Posted by Grand News | 19 October 2017 | 2,830 times
Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo State, has come across as an unconventional governor. He has also become a man who courts controversies, without actually minding what the people say.
Elected on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2011, the first major controversy Okorocha brought to his governance was when he left APGA for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the chagrin of Imo people, who elected him based on the conviction of the name of the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
That move set the stage for a soured relationship between the governor and the governed. But he was lucky. Just before the governorship election in 2015, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the APC won the presidency, thereby deflecting focus from the then dominant Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But the South-East and the South-South offered the greatest resistance to what would have been an APC rollover in 2015. Till date, the two zones remain the only places in the country where the APC does not have a strong hold as it would have wished.
Being the only APC governor in the zone, we expected Okorocha to be a shining beacon for the party – a model for why South Easterners should believe in the APC as the government.
” That assertion becomes real when situated that it was the performance of Babatunde Fashola, then governor of Lagos State that the APC benchmarked in 2011 to wrest the remaining parts of the South- West – Ogun, Oyo and even Ondo last year from the PDP.
We, like other people, had expected Okorocha to be the selling point of the APC in the South-East. However, we note with dismay, that rather than being the hope expected of him, Okorocha has become an example of what governance should not be in Imo State.
Not too long ago, the governor embarked on a weeklong celebration of his 55th birthday ceremony. We found the elaborate celebration, at a time of massive want and recession across the country, as not only insensitive to Imo citizens and residents, but a demonstration of the governor being out of sync with the realities on the ground in his state.
To crown the vanity in the bizarre celebration, Okorocha displayed 27 cakes, possibly representing all the local governments in the state for his birthday.
The level of ostentation can only be condemnable The reasons are not farfetched. Of all the states in the South-East, Imo workers have been the most distressed in terms of payment of their salaries.
All across the state, workers, from medical doctors to civil servants and local government workers have been battling Okorocha over unpaid salaries. Many pensioners in the state have even forgotten their due.
Unlike his counterparts in Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra states, who are not APC, but are paying their workers as and when due, Okorocha has broken all barrier of anti-labour rules in his over six-year stay in office.
Road transport workers and commercial tricyclists have protested the poor governance in the state. Douglas Road in the centre of Owerri is today a road nobody passes. Heaps of refuse have replaced human beings on the road.
What of the Ekeukwu Owerri debacle that has pitched him against Owerri natives? The list of the governor’s misadventure in the state appears endless. But while Imo citizens were still reeling in the pains of all the maladies brought by Okorocha, he still had a joker.
Just last week, he unveiled a statue of the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, at the centre of Owerri. He named a road after Zuma and awarded him what he termed the highest honour in Imo State, Ochiagha Imo (the grand commander).
We believe that a governor of Okorocha’s standing should be sensitive to the feelings of his people. The honour to Zuma, coming at a time Nigerians, mostly the Igbo, are killed regularly in South Africa, is not only mistimed, but demonstrates absolute disdain for the people of Imo State and Nigerians generally.
What more? The use of state resources, manpower, apparatus and even land space for what is Okorocha’s strictly private affair, is at best the epic of mismanagement of goodwill.
We state boldly that the said agreement Zuma came to sign with the Rochas Foundation was Okorocha’s private business, which should have been handled for what it is – a private matter.
Using public funds and resources for private business in a state where civil servants, teachers, local government workers and even pensioners are languishing in penury is a poor advertisement to the APC brand, which prides itself as progressive.
It is our conviction that Okorocha needs to apply caution in mixing private business with public funds. We suggest that he be more circumspect in the handling of state affairs in order not to further offend the sensibilities of the governed, as he has done in the past few weeks.
*New Telegraph. October 19, 2017.
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