Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has cried out over what he called continuous persecution and campaign of calumny from church leaders and their members in the state despite all he had done to develop the state in the past seven years.
Speaking at a media parley at the Government House, Owerri, Okorocha confessed that he had stepped on the toes of many churches within the Owerri municipality as a result of his administration urban renewal programme.
According to him, “the removal of the church at Warehouse Roundabout angered members of the Pentecostal churches against me and removal of a church fence at Akwakuma made the Catholics declare me persona non grata, while the removal of some churches to create Sam Mbakwe Road from Umezuruike Hospital angered the Apostolic and some white garment churches.”
He said from information available to him, the churches were now waiting for the members of his All Progressives Congress (APC) during the campaigns to disgrace them, stating such campaigns had already started.
According to him, one of the most harrowing of such plots by the church came when his wife and first lady of the state went to a church in Ikeduru to attend a thanksgiving of one of her followers, only for the priest in charge of the church to ask her to stay behind at the back seat because she came late.
“The priest even had to announce it with a microphone telling people seated behind to come to the front seat and that no late comer should be given the front seat when my wife was stepping into the church.
“Again, on a personal note, during the child dedication of one of my grand children at the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Chaplaincy in Imo State University. I initially did not want to attend that occasion but knowing who my daughter is, if I didn’t go she might come here and start crying over that. So, I managed to attend the church.
“During the closing processes, in an event like this, the governor should talk. But when I took the microphone to speak, the priest in charge of the church who is also one of the lecturers I pay in IMSU, approached me and was ordering me not to talk politics inside the church. I felt humiliated because it has never happened anywhere where a governor is told what to say.
“All I did was to tell them that I wasn’t there as a visitor but as a grandfather if not such actions would have been met with consequences”, he said.
The governor also recalled how Charley Boy Oputa snatched the microphone from him and prevented him from speaking during his father’s well celebrated burial at Oguta, saying all these would not deter him from going on with his plan of giving the state a facelift.
Meanwhile, a commissioner in the state who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity, has said the APC in the state would no longer rely on campaigning in churches to win the 2019 general election.
According to the commissioner, because of the hatred some church leaders bear against the party in the state, one major strategy adopted by the party is to embark on house-to-house campaign to win the votes of the Imo electorate because not every church goer agrees with the stance of their leaders.