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Retrospective review of Imo State under outgoing Gov. Rochas Okorocha

Uzoukwa Ebere
His emergence, Governor Rochas Okorocha was greeted with joy. The people offered an immeasurable support and showed him love. He was embraced and hailed as a messiah and redeemer upon his declaration to run for the governorship of Imo State under the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). While hiding under the cloak of philanthropy, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha hoodwinked and politically seduced Imolites to curry massive support. He successfully become the governor of Imo State and was sworn-in amid celebrations on 29th May 2011.
Before the inception of Okorocha’s era, Imo was relatively stable on the voyage of socio-economic stream. Chief Achike Udenwa, who governed the state for 8 years (1999-2007) upon the restoration of democracy, laid a solid foundation for the socio-economic advancement of the state. The legacies as bequeathed by Udenwa include but not limited to the State Secretariat Complex, Area ‘H’ Housing Estate, Chukwumanwoha Housing Estate, Agro-Nova Agric Project and durable road projects delivered across the 3 senatorial zones. Upon taking over the reins of power from Udenwa, Chief Ikedi Ohakim in progression sustained the legacies inherited from his predecessor. The little he achieved within the four years he reigned sustained the economy of the state. Both Udenwa and Ohakim were not found wanting in the payment of salary and pensions. Though with limited and obviously scarce resources, the two former governors never infringed nor slashed workers’ salaries and entitlements.
But the fortune of Imo and its people under Okorocha for about eight years he has held sway has fatally nose-dived. The philanthropist-governor, to say the least, has destroyed and decimated all known socio-economic fabrics as well as cultural norms and heritage for which Imo and its people thrive.
It is regrettable to state that roads and public buildings constructed and erected by Gov. Okorocha have failed all within the lifetime of his administration. This was foretold immediately the governor dismantled established bureaucracies and administrative procedures as well as etiquette and protocols that guide government functions to operate a one-man show under the guise of governance.
With the absence of competent contractors and sincerity of purpose, Okorocha dramatizing a self-styled and personalised approach to governance, recklessly created death-traps in Owerri capital city and Imo at large through his unskilled labourers and quacks he assigns government jobs. The damage and colossal loss inflicted on the state and its people have become so conspicuous and alarming that the hitherto cleanest capital city is presently adjudged the dirtiest city in the country. The substandard roads that are mocked and branded ‘china’ roads constructed by the governor through fronts and surrogates have not only defaced Owerri and flagrantly altered its original master plan, but has with absurdity diminished the dignity of Imolites in terms of quality and taste.
It is unfortunate that projects that could have formed Okorocha’s legacies have either collapsed to his face or abandoned midway. Examples of failed, abandoned and poorly executed projects that hallmark Okorocha’s era include the 27 general hospitals littered across the state, 15km rural road projects for each of the 27 LGAs, Okigwe township stadium, the Princess hotel Okigwe, the Owerri Prince Hotel, the Owerri tunnels that are more of death-traps and the College of Education Ihitte-Uboma. Others are the Heroes Square, Ikemba Ojukwu Center, Imo International Conference Center, Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies (ICAPS), Owerri Modern Car Park, etc.
It is also on record that Okorocha’s dysfunctional government which largely promotes mediocrity adopted a ‘scale of preference’ that has not impacted on the lives of the people. How does one explain a situation where a governor lavishes state resources inviting African leaders and heads of government including those with monumental records of corruption to a red-carpet treatment and jamboree that have no direct or indirect impact on the socio-economic well-being of his state? Imagine a governor spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money to erect statues of heads of government and individuals that have no contributions to the development of his state?
Instead of embarking on projects and programmes with the potentials of uplifting the socio-economic conditions of his people, Okorocha rather chooses to go on a demolition spree. Apparently hiding under Owerri Urban Renewal Project, the governor without showing mercy, destroyed major markets in Owerri and its environs. There are no indications that his readiness and plans to rebuild the demolished markets. The affected markets include Eke Ukwu Owerre, World Bank Market, Orji Market, New Market Owerri, Anara Market Isiala-Mbano, Iho Market Ikeduru. There is no gainsaying that the governor has inflicted a severe hardship on the people especially the low income earners and petty traders that merely feed on daily earnings from the markets.
While the political class and majority of Imolites are regrouping to ensure that the right person with capacity to redeem and rebuild Imo succeeds Okorocha, the governor on the other hand is leaving no stone unturned in his avowed bid to foist his Chief of Staff and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu on the people. A cursory survey into the political turf of Imo suggests a return of the governor with a grip of the political structure of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He had returned to assume control of the party through the support of Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, the newly elected national chairman of APC and a few collaborators in the presidency. The governor was earlier displaced by a coalition of forces led by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Senator Osita Izunaso, Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu, Prince Eze Madumere and a few other Imo politicians in APC.
However, the severe task of retrieving a ‘battered’ Imo appears to be gaining the consensus across party lines and massive support from the electorate. Many believe that another 4 or 8 years under Uche Nwosu, Okorocha’s son-in-law, will be tantamount to a monumental disaster and ruins capable of grounding the state. The camps of the opposition APGA and PDP are swelling as defections continue to hit Okorocha’s Imo APC. The electorates are not left behind as they gear up with the curiosity to democratically stop the governor and his son-in-law. This suggests that the 2019 political battle in Imo will be fought between Okorocha’s family and Ndi-Imo.