Thursday, 1 October 2015

Article: Our Governor Is Rewarding Thieves

Governor Okorocha of Imo State

By Kenneth Uwadi

Last week Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State called Imo Civil Servants thieves claiming they are more corrupt than politicians. The statement credited to the governor was reported by the National Gazette newspaper. The governor’s reason for his government’s wicked denial of workers and pensioners their stipends for months is because of ghost workers fixed to payroll by some corrupt civil servants. We are still waiting for him to point out the civil servants in Imo state involved in this ghost workers thing so that we can shame them.

I hold that it is the monumental looting of public funds and mismanagement that have drained the finances of the state. Okorocha’s government has mortgaged the state's finances to financial institutions, in an attempt to implement policies and projects that put more money in the pockets of an already rich few. Today, in spite of billions claimed to have been spent on education, more than 95 percent of public primary and secondary schools in the state are in terrible conditions with no functional facilities for learning and teaching; while tertiary institutions are also understaffed and poorly funded. Public health institutions are also without adequate facilities with Imo medical workers crying over unpaid salaries. In spite of billions of naira claimed to have been spent on China road constructions, most of the road projects are now abandoned, while many local roads are in deplorable conditions.

Governor Okorocha who today is calling Imo Civil Servants thieves is notorious for rewarding thieves. Last time, I told you that over 3 billion naira was looted and carted away by the former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu. I told you that the former Imo Speaker awarded fraudulent Road Contracts to himself in Imo State using his friends as fronts and used the money he got from the road contracts scams to acquire eye popping mansions in Nigeria. I shouted because In the midst of abundant human and natural resources, the vast majority of Imo working masses live in abject poverty. The vast majority of Imolites are kept in unstable and difficult socio-economic conditions while a tiny fraction have exclusive access to things and comforts of life. I called Uwajumogu the International Thief Thief number one of Imo State . The entire money stolen by Uwajumogu alone is enough to begin to rebuild failed infrastructures in his Okigwe constituency. What did the governor do? He rewarded him with APC senatorial ticket . And when he failed woefully at the poll he nominated him for ministerial position.

Last time I also told you how Sir Jude Ejiogu the present SSG allegedly looted 1 billion naira LGA pension funds in the State when he was the Chairman of Local Government Service Commission. I totally condemned in strong terms this insensitivity to the plights of pensioners in the state. I said boldly then that Jude Ejiogu is the ITT (International Thief Thief number two) in Imo State. I spoke of why commercial banks operating in Imo State shut their doors against their customers for some days some time in Imo . I told you that when he was the Special Adviser to the Governor on Internal Revenue Generation (IGR) he collected millions of naira from commercial banks in the state as tax but diverted the monies into his own pocket.The State government later demanded the same tax that he had already collected from the banks and the banks had to go on strike for excessive taxation .

The governor knew I was saying the truth but what did he do ? He rewarded Ejiogu with the position of Chief of Staff and later made him Secretary to State Government . To me even the stoning of persons that stole money belonging to pensioners would not be sufficient to compensate the affected pensioners, if on retirement they could not receive their pensions . The motto of Nigerian pensioners reads, rest is sweet after retirement. Yes, this is a statement of fact, but for retired workers in Imo, their daily harrowing experience has proved the motto to be a mere wishful thinking. Rest could not have been sweet for aging pensioners spending hours, almost daily, asking for paltry pension they may not even get.

I also told you about Acho Ihim who currently is the speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly. I told you how Ihim, as executive chairman of Okigwe local government area in 2005 embezzled the sum of N48,274.29, through fraudulent means, for which reason he was indicted and removed from office. The Okigwe Legislative Council served Ihim a “Notice of allegations of gross misconduct,” with 25 allegations of fraud meted out against him. A six-member committee was set up to look into the 25 allegations. The committee had Hon. Chukwunonye Irouno as chairman, Hon. Chris Echefu Ogu as secretary and Hon. Emma Okoye, Hon. Paul Uche, Hon. Ejiogu Charles O. and Hon. U.K.P. Okereke as members. What did Rochas do? He used his influence to make Ihim the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, to continue his fraudulent activities and embezzlement of public funds.

This is the primary ideological reason why the Ejiogu’s , the Acho Ihim’s and even the Uche Nwosu’s are the chief advocates of privatization and commercialization of basic needs and social services in Imo State. Through this unjust strategy, they and the other members of the capitalist thieving cabal in Imo State have sold to themselves the remaining publicly built government houses and public companies at rock bottom prices, of course, with money directly looted from the state’s treasury. For 4 years I fought against them with my pen, for another 4 years I will fight against them. I have once again commence a campaign against looters in Imo like Okorocha, Ejiogu, Acho Ihim, Uche Nwosu etc . From week to week I will point out their evil deeds one after the other. Stand by me for the next 4 years. Support me for the good of Imo. Through their myopic, pro-rich, anti-poor economic and political policies they are driving Imo to a total dead end.

(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State,Nigeria)

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