The Viola Onwuliri fear factor continues to hunt the Governor of Imo State
Amidst the preparation for the arrival of the President to the Imo capital, the Gov tried to score some cheap political points. He made an unscheduled visit to inspect one of the on-going projects in the State capital. The project is a drainage gutter, barely 2.5 feet wide on one side of Anokwurundu Road (a street that is barely passable to two cars) in St Francis part of MCC Road. Gov Rochas Okorocha, OON, drove himself wearing jeans and t-shirt, amidst his entourage in about 10 cars plus the contractor handling the project. He was met by a young mother (from Uruala in Ideato) of a 3-month old baby. The Gov held the baby for a while and dropped some undisclosed amount of cash for the woman, presumably for her young daughter. This being a shopping area some of the traders came out to applaud him. One of the shop keepers, a lady, came out to sing praises of the Gov, calling him Gov for life.
Sad faces crept in the traders' faces later when different interpretations of the Gov's statement 'clear the road' started emerging. Will the 'face caps' of the shops be shaved, they wonder? Meanwhile the earth dug out from the gutter was not removed by the constructing firm so the shop keepers were paying N1000 each to labourers to remove the mud piled in their shop fronts in order to permit access to their clients.
Please recall that towards the end of last year, the FA Minister requested that the Imo Gov gave an expenditure account of monies in form of allocations he received on behalf of Imo State, including Sure-P Fund, Erosion control, Flood money, LGA Allocations, NDDC allocations and other Sundry monies, Gov Okorocha demanded that other past governors rendered their account of stewardship before he will do. May I add to this list the various loans the Imo State government obtained which the ordinary Imolites know nothing about. I am pretty sure that the Gov's view on accountability must be different now, just a normal thing to do!
What money, what account does the FA Minister want? What about the small gutter in St Francis that failed the first test, it rained on Wednesday night and the receiving gutter was blocked, or not even opened up to connect to connect to the main drain, the gutter overflew. I understand that the contractor had some relationship with the Gov (this may be tittle-tattle), it won't surprise me to hear that the project had been paid for completely or even overpaid. So look no further my Hon Minister, the monies are in small gutters, small roads, monuments, excavated buffalos, abandoned street gates, roundabouts around Owerri and, may be, elsewhere! A student hostel belonging to IMSU by the Anglican Bishop's house remain uncompleted despite accommodation pressure on the students yet new buildings of unclear use and ownership emerge here and there in Owerri. The ring road that would have eased congestion in Owerri is not in my Gov' plans it seems. The road linking Naze to Obinze (passing by PolyNekede and FUTO and forming part of the ring road) is receiving attention again; I hope it goes to completion this time before the rains come back. Some of the monies the Hon Minister is talking about are buried here in several lateritic surfacing on this road that was rain-washed. The roundabout at control blocks the view of Assumpta Cathedral, coming from Onitsha…. the face of Owerri! That at Orlu Road/Bank Road is a menace, all the roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and arabesque-style balls interfering with the skyline would have provided a fly-over that would make for smooth traffic, only if Imolites had been consulted! The negative reaction of Imolites against the monster the Gov installed at the Fire Service roundabout and against the abortion bill he signed into law would have taught the Gov that Imolites do care and should be consulted for major structural and social changes. 'Imo must be better', and this should be for all of us and not just for the Gov and his cronies. Do I need to talk about the comic constructions that look like Walt Disney, around the Govt House, the Okigwe roundabout that is oversize and causing monumental traffic chaos, or the one at IMSU junction? The State library is barely visible or accessible in an educated State, orchestrated by a Gov whose foundation included education. My Gov, where will your educated people work? Uche Amadi, the IMSU graduate (he made a Second Class Upper Division) is busy knocking together some pieces of wood making his DIY (Do-It-Yourself) kiosk at ……., in readiness for selling mobile phone recharge cards since no job has come his way since completing NYSC. You will find this hilarious…. asking students why body cells get rid of proteins and other stuff not in the right location…. among many responses was this one. 'They do not want it to be like Owerri when rubbish is not collected'. Funny, but it happens unacceptably too often. There is no intention here to catalogue the achievements of the Gov, or lack of it; he has done a lot, some good, some bad and some less desirable. Of course there are a lot more to do.
I was in one of the shops and before opening to public for the day's business, there was a meeting going on inside. It was between a Pastor and two of his clients. These clients ordered some prayers from the Pastor at the cost of N200, 000 but asked for refund because the prayers were not working. The Pastor asked them to have patience that the prayers would come true. The clients were having none of it. Pastor got up to leave and the clients held him back. In the ensuing scuffle they broke a table and a couple of plastic chairs. The shopkeeper surcharged both parties, the amount being payable before leaving the premises. Out of curiosity I wanted to know what the prayers were about. And no one would tell me. It filtered out later that it was about the clients starting their own churches!!!! Both clients were IMSU graduates; please I am not taking a mickey! I drove slowly from Road Safety junction, through Toronto roundabout down MCC Road by Pilgrims Drycleaners, next to Jude Agbaso's house (the impeached Deputy Gov who was either guilty as charged or not guilty) I counted about 8 churches to Toronto roundabout (distance about 2 Km) and to Agbaso's house (3 Km) 48! The count was not comprehensive, some would be far away from the road and some would not have sign-posts. What can I say, second to petty trading, working as 'a man of God, 'god anointed' or 'man-anointed' is job of Imo State. I have even heard that some church was pulled down in Irete by OCDA!
