Last week I told you that I will reveal the funds of Owerri West LGA that was squandered by Governor Rochas Okorocha.The Owerri West Local Government Council in Imo State of Nigeria was created by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1996, with the headquarters at Umuguma. This Local Government area is located at the Rain Forest Zone about 120 kilometers North of the Atlantic Coast and Shares boundaries with Ngor Okpala Local Government in the South, Owerri Municipal Council by the East, Mbaitoli Local Government by the North, and Ohaji Egbema Local Government by the West.Owerri West LGA has places like Oforola, Umuoma Nkede, Emeabiam, Okolochi, Obinze, Obinze, Avu, Umuguma, Umudibia Nekede, Ohii, Amakohia-Ubi, Ihiagwa, Eziobodo, Umuokpo Emeabiam, Irette, Okuku, Umunwoha (Orogwe).
If you visit the areas mentioned that make up Owerri West LGA you will notice the level of poverty and unemployment in the area. The standard of education in this council area has gone down to an alarming rate, just like amenities such as safe water, good roads, basic heath care are none-existent in the area. Yet 4.7 billion naira came into Owerri West LGA from May 2011 to December 2013 as FG allocation. What happened to the 4.7 billion naira? The money developed wings.This money would have developed this area a great deal if it was not squandered by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
But the people of Owerri zone ( Owerri West, Owerri North , Owerri Municipal)played important roles in the enthronement of Governor Rochas Okorocha. I remember when clad in shinning white buba with red cap to match , Owelle Rochas Okorocha approached a waiting crowd in Owerri asking for their support. It was the 2011 electioneering period in Imo state of Nigeria. With the confidence of his gift of gab, his chest heaved as he spoke to the crowd ' I will change your life if you vote for me as the governor of Imo state. I will employ thousands of our youths within my first 100 days in office. I am on a rescue mission. Imo must be better' he said.
The words rescue mission immediately gained currency in the Imo state political lexicon. ' I am on a mission to rescue Imo from the shackles of poverty and under-development. Vote for me as your governor' he continued. The crowd swayed like blades of grasses on a field and chanted with happiness, Owelle !! Owelle!!! .
Emotions swelled to the tunes of his utopian promises. Like a malignant tumour it spread through the heads of the people. Promises of better future clouded the eyes of the people of Imo State. Chants of Ikiri must go rented the air.The people marched with Owelle into the streets of Owerri shouting ' Okorocha ka anyi ge so’
His sweet talks paralyzed the minds of the people .His sugar coated mouth blinded the eyes of the people as he took a Keke ride through the streets of Owerri. Upon jumping into a Keke he stamped a false credential of a grass root man. Every Keke operator in Imo State by this simple cheap gesture convinced himself that the emergence of Owelle will alleviate the economic problems of the down trodden masses.
Riding high, on the ' Keke' with his sham posture as the leader and speaker for the masses, Okorocha approached the Naze material market ,bought akara from a street trader which he gulped with sachet water. This act sent all the masses abuzz. These gimmicks became subject of conversation in every gathering of Imo people in the capital city of Owerri. Of course he was voted in as the executive governor of Imo State so that he can work the talk.
But more than 3 years after, what Okorocha has compensated Owerri West is looting of their council funds.The high expectations of Owerri West for real positive change in their lives have been shattered. The state of things in the council is a direct reflection of Okorocha’s commitment to enslaving the people, a situation reminiscent of biblical Israelites in bondage in Egypt. Nothing is fundamentally working out; no light, no water, no security, no social infrastructure, in fact no life. One man has squandered 4.7 billion naira that came to Owerri West from May 2011 till Deceember 2013. Now this same one man wants us to vote for him again in 2015. Ndi Owerri West is this fair? He looted our LGA funds, he deprived us democracy at the grass root yet he wants us to democratically elect him again as governor in 2015. Who is fooling who here?
From May 2011 to December 2011 Owerri West LGA received from FG as allocation the sum of N1,212,414,617.73 . Where is the money? From January 2012 to December 2012 Owerri West LGA received from FG as allocation the sum of N1,710,664,045.91. Where is the money? From January 2013 to December 2013 Owerri West LGA received from FG as allocation the sum of N1,859,480,401.52 making a total of N4,782,559,065.16 (from 2011 to 2013) Where are all the monies?
I am speaking out and they want to silence me. They have introduced political gangsterism, over dose of intolerance , crass and unmitigated anger. One man now behaves as if he is a resurrected Sani Abacha all in a bid to silence critics. Iwuoha has been thrown into jail alongside his wife since 3rd of June 2014 on trumped up charges. The Imo State Police Command under Mr Abdulmajid Ali has offered themselves as a vehicle to execute the illegalities of Governor Rochas Okorocha and Speaker Benjamin Uwajumogu as they continually use the police to harass and intimidate me. My only crime is that i said “stop looting our monies’’ For telling them to stop looting our LGA funds, they want to jail me. Ndi-Imo is this fair? Ndi-Owerri West is this fair?
