Thursday, 9 June 2011

Article: Governor Okorocha; Just One Promise is Enough(Part Two)

Governor Rochas Okorocha
By Victoria Ohaeri
I went to Owerri Girls’ Secondary School (OGSS) Owerri, Imo State when OGSS was OGSS! Back then in the mid-nineties, only pupils who made exceptionally high grades in the State Common Entrance Examinations automatically qualified to write and pass another special entry examination to enable them gain admission into the then star models schools: OGSS (for girls) and the Government Secondary School Owerri, (also known as Government College Owerri (for boys)). Expressions like “My daughter is in Owerri Girls”…”My son is in Government College”….were then very common ways overjoyed parents used to show off their children’s upward academic performance.  My parents were certainly, no exception.
Apart from being deeply steeped in the catholic tradition, OGSS was peculiar and very popular for many reasons. Firstly, students of OGSS (popularly known as Ojimgbo babes) never disappointed whenever their intellectual and academic prowess was called to question. So high was the school’s rating that parents living in different parts of the world: Britain, America, Canada and many parts of Nigeria usually “deported” their daughters to Imo State so that they would have a taste of solid Imo-bred education. Consequently, the best of brilliant amazons from different ethnic and social backgrounds were pooled together with a very strong expectation they’d acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes and skills they need to actively participate and succeed in the spheres of family, workplace and the country. Secondly, mundane requirements like background, class, wealth and social standing played very insignificant roles both in the admission processes and in the school’s handling of the students affairs.   Thirdly, the school was famed for the intense pedagogic competition among the students. Baits over the next captor of the coveted 1st position were commonplace just as the release of the results of Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) often impelled proud parents to pop champagne.
Today, the situation is dramatically different. Not only have standard and quality gone to sleep, but also those unique values and passion that united students: hard work and scholarly radiance have also taken flight. In the first place, the qualifying pass mark for consideration into model schools have been so lowered by the State Education Board to such a level that casts doubts on need to even designate certain schools as Model Schools. Not only that, the then revered Model School Entry Examination has suddenly, metamorphosed into an ordinary routine devoid of any intellectual coloration. For parents with means, the exam is simply a walkover while the sharp divides between the haves and have-nots permeate deeply into the admission processes and student-to-student relations.
With the predominance of a highly-educated populace in Imo State, the lowering standard of education, with resulting high unemployment rates has unsurprisingly, been a major cause of concern. Probably after having read the mood of the people, Governor Rochas Okorocha’s gubernatorial election campaign harped on the need to reinvigorate the educational sector, a strategy which effectively endeared many to his candidacy.  Just after his election victory, Okorocha’s declaration of education as the main agenda of his governance furthered inspired confidence among the Imo populations that a new dawn has indeed, come.
As Ndi Imo expectantly await Okorocha’s robust renaissance of education in Imo State, there are certain sad trends playing out in several states of the federation that HE MUST CLEARLY AVOID! For instance, aesthetical improvements (especially the repainting of school walls) in the physical environments of educational institutions have often been confused with increase in the standard of education. It is not uncommon these days for state governors to skew official emphasis on photographic objects and shine-shine structural improvements that do no more than attract a media hype that “education is receiving attention”. In one such Southern State where wonder edifice-styled  schools dot the length and breadth of the state, scant evidence and information exist to show that curriculum development and implementation, teaching methods and tools  received similar revamping. Another state in the West even resorted to providing akara balls to students as a strategy for increasing standard of education! Cameras clicked away as these phony initiatives held sway. Several years after the vigorous implementation of the structural enhancement program and akara ball provisioning in those states, boy/girl child enrolments in schools have not increased by even one percent while the failure rates of students in national examinations such as SSCE and the National Examinations Council (NECO) have remained constant, if not higher.Imo people certainly do not deserve nor expect this kind of media-frenzy improvement in education. There is even a strong likelihood that Imo parents may prefer to have their wards trained under trees and open fields provided the quality and standard of learning is guaranteed. With a high dose of anxiety, the good people of Imo State are looking forward to Okorocha’s unveiling of a sound sectoral policy that elevates education to the status of a fundamental human right for all Imo children. At the very least, such a policy must: 1.) expand the access of all Imo children to free or affordable education 2.) ensure that the curriculum and syllabus development for primary, secondary and tertiary education in the state meets international standards and best practices while not losing focus on the religious, cultural, and moral development of the child; 3.) ensure the continuous improvement of the material and welfare conditions of teaching staff; 4.) Ensure that teachers are subjected appropriate educational and training programs that take due account of socioeconomic and technological changes; 5.) and that school children are provided with adequate social and physical infrastructure that enable them learn in safe and non-exploitative environments free from physical and mental abuse.
Governor Rochas Okorocha must bear in mind that these justifiable expectations of Imo people are not photographic in nature, and as such, may invite the temptation to tow the less impactful, but colorful lines followed by other state governors. He owes Ndi Imo a moral and legal duty to stand out from the crowd, by reinventing the way and manner governance is done in Nigeria. Most importantly, the education revamp promised to Imo people must not just be certificate-oriented, but rather, be of such a nature that will propel young people to spearhead positive social change - leading community initiatives, operating small- scale businesses, and reshaping political processes. 
Nothing really stops Governor Okorocha from delivering on his campaign promise(s) to Ndi Imo. He is not known to have god-fathers nor associate with the same politicians-for-life in Imo State whose only known source of livelihood is aiding and abetting the looting of the state’s treasury.
Now that the yam, and the knife are in his hands, will he do the right thing, or will he - like by his predecessors in Imo State and other States of the federation - succumb to the alluring temptation of media-focused good governance? Only time will tell….Imo people are watching! 

