not only a performing Governor but one who has more than the needed credentials to take over from President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
The irony of the matter is that our governor who is expected to wake up from his slumber is the one dominating the pages of Newspapers in the name of one year anniversary. These spin doctors are enumerating non-existent projects and policies as the governor's achievements so far. We need to ask the spin doctors if insecurity and youth unemployment in Imo State are ways to celebrate 'Rochanomics'. According to Abraham Lincoln, You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
If Imo citizens didn't know who Okorocha was before, they do now. According to a recent SP poll, 88.6 percent of the 400 randomly selected Imolites dislike strongly Okorocha's one year performance in office .They are praying he make amend for the better in his second year. They believe his actions are harming the state. Imo people have shown their anger on the governor twice this year. He has been booed twice. They booed Okorocha when he was addressing workers at the State Secretariat last month. In March too, he was booed during one of his state of the state address in Owerri.He was speaking to people of the state telling them that Civil Servants can now beat their chest that their salaries come to them by 25th of every month and their 20,000 naira minimum wage has been paid. The Governor was interrupted with shouts of No! Na lie!. The people began to boo him. The State SSG,Prof Anthony Anwuka was also booed and jeered this year at the May 1st workers day celebration. In Imo politics and governance, public goodwill is everything. If there is any politician who should understand it more than others, it is the Imo governor who rode on the wings of massive public goodwill to the Imo government house.
Okorocha's problem started when immediately he came into power ,he sacked thousands of workers employed by the last administration. The youths that were employed to beef up the public service in Imo state were sacked and they remain without jobs till date.Secondly,the people got angry when he introduced military style of leadership in a democratic dispensation.
Anele, an employee with ISOPADEC, gave Okorocha a solid low grade in his one year in office.“I think he's not done a good job,” Anele said. “I think he's not got for himself pretty good advisers, and that's why he is having a lot of problems with the masses. A good leader begins with a good team and uses the best qualified .A situation where MDAs are subjected to generate their salaries and allowances; where contractors are subjected to fund government projects to completion without payment, where more than 10,000 Imolites were deprived of their legitimate jobs without payment of their entitlements is bad''
Obinna from Emekuku, in his own remark said he is down and angry about Okorocha's one year in office. “ I got angry when he lied that he paid 12years pensions to retirees whereas he merely paid 3months arrears to them . I hate it when any one tries to attract undeserved applause''Anayo from Umuoji,did not appreciate Okorocha's efforts and vowed not to vote for him if he plans a second come back. 'We all witnessed how he rebranded all the Hilux vans in the State to lunch a security outfit to secure our people but yet security situation in Imo State is worsening. Check out the current alarming rate of kidnapping, and armed robbery in the State. Checkout the embarrassing way and manner criminals abduct Imo citizens demanding ransom before their release. This is failure on the side of government. To me with high rate of insecurity in Imo state ,his one year in office is a dead one''
Sidney,a businessman in Owerri is not on the Okorocha bandwagon. The introduction of a fourth tier Government and appointment of community speakers does not impress Sidney. ''I am against formulating policies in the state without due process; policies such as the creation of community speakers without the input of the house of assembly. Our governor knows that it is illegal to impose an unconstitutional process on the people. Nigeria does not have fourth tiers of government.What we have is third tier and it is enshrined in the constitution.We must make the legal local government councils functional in the constitutional way.''
Okorocha's words and actions have left some persons feeling a little disillusioned. “I found the governor's style far more autocratic,” Nnenna said. “Okorocha has governed more like a right-wing extremist. Why must he be relocating workers to their communities? Why must he cripple all Ministries, Department and Agencies of government in the State by starving them of funds. He even made promises we have come to believe are not within his proven capacity to deliver. He promised N100million development fund to each of the LGAs in the State, which till date is yet to be realized. He also promised another N1billion to each of the LGAs which too has not been realised. The so-called N20,000 minimum wage has not been paid to civil servants. N11,000 is what is paid to Imo state civil servants.'
Ijeoma a student said that Okorocha has done well in the area of road construction but that the majority road works are all at their teething stages and should not warrant any self glory or applause. According to her ,he has awarded major road contracts, rehabilitated many,especially in Owerri which gulped into millions of Naira.She however lamented that the award of these contracts did not follow due process.
Iwuji and Jideofor both disliked Okorocha's approach to free education in Imo State. To them impress to run the primary and secondary schools have not been made available, which invariably affects the quality of the free education in Imo State. Even the N100 a month stipend to public school children was last paid in November 2011. They see the promised free education scheme and mouth-watering bursary for all Imo State undergraduates as mere political sweet talk. They believe that he can never sustain the proposed free education for tertiary schools.
Madu an unemployed graduate, said he cannot praise the governor in his one year in office because for one year now he could not create jobs for Imo youths rather he sacked more than 10,000 Imo State graduates in the State Civil Service. To Madu, he has no reason to sack the workers.He believe that the governor has failed in the area of job creation. “Imo State unemployment rate remains far higher than the national average, our state has been downgraded again, and investors are eager to escape the abysmal business climate. All in all, it is a grim picture this one year.” Madu said .
Now the question on the lips of Imo people is “if Okorocha cannot give good account of one year with surplus money coming from here and there, where will the magic come from, also how can one expect performance from Owelle now that the economy is battered in terms of revenue whereas precious time and money were wasted on frivolous matters.The governor is borrowing too much money and wasting too much on useless jamborees such as the upcoming Imo Youths summit in America.
My friend Herbert Kinsley once asked, who is the rescue government actually rescuing or for whom is effort made in that direction? He also asked who borrowed the N10billion and N50billion respectively in 2011, and which were approved as supplementary budgets by the Imo State House of Assembly? Who borrowed N6billion for repayment of purported loan owed to UBA PLC by the past administration? Who borrowed another N6billion for supposedly counterpart fund for UBE, ETF, MDG, etc? Who, also, borrowed N5billion for fruitless adventure of re-surfacing good and motorable roads in Owerri municipal? Who, too, borrowed a whopping sum of N10billion for phantom infrastructural development? They should not forget that nobody that fails to perform well in public office will escape the wrath of Imo citizens whether you are redeeming, reforming or rescuing.
-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria
Police Uncover Kidnappers’ Den, Free 10 Victims
The Imo State police command recorded a major breakthrough on Wednesday by rescuing 10 victims in a thick forest believed to be the hideout of kidnappers in Orogwe, Owerri West local government areas of the state.
The state police commissioner, Mr Christopher Dega, who briefed journalists after the 3-hour hunt in the forest, disclosed that the police acted on a tip-off from a good citizen of the state and stormed the forest.
Although he said that none of the kidnappers was arrested as they all ran on sighting them, he quickly added that the 10 victims, who were kept in the same place, had been reunited with their families.
Similarly, the command has arrested one Nze Athanatus Emeghara, alleged to be the sponsor of the kidnap and subsequent killing of the traditional ruler of Umueze, Abazu Ogwa in Mbaitoli local government area, Eze Stanley Akuneto.
Briefing journalists, the state police public relations officer, Mr. Samuel Oodee said that the suspect was arrested alongside one of the suspected killers of the late monarch, Onyekachi Onyemaobi.
The police image maker said that the suspects had confessed of how they were paid N500,000 to kill the monarch with a promise of paying the balance of the same amount when the job was done.
Source: Leadership, 26th May 2012.
Residents flee Imo as kidnappers roam free -From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
MANY well-to-do people from different parts of Imo State are literally running away following an upsurge in kidnapping of prominent indigenes in the 27 local councils in the past few weeks.
