OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR ROCHAS OKOROCHA: BEFORE THE WHIRLWIND BLOW
28th February, 2014 Governor Rochas Okorocha Executive Governor of Imo State Government House Owerri Your Excellency, BEFORE THE WHIRLWIND BLOWS This letter is written to you with the best of intentions.
It is important certain issues that touch on you and your administration are brought to your notice.
It is three years plus Imolites celebrated your triumphant victory at the governorship election and I must admit that thereafter the people of Imo State have not had it so bad and so good either.
This is because you have done well in some areas while you are yet to come to terms with the fact that there are salient issues which you are yet to address before the polls come in January 2014.
First you deserve commendation for the mature manner you handled the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to Imo State recently.
Despite the grand-standing and the noise put up by the PDP in the State over Mr.
President's visit, you fulfilled a very important obligation by receiving the President at the Imo Airport.
The PDP thought the noise they made over the visit will scare you away from receiving the president and his entourage.
Your presence at the airport is in line with the duties and functions of the chief security officer of Imo State which you are.
That you did not allow the noise made by the PDP in the State to compel you to shy away from performing your obligation shows you are a man that knows his onion politically and one that cannot be intimidated in a State you govern.
However, the visit of Mr.
President has uneviled the fact that there is serious polarisation of the political class in Imo State.
It revealed the political position of major stakeholders in the State.
It also shows that the race to Douglas House, Owerri in 2015 will be a tough one.
The visit also revealed that those eying the Imo governorship seat are bent on doing anything to oust you from power.
Anyway, that is politics.
The bitter truth is that the PDP in the State are unhappy that they lost power to you in 2011 and they are bent on kicking you out of office in 2015.
They are ready to go extra mile to achieve this purpose.
This is a fact and they will not leave any stone unturned to achieve it.
You must not loose sight of the fact that the visit of Mr.
President has energized the PDP in Imo State.
They have been strenghthened and have received enormous boost and encouragement.
So expect fierce attacks from the opposition camp henceforth.
This is why you have to change your political tactics and strategies.
You can no longer think that the PDP will be overran the way you conquered them in 2011.
The factors responsiblefor their exit from power in 2011 is no longer the same now.
The political climate in Imo State then and now is not similar.
In 2011, there was a clamour for change.
The then Governor, Ikedi Ohakim did not help matters.
He aggravated his political ordeal by failing to keep his tongue in check.
He was at war not with you and those who contested against him but at war with the people of Imo State.
The support of the masses he lost became your biggest electoral advantage.
Then you were the beacon of hope and the one the people saw as an instrument of change.
The rest is history.
I will not say you have failed to live to expectation because you strive day and night to prove to Imolites that you are bent on delivering the dividends of democracy to them.
Your unquenching desire to transform Imo State has continoulsy manifested.
Even the blind can see the infrastructural renewal going on in Imo State.
Whether the projects undertaken by your administration are sub standard or not, Imolites can see a leader in you who has the burning passion to work for them.
You have proved to be a chief servant- a worthy leader whose interest is to deliver.
This has been your greatest weapon against your political opponents and this is why the PDP will resort to unconventional methods to bring you down in 2015.
My dear governor, you must take cognisance of the fact that in 2011, the electorate wanted Ohakim and his PDP gang to go.
The question you should ask yourself is, what do Imolites want from now to 2015? Do they want more projects? Do they want money in their pockets? Do they want a change of leadership? What do they want? They will decide what they want because neither you nor the PDP can decide for them.
That they hail you with shouts of Owelle, Owelle does not in anyway imply that they are 100% in support of all your actions as their governor.
They are watching the political terrrain in Imo State very carefully.
They are observing your political dancesteps.
And whatever happens in your camp and that of your of political opponents between now and 2015 will determine the outcome of the next elections in the State.
As for projects, I think we have seen a good number of them from your administration .
You have surpassed the achievements of previous adminstrations in the State in this area.
But it has become expedient that your adminstration diversify a bit by striving to put in place industries and factories that can employ our youths.
There is a high level of joblessness in the State.
The opposition till date crucify your adminstration for sacking 10,000 youths who were gainfully employed by the Ohakim adminstration.
With the elections around the corner,you need the support of the most potent segment of the Imo electorate which is the Imo youths.
Imo youths need jobs.
You must provide jobs for them.
The Youth Must Work Programme initiated by your humblself seem not be working or simply put, has lost steam and momentum.
