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Okorocha Wasted A Golden Opportunity

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By Ifeanyi Maduako

Former Governor Rochas Okorocha was a presidential aspirant in 2003, 2007, and 2015. His entrance into the national convention of the defunct  All People  Party (APP) in  2002 was tumultuous and electrifying.

The dull and somber atmosphere of the convention was electrified to the peak when he sauntered in a glistering limousine.  He was contesting for the presidential ticket of APP with the likes of then General Muhammadu Buhari, late Chuba Okadigbo, among others. Even delegates from the north who were there to vote for Buhari were all entertained by his mode of entrance into the convention.

It took a man with Buhari’s popularity to defeat him for the presidential ticket. The same Buhari went ahead to spite him by choosing Dr. Okadigbo as his running mate rather than him.

Okorocha returned to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after the disappointment to contest again for the presidential ticket of PDP with late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007. Of course, he came second position again behind Yar’Adua who was the anointed one by the then party apparatchik. His third attempt at the presidency of Nigeria was in 2015 on the platform of  All Progressives  Congress (APC) where he came a distant fourth position in the primaries – his worst in his presidential quest.

Against the background of his previous presidential ambition to preside over the affairs of Nigeria, the predominant majority of  Imo people nay Nigerians were surprised when he  “stooped low” to contest again for the governorship position of  Imo State in 2011.

When he finally had his  first electoral victory on the platform of  All Progressives  Grand  Alliance (APGA) as governor of Imo State, the world had expected that he would use the “lower” office of a governor to show Nigerians  and the world at large a model of governance he had been aspiring to bequeath to  Nigeria as President. The “small” office of the governorship of Imo State exposed the character and the underbelly of Okorocha.

Many held him in a very high esteem and integrity before he became governor. He had a better esteem before 2011 than now. He deceived Imolites with a sweet or sugar-coated tongue. Majority of Imolites including this writer voted for him in 2011 with the erroneous belief that a messiah had birthed to fix the state. We were all deceived.

Alas, after his stewardship as the governor of Imo State, Rochas failed woefully and abysmally. He may not be the worst governor the state since her creation in 1976,  but  he had  a golden  opportunity  to demonstrate  to Nigerians, particularly  Imolites  why he had wanted to be  the president of  Nigeria even before “condescending” to become a governor.

Late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe still retains the trophy as the best governor of Imo State till date unless incumbent Governor Hope Uzodinma surpasses Mbakwe’s performance after his eight years as governor, God willing. Rochas  had  the golden opportunity of surpassing  Mbakwe’s  achievements,  after all, Mbakwe governed a bigger or larger Imo State which  comprised the present  Imo, Abia and  half of  Ebonyi States.

Sadly, even with a smaller Imo State, Okorocha failed to take the trophy from Mbakwe. Yes, Okorocha opened up or constructed many feeder roads in the state more than his predecessors. But, is there any road that Okorocha constructed that is still in good shape today? Is it a good testament of him that all the roads he built have broken down just one year after he left office?  Many of these roads became dilapidated even while he was still in office. You can never see such kind of roads in other states like Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu, Cross River, Rivers States and even “common” Ebonyi State of yesterday.

People who attack the incumbent Governor Uzodinma over the present state of Imo roads are unfair and unreasonable. How do they expect him to fix all the roads in less than a year as governor?

Do they expect him to build the kind of roads Okorocha built which breakdown every six months? The  anger and  frustrations of  Imolites over the  sorry  state of  Imo roads  should be  channeled  to  Okorocha.

Students of Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu are utterly frustrated having  spent  about  14 to 15 years as medical  students for a  course  which ordinarily  shouldn’t  go for  more than  six or seven years due to  non-accreditation  of their course. But, Rochas was acquiring licenses for more universities even a day to the end of his tenure. His so- called free education was a charade. A deceit of the worst order.