(Ms.Victoria Ohaeri is a Lagos based human rights lawyer and pro-poor development activist)

Article: Imo State Governor And The Biblical Rehoboam

Okoroocha: Imo State Governor
By Kenneth Uwadi
Governor Rochas Anayo  Okorocha of Imo State   has announced   the sack of the Council Chairmen and Councillors of  Imo  state and  the Development Areas despite advice from several persons  not to do so . According to Okorocha, the present council system is characterised by corruption and indiscipline and has totally lost the confidence of the people. The governor also  announced the suspension of  what he called ‘the so called Ohakim 10,000 jobs’ By this action ,10.000 employed graduates of  Imo state working in various ministries in the state   have lost their jobs. Others that received the bitter leaf soup of the governor are the State Council of Traditional Rulers headed by Eze Cletus Ilomuanya and the Acting Vice-Chancellor of Imo State University Professor Osy Nwebo
I have said it that one thing that I see that may throw spanner in the works of the Okorocha´s administration if not put under control is the governor´s quick temper. His hot head makes him to make hasty decision not minding the legal implications of his actions. The governor easily jumps into a fray. His actions in recent times are evidence of bad legal advisers around him. Example of bad legal advisers at work is the sacking of council chairmen in Imo State and the disengagement of 10,000 workers. These are hasty decisions and unhealthy ones too.
To me the governor is stepping on the toes of the law. There are actions a newly elected governor should avoid due to sensitivity and consequences. Why do we have to make 10,000 persons jobless simply because we hate the man who employed them. Majority of the disengaged workers fought for the election of the governor believing that a Daniel has come to save Imo state. You can imagine how the governor wants to repay them for their votes, by throwing them into the unemployment market. The beneficiaries of the 10,000 jobs offered by the immediate past governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim have  staged a peaceful protest on the major roads of Owerri, against the suspension of the programme by Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. One of the affected workers while speaking with me on phone was weeping like a baby. To him the  governor has left them  unprepared to function in our modern economy.
Who doesn’t  know that  the sacking of elected LGA chairmen is an illegality that cannot stand the test of time or the scrutiny of a competent court of jurisdiction. They are democratically elected officials of councils and have specific period to be in office. This dissolution of elected council officials run contrary to the Constitution that recognises councils as the third tier of government. The sacked local government area chairmen have filed suits to challenge the matter in the law court.
I remember in November 2010  when the Nigerian House of Representatives  condemned the dissolution of the Ekiti State Local Government Councils by  Ekiti  State Government before the expiration of their term of office and directed the Accountant General of the Federation to withhold all funds due the 16 Local Governments until the Local Government Chairman are returned to their offices. The House of Representatives passed the resolution that federal allocation to Ekiti, Edo, and Ondo States be stopped until their sacked council Chairmen are reinstated
Another example of bad  legal advisers at work is the sponsoring of an   illegal impeachment of Chief  Goodluck Nanah Opiah  as the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly  with only eleven members of the house just five days to the expiration of the tenure of Opiah. Imo State House of Assembly has 27 members and impeachment of the speaker in accordance with the provision of the Nigerian constitution and the House Rules require 2/3 of members of the house. Eleven members resorted into legislative   lawless by breaking into the chambers and announcing the
impeachment of the speaker. The members were instigated  by Okorocha  to embark on a vendetta mission against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Chief Goodluck Nanah Opiah and ten other members of the Imo State House of Assembly have gone to court to challenge the impeachment of the Speaker and his Deputy by 11 members of the House. The purported suspension and removal of  Opiah  from office is unlawfull and  illegal and cannot stand the test of time or the scrutiny of a competent court of jurisdiction
Okorocha attitude is like that of the  biblical Rehoboam. In the bible ,Zadok  the priest took Rehoboam and made him king, and he anointed him and performed for him whatsoever the Law demanded. The people of Isreal set  him upon the king's mule, and said unto him, "All hail! Long live the royal father!" and the city resounded with cries, and the trumpet was blown. He was forty-one years old when he became king. Seven days after Rehoboam was  made king, the people of Isreal gathered themselves together to him , and they said unto him, "Lighten for us our labour, for thy father made it very heavy in the hewing of wood, and in the dressing of stone, and in making wagons for bringing down cedar wood ‘
And Rehoboam took counsel with the councillors and the elders of the house of the king, and they said unto him, "Answer them graciously. For at this present thou art like a young animal and thy loins are not able to bear the yoke. And now, speak unto them graciously, and say unto them, 'I will do for you everything ye wish.' And when thy hand hath gotten power over them thou  canst do with thy people what thou wishest." And Rehoboam  drove out the elders and brought in the foolish young men who had been brought up with him. And he took counsel with them, and told them of the message which the house of Isreal  had sent to him and what the elders of the house of the king had counselled him to do and the foolish young men advised the king to show no weakness to the people, and to tax them even more, which Rehoboam did. He proclaimed to the people,
"Whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, so shall I add tenfold thereto. Whereas my father tortured you with whips, so shall I chastise you with scorpions. For my littlest finger is thicker than my father's loins; and your backs, which bent like reeds at my father's touch, shall break like straws at my own touch. And if ye will not do my command, I will make your cattle my plunder, and your children shall be captives, and my knife of slaughter shall consume you. And I will seize your cities and your fields, and your plantations, and your wells, and your gardens, and your lands, and your fruit  and I will bind your honourable ones in chains of iron, and your riches shall provide food for my servants, and your women shall be for the adornment of the house of my nobles. And I will not alter this my decision, and will not diminish it, and I will neither make it to be a lie nor to have no effect; and I will carry it out quickly, and will write it down for ever.’
And the people all rose up together in anger, and they said, "Get back to your  houses, O Isreal. Have we none else whom we can make king save in the house of Judah  and in the house of Benjamin? We will reject their houses and the men of both of them. Jacta alea est.The die is cast. Imo people are watching
(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema,Imo State,Nigeria)