Investigations by The Guardian at the weekend in Owerri and other parts of the state revealed that many affluent families had gone into hiding or relocated to either Lagos or Abuja.
A similar situation prevailed in Aba, Abia State, a few months ago, until the abductions ended.
Meanwhile, the abductors seem to be tightening their grip on the state with no respite in sight.
Those who have been kidnapped include a monarch, Eze Oliver Nwaozuzu and his wife, who were abducted from inside St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Awo Mbieri.
Others are Treasurer of Onuimo Local Council and Principal Alvana Primary School, Owerri, Ben Iheanacho, former Medical Director, Monica Hospital, Amaraku, Isiala Mbano Local Council, Dr. Canice Omeziri, who was killed by his abductors in captivity; Director of Accounts in the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. G. C. Ihemebiri, another traditional ruler, Eze Stanley Akuneto of Umuezu Obazu Ogwa, former Speaker of the Imo House of Assembly, Godfrey Dikeocha, who spent about two months in captivity during which he was blind-folded, a former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chieftain, Steve Ibe, and proprietor of a pharmaceutical shop in Owerri, Charles Uwaezuoke, among others.
Police authorities told The Guardian that the rising cases of abduction posed serious threat in the state. Two traditional rulers in the state had been killed by their abductors in the state in the last two years.
Members of the House of Assembly and top government officials have lamented the unfortunate trend in a once-peaceful state, while the Commissioner of Police, Chris Dega, has stressed that his men were poised to check the trend. The police boss, had however, regretted that the kidnappers were using sophisticated technologies that made them more difficult to track down.
Source: The Guardian, 21st May 2012.
IMO ELDERS FORUM: NO TO POLITICS OF DISUNITY
We have received news of the planned hosting of the Executive Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha by Imo Citizens in Abia on the 21st of April, 2012 with shock. We are also privy to various newspaper reports intimating the public of the planned visit being spearheaded by prominent Igbo sons like Chief Maduakor and Owunna.
Heaven knows that Imo Citizens are peace loving people and have had the most fruitful and rewarding cohabitation with our other brothers in Abia State especially enjoying the lavish support of the State Government. Having lived in Aba for well over fifty years and made our marks as successful business men, we as elders cannot stay at home and watch the she goat deliver in its tether. It is abominable in Imo and elsewhere in Igbo land. We are not aliens to official protocol and therefore state as follows:
1. That there is no such thing as Imo Citizens without having recourse to the real Elders. Chief Onyenso Nwachukwu and Chief John Anyahie know enough to deny the existence of any phantom group.
2. We have not invited our Governor as any such visit must have the blessing of the Abia State Government who by the way is our host and landlord
3. Rochas Okorocha is not a charlatan and cannot be railroaded into any arrangement that would see him as disregarding all official protocols
4. Abia State government has denied receiving any request from either the Imo State Government or any such Group at that. Thiss imply means that there are plans by the so called organizers to rubbish the reputation of the office and person of the Governor of both Imo and Abis States
5. The entire country is sitting on a precipice in terms of security and it would be foolhardy for any person to do anything that would incense the volatility already being experienced
6. The sudden appearance of fugitive Reagan Ufomba as a central figure in Igbo politics portrays NDI IGBO as lacking in quality leadership. He is simply setting Imolites against their Igbo kinsmen
7. Regan Ufomba cannot organize Imolites in Abia State. He does not only lack the moral justification to do so, he equally lacks the prerequisite integrity to act in that capacity
8. If Regan Ufomba is keen on hosting Imo State Governor, he could jolly well distance Imolites from that awful, distasteful and disunity – motivated Greek Gift
9. NDI IMO in Abia appreciate the good working relationship that had long existed between them and their Abia hosts, accountable for Imolites having the most flourishing businesses (more than any other ethnic nationality in Nigeria) in Abia. Our investments can attest to that.
10. As beneficiaries of unity and brotherly love, we cannot be seen to be playing double standards through cutting corners, breaching official protocols and setting our Governor against the Abia State Government and by extension NDI IGBO in general
11. The business of fixing Imo State is more deserving of attention now than the planned jamboree which in the first place is a concocted marriage of convenience bound to crash
12. We have no hands in the planned visit and could attest unequivocally that our children are far from the evil arrangement
13. We warn all those who are behind this charade to desist forthwith from further causing disaffection and animosity between Imolites and the rest of NDI IGBO
14. We insist without fear or favour, not minding whose ox is gored that Rochas Okorocha is not welcomed, not now and not anytime when he would allow himself to be used as an instrument of disunity.
15. No State Governor can visit another State without the courtesy of notifying the host State Government. Imo State is too big to fall into that bobby, banana and slippery peel.
16. We should remember that most of us have lived here way too long that resettling would be a Herculean Task. It is only wise to court peace, affection and unity
There is no alternative to peace and we therefore stand on the side of the very many successful business people, professionals; artisans, market traders and commoners of Imo extraction living in Abia. A word is enough for the wise.
F: IMO ELDERS FROM
Chief Nwachukwu Onyenso
Chief John Anyaehie
26th April 2012
The Lies And Deceits Of Governor Rochas Okorocha
By Citizen Reporter - 247REPORT
The Executive Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha while narrating the full import of his government’s rescue mission likened it to the Israel’s rescue operation in Uganda tagged “90 minutes at Entebbe”. Although, the Entebbe raid was acted with exquisite sense of timing, its target of rescuing Israeli hostages from Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada was of vital strategic importance to Israel’s prestige as a nation. Nevertheless, the rescue operation as mission accomplished had all the hostages rescued and airlifted to Israel.
In view of the foregoing, governor Okorocha’s rescue agenda in Imo State lacks vision, since it was likened to the Israel’s operation in Uganda, which has its distinctive circumstance. In fact, such an imitation cannot pass for a vision. It can be a mere daydream, which most times, cannot be turned into reality due to lack of originality and reasonable concordance.
Apparently, within 10 months in office, a state government that purports to be on rescue mission could not pass simple litmus test as it still appears insensitive to the two factors, namely to rescue people in supposed desperate plight, and to achieve it within a time frame. Thus, the only question on the lips of Imo people is “who is the rescue government actually rescuing or for whom is effort made in that direction?”
Is it the Transition Committee (TC) Chairmen at the Local Government Councils (LGCs) that have neither members nor appointment letters and all the paraphernalia of office? Or, is it the stooge members of the Imo State House of Assembly (IMHA) and the rescue government appointees who act as guinea pigs in the midst of being denied the pleasure of using brand new official vehicles and the benefit of all the entitlements attached to their offices? Or, is it the state civil servants who are at a crossroads between asking for a stop to an endless screening of certificates and craving for the actual computation of the hyped N20,000 new minimum wage, which should have placed them above the federal civil servants?
Let’s tell ourselves the bitter truth! Is governor Okorocha in all sincerity paying the state civil servants far and above their counterparts in the federal civil service who are earning N18,000 minimum wage? What is this lackadaisical mentality beclouding Imo people that a spade can no longer be addressed as such? Nevertheless, the civil servants know too well that the table used by governor Okorocha in calculating the so-called N20,000 minimum wage does not give a value worth up to N11,000 minimum wage, and they are afraid to voice out this truth for fear of victimization.
BUILDING TRUST AND ENGAGING THE PEOPLE
One is worried at the level of lies, falsehood, deceit, and abracadabra, which the Imo people have brazenly admitted to contend with.
