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Okorocha Has Abandoned Projects He Started In 2011 – Uwajumogu

The drama in Imo State, especially with the ward congress, has rippled and roared all over the country. What happened?

The truth was that the APC as a national party scheduled ward congresses for the 5th of May in all the 36 states and the FCT. On that day, a day before then I must say, we were made to understand that the governor of Imo State had requested that we swap the panel that was coming to Imo with that of the panel that was in Anambra State because according to him, he didn’t know who the panel members were.

We accepted that swap with caution. However, in the morning of Saturday, the 5th of May, the governor sent a detachment of security people to go and pick up the panel in Anambra while the party chairman also sent his vehicles to go and pick up party chairmen. When they got there, there was almost a shoot-out in Awka, the capital of Anambra State.

The chairman of the panel and three other members insisted that they must follow the party vehicle as they had no arrangement that was in the plan for the governor to take them over. And eventually, the remaining three people were forced to enter the governor’s vehicle to come to Owerri. And they were taken to Government House and detained. Same morning, the governor personally went to Protea Hotel where the panel that was now to go to Anambra State were having breakfast and on his own abducted them, drove in a bus and took them to Government House. And they kept them there till very late in the day, almost like 1pm. And all of this was in a bid to collect the result sheets that was meant for the elections. He kept on asking them for where the result sheets were.

So, the entire drama started by the abduction of the panel that was to conduct these congresses. And all this was done by the governor because he wanted the result sheets. And eventually the panel that eventually came to Owerri reported to the party office where the party office had a stakeholders’ meeting. We now escorted, all of us went to the police station to go and report to the police because thugs were brought in by the government to terrorise us.

Over 200 thugs terrorised at the party headquarters. When we now got to the police station, the commissioner of police who eventually arrived brought with him the panel that the governor had hijacked. And they started detaining everybody. The two panels demanding for the result sheet. It wasn’t until they realised that congresses had started and that the result papers had been given to the electors that had gone to the various local governments to elect the party executives that the governor now rushed to Senator Izunaso’s home, accusing him of keeping the result sheets.

So, the question everybody keeps asking is that, what business did the governor have to do with the result sheets of a congress which he was not the panel that was to conduct it?. He was not a member of the panel, the local panel that was chosen by the state party, neither was he a member of the panel that was chosen by the national. So, the long and short of it is that the election held. It was peaceful, it was successful and thousands of our supporters and members of the party came out and exercised their franchise. And we elected ward officials who have in turn elected the local government officials.

Now, the interesting thing here is that it looks like there was a decoy. This whole drama appeared as if there was a decoy. The governor was pursuing something and you guys acted as though you were playing game with him whereas the real election and the real papers, that is the result sheets he was looking for were already in operation on the ground.

Who played? Did the vice president demand for the videos?

Yes, we did not only play for him. We also gave him the video.

Why did you do that?

And in some of the videos you would see staff and commissioners of the governor and his aides conducting congresses on the same day.

You know, when this thing happened. After this thing happened, the governor went to the president, to the vice president and so on. Was that the reason why he demanded the videos, to know what really happened?

But, the truth remains that because they were pursuing the result sheets, the other members of the panel who had been released by the governor addressed the stakeholders panel and the stakeholders’ meeting and released the results, the documents, the result sheet. Every local government accredited three people to come to the state and they were eventually sent to the wards to go and conduct the ward congresses. So, they all went with the result sheet, conducted them and returned it. INEC certified the results. If you see INEC report on the matter, the summary is that 27 local governments conducted elections but the elections took place at different times. At least, 27 local governments, 305 wards.

Now, the interesting thing is that the senators, including you, Izunaso, the deputy governor and a number of stakeholders, were in on it. How come the governor did not know that there was this, would I call it conspiracy or gang-up or plot to undo his plans? How did it happen? How did he not see it?

You know, there is saying that when everybody is wrong and only you is right, then, you should examine yourself or examine your process. When all the leaders of the party, we’re talking about two former senators and one is a national organising secretary of the APC. Senator Hope Uzodima who is a ranking senator who has just joined APC, myself who was a former speaker of Imo State house of assembly, so many leaders or former commissioners, other leaders of the party – all of a sudden, you know, we found the policies of the government as being very oppressive.

