BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES
I am aware that you are in good health and bubbling in fine spirit, and I am grateful to God for those are evidences, He answers my prayers concerning you. Our Mummy, your darling wife, your beautiful children and your grand children, are surely in good health and no matter how long the silence stays and how far the distance stretches, I will always be glad at things that make you glad. Our political beliefs and styles no longer conform, but the ideas you instilled in me and the ones I picked from staying around you for the period I did are still intact and won’t reduce an ounce.
When you told us of your plans to quit politics and suspend your membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you made it clear that you were going to devote your time to activities that have to do with youth mentorship and the resuscitation of your NGO, the Clean and Green African Foundation, but close to one year since you made that announcement, we have neither heard of a single Imo youth who benefited from your youth mentorship program, nor heard of any program or initiative carried out in the name of the Clean and Green African Foundation. Knowing who you are; it is either you never really meant to do any of those things, or you do not feel it is necessary to do them. I am not alone in thinking that concentrating on those initiatives would have been the best decision you have taken for a long time. That you have failed to stick to these promises made in public and publicized to millions of Nigerians portrays you as a man who is not bound by his words, and this is not whom I know you to be. Like you like to ask; what happened? Some people have severally broached this issue with me. There are those who feel you deceived the people by announcing a program you didn’t have any plans to pursue, others feel that if you are not serious minded enough to follow through on your personal pet projects, then, how could they trust you with power on the basis of the promises you have made or will make? These people have been silently watching and I am sure they are taking notes.
I am sincerely concerned about the toll your recent idea of penning open letters to the governor of Imo State is taking on your popularity among Imolites. No one can argue against the fact that you are a brilliant man who knows how to use words and to whom the ink is loyal, but I will advise that you walk incognito in the streets of Imo State and experience firsthand how much pummeling you have done to your image in the last few months, since you resorted to penning open letters. You may visit newspaper stands, enter public buses or walk into any pub, incognito, you will certainly not like what you will hear people say about you and this letter writing hobby. One of the reasons these people feel badly about this is because they love this incumbent governor more than they can ever love any former governor of this State. The only man who has ruled Imo State, who may compete for the peoples’ love with Owelle is the late Sam Mbakwe, whose footsteps the incumbent governor is following and attempting to surpass. Another reason is that you told them that you are no longer a politician, so they do not even understand where you are coming from and what you are asking for. As a statesman, they expected you to seek audience with the governor, whom we know as your friend, and probably trash out any areas you may have issues with on his style of governance with him in private. Most people see these letters as grandstanding and an attempt to deceive on your part. There are others among followers of ‘trends of events in Imo State’ who feel spited by these letters, as they see them as evidence that you do not have any respect for them. Someone had actually told me that; “Ohakim thinks all of us are fools, or some kind of puppets he could manipulate by coining words together.” This may have come from just one person, but I assure you that it is the thinking of an overwhelming majority of Imolites, even among your people of Okohia.
Even among the members of your former (or are you still a member?) Party, the PDP, you should have noticed how much disregard they have for you, recently. This breaks my heart when I recall the massive investments you have made on that Party. It is not totally their fault, Sir, this can be blamed on how you have chosen to play your politics recently. Trickery, when it becomes very obvious, backfires. This is because the people cannot always be deceived. The reality that some people outside the PDP, even before you announced your withdrawal from politics and the Party has more grip on the Party even in your local ward, should bother you, seriously. This is one of the reasons I still think, that concentrating on your foundation works and youth mentorship programs will be the best way to clean up your image before the people and possibly strengthen your support base, politically.
Your Excellency Sir, your latest letter to the Imo State governor was certainly tailored to spite the government of the day and possibly tune up your dwindling political fortunes. But a visit to the social media and any discussion circle across Imo State will tell you that you missed the shot this time as majority of commentators are taking your accusations against the Owelle administration with a pinch of salt. The truth is that, you came up with wonderful ideas within the period you held sway as governor, but like the; Clean and Green African Initiative and your Youth mentorship ideas which you proposed sometime last year, you failed to follow these ideas through, and the people are happier with the present government, as Owelle Rochas Okorocha has lived up to his promises as governor of Imo State. He has not just brought ideas before the people of Imo State, he has also commuted those ideas into concrete achievements that are beneficial to a majority of Imo people.
I would wish you take this letter as one from a son who cares about you so much and as one inspired by the need to save you further embarrassment from the public. I also expect a backlash from not a few of the wannabes who handle your image on the social media, but as a man led by his conscience, I will not want to keep quiet as some of the misrepresentations in your letter fester. I would have preferred to communicate this point to you through a private channel, but since the issues in contention are in the open, it is necessary I appropriate the same open channel to set the records straight, not as an aide of the present government in the State, but firstly, as a loyal and conscientious Imo citizen, your eternal friend and a member of the All Progressives Congress.
