By Kenneth Uwadi
According to Albert Einstein ‘The world is a dangerous place, not only because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing’ Another philosopher, William Blake said “When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do." As a citizen of Imo State, I am worried and will continue to speak out on the manner of politics and public disservice Governor Okorocha of Imo is practicing in our State.
I am justified if i call him the lawless one. The lawless one is at it again. He plots to continue looting our council funds. He plans to dissolve the councils within the month, as according to him, their tenure expires on August 8, 2012. He plans to hide behind tenure expiration to indulge in another illegality. One of his illegality was the unlawful sacking of the elected chairmen by mid-2011.Another illegality was his disregard of court order and usage of armed military men to prevent the chairmen entrance to the councils. Now he plans to illegally dissolve the tenure of the reinstated local government chairmen.
The Imo state commissioner of information, Chinedu Offor in an official statement tried to justify the plot to dissolved the reinstated local government chairmen claiming that by law, the chairmen’s tenure should end by August 7, 2012. I don’t blame Offor. He is one of the foreign legions that were called to join the Okorocha team that has already started counting their finger-tips on how many more days for the reinstated chairmen to be dissolved and how much LGA ‘agbata ekee’ ( loot ) that their principal will "share" amongst his ‘Ndi onya-akpa-eli-ozu ‘ crumb seekers. After one year of eating akara by road side, drinking pure water on top of dirty gutters, controlling traffic, pushing trailers, driving keke and looting of our council funds, they are not satisfied. They desperately want to hold on to their loot. We say No’ to this. The reinstated chairmen by law are to complete the fourteen months that was stolen from their mandate and additional one year that will terminate by August 2013 then a fresh LGA election will be conducted.
We say No to the looting of our council funds. Ohaji –Egbema LGA is one of the 27 LGA’s in Imo State .Ohaji/Egbema LGA alone from May 2011 to July 2012 (15 months)got from FG the sum of N2,433,068,564 ( two billion four hundred and thirty three million sixty eight thousand five hundred and sixty four naira). By monthly breakdown from May 2011 to July 2012 Ohaji /Egbema got from FG the following: May 2011=N99,552,368.16, June 2011=N142,843,073.22, July 2011 =N253,067,757.47, August 2011=N148,018,034.06, Sept 2011 =N149,672,290.06, October 2011=N174,830,095.49, November 2011=N238,711,643.56, December 2011=N150,297,048.85, January 2012=N169,659,035, February 2012=N150,405,585.79, March 2012=N187,944,149.61, April 2012=N151,952,400.75,May 2012=N140,788,505.15,June 2012=N140,999,587.34, July 2012=N134,326,990.50.
Where are the monies? What is the actual amount sent to Ohaji/Egbema TC chairman by Imo State government? We want to know where Ohaji/Egbema allocations from FG ended up. How much is Ohaji/Egbema staff strength? How much is the staff salaries? Where has the surplus gone to? What is the remuneration of Paramount rulers of Ohaji/Egbema . Where are the local roads, health care centres, modern schools and markets for Ohaji/Egbema? Where are the projects to speed up development? Where are the millions of naira for Ohaji /Egbema? A visit to Ohaji/Egbema in Imo State will confirm that lack of basic amenities has made the area a ghost environment. Portable drinking water are all spoilt, Roads are now very bad, our schools (primary and secondary) are now in deplorable and dilapidated condition. No cottage industry, no agricultural development. Ohaji/Egbema LGA staff are not paid their salaries as at when due. Yet huge allocations were allocated for the LGA by the federal ministry of finance (Federal Account Allocation Committee).
The 2.4 billion naira I mentioned is only allocation meant for Ohaji/Egbema .What about all the other LGA’s in Imo State? Where are the monies for our LGA’s? Okorocha and his Caretaker Committee Chairmen siphoned the money. They have fattened their purse so much with local government funds that it now amount to taboo for us to have elected council officials in our councils. We say No to this.
I challenge the Imo State government by virtue of the FOI Acts to make public the actual monthly allocations paid to the TC chairmen of the 27 Imo LGA’s since May 2011 so that we can make comparison with that of FG at our disposal. FOI Act guarantees access to data held by the state. They establish ‘right-to-know’ government-held information. I challenge ICPC and EFCC to investigate what is currently going on in Imo State LGA’s. I am disappointed with the manner Imo Council funds are being looted. It appears the National Assembly has also lost courage to make laws and stop the illegal usage of TC committees in our LGA’s. How can we move forward in Imo State where the governor is holding our LGA to ransom and taking merchandise of their allocation.
We say No to the ‘America -wonder’ taking place in our LGA’s that is negatively affecting the lives of Imo masses. What is bad is bad irrespective of who is doing it, your man or our man. Until we begin to stand up for a true democracy Imo will not see light. Why is Owelle afraid of democracy? Why he is afraid of giving the people the freedom granted them by law to have their leaders at the grassroots’? Why is EFCC mute over what is happening in Imo State? Why is the Federal House mute on election matters at the LGA levels? Is it not wrong to adopt dictatorship in a democratic set up? What goes around comes around. We have to support the truth if we must see development and progress in Imo State.
We don't have 1 k/m of completed road by this administration in Ohaji/Egbema, no classroom block or water project completed by this administration and some people expect me to keep quiet. Okorocha’s Aides have started boasting of arresting and jailing me for speaking against the lawlessness taking place in Douglas House. If they want to arrest me, I've got an address, they are welcome to come and arrest me. Arresting me is dancing the surugede dance without knowing that the surugede is a dance of the spirits. We know that undemocratic processes are those that are intolerant to different views, those that use state power to deal with those that disagree.
I will not be intimidated to stop speaking my mind as a Nigerian citizen. One of the fundamental elements of democracy is the right to free speech without having others trample on your opinion. Arresting me on account of my criticisms of government amounts to breaching of Section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which allows all citizens open-power of expression and freedom of commenting on both Local, State and National governments issues. It also violates international norms on freedom of expression.
Nigerian constitution stated that the duty of every citizen is to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides. The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).Save us o’ God.
(Uwadi Writes From Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria)