THIS DAY NEWSPAPERS
Recently, Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim was hosted in Lagos by two Igbo groups. Charles Ajunwa who attended the events reports that the governor seized the opportunity to give account of his stewardship to Imo indigenes resident in Lagos
Two different Igbo organisations in Lagos, The Ndigbo Lagos and Imo State Towns Development Association (ISTDAL), recently hosted Imo State governor, Ikedi Ohakim in Lagos. The events had political colouration as they were held, one week after Ohakim secured a landmark victory at the Supreme Court in the protracted suit instituted against him by his opponent in the 2007 governorship election, Chief Martin Agbaso who is the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
During his meeting with members of Ndigbo Lagos which was attended by important personalities like Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Nigeria’s former Ambassador to United States of America, Chief George Obiozor, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Prof. Green Nwankwo, President, Ndigbo Lagos, Chief Chris Eze and many others. Ohakim who was still basking in the eupheria of his legal victory, explained his administration’s activities in the past three years.
He said that he had to battle not less than 24 court cases and 348 petitions written against him. Beside, he said that there were six fire incidents at the Government House, two attempts at his life and 150 articles planted in various news media, aimed at pulling him down.
The governor, who was accompanied by his commissioners and other personal aides, said for Igbos to achieve their manifest destiny, they have to come together, noting that the structure of Nigeria as presently constituted, doesn’t favour an Igboman. Ohakim who lamented the none cooperation among Igbos, said presently, there are 18 requests for state creation in the South-east zone.
According to Ohakim, this development doesn’t augur well for the South-east in its aspiration to have an additional state created in the zone.
On the menace of kidnapping in the South-east, Ohakim said that the five South-east governors are working together to ensure that the criminal act is nipped in the bud.
According to him, the governors have met with President Goodluck Jonathan on the issue of kidnapping adding that their decision not to participate in the 2011 presidential election was premised on the need to provide adequate security for the people of the zone.
“ Between 1999 to 2007 the whole five governors from Igboland were all presidential candidates. They continue to fight among themselves,none of them attracted one kobo project to Igboland from the Federal Government. They were only concerned with taking their campaigns from Yola to Maidugiri while Igboland was suffering.
“Because we are working together we decided that five of us, irrespective of party’s lineage should stay together because if one of us start to contest presidential election it will destroy Igboland. Others can contest but five of us signed memorandum of understanding not to contest, that we will stay together to find solution to Igbo problems. That, when any contestant comes to us, we will give him conditions on the projects he will do in Igboland if elected as president,” he said.
On allegation of multiple taxation against Igbos doing business in Lagos, Ohakim said when he discussed the matter with his counterpart in Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, he assured him that there was nothing like multiple taxation in Lagos. He also said that Fashola assured him that Igbos in Lagos are being carried along in the scheme of things by his administration.
Speaking on the resignation of the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Ohakim while denying having any hand in matter said that the former chairman resigned on his own to enable him face his case in the court. He said that he has a lot of respect for Ogbulafor saying that Ogbulafor was one of those that convinced him to return back to PDP from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
“He resigned in order to go and face his matter in the court. We are still best friends and I don’t have anything against him”. he said.
Speaking at a civic reception held in his honour at the National Stadium, Surulere, Ohakim said his government is working tirelessly to fulfill all his promises to Imo people, despite the litigation distraction which his government had encountered.
“You are aware that in the last three years, the government and people of Imo State have been subjected to sustained distraction through serial litigations. But we thank God that we have put all that behind us now. My plea is that you do not ever join those who insist on destabilizing Imo State. Do not let anybody deceive you with rumours and disinformation about what is happening in the state.
“I am proud to say that notwithstanding the distractions, we have done well for Imo State. But let me quickly say that we owe our astounding success in the past three years to your unflinching support for our programmes and policies. It was not easy at the beginning. Some of our programmes initially brought inconveniences to our citizens but you showed a remarkable understanding knowing that the pain was only temporary.” Ohakim declared.
Having encountered a pletora of problems when he assumed office in plathora Ohakim said that he confronted the problems with his initiative of the New Face of Imo. According to him, the people of Imo deserve change of attitude, values, new kind of politics, courageous, purposeful and determined leadership capable of linking Imo to national and global network to create economy that provides opportunities for self-actualization.
Ohakim said in three years that his administration reclaimed the environment from degrading filth and illegal structures. “We opened up our state through massive road construction and rehabilitation; we rehabilitated abandoned and dilapidated infrastructures;we rehabilitated 200 water schemes across the state;we revamped our agriculture, we improved our healthcare system drastically reducing infant and maternal death;we provided better security through the operation Festival;we restructured transportation in our capital, Owerri by phasing out commercial motorcycles and introducing modern buses, taxis and tricycles,” he said.
Continuing, Ohakim said that his government took definite steps to redeem the educational system in the state by returning 44 schools to the missionaries adding that more schools will be returned to their various owners. Apart from bringing the Nigerian Stock Exchange to Owerri, Ohakim said his government had also enhanced the administration of justice in the state by rehabilitating the courts and attracting a Federal Court of Appeal to Owerri, which he said had improved the welfare of judicial officers in the state.
The state government, according to Ohakim, reformed the local government administration system. “Today, the local governments have assets in excess of N11 billion,” adding “we reduced community disputes and brought peace to our people.”
He said workers in the state were paid the new minimum wage in addition to 15 per cent increment to their wages. “We reduced the huge pension arrears of over N4.7 billion we met at the inception of this administration as well as contractor debts.
“In three years, we achieved all these feats even in the wake of global economic meltdown and grossly reduced resources. Yet, in three years, we have not retrenched workers in Imo State. This is because we have blocked all avenues of free funds for political jobbers, contract scams, looting and misappropriation of the resources of our state,” Ohakim said.
Though he said there were desperate efforts by some citizens of the state to truncate the cordial relationship his administration maintains with the central government through frivolous petitions, Ohakim said a lot of projects have been attracted from the Federal Government.
He said that the Elele-Owerri road dualization worth N25 billion, the Oguta sea port worth N15 billion, a Naval Base at Oguta worth N20 billion, the Ishinweke-Onich Uboma Road worth N5 billion, the NDDC Ukwuoji-Ehime Road worth N3 billion, two power sub-stations at Aboh Mbaise and Ideator South worth N7 billion, MDG projects worth over N2 billion and RAMP FG/World Bank project worth over US $60 million were all attracted into Imo State from the Federal Government.
Ohakim who promised that there are better days ahead, said to achieve more glories for the state, all citizens should continue to support his government by investing at home, no matter how small the project is.
“We shall count on you to contribute in raising the Internally Generated Revenue of the state by paying ground rents and re-certifying the documents of your landed property in Imo State and assisting those at home to pay taxes. We shall continue to count on you to be peace makers in your communities. You must ensure that youths in your community do not join the criminal gangs as robbers or kidnappers. I shall not hesitate to sign the death warrant as provided by law, if anyone was convicted of kidnapping in the state,” Ohakim declared.