OKOROCHA: EMBATTLED ON MANY SIDES

 

When we were in APC, we made campaign promises, we told people we will build factories, industries, and create jobs. That is what we promised; they were even on billboards then. When I told him he is a fraud, he removed them and changed the message. Show me one factory built by Rochas and I will apologise

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For Governor Rochas Okorocah of Imo State, the rains are not only falling, but pouring. The governor, who is in the twilight of his second term, would wish he could remain as the state’s chief executive, as the immunity which the constitution confers on him expires in about 60 days.

But that is not his present headache. The man who was declared the winner of the Imo South Senatorial district is not sure if he will even assume the seat. While others are celebrating their victory clutching their Certificates of Return, the Owelle is yet to get his, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has remained adamant that he will not be getting it any time soon.

Several months ago, he was quoted to have told State House Correspondents in Abuja, that whoever would succeed him as governor may be stoned by the people if his performance falls below his own standard.

Okorocha had said: “I am in this job not for the profit of it, but for the honour and glory of the job. So I want to leave a legacy. I want Imo people to miss me and they will definitely miss me. Believe you me, they have not seen such developmental work before now and they will miss it.

“The only problem I have is that anybody that comes after me and does not perform will be stoned. Because you cannot come to Imo State now and say you want to abolish free education from primary to university, they will not accept that. I have spoilt Imo people believe me.”

However, Sunday Telegraph learnt from sources in the state that the governor may be the one to take the stones.

Former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Uche Onyeagucha had at the time also painted a picture of what may face the governor after May 29.

Onyeagucha had called on Governor Rochas Okorocha to start sewing his prison uniform, saying he will definitely end up in jail when he leaves office for allegedly plundering the state.

The APC chieftain, who said that he was miffed by the alleged comment by the governor that he has spoilt Imo people with projects, accused the governor of littering the state with abandoned projects.

Onyeagucha, who is also a civil rights lawyer, said that it is time for the deceit the governor unleashed on Imo people to be un-ravelled.

“He said he built this and that in the state. Is it Concord Hotel which he renovated, Ikemba Ojukwu Centre was built by Mbakwe and he renovated it; the Imo State Commissioners’ Quarters, he just changed the roof and renovated it; the State Secretariat was built by Chief Achike Udenwa, he changed the roof when there was no need for that. Today, there are many leaking roofs at the secretariat. Avutu poultry, which he renovated, has collapsed under one year. Soon Imo people will beam to the world, the many grisly misdeeds of his cruel administration.

“When we were in APC, we made campaign promises, we told people we will build factories, industries, and create jobs. That is what we promised; they were even on billboards then. When I told him he is a fraud, he removed them and changed the message. Show me one factory built by Rochas and I will apologise. No block industry, no toothpick industry, no sachet water industry, just the ones that could be built with little amount, none!

“He has deceived our people for too long, he has bamboozled them with lies, and we have tolerated it long enough.”

While there have been many allegations of nepotism to the extent that juicy positions have allegedly been cornered by family members and kinsmen, an Owerri-based medical doctor, Dr. Uzo Ewuru, added that the state has become the home of abandoned projects.

According to him, sometime ago, the governor announced with fanfare, the commencement of a state carrier, Imo Air which flew for a few weeks after the ceremony and stopped operation. “It appears the carrier has gone the way of many other abandoned projects littered all over the state.”

Ewuru also said that the moribund multi-billion naira Imo Modern Poultry, Avutu, built by the administration of late Governor Sam Mbakwe, which news went round before the 2015 election that its revitalisation process was almost completed (with a giant signboard erected at the Amambakwe Junction announcing the completion of the project then), has turned out to be a ruse, even as the entire complex has been dominated by the same massive forest that had overgrown the place since its abandonment in the 80s.

Governor Rochas Okorocha’s mega project, the 44 City Gates, which gulped hundreds of millions of naira, has long been forgotten by the administration. This is even as the governor’s Young Scientists College has joined the long list of the white elephant projects the governor will launch with fanfare but not complete, two months to the end of his administration.

However, following the election of Chief Emeka Ihedioha as governor, there seems to be some forms of panic hanky-panky in government circles.

The truth is that Governor Rochas Okorocha may not be the culprit in all the alleged pillaging going on in Government House as he winds down, but the buck stops on his table.

Early last week, the state’s Governor-elect, Chief Emeka Ihedioha warned financial institutions against any last minute illegal dealings with the out-going government of the state.

However, less than 24 hours after the counsel of the governor-elect, the Imo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused Governor Okorocha of embarking on massive last minute looting of government treasury and conversion of government properties.

These allegations were levelled against Okorocha by the state Chairman of the PDP, Barr. Charles Ezekwem during a press conference, Friday evening, in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

According to the text of the briefing, the PDP alleged that between Tuesday March 12 and Thursday March 14, 2019, Governor Okorocha made major withdrawals from Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Unity Bank and Sky Bank amounting to over N17 billion.

The text continued: “In the last two days alone, Governor Okorocha and his cronies have transferred ownership and re-registered more than 150 government vehicles to individuals. Government properties including furniture and electronics in Government House, Owerri are being moved out to Ogboko, Ideato South, the governor’s country home.

“All uninstalled transformers totalling about 300 have been moved to the governor’s home in Ogboko.”

The PDP alleged also that there is an on-going mass employment and back-dating of employments with a view to creating problems for the incoming government.

And added: “We are also aware of the rampant issuance of Certificate of Occupancy to family members and friends of the Okorocha family.”

The party therefore warned that those involved in such malpractice do so at their own peril.

But reacting, Governor Okorocha’s spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo urged the public to discountenance the posturing of the incoming PDP government, noting that they lacked the right to harass the sitting government and financial institutions until they are sworn in.

“There is a government in place and until May 29, 2019, that government should continue to work in the interest of the state and her people and also continue to carry out programmes and policies for the same purpose, until the end of its approved life span. To begin to harass or give directives to financial institutions in the state is an act of hostility and they should know that.

“The financial Institutions in the state should disregard such directive and continue to do the right thing and take the right action since the best he can do is to confront the outgoing government when he takes over on any financial transaction he has reservations with,” Onwuemeodo said.

There are also unsavoury stories purporting the governor to be on the watch list of one of the nation’s anti-graft agencies. With the widespread allegations of the pillaging of Government House gaining traction and the seeming flagging of the state’s accounts in commercial banks, a lot of aggrieved stakeholders may be setting the stage for the probe or recovery of state assets traced to the governor.

After eight years of unassailable executive power, Governor Okorocha will come face to face with the reality of being out of power and outside the cover of immunity, as the avalanche of suspended litigations, unenforced orders and judgments of courts and their full implications would hit him like a tornado.

No matter what Okorocha resorts to, with the rejections and betrayals that are bound to happen, his post-governorship experience may be nothing to cheer about.