In the face of misgovernance in Imo I am at lost at the fanfare exhibited by the governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha just to celebrate 5 years of stagnant performance. It is all over the news that Governor El Rufai and some other governors came to Imo State to celebrate with Rochas Okorocha on his 5 years in office.
Of course the invited governors know that Okorocha is celebrating just to buoy his ego and selfish interests. The irony of this madness is that Owelle who should cover his face in shame for looting scarce resources of the State and for general non performance is the one dominating the Pages of Newspapers in Owerri in the name of 5 years in office.
As I write, his 5 years in office story is still running in several Newspapers in Owerri . Infact I noticed that so many newspapers in Owerri are daily singing his praise as a performing Governor while bill boards of several sizes are mounted all over the city with his smiling face when nothing tangible is on the ground in Imo State.
Unless you want to tell me that Imo state is only Owerri the state capital. The man now behaves like a resurrected Sani Abacha destroying people’s houses and properties in the name of development as if development in Imo is all about beautifying of the capital city of Owerri.
Ironically while the Government in Imo State under Rochas Okorocha is gloating over the air waves and on pages of Newspapers on his five years of ‘superlative’ achievement in office 26 out of the 27 LGA’s in the state are in comatose. Almost all roads in 26 LGA’s of Imo are in terrible condition, community secondary and primary school buildings are very bad while health centres have long been deserted due to poor personnel and funding.
As against the past situation where local councils provided some educational supports like giving out educational materials such as textbooks, note books, chalk, etc., to schools, most of the schools in the state lack these basic support. Since he came into power no new industries were built or rehabilitated while graduate unemployment has risen to a dangerous level.
The rising wave of kidnapping, armed robbery, child labour and graduate prostitution which is assuming a dangerous dimension in Imo is due to the vexed issue of unemployment ravaging the state. Where is the job! Job! Job in Imo ? Where is the Factory! Factory! Factory? Imo people are without jobs and graduates are riding keke.
This man who says he is working has refused to conduct local government election in Imo since the past 5 years and has been appointing people into the local government councils without elections. Is this not undemocratic and fraudulent? Funds and revenues of local governments are being diverted for pecuniary interests of the state government without the people being able to decide how funds allocated to the local councils are to be spent.
This has made the local councils and the services they provide to be at decrepit conditions. We now have the case of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves in Imo. In the past 5 years, over 300 billion naira had accrued to local councils in the state from the federation account without any account being given by the Okorocha led government that had monopolized the fund, in connivance with stooges appointed as caretakers.
This man who says he is working is owing workers salaries here and there. A civil servant spoke to me on phone saying “You people should help convey our plight to the governor. As you can see, it is 4 months now that I have not received any salary; others are being owed three months. Sometimes I trek to work. What is happening in Imo is bad”. IMSU workers and lecturers are on strike over unpaid salaries, Imopoly lecturers and workers are on strike due to unpaid salaries, yet Rochas is working.
What about pensioners? A pensioner while speaking to me, said he did not know where in the country pensioners are treated like they are being treated in Imo. According to him, in Imo State, pensioners have become outcasts and are being treated like ‘dogs’. He said the government has failed to pay their gratuity and pension for 34 months now adding that the Governor is fond of making unfulfilled promises.
Another pensioner who spoke with me said his father was a man of modest means who, while in service, was more concerned with living a good name than riches. Yet Imo government failed him by ‘refusing’ him his entitlement till he died. Now they are claiming they have the situation where there is no money to run government.
They say they now receive small allocation from the federal government. Can someone help me tell Okorocha that workers are not working for federal allocations but for the state and their employment letter did not state that their salaries will depend on federal allocations. What about when we were having heavy allocation?
This attempt to justify non-payment of salaries of workers on the ground of low federal allocation is horrible. This excuse is a way to introduce worse labour policies such as outright denial of payment of salaries, retrenchment of workers, among others.
We need not say here that the patience of Imo people appears to be running out and fast too, worse the legislature which should be the watch dog on the thieving executive is busy singing haleluyah vibes to the Governor.
I will talk about Imo House of Assembly next week. Now the Question on the lips of Imo People is “if Okorocha could not give account of 4 years with surplus money coming from here and there, now that he and his thieving cabal have battered the economy of Nigeria in terms of revenue what will be the fate of Imo from now till 2019 when Imolites will kick out these thieves.
Imo State a beautiful state blessed with fertile and productive landscape no doubt is “in chains” courtesy of rulers without vision. And we ask should Okorocha have celebrated 5 years in office in the face of all the sufferings of Imolites? Who will save Imo State from Okorocha who have since 2011 commandeered our common wealth and left us in chains.
We further ask ,when will sanity be restored in the Land of Hope and who will cut short this delayed take off of Imo to the path of sustainable growth and development. Who will remove the chains inflicted on Imo by Okorocha and his thieving cabal, only time will tell
* Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria