BY: SAM ONWUEMEODO
Rochas Okorocha left the Government House, Owerri, by 4:12pm on May 29, 2019. That was after he had governed Imo State for eight years, as allowed by the nation’s Constitution. We are therefore talking about May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2019.
Okorocha didn’t just leave the Douglas House, but left behind, a very big designer shoe. And the expectation was that, those after him, would either wear the same shoe or get a better designed shoe.
But almost two years after, the big designer shoe Okorocha left behind, has remained as he had left it.
When I said designer shoe, you can read between the lines. For me, I am not a lover of designer shoes. I cannot even know the difference between designer shoes and Aba made shoes. I wear whatever I see. And when the shoes get spoilt, I take them to the surgeon of old shoes. Cobblers. We call them shoe repairers. In Shakespears’s Julius Caesar, Flavius asked, “thou art a cobbler, art thou? The Cobber answered, “Truly sir, all that I live by …. I meddle with no tradesmen’s matters … I am indeed, a surgeon of old shoes. When they are in great danger, I recover them”.
If you ask me, the big designer shoes Okorocha left behind, were his achievements as governor. His projects.
When Okorocha left, Chief Emeka Ihedioha came as his Successor. We decided to watch Ihedioha navigate. He was only some months in the saddle, about eight months. So, the eight months he spent as governor, would not be enough to judge him or evaluate him or rate him accordingly. We are talking about Okorocha’s eight years.
In other words, we cannot be talking about Okorocha’s eight years, side by side with Ihedioha’s eight months. Eight months cannot be eight years. And vice versa. So, we exonerate him or drop Ihedioha at this point.
But the truth remains that Ihedioha would not have been a disaster. He would not have put the State in a “reverse gear”. He would not have also stagnated the State. He would not have become “Oyupaa”. “Oyupaa” means that, even when you push it with a new battery, it won’t start. He would not have reduced the State to “sorom chia”. “Amusement park”. Do you know that we have, “good, better, best”. Ihedioha would have gone home with any of the three.
But you also know that we have “bad, worse, worst”. I tell you my own version “Bad, badder, baddest”. Someone could also say bad, badder, “Mbadamba”. We are all saying the same thing.
Governor Hope Uzodinma replaced Ihedioha. And he has spent one year, and some mouths. And still counting. Yet, you cannot compare the period or the 14 months he has stayed, with the eight years of Okorocha. But, is there light at the end of the tunnel? Are the signs promising, juicy or ominous? Has there been any sign that the dinner, or lunch or breakfast will finally be ready? I am talking in diverse tongues. I am murmuring here. Soliloquizing.. This English could be funny.
To be on the safe side, I list some of Okorocha’s achievements. To also strengthen my position that the designer shoe he had left behind, has remained untouched. And seems not to be under any threat, from all indications. Following the way things have been going on. Follow me closely until we land safely. But , Let him that has ears, hear what the Spirit of God is telling the Church of Jesus Christ.
Owerri, the State Capital was like a harmlet. It had stopped at Concorde Hotel before the emergence of Okorocha as governor. Okorocha opened Owerri, the State Capital. And began to build Cities within the City of Owerri and environs, including what we call New Owerri, today. All the roads at the New Owerri were all Constructed by Okorocha. And the essence was to decongest Owerri, the State Capital. He gave the State new 19 layouts.
He Constructed the Sirleaf Johnson road, linking Amakohia and Onitsha road. Constructed the Assumpta road. Constructed the road from the Police Command Headquarters to Okigwe road. Constructed the Akachi road. Constructed the road linking Relief Market road and Area Command Mbaise road. Constructed the 8-lane road from Amakohia to Orji road. Akachi Road, Emmanuel College/Naze Road, Sam Mbakwe road, Ochiedike Road, 1st Inland Road, 2nd Inland Road, 3rd Inland Road, 4th Inland Road, and 5th Inland Road, Freedom Road, Assumpta Road, Justice Oputa Road, Naze/FUTO Road, Ideal Suit Road, Road 19 World Bank, NUT/Ochiedike Road, Sipbat/Orji Road, Relief Market Road, Government College/Police Headquarters Road, Alvan Ikoku College Shell/Camp Road.
