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26.05.2012 Feature Article

Governor Okorocha’s One Year in Office

Governor Okorocha’s One Year in Office
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It is one year now since Governor Rochas Okorocha came into power. He came into power on a tidal wave of voters support for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He dispatched Chief Ikedi Ohakim in the governorship election, which saw the APGA take the top post in Imo State. Okorocha was sworn in as Governor of Imo State on May 29th last year. He promised to reinvent Imo and help create a climate for business and job growth. I once watched him in a workshop organized for his executive, introduce his postulated economic theory, the one he called “Rochanomics”. In that workshop he said that 'Rochanomics' is a political principle based on liberation from political bondage. The 'Rochanomics' political philosophy to him is grounded on restoring of the fundamental essence of government, which is to create jobs ,create an environment where the people are secured in their rights to good life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

One year of his four year tenure is over. The question is how has the Okorocha administration performed in Imo State so far? Is the Imo 'Rescue Mission' on track or do they need to go back to the drawing board? As usual his spin doctors have started celebrating his one year performance on the pages of newspapers with adverts just to buoy their egos and selfish interests. As I write, Okorocha's one year of achievements in office is still running in several Newspapers and online blogs. In their spin they are saying he is not only a performing Governor but one who has more than the needed credentials to take over from President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

The irony of the matter is that our governor who is expected to wake up from his slumber is the one dominating the pages of Newspapers in the name of one year anniversary. These spin doctors are enumerating non-existent projects and policies as the governor's achievements so far. We need to ask the spin doctors if insecurity and youth unemployment in Imo State are ways to celebrate 'Rochanomics'. According to Abraham Lincoln, You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

If Imo citizens didn't know who Okorocha was before, they do now. According to a recent SP poll, 88.6 percent of the 400 randomly selected Imolites dislike strongly Okorocha's one year performance in office .They are praying he make amend for the better in his second year. They believe his actions are harming the state. Imo people have shown their anger on the governor twice this year. He has been booed twice. They booed Okorocha when he was addressing workers at the State Secretariat last month. In March too, he was booed during one of his state of the state address in Owerri.He was speaking to people of the state telling them that Civil Servants can now beat their chest that their salaries come to them by 25th of every month and their 20,000 naira minimum wage has been paid. The Governor was interrupted with shouts of No! Na lie!. The people began to boo him. The State SSG,Prof Anthony Anwuka was also booed and jeered this year at the May 1st workers day celebration. In Imo politics and governance, public goodwill is everything. If there is any politician who should understand it more than others, it is the Imo governor who rode on the wings of massive public goodwill to the Imo government house.

Okorocha's problem started when immediately he came into power ,he sacked thousands of workers employed by the last administration. The youths that were employed to beef up the public service in Imo state were sacked and they remain without jobs till date.Secondly,the people got angry when he introduced military style of leadership in a democratic dispensation.

Anele, an employee with ISOPADEC, gave Okorocha a solid low grade in his one year in office.“I think he's not done a good job,” Anele said. “I think he's not got for himself pretty good advisers, and that's why he is having a lot of problems with the masses. A good leader begins with a good team and uses the best qualified .A situation where MDAs are subjected to generate their salaries and allowances; where contractors are subjected to fund government projects to completion without payment, where more than 10,000 Imolites were deprived of their legitimate jobs without payment of their entitlements is bad''

Obinna from Emekuku, in his own remark said he is down and angry about Okorocha's one year in office. “ I got angry when he lied that he paid 12years pensions to retirees whereas he merely paid 3months arrears to them . I hate it when any one tries to attract undeserved applause''Anayo from Umuoji,did not appreciate Okorocha's efforts and vowed not to vote for him if he plans a second come back. 'We all witnessed how he rebranded all the Hilux vans in the State to lunch a security outfit to secure our people but yet security situation in Imo State is worsening. Check out the current alarming rate of kidnapping, and armed robbery in the State. Checkout the embarrassing way and manner criminals abduct Imo citizens demanding ransom before their release. This is failure on the side of government. To me with high rate of insecurity in Imo state ,his one year in office is a dead one''

Sidney,a businessman in Owerri is not on the Okorocha bandwagon. The introduction of a fourth tier Government and appointment of community speakers does not impress Sidney. ''I am against formulating policies in the state without due process; policies such as the creation of community speakers without the input of the house of assembly. Our governor knows that it is illegal to impose an unconstitutional process on the people. Nigeria does not have fourth tiers of government.What we have is third tier and it is enshrined in the constitution.We must make the legal local government councils functional in the constitutional way.''

Okorocha's words and actions have left some persons feeling a little disillusioned. “I found the governor's style far more autocratic,” Nnenna said. “Okorocha has governed more like a right-wing extremist. Why must he be relocating workers to their communities? Why must he cripple all Ministries, Department and Agencies of government in the State by starving them of funds. He even made promises we have come to believe are not within his proven capacity to deliver. He promised N100million development fund to each of the LGAs in the State, which till date is yet to be realized. He also promised another N1billion to each of the LGAs which too has not been realised. The so-called N20,000 minimum wage has not been paid to civil servants. N11,000 is what is paid to Imo state civil servants.'

Ijeoma a student said that Okorocha has done well in the area of road construction but that the majority road works are all at their teething stages and should not warrant any self glory or applause. According to her ,he has awarded major road contracts, rehabilitated many,especially in Owerri which gulped into millions of Naira.She however lamented that the award of these contracts did not follow due process.

Iwuji and Jideofor both disliked Okorocha's approach to free education in Imo State. To them impress to run the primary and secondary schools have not been made available, which invariably affects the quality of the free education in Imo State. Even the N100 a month stipend to public school children was last paid in November 2011. They see the promised free education scheme and mouth-watering bursary for all Imo State undergraduates as mere political sweet talk. They believe that he can never sustain the proposed free education for tertiary schools.

Madu an unemployed graduate, said he cannot praise the governor in his one year in office because for one year now he could not create jobs for Imo youths rather he sacked more than 10,000 Imo State graduates in the State Civil Service. To Madu, he has no reason to sack the workers.He believe that the governor has failed in the area of job creation. “Imo State unemployment rate remains far higher than the national average, our state has been downgraded again, and investors are eager to escape the abysmal business climate. All in all, it is a grim picture this one year.” Madu said .

Now the question on the lips of Imo people is “if Okorocha cannot give good account of one year with surplus money coming from here and there, where will the magic come from, also how can one expect performance from Owelle now that the economy is battered in terms of revenue whereas precious time and money were wasted on frivolous matters.The governor is borrowing too much money and wasting too much on useless jamborees such as the upcoming Imo Youths summit in America.

My friend Herbert Kinsley once asked, who is the rescue government actually rescuing or for whom is effort made in that direction? He also asked who borrowed the N10billion and N50billion respectively in 2011, and which were approved as supplementary budgets by the Imo State House of Assembly? Who borrowed N6billion for repayment of purported loan owed to UBA PLC by the past administration? Who borrowed another N6billion for supposedly counterpart fund for UBE, ETF, MDG, etc? Who, also, borrowed N5billion for fruitless adventure of re-surfacing good and motorable roads in Owerri municipal? Who, too, borrowed a whopping sum of N10billion for phantom infrastructural development? They should not forget that nobody that fails to perform well in public office will escape the wrath of Imo citizens whether you are redeeming, reforming or rescuing.

-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria

Kenneth Uwadi
Kenneth Uwadi, © 2012

The author has 91 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KennethUwadi

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