–         takes over all rooms to block opposition

The Senator Athan Achonu Campaign Organization has accused the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma of wasting the scare resources of the state by spending the sum of #5 billion naira to pay for the rooms in all the hotels in Owerri, metropolis from November, 4 to November, 11, 2023.

This, the organization said is aimed at ensuring that members of the opposition and their supporters do not have any place to stay to plan, strategize and execute their plans before, during and after the governorship election that will be conducted in the state on Saturday, November, 11, 2023.

This is contained in a release signed by Chibuikem Diala, Director, Media and Publicity, Senator Athan Achonu Campaign Organization.

The release dated October, 30, 2023 with the caption, “Imo guber: Uzodinma wastes taxpayers’ N5bn, takes over all hotel rooms in Owerri to block opposition”, reads,“The attention of the Senator Athan Achonu Campaign Organisation has been drawn to a document, which is an official circular, addressed to all chief executive officers and All General Managers of Hotels in Owerri metropolis with the bold headline” REQUEST FOR RESERVATION OF ALL YOUR HOTEL ROOMS FROM 4TH NOVEMBER -11TH NOVEMBER 2023″ written on the official letterhead of the said ministry and signed by the  Commissioner for Tourism, Barr. Jerry Egemba.

The release by the commissioner reads: “I wish to refer to the above subject and inform you that the Ministry of Tourism intends to rent and occupy all the rooms in your hotel no matter the size and classification from Saturday 4th November to Saturday 12th November 2023 at your usual cost per room for full occupation.

“I therefore request you to submit to my office before 12 pm tomorrow Thursday 26th October 2023 details of your accommodation bills for all the rooms covering the period for settlement”.

As a campaign organisation, we are concerned that the state government through its ministry of tourism is requesting all hotels in the metropolis to “reserve all their hotel rooms from 4th November to 12th November.” What could be the reason behind this request for all the hotel rooms in Owerri metropolis? With over 1500 hotels in the metropolis and an average of 50 rooms per hotel, this means the prodigal state government is trying to rent and pay for a minimum of 7,000 rooms for eight nights in the metropolis, amounting to a staggering sum of about N5 billion.  What a waste!

The question that Imolites must ask Gov. Hope Uzodimma, as we approach the November 11 election is: Why do you want to spend 5B Naira of taxpayers’ money? Who are those that will occupy these hotel accommodations? Why this desperate, anti-democratic leadership style all in a bid to hold onto power? Must the blood of every Imolite flow because you want to be governor for another four years? Why not subject yourself to a free and fair contest, at least for once, and allow the people’s wishes to thrive?

The widespread allegation that the government is already importing thugs from nearby APC states into the Imo State Capital ahead of the November 11 election to muzzle the opposition and rig the election is no longer a secret. Could this bulk booking and blocking of rooms be to accommodate these political thugs?

On the other hand, it is further alleged that the hierarchy of the federal security agencies is deploying special forces to Owerri for the election. Sources within state government circles are claiming to have strong control over these security men, including their accommodation and logistics.

Why would Governor Uzodimma, a candidate of the APC, be the one to provide accommodation for security personnel posted to oversee an election in which he is also a candidate? Where is the fairness?

We want to alert the public, especially the CEOs and managers of hotels in Imo State of this possible government plan to use their facilities to hide criminal elements contracted to cause the breakdown of law and order in the state.

Therefore, we urge them to resist any form of coercion (subtle or forceful) to harbor those who are here to cause anarchy in the state.

This is a government that has run the hospitality sector in Imo State aground with its policies and bloodletting inclinations that have put guests and businesses to flight, only to remember them to house its thugs for the perpetuation of its evil tendencies.

We encourage the hotels to leave their doors open only to responsible and verified guests, who are fit to stay and willing to pay, and not subscribe to the suspicious plans of the outgoing governor, who in almost four years in office never bothered to identify with the hospitality sector.

We also call on the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, the DSS, and, indeed, all security agencies to be aware of the alleged plans likely to cause disharmony and a breakdown of law and order in the state.

The head of security agencies should also clarify the role of Governor Uzodimma on the welfare and accommodation of security officers posted to the state for election duties. Is it that Governor Uzodimma is providing accommodation to these officers or he is trying to use the blocked accommodation as bait to compromise them? Their response will help douse fears that Gov Uzodimma already has security agencies in his kitty.

Above all, we implore President Bola Tinubu to consider the plight of the Imo people and listen to their cries.  We believe the president will ensure that the right things are done.

We also state categorically that the outgoing government’s plan to subvert the will of the people in this election must fail, as Imolites are ready for the election and shall elect a leader of their choice”.