By Ugochukwu Favour-Mayor
The system of politics in Imo today seems to be changing, following recent happenings in the state. People are beginning to assess the immediate past administration of ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim and that of his successor, Governor Anayo Rochas Okorocha. From the recent reactions from the people, it seems to be that history is vindicating Ohakim.
And such reaction from different zones of the state is making me to ask about the kind of politics and government we are experiencing in Imo. I would like to counter emphasis from the recent national problem that Nigeria in a whole is experiencing, the flood issue. For example, Imo state is never an exception, as we already know that the Federal government has released the sum of N400 million to flood victims.
And that has made me to ask how a reasonable person could set up a committee to receive the said amount of money for Federal Government’s intervention fund to assist flood disaster victims in Imo State, while the victims are distressed? Even at that, it is now perceived that the money might lead to political crisis in the state as some top politicians and stakeholders are already kicking against the committee set up by the state government to disburse the funds and relief materials to the affected communities.
Also, it was learnt that the relief materials donated by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and those donated by Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC) were allegedly shared based on party affiliations. What party affiliation? However, it was based on this premise that some people faulted the composition of the state government’s committee set up to oversee the distribution of the materials and funds to the flood victims.
They observed with dismay that the committee headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, has proved incompetent in managing the post-disaster crisis, alleging that the relief materials brought for the victims by the NDDC was shared to party loyalists instead of the victims. What a world? Should we not be rescuing Imolites from the rescuer? Now, the victims of the flood disaster in the two council areas of Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta are yet to be provided a camp by the state government and are still exposed to health and security risks in a state governed by a rescuer!
Meanwhile, without counting losses over the outcome of the 2011 general election, Ohakim still went further to visit the affected communities where he donated food items and cows to the communities. He was accompanied by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and his running mate during the 2011 general election, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, and by a number of top politicians in the state including the former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Goodluck Opiah, State Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Sir George Eguh, the member representing Oguta State Constituency, Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu, the former commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon. Kelechi Okpaleke and Ohakim’s personal friend and brand consultant, Prof. Chinedu Asinu-Anosike of Cona Anosike Support Foundation Incorporated.
However, Ohakim assured the people that he would do everything within his power to ensure that they were given what was due to them. According to him, “I want to assure all of you that I would do everything within my power to ensure that whatever has been given to you must come to you because you are my people and you have always listened to me”, he said. Also Prof. Onwuliri assured the people that the Federal Government would never abandon any of the victims affected by the flood disaster.
Ex-Governor Ikedi Ohakim was accused of every bad thing on earth: He pocketed N100 billion bond money; pocketed N8 billion meant for the dredging of Nworie River; personally assaulted a Catholic priest; did not create 10,000 jobs, that the ring roads and flyover bridges were NDDC projects, not his, and that there was no Wonder Lake project, etc. Today, the people know better. Those who deliberately leveled those accusations against the former governor are the ones now asking themselves whether they were actually guided by their conscience. I see nothing that could be said Ohakim did against the people, what you hear is: “Ohakim worked but he is arrogant.”
Don’t you think that in Nigeria today when someone is courageous to approach issues it will then be noted as being arrogant? I still ask, has the song not changed for Ohakim, whereby making history to vindicate him? Ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim till this moment is a big issue, even in his absence as the governor of the state. While as the governor, everything that happened in Imo state was all leveled on him. Even when some men’s inability to have their wives conceived, blames will be thrown on Ohakim.
The commercial aspect of it is even more interesting. For example, about eighteen to twenty two Owerri-based newspapers would go to town without a front page story with banner headline on Ikedi Ohakim. Beyond Owerri, some newspaper columnists would not write without a mention of Ikedi Ohakim even if the topic were to be outside politics. But today, the song has changed. You need to see how the people laid complaints on how the present government in Imo turned its back on them.
Why? Because they voted against the wish of Okorocha in the last election that brought Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu, as their representative at the State House of Assembly. And that’s exactly the rejection the people of Mbaise are getting from the present government in Imo. It is quite unfortunate that the people at their last Iri Ji festival described his act as an unforgivable spirit, following his shun to their annual festival. And if I may ask, if Oguta and Mbaise are turned back at by the government, has the entire Imo not been turned down? A new song indeed! Ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim is a man I see as being so multi-faceted; it is practically impossible for me to even capture his essence in such a limited space.
Being multi-faceted, he can simply be distinguished as an achiever who helped to re-chart the developmental course of Imo State, re-directing it to success, and raising the standard of governance and public accountability in Imo State and Nigeria at large. But within a short period of time, the people who sent for the killing and crucifying of Ohakim forgot his intimidating profile, background and humble beginning. Ohakim is a man who not only shunned godfatherism, but described them as analogue politicians who are aimed at moving the state backward. Of course, he has set the pace for Rochas to follow.
A pace he set, waiting for his second tenure vision to be consolidated, but never worked, now Rochas is enjoying it. Yes, he Rochas confirmed it when he openly said at 80th birthday ceremony of the mother of the Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, that: “Ohakim is my predecessor, the footprints Ohakim instituted are what I am following. I cannot have problems with Ohakim. We are brothers and cannot quarrel”. Favour-Mayor writes from Owerri