What  manner of  a  governor  would  erect 27 uncompleted  buildings as general hospitals  instead of just  three  completed  and well  equipped  hospitals, one  for each senatorial district? What  manner of a governor would  owe 48 months pension arrears to pensioners and still  beats  his  chest to boast  that he  performed  well as  governor? How does Okorocha feel whenever he drives through Imo International Convention Centre (IICC) seeing its dilapidation?  Which of Okorocha’s touted projects is still standing strong? In the next ten years, would any of his projects still be in existence unlike Mbakwe’s Concorde Hotel, ADAPALM, Avutu Poultry, etc?

Okorocha is my kinsman because both of us are from the same local government area. But, can Okorocha be proud to visit his community or is there even any road to his community? Is he proud of the state of Ideato-South LGA? Can Okorocha compare the roads in Mbaise where Chief Emeka   Ihedioha comes from with those of Ideato nation as a whole? If Okorocha is the only   man APC can find in the whole of Igbo-land as a presidential candidate, then let northerners  rule  Nigeria forever.

However, he is never the only candidate APC can find in Igbo-land. There is  a lot of  qualified candidates  from both  APC and  PDP to  be the  president  of  Nigeria  from the  South-east.

Maduako, writes from Owerri (08061562735).

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EndSars: FG, not wrong to freeze Protesters Accounts – Malami

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EndSars: Federal Government, not wrong to freeze Protesters Accounts - Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said in a Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, that the Federal Government was not wrong to freeze the bank accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners.

Government is not wrong particularly in circumstances that justifies intense investigation. It is the end result of an investigation that can determine whether government is right or wrong as determine by the court on the basis of the facts presented,” he said.

Following the destruction that trailed the #EndSARS protests last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained a court order to freeze the accounts of the #EndSARS promoters.

However, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the CBN to unfreeze the accounts of the #EndSARS campaigners.

Read Also: #EndSars: Unfreeze Accounts of Protesters-Court

Some of the #EndSARS campaigners had since threatened to sue the Federal Government for trampling on their rights by freezing their accounts.

Malami had said hours later after receiving the order from the court to unfreeze the accounts, that said the decision to comply with the court order or not would not be out of intimidation, adding that the government cannot be intimidated.

He said, “The decision to comply with the court order or not is not a decision that is a product of intimidation; government cannot be intimidated, government cannot in anyway be compromised as far as the exercise of its constitutional powers are concerned but that does not mean the government is perpetually inconsiderate.

“The bottom-line is that the public interest matters most in whatever decision the government arrives at as far as compliance or non-compliance with the orders or judgments of the court are concerned. Intimidation is out of it, threats are out of it, constitutionality is the bottom-line.”

Malami stated further, that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was very lenient with the #EndSARS protesters, adding that no government all over the world, would tolerate a situation where so many policemen were murdered because citizens expressed their rights to lawful assembly and freedom of expression.

He however added, that the government would continue to protect Nigerians and their constitutional rights.

“The government is there to ensure there are no security threats and in so doing, the true position of things is that it is the responsibility of the government to accord protection to the lives of the citizens, their personal liberty, freedom of movement, and indeed accord protection to all the constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals.

“So, the government, can, on no account, be forced to submission when protection of these rights are concerned” .

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Eastern Security Network: hunger takes centre stage in Orlu, others

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…Govt imposes dusk to dawn curfew

…Soldiers block entry points

…Nnamdi Kanu attributes havoc to Buhari, Fulani

Following the duck to dawn curfew imposed in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State by the state Government over the battle between the members of the Eastern Security Network and Nigerian soldiers which had taken some lives, hunger has already taken centre stage in the area.

Our reporter assigned to the area revealed that Orlu people who are predominantly business people who after the day’s business buy food items from the plethora of local Markets in the area now find it difficult to make living following the imposition of the curfew by the state Government.