Therefore, there ought to be a more realistic approach to engage the youths of the State if you intend to convince them to embrace your political party- the APC.
Some Imolites will prefer you to return as their governor in 2015.
Some do not.
They will however embrace the PDP if the party will offer them what you are not offering them or failed to offer them.
The Imo electorate is gullibe, prone to all sorts of political antics by politicians.
But they are not ignorant.
They are informed and knowledgeable about the dynamics of governance and politics in the State.
They can read the political compass of the State and predict what will happen now orn in the future accurately.
You must read their mood.
You must understand their mindset.
You must understand their perception about ongoing political development in the State.
If you fail to adjust your style of governance and refuse to introduce people oriented brand of politcs, then there will be cause for worry for you in the next elections.
At this juncture,you must resist the urge of making public promises that you cannot fulfil in the near future.
No matter how attractive such promise might be, you ought to weigh its workability or otherwise before you pronouce it publicly.
It is important you take a look at the promises you made in the past and work towards fulfilling most of them.
I can tell you authoritatively that someone somewhere could be keeping record of all the unfulfilled promises you have made to Imolites.
This can be counter productive by the time you come out to contest or seek re election as governor.
The PDP has suceeded to instill in the minds of Imolites that you are a promise and fail governor and that your Government is stingy,delibrately starving them of money.
They say you are sharing poverty and delibrately shutting opportunities that will create wealth.
Across the nooks and crannies of the State, money is not circulating.
There is cash squeeze in the State.
Some civil servants lament that since you assumed office you ordered for the removal of certain benefits accruable to them.
Though you increased monthly minimum wage of public servants to N20,000, there is discontent within the civil service.
Some of your actions have not gone down well with majority of them.
At a time, there were rumours that some parastatals were denied pay for a long period.
There are also reports that there is forceful retirement going on in the Civil Service, in addition to uncomfirmed reports that some parastatals are yet to get January 2014 salary.
Pensioners in Imo IBC are lamenting over unpaid arrears for several months.
Some aides in the last adminstration complain that they are owed severance allowances.
Most of the Boards you reconstituted are yet to function because you have failed to provide the logistics for them to do so.
Some of your appointees are also redundant.
So of them have no offices and official vehicles to operate.
The Elders Council you constituted is ineffective because you failed to motivate them after their inuguration.
If these allegations are true, it is a minus for you as the election comes close.
Much as power comes from God, God does not come from heaven to install leaders.
Leaders need the people to suceed and triumph.
This is why they say the voice of the people is the voice of God.
You must engage a large chunk of the Imo populace by ensuring that they are considerably happy before the coming elections .
In addition to the projects initiated by your adminstration, you need the happiness of the people if you intend to suceed in your next political voyage in the State.
You should also show appreciation to those who laboured for you in the last elections.
A good number of them see you as an ingrate who has failed to reciprocate the effort they put in to ensure your sucess in the 2011 elections.
Your Excellency, it is important you tell us your position on the forthcoming elections.
Daily, reports rent the air that you want to contest the presidential election.
Some of your aides are unaware of what your next political move is.
Your body language however tilts towards recontesting for a second term as Imo governor while you also have your sights on the presidency.
There is nothing wrong if you aspire for the latter.
But you should know as Chairman of APC Governors forum, the APC is the political platform the North wants to use to dislodge Goodluck Jonathan from power in 2015.
And if you say you want to aspire for the Vice Presidential ticket of the party what are your chances? If the North clinch the presidential ticket, what happens to Bola Tinubu and his army of supporters in the South West who formed the nucleus of the APC.
? Will they watch you, a mere joiner in the merger of oppostition parties that gave birth to the APC to take the Vice Presidential ticket of the party? Remember you never took APGA to APC, you went there as the only governor from the South east and you were embraced by the originators of the merger for the singular reason to use you and your position as a serving governor in the South East to strengthen the support base of the APC in the region.
So you must watch before you leap.
You must survey the political polemics in the party before you say you want to contest for the Presidency Or Vice on the platform of the APC.
Now is the time you come out openly and say what you want in 2015.
This will enable you plan well and stay focused.
If you must contest for a second term as governor of Imo State, you owe it as a duty to lubricate the wheels of your political party- the APC in the State.
The party in Imo State is rusty.
Partymen and women ought to be mobilized and empowered to be fit enough to confront the PDP.
A situation where the APC in the State remain in tatters and pieces due to poor funding is unfortunate after a year the party came on board in the State.
This is regrettable.
A situation where party men and women attend meetings in Government House with you and go home without transport money is simply abhorrable in politics.
It is unheard of and does not portray you as a good party leader.
It has caused murmuring in the party.
Remember murmuring leads to disaffection that nourishes discontent .
If this becomes prevalent in the party, then there is cause for alarm.
Because of the sloppy take off of the APC in the State, the PDP sucessfully branded APC a boko haram party in the State.
This propanganda was allowed to spread like wild fire because nothing was done by you and your partymen to erase this wrong insinuation bandied about by the PDP against the APC.
This has stuck onto the party, and if nothing concrete is done to erase this tag on the APC in Imo, all the party's candidates risk loosing at the forthcoming elections.
And I must say that your inability to engage your partymen to join you in the task to remove the tag on APC as a boko haram party is responsible for the slow and unsteady growth of the party in Imo State.
The counter response from your media handlers on this issue has been feeble.
More work ought to be done to change this dangerous propanganda inflicted on the party by the PDP in Imo State.
The APC is like a growing plant in Imo and if it is not properly nurtured and watered, it will not be strong enough to overrun the PDP.
You should not lose sight of the fact that the PDP had been in power for over 12 years in Imo State before they lost it to you.
They have political tap roots across the nooks and crannies of the State.
During their reign, they focused on looting the state coffers dry, thus they still have enormous resources to prosecute any task they want to.
This is why they are battle ready for the next elections.
You cannot afford to underrate the potency of the PDP in the State.
The party won the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency seat in 2011(then you were a serving governor in APGA) and lately Oguta House of Assembly re run election where your then party-APGA laboured with the PDP before INEC declared the election inconclusive.
At the wards and LGA levels in APC, the party wallows in lack of funding and little or no tools for mobilization.
There is no clear cut or well defined structure.
What we have are uncordinated structures.
The registration of APC members in the State cannot be said to be 100% sucessful.
We were told that despite the fact you funded the registration exercise some of the ad hoc staffers that carried out the excercise complain that they have not been paid for services rendered.
If this is true, you ought to address it urgently.
Again, majority of APC members wear long faces.
They complain that 'nothing ' has been forthcoming into the party unlike their counterparts in the PDP who smile home with crisp naria notes after a party function.
The opposite is the case in APC in the State.
We are yet to see APC party men and women celebrate and rejoice of the fact that they are members of the party in power in Imo State.
This is regrettable.
This will continue to persist because you have not empowered your lieutenants enough to enable them assist you fund,aid the growth and development of the APC in the State.
It is important to bring to your notice that most of your appointees complain.
They may lack the guts to tell you pointedly their grieviences against you.
But behind you, they complain bitterly.
This is so because everything in your administration revolves around you.
You practically do everything yourself.
Is it that you lack capable political footsoldiers or you simply do not trust them to undertake some responsibility for you? Even some tested politicians who came on board your administration are feeling frustrated because you have failed or delibrately refused to create the enabling platform for them to operate.
Though you are not a new face in Imo politics, you cannot completely have total knowledge of the ever changing political dynamics in every locality in Imo State.
Stop being decieved by the shouts of Owelle! Owelle!! whenever you visit the hinterlands in the State.
That was how they hailed Ohakim and called him Ikiri and in the end they kicked him out of office.
You must put up a connection point between your government and those at the grassroots.
This is why you ought to involve your men in the task of building the APC in Imo State.
Those who know the art of politicking in the State and have come to join you in your rescue boat ought to be energized by you to carry out this responsibility.
I will suggest the introduction of Apex leaders in each of the local Governments.
They must be credible politicians who have the capacity to sell your vision and your party's ideals to the people.
They will serve as a rallying point for your supporters at the grassroots.
You cannot know all the needs of those you govern It is advised that you poach the camp of your opponents.
You have litte or no political titans in the APC.
The APC national leadership demonstrated recently that they are artful political poachers.
And you saw the fruit of this strategy.
You saw how five PDP governors and 57 members of the Federal House of Representatives defected from the ruling party to pitch their tent with the APC.
You should have replicated same here in Imo State.
You should not have allowed the PDP to remain intact.
I expected you to split their ranks long time ago.
Not everyone in Imo PDP is happy over the way things are done in the party.
But because you did not offer them a handshake, you did not look in their direction, you did not open your door for them to come in, they decided to stay put.
