Okorocha’s Crumbling Rescue Mission

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Governor Rochas Okorocha’s rescue mission in Imo State is fast crumbling, writes Amby Uneze

The continuous nose-diving of government activities under the rescue mission agenda of the present administration in Imo State is no longer condonable as the people of the state are now seeking ways to come out of the quagmire. For a long time now, the endurance level of the people of the state has reached a crescendo such that the only option is to seek the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in their plight.

They had likened the governance in the State to that of the era of Louis XIV of France, who used to say “Le etatc et moi” meaning “The State is Me”, after he assumed absolute control of the French Republic and all the organs of state power. The Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, Bureaucracy, etc, were under the absolute control of Louis XIV, which reached its zenith under his grandson, Louis XVI, who eventually ended up by the Guillotine when the French people could no longer tolerate the absolute denial of freedom which the era entailed.

Stakeholders contend that the case of Imo State is not different from that of the French under the fascism of Louis XIV and his progenitors, insisting that there was no doubt that the Imo people could liberate themselves from the unimaginable tyranny of the state governor as the French did. According to them, the difference is that Imo people cannot do this without the intervention of the authorities at the centre – the Presidency, National Assembly, Judiciary and the Security Forces.

Seeking FG’s Intervention
In an effort to draw the attention of President Buhari to what it described as “state governor’s tyrannical method of governance”, a professional body under the aegis of the Concerned Imo Citizens’ Group had threatened to lead a mass revolution against the Imo State Government unless the president urgently intervenes.

The group, in a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, and signed by representatives of the three senatorial districts of the state, Maxwell Onyeukwu (Owerri zone), Prof. Obioma Iheduru (Okigwe zone), Ikechukwu Ikeji (Orlu zone) and Sylvester Amadi-Obi (Owerri zone) respectively, informed the president of the “readiness of Imo citizens to revolt and stop Governor Okorocha from continuing his method of governance”.

The group, in the petition, however stated that they were saving the rainy day because of the regard they have for the office of the president.
The petition read in part: “We are aware that the hands of the federal government are full in trying to deal with various security flashpoints in the country. To add mass insurrection in Imo State to it, when it could be avoided, by the timely political intervention of Mr. President would be ignoring the imperatives of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The Many Allegations
The group alleged amongst others that “there is a destruction of the Constitutional order in the state, whereby the Imo State House of Assembly had been rendered weak and impotent by the Governor as it had ceded her oversight powers to the Governor”, adding further that, “Imo citizens are living in a state of unimaginable terror and tyranny imposed by the government of Okorocha”.

According to them, “In 2011 and 2015, the Imo House of Assembly passed what is called a ‘rolling budget’ (covering four years) approving a block sum of money and empowering the governor to operate the finances of the state without any further reference to the State House of Assembly. Thus, the statutory annual budget in Imo state no longer exists.

“The introduction of a fourth-tier government christened Community Government Council (CGC) in the state is alien and has contributed to the destruction of the hitherto town unions system in the state and this is a taboo in Igboland. This has tremendously retarded community development, including the community security watch, and increased crime and poverty in the state. The traditional stool in the state has been destroyed by the Governor,” the group said.

They further stated that legal and administrative structures and organs of the state have been rendered moribund. The judiciary and civil service in the state, they argued, are now impotent and comatose, as a result of non-payment of salaries and wicked policies, observing further a new wave of lawlessness, which reigns freely in the state as there is no effective justice system in the state.

Abuse of office
Accusing the governor of abuse of office and public trust, the group listed issues like land grabbing which the governor forcefully confiscate individual and community lands without due process and compensation. It was quoted and on record too that “the governor has continually seized several plots of people’s land and built/and or still building sprawling private places, some of them have been adjudged to be grandiose than the residence of the president in Aso Rock”.

His wasteful style of governance, which includes alleged renting of a private jet owned by his company for state use even though the jet is owned by his company but the state pays for its use.
The governor was also accused of having his fingers in the execution of all contracts in the state, even when the contracts are usually not properly executed as well as having most of the sensitive positions and appointments in government exclusively reserved for family members and blood relations.

A Plea to Buhari
The group therefore pleaded with President Buhari to prevail on the Okorocha to “stop the demolition of structures and the peoples’ sources of livelihood in the name of urban beautification, to use the resources of the state prudently and judiciously for the good of the people and not for personal aggrandizement and family development. To accept due process, rule of law, financial regulations, and the demands of the Procurement Act in the award of contracts and other financial activities of government”.

They also demanded that the president should call Okorocha to order to exhibit transparency and accountability in the running of the state, as well as allow the state House of Assembly to perform its statutory roles of lawmaking and oversight instead of turning them into tax collectors and agents of the executives.

How Ihedioha Captured It
In his effort to capture the situation in Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 elections in the state expressed deep concern by the state of affairs in the state.

“Today, our government seems to proudly and publicly detest and castigate the rule of law by disobeying court judgments. The younger ones of today, may never understand that our constitution stipulates a three tier governance structure since the local governments have practically ceased to exist in our own state. A fourth tier of government which is alien to the Nigerian Constitution has been added in Imo and this is, at best, curious and worrisome”.

Ihedioha, who is the immediate past deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, in a keynote address delivered during the just concluded 2016 Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Isi Mbano of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, stated that having the privilege to traverse the executive and legislative arms of government at the centre between 1992 and 2015, he was compelled to conclude that Imo is denied the benefit of qualitative democratic practice essentially in the sense that apart from the virtual non-existence of the local government as the third tier of government, the legislative arm at the state level is hampered from the discharge of its responsibility by executive high-handedness.

Governor Okorocha has also been accused of attracting persons of no visible means of livelihood into the state as no attention is being paid to these set of human beings, whose identities are not known by government. In a declaration in his presidential charge for the second session of the eight synod of the Diocese of Isi-Mbano, Anglican Communion, Bishop Godson Ukanwa revealed that some persons who look like nationals of North African Islamic states have taken over the state in the pretence of shoe-mending and hole-digging jobs. The bishop advised the government to take a registered census of all foreigners in the state with a view to knowing who they are and what they are doing for a living, as well as their movements.

The Government Reacts…
But the state government has described the allegations as “unfounded and an act of desperation by a negligible few, who are obviously members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, it challenged the group to produce evidence of any act of tyranny perpetrated by the governor as alleged.
According to the statement, “during the PDP regime in this state, they never showed any iota of respect for the rights of the people of the state, they were flogging and beating innocent Imolites but this administration has never harassed any Imo indigene or any other person for that matter. When all manner of atrocities were going on under the PDP, why didn’t they lead a revolution?

“All the actions of this government are in the overall interest of the state and that is why all men and women of goodwill are backing the governor. They are only fighting the governor because of his insistence on using the state government’s funds to work for the people of the state instead of sharing it among the career politicians. But our advice is that they should look for something else to do and allow the state some peace”, he said.
The group, in the petition, however stated that they were saving the rainy day because of the regard they have for the office of the president.

Quote
Stakeholders contend that the case of Imo State is not different from that of the French under the fascism of Louis XIV and his progenitors, insisting that there was no doubt that the Imo people could liberate themselves from the unimaginable tyranny of the state governor as the French did. According to them, the difference is that Imo people cannot do this without the intervention of the authorities at the centre – the Presidency, National Assembly, Judiciary and the Security Forces