Also Read:Ohanaeze Ndigbo faction in solidarity with IPOB’s security network to secure Igboland

Nigeria Army who in the bid to fish out the said members of the Eastern Security Network founded by the Indigenous people of Biafra( IPOB) to protect the Eastern part of Nigeria from invasion of the Fulani Herdsmen in their hideout in one of the villages in Orlu, Umutanze precisely were attacked by the security persons, an act which as reported took lives of some of the soldiers.

Speaking on the issue, the leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu blamed the federal Government and President Buhari in particular of the havoc in Orlu while accusing Fulani Herders of plot to take over the country.

Kanu who through his Twitter made it clear that if the Fulanis as well as the Presidency have no ulterior motive against the South East, why should they query the security network introduced in Igbo land to protect lives.

Following disturbing report on the activities of a group of militants that unleashed mayhem at residents of Orlu in Imo State, killing and maiming innocent citizens in the process, Governor Hope Uzodimma has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the affected areas just as he ordered the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators without fail.

He said the curfew is an interim measure to immediately restore the peace in Orlu area. It will start  at 6 pm and end at 6 am daily and affects; Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele and Nkwerre local government areas of Orlu zone.

Addressing a news conference on the matter on Monday, Governor Uzodimma said the perpetrators of the carnage were out to paint a picture of near break down of law and order in Orlu area, noting that government condemns in its entirety acts of extreme hooliganism and brigandage.

The governor advised the residents of the affected LGAs to cooperate fully with the curfew as anyone who violates it will be treated as a suspect.

Governor Uzodimma said that security agencies have been directed to carry out a 24-hour patrol and that law abiding citizens can go about their businesses without fear of molestation.

The governor further condoles with the families of the bereaved and assured them that those who committed the heinous crime against them and their loves ones will not go unpunished.

Governor Uzodimma’s address read in full:  

“This afternoon, I received a very disturbing report on the activities of a group of Militants who unleashed a shooting spree in the Orlu area of the state, killing and maiming innocent citizen in the process.

“I am totally appalled by this sad report which appears to paint a picture of near breakdown of law and order in the Orlu area. The government condemns in its entirety this act of extreme hooliganism and brigandage. This is completely unacceptable to this administration. Those behind this callous barbarism will surely regret their actions.

Consequently, I have directed the security agencies to fish out without fail, all those behind the carnage and immediately bring them to book. Let no one be in any doubt that the perpetrators of this dastardly act will ever escape justice. I assure them that they will pay for their cruelty against a peace loving, innocent people.

“As an interim measure to immediately restore the peace in Orlu zone, a dusk to dawn curfew (6 pm to 6 am) is hereby imposed in the following Local Government Areas of Orlu zone; namely; Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele and Nkwerre.

“All law-abiding citizens are advised to comply strictly with the curfew as announced. Anyone caught violating the curfew will be treated as a suspect.

“The government wants to assure all Imo people that the situation in Orlu area is under control. Security operatives have been deployed on a 24-hour patrol of the zone. Equally, every security measure necessary has been put in place to ensure that law-abiding citizens can go about their businesses in the affected areas without any fear of molestation.

 “The government sincerely condoles with the families of the bereaved and all the victims of the unfortunate incident. I assure them that those who committed the heinous crime against them and their loved ones will never go unpunished. “

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Opinion

Who Owns Eastern Palm University?

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By Ifeanyi Maduakor

In the first term of then Governor Rochas  Okorocha’s administration  between  2011 and 2015, Nigerians,  particularly Imo people  were told  that another  campus  of the Imo State  University had been  situated at Ogboko in Ideato-South  Local Government  Area of the State.  Communities and individuals lands were forcefully taken by the state through the instrumentality of the land use act for the purpose of building the campus of the Imo State University currently situated at Owerri. 
Imo people were told that the new university at Ogboko was solely owned by the state government, and was being built with state government’s funds.  Shortly  after, same rhetoric came from the state government led by Okorocha, that the new university would no longer be a mini-campus of Imo State University but now a separate university of its own with a new name and ownership.  Imo people were told that the new university which was originally intended to be a varsity solely owned by the state which necessitated the brazen seizure of people’s lands would now be a joint ownership between the state and some ghost private individuals in what was called public-private-partnership (PPP). 

