|Okorocha(r) And Uwajimogu|
By Kenneth Uwadi
Ali Baba is a character from the medieval Arabic literature; Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In the story Ali Baba encountered 40 thieves and later became their leader. Let me now talk about the Ali Baba of Imo State of Nigeria and his 27 thieves. The Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha is the Ali Baba of Imo State and Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu, the Speaker of Imo state House of Assembly and members of the Assembly are the 27 thieves.
The 13 percent oil derivation fund of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta , funds accruing to the 27 LGA funds in Imo State and the 400 million naira flood money of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta flood victims have been looted.
The Imo State House of Assembly has connived with Ali Baba , aided and abetted gross financial impropriety in Imo state and that is why I am calling them the 27 thieves. Who doesn't know that the past government of Chief Ikedi Ohakim left a total sum of N26.27billion in various bank accounts of the state namely: Balance of Imo bond proceeds in UBA Plc “ N13.3billion; SUBEB project accounts with Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank Ltd) “ N3billion; VAT account in Zenith Bank Plc “ N488million; Internally generated Revenue account with Zenith BANK Plc “ N450million; Local Government Joint project account with Bank PHB “N2.5Billion; Agric Loan Account with Access Bank Plc “ N500million; Fertilizer sales account with Oceanic Bank Plc “ N250million; JAAC Account with Bank PHB “ N3.6billion; MDG Projects accounts with Fidelity Bank Plc “ N500million; Education Trust Fund (ETF) with Zenith Bank “ N1billion and Imo Children Education Funds “ N670million. The Total sum isN26.27 billion .
Where is the money? The entire N26.27billion has been criminally squandered by Chief Uwajumogu and Governor Okorocha. Suffice to say that this is a clear case of crass abuse of office, criminal conspiracy and outright stealing of public funds which should attract very serious sanctions yet the speakers media aide has the mouth to call me names. In a propaganda to paint "all is well" picture of Imo State, Governor RochasOkorocha of Imo State is always on Africa Independent Television (AIT ) and Channel TV to buoy his ego and selfish interests. The irony of this madness is that our governor who should cover his face in shame for looting the resources of Imo State is the one dominating television stations and the pages of Newspapers showing fake transformation in Imo State when nothing tangible is on ground in the 27 Local government of Imo State.
It is regrettable that rather than check the executive arm, the Imo state House of Assembly is criminally colluding with the executive in fraudulent diversion of billions of Imo people’s money. Who doesn’t know how Okorocha and Chief Uwajumogu criminally shared n45billion and n28billion loans illegally secured with Imo LGA’s allocations. In the past, LGA funds in Imo State was used to develop certain vital social services in the grass root like education, health care and key investments on infrastructures like water, electricity, roads, industries, etc, all which severally and collectively positively impacted on the living standard of the ordinary working masses in the grassroots areas .
In sharp contrast, the current Okorocha’s so-called government, acting under the dictates and or in concert with imperialism has completely jettisoned the idea of government using local government funds and resources to better the lots of the local councils Instead; it has adopted a whole scale capitalist, neo-liberal strategy of looting of council funds. Currently there are no single developments going on in the 27 LGA’s of the state. Lack of basic amenities have made these LGA’s a ghost environment. Thanks to Okorocha and Uwajumogu.
Uwajumogu’s media aide should know that we know the various schemes perfected by Okorocha and Uwajumogu to unwholesomely divert public funds and in fact share public funds among themselves as largesse. They also go through phantom award of road contracts without any contract documents. Many road projects in Imo state don’t have project design, no advertisement were placed, no bidding, no bills of quantities and specifications, no tender at all, no evidence of prequalification of contractor , no provision for the project in the State budget.
A breakdown of the allocation to states of the federation shows that Imo State got over N127 billion between 2011 and 2013, this exclude the N135 billion accrued to the 27 local governments area in Imo State within the same period. This also exclude the N16 billion which is 13 percent Oil derivation fund for Imo State oil producing areas within the same period.13 percent oil derivation to Imo oil areas is 500 million naira a month. Where are the monies? Yet some persons want us to keep quiet.