News Release: MEND Reiterates Planned Attacks

Due to doubts as to the authenticity of our previous statement by the Joint Task Force (JTF), the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is again stating it clearly that we will be commencing with our promised attacks on the oil industry and the occupying Nigerian government forces in the Niger Delta starting with the ENI group, the occupying government forces and then all other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
The justice seeking people of the Niger Delta have suffered long enough from decades of gas flaring and oil spillages which have only being tainted by bribes. 

We re-iterate our lack of respect for President Goodluck Jonathan. Rather than addressing the root issues responsible for militancy in the Niger Delta, he is misleading gullible foreign investors and the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta in believing his presidency marks the end of militancy in the Niger Delta. 

MEND and other armed groups in the Delta are not sacrificing the lives of their fighters for the provision of social amenities. We are fighting to reclaim our stolen land and restore our environment destroyed by the activities of irresponsible western oil companies.

Amnesty Charade:
The so-called Amnesty Committee headed by a Kingsley Kuku who is absolutely clueless of the Niger Delta issues is just another ploy to plunder the resources of the Niger Delta.
We urge the government to do the right thing by probing this amnesty committee and not listening to a group of miscreants calling themselves ex-creek warlords. This group of miscreants are only fighting to protect the bribes they are currently enjoying from the Nigerian government.

International con artists from America and other countries are claiming to have reformed the miscreants assembled by the government at its post-amnesty camps after two weeks. If it is that easy why is the American prison system over-burdened with about 2.3 million in its jails?

The Nigerian government should draw their vision from countries such as China and Russia who are advancing economies and not hypocrites like America with 14 Trillion Dollars in debt and 14.9% unemployment rate.

Hypocrisy of the United Kingdom and South Africa:
The British government has put itself at the forefront in the campaign to blame the problems of the Niger Delta on its corrupt governors. The real problems of the Niger Delta and core cause of agitation is the pollution and theft of our land by the oil companies and certain Nigerians from outside the region. Governors and other traitorous indigenes of the Niger Delta are mere collaborators.

The British government continues to act as a political thug to the Nigerian government, settling scores for the government in power as was the case with DSP Alamieyeseigha and James Ibori

Virtually every government since independence has looted the national treasury and transferred such stolen funds to British banks. The British government should in the spirit of transparency bring all these individuals who include ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and the wife of the serving president to book as the EFCC appears to have forgotten that Mrs Patience Jonathan was in the process of being charged with attempts to launder stolen money to the UK, the same offence former governor Ibori is charged with.

The EFCC should make public the names of all those implicated in the Halliburton bribery scandal the very same way they were quick in listing the names of bank debtors in the national newspapers.

It is very unfortunate that South Africa has decided to stoop so low and join the league of myopic African countries to be bullied by the Nigerian government.

This is a country that knows first hand what it means to fight for justice, slavery and human rights but has chosen to descend to the depths of countries such as Congo , Nigeria and Angola
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) salutes the courage and dedication of its fighters and land operatives who are preparing very hard for the resumption of our attacks.

Jomo Gbomo