* It is beyond every reasonable doubt that governor Okorocha did not cut down any state security vote as claimed. Reference to the 2011 budget reveals that the said state security vote was N2billion and not N6billion. Therefore, for governor Okorocha to claim that he cut down the said state security vote to N2.5billion is a criminal projection aimed at hoodwinking the Imo people for self-aggrandizement to the tune of N500million. This is fraud.
* Imolites are no daft to be deceived that governor Okorocha paid 2-12years pensions to retirees whereas he merely paid 3months arrears in a dramatized interactive session. This window dressing to attract undeserved applause was stage –managed to portray the past governors of Imo State as insensitive to the plight of the retirees while masquerading as “a self-acclaimed messiah”.
SECTORAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE
(a) PUBLIC WORKS/INFRASTRUCTURE
* The totality of the public works and infrastructural projects embarked upon by governor Okorocha are all at their teething stages that should not warrant any self-glory or applause. It is sad to note that the award of these contracts did not follow due process because according to governor Okorocha, “in rescue mission, there is no protocol”.
* The verbosity in respect of breaking the age-long jinx about Okigwe and Orlu regarding the location of such white elephant projects as a five star hotel, a civic centre, a modern stadium, etc are the usual fallacious promises of governor Okorocha. It can be likened to the N100million development fund promised to each of the LGAs in the State, which till date is yet to be realized. To add salt to injury, governor Okorocha promised another N1billion to each of the LGAs in a manner that presents him as one in need of psychiatric diagnosis and spiritual deliverance so as to bring his flippancy to a bearable level.
* Governor Okorocha has made a ruse of education in the Imo State public school system with his ill conceived free education programme. Disappointedly the governor is busy politicizing the N100 stipend to school children, while the imprest to run the schools have not been made available, which invariably affects the quality of the so-called free education. Recently, the school children were restive on why the state government could not live up to its words of N100 daily stipend, which was paid for the first (and last) time in October 2011.
* In the face of the above, governor Okorocha perfected another lies and deceit phenomenon where he promised free education scheme and mouthwatering bursary for all Imo State undergraduates in the Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri and the Imo State Polytechnic (ImoPoly), Umuagwo. If Lagos, Rivers, and Bayelsa States whose Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) surpasses the federal allocation to Imo State cannot offer free tertiary education programme, and are finding it difficult to grapple with that of the secondary and primary schools, one marvels at why governor Okorocha thinks he can always play on the intelligence of the enlightened Imo citizens.
* Imo people witnessed how governor Okorocha rebranded all the Hilux vans and Healthcare delivery hummer buses in the State to credit his so-called rescue government. Even, the additional 100 Ford Ranger Trucks, which he claimed to have purchased were actually donated by banks to the State government. The said governor was not ashamed to present these trucks to Imo people as his achievement in his first 100days in office, which he earlier planned not to celebrate.
* In the same manner, the said governor re-allocated all the official vehicles (acquired by the past administration) to his political appointees who invariably were denied the comfort of brand new official vehicles. Thus, the money so conserved from not purchasing any new vehicle is not seen to have been meaningfully utilized by the Okorocha’s government.
* In late January 2012, governor Okorocha visited Gombe, Bauchi and Kano States for his 2015 presidential ambition. However, he claimed to have visited and held meetings with the Igbos, and found out that no Igbo was killed in any of the Boko Haram attacks. Thanks to God that Rochas abracadabra did not charm the visibly annoyed Chairman of Ohaneze ndi Igbo of Kano State who was quick to respond that, “Okorocha did not enter Sabon Gari to see anybody. He came for his own political business. He did not come to see Ndigbo. He did not set foot in the community”. This is how governance has been reduced to a child’s play where time, effort and money are wasted on frivolities.
(d) IMO STATE CIVIL SERVICE REFORM AND COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAMME
It is on record that governor Okorocha has addressed Imolites on several occasions on the issue of the State being very rich. However, one is amazed on why, in the midst of this professed plenty, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were directed by the governor to engage in commercial activities in order to generate their salaries and allowances, while subventions to these MDAs have since been completely withdrawn. What a contradiction and double speak by governor Okorocha!
(e) REDUCING THE COST OF GOVERNANCE
* Governor Okorocha, in his address on the STATE OF IMO told Imolites that, “one of the biggest setbacks to the development of our nation has been the unusually high and largely unjustified cost of governance. Unfortunately, our State was a classic example of how resources could be frittered away by the excessive overheads and a plethora of unwholesome practices fueled, to a large extent, by greed and avarice”.
The same governor Okorocha who claims to be patriotic and prudent by his so-called rescue agenda deceived Imo people by wasting a whopping sum of N2billion on a trip to woo investors from purported seven countries. Imolites are still waiting for the investors to arrive.
* During the same address on the STATE OF IMO, governor Okorocha disclosed that “my government since inception has not borrowed a kobo”. Thus, the governor should in the spirit of his acclaimed prudent management of the State resources explain the following:
- Who borrowed the N10billion and N50billion respectively in 2011, and which were approved as supplementary budgets by the stooge IMHA?
- Who borrowed N6billion for repayment of purported loan owed to UBA PLC by the past administration?
- Who borrowed another N6billion for supposedly counterpart fund for UBE, ETF, MDG, etc?
- Who, also, borrowed N5billion for fruitless adventure of re-surfacing good and motorable roads in Owerri municipality?
- Who, too, borrowed a whopping sum of N10billion for phantom infrastructural development?
The loans are endless. Who is governor Okorocha fooling? Perhaps, governor Okorocha is right, because he is yet to start the actual borrowing spree.
* Whereas governor Okorocha is busy siphoning the State funds, he turns round with a Catholic look to tell easy-going Imolites what they like to hear about manna falling from heaven. Without fear of contradictions, Concorde hotel has been suffocated in the guise of renovation to pave way for LA MONDE hotel (owned by governor Okorocha) to reap all government sponsored socio-political activities. Roche group International (owned by governor Okorocha) controls all the ETF and UBE contracts at IMSUBEB as well as manages ADAPALM, Concorde hotel, and ITC. LA MONDE Press, LA MONDE Guest House, Concorde newspapers, and Rochas Convention Center Fast Food are other conduit pipes of governor Okorocha for siphoning state fund. No wonder, governor Okorocha once said, “I am here for a mission, and the mission shall come to pass. Don’t see me as a conventional governor, but a radical governor, that is why I don’t observe protocol”.
* As a friend, Kenneth Uwadi once wrote, “Okorocha has been proclaiming heaven that will become of Imo State. Every month, he will make press release, promising Imolites heaven on earth. To get cheap popularity, he rents praise singers who lie to the world that all is honky dory with Imo State. Our ears are sore with ‘we will build this and that’ in place of ‘we have done this and that’.” Indeed, Imo people are yearning for result. Do governor Okorocha realize that he sacked the following groups of Imo people from the government pay roll?
(a) The beneficiaries of the 10,000 jobs
(b) The elected LGC chairmen, the deputy chairmen, the councilors, the supervisory councilors in the 27 LGAs (their personal assistants and drivers).
(c) The Co-ordinators and members of the Local Government Development Centers in the 27 LGAs (including their personal assistants and drivers).
(d) The chairmen and members of the various boards of government departments and agencies (including their personal assistants and drivers).
In fact, these groups result in a combined total of about 16,000 Imo people displaced. Till date, there is no replacement with other Imo people begging for rescue. Then, where do we place governor Okorocha and his rescue mission in the annals of Imo history?
