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Okorocha Floors PDP, Ohakim as Tribunal Dismisses Petition

By Amby Uneze

The Imo State Governor-ship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Owerri dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the election of Governor  Rochas Okorocha, stating that the petition lacks merits.

In the over three-hour judgement delivered by the chairman of the tribunal,   E.N. Epijiome, the tribunal held that the petitioner was unable to prove his case beyond every reasonable doubt. According to him, the petitioner could not prove that there was no  violence in the three local governments of the state where Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cancel the election.

The tribunal held that even the petitioner’s wintnesses corroborated with the respondent’s witnesses that there were wide-spread violence in the affected local governments of Ohaji/ Egbema, Mbaitoli and Oguta during the April 26 governorship election.

The tribunal also held that the supplementary election of May 6 was a continuation of the April 26 election and therefore cannot be separated from each other since they both met the requirements of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended).


The tribunal relied on the relevant sections of the Election Act, which gave INEC the powers to postpone election if the earlier appointed date would be marred by violence or any natural disaster or any circumstance beyond her control so long as there are verifiable and cogent reasons to do so.

Source: This Day, 13th November 2011.

 

 

Gunmen kill U.S.-based pharmacist in Imo

WEDNESDAY, 09 NOVEMBER 2011 00:00 FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI

A UNITED States-based pharmacist, Egesionu Ifeanyichukwu Paul from Amaopara Nkwerre Local Council of Imo State has been killed by suspected gunmen.

He was murdered while driving himself to Owerri in his Sport Utility Van (SUV) in Amaraku, Agbaja Road in Isialambano Local Council of the state.

His killers allegedly overpowered him and shot him several times until he died before they left the scene

The Guardian learnt that a priest and a woman were also abducted on the route.

The late Paul was said to have been in his country home for one week to put up a pharmaceutical outfit named and a church building

A father of four children, Paul was until his death the chief executive officer of Kornfield Drugs Company, Washington DC.

Source: The Guardian, 8th November 2011.

 

Imo moves to promote Igbo language

FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI

WORRIED that the Igbo language may go into  extinction in few years time, the Imo State government has begun plans to institutionalise the language in schools in the state.

To this end, every teacher in the school system has been mandated to designate quality time to use the language in teaching pupils in primary and secondary schools.

Also, the state government has begun championing training programmes in Igbo language and culture in the five Southeast political states (Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Imo and Ebonyi).

Speaking at the weekened in Owerri during  this year’s 2011 Igbozurumee (Suwakwa Igbo) and award ceremony, the Special Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha on Igbo Affairs, Cletus Amaraegbu, said several awareness and sensitisation programmes have been put in place to ensure that the aspiration was realised.

Amaraegbu urged parents and various organisations to focus on regaining the lost glory of the Igbo language.

He commended  the  Igbozurume  and teachers at Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri among others for promoting Igbo language and culture.
Source: The Guardian, 8th November 2011.

 

The Sale of Imo State-Owned Adapalm to Roche Group

Kenneth Uwadi

opinion

THE actions of Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo State, have attracted so much criticism from members of the press.

ThisDay newspaper editorial once mentioned that the governor's most notable achievement to date has been to make headline news for all sorts of gaffes. The paper went ahead to say that the governor is giving Nigerians something to really laugh about. It is obvious that Okorocha is making mockery of himself, but the sad thing is that he does not seem to care what people think or say.

At a stakeholders' forum in Owerri recently, Okorocha was asked about the issue of the sale of the state-owned Adapalm Plc. After laughing and making reference to 'certain' press boys (he did not mention them by names), this is what the governor said: 'I detest the press boys. I don't want them to come around me. They go out of their way against even their professional ethics and tell lies about me and my administration. They allow themselves to be influenced by politicians to spread falsehood against me. Because of this, I do not want to have anything to do with the press boys.'

He said he picks up a Nigerian newspaper only when he wants to look for something to laugh about. What Okorocha said about his hatred of the press isn't new. But it's new and interesting that he said it in public. We all know that journalists are the whipping boys of the governor. He has advised his aides and cabinet to ignore all that are appearing in the press about his activities. To him, members of the press are persona non-grata.

Okorocha is behaving like the traditional 'Eze Onye Agwalam.'Agwalam is a village chief that shuns advice. He should blacklist the press at his own peril. This is democracy. He should amend his ways. The bible in Romans 6 v 1 said: 'What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!'

I believe it will not be in the best interest of the governor for the press to hide the truth from him. The press is there to watch the excesses of any government anywhere in the world. The press is the guardian of the people as the fourth estate of the realm.

Okorocha was advised by well-meaning Imolites not to sale Adapalm Plc, but he did not listen. Today, the media is filled with news that Imo State Government has sold the multi-million naira Adapalm Plc to Roche Group, an Irish company. Some say Adapalm was sold for 20 years. Whether for 20 years or less, a sale is a sale. Adapalm plantation is located in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State. Introducing the new owners to the people of Ohaji/Egbema, Okorocha declared that the new owners have the full rights to hire and fire staff.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the sale of Adapalm under the administration of Governor Okorocha is fraught with all kinds of sharp practices, shady deals and under-the-table practices. The sale of Adapalm is criminal to say the least. I see this as an act of insensitivity by the governor to the interests of the poor masses. The sale of Adapalm, especially at a time when thousands of Imo people are needlessly poor and in need of gainful employment, is nothing but an anti-poor, pro-rich policy.

Tragically, this policy is taking place at a time when statistics released by the Federal Ministry of Finance recently rated Imo State financially strong. Imo State has constantly received jumbo allocations since Okorocha came in. He is yet to show us what he has used the allocation money on, as we have not witnessed any genuine project instituted by his administration.

Okorocha behaves like a maximum ruler who will be in power forever, but he has forgotten that, whatever has a beginning will surely come to an end one day. Political office is but for a while, power is ephemeral. His rescue mission has now become the reckless sale of the collective patrimony of Imo people, to his businessmen partners. The due process, rule of law and collective interests of Imo State were not taken into consideration. This Roche Group has taken over all major construction projects in Imo State.

The sale of Adapalm is a pro-rich policy because it puts public wealth into private hands and further increases poverty, as it puts more people out of employment, as the new management is out to make profit at the expense of human life. According to sources, an estimated 2,000 Adapalm workers are to be sacked. Okorocha is about to make so many people of Ohaji/Egbema, the host community to Adapalm, jobless. The sale of Adapalm should be totally condemned by Imolites as it does the toiling masses no good.

But will Eze Onye Agwalam (Okorocha) ever listen to the voice of reason? The truth of the matter today is that the people's patience is snapping and very fast too, despite Okorocha's threat of dealing with unfriendly journalists. We worry about how Okorocha is converting Imo State and its funds into a family enterprise while governing the state with impunity and military fiat, not minding or giving a hoot how the people felt. Save us o, 'God.

Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State
Source: The Moment, 7th November 2011.

 

Pregnant Woman, 10 Others Killed in Imo Auto Crash

Johnkennedy Uzoma

Owerri. — Eleven persons, including a pregnant woman, were killed and many others injured in a motor accident that occurred at the weekend at the Imo State University junction, Owerri.

It was gathered that the driver of a 911 trailer, loaded with asphalt, lost control owing to break failure at the Ugwu Orji Bridge along the Okigwe Owerri express road. The trailer then swerved into the direction of an 18-seater bus, a keke and a Kia jeep, killing 10 passengers.

A witness said the trailer was seen rolling down uncontrollably and fell on top of the 18-seater bus said to be coming from Okigwe.

Some students, who assisted in the rescue of the victims, said the pregnant woman died when the vehicles were being broken with axe to rescue trapped passengers.

The bodies of the victims are said to have been taken to the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri where the injured are also being treated.

Daily Trust learnt that the driver of the ill-fated trailer escaped unhurt and left the scene immediately.

Sympathizers, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, urged the Federal Government to stop heavy vehicles from plying the roads in daytime.

Source: Daily Trust, 1st November 2011.

 

States At Dagger Drawn Over Abia's Sack of Non-Indigenous Workers

Chike Mike

Umuahia — MORE than 1,800 workers of Anambra State origin, who were disengaged from the Abia State public, took their plight to Governor Peter Obi at Government House, Awka, Thursday, October 27, to see if their current state of despair could be salvaged.

They wanted Obi to either absorb or prevail on his Abia State government counterpart to drop the sack policy.