I expect the officials of the present Imo State Government to go into the archives and dig up the number of advertorials your government sponsored in response to the many corrective articles written against your government and also details about your budgetary allocation to the media during your administration, so that they may compare same with the much this government has voted for media in the past six years. I am sure the revelation will marvel even you, as this government could not have spent in six years what your government may have spent in two years on media and image laundering.
I had done an article on Mr. Cletus Ilomuanya in which I made attempts to clarify on some issues you raised about the governor’s statement on the former traditional ruler of Obinugwu Autonomous Community. Your special interest in Mr. Ilomuanya’s case is well understood, as he was one of the most formidable engines of your administration, your cherished political ally and a personal friend of yours. I do not think, Sir, that your personal and political relationship with an individual should matter in issues of governance and public interest. As a holder of several traditional titles in Igbo land and even Yoruba land, I am aware that you are highly knowledgeable in African Traditional practices. ‘Banishment’ is an African traditional practice and it is usually meted out to those whose continuous stay in a community causes trouble in that community. Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the governor of Imo State is the number one most powerful and most important authority in the State and there is no doubt that he can wield this traditional power either by himself or through the Traditional Ruler of Obinugwu Autonomous Community, HRM Eze Stanley Anaezionwu Nwangwu.
Some commentators have even inferred that during your time as governor of the State, some top politicians were tactically ‘banished’ from the State, while some traditional rulers had their staffs of office withdrawn from them, because of one reason or the other. These commentators are inquisitive to know, if it was right for a governor Ohakim to allegedly dethrone some traditional rulers and wrong when governor Rochas Okorocha does same to one obviously troublesome and too politically exposed traditional ruler. Sir, the truth of the matter is that an overwhelming majority of well-meaning Imolites and indeed Igbos are appreciative of Owelle Okorocha’s style of governance and the numerous steps he has taken to elevate the Igbo traditional institution to a noble status. You will agree with me that at no time have traditional rulers in Imo State being so respected and well carried along by the State government than now. Apart from making them an integral part of his administration, the governor has also built them a befitting secretariat, which is the first in the history of this State. This Secretariat located in the former Mbari Cultural Center, in Owerri is one of the best traditional rulers’ secretariats in Nigeria. Sir, it will be good to feed your eyes by paying a visit to that secretariat.
As a former governor, former commissioner and a politician of several years standing I am aware that you are more conversant than most people, including myself, with how the institution of government works. Mr. Cletus Ilomuanya, formerly, HRM Eze Cletus Ilomuanya got a favorable judicial pronouncement restoring him as the Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers in Imo State, at a time when he was still a traditional ruler. This judicial pronouncement did not stop the government from carrying out its duties to the people and sanitizing the traditional institution. You surreptitiously failed to mention in your letter that the Imo State Government actually set up a panel, which investigated Mr. Cletus Ilomuanya, found him guilty and recommended his dethronement as a traditional ruler. As it stands, the people of Obinugwu Autonomous Community have a new traditional ruler and this is well known to everybody. Ilomuanya can actually move on with his life, as he was not born a king and he can actually grow to become more powerful than a king of a small Obinugwu community. Like I wrote in my earlier article on this matter, Ilomuanya can become Nigeria’s President, if he moves on from this case and explores other areas of his political life. He is certainly too influential and too knowledgeable in politics, to be restricted to a small community as a traditional ruler.
Your Excellency Sir, it is unfortunate you have to make reference to an obviously induced letter by some partisan members of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria who allegedly raised concerns about the standard of the first ever flyover in Imo State which is being undertaken by the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Unaligned structural engineers have given these flyovers a clean bill of health and rated them as solid and durable. I expect you, as one of the fathers of the State to rejoice with the present government for its ability to execute projects that were deemed either impossible or too difficult by previous administrations in the State, including the immediate past administration which you headed. It is also expected that you would commend the governor for undertaking unprecedented scale of infrastructural revolution in the State, instead of the argument that these projects are of no economic value to the State. have you not heard that the State government has handed over four of the 27 general hospitals to the Nigerian Police, Army, Airforce and Navy respectively, who are expected to handle the hospitals as specialist centers. Over hundred modern markets, over 500 new school blocks, and other economically viable and people oriented projects have been built by this administration. The Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor-Okpala and the Umuna campuses of the Imo State University are at finishing stages as academic activities are expected to commence there, soonest. A brand new university, the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko has been fully completed and academic activities expected to commence in few months time. I have known you as a lover of good things, and I expect you to appreciate the many noble achievements of this government. Many commentators have dismissed your letter as filled with bitterness, especially as you could not find a word to commend the governor in area of governance. Does it mean that the governor has not done well anywhere? Nobody will say yes to that.
