By Kizito Duru (08131076477)
I have argued through my writings that the greatest problem our country has is not corruption, rather leadership. No matter how hard one tries to eliminate corruption in the country, with the present leaders we have, it will surely meet a brick wall. Recently, the Executive Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, made a statement saying that any house, discovered by the state government to be selling weed, marijuana or Indian hemp will be demolished and to crown his speech, Okorocha shocked the world when he said “it is better to be a thief than a weed smoker”. This statement has generated a lot of negative comments and controversies from people. Some have even questioned the sanity of the Ogboko born politician. While a few others comically alleged that the governor may have had a wrap of weed before making such unhealthy statement.
In as much as I support any action, policy or reform from the state government meant to checkmate or even ban the sale of Indian hemp in the state, like many others, I condemn in totality the Governor’s last statement, It is unbecoming of a leader to encourage youths to toe the path of Armed Robbery. As a supposed leader, one expects Okorocha to tailor his speeches, especially in public, as it serves as a mirror to his personality and government. You cannot fight a crime by encouraging another crime. Smokers do not even cause as much trouble as armed robbers do in a society. While it is in the DNA of any armed robber to kill and terrorize their victims, most times marijuana smokers often smoke to calm their frayed nerves. It serves as a therapeutic measure. Okorocha should have known that it was foolish to advise the youths to drop marijuana and pick up guns and go into armed robbery which will lead to their deaths.
However, like I argued on a phone in radio programme of Hot Fm 97.5 Owerri, researchers are of the opinion that one of the things that lead people, youths in particular, to smoking of Marijuana is frustration. I don’t want to support any reason behind smoking, it is medically unhealthy but we cannot but state categorically the level of frustration the state government of Imo, under the leadership of Governor Rochas Okorocha, has subjected the youths. Every year, after year, five major tertiary institutions in the state churn out graduates in their thousands. What has/is the Imo state government done/doing to absorb these graduates into the Labour market? Is there any job creation policy that has been executed or is been executed to ensure that the young graduates do not get frustrated, to the point of taking or consuming Indian hemp? This is a pertinent question that Okorocha should ask himself. It is not enough to threaten to demolish any house where Indian hemp is sold, it is also imperative that Okorocha discover the means of reducing to it’s barest minimum, the sale of Marijuana in the State which will not involve demolition of houses and that is only through massive job creation.
The closest Okorocha’s government, since 2011, came in terms of job creation is the sham called 25,000 Imo Youth Must Work programme, two years after he dissolved and discharged Ten Thousand graduates recruited by his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. This programme was initiated by the state government late 2013 and implemented in 2014, few months before the 2015 election. Political analysts and commentators believe that the programme was more political than people oriented. This is a programme that was billed to provide 25,000 Imolites with jobs but to the surprise and disappointment of the applicants, the job that was available to accommodate them was basically teaching job. Remarkably, there was no way a government that said there was no money to cater for the salaries of the Ten Thousand Workers of Chief Ohakim administration could afford to employ 25,000 Workers, barely two years after. The job, against the claim of the state, merely recruited only 25% of the 25,000 thousand applicants. After the 2015 election, the governor, having seen he has accomplished his political mission, turned his back on those recruited for the exercise. I wrote an article then, reminding the governor that paying graduates Twenty Thousand Naira (20,000) that comes once in every three months is the height of wickedness. So many youths who got that exploitative job got frustrated, resigned and some of them opted for business and eventually found solace at Ekeukwu Market, Owerri.
Some of these youths, instead of smoking and selling marijuana, rented shops and some even borrowed money to start a trade at the popular Ekeukwu market. They had barely settled down in their new formed business environment and business when the Governor, determined to frustrate the lives of these enterprising youths and other millions of traders in the market, against the ruling and order of the court, decided to visit the market with his reckless bulldozers and demolished, without compensation to the owners, Ten Thousand shops(10,000) and goods worth several millions of Naira and of course in the process of the demolition, a young soul, Master Somtochukwu, was lost. Not even a penny was given to the victims and owners of the shops by the government to encourage them to start up another meaningful business. This is unlike a leader who should know better that the market provided a handy alternative to the teeming graduates in the state. Many of them who couldn’t find nor rely on white collar jobs opted for business in the market, instead of becoming a nuisance into the society. But Okorocha wouldn’t let them be.
Okorocha had promised that if he got reelected, he would invest the State resources in building Factories and Industries that will create jobs for the youths of the state. This is almost three years after the governor was sworn in for his second term in Office, yet there is no sight of any industry and factory anywhere in the State. They only industry many young graduates of the State found was the KEKE INDUSTRY. Some of those affected by the demolition at Ekeonuwa Market used the remaining money they had to purchase tricycle to enable them provide or put food on their tables. But Okorocha wasn’t done with them yet, two months after destroying the market, he placed a ban on the operation of tricycles in the State capital. For one to lose his shop(s) and his tricycle in a space for two months is enough frustration that can culminate to smoking weed.
Now that Okorocha has rightly noticed that the rate of smokers and weed sellers or peddlers have increased, the best thing is not to encourage them to become armed robbers but to create jobs for them. This brings to mind the need for Imolites to be careful in choosing who replaces Okorocha as the next governor of the State. We must ensure that anyone projected and supported by Okorocha doesn’t come near Douglas House after 2019 guber election. The youths have suffered enough in the hands of Okorocha’s family and cannot afford to be further ridiculed. We have the opportunity to either rewrite our story or continue to be servants to someone who we elected to serve us. While the governor is encouraging us to become armed robbers, he is positioning his Son in-law to be the next governor of the State, we must reject this modern slavery, enslavement or neocolonialism. Let us massively vote for someone who thinks, listens and delivers.
TRUTH IS BITTER, AS BITTER AS HONEY.