However, they did not get any immediate answer but an assurance by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Paul Odenigbo, who received them on behalf of the state chief executive, that Governor Obi who is the chairman of South East Governors Forum, would continue to plead with his colleague, Chief Theodore Orji of Abia, to rescind the decision to sack non-indigenes.

If Chief Odenigbo handled his visitors with tact and diplomacy, the State House of Assembly was blunt in its livid reaction.

After beholding the helpless and hapless workers who stormed the House of Assembly complex in buses with the inscription 'back-loaded,' the House unanimously resolved to send a strongly worded letter to the Abia State governor to rescind what they regarded as an unpopular policy which they described as a breach of the constitutional rights of the affected workers.

The House, which adopted a motion on the issue sponsored by Hon. Chigbo Enwezor and two others further, said it would encourage the back-loaded workers to challenge Abia State government in court.

The Princess Chinwe Nwaebili-led House alerted Obi of the danger in allowing Abia State government to succeed with the policy, as it would threaten national integration.

While debating the motion, Gabriel Onyenwife (Anyamelum constituency) said: 'Abia State government has started a policy that is indefensible, unconstitutional and condemnable.'

The decision to transfer the services of non-Abia workers in the public service of the state was formalised during the State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting held on Monday, September 5, 2011.

Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Don Ubani, told newsmen the following day that the issue was comprehensibly discussed at EXCO and the cabinet gave its nod for the implementation of the policy.

The back loading of the non-indigenes to their home governments commenced October 1.

The Moment on Sunday gathered that a circular to that effect had been issued about a week before the EXCO decision to proceed with the policy.

The policy affects non-indigenes of all cadres, including those on command employment and Abia daughters married to non-Abians.

Giving reasons why Abia government adopted the drastic policy, Ubani said it was to make room for the absorption of Abians displaced from parts of the Boko Haram-troubled North and for the state to be able to shoulder the financial implications of the N18,000 new minimum wage.

The policy, he added, would help to create employment opportunities for the teeming youths of Abia.

'Abia State government has to take a decision that non-Abians in its public service should be transferred to their states. Ochendo (Governor Theodore Orji) wrote to their state governors asking them to appreciate the precarious situation of Abia State,' Ubani said.

Since those affected were served their letters, the Abia State government has known no peace.

The policy has attracted varied reactions; some mild criticisms, some wild and outright vituperations and others offering wise counsel.

Expectedly, many Abians and government agents have applauded the action, describing it as a step in the right direction. Conversely, those affected and their home governments see the policy as obnoxious, a breach of their fundamental human rights and a threat to Igbo unity.

The first public reaction against the policy came from the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Rt. Rev. Lucius Ugorji.

He described it as injustice, adding that it was bound to create social disequilibrium and economic hardship given that Abia has become a second home to the workers who were being asked to go. He appealed to the government to rescind the policy.

Imo, Enugu and Anambra states have also reacted angrily to the policy. Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Obinna Duruji, speaking on behalf of his state government, described the policy as 'anachronistic, patently obsolete and completely reprehensible.' He threatened reprisals from Imo.

For Ebonyi State government, it is wait and see. Chief Press Secretary to Ebonyi Governor, Dr. Onyekachi Eni, said the state government initially regarded the disengagement of non-indigenes from Abia public service as rumour because there was no official communication between the two governments.

He, however, said that when it became evident that it was no longer a rumour the state executive council discussed the matter. He did not disclose the position of the state government on the issue.

However, Eni's response put a question mark on the claim by Abia government that Governor Orji engaged his colleagues on the issue prior to the disengagement of the affected workers. Curiously, the South East Governors Forum, which met in Enugu on September 9, did not discuss the issue.

One of the founding fathers of Abia State and an elder statesman, Prince Benjamin Apugo, is one of those against the policy.

He roundly condemned it as 'unpopular and ill-advised,' saying it would breed bad blood between Abia and other South East states, and called on Governor Orji to immediately halt the exercise.

'As a Nigerian I don't support what Abia State government is trying to do by disengaging non-indigenes. Many of them were born here and they were employed in the civil service by the state. It will look very bad for any government to throw them out because they have contributed to whatever development, if any as at now,' Apugo said.

He suggested that Abia government should negotiate with its workers on the new minimum wage instead of disengaging them. He expressed fears that the policy might backfire.

Still in Abia, the Nigerian Bar Association, Aba Branch, also condemned the action.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its monthly meeting held on October 14, the group offered free legal service to those who may wish to seek judicial interpretation of the policy.

'The NBA encourages all persons affected by the discriminatory policy and decision of the Abia State government to challenge such actions in the courts up to the highest level, and in this regard, members of the NBA, Aba Branch, have volunteered and shall render free legal services to the affected workers and their families,' the communiqué endorsed by its chairman, Mr. C. U. C. Eduzor, and secretary, Mr. Kelechi Ukaumunna, read in part.

On its part, the Abia State government has risen in stout defence of its action. Ubani said there was no going back.

'The decision of Abia State government on this is legitimate, irrevocable and remains the best the state could take in the light of her compelling circumstances,' Ubani insisted.

The Abia information boss lampooned Imo State government, describing its condemnation of the policy as a clear manifestation of hypocrisy.

'To begin with, should nine years be too long for Imo State government to have forgotten that she successfully implemented a policy decision that led to the summarily, un-notified, unceremonious and the most cruel dismissal of all Abia indigenes who were in her public service in 2002?' he said.

Continuing, Ubani said: 'On what premise should either the Imo State government or the religious leaders stand tall to claim to have forgotten that even recently (2010), the Imo State government primitively and with extreme heartlessness bundled the files of her pensioners of Abia extraction, who had served her with all youthfulness, paying their taxes to Imo State government and contributing to the overall development of the state, back to Abia State for the latter to shoulder the pecuniary burden of pensioners who worked for Imo State?

'Yet Imo State government has the shamelessness of talking of Igbo unity. Imo State government should tell Ndi Igbo where she placed Igbo unity when she ferociously and un-administratively dismissed all Abians working in her public service nine years ago.

'If Imo State government was oblivious of what she now calls "Igbo unity" nine years ago, what was her take on Igbo unity just a year ago when she, in the most sadistic display of inhumanity, bundled the files of her pensioners of Abia State extraction back to Abia?'

The commissioner ended his reaction with a poser: 'More so, to newspaper and organisations that feel that Abia State policy on transfer of service of non-indigenes is a negation of the principles of federalism, it is obviously doubtful that their feelings are a true comprehension of what federalism stands for. What are their answers to questions on, one: should a federal legislature make laws on salaries for states and local government workers?

'And, two: should the Federal Government control the revenue generating resources of a state?'

Prominent Abians have also risen in defence of the state government and they are united it should not be crucified for threading the path other states had taken in the past.

One of them, Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, wife of Nigeria's first military Head of State, advised those affected by the transfer to take it in good faith as government will not go back on the policy.

She said that it was a pity that people from different parts of the country, especially the South East, were misunderstanding the action of the Abia government, which she said was for the benefit of Abians.

Prof. Joshua Ogbonnaya, one of the few surviving founding fathers of Abia State, said: 'It is he who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches, so the back-loading of non-indigenes to their states of origin by Governor Orji was handled in a matured way unlike what other governors did in the past.'

The foremost surgeon called for the convocation of a meeting all the governors of the South East where the problem should be discussed. 'I know that such a meeting of the South East governors exist; they should meet there and sort out the problem, if there is any,' he said.
Source: The Moment, 29th October 2011.

 

Okorocha - Leave Abia State Alone!!!

opinion

Your Excellency, my dear Governor Rochas Okorocha, It is with a great sense of responsibility that I respectfully request you to leave Abia State alone and concentrate on the very many realities starring you in the face in order to avert our releasing documents, records and authentic reports capable of shaking your structures to it's very foundation. Iam constrained to write you this open letter in view of your obvious acquiescence to the motive and gregarious method your officials and known agents have adopted in the prosecution of an unprovoked, unjust, campaign of calumny against the people and leaders of Abia State.

You know very well that on Tuesday 4th October 2011 on page 14 of the Vanguard Newspaper, your infantile Information Commissioner, one Obinna Duruji, took the liberty to insult and malign the government of Abia State with invective meant to scorn your colleague, His Excellency, Chief T.A. Orji. Before then, one of your agents, a certain inconsequential Mbaise boy called Obi Nwakanma had on page 23 of Sunday vanguard of 18/9/11 used unprintable words to cast aspersion on our government. Then your Pini Jason, that faceless Jelly fish that saw to it that Chief Ikedi Ohakim was thoroughly misled and who connived with an agency in Surulere Lagos to swindle Imo State of tens of millions in a PR campaign had the temerity to latch unto the platform you provided to re-launch his rusty column as an opportunistic way to scurry back to the corridors of power. You saw all those garbage and indeed paid for them. You did not ask the Jaded Jason where he was when Ohakim bundled the files of Pensioners that faithfully started and ended their meritorious Civil Service Career in Imo State back to Umuahia for payment simply because they were Abia indigenes.

To further buttress the unusual interest shown by your government and paid agents to this expedient policy, Bishop Lucius Ugorji, a Naze Imo State born cleric together with another gang of Owerribased carry-go white garment preachers intensified their devious hype against an innocent sister State. This was the same Bishop Ugorji who together with the now late Mbaise born Archbishop Rojas Uwadi dined and wined with the defunct oppressive mamacratic regime that held Abia down for years. While Abia patriots fought for liberation, these Imo-born bishops struck deals and carted away choice Abia Investments. They enthusiastically gave impetus and moral cover to the despots. Today they have ironically turned into clannish activists while keeping silent over your brutish disengagement of the thousands Imo youths creatively employed by Ohakim.

Your Excellency, you can't continue deceiving Ndigbo and the Nigerian Public. With the creation of Abia in 1991, the Imo State Government immediately laid off all Abia Indigenes in its civil service while Abia retained Imo Indigenes in Aba and elsewhere. Since then till now, there has been a progressive suffocation of the Abia workforce by indigenes of states that sent our own citizens packing. Enugu State fished out and laid off Abians (non-indegenes) that were left in their civil service starting from 1997 through 2002. Same goes for Anambra and Ebonyi where even Abia students are made to pay discriminatory school fees. This is the issue at stake and for which you have marshaled out your people for a war of attrition against Abia State. You now talk of threats to Igbo unity simply because our patriotic governor took a reciprocal decision that should have been taken long ago based on the clamour of well meaning Abia Citizens.

By this diatribe, Your Excellency and your mercenaries have only succeeded in drawing global attention to the grave injustice and levity which Imo and other sister Igbo States have meted out to Abia Civil Servants and which our leaders and people have borne silently with equanimity. That Chief T.A Orji decided to address this anomaly and balance the lopsided equation is not a crime anywhere in the world. What is rather despicable is the hypocrisy, wanton wickedness and shameless audacity of those who now believe that what is good for the goose should not be good for the gander. The time tested credibility of Governor T.A Orji which you seek to destroy has rather skyrocketed among Abians who are the main reason for his sojourn in government house.

For your information, Sir, there is a total consensus among Abia Stake holders that Ochendo should take all necessary albeit painful decisions to restore the years that the cankerworm has eaten while laying a solid foundation for Abia transformation. As he executes this overwhelming mandate, we are poised to give him all the needed encouragement and defend him from the misplaced darts of desperados, professional petition writers and renowned 419 kingpins who seek to make political capital out of every laudable policy.We, therefore, advise your government to re-direct its limited capacities to the actualization of your self-imposed rescue mission for whatever it is worth. As you may have noticed, the art of state governance is a lot more different from slogans, showmanship and Jerry meandering. You need core competence the sort that comes through good education, moral rectitude and professional exposure. These are not things that can be obtained otherwise!

By the grace of God, Abia cannot be distracted. Having extricated ourselves from the callous cabal who were friends of the current Imo regime, we have made significant positive changes in the area of security, infrastructure and other key sectors. These series of propaganda and smear campaign coming from Owerri were foreseen by us when we dealt mortal blows to our oppressors and their acolytes.

Ndigbo cannot be deceived. They know those with cloudy antecedents. Those who straddled into power as a result of some political accident also know themselves. They should look inwards and solve their problems rather than seeking for non-existing opportunities to make noise and hoodwink the unsuspecting public.

Your Excellency, Chief Rochas Okorocha, like Ndigbo would say, Ome ihe jide kwa ogu. In the words of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah ..."Don't complain about my room. You are only visiting but I live here".

Ochu nwa okuko nwe ada...!!!
Hon. (Dr) Eze Chikamnayo
Special Adviser, Information, Strategy and Orientation
Abia State

Source: Business Day, 26
th October 2011.

 

The ill-Informed ripples over the transfer of non-Indigenes in Abia State Public Service

By Nduka Ugbade

Abia State Chapter of Niger Delta Youth Movement, have heard and seen the vitality of lending our stake holding voice and position on the vexed issue of transferring non-Abians, working in the State Public Service, back to their states of origin. This concern warranted the conveying of an emergency general meeting after our delegated spokes persons were detailed to liaise with designated government emissaries to properly educate us on the nitty-gritty of this programme and what it portends for Abians.

The nerve calming fall out of that fact finding session has made this public position inevitable.
But before accommodating other issues of critical importance, it will be appropriate to vehemently disagree with Mr. Femi Adesina, Deputy Managing Director and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Sun Newspapers. We take exception to his brand of those defending the Governor’s Policy as hirelings. They are duty bound to rally round the governor given the obvious truth that this government position is intended to protect the interest of Abians. Mr. Femi Adesina is right to have observed that majority of non-Abians in Abia State Civil Service hail from neighbouring states like Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi, but we can emphatically posit that he is oblivious of the wickedness Abia State Civil servants suffered in the hands of these States under review some years ago. 

Records do not lie, therefore the past and present government of our sister states can perfectly recall the holocaust of dismissals they un-leashed on Civil Servants of Abia extraction over 10 years ago and recently, 2002, 2006 and 2010. It was Late Chief C.C. Onoh of blessed memory, who championed this course probably for economic reasons, and the protection of his (Enugu) peoples’ interest. 

Consequently, throngs of Abians in Enugu Civil Service, numbering over 1,438 were transferred back to Abia. Imo later took a cue but unfortunately, executed theirs in a most dehumanizing manner. Aside the merciless sacking of Abians in Imo Civil Service, shortly after the creation of Abia state, there was a repeat occurrence just yesterday, under the watchful eyes of Achike Udenwa. Some 1198 teachers and Civil Servants were hounded back to Abia State from Imo and before Abians could blink an eye lid, the former government of Ikedi Ohakim bundled back the files of Abia indigenes who worked and retired in Imo state, for Abia to inherit the payment of their pensions and gratuities. Haba! 

Why is it that we are feigning ignorance of all these unwholesome acts meted out to Abians only to embark on these flotilla of attacks and incredible name calling on the person of Governor T.A. Orji, whose reason for trying to rationalize is equally hinged on economic indices and a little protection of the interest of Abians who as it were, have been completely out numbered in the State Public Service? We are of the opinion that some of us probably did not know or are still mastering the art of writing or better still have not become high flying media executives like we are today, and lubricating our popularity by pretending to be apostles of one Nigeria when infact, we are heroes of tribalism in that little position we are occupying. 

We had expected those who picked holes in this latest policy of Abia State, to replicate same on the originating states like Enugu, Imo, Benue, which sacked (380) Abians, Ebonyi (394), Cross River (310) and Akwa-Ibom (98), but all to no avail. We are however, aware that most columnists who wrote about it, and pretended not to know these incontrovertible truths are largely because they were advancing the course of their people who have been affected by this exercise.

Now, let us look at the tenability and veracity of these reasons as postulated by the Executive Committee of Abia State Government, which made the adoption of back-loading on transfer unavoidable:

(A) That so many Abians who reside and work in some Northern parts of the Country, have been displaced and no thanks to the violent upsurge, spearheaded by Muslim fundamentalists most of whom go by the acronym: Boko-Haram. Some even opted to come home so as not to die innocently and carelessly. These returnee Abians, are now pestering Abia government for re-absorption. This is aside from the fact that the government of Abia State conducted a recruitment exercise into the State Civil Service some time during the Governor’s first tenure. Almost one year into the Governor’s second tenure, no single Abian has benefited from that exercise. Reason being that the system is simply bloated and cannot tolerate more hands, except there is a rational re-engineering.

(B) That the pupil-teacher ratio in the state has gotten to an un-bearable stage due to the alarming scenario of having 3-4 teachers in a class of 30-35 pupils. Regrettably too, these teachers, majority of whom are non-indigenes delight in abdicating their official responsibilities to lavish official time to their shops and businesses. 

(C) That the reality of the N18,000 minimum wage, can only fly, if the system is rationalized with a view to accommodating other realities and essentialities. Abia is desirous of infrastructural breather with a view to attracting more domestic and foreign investments. The critical financial situation of the state, demands being conscientious, so as not to sheepishly mal-administer the state. As stakeholders in the state, and if the likes of Mr. Femi Adesina will care to believe this truth, the oil producing status of Abia State, is not commensurate with federation allocation accruing to her. As incredible as it may sound, the truth still remains that the financial implications of the recovered 43 oil wells erroneously farmed to neighbouring Rivers State is yet to be computed.

If workers wage bill, presently stands at N1.9 billion monthly, exclusive of the non-negotiable N18,000 minimum wage, an estimated addition of another N1.9 billion in the event of complying with the new wage regime would flatten other critical sectors of the state socio-economic endeavour except something is urgently done. Mr. Femi Adesina will be up in arms against Governor T.A. Orji for making himself a salary paying governor who cared little or nothing about basic amenities. But he is refusing to see reasons why Abia should re-engineer to do better, but will not deny that over time, his organization have had to rationalize for optimum performance. The public sector is fast changing from becoming an all covers affairs. This reality is forcing government in every state to embrace far reaching reforms and introduce checks and balances, to smoke out ghost workers and swoop on corrupt officials, who delights in falsification of retirement records, so as to keep elongating their stay.

Kaduna and Yobe States are presently reforming their public service structure for better performance. Every State Governor is expected to make impact in their respective States, without prejudice to Nigerian Unity. After all, no body will ask chief T.A. Orji what he achieved in Nigeria but in Abia, when he was Governor of the State. The difficult but inevitable option of rationalizing the work force of Abia State, began with Abians themselves. Before the expiration of 2011, over 120 Directors and 26 Permanent Secretaries would have bided good bye to the service. Reason: the introduction of a terminal 8 years for Directors and 4 years for Permanent Secretaries, will affect so many Abians in that cadre. Government is desirous of balancing the lopsided nature of those sensitive positions with a view to accommodating the interest of other zones in the State.

Identifying with the option of transferring non-Abians back to their States was indeed a bitter pill which Governor T.A. Orji fought hard to swallow. In the light of its necessity, the governor quietly wrote his brother Governors in the South-East, in a two page letter prostrating and explaining to his brothers, why the state executive council of Abia State had to do what they did and urging them to accept their indigenes likely to be affected by the transfer including Abia women married by our brothers in other South-East States. If the action of Abia State Government was in retaliation for the humiliation Abians suffered in the hands of other South-East States in the past, the government of Chief T.A. Orji would have executed same, during his first tenure.

One wonders why this civil position is pedestrian and watery for Mr. Femi Adesina to accept when juxtaposed with the no excuse situation that heralded the horrendous ejection of Abians from the employ of other South-East States. Let us recall that during the days under review, the rate of unemployment wasn’t this worrisome and neither was a certain wage bill, forced down the throat of any state government, yet our sister States treated us like out casts. Would our dear Mr. Femi Adesina have preferred that our kit and kin in the volatile regions of the north continue to suffer pogrom like they suffered before the Nigerian-Biafra Civil War, simply because they have sympathy for one Nigeria? 

Hell no. Igbos, nay Abians have sacrificed the most in this business of one Nigeria. They have consistently fallen victim of every provocation no matter how little. Some of our people in the north dusted their feet as biblically admonished to return home for shelter and no responsible government will her own.

The sleight hand of oneness if any has been largely exploited by our south-east relations at the disadvantage of Abians who rather harangue and shove them aside, when there is an opportunity to gain from any programme that will promote these brotherly bonds. State of origin becomes the yard stick for partaking in the ultimate reward. Just recently, the government of Imo state reviewed the school fees of Imo state University Owerri. That review came up with a lower school fees for indigenes of Imo State, while students of other states pays higher.

But all hell will let loose, if same is the case in Abia State University. Federal character, as provided for in the Nigerian constitution is a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of certain opportunities. Meaning that you need to be an indigene of a state or local government area before your qualification for a particular position is considered. If we keep indulging in the recognition of statehood, in other situations and hurriedly collapse it when it has to do with an Abian, we will make him look like a bat which is neither here nor there.

Our brother Femi Adesina, should not be more catholic than the pope. Niger Delta Youth Movement is not contesting your right to free speech but it would have made more sense, if there was a historical perspective to it. That is not to say that you are about to loose your teeming readers in Abia State, who read your column with ravishing relish. But we kindly advice, that when next you look at sensitive issues like this, do it from both sides of the coin.

We sincerely empathize with our people from South-East and other affected states and urge them to take it by their stride and see this as a necessary sacrifice that will help stabilize the already precarious but once vibrant Abia State Public Service. 

Niger Delta Youth Movement, Abia State Chapter still believes in one united and indivisible Ndi-Igbo irrespective of their states of origin.

Signed:
Kingsley OkereHon. Felix A. Ogbonna
Ag. State Chairman National Welfare Officer 
Source: Ngex, 26th October 2011.

 

Expulsion irks Ohaneze, Enugu House

By Tony Edike, Enugu
The decision of the Abia State Government to lay off non-indigenes in her civil service has been flayed by Ohaneze Ndigbo and the Enugu State House of Assembly who say that it can jeopardize unity  among the people of the Southeast.

The Igbo socio-cultural organization strongly condemned the disengagement of the non-indigene workers from Abia State civil service saying that the development was not in the interest of unity and progress of the Igbo nation.

The Enugu State House of Assembly on its part is urging the Forum of the South East Governors headed by Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State to wade into the matter with a view to getting the Chief Theodore Orji-led administration to rescind its decision.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Engr. Ralph Ndigwe who made the position of the organization on the issue known, said it was unbecoming of governors to ask non-indigenes to return to their states, now that the apex organization was doing everything possible to sustain the unity among Ndigbo.

Noting the efforts by Ohanaeze to resolve the dispute between organized labour and governments of the South Eastern states over the minimum wage, he said that the expulsion of non-indigene civil servants would jeopardize the efforts of the organization.

The Ohanaeze spokesman said:  “I am assuring you that we will look critically at this development, which is unjustifiable.  Ohanaeze has been begging workers to go back to work. We have also been asking government to look into the issue of minimum wage. But I think this dimension of asking workers to go back to their state is not right.

We are going to investigate it. “Do you know that if you are sacking a non-indigene, you are sacking him and his family and all those dependent on him? Ohanaeze is going to meet to investigate this negative tendency because it is capable of  impacting negatively on the unity among Ndigbo to which Ohanaeze is very much committed.”

On their part, lawmakers at the Enugu State House of Assembly unanimously condemned the forceful transfer of non-indigenes in Abia State civil service back to their home states.  They maintained that the burden of the N18,000 minimum wage, which had become a national issue, was not a justifiable reason for laying off the workers.

The legislators urged the Abia State Government to retain the services of Enugu indigenes in its workforce in order to encourage mutual and sustainable corporate co-existence and peace in the South East zone.

Contributing to the motion brought by the Leader of the House, Sunday Ude-Okoye on the issue, the lawmakers called on both Abia and Enugu state governments to set up a committee to discuss the modalities of absorbing their respective workforce in terms of civil servants who are not indigenes of each state.

While urging the Abia State government to reinstate the displaced workers “since virtually all the states in the South-East and beyond are represented in Enugu State civil service”, the lawmakers, however, alerted the South East Governors’ Forum on the likely dangers and inconveniences that might result from the retaliatory actions of other states in the zone.

Moving the motion which he brought under a matter of urgent public importance, the House leader noted that Enugu state indigenes affected by the action of the Abia state government “do not in any way merit the way and manner Abia State government had thrown them out of their workforce hiding under the canopy of four unacceptable, irrational, reiterating and unconstitutional reasons.”

He pointed out that Enugu state indigenes resident in Abia state before her creation had lived there very peacefully, contributed immensely in various areas towards her development and assisted in moving the state forward in terms of commerce, social and political growth, adding that their children had education and became gainfully employed by the state government.

Ude-Okoye further stated that since the affected workers had spent their prime service period working for Abia State Government and most of them were about to retire while the rest have few years to retire, “these great patriots deserve to be paid retirement benefits, when they retire from Abia State Government service and disengaging these group of workforce is forcing Enugu State Government to inherit payment of service rendered to another state.”

While calling on Abia State government to rescind its decision on the non-indigenes, the lawmaker described the action as a violation of section 42 (sub-section 1, 2 and 3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which stipulates that “a citizen of Nigeria shall not be discriminated against.”

Speaking on the development, the Speaker of the House, Eugene Odoh, however, called for caution assuring that the matter would be taken before the South East Governors’ Forum in order to seek amicable way of resolving it.

However, while pressure is being mounted on the Abia State Government to withdraw the sack letters already issued to the affected workers, the South East Governors had been seriously criticized for failing to take a firm position on the issue.
Source: Vanguard, 26th October 2011.

 

Imo Assembly Okays N5b For Roads, Others

FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI

THE Imo State House of Assembly has approved the release of N5 billion to be spent on rehabilitation of roads as well as health and education sectors.

Briefing Assembly reporters at the weekend, the Chairman of House Committee on Information, Acho Ihim (Okigwe) said the release was necessary to fix those vital areas needing attention.

Meanwhile, the Assembly has passed a bill establishing formally the Imo Foundation. The agency being headed by Mrs. Ngozi Njoku, would take care of welfare of some Imo people, among others.

Governor Rochas Okorocha, according to the Speaker of the Assembly, Chief Benjamin Uwajimogu, would assent to the Bill to become law.

Also, the Assembly has passed a motion urging the governor and the Chief Judge, Benjamin Njemanze, to take urgent steps to decongest the Prisons in the state, lamenting the situation with the inmates at the prisons which were said to have been full to capacity.

They urged the duo to carry out their constitutional duties by visiting regularly the prisons, adding that many inmates had allegedly overstayed what could have been their number of years if they had been convicted.

Ihim disclosed that eight Bills were pending while 20 out of 34 motions had been passed by the 26-member assembly. He urged the Abia State government to rescind its alleged decision to sack Imo indigenes in its employ.

Source: The Guardian, 15th October 2011.

 

Imo on the Road to Anguish

By: PRINCE EZE UGOCHUKWU

A cooperation between greed and selfishness is taking shape in Imo state today. Hand in hand with this is the application of cruelties and vendetta as policies of state. The high levels of cooperation between the forces of retrogression and darkness in the state must be checked by well meaning citizens of Imo state and the time is now.

To the present government in the state, we say that it is not enough to feast our ears with slogans and jargons. It is a matter of humiliation and shame that after 100 days in office, the people have not seen the direction of the Rochas government. The foundation for development laid down by the Ohakim administration is now sapped. 

The inhuman boycott of most of the Ohakim signature projects has grounded the Imo economy to a halt. It seems as clear as daylight that the state is in serious trouble. The state is bleeding to a slow death. The whole revenue system of government both at the state and local levels has now been domesticated and privatized. The Rochas system seems to be designed to crush the very life out of our citizens.

The emerging dictatorship degrades the spirit and soul of the people. It has made the people look small. Fear and cowardice have taken over. The government of Rochas is not the people’s government. It is a government of other people, by other people and for other people. The state has been sold to distant masters from Anambra and other states of the federation. We have been colonized in Imo, and history has known no good colonizers. The present government is a perpetual insult to our people.

Everyday, people’s homes are broken into by reckless agents of government in search of so called government property. But in truth, the purpose of the raids is to overawe and humiliate the people. This programmed humiliation is a chosen method by government to destroy the free spirit of the people. Our traditional institutions are now subjugated and ridiculed. The economy of the state is now in ruins. The lofty heigths reached by the Imo State Investment Promotion Agency ( ISIPA ) in opening up the state economy now lies in tatters. Property prices which were on the rise under the Ohakim administration have collapsed. The people asked for bread only for them to get stone.

The intolerance of those at the helm of power in the state betrays their lack of faith in their own cause. The unrestricted individualism of the people at the top of governance in the present administration has grounded governance and service delivery to a halt. Heaps of rubbish now litter our streets, while erosion menace has increased both within our city streets and beyond. The assumptions underlying many of the programs and policies of government are at best infantile and childish.

Even our legislature is not helping matters at all. The State House of Assembly has turned into a rubber stamp and lives only a fictitious existence. As an institution, the House has traded its independence and failed to maintain an independent critical attitude towards the government, and act as a brake on the autocratic tendencies of government, knowing full well that without her oversight functions, democracy dies and also, the people’s intellect, culture and public morality stagnate.

Every project of the Ohakim government has been renamed. Today, the security apparatus which Ohakim called Operation Festival is renamed Operation Rescue Imo. But the Ohakim objective is still the case. The Imo wonder lake is now renamed Imo blue lake of treasure. The Imo job centre and finishing school is now given a new name. Yet, we are meant to believe by the same government that Ohakim achieved nothing. What a contradiction. This is why the arrival back in Imo state by Ohakim was accorded a regal reception judging by the warmth, cordiality and affection displayed by Imo people. He returned with his integrity intact, and has not stepped down from his role of a visioner. His arrival now represents the liberation of the Imo spirit from the clutches of voodoism.

The buccaneers and merchants of commerce who came from our neighboring state to wage war against Imo people and who stole our state and deposited it on the hungry laps of their new emperor in Imo state must realize that Imo state cannot be torn apart like their own state which they have destroyed. Imo state is not for sale to the highest bidders from outer states. For us as Imo people, we have turned into watchmen who stay awake in protection of our heritage and destiny. And we say, never again shall our commonwealth be stolen from us.

Ugochukwu writes from Abuja
Source: Sun, 14th October 2011.

 

Imo to tackle insecurity, education rot, others

FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI

May sue Abia over mass sack of indigenes

THE Imo State government has begun moves to tackle poverty, educational problems,  infrastructural decay, insecurity, among other challenges.

Briefing The Guardian in Owerri, the Permanent Secretary,  Ministry of Economic Planning, Mr. Calistus Ekenze,  who spoke   on behalf of the Chief Economic Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Nick Opara-Ndudu, noted that the  state government was determined to  create  an enabling environment for investors  to operate from 2012.

He maintained that internally generated revenue, zero tolerance of corruption and overhead cost of capital and recurrent areas would be pursued.

He said: “Investors, you will agree with me, are attracted by infrastructure. That will be handled adequately. There is now zero tolerance of corruption and will be sustained. We have gone far on the bilateral discussions in producing budgets, about 80 per cent of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are covered, considering revenue capacity, overhead, recurrent and capital expenditure. This is going to be realistic. Every expenditure item in revenue must be accounted for in consideration of macro- economic variables.”

Meanwhile, not satisfied with the sack of about 3,000 Imo indigenes in the employ of the Abia State government, the Imo State House of Assembly leadership has on Tuesday urged the Imo State government to seek legal interpretation of Abia’s action in the Supreme Court.

This is in addition to an earlier motion last week by the lawmakers condemning Abia’s sack of Imo indigenes working in Abia State.

The Speaker of the House, Chief Benjamin Uwajimogu,  reacted to the motion brought before the Assembly, regarding the action of Abia State government as discriminatory.

According to him, about 3,000 Imo indigenes working in Abia State were affected by the sack, adding that the Section 42 of the constitution should interpret if the action was good or bad.

He  said that  though the Imo State government should not retaliate, Abia’s action was a national calamity which the National Assembly should wade in.

The Imo State government through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Obinna Duruji, had in a state-owned radio programme condemned the action of the Abia State government, urging her to reverse it.

Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Chief Jerry Okolie who described the action of  the Abia State government as callous, however, was optimistic that leaders of the  South  East would soon make a pronouncement on the matter.

Presiding Bishop of Praise Centre Ministries, Stafford Nwaogu, had in Owerri on Monday while briefing reporters on the forthcoming 17th international conference of the church next week, warned the Abia State government of the consequences of fanning embers of disunity by carrying out such a  policy.
Source: The Guardian, 13th October 2011.

 

Imo Youths Urges EFCC to Arrest Ohakim

By Johnkennedy Uzoma

Owerri — Youths in Imo State yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest former Governor Ikedi Ohakim

The protesting youths marched from Dan Anyaim Stadium along the Wetheral road in Owerri to the Government House where they were received by Deputy Governor Sir Jude Agbaso.

They displayed placards with inscriptions such as "Owelle, we demand Ohakim's arrest now', 'why doesn't EFCC want to arrest Ikedi?' 'Why is the government keeping silent over Ohakim's arrest by the EFCC?', 'Ohakim, opiah, return Imo money."

Leader of the protesters Nduka Chiagozie Ozuruigbo said the former governor should be made to give account of his administration's alleged "financial recklessness and misappropriation".

He also accused Ohakim of masterminding some criminal activities in the state including kidnapping.

The youths called on the EFCC to investigate the controversial dredging of Nworie River, the rehabilitation of Oguta Lake Motel, the construction of a multi-purpose hall and several inflated road contracts awarded by the former governor.

Addressing the youths, the deputy governor, Sir Jude Agbaso, described their demonstration as democratic, assuring them of the government's commitment to creating employment opportunities for them.

He further assured that their grievances and demand would be forwarded accordingly to appropriate authorities for immediate action.
Source: Daily Trust,
11
th October 2011.

 

Sack: Non-indigenes lament as Abia compiles lists

It’s retrogressive—Ebonyi, It’s irrational—Imo

By Anayo Okoli, Umuahia/Peter Okutu, Abakiliki.
ON AUGUST 25, 2011, Abia State Government issued a circular which directed non-indigenes on its employment to disengage and return to their various states by October 1, 2011. The only exceptions were those engaged in the tertiary institutions.

To give effect to the policy, the circular, HAS/S.0071/II/13 issued by the Head of Service, Mr. G.C. Adiele, directed heads of ministries, departments, agencies and Local Government Service Commission “to submit the names of all non-indigenes in their employ on or before 1st of September, 2011, failure of which or any connivance thereto shall attract strict sanctions by Government”.

Entitled, ‘“Back loading on transfer of non-indigenes in Abia state public service to their states of origin”, the Head of Service said, “I write to convey the approval of the Government of Abia state that all non-indigenes working in the public service of Abia state [including local Governments] be transferred to their states of origin with effect from 1st October, 2011. This policy does not apply to tertiary institutions in Abia state”.

Ever since this policy was announced, there has been confusion in the state’s civil service. The confusion arose mainly because women of Abia extraction who by marriage changed indigeneship are protesting their inclusion. They are arguing that constitutionally, they remained Abians and therefore should not be affected by the exercise. Some of the cited cases where married women take ministerial positions in their states of birth even when they are married in a different state.

Investigation showed that Imo state indigenes would be most affected. This is very understandable because Abia was created from Imo state and it was believed that Abia as a new state lacked enough personnel to propel the new administration, hence they absorbed the workers of Imo origin.

Some of them have put in as much as15 years in Abia’s 20 years of existence. So, the directive devastated them more so when they are not sure of being absorbed by their respective states.

Though Abia state governor said that he consulted with his fellow governors of the South East before the policy was enunciated, the decision no doubt has attracted some criticisms. The criticisms have come from the church, business men, the civil servants themselves and some state governments.

The first attack on the policy came from the Catholic Church. The Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Dioceses, Dr. Lucius Ugorji, in his reaction, condemned the decision, describing it as an “injustice and divisive”.

In a statement he personally signed, Bishop Ugorji said that the-sack-non-indigene policy contravenes Section 42 of the nation’s Constitution in respect of place of origin.

“This policy negates true federalism and constitutes a serious obstacle to our march to nationhood. The spirit of a true nation where citizens have equal rights and opportunity must not be compromised by such divisive policy.

“Most of these individuals have families with children in schools and other dependants. It is obvious that their forced transfer or retrenchment will impact negatively on all these people. Moreover, up-rooting fellow Nigerians from their long-established social networks and economic ties leads to the unsavoury effect of making them feel they are being made aliens in their own country.

“Having served Abia state diligently for decades, it amounts to injustice to compel them to return to their various states of origin that may not have any plans to engage them or provide them with their entitlements.

“Implementation of this policy amounts to discrimination on grounds of place of origin which is a serious contravention of Section 42 [1, 2, and 3] of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. That in the past some states have breached the Constitution in this regard is not a valid reason for Abia State Government to yield to the temptation of committing an illegality. Two wrongs do not make a right.” He called on the Government “to rethink this policy in the interest of justice, fair play and social harmony.”

But the Government maintained that the decision was not to punish anybody, saying that Governor Theodore Orji discussed with fellow South East governors before taking the decision. However, it is not known if there was a promise of any sort by his colleagues to absorb those to be sent back to their state.

According to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Don Ubani, the government has no evil intention in the action. Rather, the government was creating vacancies for its citizens displaced in the North during the election crisis and Boko Haram attacks. But the question is were there Abians working in the Northern state civil service? If there were, how many were they?

Strong as Abia Government wants to defend this policy, at least two states have condemned the action, a situation which casts doubt on the consultation said to have been made by Governor Orji before the policy was released.

Ebonyi and Imo state governments have attacked the action, describing it as capable of disintegrating the unity and oneness of Ndigbo. They both spoke through their commissioners of Information and said that many Abians work in their states. Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi even said that his Government was yet to be communicated on the issue, saying that for now they see it as a rumour, and such action was backward thinking.

The Governor who spoke through the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Mr. Chike Onwe stated that the issue was still based on rumours, explaining that if implemented, it would not only threaten the corporate existence of Ndigbo but also the well being of Nigerians.

“So disengaging people from service on account of place of origin is backward thinking. But as I said, it is still on the plains of rumour and we don’t react to rumours but to substance.For now it is not true, until it is true the issue will be addressed.

“I think Ndigbo are a united people and we shall not allow anything to disintegrate this unity but I think it will be unfortunate if such a thing happens; it has not happened, it is still on the plains of rumours and until it is made real, we will not take any official stand or action”, the Commissioner said.

Onwe said that the state government would not be part and parcel of any process that would cause disaffection among citizens because of issues bordering on indigenization. He added that non-indigenes in the state were gainfully occupying sensitive positions in the state, even among the state executive council members.

“Since we are talking about true federalism and we cannot achieve such by being sectional or calling some indigenes and some others non indigenes. So for us to achieve true federalism, we must get people to feel at home wherever they are. We are looking at a situation where an individual from Kaduna comes to Ebonyi state and stands for any election and the man from Ebonyi goes to Lagos, stands election and gets elected to serve his term, people. That is where we are aspiring to.

“The position of Abia state government is yet to be made available to the Ebonyi state government but as I said, it is still on the plains of rumour but if that turns out to be true the matter will be looked at collectively by the state executive council and a position will be taken on the matter.

“On the interim, it is still a rumour and we shall treat it as such but I want to inform ourselves that there are Abians and people who are in other states that work in Ebonyi unhindered and un-marginalized, not witch-hunted and we see ourselves as brothers and sisters.”

On its part, Imo State Government reacted angrily to the action, and described the policy as “anachronistic, obsolete and reprehensible”.

Imo state Commissioner for Information, Dr. Obinna Duruji condemned the policy as being “irrational”. According to him, Imo government might be compelled to retaliate by sacking Abia indigenes in the employment of the government.

However, there are two categories of people are yet to know what their fate would be in the exercise. They are Abia women married to non-indigenes and non indigenes who secured appointment through automatic appointment of the NYSC. Some of them have even married indigenes of the state. The women are insisting that constitutionally they remain indigenes of Abia and that any attempt to disengage them would be resisted.

Though the government said the policy took effect from October 1, 2011, those affected are waiting for the letters to move them, as their names have since been compiled. So the letters will tell who and who will leave.

Lamentations

No doubt the affect people have been lamenting what the future holds for them.

A lady who simply gave her name as Cynthia from Imo state described the action of Abia state Government as pure wickedness. “How can a person who calls himself father of all do this type of thing? I have been working here for over 17 years, even in remote village of Isiukwuato. We have been contributing to the development of the state; all of a sudden our reward is to be sent back to our states of origin unprepared.

How do I relocate my five children who are in schools here? This is inhuman and we wonder where the unity of our Igbo people lies. This type of thing does not happen in the North and West. It is only in the East, among Ndigbo. Well we wish Governor T.A Orji well.”

Another woman, a mother of six also from Imo state said that she was still surprised over the whole thing. “I have been working in Abia since it was created 20 years ago. I have contributed to its development. My children are all in school in some parts of the state. Now, tell me, how do I begin to move? To move alone, and shuttle between here and say, my council area, in Ohaji/Egbema? I am still confused. I can’t really understand these people called politicians.

Just few months ago, during the elections, this same governor, while addressing us, assured us that he would not sack any non_indigene. Less than four months after voting for him, our reward was the circular to go. We will go but he should remember God. Our problem is that it was so sudden and nobody was prepared for this sudden dislocation. If he had said by end of next year, all of us would be prepared, afterall, there is nothing special here. It just because of our children.”
Source: Vanguard, 8th October 2011.

 

Gov Okorocha declares war on kidnappers.... launches Operation Rescue Imo

Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday declared a total war on kidnappers and vowed to make Imo a crime-free state.

He has also formerly launched the state government Joint Security outfit otherwise known as "Operation Rescue Imo" with 100 Ford model security vans with modern security gadgets.

Speaking at the Dan Anyiam Stadium Owerri, the venue of the event, Owelle Okorocha said though kidnapping has reduced drastically since he assumed office, his administration will stop at nothing to ensure that the state eradicates kidnapping and armed robbery. He said that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure effective crime prevention to make the state safe for investment as well as create a conducive atmosphere for total economic transformation being championed by his administration under Imo Rescue Mission.

He urged criminals and kidnappers to have a rethink as his administration is presently embarking on policies and programmes that will create job opportunities to absorb unemployed Imo youths.

In his speech, the Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim applauded the initiative of Governor Okorocha to assist the police and other security agencies in the task of fighting crime in the state.

Rigim who described security as everybody’s business urged the officers and men of Imo Stae Police Command to make good use of the operational vehicles by showing more dedication and commitment in the fight against crime.

About 50 suspected kidnappers were paraded as part of the highlights of the event by the police.

Meanwhile, Gov Okorocha has said that as part of measures to ensure effective community policing at the grassroots, a Local Government Security Council has been constituted in each of the 27 local government areas which comprises the police, State Security Service (SS) and other security agencies.

The governor who made this disclosure when the IGP Ringim earlier paid a courtesy visit in his office at Government House, Owerri stated that traditional rulers in the state had been empowered with security vote to manage the affairs of the vigilante team in their various communities.

He pledged the support of his administration towards addressing the decay in the police formations and barracks as well as urge the Federal Government to pay more attention to the welfare of the overall working condition of the Nigeria Police.
Source: Daily Champion, 1st October 2011.

 

Rochas: Time to Move from Rescue to Revival
With Dan Onwukwe
(08023022170 dan_onwukwe@yahoo.com)
 

Soon after Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s election as Governor of Imo State, I congratulated him through a newspaper article part of which read as follows: “Ndi Imo have given Rochas a pedestal no politician in Igboland has achieved in recent times and that is mass passion. 

What will Rochas make of it? The choice is his.” 
Truth be told, the mass of Imo people and even some persons outside Imo had very high expectations from Rochas. In just three months of his Governorship however, the euphoria in the state is waning. That is to be expected after every election and not just in Nigeria as the reality of governance dawns. However, comments are coming too quick on the performance and direction of the Rochas’ government in just under 100 days.

The Igbo people are not too difficult to govern if you are able to show them you mean well. I will cite two examples – Zik and Mbakwe. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe came into Nigerian politics with about the best educational attainment among his peers and also with the most exposed world view anyone at the time could boast of. Zik made at least two fundamental contributions to the Igbo race. The first was psychological: he brought a sense of “We can do it. We are excellent. 

We have confidence in ourselves and who we are.” The second was in education. Zik whose core philosophy was show the light so the people can find the way, did show the way and we rose to the occasion. He stimulated a generation of men following his example to seek the golden fleece. Following the inspiration of Zik, even rather impoverished Igbo communities built their own schools. Communities became challenged. By 1950, and especially in the 1960s, the difference in the educational levels of the peoples on the coast of Nigeria (who had earlier fraternity with the white man’s education) and those in the Igbo hinterland had been considerably bridged. This was just in twenty years or so. And what Zik really did was to provide a conceptual framework and the inspiration that fed the ‘I-can-do’ spirit.

Dee Sam Mbakwe remains the best post –civil war leader of the Igbo in terms of his commitment, sincerity of purpose and tangible achievements. I put him after Zik. After one year of Chief Achike Udenwa administration I had to do a study of the Mbakwe government, published as THE GLORIOUS MBAKWE ERA in 2002, with the hope that people could learn and take corrections. Governance is for the common good and not a parochial enterprise. A government seeking to succeed must do at least four things which are visible in Mbakwe’s government. These are: first, identify what needs the people have, pursue those needs of the people sincerely, take all the components of the state as to be served and not a section of the state. In other words, be even – handed, and fourthly, if the Governor sees an area or direction he wants to take the people, which the people are not yet conscious of, he must make efforts to convince them to go ahead. In effect, the governor must lead and not rule.

Recently, we honoured Mbakwe’s secretary of Government Professor Enoch Anyanwu with a symposium at the multipurpose hall. At that event, I said: In four glorious years, as stated in my book, THE GLORIOUS MBAKWE ERA, a government conceived, built (and in most cases people actually started using), the Imo State University with two functional campuses at Etiti and Aba and another three planned for Awomama, Uvuru and Umuahia, Concorde Hotel Owerri, Resin and Paint Mbaise, Imo Modern Poultry Avutu, Paper Packaging Owerre-Ebiri, Integrated Aluminium Products Naze, Sachs Hercules Naze, Floor Tiles Nsu, Abadaba Lake Resort, Enyimba Hotels Aba, Aluminium Extrusion Inyishi, Golden Guinea Breweries modernization and expansion Umuahia, Metallurgical Complex Aba, Metallurgical Complex Umuahia, Golden Chicken Ogwe, three Power stations at Amaraku, Izombe and Mbalano, Waste Recycling Plant Ofeme, among others. There were also several roads creatively identified and built, urban renewal programs, regional water schemes, etc. These are only a few of what that government achieved in a few sectors, and in just four years. 

What is clear from the Mbakwe era is the originality of the programmes. It is clear that serious thinking went into what that government did. Based on the situation at the time, priorities were set and pursued with commitment and there were linkages between each of these activities. 

What we learn from the above is that it is possible to be better than we have been. Zik gave us education, but he never really built schools for us nor offered each of us scholarships. He showed us the light and we found the way. Mbakwe gave us electricity, with Imo State having perhaps the most rural electricity access in Nigeria, but Mbakwe never brought poles and transformers to over 90% of our villages. He showed us the light and we found the way. The commonest projects of communal launch in the 1980s and up to the 90s in Imo state was electricity related. Zik and Mbakwe tapped into our Igbo self-help communal characteristics. It is the search of what next and how next, and the crises of direction in Imo state, that has given rise to the situation in which most of our communal development activities are now limited to the churches, rebuilding churches or anything the priests ask us to do. 

Government has never and will never do everything for the Igbo. What we need are leaders, and not rulers.
The challenge for Rochas is to interpret his era and challenge us his people who showered so much passion and are therefore legitimately entitled to much expectation from him. He ought to understand and tap into our strengths, weaknesses and needs. We have the opportunity to build on our areas of strengths. 

Imo state has suffered much financial and manpower outflow in the last years, contributing to the collapse of the agricultural, industrial, construction and other sectors. Many of our rich people have reduced the rate at which they even visit home or build houses in the villages for fear of crime. That also has reduced rural and urban employment and income. Deficit financial flow into Imo State has to be reversed as a matter of priority. We basically need to bring money into Imo state and the money is in the Imo and Igbo Diaspora, in and outside Nigeria.

When I see the United Kingdom and how they reformed their education sector to obtain serious funds flow into the education systems and economy, when I see the state of Israel and how they have packaged religious tourism and pilgrimage and how much it brings into Israel, when I see the English premiership and its transformation compared to the Italian and Spanish leagues that were the rave some years ago. When I see what United Arab Emirates has done with Dubai as tourism and shopping hub and what they are doing now with Abu Dhabi as intellectual, and education hub, I see possibilities of what a people committed and enlightened can do. 

When I look across the Niger and see the vision of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and the Asaba Airport and the engagement of the Business group in Onitsha and Nnewi, I see what a government focused can achieve. When we have created the pre-conditions for a thriving tourism sector adapted to contemporary Imo and Nigeria, even without exceptional natural endowments, we can learn from the French and their Eifel Tower in Paris or the Chinese and their Great Wall and recent human creations as the Water Cube and the Bird Nest. But not an imaginary tourism industry that offers only obscure hotels and immorality as some people will like to see Owerri, which cannot be the point of commencement to drive economic and transformation, as Cross River state ought be learning with the embarrassment Tinapa may have become.