I know that you secretly admire the courage and passion of Owelle Rochas Okorocha and wished you had done half of what he has been able to do for Imo people. You actually had the desire to transform Imo into modern State, but you certainly lacked the political will to carry this dream through. Even some of the things you openly declared as impossible, like the free education package, has been made possible by this administration. Do you not sometimes wonder where this governor is getting the funds to carry out the projects he has embarked on, even as he sustains the free education program up to tertiary education level? Are you aware that this government has been paying in excess of 200 Million Naira to Imo State University as monthly subvention, while your administration was only able to pay about 50 Million Naira as monthly subvention, while the students were paying through their noses to remain in school? Are you also aware that the multi-campus design of the Imo State Polytechnic has been actualized by the Owelle administration, with one of the campuses located in your backyard at Ihitte Uboma? These are some of the things you thought were impossible during your days as governor.
It is elders like you who teach us, the younger ones, that sometimes, we may need to make reference to the past in order to appreciate the gains of the present and be inspired for greater goals in future. Also, we have a parable in Igbo language of a lizard who fell from a big iroko tree and nod its head in self adulation. Your dear friend, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha has done so well, that he is appreciated on the few occasions when he makes reference to the failures of past administrations in the State. We may understand with you if you tell us that some PDP hawks and the several litigations you had to contend with in court made it difficult for you to achieve your aims while in power, but many Imolites will see it as an affront to their intelligence if you try to compare in anyway, the numerous achievements of the present government and the scarce and forgettable ideas of your administration.
While the vision of the Clean and Green initiative was commendable, Imolites did not see any tangible gain of that vision from 2007 to 2011, but a visit to Imo State today, especially, Owerri, the State capital will convince you that the Clean and Green idea has been fully Rescued, as Owerri has become so beautiful, better organized and cleaner that someone who has not visited Owerri since after 2011, will surely miss his or her way on a visit to Owerri today.
Your Excellency, the paragraph where you openly admitted putting up with; old governor’s lodge, ‘dilapidated’ First Lady’s Office and refused to build a ‘befitting’ Government House edifices is unbecoming of you. That admission is not worth mentioning in public, as it communicates a failed leadership. Especially, as the present government did not only build these befitting structures in the Government House, but have been able to keep up with its other obligations. I will want you to arrange privately with your friend, Hon. Chike Orjiakor who challenged you to join him in a tour of the Imo State Government House and if you can recognize just one structure out of the many the present administration has built, he will lead your campaign in 2019. Please do take up that challenge, and I am sure, you will return home sober and regretful of all the things you have written about this government.
We were told that 46 Primary Health Care Centers were been built by your administration, but most Imolites cannot remember seeing any in their communities, nor accessing services in any of these centers, but today, Imolites freely access medical services in the refurbished and more functional 18 general hospitals and we are seeing the appreciable progress of work in the brand new 27 general hospitals being built across the State, with about ten of them already completed and in use. Elders like you taught us that; a blind man may be told that there is no oil in the food, but will find out himself if there is salt or even pepper in that food. Imolites are almost unanimous in saying that they do not need long letters and upcoming radio adverts, planted news reports and other propaganda strategies to be told the difference between Owelle’s administrations and the administrations before it. Imolites agree that Owelle administration is the only administration in present dispensation that has ensured that every family in Imo State directly reaps the dividend of democracy, especially with the free education program and other wonderful initiatives of the governor. With Owelle as governor, we do not need well designed billboards or too much media hypes to tell us the achievements of the government, we see these projects and use them.
Enlightened Imolites find it insulting that you could keep quoting the unsubstantiated 300% appreciation in property prices as an achievement. A responsible administrator should not gloat in the fact that it made life more difficult for the ordinary people. People were expecting to read you talk about how much you did as a governor to ensure affordable housing for the mostly poor population you inherited. How many Imolites were able to own own lands? How many were able to build houses? Etc, those are indices for measuring good governance and not gloating about how property prices skyrocketed. This reminds some people of the infamous statement that anyone who does not have up to One Million Naira in his or her account should not be in Owerri.
Across democracies, political leaders are being charged to explore ways of cutting down on the cost of running government, especially by, closing up those offices that are only there as conduits for milking State resources dry. This is why it didn’t sound good that one of the achievements of your administration you are proud to mention is the sustenance of the 46 development centers. These development centers brought nothing good to the ordinary people as they were merely avenues for political loyalists to be rewarded by appointing them into the committees and paying them salaries for doing nothing for the State. The Okorocha administration has been commended by well meaning Nigerians for its managerial proficiency. The Community Government Council and State Development Council introduced in place of the Development councils, meets the people’s needs more, as it is closer to the people, more cost effective and more democratic.