It is an open secret that the dishonorable speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly awarded road construction contracts in the state and even installed his own Asphalt plant in Owerri from where almost all the asphalt used in the construction in the state are procured. Similarly, most of the dishonorable members of the Imo State House of Assembly abandoned their legitimate legislative duties and are in a mad rush to build hotels in Owerri such as the magnificent hotels being built by Honourable Mrs. Eudora Igwe, member, representing Ideato North State Constituency and Honourable Amuka (AKA Oshimiri), member, representing Ideato South state constituency. Uwajumogu himself has completed two hotels in Owerri and Lagos and renovated the one in Umuahia with Imo tax payers money.
The financial rot in Imo State is enormous. Most Imo state money yielding corporations have been sold or leased to the governor for little or nothing in contravention of the Imo State Investment Promotion Agency Law. Part of Imo Hotel leased to Okorocha, Ada Palm sold to Okorocha for N3.5Billion, 18 General Hospitals sold to Lantech Solutions, Imo Transport Corporation leased to Global Ginikana Ltd for N250 million, Both Concorde Hotel and Oguta Lake Motel leased for 20 years to ABM Global Nigeria Ltd. Enough looting in the state.
Since the inauguration of Chief Okorocha’s -led administration on the 29th of May, 2011, its conducts and attitude towards the working people of Imo State have clearly shown that his regime is nothing but a monumental waste.
First among the anti-workers actions of the Okorocha’s government was the sack of 10,000 Imo Civil servants. Close to three years after Okorocha wickedly sacked 10,000 Imo workers in order not to pay wages, he has shamelessly launched IMO YOUTHS MUST WORK programme, a programme where he boast to employ 11,000 Imo youths under a slave-driving casualization of workers scheme. With the IMO YOUTHS MUST WORK programme ,he plans to place the employees as casual workers and give them a poverty wage and not allow them to join trade union. They are to be paid a ridiculous amount of N10,000 out of which N2,000 will be allegedly deducted as tax. The height of the anti-worker disposition of Chief Okorocha’s -led administration is the continued refusal to fully implement the paltry N18, 000 minimum wage which has been signed into law since March 25th, 2011 and the continuous refusal to absolve workers of Imo state that were sent home from Abia state civil service.
Here we are, almost three years of this administration and we are seeing unleashing of attacks on pay and conditions of workers, petty traders, road side mechanics, other artisans and unemployed youths are now groaning under brutal attack on their means of livelihood. In the name of beatification at strategic places while the interior and inner roads are deplorable, buildings mainly used for different purposes like churches, houses, and shops in many parts of Owerri are demolished without any provision of alternative.
Reminiscent of the inglorious era of military absolutism where culture of fear and intimidation is often imposed on the people, Chief Okorocha’s -led administration through the service of some gangs of uniformed thugs who masquerade as Government monitoring team has continued, under the guise of beautification and cleaning-up project, to use brute force to subject thousands of small traders and artisans at different areas of owerri to all forms of harassment and physical assault.
To intensify the attack on the living condition of the suffering masses, the government introduced different extorting policies through levy, tax, fees etc. In Owerri, heavy taxes are imposed on houses, banks, hotels and shops in the name of Physical Planning and Infrastructural Development Fund. Worse still, the government does not use its legitimate machinery to collect these fees. It rather employs the services of thugs who do not only intimidate people but also wreak havoc in the process. A sanitation fee is forcefully collected from people who dispose wastes themselves in the nearest bush but have never set their eyes on a government waste bin van. Yet, there has been nothing fundamentally to show for the infrastructure levy collected from the masses.
We call on workers, students, writers, bloggers, the youth, peasant farmers, artisans, professionals, traders and other sections of the working people of Imo State to join us as we speak out against the looting of Imo State treasury by the capitalist non performing military governor of Imo State in civilian clothing Chief Rochas Okorocha . Save us Oh God.
(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria)