By Rosemary Magnus

When we first pointed out in February this year, the unmitigated fraud being perpetrated by governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha in the Imo State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), reactions rained heavily. The unaware inquired where we were getting our information from, critics doubted our revelations as mere mud-slinging, while cynics accused us of partisanship and alleged that we were a group of relegated contractors whose stock in trade was to nail any government that did not serve our interest. Today, the truth has triumphed over falsehood, as no one is in doubt of the monumental fraud being systematically and comprehensively carried out in the Imo state SUBEB, ably championed by governor Rochas Okorocha.

For the benefit of those that did not read the February version of this article, please find this topic: “LET US 'RESCUE' IMO STATE SUBEB FIRST!” in Sahara Reporters and imostateblog. See links http://www.imostateblog.com/2013/02/08/let-us-rescue-imo-state-subeb-first-by-rosemary-e-m/


Despite all the mendacious attacks meted against us, our quest for the strengthening of Imo state SUBEB (for the fact that it remains the only veritable vehicle for the improvement of primary and secondary education in the state) remains unflinching. We earlier stated that the reason why Imo state SUBEB had been idle was because the state government failed to pay its own counterpart fund that would enable the state's SUBEB to access their money and start work. But today, we have gathered authoritatively that the payment has been made [thanks to the public uproar and condemnations of this government's disdain for Due Process that followed our initial revelations] but with some underlying motives which negates the entire essence of the establishment.

We all are aware that annually, each state's SUBEB's submits to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) their ACTION PLAN which is based on specific priorities they intend to meet within a given year for UBEC's approval. There are some laid-down rules and designs for carrying out these tasks in consonance with UBEC's standards which they are duty-bound to conform with. But this is not the case with the SUBEB in Imo state. The politics, the looting, the manipulation, the maneuvering and the abracadabra inherent in the Imo state government house, seems to have subtly and covertly shifted to the Imo SUBEB.

Imo state SUBEB though lagging behind in taking-off when compared with other states, has the sum of about 5.2 billion naira earn-marked for this year alone. This huge sum is meant for building and renovation of schools as well as equipping same accordingly. It should also serve other needs of the students and their teachers as captured in the ACTION PLAN which was approved by UBEC. But Owelle's government in Imo state has a different (looting?) PLAN.

To start with, Owelle's government does not want to give Imo state SUBEB a free-hand to articulate their priorities and execute their projects as obtainable in other states and in line with UBEC's guidelines; rather, the whole exercise is being done from the government house courtesy of Owelle and his slave-drivers.

Currently, Owelle's administration has awarded about 305 school buildings (upstairs instead of downstairs as approved by UBEC) to Roche. Which of course is a conduit to embezzle SUBEB's money. Till date, Roche (a company owned by Owelle Rochas) has no record(s) whatsoever with Imo state SUBEB as a contracting firm. It is still a mystery to anyone that has been following the happenings in the state how the company has taken over virtually all the contracts in the state including that of SUBEB and NDDC.

Owelle himself recently travelled to one of the Asian countries to purchase low-quality books, sandals, pencils, chairs and tables for the Imo state students. An act, that can best be described as a total waste of public fund and time. During his recent visit to the state, Senator Chukwumerije, the Senate Committee Chairman on Education, frowned at the deplorable state of schools in Imo state and how indolent the state's SUBEB has become. Surprisingly, after his 'launch' with the Governor at the government house, the Senator returned to Abuja and nothing was ever heard from him again except praise-singing for a dishonest governor. What a 'tasty launch'! As the rainy season draws nearer, the concern of any patriotic Imo citizen is the safety of our children in the secondary and primary schools. Some of them are learning inside some collapsing buildings, while many are learning under the trees (in a state where the governor is taunted as the 'Apostle' of free and qualitative education).

When this writers visited the Imo state SUBEB located along Port-Harcourt road Owerri Imo state, to carry-out our investigative checks, the Director, Dr. Mrs. UcheEjiogu was said to have travelled to Abuja. The several calls made to Hon. Engr.Nwizu, the Orlu Zonal Representative in SUBEB (who oversees the Works Department of SUBEB) remained unanswered as they said he went out on Schools Supervision. A staff who spoke to us on a strict condition of anonymity, revealed to us that the SUBEB in the state has been strangulated to the point that the state governor has forcefully instructed them to design the state's SUBEB ACTION-PLAN for Roche before submitting same to UBEC at Abuja. The implication of this is that the whole projects under SUBEB in the state will be carried out by Roche alone with no recourse to DUE PROCESS or consideration for other local contractors who are duly registered with SUBEB. By and large, the 5.2 billion naira earn-marked this year for SUBEB's Projects in Imo state will surreptitiously return to governor Owelle's pocket.

This afore-stated arrangement should give any concerned Imo state citizen a sleepless night. We must not allow this impunity to continue. We are by this article, calling on all and sundry to rise to the occasion and challenge this governor and his cohorts to dissuade themselves from this wanton embezzlement of the public fund meant for the betterment of our children and securing of their future. This abracadabra must stop in Imo state. Imo state is too big and advanced to be privatized by a few greedy ones. We are getting tired of the gross dishonesty of this the-more-you-look-the-less-you-see-government. We also call on the law-enforcement agencies like ICPC, EFCC etc to beam their investigative torch-lights on the financial activities of this current government in Imo state. We must not wait until 2015 to do what we ought to do today. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine!

Rose Mary Magnus.
[email protected]
Imo Must Be Better

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