He made Bank road, 8-lane. Okigwe road, 8-lane. Egbu road, 8-lane. Dualized Amakohia road, Mbari road, Douglas road, Wethdral road, MCC/Uratta road, Mbaise road, etc. When he was doing that of Amakohia, he was called names. But today, Amakohia has become a choice area. Sipbat area was a bush, but today it has become a city within a city, Courtesy of Okorocha Orlu/Akokwa Road, Douglas/Naze road, Owerri/Nworie-Ubi Road, IMSU Road. Constructed and tarred more than one thousand (1000) Kilometres of rural roads in the 27 Local Governments of the State, with the Local Governments having between 40 and 45 kilometres of roads each. Constructed about 600 Kilometres of Urban roads. I am talking about new roads, Constructed by Okorocha and not “patch-patch”.
Never paid indiscriminate Salaries and Pensions. And when issues arose, they would be amicably resolved like in 2015 and 2017 respectively when Okorocha’s government met with Labour leaders and resolved outstanding issues, instead of blackmailing them and using thugs to attack them.
Okorocha remodeled all the Premier Colleges in Owerri and environs, including Government College Owerri, Emmanuel College Owerri , Government Technical College Owerri , Ikenegbu Girls College Owerri, Akwakuma Girls College, Amakohia Girls College. Built the Ultra-Moden Owerri City College. Built Imo Girls College along Okigwe road. Built the Young Scientists College, Egbu road. Built Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies along Egbu road, Built National Polytechnic Arondizuogu, Built Imo State Polytechnic Ehime Mbano, Built Ahiara Polytechnic Ahiazu Mbaise, Built Imo State Polytechnic Orlu, Built University of Medical Sciences Ideato, Built University of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala, Built University of Creative Technology, Built Marine University Oguta (under Construction), Built Eastern Palm University Ogboko, on PPP basis. Built College of Education, Ihitte Uboma, Built Ohaji/Egbema College of Education.
Built College of Health Technology, Orlu, Built School of Nursing Umuowa, Built Police College Ogboko, Built Young Scientist College Owerri, Built Imo Girls College Okigwe road Owerri, Built Owerri City College Wethedral road, Built Owerri City Primary School Fire Service.
Introduced Free and qualitative education. The School Enrolment Snowballed from 267,000 in 2011 to 1,000,000 in 2018. The number of out of School Children drastically dropped, while hawking on the streets of Owerri got reduced to five percent, The State led in JAMB Applications from 2012 to 2018 in the Country, because of the free education programme.
Okorocha increased the monthly subvention of IMSU from N57m to N297m, that of IMSUTH from N30m to N120m and Imo Polytechnic Umuagwo, from N50m to N120m.
Built 27 General Hospitals, one each in the 27 Local Governments of the State. Built Imo Diagnostic and Medical Centre called Oshiedike. Built Imo Mother and Child Free Hospital along Douglas Road. Built Somto Hospital, Introduced Imo State Styled Health at your door step and systematic Health Insurance Scheme, Built Imo Drug Centre, Built An ultra-modern administration block at IMSUTH, Built The Main Theatre from 4 to 8 Suites at IMSUTH, Built Nursing Students Hall at IMSUTH, Built Radiology Wing B-Housing MRI, CTSCAN & Fluoroscope at IMSUTIL, Built Specialist Clinic a, b, and c. at IMSUTH, Built Radiology Wing A at IMSUTH.
Built the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport fully equipped, Introduced TAXIMO, Introduced BUSIMO and disbanded Keke or tricycles. Bought over one thousand vehicles for taxis, with sanity being restored on the streets of Owerri.