It poses a great difficulty to reconcile the random and reckless utterances of governor Okorocha with the realities on ground in Imo State. A situation where MDAs are subjected to generate their salaries and allowances; where contractors are subjected to fund government projects to completion without payment; where in ten months in office, a government borrowed a sum of money more than the sum total of the borrowings of three previous administrations in Imo State; where governor Okorocha sets up numerous private outfits which took over the management and control of government contracts, departments and agencies for his self-aggrandizement; where about 16,000 Imolites were deprived of their legitimate jobs without payment of their entitlements or their replacement thereof smacks of a government cover-up and hypocrisy. It’s time to stop the lies and deceit. EFCC will, indeed be needed to help Imolites unravel the true accountability of the reckless and mischievous financial transactions of governor Okorocha’s rescue government in Imo State
Here is HEN still Crying Very Loud, since the New Gov. Okoroacha of Imo state, threw his Resume to the waste Paper Basket, and instead recruited the Most Qualified for the position, which Prof. Dr. HEN sought for in the New Imo State Governor!!
My brother HEN, hundred years of Crying and Malinging the New Gov. of Imo State, who is Really on Rescue Mission of Ndi-Imo Dum, will NOT stop him nor cause him to deviate from this Divine Mission, which the Governor has been Anointed to carry out!!
We have no time for any Cry babies out there who was NOT included in this mission. You are Not Qualified to be part of this Divine Mission of today; may be some day in future years you will be considered. Let's Stop the Cry and innuendos!! OSO NDI, OWE NDI. Otoiheoma Egbe.
I am not sure what the strident criticism of Governor Okorocha is based on, but I think it is appropriate that some of us who are seeing a picture different from what is being painted chime in.
I have spent significant time in Nigeria in the past few months, and the accounts from persons at both the upper and lower levels of society are speaking very positively about Governor Okorocha and his efforts to transform Imo State. Last weekend, all the Senators from Imo (regardless of party) joined in Owerri to sing Okorocha's praises. Some said that Imo had seen this level of developmental activity since the time of the ebullient and beloved Sir Mbakwe.
Many are daily acknowledging Okorocha's efforts to improve and facilitate movement in Imo through a complex of new roads and improvements to existing ones. Approaching Owerri from Aba, one can now bypass the town to access the Mbaise Rd/Egbu axis. The same is also true if approaching Owerri from the Okigwe axis. I have personally seen parts of my native Mbaise that have never smelled anything government until now (except the Old County Council), with new roads actively being constructed.
As I understand it, the grand design is to connect all the zones and areas of of Imo, from Mbaise through parts of Mbano, Okigwe, Orlu, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, and back out to the Ngor-Okpalla area. This is the mega loop. I also understand that one or more beltways (ring roads) will circle the Owerri municipal area.
As of last summer, Rivers State had dualized and modernized its segment of the Owerri-Port Harcourt Rd. I understand that the segment from Owerri has now caught up all the way to the state boundary. The excitement is that, unlike the theories about Nwangele and Oguta Lake in the previous administration on which billions was squandered, several of the structures in the Okorocha master-plan are actually under construction, not just on paper.
Also evident is that Concord Hotel, which was a ran-down rat hole for decades, has been restored to a truly functioning standard hotel with quality service. Eagle Square, where Owerri received and celebrated the late Ikemba and housed his body in state overnight was showcased globally early in March, and it is an impressive structure. The Owerri I saw this February and have since heard a lot about even during this April is different from the Owerri I have known from childhood.
One clear proof this is that Owerri is now a weekend resort for people from as far away as Lagos and Benin. For this reason, every flight to Owerri and Port Harcourt is solidly booked. I was forced to spend Easter weekend in Lagos because every seat was taken on every flight and I could not brave traveling by road. Even when you get to Owerri, it is even more difficult to get a hotel room (and there are now literally hundreds of quality hotels) in Owerri. Many who work in the oil gas belt of the Niger Delta now prefer to commute from Owerri. And I know for a fact that plans for in corporate relocation to Owerri is stirring up very strongly in that sector.
Prior to now, the place of Imo as an oil producing state was in question, but not any more. Dozens of marginal fields operations and new exploration activities are flourishing within Imo, thanks to initiatives and willingness of the government to encourage and welcome these activities. It has long been established that Anambra is the leading gas basin in Nigeria, but recent revisions are extending the boundaries of the gas belt very deep into Imo. The current government is actively interested in this sector and is promoting and encouraging it seriously .
The only exception and my personal reservation about Okorocha is the misguided desire/attempt to relocate Imo State University Main Campus from its current Owerri town location to his Ideator area rather than actualize the decision repeatedly made by successive Imo governments to develop a permanent site on a huge acreage of land acquired for that purpose about 2 kilometers off Aba-Owerri Road.on the Okpalla-Mbaise Road,
To be clear, I have absolutely no connection to Governor Rochas. I simply base my view on what I have personally observed and several independent assessments by persons and interests directly affected by what the government is doing. They all seem to like it what is happening. In a way, I am not surprised because this government does have active connection to Chief Agboso (the former APGA candidate), a very pragmatic and savvy socio economist whose brother is Okorocha's deputy.
I also contrast my current views against my expressed feelings during Ohakim's period, when all I saw each time I went to Imo was dozens of billboards profiling the personality of the governor. I remember reminiscing very often on these forums when Anambra persons complained about Governor Obi that I would welcome seeing in Imo a small % of what Obi was doing in Anambra. It is right to say, thank God, I am now beginning to get my wish, and the credit goes to Governor Okorocha, in my opinion.
[Every business decision has legal implications]
Dear Ken Okorie,
I do not want to unleash an unnecessary debate, but this email is in order.
Apart from HEN's position, my point of argument is that what this Okorocha
guy is doing/accomplishing fall short of the level of federal government funding
he's receiving on behalf of ALL levels of government in Imo State. And why is
Okorocha taking loans on behalf of Imo state, when such loans are unnecessary?
You correctly made made mention of the lootings by Ohakim. So, what is stopping
Governor Okorocha from going after Ohakim and Udenwa to recover our billions
those individual governors are yet to account for.
Keep in mind that it is no secret any more that most of the land Rochas now owns
in and around Owerri are due to sweetheart deals he got from Achike Udenwa.
As an erudite lawyer, I think you need to probe deeper before you lower your
garvel. Also and again, keep your eyes on lands around Owerri and Oguta, those
are targets for Okorocha.
This is constructive "opposition".
My brother Attorney Collins
Whatever Rochas got from the previous administration has nothing to do with him being the Governor rightnow. We need to focus on what he is doing for our dear state as Governor. Anybody can criticise anybody. I have been criticized several times. A critic finds fault without a search warrant. Criticism is a compliment when you know what you doing is right. Any leader knows that to lead, you must be willing to accept blisters and have sand kicked in your face. Rochas is not worried about detractors. Ana ekwu ekwu, ana ememe. He said he is on a rescue mission and we are watching. So far it has all been thumbs high for the young man. On April 19, 2012, Rev. Athanasius Abanulo, of Nigerian Catholic Community, Nashville came back from Owerri. He informed us that Imo State is perhaps the best State in Nigeria now. He talked about grading of all the roads that he saw around Owerri and within his Mbaise community. I don't know who else to believe. This is a reverend father. In short, Rochas is performing. He will do more if we let him. If he wants to borrow money for the betterment of Imo people, let him do so. Ndewo
Mr. Okwesi Agu
It gets to be annoying when we break every discussion or argument on this foray into those seeking appointment and those who have sought appointments.
The fora is to enlighten us and bring us information that edify us or help us in making decisions. Your utterance as above has not added anything to this discussion, and to that extent, practically useless.
Everyone of us has every right to seek a job or position in our government. It only becomes a problem when we LEAD Community organizations with an ulterior motive to use that office to further our individual political or Economic agenda, to the detriment of the Goals and Aspirations of the Organization.
