WAS IKEDI OHAKIM “SWEPT AWAY” IN 2011?*

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By  Collins Ughalaa,

It has become imperative to take more than a cursory look at the 2011 governorship election in Imo State with the view to finding out whether His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim was “swept away” as the armchair, delusional, egocentric, maniacal and emergency activist, Mr. Sam Amadi, one of those posturing for governorship in Imo State and making governance in the state a déjà vu, claimed.
Writing under the heading: “Governance Challenge in Imo”, Mr. Amadi, in his delusion chose not to credit the administration of Dr. Ikedi Ohakim for the reason that his warped mindset cannot be disciplined at all to give honour to whom it is due. He chose to, after noting Ohakim’s masterstroke in Education and wealth creation, to spew falsehood that Ohakim’s administration was a failure. Though this has become a boring refrain and cliché, it is good that we have freedom of expression in Nigeria, so that when empty people talk the people will see how low, ignorant and empty they are. Mr. Amadi obviously does not know anything about governance and he does not have the requisite experience to be Governor as his highest public office was the chairmanship of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), where he left Nigeria in darkness and without meters, despite the huge investment made by the government and the huge sums of money paid by the people for the exercise (this will be story for another day).
Instead of taking his time to study the well articulated projects and programmes of the Ikedi Ohakim era, his over bloated ego and hatred for truth and facts will not allow him. To better appreciate Sam Amadi’s ignorance and deceit, here is the excerpt of what he wrote: “The Rochas Okorocha’s administration has turned what was the fastest industrializing state under Mbakwe into both a basket of case and the exemplar of ‘leadership as theatre'”. Nigerians and Imo people in general know that Okorocha did not take over from Mbakwe and that Mbakwe left office in the early 80s. The people also know that Okorocha took over from Dr. Ikedi Ohakim in 2011. And if Okorocha met “the fastest industrializing state” it goes to show that what was started by Mbakwe was sustained and enhanced by his predecessors, particularly Ohakim from whom Okorocha took over. This is the only logical way to explain that Okorocha thwarted this industrial growth. Okorocha could not have thwarted Mbakwe’s policies/projects or their impacts if he did not meet them when he took over, and he could not have met them if his immediate predecessor, Ohakim, did not preserve and enhanced them.
Critical infrastructures such as good roads, water and electricity, etc, are required for any state to grow industrially. In these areas the Ikedi Ohakim administration performed marvelously. Despite that water was part of the MDGs target, Ohakim knew that industries cannot flourish in the state if there was no water. He did not destroy the water pipes laid by the Mbakwe era with borrowed money but rather went ahead to renovate Mbakwe’s water projects that had become moribund and also built new 1,395 water schemes both in the rural and urban communities. The water board known as Imo State Water Development Agency (IWADA) operated with good equipments and highly skilled manpower. Today, IWADA is gone under Okorocha and there is no water in the whole of Imo State. This, no doubt, has thwarted the development of industries and put human survival to greater risk in the state Ikedi Ohakim also saw that good roads were pivotal to the growth of industries in the state. To address this challenge, Ohakim constructed 450km of roads while 325km others were at various stages of completion before he left office in 2011. Through his Imo Roads Maintenance Agency (IROMA), he rehabilitated 270km rural roads and committed N150M for tarring them under RAMP before he left office. This opened up the rural communities and linked them to the urban areas in order for industries to survive, resulting to a robust economy under Ohakim, despite the biting world economic meltdown. On the other hand, investors will not come if there is no strong legal framework in place, especially if the Governor who is the Chief Executive of the state does not commit himself to the rule of law and due process. Not only did Ohakim impressively and unbeatingly stick to the rule of law and due process, he was very transparent in government transactions and obeyed the rulings and judgements from the courts. He attacked frontally the dysfunctional Judiciary he met on ground by not only renovating the high courts in different parts of the state, especially the State High Court in Owerri where he also tarred the road, the magistrates and customary courts, he also made sure that the Judges and other judiciary workers had good working environment. Ohakim brought the Appeal Court to Owerri to ensure the quick dispensing of Justice. Ohakim’s framework for a robust Imo economy that opened the space for sustained industrializing also led to the establishment of the Nigeria Stock Exchange in Owerri with their office opposite the state government house. He also created the Imo State Investment Promotion Agency (ISIPA) under the chairmanship of Chief Ernest Ebi who was the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and now the Chairman of Fidelity Bank PLC. He also held the first ever Imo Investment Summit in Owerri. Regrettably, while Mr. Amadi would give credits to states like Anambra and see them as role models to other states, he forgot that Anambra State copied her Anambra State Investment Promotion Agency (ASIPA) from the Ikedi Ohakim administration, including her education template. It is obvious that Mr. Amadi has not been around in Imo State and has enjoyed his armchair activism for too long that it now beclouds his judgement, leading to his twisting the facts in the vain attempt to sale himself to the Imo people. But the people have seen people like him who in their desperation are ready to twist or bury the truth. For example, while acknowledging that Ohakim built the Imo State Internally Generated Revenue to N5.8bn by 2011, from a miserable position he met it in 2007, he refused to award the full marks that the Ohakim administration was a delightful success story. Whereas Mr. Amadi should be well educated to know that government is never a profit making venture but a catalyst for economic growth, and that a government balances the welfare of its people, their security and economic growth in arriving at its decision for rapid economic growth. This may be the reason that irrespective of the astronomical increment to N300,000 for land registration and letter of identification from N1,000 to N5,000 in Imo State by Governor Okorocha, the outcome has been the report that Okorocha’s administration was only able to add N100M to the state’s IGR from 2007 to 2017.
Ohakim deliberately built a robust economy for Imo state. Berthing his industrial clusters initiative, he banned commercial motorcycles (okada) in Owerri and introduced commercial tricycles (keke), engineered investors confidence in the government and brought back the middle class by not only creating the conducive atmosphere for small scale businesses and local contractors (whom he called development partners) to thrive but also keeping to the terms of the contracts. He also created the cleanest and healthiest environment for investments. These deliberate actions of the Ohakim administration led to the huge N5.8bn IGR of the state in 2011 (while still in a recession), better than most neighboring states in the Southeast. And if in the opinion of Mr. Amadi “IGR tells the story of the quality leadership in the state” and “An entrepreneurial administration will generate wealth…”, then what stopped him from awarding credit to the administration of Ikedi Ohakim? From where did he manufacture his claim of “Ohakim’s slightly deranged leadership”, or the wrong conclusion of “the political economy of Ohakim’s failure”, if not that he desperately wanted to obscure the truth? Such cheap people do not have the leadership criteria to stand for an election with Ohakim and should only take notes when he is talking.
They should not be trusted with governorship of the state. Disgruntled and desperados did not allow Ohakim’s massive signature industrialization projects see the light of the day as they allowed their desperation drive them into unhealthy collision with the development of the state. Ohakim had set up the Imo Refinery and had concluded all the processes, including securing the 250 hecters of land at Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area, signed the MoU and got provisional allocation of a marginal oil field, concluded the processes for the takeoff of the light seaport at Oguta, began work at Oguta Wonder Lake and Conference Center complex before he left office. He had secured funds from the Capital Market to finance these projects. When he left office he handed more than N20bn over to Governor Okorocha. Today, the same people who thwarted the industrial growth of Imo State are crying hypocritically and casting blames on others. Shamelessly they applaud governments elsewhere for daring to scratch what the Ikedi Ohakim administration did or initiated. Evidently, only disgusting people can claim that Ohakim’s political economy was a failure or disoriented. Lifting the 15 years embargo on employment in the state’s civil service, Ohakim employed thousands of qualified Imo sons and daughters, capping it up with his novel 10,000 jobs employment scheme which gulped monthly $450M or N5.4bn annually. Through the Imo Job Center and Finishing School, the Ikedi Ohakim administration placed over 2,000 job seekers on jobs within and outside the state while it also trained and secured jobs for another 300 graduates in the state. This is aside the over 8,000 youths and engineers employed under IROMA, ENTRACO, Agro-Nova, etc. This sterling results can only be the scorecard of a successful administration anchored by a brilliant and selfless leader.