Rebuilt the City of Owerri to make it a befitting State Capital,, tried to Recover Douglas Road by relocating Ekeukwu Market, and by exercising the needed Political Will, installed steady solar-powered street lights and solar powered traffic lights along the streets of Owerri.
Relocated all the mechanics and artisans outside the Owerri Capital City. Built Naze Round-About, Built Emmanuel College Round-About, Built Fire Service Round-About, Built Assumpta Cathedral Round About, Built IMSU Junction round-about, Built Warehouse round-about,Built Shoprite roundabout, Built Nwaorube round about, Built Poly roundabouts to further beautify the State Capital and ease traffic.
Built Freedom Square Pedestrian Bridge, Built City School Pedestrian bridge, Built Emmanuel College Pedestrian bridge.
Built the first ever Ikemba Ojukwu tunnel at Concord Hotel Junction, Built Aguiyi Ironsi tunnel at House of Assembly Junction, Built one kilometre four lane flyover at Okigwe road called Nnamdi Azikiwe flyover, Built Amakohia road flyover called Akanu Ibiam flyover, Built the Freedom Square waterfalls, Built the Government House gate waterfalls, Transformed the City of Orlu.
Orlu City for the first time saw dualized roads, street lights and infrastructure, Transformed Okigwe town with dualized roads and street lights.
Built Eze Imo Ultra-Modem Palace Comprising a befitting lodge and 1000 Capacity traditional Parliament building, Built Four-floor ISOPADEC Complex Headquarters. Before Okorocha ISOPADEC had operated from a 4-bed room bungalow.
Built Ultra-Modern new Police Headquarters, the best in the Country, Built Ultra-Modern new Prison Complex also the best in the Country, Built Ultra-modern Justice Oputa High Court Complex, Built New Office Complex for the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Built New Office Complex for the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC), Built New Office Complex for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Imo State,
Built 7000 Seater fully air-Conditioned Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), Built New Office Complex for the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, Built New Computer Centre and Lounge for Civil Servants, Built New Headquarters for Community Government Council (CGC), Built New Office Headquarters for lands and lands.
Built New Office Complex for Civil Defence Corps in Owerri, Built The Bongo Square, Remodeled the Imo Legislative quarters abandoned for more than 30 years and named the quarters the Hero’s apartment, Erected the Freedom Square, Erected the Hero’s Square Similar to Eagle Square in Abuja. Completed the Imo Liaison Office in Abuja and named it Sam Mbakwe House, Remodeled and Completed Imo Liaison Office in Lagos.
Built the Imo Foundation Complex with Modern Health Facilities to Cater for Imo indigenes with health challenges, Built Chapels in each of the 27 LGAs in the State, Built ICT Centres in each of the 27 LGAs in the State, Built the Ikemba Ojukwu Centre, Introduced the Community Government Council (GCG) which produced 645 elected Councillors & took democracy to the grassroot, Constructed 20,000 capacity stadium in Orlu, Constructed 20,000 capacity stadium in Okigwe, Won FA Cup the first in the history of the State.
Rebuilt the Government House, Built A new ultra-modern Governor’s Lodge, Built Magnificent Government House Clinic, Built World-Class Government House Chapel, Built Befitting Odenigbo Guest House, Built Twin upstair Office Complex for the Deputy-Governor and the First Lady.
Before Okorocha, the deputy governor’s office was face me, I face you. Built Nick Banquet Multipurpose Hall, Built Media Office Complex, Transformed the entire landscape with street lights, Built Sam Mbakwe EXCO Chamber of International Standard, Built Ndubuisi Kanu EXCO Chamber also of International Standard, Remodeled and equipped all the existing offices.
Remodeled the Army Commander’s and Police Commissioner’s residences, Built Ultra-modern waiting apartment called the Gold Card.
Fought drastically and stopped kidnapping and other heinous crimes in the state. No politically motivated killings and kidnappings from May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2019. Introduced Imo Security Network , Introduced Imo Community Watch, Introduced the Niger Delta Security Network for the oil producing areas in the State.