Hen has a right to continue to criticise the Government. Okorie too has a right to post his observations and findings for those of us who have not been to Imo lately.
We are smart enough to know when we are reading from hollow "OTIMKPU'S". Ken in his write-up does not sound like one of them.
If you have any information to the contrary, be clear and say it. Otherwise, let us stop this denigration of thoughts and ideas, in the name of politics.
Nze John Igbokwe
Imo workers dare Okorocha ...Over commercialization policy
From VAL OKARA, Owerri
The organized labour in Imo State has threatened to declare a trade dispute with the state government should it carry out its commercialization policy, and mass transfer of civil servants to various communities. The state government had earlier declared to introduce commercialization policy state ministries and parastatals to generate their funds.
Addressing the civil servants yesterday, at the state secretariat along Owerri/Port Harcourt Road, the Chairman Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Coleman Opara said the commercialization policy of the government was unacceptable to the labour and threatened industrial dispute this week.
“There is fire on the mountain. It is improper and unconventional for any civil servant to lea information to the state government that we are holding our meeting today.”
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned to resist the government’s commercialization policy and transfer of civil servants to communities where they will be paid by traditional rulers.
“We don’t have effective and dynamic permanent secretaries and because of their jumbo salaries, they see themselves as politicians.”
Opara who warned that labour would deal with any permanent secretary in the state that issued letter of transfer to communities for the purpose establishment of the fourth tier government.
“We say no to the commercialization policy. No to the transfer of civil servants to various communities in the state. The policies are unacceptable to the labour.”
Opara accompanied by other labour leaders in the state including, the state chairman of NLC, Dr. Reginald Anyadike, NLC acting secretary Austin Chilampu, Trade Union Congress chairman, Nze C.O Aharanwa, observed that the labour had extended olive branch to the present administration than previous governments in the state.
The State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha who stormed the venue of the meeting earlier met hostile civil servants that dished out some unprintable things on the commercialization policy and mass transfer of workers to various communities.
Okorocha ordered for the immediate transfer of all accountants in the state civil service, disclosing that the sum of N650 million has been saved from the payment of salaries to ghost workers.
He also disclosed that N1 billion has been saved from pension funds for illegal payment pensioners, saying that N650 million recovered from the payment of ghost workers would be used to build new judicial headquarters.
He ordered for the immediate commencement of investigation of frauds by accountants saying that any one found wanting would be arrested and prosecuted.
Okorocha who was visibly angry said, “Any day I wake up and discovers that there is love lost between the people of the state and myself, I will throw in the towel immediately. Some of you are now politicians holding secret meetings against me.
He therefore assured them that no civil servant would be sacked as a result of the downsizing but threatened to sack any civil servant that if failed to be transferred to the communities. He directed the state civil service commission to embark on massive promotion of civil servants.
Source: Sun, 18th April 2012.
Labour in Imo rejects Okorocha’s policies, may down tools
The organised labour in Imo has rejected Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s policies of decentralisation and commercialisation of the state public service.
It also rejected the Community Government Council (CGC), initially termed the fourth tier of government.
The Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council, Mr Coleman Opara, announced the workers’ resolutions on the issues on Tuesday in Owerri at a rally at the state government secretariat.
Opara said that public servants in the state were totally opposed to the policies because they were not in the interest of the workers.
He threatened that the workers might embark on strike if the government failed to rescind the decisions, explaining, however, the leadership of the workers would meet with the governor over the issue.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that under the new arrangement, the government plans to redeploy some workers to rural communities where they will be part of the CGC.
Under the commercialisation policy, ministries and parastatals are to generate revenue to pay their workers.
But Opara said the plan on redeployment violated the Civil Service Rule, adding that the governor’s aides were not advising him properly on the issues. NAN
Source: Sun, 18th April 2012.
Power Outage Hits Hard In Imo
FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI
ON December 23, 2011, Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, was in Egbu, Owerri North Local Council of Imo State to commission the installed brand new 60 MVA sub-station to step up power supply in Owerri capital city and environs.
The Minister also commissioned a 33 KV injection sub station located in Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise, on the same day. The move was expected to beef up power supply.
Three months earlier, a 45-MVA Egbu sub-station was gutted by fire. But the Ministry decided to increase the capacity to 60 MVA so that it could serve the people of Owerri municipal, Emii, Orji, Works Layout, Imo State University, Owerri, Awaka, Emekuku, Egbu, Mbieri and others.
Electricity consumers in those areas had remained in the dark for about six months before the Egbu power station was refurbished.
Notwithstanding, power outages have continued to be the lot of these communities. For instance, from the Imo State University junction to Orji, Works Layout, even in the main city of Owerri, perennial power cut has continued unabated.
Also, the ongoing construction of the Mbutu Aboh Mbaise 33.11 with 60 MVA x2 sub station awarded at a total cost of N1.2 billion in 2009, has been on a snail speed.
The site Engineer, Mr. Idris Ayimu, had promised that the station would be ready this month.
The way it is, it will be a wonder if the project — expected to provide and beef up power in 14 local councils of Imo state and neighbouring state of Abia — is completed this month.
Another power station being built in the Ohaji /Egbema Local Council, still completion is not promising.
Even now, the Owerri metropolis and environs have no power supply, due to the rainstorm that occurred Thursday evening.
Businesses that required power to run their operations now have to bear the high cost of running the generators.
Public Affairs Officer of the Owerri District of the PHCN, Mr. Osita Ugwuafor, disclosed that Imo consumers of electricity owe about N1 billion, with the Imo State government and some public institutions taking the lead.
A consumer, Ambrose Amadi, urged government to beef up power supply.
“We want government to truly pay attention to the power sector. Please let them save us from unnecessary costs of running our businesses,” he said.
Source: The Guardian, 15th April 2012.
Imo State free education policy
THE declaration of free education at all levels for all students of Imo State origin by Governor Rochas Okorocha is a noteworthy measure, particularly in the South East zone where such official policy is perhaps the first of its type. If it is genuinely motivated and implemented with devotion, the state government may be at the threshold of making history. The governor has a duty to prove cynics of the policy wrong, and justify his promise to Imo citizens. The policy is aimed at all Imo students in state owned institutions.
Expectedly, the declaration has elicited jubilation and enthusiasm among people of the state particularly parents who, like their counterparts in other parts of the country, have difficulty in paying school fees. According to the governor, who announced the policy to a huge crowd at the Imo Freedom Square in Owerri, all students of Imo origin studying at the Imo State University would receive a scholarship of N100,000 annually. Out of this amount, N80,000 would be free while N20,000 would be loan repayable by the students after graduation and employment.
Similarly, polytechnics students at HND level will get N80,000 broken down into N60,000 free and N20,000 loan; OND level will get N60,000 broken down into N40,000 free and N20,000 loan. The governor had earlier declared free education in primary schools where students would receive N25,000 per annum; and secondary school where students are already receiving N100 stipend every day. All the loans are without collateral. The monies, the governor stated, would be paid with effect from next academic year (September 2012).
Against the backdrop of constitutional provisions enjoining all governments in the country to operate free education at all levels, the Imo government policy appears laudable and worthy of emulation by other states. Section 18 (1) of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels”. Sub-section (3) (a, b, c, d) state that “Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy through free, compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.”
However, those who have expressed reservation about the seriousness and ability of the state government to implement free education at all levels should not be discountenanced easily. The policy requires logistics and planning much beyond mere allocation of money, which appears to be the thrust of Governor Okorocha’s campaign. So far, there is no assurance that the money thus earmarked will go all the way in making the policy successful; and there is also not much on ground to assure the much-needed continuity.