One Gov cannot do everything even with more money coming to the State for, among others, reasons of specialism and democratic knowledge. Gov Okorocha specializes in roundabouts, monuments of all sorts, domes and rounded objects and statues and …………., someone else will have to come and alleviate the poverty the gutters have imposed on our people, someone who will be more consulting including beyond his own area of expertise, someone who will allow tenders for contracts, someone who will entertain plurality of opinion and not run a State House of Assembly Uwajumogu-style. Someone is needed who would work with other levels of governance in the State, the Nation and the international community. Above all someone who will create jobs for the youths and all, and banish poverty from Imo State, someone who will allow business to flourish, someone who will allow dignity to return to imolites!
Someone once said and did put it this way, 'no bald-headed man has ever been the President of the United States', a bow-legged man in Imo state, I just realized, we are understanding people in Imo, what has bow-leg got to do with it!!! Imo needs more than just APC.
Finally may I leave Imolites with this story to think about. Uche Onyechere, a petty trader and a hardworking one, trained his younger brother Paul, a brilliant hardworking young man, to university education. This time he read Engineering at FUTO (I told you that I was not taking the mickey out of IMSU, my beloved University that I sent a 40-ft container of books to, from Cambridge). Add to his one-year pre-degree programme, Uche paid Paul's school and maintenance fees for 6 years. Paul, a polite young man loved and appreciated his brother for the sacrifice. Uche's business started going down due to down-turn in the (state) economy; his own children are growing to school age and he needs help himself. Two years post-NYSC, Paul is yet to secure a job and he is trying. Paul needs money for everything, job application, food, transport, clothing etc. Uche provided all these in the past but now cannot afford that; he is in fact expecting Paul to start paying back. He gets irritated whenever Paul makes a request and Paul is beginning to interpret Uche's attitude as unfriendly and increasingly makes no further request from him. Both men are now arch-enemies. Only if there was job, of some sort, the love between the two men and the hope in the family would not have been dashed. Even Ohakim's 10,000 jobs per year would have rescued many hopeless situations. I had actually thought at the time that Gov Okorocha would scale up youth employment. How are you thinking now my Governor?
She asks these questions of the Governor; accountability, jobs, poverty reduction, dignity for our people, hope for all Imolites, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, the Hon Minister supervising the FA Ministry does ask. Her contributions to fighting HIV-AIDS at state, national and international levels are well documented. Her role in job creation, the development of FUTO as FUTOWA President including the creation of childcare facilities for staff and students, the establishment of the child development centre and the elevation of the status of women in FUTO are all there for everyone to see. She brought in many politicians and operators of private concerns for investment into FUTO as part of PPPI. During the memorial of her husband, the immediate past FUTO VC, she brought in many Ministers of the Federal Republic and they did make pledges to FUTO. FUTO and the people of Imo state have benefitted from the expansion of FUTO. I am sure that my current VC, Prof C. Asiabaka would follow the leads and get whatever for FUTO and Imo state, especially on the provision of e-learning facilities, water, electricity and student employment. I am happy that my VC still affirms commitment to academic excellence in FUTO, and I wish him good luck, and all of us too.
Women development and Community Health Projects (WDCHP) is the Minister's NGO and women and families in Imo State have benefitted, receiving medical enlightenment and attention, gifts and empowerment through skills acquisition and material incentive geared to poverty alleviation. Together with Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorathy Oparaoji Memorial Educational Fund (ECUDOMEF) and Prof Onwuliri Foundation (PROFOUND), scholarships and other aids to students, orphans, widowed, the physically handicapped, the sick and the whole family have been availed to the people of Imo State. Together with her late husband, she elevated the status of the church in the State, country and the world. 'Imo is in the hands of God', may we all be blessed. As a Minister of the Federal Republic, she has always directed the attention of the central government to her own State Imo, while on her enormous task of building links with all countries of the world. The eminent Biochemistry Professor even champions the development of the Igbo language. How else do you show love to your people and state? This write-up is not about Prof Viola Adaku Onwuliri, but it is pretty obvious that this level of love shown to own State and people would make her ask questions of her Governor on the state of our State. I hope the Gov would find the wisdom and see this as the concern of a genuine stakeholder and address the issues raised appropriately for the good of our State and people.
The Hon Minister, thank you for your love and care for our State Imo. May God bless you and Imo people. I recall that Gov Okorocha offered you a Commissioner position in his government (confidence in you must be one of his reasons) which you politely turned down, I have always known you as an energetic lady in the academics, I now add your foresight to that. I, on behalf of all that love our State Imo, once more say thank you the Hon Minister.
Just as I was doing this write-up President Goodluck Jonathan was being received in the State and the reports coming out of the state capital is that the Imo governor had gone AWOL!!! My Gov, Imo people gave you their votes in 2011, so did they for GEJ, please stay in the state, ask and obtain what you can from the President and the Federal Government for the good people of Imo state. A few special projects from the central government will help Imo.
I O Onyeocha, FUTO.