In my next article,I will talk about Owerri North LGA funds. Find below the breakdown of money for Owerri West LGA’s from May 2011 to December 2013 that was squandered by Governor Okorocha and his LGA caretaker chairman.
May 2011 N94,577,037.92
June 2011 N126,495,452.63
July 2011 N225,341,245.97
Aug 2011 N130,820,020.12
Sept 2011 N132,976,448.76
Oct 2011 N155,506,921.02
Nov 2011 N213,049,916.71
Dec 2011 N133,647,574.60
Jan 2012 N150,927,964.93
Feb 2012 N133,740,618.48
March 2012 N167,240,465.14
April 2012 N134,906,216.10
May 2012 N125,029,160.26
June 2012 N125,172,681.33
July 2012 N119,204,241.10
Aug 2012 N154,188,871.39
Sept 2012 N119,403,896.27
Oct 2012 N117,794,933.84
Nov 2012 N156,016,459.57
Dec 2012 N207,038,537.50
Jan 2013 N155,034,856.44
Feb 2013 N126,671,643.89
March 2013 N167,240,465.14
April 2013 N158,811,634.85
May 2013 N168,505,765.27
June 2013 N174,215,508.29
July 2013 N132,633,667.98
Aug 2013 N155,875,946.23
Sept 2013 N132,530,179.43
Oct 2013 N119,403,896.27
Nov 2013 N155,506,921.02
Dec 2013 N213,049,916.71
-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State,Nigeria
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:
Why 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.
THE Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has urged Ndigbo to change strategy and be more business-like to produce the president in 2015. Okorocha, in an interview, denied insinuations that the Igbo race is being alienated from the 2015 presidential race.
According to him: “Nigerians are not alienating the South-East from that race instead Ndigbo are alienating themselves from the race.
“They have not developed enough confidence in pursuing the cause. They have not taken it as a business.”
The governor, who contested for the highest office, advised Ndigbo to work towards presenting a capable candidate instead of banking on the appeal of marginalisation.
He noted that marginalisation against the Igbo race is true but may not persuade others to concede the presidency to the region.
“Nobody can donate presidency to you because you are Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba,” he said, adding that it is the quality of the candidate that will convince voters.
Okorocha said the crisis within the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) was only temporary, explaining that the leaders of the party are working hard to resolve it.
He also denied insinuations that his relationship with Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has gone sour.
”I am very close to Obi. He is a brother to me. I also accord him the honour of being in APGA before me. I am just a newcomer. All I do is to give advice.”
On the allegation that APGA cannot produce a presidential candidate in 2015, Okorocha said: “Every political party has the right to produce a presidential candidate. So, nobody can deny any party that right. Any party that is not able to produce a presidential candidate should be de-registered.”
Sam Egburonu, is the Associate Editor of The Nation. This article first appeared at The Nation.
In a life of a nation there comes a time that self-doubt and civilization break down obstructs a nation’s progress. Without mincing words, this is the place Nigeria has found herself. Nigeria needs men and women of good will and patriots to save the nation from rusting and delving into oblivion.
And here comes to the scene a son of the soil, His Excellency Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha: A patriot, philanthropist and statesman who have offered a helping hand in salvaging a grumbling Imo State. Before he became the governor of Imo State, he has been known for his good works, benevolence and the helping of the poor masses of Nigeria. He is a detribalized Nigerian who has adopted the entire country as a theater for his good works.
Governor Rochas Okorocha with his personal wealth has built secondary and tertiary institutions in the every section of Nigeria geo-political zones offering free tuition and boarding to underprivileged class. Now as he marched into the political arena and was elected a governor, his approaches to governance never stop amazing Nigerians. While many political leaders are languishing in mediocrity and incompetence, Governor Okorocha has ushered action-orientated and pragmatic governance based on discipline, efficiency and love of country.
Governor Rochas Okorocha just barely one and half years in government has charted a new course of performance. He is transforming Imo state, building roads, bridges and social infrastructures including a verifiable scholarship to all citizens of his state. He has become a can-do leader and has commenced to restore hope, joy and pride in the citizens of Imo state. Now his reputation as a visionary leader is ringing a bell beyond the borders of Imo State.
Okorocha is the first and only governor in Nigeria to offer employments to qualify disabled citizens of Imo State.
For his immense contribution to Nigeria well being especially in Imo State, he has been noticed by both local and foreign media. His popularity, love of country and fairness has made the once aloof masses into enchanted admirers but it has also brought a lot of ill-feelings from his contemporaries. For where there was no road, he built one and where there is no water, he provided drinkable tap water.
Nigeria and Africa are proud for his contributions to the United Nations millennium development goals in Imo state, which have exposed his administration to international bodies and global media.
Governor Rochas Okorocha is an old fashion politician whose love for God, family and country is unshakable. . Nigeria and Africa needs a man of integrity like him to correct the mistakes of the past and present leaders.
For his vision, transformational and affirmative leadership in Imo state and Nigeria, The board and staff of AFRIPOL Organization chose His Excellency Governor Rochas Okorocha as the PERSON OF THE MONTH.