|Governor Okorocha of Imo State|
By Kenneth Uwadi
Two months ago the mass of Imo poor and oppressed working people, including pensioners trooped out in thousands to emphatically reject the nonpayment of salaries and pension in the state via street protests and other forms of demonstrations. Governor Okorocha could not pay pension and salaries because he plunged Imo state into total indebtedness and financial crisis through implementation of policies that diverted public funds to private pockets of rich few in the state and beyond. The so-called china road projects that he even managed to embarked upon when he came into power in 2011, aside being inflated are today abandoned and uncompleted. Worse still all infrastructures in the 27 LGA of the state are in deplorable conditions due to his conscious refusal to allow election at the local government areas in the state.
When he saw the mood of anger among the poor working masses in virtually all the nooks and crannies of the state he led some governors to ask President Buhari for a bailout fund. When the bailout funds for Imo came and with the kind of person he is ,what did he do? He travelled immediately to Turkey with part of the money alongside over 100 others including all members of the zombie Imo State House of Assembly headed by Rt Hon Acho Ihim to take pictures of boys and girls in Yankee , crippling the activities in the state . This is the same governor who was complaining of lack of funds to pay salaries and pension in the state that decided to spend millions of naira in unnecessary oversea trip and entertainment of friends and political associates.
They took time off to smell the roses and cognacs in Turkey with our bailout money. They claimed to have gone to negotiate business deals with some dubious investment outfits in Yankee. Embarking on such travel with our bailout funds at the time when workers were starving in the state shows that Okorocha has deliberately been promoting policies where the majority of Imo people wallow in poverty while he and other capitalist thieves in government will be smiling to the banks both locally and internationally. Oga I hail o! na your turn ! .It is good and commendable that you spend valuable hours gallivanting the country and the globe, instead of wasting your time attending to the needs of the state and our people. The more you travel the more developed Imo state will become.
Today in Imo despite receiving the bailout funds, House of Assembly workers are still owed 5 months salaries, LGA health workers are owed 5 months , retired primary school teachers are owed 21 months pension, retired LGA workers are owed 9 months ,retired civil servants owed 5 months while retired secondary school teachers are owed 5 months. Even the so called Imo Youths Must Work scheme has been suspended. Till date Imo youths are still jobless after the sack of 10,000 of them. And when we talk they say catch them, sue them, jail them.
The worst kind of poverty is when people cannot get food and therefore they are thin and weak and may starve to death. Former Senate president, David Mark once said ‘if your wealth is from people’s pensions then that is blood money. It is blood money because you cannot take away the sweat, the entitlements of an old man or an old woman who is looking up just to that little appreciation from his country and believe that you will live in peace. You cannot because the prayers of those old men at home will fight you.’It is pathetic that the meagre sum pensioners are paid in Imo State which is what is to be used for payment of house rent, feed their family and attend to a host of basic needs has not been paid for months. Enough is enough , pay pensioners now.
All these are happening in Imo because of the kind of morally challenged characters in our State House of Assembly. The House was headed before by Rt Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu now it is headed by Rt Hon Acho Ihim . See dem, uko chukwu na the same people. Like Uwajumogu like Acho Ihim. With Acho Ihim as Speaker , Okorocha has wrapped the entire Imo up, confidently put it away in one of the folds of his wrapper and retired to an oxygen bed for a long, refreshing 4 years sleep. Ihim lacks the capacity to appreciate the need to build enduring features for posterity. The only language he understands is grab-and-plunder, which has caused him to accept the position of chairman of the Taskforce on motor–parks from Gov Okorocha. Other Honourable members were assigned executive duties such as refuse disposals, inspection of stadium etc .
Today’s Imo House of Assembly is driven by only the expected immediate gain to be carted away, and clearly lack the capacity to even appreciate that Imo needs to remain there till tomorrow for them to even find something to cart away . It does not matter to Ihim and co whether or not the ordinary people in Imo have meals on their tables, decent housing, health care, good roads, good education, etc, as long as their money making game is guaranteed.
See what is happening in our LGA’s and they are silent. The LGA funds of Imo State have been borrowing legs since May 2011. Okorocha has been running the 27 LGA’s in Imo with caretaker chairmen since 2011. By running our council with caretaker chairmen the tier of government which is closest to the grassroots is thus hijacked, prevented from meeting up with its primary and major obligations, the citizens denied fair representation. Okorocha does not believe in the constitution under which he assumed power. How can we move forward at the grassroots in Imo State when the Governor is holding our Local Government to ransom and taking merchandise of their allocation. He does not want elected Council men because he cannot face the prospect of losing his council pot of soup that he has been leaking from since May 2011. The state of things in Imo’s 27 LGA’s is a direct reflection of his commitment to enslaving the people, a situation reminiscent of biblical Israelites in bondage in Egypt. Nothing is fundamentally working out in our LGA’s ; no light, no water, no security, no social infrastructure, in fact no life. One man has squandered billions of naira that came to our LGA’s from May 2011 till date. God is watching. Bring back our council election. We say NOMORE to care taker council government.
(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria)