–      Says, Gov, Chasing Shadow

The Campaign Organization of the candidate of Labour Party for the upcoming governorship election in Imo State, Senator Athan Achonu, has described the recent threat by the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma to arrest and prosecute it’s Principal for “fraudulently” obtaining a court order, certifying that he had successfully built primary healthcare centres in the 27 LGAs of Imo State, and made away with millions of dollars allocated to the healthcare project by the Federal Government”.

The campaign organization disclosed this in a release signed by the Director, Media and Publicity, Chibuikem Diala and made available to newsmen.

The release dated October, 8, 2023 reads in part, “The Senator Athan Achonu Campaign Organisation was taken aback by the alleged recent vituperations of the outgoing governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, against his unstoppable opponent and the Labour Party governorship candidate for the November 11 governorship election, Senator Athan Achonu. 

The governor had thrown decorum and caution to the wind by threatening to arrest and prosecute Senator Achonu before the election.

The governor said the Imo State federal allocation is currently being deducted at source to repay the allegedly embezzled primary healthcare funds. A situation he described as anti-developmental to the state.

Senator Achonu is a well-known industrialist and serial investor whose investments and line of businesses are not hidden, and it is expected of Uzodinma to tell the world his own source of livelihood before he sneaked onto the political stage.

It is instructive that Uzodinma chose a motley crowd of some people under his spell, masquerading as Imo Social Contract Group whose support he had purchased with millions of dollars to make known his devious scheme. It is inexplicable that the nebulous group chose to endorse failure, looting, bloodbath and ineptitude that characterise the Uzodinma administration. Obviously overly excited by the purported endorsement by the food-is-ready group, sinking Uzodinma let down his guard and exposed the inner turmoil and pain that Achonu has become to him.

Indeed, the governor is drowning, as he trounces helplessly, clutching at any available straw in order to stop his steady descent to ignominy and oblivion. However, his is an irredeemable case because the stern of the ship of state has slipped through his groveling hands already.

We make bold to tell Uzodinma in the clearest terms that Agu Otu  Aka cannot be intimidated by anyone, especially when he is innocent.

It is shocking and embarrassing that Uzodinma, who came to office through a decision of the Supreme Court and even openly confessed that he came through the ‘Ben Johnson Way’, has allowed his frustration and desperation to overwhelm him to the point of describing a valid court judgment as “fraudulently procured”. That allegation in itself is not only reckless, false, but a direct affront to the judicial arm of government. 

Having crossed the red line of the rules of civil and legal engagements, we, therefore, demand that Governor Hope Uzodimma retracts his allegations within seven days, failing which our principal will explore and exploit all legal options availed him by the laws of the country.

“The allegation that Mathan Nigeria Limited, owned by Senator Achonu, collected billions of naira from the Federal Government for the construction of Primary Health Care Centre in each of the 774 local government areas in the country and later abandoned the project, is completely false and a mere blackmail.

“We believe that Governor Uzodinma might have been hallucinating when he made such a statement. The project in question is an ALGON-funded project initiated by Senator Athan Achonu 17 years ago and was approved by the Federal Government in 2007.

“The project, as we speak, is very visible in several communities of the state, including the PHC in Owerri Municipal; Ehime Mbano (Umeze 1); Umudibu Isu PHC, Isu LGA; Egbu PHC, Owerri North; Akpo, Akpodim, Ezinihite Mbaise LGA; Mgbirichi, Ohaji Egbema LGA; Amanchara, Okigwe LGA; Ebenator, Orsu LGA; Afor Otulu, Oru West; Imerienwe, Ngor Okpala LGA; Amuzu, Ikeduru LGA; Okporo, Orlu LGA; Nekede, Owerri West; Uvuru, Aboh Mbaise; Umuna, Onuimo; Omuma, Oru East, which is the governor’s country home among others. 

Specifically, these are Mathan/ALGON PHCs in Imo State most of which were completed before 2013.

“This is nothing but a political witch hunt against our principal whose popularity has overwhelmed the APC family and dwarfed its Lilliputian, ineffectual governor. If not, why is it that it is only now when the Imo governorship election is around the corner and Senator Achonu is garnering massive follower-ship, that this false narrative is being served to members of the public to deceive them?

“It was little wonder, therefore, and this speaks tremendous volumes to his forthright and trustworthy character, that the Federal Government of Nigeria deemed him esteemed, upright, and completely honourable to repose unquestionable confidence in his capacity and transparency to award the massive contract to build healthcare centres across the 774 local government areas in the country.

“The project to construct health centres in the 774 local government areas across the country, was conceived and initiated by Chief Athan Nneji Achonu, who then introduced (proposed) it to ALGON during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“The project was approved and all the contract papers were duly verified, all the documentation was prepared and packaged by the relevant authorities, including ALGON, all legal and financial arrangements followed due process and after all was said and done the agreement was formally signed on the 16th of February, 2007 when the construction commenced comprehensively and in earnest.

“Senator Athan Achonu, being the meticulous, astute, and very accountable businessman, proceeded to seek clarification for the government’s action in the courts and to defend himself and the contract against the unfounded allegations that led to the suspension of the project.

“It is on record that he has emerged victorious at every stage of the litigation, which lasted for 3 (three) years, in the various courts, against the Federal Government.

“The project, which was supposed to last for a period of one (1) year, was thus stopped by the government of President Musa Yar ‘adua and did not recommence until 2010, when the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan constitutionally became president through the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. However, the project was suspended again after President Goodluck Jonathan became a duly elected president.

“The initial three years delay in the project was as a result of the fact that the then government halted the project and placed a standing order that funds should not be released thus suffocating contractors with huge debts and truncating the smooth process of the work. The same scenario was continued throughout the government of President Goodluck Ebele Johnathan till the advent of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The project is still ongoing, as at today due to the various victories of Mathan Nigeria Limited against the Federal Government in the law courts. Also, despite the insecurity in parts of the North East, North Central and indeed across the country, the project was never abandoned.

“It is necessary to also state here that 195 PHCs had been completed pre -2020 and 363 PHCs completed Post 2020. This makes it a total of 558 PHCs accounting for over 70% of the total centres, which further corroborates the point that the project is still ongoing.

“Imolites will be pleased and impressed to know that unlike those Imo leaders who are awarded projects and end up pleasing their paymasters and taking development away from Imo State, Senator Athan Achonu in the spirit and letter of the Aku Ruo Ulo advocacy, ensured that all the Primary Health Centres in all the 27 LGAs in Imo State have been completed. The records are there and as Achonu is wont to say, ‘Go and verify’.

“We have gone to this great length to debunk the bellicose verbiage concocted against Senator Athan Achonu, our brave, bold, and beloved One Arm General, to prove to the world that contrary to the wicked lie from the pit of hell, spewed by the agents of the opposition, that “the job was never done and Senator Achonu pocketed N37 billion meant for comprehensive health centres nationwide”. These are mere political fabrications to distract the “Take Back Imo” movement, which is growing in leaps and bounds with each passing day.