I’m sure the press, you have been writing about all the policies of the government that were very inhuman. For example, you were aware at some point in time that pensioners were asked to collect 40% of their outstanding pensions and then sign that they have collected, a waiver that they have collected their final salaries, that is pension that was due to them. Medical workers have not been paid for almost four years. Salaries of civil servants have been paid in the bridge.

Less than 70% of their salaries have been paid in the last three years despite the bailout that has been collected by government, so many people are being owed salaries, workers are being owed, contractors are being owed. Meanwhile, the government is busy pulling down peoples’ homes, pulling down to do the project they call ‘Urban Renewal’ which nobody has ever seen that kind of urban renewal in this world. Peoples’ homes are being pulled out without any compensation paid to them whatsoever.

More than 17 markets in rural areas have been demolished without any market being rebuilt and people have been put out of business. Sometime in December, about three or four markets were pulled down. Even in Owerri capital territory, there is a place they call the New market where the traders begged the governor and said to give them the opportunity to trade, after Christmas holidays, they wold themselves pull down the market for him.

Now, these markets have been pulled down and as I am talking to you, nothing has been done about rebuilding them and you ask the question, ‘what was the rush in pulling down these markets?’ You came into government in 2011 with the strong support of artisans, the okada people, the keke people, the bus drivers, the workers, everybody supported him when he came in 2011.

Today, as I’m talking to you, none of these people are supporting this administration. He has lost all the support that we garnered in 2011. I was a speaker of his house for four years. All the projects that we started has been abandoned. We can’t find one concluded project in Imo state that makes any economic sense or with any regenerative capacity. And Imo State as at today has one of the lowest IGR in the entire country. It should not be so.

You were one of the very first people to really support this administration when it started. You, Izunaso and co. You had great hopes on him. How did things turn round? And did you stop him? Did you try to caution him at the beginning?

We were so much on ground that during the elections that brought him into power in the second term, he won almost 22 local governments. And in 2015, after the election, we expected that he would build on those positive programmes that he started. Eventually, he abandoned all those projects and started all these inhuman policies that were tipping the generality of the people against us as a party. And you don’t need to go too far and you know, the worst part of it is that his decision to impose his son-in-law on the state using state resources, using all forms of arm-twisting. And the son-in-law comes from the same zone like he comes from.

He comes from the Orlu Senatorial District. And Orlu Senatorial District has already been in power in the last 20 years of democracy for 16 years. So, his son-in-law who comes from the same zone is now been imposed on us for him to now be our candidate and if he wins, he will run there for eight years. And we’re like, generality of our party men do not accept that. And he is doing this with so much impudence. If you do not agree with him, then you become enemy number one in the state. People are not even allowed to associate with you if you are seen as a staff of the government or an aide to the government, even talking to me or visiting my house, you are sacked over the next day on the radio. That’s what Imo State has become. In the over 40 years of Imo State existence, we’ve never had this kind of administration.

How did he get to acquire, as you say, this kind of attitude? How did it get to this stage?

Well, you know, they say… I really don’t know. Me, I’m still surprised. I still find it… You know, they say, he that the gods want to kill, they first make mad. But, they also say that he that man wants to kill, they first make god. So, I think what we have here is a situation where he has taken his popularity for granted and he thinks Imo people have become foolish and stupid and that is the worst mistake any leader can make anytime.

And people like us who came up with him and worked with him, gained some fame and political relevance. He gets it wrong because he believes that when you talk to the governor, he is like, these are the people like I made this man speaker. I campaigned to make him senator and I’m supposed to accept whatever he dishes out. If people are not happy with him, I’m supposed to accept it. I cannot stand up for the people that elected me to be their senator just because I want to show that I’m grateful to the governor.

So after we won, I spoke to him. I personally went to him on several occasions, especially after the Ikoku market demolition. And I said to him, this matter, we must do something to make people realise that we care about their feelings and all of that. So, when he rebuffed all our moves, we went as a group. Even, he refused to see us or grant us any audience. Most of us decided that this was not for us. We had to pull out. And that is the result of our pulling out.

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