Nevertheless, the government of Imo State can be taken to have started a worthy venture. The governor and his cabinet should recognise the immense responsibility they have given themselves, and strive to live up to expectation.
For a start, Imo State has practically lost its pride of place in male educational enrolment. It needs a progressive policy therefore to reverse its stage of backwardness.
The policy is an acceptance of the challenge posed by the notion in some quarters that free education at all levels is not possible in Nigeria. The governor, to meet this challenge, needs to assure the people of sustainable funding of the policy, beyond mere enthusiastic declaration that money is available. Part of this assurance is for government to spend wisely, avoid ostentation and curtail the size and cost of government. With transparency in the running of government, the state can avail itself of sufficient funds to carry out free education. There can be no room for corruption but prudent and judicious management of scarce resources.
If Nigeria is to be truly transformed in the near future, it must start with raising the literacy level through mass education, which is the bedrock for national development.
Governor Okorocha should therefore pursue this policy with diligence and commitment. There should be no playing of politics with it. The people would hold the governor by his word. As it were, the policy should be regarded as work in progress. Every governor should take education with the seriousness it deserves, rather than toy with as is largely the case now.
There should be an effective modality for disbursing money on the project, to avoid misapplication and fraud. Ideally, money should not be paid to parents and guardians to prevent them from misapplying same and leaving the students at home. Money should be disbursed towards the payment of school fees and other necessities of the students.
It is equally important that the programme is sustained into the future. The State House of Assembly should consider an enabling law to this effect.
Source, The Guardian, 23rd March 2012.
Gunmen kill 5 in Anambra
By Alphonsus Nweze, Awka
Gunmen on Tuesday went wild in Oba, Idemili South Local Government area of Anambra state as they killed five members of the Oba Local vigilance group who were said to be on patrol within the community even as over seven other passers-by were hit by stray bullets.
It was gathered that the armed robbers were said to have been trailing the vigilance group members for some time now, when they finally caught them at 8th Mile junction, on Oba Old Road and opened fire on them, killing five out of the six occupants of the van while one escaped with severe bullet wounds.
According to eyewitness who pleaded anonymity, the armed robbers had trailed the Hilux patrol van conveying the vigilance group members from a far place when they had gone out on routine patrol within the community at about 8.30am and finished them up with assorted dangerous weapons.
Our source said when the vigilante operatives finished their patrol, they drove down to the 8th mile when the robbers who were in a black Sports Utility Vehicle SUV (Infinity Jeep) stopped behind them and opened fire on them rapidly resulting to death of five of them whose bodies was shattered by bullets.
Among the robbers was a girl who was crushing AK47 and a boy holding AK47 and a machine gun which they used to open fire on the vigilante operatives vehicle.
Said our source "the girl was the one who told two motorcycle operators (Okada) to pass that they were not the people they were looking for, so the girl was just focusing her rifle on the van, emptying the magazine while the other boy was just watching their sides and also pumping the trigger rapidly at the vehicle. After they finished their mission, they entered the jeep, reversed and drove away unchallenged".
Daily Champion gathered that the robbers were more than five, as about three members of the gang were said to be at different strategic places, watching out for either police or any other external force.
Daily Champion gathered that the five members of the Oba vigilance group killed by the robbers were Nzube Obianyo, Uzodimma Onwuka, Stephen Onyedum, Oscar Emebo and Maduike whose corpses have been deposited at the Fah Hospital mortuary, Oba.
However, when contacted, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO), ASP Emeka Chukwuemeka confirmed the incident and said efforts were in top gear to arrest the gang that have unleashed terror in the state.
But speculation are rife in the State that the recent violent crime in the State may not be unconnected wit the absence of the police on the roads in the State, alleging that some criminal minded among them may have gone to laise with criminals to give impression that there can no peace and order without police on the road.
Source, Daily Champion, 22nd March 2012.
Court orders Shell to pay N4b to five Imo communities
FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT
A FEDERAL High Court in Port Harcourt has awarded N4 billion as general damages against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), in favour of five communities in Imo State for a crude oil spill that occurred in 1997.
A Shell pipeline which ruptured along the Egbema-Assa delivery line, had large volume of crude oil beneath the surface until the soil became saturated, and with rising water levels, oil was carried to the surface, destroying swamps, streams, forest of Umudike, Alimiri Umudike, Ekpe Agah, Ukpazizi Ekpe Mbede and Etekuru communities in Imo State.
Based on this, the communities led by Chief Sylvester Onyema Esiegwu (Eze-Ali Umudike-Egbema), 11 other chiefs on behalf of the communities, through their counsel , Mr. Lucius Nwosu (SAN) filed a suit No.FHC/PH/CS/159/2002, to demand special damages in the sum of N5,408,000.000 as compensation for immediate direct losses to their means of livelihood as assessed by their expert chartered Valuation Surveyors and itemised in their report.
Prior to the suit, a N900 million ex-gratia was made by Shell to the communities, for which they were compelled to sign an undertaking that the full and final settlement for the oil spill had been made.
Justice Gladys Olotu in her judgement, observed that looking at the documents presented by Shell in relation to the agreement, one might be tempted to agree with Shell.
But she stressed that by doing so, the course of justice will not be served.
And based on the fact that the word ex-gratia means favour and not right, Justice Olotu said the agreement with the communities cannot act as estoppel on their rights to claim adequate compensation.
While looking at the claims for the sum of N5.4 billion in special damages as compensation for the immediate direct losses to their means of livelihood as assessed by their experts, chartered valuation surveyors, the Judge declined to grant this based that it was not pleaded by the plaintiffs as required by law.
Instead, Justice Olotu ordered Shell to pay the sum of N4 billion as general damages for the indirect economic losses and negative environmental impact the communities suffered, including loss of objects of reverence, totems, historical land marks, air quality and associated fear and forced refugee status.
The court also granted the plaintiffs’ requested remediate of the communities’ environment to the pre-impact status. In addition, a perpetual injunction restraining Shell from causing such pollution in the future was slammed on the company.
Shell had in a bid to determine the cause of the spill which occurred on April 29, 1997, constituted a tripartite investigation team made up of 11 persons, five of whom were on its staff, one from the Department of Petroleum Resources, as well four persons from the communities.
In a report which Shell tendered in court as Exhibit 5, it was noted that the spillage incident was as a result of an external corrosion on the pipeline. In course of the trial, Shell presented an amended statement of defence, alleging that the spill was caused by sabotage.
But Nwosu had argued that a graphic examination of the point of rupture and the depth of the pipeline (buried seven metres) will show the impossibility of a saboteur accessing the point to punch the hole standing atop the buried pipeline from the earth’s surface above.
“From the graphic illustration attached, possibility is zero that a saboteur standing on the surface of the earth, using a punch can achieve a punch on the pipeline at an impossible angle such as the 4 o’clock position instead of the 12 o’clock or at the worst 2 o’clock position” he said.
The communities accused Shell of negligence, for failing to realise that the steel pipelines it buried underground in a tropical rain format environment is susceptible to rapid corrosion.
They also told the court that Shell ought to have reasonably forearmed that given the near stream and swamp topography under which the pipeline was laid, the natural tendency in the event of a spill will be unrestricted spill into the streams, the flood plains and flat lands characteristic of the Niger Delta and the service stream prevalent in the plaintiffs’ environment.
Source: The Guardian, 20th March 2012.
Oil spill: Court orders Shell to pay Imo communities N4b
By Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt
Justice Gladys Olotu of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday ordered the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to pay N4 billion as general damages to some communities in Imo State, for crude oil spillage.
