In Imo, Probe of Okorocha’s Administration is Imminent
Amby Uneze writes that the plethora of petitions and protests by different groups of Imo people impressing on Governor Emeka Ihedioha the urgent need to probe the immediate past administration of Rochas Okorocha cannot be swept under the carpet
One of the strong campaign promises of candidates of various political parties prior to the 2019 governorship election in Imo State was to probe Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration. Except the candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Uche Nwosu, who was Okorocha’s candidate and son in-law who vowed to continue Okorocha’s legacy, there was an unwritten consensus among those who sought to occupy Douglas House to probe Okorocha, if any of them wins the governorship election.
From the over 70 candidates of political parties, Imo people were keen to pick from among them the man with the Midas touch, who could keep his words as his bond. Having considered his track record of quality service, many of them cast their lot on Ihedioha. It is on record that he had been the Number Six citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the past, where he discharged his duties without fear or favour. From the first day of his campaign, Ihedioha was the only candidate Okorocha was afraid of, because he boldly stated his intention to bring back all Imo property allegedly looted by Okorocha and his family members.
Since his assumption of office as Governor of Imo State, courtesy of the popular votes Imo electorate gave him, several petitions have been place on his, even as many protests by groups trooping to Government House, Owerri on a daily basis urging the state government to probe the administration of Rochas Okorocha.
Among the prominent groups that have implored Governor Ihedioha with calls to immediately start the probe of Okorocha are the lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly. The lawmakers have called for investigation into the conversion of Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) premises located at Orji, near Owerri, the state capital to Rochas Foundation College.
Uche Ogbuagu, member representing Ikeduru State Constituency who moved the motion during plenary urged his colleagues to summon Okorocha’s aides to appear before the House to explain why the government asset was converted to private use.
He said, “some government land, particularly the IBC quarters, Orji, was converted into private use with the name; Rochas Foundation College, many individuals were equally dispossessed of the interest of their land by the immediate past governor of Imo State.
“It shall be in the interest of justice to recover all the government land unlawfully converted to private use and also return all land unlawfully grabbed from individual owners to their legitimate owners. That the government
officials at ministry of lands, particularly, the director and others be summoned to appear before the executive session of the House to give account of their stewardship,” he said.
The lawmakers said that posterity would not forgive them if they did not recover the land from Okorocha. The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Collins Chiji instructed the Clerk of the House, to invite Okorocha’s aides to appear before the executive session of the house after the motion was adopted
Again, the Association of Imo State Indigenous Town Unions and student groups at another occasion prevented the state governor, Emeka Ihedioha from accessing the Government House to register their demand that the former governor, Rochas Okorocha be probed.
The protesters who displayed placards with various inscriptions demanded that the immediate past governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha be probed.
They were of the view that, Okorocha, his wife and family members allegedly plundered the resources of the state within the eight years he held sway.
President of the Imo State Indigenous Town Unions, Emeka Diwe, who presented the grievances of the group in a letter to the governor, said that under the Okorocha’s administration, public assets were allegedly converted into private use.
He said, “The eight years that Okorocha held sway as Governor of Imo State were characterized by unprecedented and unbridled plunder of our common patrimony.
“We are the leadership of the Association of Imo State Indigenous Town Unions (AISITU) in collaboration with Orluzurumee, Olu Owerri, Olu Okigwe, Amalgamation of Imo Professional Associations (AIPA), the students unions and the various youth groups in the state. We are concerned and indeed compelled to protest and make this demand on Governor Emeka Ihedioha to act because we represent the vast majority of the poor and defenceless citizens of Imo State at grassroots who suffer the greatest impact of bad governance.
“During the ruinous misrule of Okorocha, Imo went through a sort of untold financial hemorrhage, as resources were frittered away and public assets looted and converted to private use.
“As if that was not enough, Okorocha so cruelly plunged the state into irredeemable debt slavery to the tune of over N200 billion, a debt stock that will remain unpayable even by 10 generations unborn.
“Yet under the watch of Okorocha, the bailout funds to Imo State inexplicably disappeared at the residence of his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, and he neither budged nor stirred.
“Worse still, allocations to the 27 local government areas of the State were hijacked and looted, and the system stifled and made moribund. On this note, we wish to inform the Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, that we deeply appreciate his innovative approach to the Imo Local Government system which now makes the Local Government Areas of the state have their complete monthly allocations.
“Staggering sums were voted for the construction of supposed general hospitals which never saw the light of the day. Revenue-spinning investments of the state, notably the Concorde Hotels and Adapalm were sold to unknown investors and at unknown rates,” the group stated.
According to them, internally generated revenues (IGR) of the state were literally handed out to family and friends and on a monthly basis nearly N1 billion disappeared through that channel, even the civil servants got their salaries slashed by 30 to 40 percent. Imo pensioners, men and women who expended their youth, their brain and their brawn in service of the state, were left unpaid for nearly 60 months and they died in their 10s on a daily basis.
“These senior citizens were subjected to the most excruciating torture by Okorocha so much so that even their three chairmen died in quick succession holding dud cheques in their hands. These pensioners are still dying till date. Indeed, Imo had a Governor that was any other creature but than human. We therefore call on Governor Ihedioha to kindly intervene to save our pensioners from further deaths.
“We are worried beyond words that till this moment not so much has been done by the Government of Ihedioha, pertaining to the general cries that all which were looted by Okorocha should be recovered and reassigned to serve collective purposes.
“We enjoin the Governor to entrust this recovery process into the hands of persons of credibility and integrity,” they stressed.
The governor had continued to hinge on the demands of the people by insisting that his administration was sensitive to public opinions had been assuring the people that their demands would be looked into but commended Imo citizens for not taking the law into their hands.
He said, “we are happy that you did not take law into your hands. Ours is a responsible government. We would take deliberate steps in looking into your demands and grievances.
“We told Imo people that we will govern with the fear of God. I want to use this medium to reach out to our senior citizens that we are taking serious attention towards resolving issues concerning their unpaid pensions. We have a committee that is working day and night on it. Once their report is out we begin the payment,” he stated
Since the beginning of his administration three months ago, Governor Ihedioha has applied due process in dealing with governance, which is the only way to go about it. Consultation on how to rebuild the state with Imo people so as to bring back the lost glory and put the state in the fore front among the comity of states in the federation, in the area of development and good governance is the preoccupation of the governor.
Deeply worried about the perennial flooding of the state capital, Owerri, Ihedioha has engaged with relevant professionals ranging from Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigeria Institute of Architects, Nigeria Institution of Town Planners, environmentalists and the media in reviewing and coming up with solutions on how to revert and if possible review the Owerri master plan which was destroyed by the immediate past government. Imo people are extremely excited with their involvement and inclusion in government activities which had eluded them in the past eight years.
Among the prominent groups that have implored Governor Ihedioha with calls to immediately start the probe of Okorocha are the lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly. The lawmakers have called for investigation into the conversion of Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) premises located at Orji, near Owerri, the state capital to Rochas Foundation College