Imo can become the education centre of Nigeria. Rochas can engage the churches in this regard, being the most alive institutions in Imo state. He can borrow from Osun state and her model of University. He can use the Mbakwe model in electricity to pipe water into every Imo village in the next four year. History beckons at Governor Rochas Okorocha. He has aroused passion among our people and what he does with it will define his own fame or infamy. I’d rather all my Governors were leaders and live in fame. The challenge before Rochas calls for clear headed thinking and having a holistic picture of what he wants to do, when and how to do them.

Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba Lectures at Imo State University, Owerri.
Source: Sun, 6
th September 2011.

 

State Recovers 100 Vehicles ‘Stolen’ By Former Public Officers

FROM CHARLES OGUGBUAJA, OWERRI 

IMO State government has recovered more than 100 vehicles allegedly carted away by public office holders of the immediate past regime in the state.

Chairman of the task force on recovery of public properties, Dr. Placid Ekwueme, disclosed this to journalists in Owerri at the weekend.

Ekwueme, who briefed reporters alongside the secretary of the committee, Larry Ajaero, however exonerated the immediate past governor, Ikedi Ohakim, of carting away government vehicles.

Instead, he accused him of allegedly approving the use of public funds for the purchase of several Toyota Camry cars, which were distributed as gifts to politicians.

Ekwueme vowed that his committee would recover all such vehicles, promising also that the source of purchase of any vehicle seized would be ascertained.

According to him, a debt of about N100 million hangs on the neck of the present administration, while the dealer who sold the cars has begun to make demands for payment.

The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Chief Blyden Amajiruowu, last week, alerted the public that the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), led by Chief Rochas Okorocha, is using the task force to hunt PDP officials, including the Organising Secretary of the party in the state, Chief Linus Iroha.

He disclosed that the task force also recovered some vehicles from the a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, adding that a past Chairman of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, allegedly carted away seven government vehicles, of which three have been recovered.

According to him, the matter is in court, and the committee will not do anybody any harm, but  “we will take government cars any where they are parked.”        The task force chairman disclosed that at inauguration, his committee had a list of about 34 former office holders who took away government properties.

He regretted that after a two-week grace period and failure to cooperate, the task force had no option but to enforce its mandate.
Source: The Guardian, 2nd September 2011.

 

Imo: Church holds lecture on role of families in nation building
Emeka Ihiegbulem,Orlu

Owerri-based Pentecostal denomination, Platform of Comfort Ministries (PCM) Inc. is set for a one-day expository lecture on the Role of Families in Nation Building.

Themed, " Family Value; The Pride of a Nation" and billed to take place at FSP Hall, Ugwu Orji, Owerri today (Saturday) at 10.00am, the socio-ecclesiastical event is expected to play host to galaxy of dignitaries from different walks of life.

Expected to attend the event are Imo State Governor, Owelle Anayo Okorocha, Provost, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, Dr.(Mrs) Blessing Chima Ijioma, Bishop Maxwell Korie of Lifeline Assembly Inc. and Bishop I.N. Erimujor, government functionaries among others.

Speaking to journalists, the host Pastor, Rev. Princewill Odikanwa said that the essence is to inculcate value into the people towards achieving a better society in future.

He maintained that the programme was slated at this auspicious time when ethical values of the people are fast dwindling.

Rev. Odikanwa further disclosed that it is going to be a continuous programme not only for the congregation but all until the much-coveted sanity in the system is achieved.

Said he, "Unless our people go back to their roots, the future of this society is bleak".
Source: Daily Champion, 19
th
August 2011.

 

Imo to prosecute parents who withdraw children from school

BY CHIDI NKWOPARA

OWERRI-Imo State Government, yesterday,  vowed to prosecute any parent or guardian who prevents any child of school age from going to school.

Governor Rochas Okorocha read the riot act when he laid the foundation stone of the College of Advanced Technological Studies in Owerri.

He said: “This government will support the free education programme. It is now a punishable offence for anybody to deny education to any child of school age in the state.”

While lamenting that science education had gone down in the country, the governor wondered why most children are running away from science subjects.

Okorocha said: “One of the major decisions this administration has taken about this school is that instead of their paying school fees, government will be paying the students a monthly stipend.”.

The governor, who promised to establish similar schools in Orlu and Okigwe senatorial zones, announced automaticscholarship for a student of Government Technical College, Owerri, Master Marvis Onyeazolam, who produced a prototype helicopter.

Earlier, Commissioner for Education, Professor (Mrs.) Victoria  Obasi, said the greatest gift a child can receive is education, which government has placed at the door steps of every child in the state.

She said: “There is need to recruit qualified teachers to staff the school. The category of teachers is scarce in the system. There is also the need to make the conditions of service for prospective teachers attractive.”
Source: Vanguard, 17th August 2011

 

Imo gets free kerosene
By 
Emma Mgbeahurike, Owerri

Everyone held firmly to a large keg. A scramble often broke out. But it was a different kind of scramble. There was joy in their hearts, which bubbled up to their faces. Their long search for kerosene had ended, thanks to Governor Rochas Okorocha whose administration made 110,000 litres of the precious cooking fuel available, and for free.

Before the governor’s intervention, the search for the domestic fuel was just as arduous in Imo State as it has been in most states across the country. While the scarcity lasted, many households resorted to different alternative measures in order to cook. Some went for charcoal. Some fetched firewood from the forests. Everyone suffered.

Okorocha’s intervention brought a huge relief. He held the nozzle himself and filled the kegs of the appreciative recipients. They applauded. Many prayed for him and his new administration. That day the Grasshopper International Stadium in Owerri, the state capital, hummed with people. For crowd size, it could have been a major political gathering or a very crucial football match day.
Speaking at the event, Okorocha described the gesture as one of the democratic dividends he promised the people. He added that his government has embarked on so many people-oriented programmes that will create jobs, grow the economy and boost the people’s living standard.

The governor thanked the people for the mandate they gave him to serve them, declaring that his government will bring about peace and progress in the state.

He also thanked President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for initiating the programme that has mitigated the hardship the people have faced in sourcing kerosene.

The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Special Duties, Mr Chiadi Sunny said the kerosene exercise is a promise fulfilled.
He disclosed that state government has concluded arrangements to share the kerosene in batches, stating that the first batch of kerosene shipment has been delivered to the people, while subsequent  batches will be shared in the 27 local government areas of the state.
The chairman and chief executive of Capital Oil, Sir Ifeany Uba also said the programme is sustainable because five oil companies in the nation are producing the products.

Many cheered as the governor addressed the people.  Prayers were offered for him by fathers, mothers and children.
Source: The
Nation
, 13th August 2011.

 

Nekede riot: Union calls for an inquiry
From VAL OKARA, Owerri

The Academic Staff Union of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri yesterday called on the management of the institution to set up a panel of inquiry to unravel the cause of Wednesday’s students violent protest that allegedly cost two lives and massive destruction of property. 

The panel, if set up, the union observed, would also investigate the alleged external influences and determine the extent of damage, to restore peace and stability in the institution. 
The union, which condemned the Wednesday violent protest by the students of the institution over alleged increase in tuition fees by the management of the college, said the wanton destruction of property and disruption of stable academic calendar was unwarranted.

It dismissed the rumours of increase in tuition fees, arguing that increase in fees was done at the commencement of new session, adding that the school was in the middle of the semester of the 2010/2011 sessions.         
In a press release by signed by Chairman of the union, Anderson Ezeibe alleged that the riot was induced by external forces and cult groups as shown by the brazen display of guns and other dangerous weapons by the rioters. 

He further alleged that persistent attempts by politicians to influence the students union election scheduled to hold on July 29, 2011 masterminded the rampage.      
The union chairman also condemned the late arrival of police from the state command on the scene of the crisis. 

He said: “The late arrival of the police of the scene paved way for unhindered vandalization and looting of academic staff offices, vehicles, the medical centres and even the students union secretariat which was torched.”

The union, therefore, commended the management of the institution for the closure of the school as the environment was unfit for any academic activities.
Ezeibe noted that the reported loss of two lives during the rampage was unfortunate and regrettable.
Source: Sun, 29th July 2011.

 

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