The spill occurred on April 29, 1997.
Before filing the suit, a N900 million ex-gratia was made by Shell to the communities, for which they signed an undertaking that the full and final settlement for the oil spill had been made.
The affected communities are Umudike, Alimiri Umudike, Ekpe Agah, Ukpazizi Ekpe Mbede and Etekuru.
Shell’s pipeline ruptured along the Egbema-Assa delivery line, destroying the areas’ streams, swamps and forest, causing pollution and environmental degradation.
The communities, led by Sylvester Onyema Esiegwu and 11 others, through their counsel, Lucius Nwosu (SAN),filed the suit, demanding N5,408,000.000 as special damages, as assessed by their chartered valuation surveyors.
Justice Olotu said the course of justice would not be served, if she had to agree with Shell, based on the document corroborating the earlier agreement.
She reiterated that ex-gratia means favour and not right, stressing that the agreement with the communities could not stop their rights to claim adequate compensation.
The judge noted that the N4 billion would be for the indirect economic losses and negative environmental impact the communities had suffered, including loss of objects of reverence, totems, historical landmarks, air quality and associated fear and forced refugee status.
Experts’ report showed that the spillage was as a result of external corrosion on the pipeline, buried seven metres deep, but in the course of the trial, Shell alleged that the spill was caused by sabotage.
Source: The Nation, 20th March 2012.
Okorocha Hails Amaechi’s Performance on Infrastructure
Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has lauded the Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for his unequalled accomplishments in infrastructural development of the State.
Speaking in Port Harcourt yesterday during a grand reception organized in his honour by Imo Development Partners and Imo Indigenes in Rivers State, at the Community Secondary School, Nkpolu, Okorocha commended Amaechi for bringing democratic dividends to Rivers people.
"Your Excellency, I must take notice of the political, judicial and social indices of your performance in Rivers State… What you are doing in Rivers State has not been seen before... Thank you very much", Okorocha said.
Okorocha also commended the Rivers State Chief Executive for the role played by the Rivers State Government during the recent burial of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
"Imo and Rivers States share very close common boundary and the part that Governor Amaechi and I should play is to ensure that these two states become one in terms of road connection and all activities."
Amaechi assured his Imo State counterpart that he would collaborate with him for the common benefit of the people of the two states.
"We will continue to work together with the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha in areas we need to partner to develop together," Amaechi said.
Amaechi also pledged his administration’s support to those doing business in the state.
Source: This Day, 10th March 2012.
Owelle Rochas and Hon. Emeka Nwaorfo: Our Votes for You Was Not In Vain
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
Friday 10th February 2012
The joy of democracy for me is when politicians who are voted into elective offices ensure that those that elected them reap the benefit for electing them into office. Such benefit is not individually centered but people-oriented which is aimed at reducing the suffering of people, be it in skill acquisition, job creation, protection of life and property, road construction, which falls under infrastructural development among others. The crux of this piece is on the last but one – road construction.
The purpose of this piece is to inform not only Eziama and Ntu communities but also the entire Ngor/Okpala people living at home, and especially those living outside the shores of Nigeria that Owelle Ndi Imo is putting his money where his mouth is. This is sequel to his observation and promise to make sure that if voted into office, his administration will look into the poor nature of roads in the council area. My article captioned “Ngor/Okpala: A council area in need of development” published in some online media sites and in few print media outfits wherein I stated: ‘I remembered vividly the comment made by the current governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okoroha about the poor nature of Ngor/Okpala LGA roads when he was campaigning prior to the April 2011 gubernatorial election. The manner he spoke on the nature of roads in the area left no one in doubt that he will swing into action with a view to renovating and building new key roads which I had identified in my article titled “Barr. Enyinna Onuegbu and the challenge of Ngor/Okpala Council Area”. As at the time I wrote the former article, there was no concrete evidence to show that one or two roads are getting facelift from the governor.
This made me to aver thus in that piece: “Those who use the votes of Ngor/Okpala electorates to ascend to elective pinnacle should not ignore the council area by bequeathing on it lasting and commendable development projects not just to be remembered but also to be reelected in subsequent elections based on what they were able to achieve developmentally during their first tenure or risk the melancholic fate that befell the Ex-Governor, Ikedi Ohakim who campaigned vigorously in Ngor/Okpala to seek for votes and spent so much money but was shown the way out just for a change. The people from the council area are wiser ever than before as shown by what they did to Owelle Rochas’ predecessor during the supplementary elections and would not accept anything short of enduring developmental projects. The time to act is now”.
It is therefore noteworthy that he has started delivering on his campaign promise in the construction of roads. In my last but one piece with the title “Ngor-Okpala: Owelle Rochas on Course to Make Good his Promise”, I wrote ‘True to his promise, governor owelle rochas administration has commenced the construction of the road that runs from Umukabia to the Local Government Council located at Umuneke Ngor. While the people from the area commend him for this among other good plans he has for the council area given his philanthropic disposition and the remarkable, prominent and praiseworthy role majority of electorates from Ngor-Okpala played to put him in the Douglas House (State Government House) where he is today, he should ensure that the construction company handling the construction of the road delivers on target. It is important to observe here that it is one thing to commence the construction of road and another to complete it while adhering strictly to time, standards and specification. This observation is based on previous attempt made to construct the road by past administration but was abandoned”.
Optimistically, last week, the people of Umuodagu Ntu were beside themselves with joy when the current administration moved in its construction machine to the community, and without much ado, kick started the construction of the popular “Theo Road” named after late Theodor Amadi who created the initial footpath of the road from Umucham Ntu, a village in Ntu community to Elelem, a nearby community. The people of Umuodagu Ntu, which is made up of six villages could not hide their happiness as cheerful expression enveloped their countenance for what the state government through the influence of Hon. Emeka Nwaorfo has started to do for them. “Ama Theo” as the road is fondly called has never been remembered by past administration, it was therefore a moment of great joy for the inhabitants of the community to witness the maiden construction of the road.
Now that the road construction is at its early stage, it would be prudent to remind the state government as I did in my recent article to ensure prompt monitoring of the road construction so as to make sure that the contractor or construction company handling the project adhere strictly to standards and specification which informed the award of the contract, for anything contrary to this may not go down well with the people of the community. In addition, Owelle Rochas and Hon. Emeka Nwaorfo should as a matter of necessity extend road construction to other communities that make up the LGA in order to give them a sense of belonging, because it is not only people from Ntu community and others living along the road that leads to the local government headquarters that voted for you during the supplementary election last year. This among other developmental needs should be the duty of a responsible administration that has the interest of the people at heart. God bless Ngor/Okpala
Nwaorgu Faustinus writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Mobile: +2348035601312. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeal Court Upholds Okorocha’s Election
By Tobi Soniyi
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on yesterday dismissed the appeal brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the declaration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the winner of the supplementary governorship election conducted in Imo State on May 6th 2011.
The court presided over by Justice Tijani Abdulahi who led four other Justices of the court in a unanimous decision held that the PDP appeal lacked merit and was therefore dismissed.
The Court subsequently upheld the election of Okorocha of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Justice Abdulahi said: "After a careful consideration of the preliminary objection filed by the appellants, we hold that it lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. The appeal also lacks merit and also dismissed with N50, 000 cost against the appellant.
Justice Abdualhi said the reasons for the decision would be given on a date to be communicated to counsel in the suit.
Reacting to the court’s decision, the APGA National Chairman Chief Victor Umeh described the court’s decision as an affirmation of the will of the people.
Source: This Day, 8th January 2012.