Got Militants in the Ohaji/Egbema/ Oguta Oil Producing areas to surrender their arms and restored peace in the areas, Provided over 700 Security Patrol bikes for Community Policing, Donated over 200 Security Patrol Vehicles to the Military, Police and Civil Defence Corps.
Donated branded Sienna Vehicles to the Divisional Police Headquarters in the 27 LGAs of the State. Provided over 50 Hilux Security Patrol Vehicles for Imo Community Watch and Imo Security Network. Restored night life in Owerri the State Capital and environs.
Introduced back to land for Agriculture, Introduced Ikuona Nkwu in all the Communities of the State, Reconstructed the fish farm at Oguta, Introduced Poultry farming in all the 27 Local Governments of the State.
Built the Imo Micro Finance Banks in Owerri, Built Imo Micro Finance Bank in Ezinihittee Mbaise LGA, Repurchased the Resin Paint Industry Mbaise, rebuilt it and handed it over to a Chinese Company called SKYRUN, producing electrical gadgets.
Repurchased the Owerre-Ebeiri Paper Packaging Industry and making it productive. Revamped the Imo Shoe Industry and made it productive.
Built the Malaysia International Market Obowo, Built Okporo Orlu Electronic Market, Built Alaba Electronic International Market Naze, near Owerri, Built Orlu Timber Modern Market, Built Naze Artisan City, Built Relief Market Shopping Mall, Built Egbeada International Market, Built Okigwe Shopping Mall, Built Onitcha Shopping Mail, Built Umuna Orlu Shopping mall, Built Umuowa Relief Market, Built Amakohia Mini Market, Built Nkwo Orji Market, Brought Shoprite.
Poverty level reduced to 19% by 2018 from 67% in 2011. And part of the reason being that parents channeled the money they would have used to pay School fees to economic activities and money was in circulation.
Built 370 Well Furnished Two Bedroom Bungalows For Widows and Indigent Women across The Three Zones Of The State. Built Nneoma Acquisition Centres in the three zones of the State for the young ones.
Okorocha gave the youths of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta N500 million for empowerment. Gave one youth Nl million in each of the 305 wards in the State totaling N305 million. Gave 305 women Nl 00,000 each with ten women coming from each ward also totaling N305 million.
Employed 3000 graduates into the State Civil Service. Employed 3000 graduates into the State’s Local Government System. Employed another 2000 teachers under the government’s Youths Must Work Policy, who were later fully engaged and their appointments confirmed.
Had paid Salaries upto the month of April 2019 but could not the same on the payment of Pensions. And had concluded arrangements to clear arrears of Pensions before the end of his administration with N48 billion kept in banks.
Increased the salaries of traditional rulers. Handled the most Challenging Nekede Erosion. Handled the most dreaded erosion site at Mgbee Hill which had cut off Ideato from the rest of Imo State. Handled the long-age Umuna Orlu erosion problem. Handled Works Layout erosion menace that sacked residents in the area. Handled the IMSU/Works road to Orlu road erosion problem. Handled the Okigwe Road erosion Challenge.
They said the two flyovers Okorocha built were substandard, They closed one and left one to be in use, the Amakaohia flyover. And trailers or heavy lorries from Okigwe going to Onitsha have been using the flyover for 8 years now and it has remained strong. They demolished one of the tunnels and left one. They said they were going to construct roundabout there. A year after the demolition, noting has happened. Meanwhile, the second tunnel at the Concorde Hotel Junction has remained in use for 8 years too and still standing strong, not minding that heavy lorries from Onitsha going to Port-Harcourt and Vice Versa, pass through the tunnel every minute of the day. When they got tired of demolition, they resorted to invasion and from invasion to sealing. And from sealing to whitepaper and then thuggery. All because they do not know what to do about the big designer shoe Okorocha left behind. But we shall continue to clap for Jesus.
9News Nigeria (Owerri)
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