However, it is very painful that though he knows the truth, Mr. Amadi chose to feed Imo people with lies about the 2011 governorship election in the state. Though some unguarded politicians have continued to appropriate the credit of Ohakim’s exit to from the state government house in 2011 to themselves or interpreted same to mean the exercise of the people’s power against him, it must be stated that they goof each time they make such claim. This reinforces the need to ask the question: Did Ohakim really lose the 2011 governorship election? Did Imo people sweep him away? The facts on ground show that Ohakim was not swept away by Imo people, rather Imo people loved him and still love him. Ohakim could have been “swept away” by Imo people in the first ballot but he was instead cruising to victory in the election until he was stopped by some elements in the PDP led federal government who have since also learnt their lessons the hard way. They found some willing collaborators among some top politicians from the state and beyond who worked in cahoot, thwarted the people’s victory song and forced a supplementary election on them in order to stop the winning Ikedi Ohakim. There was nothing that was not done by the enemies of the people, including the kidnapping of the Returning Officer for Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Mr. Ngozi Nwoko, from the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, who had the more than 34,000 votes from the area and kept him in a hotel in another state; the militarization of the governorship election, the declaration of the Oguta LGA election result as inconclusive on two occasions. This led to the ugly scenario where Oguta LGA did not have a member in the state assembly for almost 4 years.