Ngor/Okpala: - Non Acquisition of Textbooks among Public Schools’ Students and Other Challenges
By Nwaorgu Faustinus
The role textbooks play in the advancement and enlightenment of humanity cannot be over stressed especially in the education of public and private primary school pupils as well as their secondary school counterparts. Apart from being a veritable source of acquiring knowledge, it also serves as an invaluable medium for preparing public and private school students for both internal and external examinations as they burn the midnight oil in order to make good grades. Furthermore, students consult their textbooks when assignment or homework is given thus playing the role of an assistant in getting the assignment done.
But what has continued to agitate the minds of many observers of the issue at hand is the alarming rate of non possession or rather acquisition of textbooks by public and even private school students in Ngor/Okpala council area. Investigation by this writer showed that few students have Mathematics and English Language textbooks as a result of the importance teachers and parents attach to them. It is not an exaggeration that out of ten randomly picked students, only three or four have Mathematics or English Textbooks not to mention other subjects’ textbooks whose possession have become very rare. A visit to public schools and dispassionate assessment of the numbers of students that have textbooks will surely make the assessor sad.
Question: who is to blame for this state of affairs? No doubt, parents should be the ones to take the bulk of the blame as the provision of textbooks for their wards should be their responsibility. Poverty one of the vicissitudes of life, in addition to other family challenges has been adduced for the inability of most parents to purchase textbooks for the various subjects taught in schools. The situation most times prevent some public school students from solving their take-home assignment as there is no handy textbooks they can use as a guide, assistance or aid to get the assignment done. Often times such homework is left unattended as there is no textbook or willing individual or person knowledgeable that can assist them tackle such academic work.
The various tiers of government should not be excluded from the blame, for there are still public schools that have not received textbooks either from the state government or local government since the inception of democracy in 1999. A visit to some public school libraries will reveal a sad story of indifference by the state government and local government to equip them with contemporary textbooks for the students to use.
No doubt our parents and constituted authorities whose responsibility is to provide textbooks for their wards and public schools especially at the grassroots have failed, taking into cognizance the state of some of the libraries which is best described as abysmal. Needless to say that such state of affairs needs to be reversed for the better. Therefore, a proactive step should be taken by parents, state government and the local government with a view to providing textbooks for students and public schools’libraries. As an addition, public-spirited individuals, nongovernmental organizations and cooperate organisation touched by the seemingly appalling state of libraries in the council area can donate textbooks as part of their corporate social responsibility
Similarly, the state government led by Governor Owelle Rochas should as a matter of utmost importance employ teachers who will teach some subjects where teachers for such subjects are lacking. The above request has become imperative in view of complaint being made by students of some public secondary schools in the council area.
It is being alleged in some quarters that teachers deployed or transferred to schools that are far and located at the outskirts of some rural communities immediately work their transfer or deployment back to urban-based schools as a result of the availability of social and infrastructural facilities. But for how long will the government continue to tolerate such misdemeanour meted out to rural-based public schools and what is it doing to nip the trend in the bud? It behoves the appropriate authority charged with posting of teachers in rural areas to follow it up to ensure that those posted to rural schools do not influence their posting back to the state capital.
With the present upsurge in the population of public school students, especially in the rural areas brought about by the introduction of free education in Imo State by the current administration of Chief Rochas Okorocha, it has therefore become expedient to send teachers to schools where their services are urgently needed. I remember at the time I did a piece with the title, “Imo State Government: Save Amala/Ntu Secondary School from Total Rot” published in some online media that the above school among other schools need teachers that will teach a number of subjects that has no teachers to teach them. The ealier the state government do this the better.
God bless Ngor/Okpala.
Nwao(r)gu, Faustinus wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State and can be reached on 08035601312. Email:email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org
Insecurity; Okorocha Suspends Salaries Of 6 Monarchs
Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has directed the immediate suspension of the monthly salaries of all the traditional rulers in six local government areas of the state over what he termed “an increase in criminal activities” in their respective areas.
In a release signed by the senior special assistant to the governor on media, Chinedu offor, and made available to LEADERSHIP, the traditional rulers’ salaries were suspended, because they had failed to check the surge in crime in their respective communities.
The affected LGAs, according to the releases, are Orsu, Isu, Nwangele, Orlu, Oru West and Nkwere.
The governor also reiterates the commitment of his administration towards the protection of lives and properties of citizens of the state in line with his rescue mission agenda.
Source: This Day, 4th December 2011
Why Owerri Is Now Rated As Nigeria’s Dirtiest City
By Kenneth Uwadi
3rd December 2011
Owerri the capital ofImoStateinNigeriahas been named the dirtiest city inNigeriain a report published on Tuesday by Association of Waste Managers of Nigeria. Excrement in the street, graffiti, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and lack of sanitation exercises are the typical problems which Owerri city suffers, the report said. Another is the pure water sachets, cans, the mass booze-up, which brings hundreds of teenagers on to the streets at weekends, leaving litter strewn on streets. The report also stated that 88 percent of those questioned believed more public awareness of litter problems and regular cleanup exercise would have greater effect in Owerri .According to the report ,146 local authorities were contacted and it was discovered that each of the thousands of Imolites living in Owerri generates 1.5kg of rubbish per day and that only 5 percent of homes in Owerri have rubbish collection systems.
I am down and angry about this news. It is shocking to discover that for six months now the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha has not conducted the monthly cleanup exercise. Owerri is now rated the dirtiest city inNigeria. It is still fresh in our memory that by the first 100 days of the last administration of the state, Clean and Green policy and the New face of Imo program transformed Owerri into an admirably clean city. During the last administration, once in a month Imolites take part in a major cleanup exercise, picking up garbage, sweeping streets, sweeping roads, clearing away refuse, sorting bottles and so on.Thanks to an administration with a poor outlook on life, ignorance, laziness and nothing to gain by being clean, Owerri has become the dirtiest city. Governor Okorocha has cut Imo citizens out of their clean-up the environment responsibility and nobody seems to have the guts to say anything for fear of the governor’s attack dogs and for fear of being accused of fanning ambers of disunity in the state.
All it takes for evil to thrive in a society is for few good men to say nothing. All what we are saying is that our governor should face the task of governance and meet the people’s expectations. We demand that Okorocha should reintroduce the monthly sanitation exercise in the state. We demand that theImoStategovernment should find a way of stopping indiscriminate dumping of refuse in Owerri and if possible inaugurate a sanitation court to prosecute offenders. Owerri city is now refuse city as a result of poor waste management. Even people living outside Owerri now transport refuse into it and dump them along the roads.
We will also never stop demanding that Governor Okorocha should recall the sacked 10,000 legally employed Civil Servants in Imo state.The civil Servants were duly employed according to Imo State Civil Service Commission laws. There are laid down civil service rules to follow in the sack of any civil servant. We must follow the rule of law in governance for we operate democratic system inNigeria. The expectation of the working class inImoState,traders, keke riders and transporters was that Okorocha would usher in a government where citizens right will be protected under the provision of the constitution as against decree under military dictatorship. Six months into Owelle’s rule, we have begun to ask question: is there a rule of law? Illegal proclamations are being made in gross violation of democratic norms and the provisions of Nigerian Constitution.
The executive fiat announcement of the sack of 10,000 civil servants in Imo state by the governor is an abuse of executive powers. It portrays the government as being very insensitive to the plights of the masses and a non respecter of the rule of law. Section 17 sub 3(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states, “the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all citizens, without discriminations on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employments”. A governor that cannot provide employment for the youths of the state has no business in office.
-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State ,Nigeria