However, there are some disturbing or nagging questions which need clarification on this contentious   issue of joint ownership of the tertiary institution at Ogboko. This university was  originally  planned and executed  as a  solely  owned state varsity, when did the  private sector partnership come into it since the public  sector (which is the state government) had  sunk a lot of  funds into it at the initial  stage knowing full well that it was a state university or satellite campus  of Imo State University?

In a public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement, can any of the two partners be incorporated long after one of the partners had gone very far in the execution of a particular project or does PPP arrangement start at the foundation level? Is there any state in Nigeria where the state government and private individuals jointly own a tertiary institution? 
Assuming without conceding that such a PPP arrangement exists somewhere else, who are the individuals who make up the private partnership in this  case of  Eastern Palm University, Ogboko? Did National University Commission (NUC) register Eastern Palm University as a PPP arrangement or was it registered as a state government property? If NUC registered it as a PPP arrangement, what was the share ownership agreement between the public and private joint ownership during the registration?

The truth of the matter is that then Governor Okorocha ruled Imo State with unmitigated impunity. He had the delusion and concrete belief that he had subdued and pocketed the state and its people without a whimper from any quarter. He did what he did with the erroneous belief that his son-in-law would succeed him as the governor of Imo State in 2019. If he had succeeded in foisting or imposing his son-in-law as his successor, who would have questioned him about the ownership of this Eastern Palm University? How does one also rationalize or explain the brazen takeover of Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) quarters at Orji in Owerri North which now houses Rochas Foundation College? 

Recently, there was a little brouhaha about the matriculation of this Eastern Palm University, Ogboko. The state governor was reported to have sealed the place, but another report said that Rochas Okorocha forcefully unsealed the place and the matriculation took place. If those reports were true, then is the state government no longer part of the so-called PPP ownership? Is the university now solely owned by Rochas Okorocha to the extent that he could unseal what the state government sealed without recourse to the state government’s joint ownership of the varsity? If the joint ownership truly exist, it is high time the state government took over the entire ownership of the varsity. Joint ownership of a tertiary institution between the state and private sector is an aberration which only purportedly exists in Eastern Palm University. 

Rochas Okorocha should divest his share ownership from the school and surrender the sole ownership of the school to the state. The state can never jointly own any project with him. It is not done anywhere in the world.

The Imo State government led by Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma should sweep the entire management and staff of the school, from the Vice-Chancellor to the gateman. The state government should be responsible for the recruitment of the staff of the varsity if actually, the state has a stake in the so-called joint ownership of the school. Since the state’s funds was sunk in the building of the varsity, the state can only recover its funds by taking charge of the appointment or recruitment of the staff, otherwise, the joint ownership is useless to the state if Rochas Okorocha is in charge of everything in the varsity. The state must never hand off its ownership of the varsity, rather it is the private individuals represented by  Rochas Okorocha who should hands off from the joint ownership of the school. 
There are so many Nigerians who have their privately-owned tertiary institutions, and if Rochas Okorocha wants to own a tertiary institution, he should so do now that he’s no longer a governor and build it with his own funds.

The latest defence or statement about the ownership of the university came from Okorocha who claims to own 90% equity share of the university while the state as a whole owns 10% equity investment. What manner of partnership does an individual own 90% while over five million Imolites own 10%? Why didn’t Okorocha build the varsity before he became the governor of Imo State? Is it not greed writ large for him to have used his exalted position as governor to appropriate a dominant chunk of equity share of the so-called partnership? Didn’t he contravene the constitution of Nigerian and the code of conduct by such action?

Maduako, writes from Owerri (08061562735).        

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