Your Excellency, some people are arguing that the only Water Scheme you inaugurated was the Okigwe Water Scheme, which never functioned for a day as it was hurriedly packaged on paper and the late president Yaradua was drafted to commission same. A search team may have to be commissioned to search for the other 1324 water schemes. If your claim of having built 1325 water schemes is true, it means that each political ward in the State got at least four water schemes and each autonomous community in the State got at least two of such Water Schemes. All the Imolites I interacted with over this, claim that water never ran in their homes throughout your tenure. The only people who claim to have seen water are some friends I have in Ikenegbu part of Owerri, and this you know cannot be credited to your administration.
Your Excellency, the Yaradua Drive road which you constructed have been patched up to three times since after it was constructed. The Dikenafai-Isiekenesi-Umuago-Umuobom-Osina road which I usually drive through whenever I am visiting my village has long gone bad and part of it has been resurfaced. Your informants have obviously not being telling you the truth. A trip to these roads will force you to write an open apology letter to His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Your Excellency, as at 2007 when you came into power, the National Population Commission put the population of the State at a little above three Million. Your claim that you created over 500, 000 jobs if true, should have seen no adult of Imo State being jobless by 2011. This is because with such demographics, about 500,000 people or less should be the citizens within working age, as we had children, aged men and women, youths who were in school and couldn’t work, etc. The 10,000 job scheme have been reasonably dismissed by many people as a campaign gimmick which backfired, as out of the 10,000 youths that your administration promised to hire only about 1,000 were hired as at November, 2010, less than five months before the election that ousted you from office. Analysts are still trying to make sense of the fact that over 6,000 of the so called 10,000 jobs beneficiaries only resumed work, less than one month before you handed over power to Governor Okorocha and about two weeks after your defeat in the election had been confirmed.
It is unfortunate, Your Excellency, that building of a court of appeal complex in Owerri is quoted by you as an achievement in four years of your administration. Are you aware Sir, that the Owelle Rochas Okorocha administration has relocated that Court of Appeal Complex to a more befitting edifice and environment, also built a new headquarters for the Directorate of State Services, built a brand new Fire Service Station, and these are less than 0.1 percent of his achievements in infrastructural provision?
Your Excellency Sir, we do not know how you came about your statistics of the burial industry being the only industry that is growing in Imo State since 2011, but I am sure that you know that you haven’t said the truth on that. Every aspect of business has experienced a quantum leap since 2011. If your researchers had not been interested only in knowing how many mortuaries have been built, maybe, due to their ill wishes to Imolites, they would have found out that the number of hotels in Imo have tripled since 2011, the number of relaxation spots have more than quadrupled. As at the time you left office in 2011 dear Sir, there was only one privately owned radio station in the State, but today we have over six, there were about seven privately owned local newspapers in the State as at 2011, but today, we have more than twenty of them, since 2011, Imo has its first privately owned university; the Hezekaih Univeristy, Umudim, private schools, industries, farms, even your senior friend and brother; Professor Maurice Iwu has found Imo so conducive that he built his research center here. We can go on and on, Your Excellency.
Imolites are surprised to hear that less than One Trillion Naira has accrued to the State since His Excellency Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha took office. This is because the projects and life-saving programs carried out by this government in just one year is worth over One Trillion Naira. Imolites are actually wondering where this governor is getting all the money to do these projects, without borrowing from banks.
Your Excellency Sir, as one of the few Nigerian leaders I hold in high esteem I must admit that I am saddened by the kind of angry reactions coming from majority of Imolites over these your letters and your style of politics which a lot of people believe is built on deceit, half-truths and outright lies. Some of them have described the attitude of writing letter to the governor and leaking same to the press as gossipy and cheap propaganda unbefitting of a leader of your status. Few friends have started addressing you as the ‘guyman former governor’. This is a wrong description of whom a leader should be. I am worried that your status continues diminishing with every of such insincere move you make, as the people decode that you are trying to sneak back to politics through the backdoor. Some people I have sought their opinions on this feel that the kind of luck that saw you emerge governor in 2007 hardly repeats in less than one hundred years. I do not know how true it is, but I believe it is something you need to give serious thoughts to, maybe while relaxed in your beautiful and calm study.
I do not know what your political programs are like but it should have been obvious to you by now that you have no future with the Peoples Democratic Party, as the structure of the Party have been completely taken away from you. It should also have been clear to you by now that another shot at the governorship will most likely be an ill-advised adventure, as you will be operating from a very weak angle.
The wisest thing for you to do at this stage of your political career is to team up with your friend, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha in his determined bid to reposition the Igbos, politically. All the progressives in Igboland have joined the APC, not because of any other thing, but because they are confident of the leadership of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. They are sure he is going to carry everyone along, they are sure he can stand up to anyone in this country and get for us, what is ours. Your intelligence, courage, vibrancy, creativity and vision will be given more room to thrive in the APC than any other place.
Please be assured of my best wishes to you in all your endeavours, especially in your youth mentoring and Clean and Green African initiative.