No doubt, Shaka Momodu is one of the fine writers in this country. His column, “THIS REPUBLIC” that appears on the back page of the THISDAY Newspaper on Fridays had gone out of circulation for some time, until Friday, October 30, 2015 when he wrote again with the caption “OKOROCHA PUTS IMO IN CHAINS”. And with the glaring anger which he wrote, the suspicion on our part was that he just came to do that piece for reasons best known to him, and perhaps continue from there.
READ ALSO: Okorocha puts Imo in chains, by Shaka Momodu
It also calls for concern that Shaka’s essay on Okorocha that Friday, came, 24 hours after the Supreme Court had given judgment in his favour by dismissing the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, challenging the earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal that had upheld the ruling of the election petitions tribunal dismissing Ihedioha’s petition against the election of Governor Okorocha. With the contents of Shaka’s work, it was very clear that he had written in anger. And the anger could have arisen from either the PDP candidate’s loss at the Supreme Court or from Owelle Okorocha’s victory at the Supreme Court. This claim might be wrong, but it could explain our effort at locating what must have provoked Shaka to the extent of describing a man he had never had any personal dealing with, as “deceptive”. In fact, the first three paragraphs of the article in question, were all abuses on the Imo governor.
And they were all uncalled for, because the fine writer would have also made his points without the insults or abuses. That was one of the issues that had heightened our worries. At least, having starved his readers/fans of his good essays for a long time, he would have begun his first outing after the break with an apology to such folks and then navigate. He just picked his pen and began the attack Okorocha. Or, did Shaka wake up that day from the “left hand side”.
Again, most of the things Shaka wrote about Governor Okorocha and his government were totally false. An indication too that the wrong person or an opponent of the governor must have briefed him since he had not been to the state at least in recent time and seems not to have had interest in following events in the state. He only wrote those things he felt or was told Governor Okorocha could not do, but didn’t even say one thing which Okorocha had done as governor. With all that Shaka wrote, he was saying that for the more than four years Okorocha has been governor, he just sat in Owerri doing nothing. For those who have been sincerely and objectively following developments in Imo State since Okorocha became governor, they would know that Shaka Momodu was very stingy with the truth about Okorocha and his government in Imo.
Shaka condemned the achievements of Governor Okorocha being advertised on CNN. He also frowned on the governor’s trip to Turkey with Imo born industrialists and business men. He equally accused the governor of non-performance, financial recklessness and mentioned some of the roads they told him were very bad in the state among other accusations. Indeed, it was also disturbing that in a lengthy article of that nature, Shaka could not find it worth mentioning, one project Okorocha had done or one achievement of his government, even the widely acknowledged and applauded free education programme of his administration from primary to the university, which all men and women of good tidings have continued to commend.
We want to put Okorocha into Shaka’s dock and prove his innocence of all the accusations and see whether he would free him from all the charges or not. Shaka may have his own impression about Governor Okorocha, but one fact remains vivid about the man. He has an indisputable straight-forward life. Most Nigerians who know him and who had had dealings with him would attest to this claim. In all his business life and political life and considering the extent he has gone in life, no Nigerian, dead or alive had complained about Okorocha. Shaka has stood out now as the first and only Nigerian who said that Okorocha’s appearance was deceptive. Just like his being the first Nigerian also to accuse the government of Okorocha of non-performance. Even his worst political enemies or opponents in the state have never said that about him and his government.
It may interest Shaka to hear that Governor Okorocha’s government in the state has in less than five years achieved what the PDP governments in the state for 12 years could not achieve and what no past government in the state whether military or civilian had achieved. We stand to be challenged or contradicted on this claim. Let the PDP administrations in the state for 12 years publish all they achieved, for Nigerians like Shaka to see and let Rochas publish his own, and with verifiable facts like earlier stated. Shaka was not in the state and he is not a spirit, and from all indications, he was not following or monitoring reports from the state with all he wrote, which means, he must have had his source on some of the claims he made. Let anybody who had governed the state who feels that he had achieved more than Okorocha indicate or publish his achievements and let Okorocha do the same, for Nigerians to judge.
Before the election, some of the governorship candidates in the state had gone to some of the countries in the world including America, and United Kingdom telling lies to Imo people in Diaspora about Okorocha and his government. And the governor vowed to show-case his achievements to keep no Imo man or woman either in Nigeria or outside Nigeria in doubt of his monumental achievements as the governor of the state. These achievements were what Shaka saw on CNN. He didn’t question or doubt any of the projects he saw on CNN, but was only keen on what he thought could be the financial involvement. Yet, he accused Governor Okorocha of non-performance after all he saw on CNN, which means, he had his area of interest in doing his piece. Those achievements he saw on CNN are projects of Governor Okorocha. And they were not even all.
On the Turkey trip, one had expected Shaka to commend Okorocha for taking Imo indigenes to that country on business trip, because apart from the investment aspect, capacity building or exposure of the citizenry should also be the concern of every sensitive and responsible government. Governor Okorocha is very buoyant in vision and ideas, and these two factors have been his magic. Let Shaka go to the Debt Management Office and see how much Imo State is owing under Governor Okorocha and publish his discovery. He will begin to appreciate the governor and then know that he didn’t have the correct information on Imo.
On the issue of salary which he made reference to, the truth is that for the first four years of Governor Okorocha, nobody heard about workers’ salaries and allowances in the state because he was paying them as at when due, until recently when every state began to complain. And as I write, the civil servants, teachers and local government workers have been paid up to the month of September. That of October is at the verge of being paid.
The only people who have some issues to iron out with the government are health workers, judiciary workers and some workers in selected parastatals that the government took exception to certain allowances the prevailing economic situation in the country now which Imo State is part of, does not warrant again. As a result, the affected workers refused to collect their salaries. The government and the labour leaders in the state have been meeting on the issue to reach a consensus.
For the avoidance of doubt, Okorocha’s government has more than 1000 kilometres of rural roads and more than 300 kilometres of urban roads to his credit. There is no local government in the state that does not have at least 15 kilometres of road. In terms of infrastructure, Okorocha stands out.
Governor Okorocha has more than 1000 projects to his credit littered all over the state. Let Shaka challenge us to send the list to him for verification. The truth is that the projects Shaka saw on CNN are real and can be verified. He should challenge us on them. And if he didn’t like the ones shown on CNN for any reason what of the ones on Channels TV and so on? We want to be challenged on our achievements or on our claims. Okorocha has dwarfed those before him in the Douglas House with his landmark achievements and let anybody with contrary claim or record indicate for comparison. Then we take off from that point.
- Mr. Onwuemeodo is the Chief Press Secretary to the Imo State Governor (Thisday)