We saw how Blyden Amajirionwu, the party's publicity secretary was thrown out of the party because he disgreed with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
There are many PDP stalwarts that are ready to move to your camp.
Some of them are not so happy in the party.
But they are not forthcoming because it appears you shut the door on them.
You should not have allowed former Governor Achike Udenwa to return to the PDP.
firstly, he is your kinsman, secondly, a politician in the State who understands the power of the grassroots and thirdly he is an astute politician.
Udenwa erected Redemption political group and it remained one of the most potent political groups in the State.
Even when he left office, Redemption remained.
Ohakim's New Face structure crumbled immediately he left office.
But that of Udenwa stood erect.
His return to the PDP remains an advantage to PDP in Imo State and a minus to the rescue mission government and the APC.
I know those who must have advised you to let Udenwa go.
They did so because they were scared of him.
But it was a political error on your part to let him quit the APC.
Owelle, you must understand that in the last election Imolites voted for you on 'credit'.
This time it will not be so.
You cannot convince the people of Imo State to vote for you again with similar tales of promises upon promises and sweet oratory speeches.
The beauty of democracy is the happiness of the people.
Much as the massive infrastructural renewal in the State is most welcome by the people of the State, you must go beyond using it as a bait to woo voters to vote for you again.
There must be a whole new approach to build a solid support base for your administration between now and the elections.
It is pertinent to remind you that former United States President, Bill Clinton said that politics is all about money, money, money.
In otherwords, you must learn to oil your political structure with money, good money, not pittannce.
Party men and women should have no reason to complain when they belong to the ruling party in the State.
A situation where most of your political footsoldiers complain bitterly that much is not forthcoming from you to oil the APC structure in the wards and local governments is something to worry about.
When those who work for you, clap for you when you say My people, My people and they repond with Our Governor, Our Governor, it does not imply that they are in total support of your actions or what you say.
They complain in silence over some of your actions especially your inability to fulfill your promises.
Much as you are relying on the Community Government Council(CGC), the CLO and other pro rescue mission structures to campaign for your re election at the grassroots, it is a statement of fact that the CLOS,the GLO s complain over lack of funds to empower them to drive home the noble objectives and aims of your Rescue Mission.
A situation where a paltry N5,000 is given to CGC members for sitting allowance makes a caricature of the entire initiative.
Such sittings rarely take place because of the unwholesome acts and actions of the Executive secretaries whom you appointed to supervise the CGC at the grassroots.
Because they are civil servants, they are not in sync with the political dynamics that surround the set up of the CGC.
I suggest that you instruct the Local Government Transition Chairmen to have a synergy with the CGC and the GLO in the Local Governments.
The Local Governments is where your support base is.
Therefore, you must not toy with it but ensure there is harmony of your structures at the grassrroots.
In some areas in the State, the CGC is dead.
It is not functional and operative.
Because it is new and alien to imolites, there will be increasing apathy towards the concept.
There is need for harmonization of all pro rescue mission structures in the local Governments in the State.
They are runnning in different direction.
Most times, there are clash and overlapping of functions and duties amongst them.
This is so because you failed to streamline their duties.
There is also urgent need to conduct the local Government election in the State.
The CGC election which you say you want to conduct should not overshadow the need for you to democratize the local Governments.
The Councils have remained redundant for three years after you sacked and refused to obey a Court Order to reinstate the 27 Local Government Chairmen elected during Ohakim's reign.
You must know that elected Local Government officials are imperative.
It will strengthen the bond between your government and those you govern at the grassroots.
There has been a cold war between your Deputy, Eze Madumere and Your Chief of Staff, Jude Ejiogu.
This has been severally reported in the local media.
The bone of contention is the seat you occupy.
Because they feel rightly or wrongly that you want to go for the presidency,they have intensified quite campaigns to suceeed you as Imo State Governor.
This has created disharmony among your aides.
It may interest you to know that the altercations has divided your government.
Some of your aides have pitched tent either with Madumere's camp or that of your Chief of Staff.
This is dangerous and you are the architect of the division.
If you had stated your next political direction clearly and earlier, there would have been no basis for this sharp divison in your adminstration.
Your subordinates will not have seen the need to be angling for your seat.
You must not allow the matter or feud to degenerate.
A divided house does not stand.
It rather creates room for your political enemies to come in.
This will be the major undoing of your government if you allow it to escalate.
You must close the gap and ensure you maintain a united house before the elections come around.
Already the camp of your political adversaries have continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
Aside the PDP who have singled out itself to wrestle power from you in 2015, the worst enemy is the enemy within.
It is like a green snake in a green grass.
You must take a second look at your appointees and re-assess their level of loyalty.
The defection of your former commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Barr.
Sorronandi Njoku to the PDP must not have come to you as a rude shock.
It is only an eye opener to the hidden chameleons in your cabinet.
However,many of them are unhappy with the way you starve them of funds and nod in dispproval over this action.
Futhermore, there has been concern that most of your family members are the ones enjoying all the goodies in your Government.
You are said to have enriched them so much through contracts.
This is in the public domain.
This is totally not in tandem with the ideals you preach about governance in the State.
It is at variance with your gospel that most of the funds accrurable to the State from the Federation Account and other sources are channelled to projects you have embarked upon.
Imolites are not happy that while they groan over cash squeeze in the State, your siblings and in laws are living large in the State, riding state of the art of cars and acquiring properties all over the State.
It creates a bad image about you and your administration.
It contradicts the tenets of your rescue mission agenda.
Some of your relatives are said to be eying elective offices as well.
For instance, your in- law who is the local Government Chairman of Owerri North LGA wants to contest for Owerri Federal House seat despite the fact you appointed him the Chairman of that local Government thrice.
Your son in law, Uche Nwosu, who is the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development is eying the Federal House seat in Nkwerre LGA.
Their body language already shows that you are keen on handing over to them the APC tickets in those areas.
There is nothing wrong if they do have political aspirations but if they must emerge as party flagbearers, they must go through the party's primaries.
If you circumvent the process of electing party flagbearers just to satisfy and favour their ambitions, then expect an armageddon to hit the APC in the State.
The PDP and APGA are already waiting with glee and pleasure those who will fall out with you in the APC.
It is advised you provide the required level playing ground for all contestants to participate in the process of seeking for elective office.
If you fail to do so, you will be shocked with the level of defections in the APC in Imo State.
Recently, you were reported to have said zoning is a forgone issue.
This has created political dislocation within your political family.
By this pronouncement,you only succeeded to put up a political time bomb ticking to explode in the APC in the State.
Zoning has been part of the political culture in Imo State.
It has significantly guided the people in choosing their representatives for various positions.
It may be out of place in democratic norms but it has proved to be workable in the democratic environment in Imo State.
The Imo Charter of equity was designed to strengthen zoning in Imo State.
It was done to ensure that political power is rotated among the three geo political zones in the State to promote fairplay and equity among our people.
This has contributed to stabilize and enhance political harmony among various communities.
We have also seen less political choas and its attendant positive effects in the communities across the State because of the adherence to the concept of zoning of political offices.
For you to erase it will lead to political disaffection among the people.
It will erode the mutual political understanding existing among the people long before you became the governor of Imo State.
You should not be seen to feul the fire that tend to destroy those factors that has continued to bond our people together.
That you were not a product of zoning does not imply you will be the one to erase it completely.
Zoning has seriously aided communities in the State to live in peace and political harmony.
You should not tamper with it except you want to fan the embers of discord in the hinterlands.
Your relationship with the catholic church has been on the downslide for some time now.
The Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Diocese, AJV Obinna has not minced words in preaching against your administration.
I hope you understand and remember the role the catholic church played to enthrone your adminstration and dismantle the Ohakim leadership in 2011.
The catholic community constitute a huge voting population in Imo State.
They decide where the victory pendulum swing in every election held in the State.
It has become glaring that the catholic church do not seem to be giving its total support to your adminstration.
Obnoxious laws such as the Abortion law which was eventually repealed by the Imo House of Assembly and the umbrage it generated against your administration must have set you and the catholic church on a path that is not pleasant.
There are other issues of serious concern which space will no linger permit me to discuss in this letter.
Perharps I shall do so in the near future as further political issues unfold in our beloved State.
Finally,I must admit that your adminstration has scored high marks in ensuring security and protection of lives and properties in the State.
Crime has reduced significantly.
Kidnapping which was on the rise in the past and made our people to sleep with two eyes open in the night has reduced to a great extent.
The free education programme is comendable in addition to the construction of 27 General hospitals across the State to boost health care among our rural dwellers.
Keep up the good work in this direction and do not relent in the task of making our beloved Imo State better than you met it.
Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavours.
Your loyal citizen, Signed: Chief Raymond Onuoha Iho, Ikeduru Local Government Area, Imo State.