Rochas Okorocha and the disadvantaged Owerri zone by Ada Ifufe
First of all I must state that I am no politician, neither do I have any liking for politics as practiced in Nigeria. However I have come to realize that part of the problem (not just with Nigeria) ,is that those who have access to the media tend to portray their message as more important than the majority who say little.
I have read with interest the uproar (politically motivated or not) which greeted the purported relocation of the Imo State University by Mr Rochas Okorocha,the Governor of Imo state. Most people from the Eastern part of Nigeria may be familiar with the song 'Obodo nile emepechala o fodu Okigwe n' Orlu,ndi anakpo Okigwe amaghi akwukwo'. For those non Igbo speaking people from outside(or within) this region, this is a derogatory song which states that 'all towns(or lands) have developed except Okigwe and Orlu, people from Okigwe are unintelligent'. As most informed minds know,songs are reflective of societal views and values. I do not know the origin of the song but this gives an idea of the years of neglect meted out to these zones and the contempt with which their neighbours view them.
From the time of the creation of the East Central state and the Owerri zone had the good fortune of having one of their daughters as the first lady; those in the know will remember 'Onye ube ruru ya racha' there has been intense efforts and lobbying to relegate other zones to the background to the benefit of Owerri zone. None of the subsequent governments had the will, to take a decisive action to balance the uneven spread of government establishments. This is the same mentality prevalent in Nigeria whereby one section believes they have the right to all the allocation and resources of government. Orlu zone's total neglect over the years, was not helped by the tendency for its politicians to always be in political parties different from those ruling in the state.
People from Owerri zone have the right to protest even if it is not justified. Yet that does not in any way remove from the positive impact of this relocation. Once in a while halfhearted efforts had been made, to give the semblance of a balanced allocation of resources . The mention (especially by those protesting) of the college of medicine located in Orlu is a travesty. Those from Orlu may still remember the closure of the then highly acclaimed Bishop Shanahan Teachers Training college, to make way for a campus of Alvan Ikoku college of Education,which did not last neither was the Teachers Training College reestablished. Here is a breakdown of the institutions of higher education in Imo state and their locations
1. Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri
2. Federal University of Technology Owerri
3. Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri
4. Imo state polytechnic Umuagwu Owerri
5. Micheal Okpara College of Agriculture Owerri
6. Imo state University Owerri
There are still more federal education institutions and centers not mentioned. For indigenes of a state with limited industrial and commercial facilities, educational facilities are a way of not just educating the next generation, but provide economic opportunities for the people living within its vicinity. It was interesting to read that Senator Chris Anyanwu pointed out the economic advantages of having the university in Owerri in her protest. As a renowned journalist and now reformer, she never bothered to note the concentration of all the higher institutions in Owerri zone. Imo state does not belong to Owerri zone alone, it is for and to the benefit of all to have an even spread of resources and infrastructures. I cannot hold brief for Governor Okorocha or his politics but with regards to the relocation of Imo state university, I say about time.