It was not the “people” that sent the military down to Imo State for the governorship election. Only the presidency could have done so, and it was a PDP presidency at that time. It was not the “people” that declared the Oguta LGA election with more than 25,000 votes for Ohakim inconclusive. Only the federal government did, and it was a PDP led federal government. This is why the PDP has been the dog that feeds on its puppies. It was not the “people” that kidnapped the Returning Officer for Ohaji/Egbema. It was some politicians who were collaborators with the federal elements. On the other hand, the “people fed up with the high handedness of the federal authorities and their evil machination with their willing tools in the election, the “people” wanted to take back their collective destiny from the cabal and conspirators. Knowing that it could lead to bloodshed, loss of life and instability with the Otokoto saga still in mind, Ohakim made sure no such thing happened.
He even got some people who were bent on going on to taking back their destiny from the killers of destiny arrested, just to make sure that Imo remained safe and happy, believing that God would vindicate the righteous. And, of course, Ohakim has been vindicated by the God who never fails, sleeps nor slumbers! It is therefore painful when a man who knows the truth, who wants to be governor of Imo State resorts to spurious claims against a man whose sandals lace he cannot untie. Mr. Amadi has also been stuck with the false allegation that Ohakim beat a Reverend Father. He said: “In the frenzy of ensuring that Ikedi Ohakim was punished for allegedly assaulting a Catholic Priest…” Rational minds are worried that it smacks of mischief for someone who wants to be the Chief Executive Officer of Imo State not to have known the truth that Ohakim did not see the Catholic Priest and did not beat him. If he did not want to believe Ohakim or anyone else, he could have made his independent findings on the matter and say the truth whichever way and perhaps answer the question: Did Ohakim beat a Catholic Priest? Hiding under “allegedly” to try to reenact the falsehood that Ohakim beat a Reverend Father has only exposed Amadi as a mean person who does not like the truth and can do anything in pursuit of naked, transient power. Such a person is not worth the kind of governor Imo people need in 2019.
Mr. Amadi’s puerility and insipid claim on the Reverend Father speaks volumes of his shocking inadequacies and exposes him as the bad governor Imo will never have. He knows that the Catholic Church has taken genuine and appreciable steps in correcting whatever roles they were said to have played in the contrived Reverend Father saga. He was present on Tuesday February 13, 2018, when the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Imo State, His Grace AJV Obinna, bestowed Ikedi Ohakim with an award, seven years after the saga, on his outstanding performance as Governor. Renowned and fiery priest of the Catholic Church and the Director of the Adoration Ministries Enugu, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka, had in August 2014 during a live Sunday service apologized to Ohakim over his roles in spreading the rumour that he beat a Rev Father, including the destructive music he composed. He said he had taken his time to investigate the matter and found that Ohakim was innocent.
One would have therefore expected Mr. Amadi to have come up with a proof that Ohakim indeed assaulted a Rev Father, or keep quiet. Imo people know the antics of desperate politicians who have failed in their callings, and any such antics aimed at igniting crisis between Ohakim and the Catholic Church cannot work any longer. Nevertheless, the summation of Mr. Amadi’s gaffe is the usual failed attempt to blackmail Ohakim because he is the man everyone is watching in the 2019 guber race. This cannot work anymore. From the indisputable facts provided thus far, it is either Mr. Amadi was trying his hands on mischief or he was irritating himself or trying effortlessly to make himself important by over indulging in the erroneous belief that casting aspersions on the people’s choice, the people’s governor, Ikedi Ohakim, would make Imo people notice him. But he is not worth their attention. In case Mr. Amadi has not heard, the in-song today in Imo State is that the people have resolved that they want to correct the mistakes of 2011 and return Ikedi Ohakim to government house so that he will continue his selfless service to them.
They know that Ohakim had the opportunity to enrich himself and acquire public property to himself or cronies like Okorocha is doing but he did not do so, preferring instead to live in his three-bedroom bungalow built in 1992. Imo people are sure that Ohakim has the capacity and institutional memory to halt the raging madness in the state and reposition it for greatness. The millions of people in the state who are desirous of a greater Imo State with industries everywhere want to see the Imo Refinery come to fruition. They want to see the Oguta Wonder Lake and Conference Center and the Oguta deep seaport come on stream for the benefit of the people. For Imo people, this is the best way to go in 2019 and all who love the good of the people should buy into this project. This is more so when Mr. Sam Amadi knows that Ohakim was not “punished” for incompetence or bad governance, but rather what happened was that the will of the people was thwarted in 2011. This will be corrected in 2019 with Dr Ikedi Ohakim as second term Governor.

**Collins Ughalaa, Chief Press Secretary to His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim.