When we set out to contest for Orlu senate with brilliant and achievable manifesto that would have transformed Imo West to the modern city of our dreams with emphasis on youth engagement, welfare of our people and provision of health facilities, some demented uninformed “Agburu Anyi” supporters insisted on Rochas Okorocha hence they went ahead to insult me. Though, they acknowledged severally in some fora that I was more qualified to represent the zone under the prevailing circumstances. Their argument then was that I was too young to square up with the political exploits and powers of the ex-governor who desperately wanted a retirement at the National Assembly like those of his contemporaries in other states of Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, etc who are today calling the shots as Senators of their senatorial districts after eight years in office. This can only be in Nigeria where the absurd usually takes the front burner and celebrated. I still wonder who bewitched us, the electorate and the system that makes it possible for them to be so promoted to positions of incompetence after previous disastrous outings as governors. Another school of thought said it is because Okorocha is to contest the 2023 Presidency from the Senate, thus justifying their blind support for a man who wreaked havoc on not only our public funds but our psyche.
Unfortunately, a whole lot of those people that participated in the conspiracy rig me out during the 2019 senatorial election for Okorocha were unaware that as governor, Okorocha used his position to amend the pension package for former governors through the house of Assembly. Today he expectedly earns N4.5 million monthly as pension in addition to the multi-million naira they callously appropriate as senators and share among themselves at the National Assembly. I do believe that since it was an executive bill, the ex-governor must have given it express attention by signing it into law, so as to benefit further as the expense of Imolites. A whopping N4.5 million as pension? Is this not mind-blowing? This is even after former Senate President, Bukola Saraki was almost jailed for receiving pension while at the National Assembly.
It is however, unfathomable to note that for a man who had wished Imo pensioners death by his consistent refusal to pay them during his eight (8) years administration could today turn around albeit shamelessly to collect pension from Imo state government coffers. This is quite unheard of and unimaginable, but not the crux of the matter for this piece.
I wish to dwell on the recent proposal by the ex-governor to undertake the donation and distribution of palliative measures for the Orlu zone people. We heard that Okorocha has since constituted committee to preside over the sharing of the anticipated relief materials. Today, we saw banners being brandished all over the zone by Okorocha’s supporters with such inscription as “H.E Senator Rochas Okorocha’s palliative for Covid-19”. One now wonders what essence is the committee and the media hype? We had in the past heard of how a three (3) man committee set up by the same Rochas Okorocha as Governor of Imo state shared N25 million naira as administrative cost ostensibly for the disbursement of bailout fund. But did they actually disburse the money to the people or to themselves? Your guess is as good as mine. The bailout matter will wait for another day so I don’t spoil your day with tales of how our collective patrimony was willfully and mindlessly shared among very few at the corridors of power. Be that as it may, what did they do with the bailout fund as to incur an administrative cost of N25 million, whereas pensions, salary arrears, pay-off were never administered as later confirmed by EFCC. They were lacking in sub-heads to retire the outrightly stolen money.
Going further, it is obvious that the Ogboko born senator is set for a round of media and political grandstanding or braggadocio. In his usual style, he may have budgeted heavily for live broadcast by National televisions than the actual amount for the relief materials which will later be exaggerated with beautiful pictures littered all over the social media. This is the kind of media hype, razzmatazz, we witnessed under his 8 years of locust infested regime. Under that regime, we saw 305 class room blocks, 27 general hospital, “job! job!! job!!! factory! factory!!! factory!!!, five (5) tertiary institutions, two (2) flyovers, etc all fully completed and commissioned as claimed in the media but in actual sense, “otu awu ezi”.
Notwithstanding, I commend him for grudgingly accepting to give out relief materials. This is coming on the heels of spirited criticisms against his son’s recent visit to some Northern States for sharing of relief materials under “Aham Rochas Foundation” at a time his people at Ogboko are wallowing in excruciating poverty. I dislike the alamajiri style of politics which they want to introduce here in Imo State as if we are mere beggars or never do wells. We don’t belong to that class of wretched street bound people. Share your relief materials like every other concerned person has done without this bravado, targeted at scoring cheap political point. Orlu people are wiser than such gimmicks especially with the several exposition of how Okorocha fleeced the state.
I therefore make bold to say that what Senator Okorocha has reluctantly come home to share is infinitesimal compared to the restitution we had long expected. Imo has been bleeding since the ex-governor’s exit from Douglas House. Some issues have been raised. Monies mentioned in Billions of Naira. We truly call for RESTITUTION. They include the N39 billion paid to a contractor for Area H Owerri, 25 floors of 250 apartments which proxy contractor eloped with. There is the N3.4 billion IMSUBEB fund allegedly laundered through White Label Bank Accounts, the N26.8 billion bailout funds and the N20 billion allegedly laundered through Zigreat construction company’s accounts where N685 million was paid twice for the construction of Ministries of Land and Transport office complex without any site clearing till today. We cannot forget the mysterious N26.7 billion inherited from Ohakim or the various tranches of Paris Club Debt Relief Refunds released to Imo state.
Let me stop here and wait for the materials to be distributed to the people. Until then, we shall do justice to other issues including his failure to open a functional Constituency office in the zone. He is about one of the very few Nigerian senators without constituency offices.
Let wisdom prevail!
Comr Precious Nwadike
Former UPP Senatorial candidate for Orlu zone